Of all the cities in the world, none have as many iconic museums and monuments as Paris. Practically everywhere you turn there is something famous.
In fact, many visitors run themselves ragged trying to squeeze in as many sights as possible. Don’t. Paris is a city that should be enjoyed at a leisurely pace.
Below are some of the best museums and monuments that shouldn’t be missed when visiting Paris.
Note: If you plan on visiting multiple museums and monuments you may want to consider the Paris Pass. It grants you entry into pretty much every museum and it lets you skip the ticket lines!
Paris has well over 100 museums so you’re only going to see a fraction of them — which is fine because not all of them are worth visiting. We’ve listed, in no particular order, some of the best museum but don’t try to see too many. Pick a few that look the most interesting, and take your time because it’s extremely easy to get burnt out.
Only have time to see one museum? Skip the Louvre and head straight to the Musée d’Orsay.
Located in a grand old train station, the Orsay is devoted to all the arts between 1848-1914. It’s main focus is on Realism, Impressionism, Symbolism, and Art nouveau. Basically, it’s the best place to see Cézanne, Daumier, Degas, Gallé, Gauguin, Manet, Millet, Monet, Pissarro, Renoir, Rodin, Seurat, Sisley, and van Gogh — to name a few.
Tickets: €11 (€8.5 after 4.30pm except Thursdays // after 6pm on Thursday).
The Louvre needs no introduction —it’s only the most famous and one of the most massive museums (652,300 square feet) in the world. Seriously, this thing is huge. You can easily spend a few days there. It contains over 350,000 objects from prehistory to the 21st century and you have to take a stroll through the adjacent Tuileries Gardens.
Monday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday: from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Wednesday, Friday: from 9 a.m. to 9:45 p.m.
Closed on Tuesdays
The Centre Pompidou is the largest collection of modern and contemporary art in Europe and the second biggest behind the Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) in New York. It’s the place to go if you want to see Picasso, Kandinsky, Matisse, Chagall, Miro, Dali, as well as today’s most popular contemporary artists.
Even the building itself is a modern masterpiece of design. Also, the view from the top is one of the best views of the city.
Tickets: €11 – €13 according to the season // Panoramic view only: €3.
Auguste Rodin donated his entire estate to the French government and it’s all on display at his workshop and garden at the amazing 1730 Hôtel Biron/mansion. The mansion contains the largest collection of Rodin’s work. Many of his most famous statues (The Thinker, The Gates of Hell, etc.) are on display in his large garden that surrounds the mansion. The garden is a beautiful place to relax and it’s so peaceful that you’ll forget you’re in the middle of Paris.
Permanent and temporary collections and garden: €10. Garden only : €4.
Interested in the art and life during the middle ages? The Musée national du Moyen Âge is the place to go. This museum is located inside the stunning Hôtel de Cluny — a 15th century mansion that was actually built on Roman thermal baths that date back to the 1st century.
Open: Every day from 9:15 to 5:45, except Tuesday
Tickets: €8-€9 depending on exhibitions.
The Orangerie Museum is most famous for its giant Monet water lilies. There are also paintings by other impressionist and post-impressionist like Picasso, Renoir, Cézanne and Matisse.
The Musée de l’Armée is dedicated to France’s long and impressive military history — from Antiquity to the end of the Second World War. This is a must-see for military enthusiasts.
Napoleon’s Tomb (which is included in the ticket price) is an opulent final resting place, complete with gold dome, for France’s most famous military and political leader.
Tickets: €9.50 — included entry to Musée de l’Armée, Napoleon’s tomb, the Charles de Gaulle Monument, Musée des Plans-Reliefs (scale models of French 17th-century towns) and Musée de l’Ordre de la Libération (relating to World War II).
The Picasso museum recently reopened after being under construction for years. It’s now the largest collection of Picasso works in the world with over 5000 — including paintings, sketches, studies, drawings, sketchbooks, engravings, photographs, illustrated books, movies and more.
Located across the river from the Eiffel Tower, the Palais de Tokyo is dedicated to fun and funky contemporary art. The terrace views from the outside are amazing as well.
The Musée Marmottan Monet is the largest Impressionism collections in the city. Focusing mainly on Money, this museum has over 100 paintings from the artist and dozens of other works from his personal collection (Degas, Renoir, Sisley, Gauguin, etc).
If you want a nice change of pace from all the European art, consider checking out the Musée du Quai Branly— which features indigenous art and cultures of Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas
Arguably the most famous structure in the world and if you’re going to Paris then you have to spend some at this wrought iron beauty. I recommend visiting at night when the tower is magically illuminated.
Tickets: €7-€17 depending on how much you want to walk.
The Arc de Triomphe (which is the biggest arch in the world) sits at the top of the Champs-
Tickets to Observation Deck: €12
Located along the banks of the Scene in the center of Paris, Notre-Dame de Paris is the most iconic church/cathedral in the city — the inside is a must-see. Plus, it’s free to visit. You can also climb the nearly 400 steps to the 226 foot high towers for amazing views of the city but that costs a few euros.
The Sacré-Cœur is a majestic white church that sits on top of a hill overlooking city. Not only is the inside stunning, the view of the city from the dome is breathtaking. If you don’t feel like paying to visit the dome, the view from the front steps is still one of the best in the city.
Tickets: €6 (Dome)
See how the other half live… or maybe how the .0000000000001% live. Opulent is too weak of a word to describe the Château of Versailles. You can easily spend all day walking the halls and exploring the vast gardens. Don’t forget to see Marie-Antoinette’s country village she had constructed so she could pretend to live a simple country life.
Tickets: Starting at €15
St. Chapelle is an impressive, yet relatively small Gothic cathedral that has the most beautiful and impressive stain-glass windows in Paris — and possibly in the world.
The Pantheon was originally built for Louis XV as a church dedicated to the patron saint of Paris. After a few revolutions the church was recommissioned and turned into the national Pantheon. Now it’s the final resting place for 72 of France’s most famous citizens — including Victor Hugo and Voltaire.
The most beautiful and largest cemetery in Paris. This is an amazing place to spend a few peaceful hours wandering among the more than 70,000 tombs. Père Lachaise is the final resting place for many rich Parisians and famous (including Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, Chopin, Édith Piaf, Proust, Gertrude Stein, and many more) so you’ll find some beautiful tombs.
The Opera Garnier is an architectural masterpiece from the belle époque. Skip the opera (unless you’re an opera fan) and book a guided tour of the Opera. It’s simply amazing. Every square inch of the theatre is ornately designed. The tour takes you all through the building and then you get a good amount of time to explore on your own. Best of all, the tours are run when the building is empty so you have plenty of room to see everything.
Located between Saint-Germain-des-Prés and the Latin Quarter, the 57 acre Luxembourg Garden is the perfect place to find relaxation from the craziness of the city. The garden was built in the early 1600s and contains 106 statues, large fountains, a chateau, lots of trees, tennis courts, gorgeous flowers and plenty of relaxing Parisians .
The Tuileries Garden is the long and perfectly manicured park/garden adjacent to the Louvre. King Louis XIV turned the land into a traditional French garden in 1664 and now you’ll find multiple large fountains, decorative shrubs, flowers, and statues throughout the garden.
The Canal Saint Martin was once a canal built by Napoleon to bring supplies from the north of Paris down to the Seine river. Now it’s a waterway that cuts through (and under) some of Paris’ most hip and up-and-coming neighborhoods. But the best time to experience the canal is at night during the summer — because hundreds of people come to the canal with beer, wine, and food and hang out with friends.
This grand boulevard is often called the world’s most beautiful avenue and it runs between Place de la Concorde and Arc de Triomphe. It’s mainly a place for tourists to walk along its large sidewalks and shop in the high-end retail establishments — but it’s something you do at least once while you visit Paris.
There is a network of over 200 miles of caves, tunnels and quarries under the streets of Paris. One section of these underground tunnels houses the bones of more than six million people — which has been neatly stacked and arranged. Now it’s a fairly popular/bizarre tourist attraction. Note: Get there earl. The line gets very long because they limit the amount of people that can be in the catacombs so you can easily wait a few hours to get in if you arrive too long after opening.
The Montparnasse Tower is the only skyscraper within the city limits of Paris. It’s universally hated as being an eyesore. However, the views from the top are amazing. The best views of the city and it has the best views of the Eiffel Tower. Best of all, it rarely gets too busy so it’s doubtful you’ll even have to wait in line.
As you can see, Paris has so much to offer. While this list hits many of the highlights, we encourage you to look at the dozens of other museums, parks, gardens, and sights to find the things that interest you the most.