Paris did not become the most popular tourist destination in the world by some fluke. The city has everything: food, history, architecture, museums, art, entertainment, and more! Although it would take an entire book to list each and every wonderful thing to do in the city, we tried to narrow it down to the ten best. To reach all these incredible destinations, one could take the subway station. However, a city notorious for its hot and sweaty subway rides, we suggest you explore the city with a breeze on your face. Specifically, a breeze from the best open-top sightseeing in Paris, atop one of our Open Tour buses!
1. The Louvre
The Louvre is commonly known for two things: the big illuminated glass-triangle and home to the Mona Lisa. While both are true—and intriguing—The Louvre is so, so much more. In fact, The Louvre is the biggest museum in the world. If you were to spend just 30 seconds at each piece of art, it would still take over a month to view it all. Standing for over 800 years, the Louvre has become one of France’s most famous icons, and is an absolute necessity for anyone visiting Paris.
Giverny, located in the northern region of France called Normandy, is only about an hour train ride outside of Paris. The area supplies a wonder and welcome reprise from the bustling onslaught of the city. Giverny is most famous for being the muse of Claude Monet. The iconic water lilies bridge that Monet became so renowned for in his later years is located in this resplendent region, which is why the Claude Monet museum is located here. The area is almost like one massive garden, a must visit for any lover of art or gardens.
3. The Palace of Versailles
It’s hard to imagine that a palace as extravagant as Versailles began as a mere hunting lodge, but that’s exactly what happened. Over 2,000 acres, Versailles is now the world’s largest royal domain. The building houses the French Parliament and welcomes some 1.5 million visitors every year. The visitors come to see some of world’s richest, most-elaborate architecture and flowing from the building are various gardens exploding with color and intricate landscaping.
4. Notre-Dame de Paris
Construction beginning in the 12th century and continuing through the 14th, Notre Dame is one of the first and finest structures built in the Gothic style architecture. The massive church is also one of the first examples of the flying buttress, which can be seen in the arched structures jutting out the sides of the building. Inside the structure is no less extravagant. Some of the world’s most beautiful stained glass can be seen in its full glory as sun streams in, illuminating the church in a rainbow of colors.
5. Arc de Triomphe
Out of all the arches in the world, the most famous one may reside within Paris. The massive arch is located at the west end of the Champs-Élysées. It stands in the middle of a dodecagonal configuration of twelve radiating avenues. The Arc, built in 1836, stood as the tallest in the world for over a hundred years. Still one of the tallest, the Arc De Triomphe is a sight to behold. Open for tours, the view from the Arc de Triomphe is one of the best in Paris—especially at night, when the City of Lights is fully illuminated.
6. Musée d'Orsay
Although not as large nor as famous as the Louvre, the Musée d'Orsay is still one of the world’s premier museums. Housed on the left bank of the Seine, the museum is home to a cornucopia of French art, predominately originating from the years 1848 to 1914. The building itself is an extravagant repurposed railway station. Inside you can find the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces in the world. Some of the most recognizable works from renowned French painters such as Monet, Van Gogh, and Degas, among many others, can be found here.
2. The Eiffel Tower
Putting The Eiffel Tower on this list is slightly redundant. Is there really anyone who visits Paris without taking a trip to the iconic tower? Since the Eiffel Tower is the tallest building in Paris, it’s harder to not spot it on the skyline than to spot it. But nothing compares to seeing it up close—especially when it is lit up at night.
8. Louis Vuitton Foundation
Although the name can be misconceiving, the Louis Vuitton Foundation is not a fashion store. The building was designed by the world-famous architect Frank Gehry. Constructed from 3,600 panels of glass, the building is scalloped; the thousands of panels form giant overlapping “sails”. Imagine a giant glass and steel ship, that’s the best way to describe this beautiful monster. If you manage to break your trance from the other-worldly architecture, inside you can find a contemporary art gallery, including famous artists such as Basquiat and Koons.
9. Avenue des Champs-Élysées
Every massive tourist city must have a staple tourist area. New York has Times Square, London has Piccadilly Circus, and Paris has the Champs-Élysées. The area is overflowing with people, absorbing sights, taking pictures, and eating food. Walking along the street, you can find a myriad of restaurants and shops—certainly a great place to buy souvenirs for your friends back home.
Located at butte Montmarte, the highest point in Paris, the Sacré-Cœur is a majestic Roman Catholic church and minor basilica. Over a century old, the basilica has managed to stay almost as pristinely white as the day it opened. Atop the hill provides a wonderful view, but the view from a walk around the church’s dome is even better. Also, don’t forget to visit the crypts located under the magnificent structure.