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Visitor guide to Paris





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Eiffel towerParis
offers the largest concentration  of tourist attractions in France, and possibly in Europe. Besides some of the world's most famous musuems, its offers a vibrant historic city centre, a beautiful riverscape, an extensive range of historic monuments, including cathedrals, chapels and palaces, plus one of the most famous nightlife scenes int he world.  
     Paris is also famous for its cafés and restaurants, its theatres and cinemas, and just its general ambiance. While there are a thousand other things to do in Paris apart from those mentioned on this page, for the traveller spending no more than a week in Paris, this list offers more than enough choice to fill the time. Note that national museums (i.e. the main museums) are generally closed on Tuesdays - though a few, including the Musée d'Orsay, are closed on Mondays.



Paris museums:  

Mona Lisa - JocondeThe Louvre - one of the world's great art galleries, with masterpieces such as the Mona Lisa, and works by almost every great master there has ever been. The Louvre is also a major museum, with an exceptionally rich collection of antiquities and artefacts, including Egyptian mummies, Classical bronzes, and artefacts from round the world. Note: the Louvre is closed on Tuesdays.

The Musée d'Orsay (Paris 7- Metro Solférino) , the museum of the nineteenth century, containg the works of the Impressionists - Monet, Manet, Sisley, Van Gogh, Renoir and others. Note: closed on Mondays.

The Musée d'Art Moderne, at the Trocadero. The City of Paris's collection of modern art. And it's free.

The Musée Marmottan, in the 16th Arondissement, with a fine collection of Monets and other French art.

Centre Georges Pompidou, (Beaubourg, 4° arrondissement), Large collection of avant garde art, housed in a very avant garde building. Open 11 a.m. to  9 p.m., closed on Tuesdays.

Musée Rodin 7° arrondissement - museum devoted to the works of the great sculptor Auguste Rodin. Closed Mondays.
Musée National Picasso, 3° arrond. Metro St.Paul .

Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris 1°. Metro Louvre. Museum of decorative arts, close to the Louvre.


Free museums:
- City of Paris Museum of Modern Art, at the Trocadéro
- Maison de Balzac, devoted to France's great 19th century novelist.
- Musée Carnavalet - the museum of the history of Paris
- Petit Palais, City of Paris museum of fine arts; a large collection of great master paintings and artefacts. Located just off the Champs Elysées

Free only on the first Sunday of each month:
The Louvre,  Musée Rodin, Musée Picasso, Musée d'Orsay and others.
The Paris Museum Pass:
this allows unlimited visits to 60 museums and sites in and around Paris: however, to make it worthwhile you would really need to take in at least three museums a day over 2, 4 or 6 consecutive days. Given that it is easy to spend a full day (9 a.m - 6 p.m.) in the Louvre alone - cost 9 Euros a day - the cheapest Paris Museum Pass, at 30 €uros for 2 days - is hard to justify unless you are planning just an hour and a half on average per museum.
The pass is on sale at most participating museums - which means most main Paris museums. 
TIP: if visiting Paris in a busy tourist period, start by visiting a less busy museum, such as the Musée Rodin, the Army Museum, or the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. Buy your pass here, then avoid the (often long) ticket queues for the other busier museums.

Click here for more information

Main Paris sites and sights:

The Eiffel tower - take the lift to the top, for a spectacular panorama of Paris. The tower is 317 metres high, over 1,000 ft.
Notre Dame cathedral - one of the finest gothic cathedrals in Europe. Climb the 400 steps to the top of the towers (included in Paris Museum pass).
La Sainte Chapelle, not far from Notre Dame. thirteenth century royal chapel, with remarkable stained glass windows. (included in Paris Museum pass)
The Arc de Triomphe - the largest triumphal arch in the world, commissioned by Napoleon. Another place with spectacular views over Paris. (included in Paris Museum pass)
Montmartre, and the Sacré Coeur.  Narrow streets, filled with artists, round the 19th century basilica on top of a hill on the north edge of Paris.
The banks of the Seine - just wander along the footpaths through the centre of the city. Free !
The Latin quarter; narrow streets, with lots of cafés and restaurants, antique shops and boutiques, near the Sorbonne university. Free!
Les Champs Elysées; one of the most famous streets in the world, a broad tree-lined boulevard. Enjoy a drink on a pavement café, but watch the prices !
Seine river boats (les bateaux mouche). Take a trip on one of the famous Seine river boats, and see Paris from the river. Departures from the Pont Neuf. Or use the Batobus.. daily and weekly passes from 12 to 17 Euros.
Les Invalides A fine military museum, containing the tomb of Napoleon, and a remarkable collection of historic models of French cities (included in Paris Museum pass).
The Moulin Rouge: the most famous cabaret in Paris, situated in Pigalle at the foot of Montmartre. Running since 1889.


And some other things to see and do for independent-minded visitors....

Paris panorama: see Paris from the top of the Tour Montparnasse, the tallest office block in the city. Panoramic viewing area, and it's the only place from which the Paris skyline isn't spoiled by the tour Montparnasse...
The Gardens of the Luxembourg; the classic Paris city park. Off Boulevard St. Michel in the Latin quarter.
Paris by night: Many tour-bus operators run Paris by night tours; but there's no need to take a tour. The lights and sights can be seen in may ways. The most carefree option is to just stroll down the Champs Elysées and along the banks of the Seine, looking at the lights and the illuminated monuments that can often be seen from afar. Then there plenty of restaurants with chairs and tables outside, where you can have dinner and watch the world go by. Then of course there is Pigalle, Paris's raunchy nightlife district, with its arrray of bars, cabarets, clubs and shows.
The Paris sewer museum. (Musée des égouts) Quai d'Orsay - (Metro Alma-Marceau) There is a whole underground city beneath the Paris streets, and the  Metro is just one part of it. The ancient sewerage system is a historic monument, and it has its own museum and tour visit.
Père Lachaise cemetry. (Metro Père Lachaise) in northeast Paris - where many famous Parisians of the past, and others, have been buried . Graves include those of Proust,  Victor Hugo, Molière, Oscar Wilde, and Jim Morrison.

Paris catacombs
The Paris catacombs

1, avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy   75014 Paris      Tél. : 01 43 22 47 63
Metro Denfert-Rochereau
Eery underground ossuary, filled with the bones and skeletons of some 6 million Parisians, removed from city graveyards between 1786 and the mid 19th century. 2 km walk underground. 130 steps down, 83 up.  Website 
Reservation recommended.
 

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