Things to Do in Paris - page 3
With a history dating back to the 1940s and a prime location on the glittering Champs-Élysées, Lido de Paris is one of Paris’ most famous and celebrated cabarets. The legendary show is a feast for the senses, with mesmerizing choreography, dazzling costumes, a medley of foot-stomping show tunes, the famous Bluebell Girls—and, in true French fashion, Champagne.
Built in 1653 by Cardinal de Richelieu, the impressive La Sorbonne building in Paris’ Latin Quarter (Quartier Latin) houses classrooms for several universities, including the University of Paris. In addition to a historic library, the Sorbonne campus—the intellectual heart of the student-filled district—features a chapel and an airy courtyard.
Pont de l’Alma (Alma Bridge) is a Parisian bridge built in 1854 in commemoration of the Franco-British alliance’s victory over the Russian army during the Crimean War. The bridge underwent complete rebuilding in the 1970s in order to accommodate the rapidly increasing road and river traffic – only the statues were retained from the original structure. The arch bridge is now 42 meters large and 153 meters long, and links the right and left banks of the Seine River.
Pont de l’Alma offers splendid views of the Eiffel Tower and is often the go-to location for photographers wanting to capture Paris. What made the bridge a household name worldwide, however, is the role it played in Lady Diana’s death; indeed, she perished in a car crash at the entrance of the bridge’s tunnel in 1997. The Flame of Liberty at the bridge's north end has become an unofficial memorial to her memory.
Place Dauphine is an iconic public square wedged between lavish townhouses on the western tip of Ile de la Cité in Paris. The square was the second project of the “royal squares program” instigated by Henri IV – the first one being what is now known as Place des Vosges – and was named after his son, soon-to-be Dauphin of France Louis XIII. To this day, it remains one of the most prestigious areas in the city.
The square’s – which is actually triangular in shape – westernmost corner connects to Pont Neuf, linking the right and left banks of the Seine River. Although the houses surrounding Place Dauphine were built in the early 1600s, only two have preserved their original features, i.e., the two located on either side of the narrow entrance leading to Pont Neuf. Nowadays, the oddly three-sided square is popular with both locals enjoying apéro and photographers searching for a quintessential Paris atmosphere.
Fronting the magnificent Jardin des Tuilieries and looking out across the Seine River, the Musée de l'Orangerie (Orangerie Museum) is situated in one of Paris’ most idyllic locations. The prestigious art museum is home to a number of masterpieces, but it’s most famous for its series of MonetWater Lilies paintings.
One of Paris’ liveliest markets, the Marché d’Aligre, located in the 12th arrondissement, includes an open-air portion and a covered portion (which is sometimes referred to as the Marché Beauvau). Open six days a week, this popular market sells everything from fresh produce, cheese, and meat to antiques and housewares.
One of Paris’ top literary landmarks, Shakespeare and Company is an English-language bookstore in the Latin Quarter opened in 1951 by George Whitman. It was named after a bookstore founded in 1919 by Sylvia Beach, famous for hosting luminaries including Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, and Gertrude Stein.
Built as a presidential monument to Jacques Chirac, the Quai Branly Museum (Musée du Quai Branly) is a museum in Paris that feature thousands of artifacts from indigenous cultures across the globe. In addition to permanent and temporary exhibitions, the museum houses a library, lecture hall, garden, rooftop terrace, and two cafes.
First opened in 1895 by Theophile Bader, Galeries Lafayette is a department store in Paris that houses luxury fashion brands including Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and Christian Dior. In addition to a stained glass dome ceiling and rooftop terrace with views of the Eiffel Tower, Galeries Lafayette features weekly fashion shows on Friday afternoons.
Paris’ largest and most prestigious cemetery, the Père Lachaise Cemetery (Cimetière du Père Lachaise) was founded in 1804. Today it contains more than 70,000 ornate tombs, including those of some of France’s most important public figures.
More Things to Do in Paris
Servicing over 700,000 passengers every day (for a total of 190 million a year) Gare du Nord is the busiest railway station in Europe—and the busiest in the world outside Japan. The building itself, with its neoclassical design and soaring skylights, is a magnificent mix of engineering prowess and aesthetic beauty.
Located on Île de la Cité, one of the two remaining natural islands in the River Seine, the Palais de Justice is what remains of the former Royal Palace. Situated between the Gothic royal Sainte-Chapelle chapel and the former Conciergerie prison, the Palais de Justice is infamous for its role as a public execution site during the French Revolution.
A key element of Paris’ skyline, the Montparnasse Tower (Tour Montparnasse) stands in monolithic, modern contrast to the Hausmannian boulevards below. Debuted in 1973, the tower was France’s tallest building for decades; its stark look has caused controversy since its unveiling. Even still, there’s no arguing with the panoramic views visitors can glean from its observation deck.
Located in the famed Latin Quarter, Saint Étienne du Mont (Église Saint-Étienne-du-Mont) is one of Paris’ most interesting churches. The Gothic-Renaissance–style structure features two unique spiral staircases and the only remaining rood screen—an ornate partition common in medieval churches that separates the clergy from the worshippers—in Paris.
The Cluny Museum (Musée de Cluny) is a popular highlight of Paris’ Latin Quarter. Best known for its six-part Lady and the Unicorn tapestry cycle, the institution also contains thousands of other objects, from illuminated manuscripts to sculptures.
Paris’ business district is home to office buildings and other high-rise structures, developed in this area just outside the city limits so as not to ruin central Paris’ historical landscape. Not many visitors make it out to La Défense, but those who do are rewarded with modern art and architecture that provide a new perspective on the city.
There are plenty of galleries and museums in Paris dedicated to individual artists. But the Dalí Paris is more than just paintings on a wall. In a style befitting Salvador Dalí's surreal school of art, it is a full-immersion experience. There is music playing, usually a big no-no in the more hallowed halls of art; there are sculpture versions of his paintings, giving visitors a chance to rethink these famous pieces; and there's even a full roster of children's events that welcome a new generation to get to know Dalí better. There are also some videos and other multimedia exhibits that take you into the mind of this brilliant artist.
Your entrance fee also covers the museum's neighbor, Galerie Montmartre, which features works by today's artists.
The École Militaire is a large complex of buildings located in the 7th neighborhood (arrondissement) of Paris that houses several different military training facilities. The original military school was founded in 1750 by Louis XV, who wanted to create an academic college for cadet officers from poor families. One of the school’s more well-known students was Napoleon Bonaparte, who graduated from the École Militaire in one year instead of the standard two. The impressively decorated building is still home to a training school for officers in the French army. The buildings are located within sight of the Eiffel Tower and the Trocadero – very close to the Champ de Mars, which originally served as a parade ground for the school’s troops and students. The front facade of the building (facing the Eiffel Tower) is decorated with true 18th-century grandeur and still contains bullet holes where German units made a ‘last stand’ prior to the liberation of Paris in WWII.
Architect Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, better known as Le Corbusier, made this weekend retreat outside Paris into a modernist masterwork. From the facade to the concrete columns, Villa Savoye exemplifies Le Corbusier’s ‘Five Points of Architecture,’ and it’s included among his other finest achievements on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The grandiose Château de Vaux-de-Vicomte is one of France’s most impressive architectural landmarks. Designed by the same architects behind the Palace of Versailles, the palace is a Baroque masterpiece surrounded by manicured French gardens, decorative moats, and traditional drawbridges.
The streets of Paris are filled with romance and excitement, but for travelers looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, a wander along the scenic 2.8-mile-long (4.6-kilometer-long) Canal Saint-Martin, the canal connecting the Canal de l'Ourcq to the river Seine, offers a welcome respite from the city’s urban energy.
Once a port for industry and trade, the Bassin de la Villette is now a Parisian hub for travelers looking to explore the arts and culture that make the City of Lights so unique. A popular youth hostel, three-star hotel, famous restaurants and plenty of live performance venues draw travelers to Bassin de la Villette, where it’s possible to escape the hustle of Paris streets and relax into the scenic waterway.
While this destination is worth a visit any time of year, the summer’s month-long Paris-Plage festival is among the best reasons to make a stop. Seaside banks become almost resort like as local rolls out deck chairs and floating wooden cafes pass by selling strong coffees and warm pastries. Public picnic areas and classic dance floors draw locals and tourists out of doors to pass summer nights swaying in the ocean breeze.
Located on the edge of the eighth and 19th arrondissements, Pigalle has long had a reputation for debauchery. Paris’ former red-light district and a haven for turn-of-the-20th-century bohemians, Pigalle is today renowned for its (sometimes sordid) nightlife and festive spirit—as well as world-famous venues like the Moulin Rouge.
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