Last Updated on 23rd November 2020 by Sophie Nadeau
Iconic sights, secret spots, and all the locations you may have heard of, but never thought to visit. If you’re looking for picturesque Paris, then you should stop your search now… Because here are 25 breathtakingly beautiful places to visit in Paris that you won’t want to miss on any trip to the City of Lights!
#1 Trocadéro at sunrise
If there’s one first time tip I’d give any newcomer to Paris, it would be to get up early and head to Trocadéro to watch the sunrise over the Eiffel Tower. And I promise you that once there, the early wake-up alarm will be worth it! After all, this is a cool place to visit, especially before the rest of the crowds are up!
Early in the morning, the light is beautiful and there are few people around, meaning that you can capture the Tour Eiffel at its very best. After snapping plenty of photos at the water mirror (officially known as the Fountain of Warsaw), take yourself on a beautiful morning stroll alongside the River Seine. Head towards the Louvre Museum and en route you’ll pass iconic locations such as Passerelle Debilly and Musée d’Orsay.
Read more: The one thing you must do in Paris!
#2 Parc des Buttes Chaumont
Magical and off-the-beaten-tourist-track, Parc des Buttes Chaumont is located in the 19e arrondissement of the city and is a Paris must-see. Filled with follies, secret spots, plenty of cherry blossoms in the springtime, and even its own hidden waterfall complete with grotto, the park is the perfect place to hang out on a sunny day.
Constructed on a former refuse site during the 19th-century at the behest of Napoleon III, the park was created under the watchful eye of Jean-Charles Adolphe Alphand, a man now interred in the Père Lachaise cemetery. Visit Buttes Chaumont today and you can expect to discover an impressive suspension bridge designed by Gustave Eiffel and the imposing Temple de la Sybille which is perched high above the rest of the park.
Read more: How to visit Parc des Buttes Chaumont
#3 Colonnes de Buren
The once controversial columns of Colonnes de Buren are also known as ‘Les Deux Plateaux’. Created by a French artist in the 1980s, the artistic installation comprises of dozens of candy-striped cylindrical blocks, all of varying heights. Though this spot is less of a secret since the arrival of Instagram, it still remains one of the most beautiful places to visit in Paris!
For the best photos of this increasingly popular location, be sure to head to the area earlier in the day, and mid-week if possible. Nearby, the entrance to the Palais Royal metro station boasts some stunning Murano glass, while Palais Royal itself is where Parisians actually hang out. Stroll around during the springtime and you can even expect to enjoy some of the best magnolia blossoms the city have to offer.
Read more: A quick history of the Colonnes de Buren.
#4 Musée de l’Orangerie
Home to Monet’s waterlilies, the fabulous pavilion of the Orangerie Museum is located in the heart of Jardin des Tuileries, not far from the Louvre. Best visited earlier in the day and midweek (so that you get the place to yourself!) there’s also plenty of other modern artwork aside from the lilies.
Though many people place a visit to the Orangery at the top of their French bucket list, they may well not know that the ethereal waterlily paintings housed there were actually commissioned for the space! And that’s not all. As well as the Monet artworks, the underground of this surprisingly large museums hosts plenty of contemporary and modern artwork by famous artists from all over the world.
#5 Paris Pantheon
Of course, Rome has a Pantheon… But so does Paris! Originally built as a church dedicated to Saint Genevieve (the Patroness of Paris whose relics now lie in a church in the shadow of the Pantheon, that of Saint-Etienne-du-Mont), the 18th-century building is now a mausoleum for French citizens of note.
Voltaire and Marie Curie are both interred there, as are many other writers, politicians, painters, philosophers, and scientists. The interior of the domed structure is stunning and at its very heart, you’ll find Foucault’s Pendulum, a 19th-century, 67 metre high, swinging pendulum clock.
If you have a little more time to spare, then be sure to purchase a ticket to head up to the dome, where you’ll be rewarded with one of the best views of Paris. From the top, you’ll soon spy delights such as the Eiffel Tower, the Jardin du Luxembourg, and plenty of Haussmannian architecture.
Read more: Paris Pantheon, feminism & Voltaire.
#6 Rue Cremieux
Pastel shades and candy hues: Rue Cremieux was once one of the most secret spots in the city. However, since the arrival of social media, this is less so- though the road is still incredibly beautiful! Best seen earlier in the day and midweek (so as to avoid the crowds), this road is well worth a wander along, if only to experience Parisian architecture that’s not Haussmanian!
#7 Square Marcel Bleustein Blanchet
Instead of sticking to the beaten tourist track when it comes to the 18th arrondissement of Paris (i.e. the Montmartre district), head to the charming Square Marcel Bleustein Blanchet for one of the best views of the Sacré-Coeur to be found anywhere in Paris.
Filled with wisteria during late spring and fall foliage in the autumn, this secret spot is the perfect place to enjoy a picnic with friends! Installed on a patch of land that was once home to one of the lost windmills of Paris, nearby you’ll soon see the Montmartre vineyard and Musée de Montmartre, a small house museum that tells the story of this unique Parisian arrondissement.
#8 Butte Bergeyre
Secluded and out the way, Butte Bergeyre is one of the most secret micro-arrondissements to be found anywhere in the city. Accessible via only one winding road and two sets of steep pedestrian steps, climb to the top and you’ll be rewarded with magnificent views of the Sacré-Coeur, as well as a little vineyard!
Once in this secluded mini-district that even very few Parisians themselves know about, you’ll soon discover a plethora of art deco villas dating back to the early 20th-century. Pretty in pastel hues, they’re worlds away from the Haussmannian architecture that’s usually so synonymous with the City of Light.
Read more: Welcome to my secret Parisian vineyard
#9 Au Vieux Paris d’Arcole
For the quaintest café in Paris, then you simply must head to the coffee shop of Au Vieux Paris’ d’Arcole. Situated just a short walk away from the iconic towers of Notre Dame Cathedral, the cute coffee shop is covered in wisteria in the springtime, populated with pumpkins in the autumn, and is decked out in decorations for Christmas.
Rue Chanoinesse, where Au Vieux Paris d’Arcole lies has changed little since medieval times thanks to the existence of a nearby now defunct monastery and is a great glimpse into what much of Paris must have once looked like. Next to the coffee shop, a small courtyard is paved with many repurposed gravestones.
Read more: A quick guide to Île de la Cité.
#10 Jardin du Luxembourg
If you’re looking for a little calm away from the hustle and bustle of everyday Parisian life, then the Jardin du Luxembourg is just steps away from the Paris Pantheon and nearby Sorbonne University. Also known as the Luxembourg Gardens, this green space can be found in the Latin Quarter of the city.
The green oasis was created by order of Catherine de Medici in the 17th-century. Today, it’s free to visit, open to the public, and where all the locals hang out in the summer months. Nearby, the Church of Saint Sulpice is easily one of the most beautiful ecclesiastical buildings in the city, and even featured in Dan Brown’s book, the Da Vinci Code.
#11 Pont Alexandre III
Often said to be the most beautiful bridge in the world, Pont Alexandre III crosses at the point of the Seine where the end of the Champs Élysées is just a short walk away and the glistening dome of the final resting place of Napoleon, Les Invalides, is visible from the river. The bridge is best visited at golden hour and is a must-see on any trip to Paris!
Named after Tsar Alexander III (who had formed a strong alliance with the French just a few years prior), it’s easily one of the best places to watch the sunset in Paris. From the bridge, it’s also possible to see several Parisian monuments, including Les Invalides, and the Eiffel Tower.
Read more: Instagram guide to Paris.
#12 The Louvre Museum
Best seen at sunset or sunrise when candy colours dance across the sky, even if you’re ‘not so much of a museum person,’ the magnificent architecture of the Louvre merits a visit whether it’s your first or five-hundredth time in Paris.
The Juxtaposition of old and new can be found in the largest museum in the world’s inner courtyard. Enter inside, and once you’ve seen iconic treasures such as the Winged Victory of Samothrace and the Mona Lisa, the Louvre has plenty of other secrets to uncover…
#13 Notre Dame in Cherry Blossom Season
Paris is one of the best European cities to head to in the spring; fewer crowds, warmer weather, and longer days are just a few great reasons to visit the city in the springtime! This becomes especially apparent when you head to the little garden next to Notre Dame during the period of spring blooms.
Filled with cherry blossom trees, this quiet little square is easily one of the most beautiful places to visit in Paris and is the perfect place to sit down with a good book! Editor’s note: Due to a terrible fire in April of 2019, Notre Dame Cathedral is closed until further notice, as is the immediate area surrounding the ecclesiastical building.
#14 Bibliothèque Forney & Hôtel de Sens
For the chance to study or work in a former medieval mansion, then you simply must head to Le Marais! All you need to gain library membership is a passport style photo and some photo ID (i.e. your passport or driving license). Then, you’ll be free to enter the Bibliothèque which is dedicated to the decorative arts and style.
Though the desks and bookshelves inside the former Bishop’s Palace may be modern, the architectural details are not and some date all the way back to the middle ages! Nearby, the Hôtel de Sens Garden is a quiet well-manicured garden that’s the perfect spot to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and curl up with a book for a little while.
#15 Galeries Lafayette
The art nouveau architecture of Galeries Lafayette’s flagship store means that the shop is well worth a wander into, if only to admire the stunning stained glass and snap a quick few photos! During the festive season every Christmas, a giant tree is erected in the shop’s centre, while a free panoramic rooftop terrace is open year-round and offers views onto the Eiffel Tower and the rest of Paris!
Read more: Galeries Lafayette rooftop terrace.
Throughout Paris, there are small pockets of calm which were once villages in their own right. One of the quirkiest of these is Butte-aux-Cailles, a micro-arrondissement. As its name suggests, the village is located atop a ‘butte’ (hill) and is home to lots of little bars, eateries, and specialist stores, including one which caters specifically to apiarists (i.e. beekeepers!).
The former village was also where the world’s first ever hot air balloon ride took off! Situated in the lesser-explored and a little off the beaten tourist track 13th arrondissement of the city, wander around at any given moment and you can expect to find oodles of art nouveau architecture and a late 19th-century church, that of Saint Anne.
Read more: Your ultimate guide to Butte Aux Cailles
#17 Rue des Rosiers
Located in Le Marais area of the city, Rue des Rosiers is literally translated as ‘road of the rosebushes’ is a picturesque street that’s easily one of the most beautiful places to visit in Paris. Filled with small eateries, the area is also well-known for its independent fashion stores and small boutiques.
And if you’re vegan or vegetarian in Paris (or you simply want to grab a quick and delicious bite to eat), then it’s well worth noting that L’As du Fallafel can be found at 32-34 Rue des Rosiers and is easily some of the best food to be found in Le Marais.
Read more: The prettiest streets in Paris!
#18 College des Bernardins
Fans of ecclesiastical history will love the Latin Quater. After all, it’s home to firm favourites like the Paris Pantheon, and Église Saint-Severin, a church near Shakespeare and Co where the interior columns have been constructed in a way that’s reminiscent of a forest.
The district is also where you’ll find the Collège des Bernardins, a former Cistercian College turned cultural hub where philosophical and ecclesiastical lectures are held on a regular basis. Elsewhere in the Latin Quarter, there are plenty of beautiful churches of note, including that of Saint Séverin and Église Saint-Éphrem-le-Syriaque.
Read more: How to visit College des Bernardins
#19 Place Dalida & La Maison Rose
Yes, I realise that Montmartre has already been mentioned several times on this list of the most beautiful places to visit in Paris! However, the truth is that the 18e arrondissement really is the most picturesque postcard-perfect area of Paris.
That is, if only you give the district a chance to show you its beautiful cobbled lanes and secret passages away from the tourist-populated areas surrounding the Sacré-Coeur and artists hotspot of Place du Tertre. Head to Place Dalida to capture *that* photo and wander along Rue de l’Abreuvoir to catch a glimpse of La Maison Rose.
Pretty in purple (literally!), Sainte-Chapelle is one of the gems of the Ile de la Cité district of the city. Originally built to house the Crown of Thorns, a Christian relic which is alleged to be the Crown of Thorns placed on Jesus’ head and is now housed in nearby Notre Dame, the stained glass of Sainte-Chapelle is one of the best examples of medieval stained glass in the world.
Though there were once plenty more Sainte-Chapelle ecclesiastical buildings dotted all around France, today just a handful of these remain. Some of the best-known examples can be found in Vincennes, on the fringes of Paris, and at Châteaudun, a medieval town in the Loire Valley.
Read more: How to visit Sainte Chapelle in Paris
#21 The clock at Musée d’Orsay
If you’re a fan of impressionist art, then the Musée d’Orsay will likely need no introduction. Full of paintings by well-known names like Monet, Picasso, and Van Gogh, the museum is housed in a former train station. As such, the museum is not only noted for its collections, but also its layout and use of space!
The building itself was constructed between 1898 and 1900 and the top floor of the museum remains home to the station’s grand clock/ giant window which offers views onto the Seine and the Sacré-Coeur. In the adjacent dining/ café/ bistro area, there’s a replica clock, alongside which you can grab a bite to eat.
Read more: Iconic photo locations in Paris.
#22 Hameau de la Reine (Versailles day trip)
Of course, everyone has heard of the Palace of Versailles and it’s a must-see for any first time visitor to the city. But did you know that the Palace is much more than the ornate gilding of the Hall of Mirrors or the André Le Notre designed gardens?
Instead, there are several smaller (‘small’ being a relative term here!) palaces a couple of kilometres from the former Royal Residence known as the Grand Trianon, and Petit Trianon, respectively. In the gardens of the Petit Trianon, there’s a farm and hamlet known as the ‘Hameau de la Reine’ which is where Marie Antoinette would go and play ‘dress-up’ with her ladies and waiting.
#23 Le Clos Montmartre
It’s a little-known secret that Paris is still populated with several vineyards, all of which are dotted around the City of Lights. Today one of the most beautiful places to visit in Paris is Le Clos Montmartre. Sadly, it’s not possible for the public to wander among the vines, apart from during select dates in the autumn when the wine harvest takes place.
However, the vineyard can still be admired from the roadside, or from the gardens of the nearby and picturesque Musée de Montmartre. Of course, the 18th arrondissement also has plenty of other fun attractions worth visiting, including the pretty as a postcard Place Dalida and the cobbled lanes dotted behind the Sacré-Coeur Basilica.
Read more: The hidden vineyard of the 18e.
#24 Provins (Medieval Town Day Trip)
Once one of the most important medieval cities in France, if not all of Europe, today Provins is an off the beaten tourist path French town that’s just an hour or so from Paris. Filled with timber-framed houses and plenty of cobbled lanes, a wander through this French settlement is like stepping back in time.
Easily one of the best day trips from Paris, the centuries-old city of Provins boasts delights such as a maze of underground passages that can be explored via a guided tour, a basilica where Joan of Arc once attended mass, and a 12th-century well-preserved watchtower known locally as Tour César.
#25 Chantilly (Château day trip)
For the most magical French Château in the Île de France region, then you simply must hop on the half hour train from the Gare du Nord to Chantilly. Once there, you’ll find that the Domaine de Chantilly has all the trappings of a French fairytale (especially when seen at sunrise).
Elsewhere in the castle’s expansive grounds, there’s a hamlet which inspired that of Marie Antoinette’s at Versailles. The château itself dates back to the Middle Ages and now houses Musée Condé, a museum housing the second largest collection of artworks in France after the Louvre.
Read more: Day trip to Château de Chantilly.