Paris history trail: 5 unmissable sites and monuments

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When in Paris, there are some sites that can’t be missed. Whether you choose to get up close and personal, or admire from afar, these historic monuments are must-sees for any travelling history buff.

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1. Sacré-Cœur

The Day of 10,000 Steps #SacreCœur #Paris #Europe2k15

A photo posted by Rhiannon (@cacophon0usly) on

The Sacré-Cœur stands proudly on a hill in Montmartre overlooking Paris’s cityscape. In the wake of France’s defeat by Prussia, a vow was made to build a church dedicated to the Sacred Heart. Funded from donations and designed by architect Paul Abadie after he won the public tender, construction began in 1875. Climb the stairs to the base of the basilica or jump aboard the funicular and take in views that rival those from the Eiffel Tower.  

2. Eiffel Tower

One of the most visited monuments in the world, the striking Eiffel Tower was built in 1889 for the World’s Fair. Designed by Gustave Eiffel, this engineering feat reaches 324 metres high and was erected within a short timeframe of just over two years. Along with a photo of croissants, an image of the Eiffel Tower will be the biggest giveaway that you’re in Paris.

3. Musée du Louvre

The French are so gaudy. I love it.

A photo posted by Alex Modisette (@alex.modisette) on

With over a dazzling 70,000 artworks under its roof, Musée du Louvre is one of the world’s most spectacular gallery spaces. Enter through the glass pyramid and explore areas that were once part of a fortress and later, a palace. Housing da Vinci’s infamous Mona Lisa, viewing the pieces showcased within the Louvre will be a once in a lifetime moment for any historic art lover.  

4. Notre-Dame Cathedral

Notre Damn that line-up #dayfive #notredamecathedral #sundaymass #TrishainFrance A photo posted by Trisha Bernardo (@trishabernana) on

Sitting on a tiny island in the middle of the river Seine, the Notre-Dame Cathedral is impossible to ignore. Opened in 1345, it’s intricate Gothic design took over 200 years to perfect, and has been tainted by age and war. Still, the beauty of this Catholic church shines through and will leave visitors in awe of its towering presence. For the full experience, attend a mass but keep in mind that all readings and prayers will be in French.

5. Arc de Triomphe

The Arc de Triomphe! #Paris #ArcdeTriomphe

A photo posted by Maddie Ybarra (@maybarra32) on

What an arch! Guarding the top end of Paris’s most infamous boulevard Avenue des Champs-Élysées, the Arc de Triomphe stands tall in honour of those who lost their lives fighting for France. Engraved with the names of wars won and over 550 generals who fought, this monument is a touching tribute worth visiting.

(Feature image: Moyan Brenn)

Paris history trail: 5 unmissable sites and monuments was last modified: June 26th, 2019 by Claire Plush
Author: Claire Plush (36 posts)

I tell stories because I’m a photographer and a writer, blogging at The past 9 years have been a hearty mixture of study, travel and new experiences, and have been split between Noosa, Raglan (New Zealand) and more recently, Paris.