There’s not a corner in Paris where you won’t find something worth visiting: an ancient church, an art gallery, or an atmospheric jazz bar. But even the more obvious attractions are well worth exploring. Here’s our pick.
Originally conceived by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1806 to commemorate his army’s victory at the Battle of Austerlitz, the Arc de Triomphe is the largest triumphal arch in the world and took 30 years to complete. The eternal flame, underneath the sculpted arch and above the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, has been relit every day at 6.30pm since 11 November 1923. This is the site of the official New Year’s Eve street party in the city, culminating in a spectacular light show at midnight.
The Canal Saint-Martin was dug between 1802 and 1825 and was paid for by funds generated from a tax on wine. Funny, then, that today it should be one of the most popular places in Paris for a liquid picnic. Shops, cafés and bars line the banks of the canal, and on summer days, locals gather on the water’s edge with baguettes, cheese and wine for a relaxed al fresco meal.
The Église du Dôme, with its piercing gold spire, is the crowning glory of Les Invalides, a former military hospital and retirement home that was commissioned by Louis XIV in 1670 and finished in 1708. The complex of 15 interconnected courtyards now hosts a military museum, the Musée de l’Armée, as well as the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte.
Only a few moments away from Trocadéro, in the 16th arrondissement, the Palais de Tokyo is Europe’s largest contemporary art centre. Opening its grand Art Deco doors in 2002, the art centre was established to be a progressive home for contemporary art. The space exhibits an ever-changing rota of temporary art exhibitions that showcase the most exciting and dynamic artistic practices, from performance art to fashion. Describing itself as an “anti-museum”, the space has no permanent collection, the programme instead exploring work from young creative talent.