Have you ever felt like you’ve been to a city before seeing it with your own eyes? For me, this was Paris, France. Maybe it was images from films like Amélie and Midnight in Paris or paintings like Vincent van Gogh’s Café Terrace at Night. It could have even been plays like the Phantom of the Opera and Les Misérables. Suffice to say, Paris-inspired art has made the city a familiar destination in the mind’s eye for many people, but as I experienced, the City of Light and Love’s true beauty is best enjoyed in person.
Here are seven Canadian tourist-approved sights to see in Paris this summer.
1. Palais Garnier
Built from 1861 to 1875, this 1,979-seat opera house has been a source of great controversy and pride for Parisians. Take the self-guided audio tour of the opera house to learn about the venue’s “mythical sites and secret spaces.”
2. Notre-Dame de Paris
Sitting on an island in the Seine river, the Notre-Dame de Paris is considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture in the world. With a history dating back to 1160, the church has endured riots, wars and revolutions. Best of all, admission is free.
3. Les Invalides
Commissioned by Louis XIV to provide accommodation and hospital care for wounded soldiers in in 1670, today Les Invalides is a complex of buildings housing military museums, tombs, vaults, and a hospital and a retirement home for war veterans.
Sitting high atop a hill in the Montmartre neighbourhood of Paris, the Basilica of Sacre-Coeur is one of the most iconic monuments in the city. The ceiling of the church features the largest mosaic in France and at its base, visitors can take in unobstructed panoramic views of the city.
5. The Arc de Triomphe
Standing in the centre of the Place Charles de Gaulle, the Arc de Triomphe honours those who have fought for France over the years. Under the arch lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Memorial Flame, which burns to recall the sacrifice of the unknown French soldier who gave his life during World War I.
6. The Louvre
As the former residence for France’s monarchs, including Henry IV and Napoleon III, the Musée du Louvre is now home to more than 380,000 works of art. Having survived fires, wars, revolutions, demolitions and modernization projects, today the Louvre is the world’s largest and most visited museum.
7. The Eiffel Tower
No visit to Paris would be complete without a trip to the Eiffel Tower. Built in 1889 for the World Fair, the Eiffel Tower stands at a height of 1,050 feet and was at one point celebrated as the world’s tallest structure. Today, the tower is admired for its views, both of the tower from the ground and of the city from its observation decks.