What is Paris Famous For? [15 MUST KNOW Things]

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The most visited capital in the world, Paris is renowned for a multitude of things! These are the most incredible and impressive things Paris is famous for, from historic buildings with richly storied pasts to famous French people!

Often referred to as the City of Light, Paris is breathtaking. It is also the home to some of the most iconic and famous buildings in France!

If you don’t know what all the fuss is about, or you’re planning a trip to Paris and want to be sure to tick off all the most famous Paris points of interest, then read on to find out what, where, and why!

#1 – Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

Of course, the Eiffel Tower has to be at the top of our list! Not only is it the most visited attraction in Paris, and indeed the icon of Paris. It’s also got a famous and interesting history! 

The Eiffel Tower epitomises Paris’ reputation as the City of Light. Glowing every night above the city, there’s nothing else quite like it. Built in 1889, the wrought-iron lattice tower was originally criticized for its strange design, and considered impractical. Now, of course, it’s a French cultural icon!  

This Paris monument held the title of ‘tallest man-made structure in the world’ for 41 years before it was trumped in 1930 by New York’s Chrysler Building. No visit to Paris is complete without a stop here!

 

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#2 – Notre Dame

Notre Dame

Notre Dame (Photo credit – discoverwalks)

Devastatingly burnt in 2019, the Notre Dame remains one of the most famous and spectacular Paris landmarks! In fact, it’s fame has only grown as the whole world came together to mourn the loss. 

A pioneer of the Gothic architectural style with flying buttresses, rib vaults and abundant sculpture, the building is a Gothic icon. 

Unfortunately, at the moment you cannot enter the building. It’s under reconstruction, and unsafe to enter. It is still beautiful though, and an important Paris landmark to see, even if it’s only as you pass by.

#3 – Palais du Louvre

Palais du Louvre

Palais du Louvre

The Louvre is one of the most beautiful and impressive of French monuments! Originally a fortress built in the 14th century, it was used often as the Royal palaces of various French kings! 

Walk where royalty has been, and marvel at the many historic artifacts and beautiful art pieces housed here. Even if you don’t go in, the iconic structure is so beautiful, it’s not to be missed! 

One of Paris’ most photo-worthy sights is also right outside – the Louvre Pyramid! This glass and metal pyramid is almost as famous as its historical backdrop, in fact. One of the most famous buildings in Paris!

 

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#4 – Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe (Photo credit – Architecturaldigest.com)

Standing at the center of twelve radiating avenues, the ‘Triumphal Arch of the Star’, honors the heroes of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. One of Paris’ most famous monuments, the imposing structure is well worth a visit!

The names of French generals and victories cover the arch, inscribed on the inner and outer surfaces. Its iconography is triumphantly patriotic, and a fascinating thing to see. This makes it one of the most famous monuments of France!

 

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#5 – Seine River

Seine River

Seine River

One of the most famous landmarks in France, the Seine is also one of the world’s most famous rivers! Dividing the river into two neat halves, the river is important for so many reasons. While it is the loveliest way to see the Parisian landscape, cruising along on a boat tour, it has a rich history far beyond its beauty.

The Seine is the reason Paris exists today, supporting the city as a means of trade and commerce, as well as sustenance for millenia! Today it is a UNESCO protected site, which allows it to remain in good condition.

Today the Seine is crossed by a total of 37 bridges in Paris! So while you’re in Paris you’re bound to see it, but be sure to spend some time strolling along and admiring the culturally significant river!

 

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#6 – Paris Fashion

Paris Fashion

Paris Fashion (Photo credit – independent.co.uk)

Wondering what Paris is known for in the modern world? The great city is as famous these days for fashion as it is for anything else! Paris fashion week takes place in the city every year, where the world’s biggest celebrities and fashionistas come together to show off their style.

You’ll also enjoy the famous French fashion throughout the year. Parisians have such a unique sense of style and class!

 

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#7 – French Food

French Food

French Food

Paris is almost as famous for it’s fantastic and unique food as it is for its monuments! The most famous French food is, of course, baguettes and croissants. But there are far crazier food options in Paris. 

Escargots, or ‘snails’, are one of the most famous Parisian dishes, and there’s an interesting variety of ways you can try them! Another amazing option is duck – Parisians are famous for the impressive dishes they make with duck, and their dedicated love for the meal!

If you’re a little daunted by the idea of eating snails or ducks, Paris and the greater France is also known for delicious, fluffy and sweet crepes. No visit to the romantic capital is complete without sitting down at a cafe and enjoying some crepes.  

 

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#8 – French Wine

French Wine

French Wine

French wine is one of the country’s most popular exports and a fantastic thing to enjoy while in the city! Often considered the wine capital of the world, France is Europe’s third-biggest producers of wine, and the quality you can find in Paris is legendary.

Wine has been made in France since the 6th century. The French were taught the art of winemaking by the Romans! Still today many of the historical practices are used, and grape picking is totally illegal outside of season. 

If you’re interested in the history of wine in the region, you can visit the Wine Museum! 

 

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#9 – Shopping

Le Marais

Le Marais (Photo creidt – erasmusu.com)

Shopping in Paris feels like a whole different adventure. The luxurious department stores are so far set apart from anywhere else in the world, you simply have to see them! It’s the kind of place where window shopping might be better for most of us, but that shouldn’t stop you.

Possibly the most famous shopping center in Paris is the resplendent Galeries Lafayette! Massive and filled with gold gilding and glass, as well as some of the most high-end shopping  in the world, it will blow your mind!

 

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#10 – Cafe Life

Cafe Life

Cafe Life

When you think of Paris, do you imagine classy people in berets and light scarves sipping on something at a charming cafe? Because that’s what you’ll see in the city of lights! 

Cafe life is an integral part of Parisian living. Whether working from a cafe, reading the newspaper with a coffee, or getting some pastries with friends, there are locals and tourists sitting at nearly every cafe, at every time of the day!

If you want to feel like a Parisian for the day, enjoy one of the more unique things to do in Paris! Dress up in your best, and head to a cafe to spend a languid hour or two enjoying pastries and confectionery! It’s that easy.

If you want to have a few night’s out in Paris – check out our party guide to the best clubs in Paris!

#11 – French Revolution

French Revolution

French Revolution (Photo credit – serious-science.org)

What is France known for? The French Revolution may be Paris and the greater France’s greatest fame! A social upheaval that set the stage for many other countries’ social and political changes, this revolution aimed to change the fabric of society.

During the revolution, the working class rose up to overthrow the gentry, who in their excesses were bleeding the poor dry. It was in this crazy time that Napoleon Bonapart took front stage!

You can learn some truly fascinating facts about Paris and the French Revolution at the Paris Carnavalet Museum. So if you’re a history buff, or thinking of overthrowing your own gentry… it’s well worth a visit!

#12 – Historical Figures – Napoleon Bonapart

Napoleon Bonapart

Napoleon Bonapart (Photo cerdit – Duna.cl)

Napoleon is one of the world’s most famous military figures! After rising quickly through the military ranks in Paris during the French Revolution, Napoleon seized political power and crowned himself Emperor! 

With Napoleon in charge, France held control over most of Europe for over a decade. His changes, battles, and reforms have influenced the way the world works today, in a surprisingly far-reaching way! 

#13 – Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc (Photo credit – History.com)

This Roman Catholic saint is France’s most famous and brilliant heroine! She played a large part in the Hundred Years War when she was just a girl, leading the French army to victory at the age of 18!

Joan was captured a year later and burnt at the stake as a heretic. She remains one of Paris’ most famous icons, hundreds of years later.

You can see a beautiful gold-gilded statue of Joan outside Place des Pyramides in Paris!

#14 – Marie Antoinette

Marie Antoinette

Marie Antoinette (Photo credit – History.com)

‘Let them eat cake!’ This is the line that made Marie Antoinette infamous. While it sounds like a good idea to enjoy some pastry while you’re in Paris, it wasn’t such a popular sentiment at the time!

The famous queen didn’t necessarily ever say those words, but they cemented her in history just the same. She lived a decadent life in France, before being beheaded during the French Revolution. She’s a bit of a tragic figure, but represents France’s long time love for extravagance all the same!

#15 – Catacombs

Catacombs

Catacombs

One of the darker monuments in Paris, the Catacombs are one of the most famous cemeteries in the world! With the remains of over 6 million people fit into a small part of Paris’ underground tunnels, it’s a daunting place. 

The bodies are all there because of a health threat that arose from Paris’ cemeteries in the late 18th century. The practice of transferring these bodies, many of them ancient, continued well into the 19th century! 

The site is so uncommon that it has made the darker side of Paris famous too! You can take a tour of them if you’re not squeamish. But be aware, it’s cold down there!

Conclusion 

Paris is famous for such a fascinating variety of things! But when a city is more than 2000 years old, and has been for much of its existence a center of trade and class, it’s bound to have a very interesting past.

You can find tours that visit many of the places mentioned here, and monuments associated with famous figures. You can also circle them on a map and do a self-guided tour of your own!

Paris is famous, and infamous, for a lot of things. It’s hard to decide what to see or read up on. But that’s why we have provided you with all the top 15 things Paris is most famous for! 

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About the Author Emma Johnson

Emma Johnson lives to travel! Born in Washington D.C., Emma is a hotel connoisseur and a staff writer at Hotel Jules. An army brat, Emma got the travel bug early and has never been able to stop. Now, she has proudly visited 70+ countries and plans to visit every country in the world! Passionate about her ukelele (obviously) and her family, Emma eventually wants to retire in Thailand and write a book about all of her travel experiences.