Paris is one of the most-visited cities in Europe, drawing more than 30 million people each year into the historic metropolis.
It’s perhaps best known for the many different art movements that began in the city of Paris and there are plenty of art and architectural buildings that serve as well-known landmarks for those who make the trip to the City of Light.
Some of these structures are among the most historic in Europe, as well as the world as a whole.
In this article, we’ll explore 10 of the most famous landmarks in Paris and provide more information regarding the structures, as well as the architects behind each work.
Famous Landmarks in Paris
1. Eiffel Tower
Of all the famous landmarks in the world, the Eiffel Tower is arguably the most well-known in any of Europe’s major cities.
The Eiffel Tower is located in the middle of Paris near the river Seine that winds its way throughout the French capital city. The tower is named after Gustave Eiffel, who was a prominent French architect during the 19th century.
The structure is usually referred to as the “Eiffel Tower” by tourists, but locals in the city of Paris have nicknamed the tower “La dame de fer,” which translates to “The Iron Lady” in English.
Construction began on the tower in the winter of 1887 and it was fully completed and opened to the public just two years later in 1889.
When completed, it was recognized as the world’s tallest man-made structure, surpassing the Washington Monument located in America’s capital city.
The Eiffel Tower continued to hold this distinction until the construction of the Chrysler Building surpassed it 41 years later.
2. Louvre Museum
Many people visit Paris to view some of the greatest artistic masterpieces in the world. There are multiple places scattered across the city where they can view such pieces, but the Louvre Museum is by far the most famous landmark in relation to the art community and around Paris.
The Louvre Museum is often referred to as “The Louvre” and is located in the city’s 1st arrondissement on the Right Side, or northern and eastern side of the Seine.
Construction began on the Louvre after the French Revolution in 1789 and the structure was completed in the summer of 1793.
A litany of architects pitched in to help create the design for the museum, the most notable among them being Pierre Lescot, Claude Perrault, and Louis Le Vau. Today, the Louvre is the most famous art museum in the world and a major landmark in Paris.
3. Arc de Triomphe
Historians often argue that, aside from the Eiffel Tower, the most notable landmark in Paris is the Arc de Triomphe.
This massive, distinct structure is certainly among the most iconic buildings found in Paris and has stood for more than 200 years at the central intersection of Place Charles de Gaulle where several Parisian roadways come together.
This stone monument was built to commemorate the military veterans who fought in the country’s Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars.
The Arc de Triomphe was designed by Jean Chalgrin, a French architect who created the outline and drawings for the structure in 1806. Work on the Arc de Triomphe began in that same year, but Chalgrin died in 1811 and the architectural work was handed over to Jean-Nicolas Huyot.
Despite experiencing a brief period during the Bourbon Restoration when no progress was made on the Arc de Triomphe, the structure was finally completed in 1836.
4. Centre Pompidou
Since the beginning of the modern art era, one of the most famous and well-known structures in the city of Paris is the Centre Pompidou.
This large, expansive building was built to serve as a home for the Musée National d’Art Moderne, which is the largest modern art museum in Europe, as well as the French Public Information Library.
The Centre Pompidou was designed by a team of architects that included Richard Roger, Su Rogers, Gianfranco Franchini and Renzo Piano.
Construction on the Centre Pompidou began in 1971 and the project was finished in just six years before opening to the public in 1977.
This building is well-known among those visiting Paris to view the many famous artworks that can be found in its museums. The official name of the building is the Centre Pompidou, but locals typically refer to the structure simply as “Beaubourg.”
5. Basilica of the Sacré-Coeur
Among the most famous churches in and around Paris, the Basilica of the Sacré-Coeur is often described as being the most impressive in terms of sheer beauty and visual quality.
The church is located just outside of the city and was designed in the mid-19th century by Paul Abadie, an architect who is described as having a style similar to Romanesque and Byzantine while others were exploring newer, more modern architectural movement styles.
Construction on the Basilica of the Sacré-Coeur began in 1875 and the work on the project dragged on for nearly 40 years before it was finally completed in 1914.
Sitting on a hill known as Montmartre, the Basilica of the Sacré-Coeur is one of the most easily distinguished landmarks for those who view the city from one of the downtown area’s large buildings.
This basilica is part of the Roman Catholic church and was dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus after it was completed.
Another one of the most famous landmarks in the French capital city is one that is well-known throughout the world for its strange and dark nature.
The Catacombs of Paris are the most mysterious part of this large, historic city and their interconnected system of tunnels and vaults are full of historic burial chambers and discarded items from centuries past.
The Catacombs were first in use in the early 19th century, but some historians believe that the present-day Catacomb tunnels were built into part of an already-existing tunnel structure beneath Paris.
Despite their spooky nature, the Catacombs of Paris often draw many millions of visitors who are daring enough to venture into the dark, cold openings that weave their way throughout much of the city..
Another one of the city of Paris’ most famous monuments also serves as a well-known landmark for local residents and those who visit the city to explore its historic features and structures.
The Panthéon is known as one of the most impressive monuments in Paris and stands out among the many newer buildings due to its classical Greek architectural style.
The building was designed by Jacques-Germain Soufflot, who worked alongside fellow architect Jean-Baptiste Rondelet to create the massive structure.
Construction on the project began in 1758 and workers would toil away at the stone exterior and dome for more than three decades before it was finally finished in 1790.
The Panthéon was originally built under commission by King Louis XV to serve as a church, but it would later be converted into a monument in the years to follow.
8. Musée d’Orsay
Situated along the Left Bank of the river Seine, the Musée d’Orsay is easily one of Paris’ most famous landmarks for a variety of reasons.
The distinct, red coloration of the building’s exterior is often the reason why so many view the Musée d’Orsay as a landmark, but it is the building’s function that makes it one of the city’s most important structures.
It was designed by a trio of French architects that includes Lucien Magne, Émile Bénard and Victor Laloux.
Construction on the Musée d’Orsay began in 1977 and it would take nearly a decade before it was completely finished and ready to be opened to the public.
The Musée d’Orsay opened in 1986 and has since become known as one of the best art museums in Paris that holds a number of Impressionist paintings, sculptures and other works, as well as some of the other art styles that had been popular during the mid-to-late 19th century.
9. Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral
Undoubtedly, the most famous church in Paris, as well as the most well-known in Europe as a whole is often considered to be the Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral.
This large, majestic structure is located on a small island in the middle of the Seine that’s known as Île de la Cité.
The building is one of the most historically-rich structures found in Paris as it was designed by Bishop Maurice de Sully in the 12th century. Work on the church lasted for centuries until it was finally finished in 1345.
10. Grand Palais
Those visiting Paris typically do not leave without visiting the Grand Palais des Champs-Élysées, which is known simply as the Grand Palais.
This large, elaborately-designed building was constructed to serve as a museum and was built under the guidance and supervision of Charles Girault and other architects like Henri Deglane, Albert-Félix-Théophile Thomas and Albert Louvet.
Construction on the Grand Palais began in the late 19th century as it was intended to be used for the Universal Exhibition in 1900.
11. Palais Garnier
The Palais Garnier is another historically important and well-known landmarks in Paris, France. During the mid-to-late nineteenth century, this vast, intricately planned edifice was created as a gigantic opera theatre.
Charles Garnier, regarded as one of the most important French architects of the day, constructed the Palais Garnier.
Construction of the Palais Garnier started in 1861, and the project dragged on for a few years until Emperor Napoleon III pushed on a quick completion. It was finished in 1875 and inaugurated later that year as one of Europe’s most anticipated opera houses.
The interior and outside of the building are both created in the Baroque style, but it also combines features from the Italian Renaissance and the Neoclassical movement.
Today, the Palais Garnier can accommodate over 2,000 spectators in its biggest opera auditorium and remains one of the world’s most historic and renowned opera houses.
12. Pont Alexandre III
In Paris, the Pont Alexander III Bridge spans the Seine River. It has a total length of 160 meters, or about 520 feet. This antique Parisian bridge is 40 meters (130 feet) wide.
This deck arch bridge contains four notable sculptures of horses with breezes, which are claimed to symbolize Parisian art, science, trade, and business.
Visitors to the famed deck arch bridge have a bird’s-eye perspective of other local sites dotted around the Seine River’s banks.
The Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum, and Pantheon are all readily accessible from the Seine’s different entrance sites. At all hours of the day and night, Parisians and tourists love traversing the iconic bridge.
13. Les Invalides
Les Invalides is one of Paris’s most historically significant structures. This huge complex of buildings and other facilities was first constructed under Louis XIV’s command and has since become a popular tourist destination for anybody visiting Paris.
The buildings were created by Libéral Bruant and Jules Hardouin-Mansart, two well-known architects who are responsible for some of the city’s most important 17th-century constructions.
Les Invalides construction started in 1671 with the intention of serving as a hospital or residence for aged or crippled soldiers. The Les Invalides structure was completed in 1706 and evolved into a vast church and chapel complex utilized by the Catholic Church in Paris for many decades.
The dome of the edifice, known as the Dome of Les Invalides, is one of the most aesthetically striking aspects of this huge collection of architectural treasures.
Today, it is a popular tourist site with an outstanding collection of sculptures, architectural works, and creative objects spanning many decades of French history.