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Paris see + do

With upward of 150 museums, scores of parks, lively café-lined boulevards—plus too many monuments and landmark buildings to count—this city and its must-sees of culture and entertainment are best savored over years. If you only have a few days, you can't go wrong with the obvious sights: the Louvre's extensive collection of art from antiquity onward; the Impressionist canvases of the grandiose Musée d'Orsay; and Notre-Dame de Paris, the Gothic cathedral midstream in the Seine. While the Eiffel Tower is another no-brainer, it's best enjoyed from a distance: Instead of queuing up with the massive crowd waiting to ascend to the pinnacle, head for the steps fronting Montmartre's Sacré-Coeur basilica, and you'll be rewarded with amazing views that include the Eiffel Tower's elegant fretwork frame. You'll do equally well relaxing on a park bench in the Luxembourg Gardens on a warm afternoon, strolling through the Right Bank's boutique-lined Marais neighborhood, or people-watching from a café in Saint Germain-des-Prés. But the key to finding the Paris everyone falls in love with is to get off the well-trodden tourist circuit and explore the city on foot or by bike, discovering hidden courtyards, pocket-size gardens, and unbelievably romantic streetscapes along the way.

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Marais, Paris

Since the 1990s, the focus of the city's cruising and schmoozing scene has been the Marais, especially the area around Square du Temple in the Third...more

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Montmartre, 18th Arr.

The bulbous white-stone domes of Sacré-Coeur (built from 1875 to 1919) are Montmartre's dreamy visual emblem, but its real appeal is far earthier. Lacking...more

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Musée Carnavalet, 3rd Arr.

Ignore the Mona Lisa's prima donna claim on the world's imagination. The first museum you should go to in Paris is this superb 140-room collection dedicated to...more

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Musée d'Orsay, 7th Arr.

Since opening in 1986, the Musée d'Orsay has become one of the most successful and beloved museums in the world. The grandiose limestone edifice was...more

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Musée du Louvre, 1st Arr.

The world's most famous museum, originally a royal residence, usually elicits one of two strong reactions from those who've never been before—exhilaration...more

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Musée du Quai Branly, 7th Arr.

After a decade of dithering, Parisian star architect Jean Nouvel's $300 million Seine-side complex finally opened in June 2006. Built to embody President...more

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Musée Marmottan Monet, 16th Arr.

Only in Paris could the world's single largest collection of Monet paintings (along with works by Pissarro, Sisley, and Renoir) be overshadowed by other...more

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Musée National du Moyen Age, 5th Arr.

The best museums in Paris awe with beauty or provide a deepened understanding of the city. The Musée National du Moyen Age (also known as the...more

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Musée Rodin, 7th Arr.

Rodin's powerful bronze and stone sculptures would be stunning even if they were displayed in a parking lot, but here, they're housed in a 1728 private mansion,...more

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Notre-Dame de Paris, 4th Arr.

Faith may have helped Bishop Maurice de Sully get Notre-Dame underway in 1160, but ceaseless toil is what finished the job by the end of the century. Despite...more

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.



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