A Brief Guide to Paris for First-Timers

There is a particular type of traveler who avoids so-called “tourist traps” at all costs.  Instead, this person prefers to visit places that are a bit more unusual and off the beaten path.  There are certainly advantages to that strategy; however, it doesn’t work in every situation.  For example, if you are visiting Paris for the first time, you should definitely see the following sights.  There will be plenty of time to discover out-of-the-way places on your second visit!

The Louvre
The Louvre is perhaps the most renowned art museum in all the world.  It houses a vast collection that would take many months to view in its entirety, so there’s no need to knock yourself out in an effort to try to “see everything”.  You won’t be able to do that.  Instead, you should do some research into the pieces that make up the museum’s permanent collection, and then choose several works that you wouldn’t forgive yourself for missing.  Then you can go and spend a half a day of productive viewing.  A few of the most notable works of art in the permanent collection include the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, Winged Victory of Samothrace, and The Great Sphinx

Notre-Dame Cathedral
The original Notre-Dame cathedral is one of the most famous gothic churches in all the world.  It is a massive structure that was completed in 1345, and as a result, has been a big part of French history ever since.  For example, it was there that Napoleon crowned himself Emperor of France.  In addition, author Victor Hugo’s classic novel uses Notre-Dame as its primary setting. 

Today’s visitors come to admire both the art and the architecture of the cathedral.  Make sure you take some time to check out the many statues of the saints and the stained-glass windows.  If you want to get a better view of the Gargoyles, you’ll have to climb to the top of one of the two towers.  You’ll be rewarded for your efforts with a magnificent view of the city.

The Eiffel Tower
No first visit to Paris would be complete without a stop at the Eiffel Tower.  This structure was built in 1889 as part of an exhibition to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution.  The Tower has three observation decks that can be reached by elevators or stairs, and one of the decks even has a skating rink.  No matter which deck you choose, you’ll get a beautiful view of the city.  Try going at night to view the City of Lights in all its glory.

The Champs Elysees
If you have time, you should take a stroll down one of the most famous avenues in all the world.  Start at the Arc de Triomphe, and walk along the Champs Elysees all the way to the Egyptian obelisk at the Place de la Concorde.  You’ll pass numerous stores, restaurants, and cafes, so be sure to do some shopping and then stop off for a relaxing cup of coffee or a full meal.  

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