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Paris Attractions - Things to Do - Day Trips in Paris

Paris Top Attractions - Things to Do in Paris

OVERVIEW OF PARIS ATTRACTIONS

The most populous city, Paris is the capital of France and is a cultural centre of activity. It consists of twenty arrondissements which contain some of the most impressive architecture in the world.

Some of the most influential artists, academics and business leaders have called Paris their home. It has played host to both the Olympics and the FIFA world cup twice.

The number of iconic buildings in Paris are a testament to the beauty and history of the city. The Eiffel Tower, The Louvre and Arc de Triomphe are sights which are globally revered, drawing millions of annual visitors. France is also known for its superior cuisine and some of the best restaurants can be found here. A city bursting with vibrancy, excitement and life; Paris should be visited by everyone at least once.

Top Paris Attractions - Paris Day Trips

Eiffel Tower (Paid)

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The Eiffel Tower is in many people’s eyes the most renowned landmark in France. The tower is located in Champ de Mars, Paris and was erected in 1889 for the World’s Fair held there that year. Before its construction there was a lot of protest from the local community, centred around the tower not fitting in with the rest of the undisturbed Paris skyline. The response from Gustave Eiffel, the designer and owner of the engineering company that would build the tower was: “Why would something admirable in Egypt become hideous and ridiculous in Paris?” Since its erection, the tower has become synonymous with a visit to any other of Paris’ attractions. The nearby Champ de Mars is a beautiful place to relax and take in the Eiffel Tower’s impressive structure. You can reach the top of the tower via a lift, which offers the most spectacular view of Paris. Occasionally you will find images projected onto the tower’s steel frame for important events. On Bastille Day, fireworks can be seen shooting skywards from the tower.

Disabled access information
The Eiffel Tower is one of the most well-known landmarks accessible for disabled visitors. For more than four decades, from 1889 and 1930, the tower was the tallest man-made structure in the world. It is among the most visited paid-entrance destination and you should visit it at least once in your life time. You can only access Wheelchair at Eiffel Tower up to the first and second landing by elevator. Users of wheelchair use the north elevator. If you are at the river and facing the Eiffel tower, the elevator will be on your left.

When you get there and find a long line, go straight to the booth for people with reservations. From there a staff member will guide you to the elevator. Actually, you will enter the small structure with the elevator via the exit.
After taking the elevator to the second level, you can move around the whole circumference of the tower. There is rental wheelchair at the top of elevator that is reserved for elderly and disabled visitors. For security and safety, wheelchairs visitors are not allowed to the top. However, this is not a big deal since such visitors can still get a wonderful view from the 2nd level. Visiting the tower in a wheelchair is worth it!

Some improvements for disabled access at the tower are direct access at all pillars, large capacity elevators that accommodate wheel chairs, accessible entrances to the various services ( boutiques, post office, snack bars), handicapped toilet facilities on the ground, 1st and 2nd floors and Windows added to railings to ensure that disabled persons have panoramic view of the city.
Wheelchair Access at the tower: http://www.sagetraveling.com/Eiffel-Tower-Accessibility
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Musee d’Orsay (Paid)

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Situated in the former railway station Gare d'Orsay, is one of the most popular museums in Paris. In 1939, it was decided that it was no longer suitable for modern trains. Until 1970 it was primarily used for suburban services and as a mailing centre until approval was granted for demolishing. Dissent was voiced by Jacques Duhamel and the station was put on the supplementary list of Historic Monuments. In 1974 a proposal was put forth to turn the station into a museum and work soon began. An Italian architect Gae Aulenti, was commissioned to design the interior and in 1986 The Musee d'Orsay opened. The Musee d'Orsay displays a selection of French art from 1848 to 1915. The collection spans paintings, sculptures, furniture and photography. It draws in upwards of 3 million visitors each year to see the impressive art on show. It boasts the largest collection of impressionist and post impressionist work. With over 2000 paintings and 15000 sculptures, they currently display masterpieces from: Monet, Renoir, Gauguin, Degas and Van Gogh.

Disabled Infomation
The Musée d'Orsay is accessible to disabled people and their parking is just adjacent the museum. About 95% of the exhibits are accessed by disable persons. Disabled access to the museum is through entrance C. The entrance is wheelchair friendly since it is step-free and has a slow rotating door. Inside the building, there are elevators to take you to various floors and wheelchair accessible toilets. Admission is free for disabled persons and a companion. Loaner stools and wheelchairs are available.
Admission of disabled visitors: http://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/espace-particuliers/private-individuals/disabled-visitors/welcome.html
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The Louvre Museum (Paid)

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The Louvre is one of the largest museums in the world and with over 8 million visitors each year, it is the most visited. The museum is located directly in the centre of Paris, on the bank of the River Seine. The Louvre Palace houses the museum, and was built in the late 12th century. Since its creation as a fortress under Phillip II, the building has been extended many times, but the origins of the fortress are still visible. It was not until 1793 that the museum was opened by the National Assembly during the French Revolution. Under Napoleon the museum was renamed after him, but after his defeat at Waterloo, many of the pieces of art seized by his armies were returned to their rightful owners. Today there are close to 35,000 artefacts from history have found their home in The Louvre. Items that date back as far as Ancient Egypt, Rome and Greece can be viewed at the Louvre Museum. The oldest pieces are from around 4000 BC. The most famous of the entire Louvre collection is of course The Mona Lisa, painted by Leonardo Da Vinci.
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Notre Dame Cathedral (Paid)

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Translated from French as 'Our Lady of Paris', Notre Dame Cathedral is an exquisite display of French Gothic architecture. 2013 marked the 850th birthday of the Cathedral, which sees around 14 million visitors annually. Located to the east of the fourth arrondissement of Paris, it is home to the archbishop of Paris. Notre Dame Cathedral as it is known today began life in 1163 when the first cornerstone was laid. It has undergone a series of restorations over the years, particularly after the damage incurred during the French revolution. Notable sights at Notre Dame Cathedral include their crypts, the organ built by Aristide Cavaille-Coll, and the extraordinary bourdon bell named Emmanuel. The high alter is also breathtaking and a popular favourite amongst tourists. The treasury at Notre Dame holds some of the most important Catholic relics known to that religion. The Crown of Thorns, a fragment of the True Cross and one of the Holy Nails have all found a home here. Historically, Notre Dame Cathedral has been the location for many royal weddings, it was also here that the canonization of Joan of Arc took place.
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Parc des Buttes Chaumont (Free)

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Situated to the east of Paris, the Parc des Buttes Chaumont is the fifth largest park in the city. Officially opened in 1867, it was one of the many major parks created during the reign of Emperor Napoleon III. Prior to this, the park had a much less glamorous history. It was once the location of a city gallows and also a public waste ground. Occupying nearly 25 hectares, The Parc des Buttes Chaumont is now a much more attractive space of greenery and plant life. Providing visitors with a lovely view of the Sacré Coeur, it is the perfect place to relax away from the hustle and bustle of central Paris. The winding paths offer an exhilarating walk up and around this area. Notable points of interest include: a 32 metre waterfall, a grotto and a long suspension bridge which is dubiously dubbed the 'suicide bridge'. The most popular attraction at Parc des Buttes Chaumont is the 'Temple de la Syblle', based on the Temple of Vesta in Italy. Located on a cliff above the central lake, it is a beautiful addition to the landscape of this park.
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Basilique du Sacré Coeur (Free)

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The Basilique de Sacré Coeur or affectionately just 'Sacré-Couer', is a Roman Catholic Church in Paris. Construction began on the building in 1876, after donations were made by Parisian Catholics as an act of penance for the shame of the Franco-Prussian War. The building was then designed by Paul Abadie and completed in 1914. It was officially consecrated in 1919. The iconic white building is located at the summit of Butte Montmarte which is the highest point of the city. The panoramic views from this attraction are amongst the best you will find in Paris. It is not just the exterior of the Basilique du Sacré Couer which is impressive. Inside the building you will find a ceiling adorned with the largest mosaic in Paris. Spanning 480 square metres, Luc-Olivier Merson's depiction of 'Christ in Majesty' will take the breath away of even the non-religious. The crypt is another interesting area to explore, but the basilica dome is what really draws in the crowds. Up 234 spiral steps, the basilica provides a view which looks out across the whole of Paris.
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Pere Lachaise Cemetery (Free)

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The largest in Paris, Pere Lachaise Cemetery spans a massive 44 hectares. Previously known as 'East Cemetery' it was the first garden cemetery and municipal cemetery in Paris. Containing over 300,000 graves, it is a beautiful walk through time. The winding pathways and vibrant foliage make it feel like a true celebration of life. Pere Lachaise Cemetery received its name from the confessor of Louis IV, Pere de la Chaise. It was not until 1804 however, that it was officially inaugurated by Emperor Napolean I. Thousands of tourists flock to the site each year, to gaze on the many famous names who have found their resting place there. The graves of Chopin, Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf and Oscar Wilde are all situated here. Due to the expansive breadth of this site, it is worth researching where notable individuals of interest are buried, so you can plan your route in advance. Several World War I memorials can also be viewed. The plentiful greenery makes Pere Lachaise Cemetery a truly beautiful place to explore. A walk up to the summit of the hill is also recommended, where you can gaze down upon the whole site.
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Carnavalet Museum (Free)

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The Carnavalet Museum is a celebration of the history of Paris. Located in Marais district, it is an embodiment of the history this area is known for. Established in 1880, the Carnavelt Museum spans two mansions built in the 16th and 17th centuries. The Hotel de Carnavalet was the original home of the museum, then as the collections grew, it took over the Hotel le Peletier de Saint Fargeau too. There are over a hundred rooms of exceptional art, which serve to educate visitors about the rich tapestry of Paris' past. The permanent collection boasts over 2000 paintings, 20,000 drawings, 2000 sculptures and 150,000 photographs. They also display a selection of furniture, ceramics and artefacts. The rooms at the Carnavalet Museum have been tastefully designed to replicate the style of the 14th and 15th centuries. Tourists can peruse fascinating articles from the medieval collection which documents everything from the Hundred Years War and the Great Plague. They hold pieces from the French Revolution, which are a fascinating insight into this tumultuous period in their history. The Orangerie underwent a complete restoration in 2000 and it is always worth checking what exhibitions they have on there.
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Champs-Élysées (Free)

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Champs-Élysées is an avenue in Paris, which has been deemed by many to be the most beautiful in the world. Stretching from the Place de la Concorde to the Place Charles de Gaulle, it houses some of the most expensive real estate in the world. The Champs-Élysées initially consisted of a series of fields and gardens, until Marie de' Medici decided to extend the area with an avenue of trees in 1616. It did not receive its current name until 1709. Since then, it has undergone a series of renovations, including the widening of footpaths in 1994 designed by Bernard Huet. Adorned with impressive monuments, a walk down the Champs-Élysées takes you past the Arc de Triomphe and the Obelisk of Luxor. It runs for 1.91 kilometres and has been used for several military marches. The strip includes a selection of shops, bars and restaurants. Abercrombie and Fitch, Vuitton and Hugo Boss all have a store here; for big brand shopping this is the place to be. The Champs-Élysées also boasts a colourful night-life. Popular clubs include the Queen, Showcase and Le Baron.
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Jardin des Plantes (Paid)

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To the left of the river Seine, in the 5th Arrondissement of Paris, lies the Jardin des Plantes. Seen as the chief botanical garden in France, it also comprises four sites of the National Museum of Natural History. Spanning 28 hectares, it even includes a botany school and a small zoo. Established in 1626 under the reign of Louis XIII, his physician transformed it into a medicinal herb garden in 1635. In 1640 it opened to the public and the gardens began to take shape. Dr Guy-Crescent Fagon was then appointed in 1693 and his team of skilled botanists transformed the area into one of the most impressive displays of horticulture in the world. Whole days could be spent lost exploring the delights of the Jardin des Plantes. Many of the gardens are themed for tourists to explore different horticulture specialities. The Tropical Garden, Alpine Garden and Rose Garden consistently draw in crowds of awed visitors. Les Grandes Serres greenhouses underwent an intensive renovation in 2010 and now offer a range of fascinating tours. The Labyrinth built into centre of the site is an absolute must for adults and children alike.
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Champ de Mars (Free)

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Nestled between the Eiffel Tower and Ecole Militaire, is one of the most stunning areas of green-space in Paris. Champs de Mars spans almost 25 hectares offering some of the best views of the capital there are. Opened in 1780 as it is known today, the space was originally intended as an esplanade for the Ecole Militaire. As with any attraction in Paris it has a colourful history. It was the site where King Louis XVI accepted the new written constitution in 1790. In 1889 Champ des Mars hosted the Exposition Universaille which led to the construction of the Eiffel Tower. In 2000, the Wall for Peace was erected in front of the Ecole Militaire. Inspired by the Wailing Wall of Jerusalem, visitors are encouraged to leave messages of peace. Today, Champ des Mars draws tourists looking for beautiful views and relaxing surroundings. Thousands flock to the grassy plains for picnics and to gather with friends. There are playgrounds for children and you may even come across the odd local enjoying an early morning jog. Musicians can be found serenading tourists and as the evening draws in, the lights of Paris look simply sensational from this vantage point
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Catacombs of Paris (Paid)

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A labyrinth beneath the depths of Paris, the Catacombs are a memory of the Parisian residents who once walked the streets above. Situated twenty metres below the heart of the city lay the remains of over six million people. The space was in fact created from the quarrying which led to the construction of the city above. The Catacombs of Paris were officially consecrated in 1786, after which bones from other sites across the city were moved there. The final bones were laid to rest in the Catacombs in 1859 and it has since become one of the most popular tourist attractions in Paris. The entrance to the Catacombs is located at the western pavilion of the city gate. Tourists are taken on a journey through time, after descending 19 metres on a narrow spiral staircase. Skulls line many of the walls throughout the ossuary which covers 11,000 square metres. Famous remains include François Rabelais, Jean de La Fontaine and Charles Perrault. The passageways are lined with a selection of quotes, verse and poetry adding to the overall awe of this unique exploration through history.
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Palace of Versailles (Paid)

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On the outskirts of Paris lies Versailles, what was once a small country hamlet is now home to one of the most impressive constructions in history. The Palace of Versailles is a UNESCO World Heritage Site attracting visitors from all across the globe. What began as a hunting lodge for Louis XIII was developed into its present glory by his son and successor Louis XIV. In 1682 Louis XIV made it the new home of the royal court and government. Two subsequent kings also lived there each adding grander additions to this impressive residence. The gardens that surround the palace are equally impressive and The Queen's Hamlet created for Marie Antoinette in 1783 is a fascinating walk through time. Exploring the Palace of Versailles is a fascinating insight into the truly wealthy. The Hall of Mirrors which was restored in 2007, is a reflection of the affluence this building embodies. The bedrooms are just spectacular. The Grand appartement de roi even consist of seven salons each dedicated to a different Roman God. There are five chapels, a theatre known as 'L'Opera' and more fine furniture and art than is imaginable for one building. Outside in the gardens there are plentiful fountains, which were technological marvels for their time. Simply stunning
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Moulin Rouge (Paid)

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Co-founded by Charles Ziddler and Joseph Oller in 1889, Moulin Rouge is the place people can thank for the popularisation of the can-can dance. Producing legendary cabaret performances to this day, expect glamour and glitz by the bucketful. Consistently producing exuberant shows, this venue has even been immortalised in a film starring Nicole Kidman. The 800 seater venue has built a reputation on flowing champagne, celebrity appearances and a supplying a jolly good time. Decorated in the Belle Epoque style, it is resplendent with colour and opulence. Many famous faces have taken to the Moulin Rouge stage. The incredible talent that was Edith Piaf even started her journey here. Ella Fitzgerald, Liza Minelli, Elton John and Frank Sinatra have also trodden their legendary boards. The Moulin Rouge is also known for its exquisite cuisine. Launched in 1959, the Bal du Moulin Rouge Restaurant is renowned for serving sumptuous French specialities. A new show 'Féerie' has been recently launched to rave reviews.
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Disneyland Paris (Paid)

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The most visited attraction in the whole of Europe, Disneyland Paris is a playground for adults and children alike. Spanning 4,800 acres of land; this attraction includes two theme parks, several hotels, a shopping centre, multiple dining areas and even a golf course. Opened to the public for the first time in 1992, Disneyland now attracts millions of annual visitors. The seven Disneyland hotels each carry their own theme from the wild west to New York City. Every Disney film imaginable is represented throughout the resort and tourists can find themselves face to face with anyone from Jack Sparrow to Cinderella. The biggest draw of Disneyland Paris is of course the rides and attractions. They span two parks: Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park. The top five are: 'It's a Small World', 'Space Mountain: Mission 2', 'Big Thunder Mountain', 'Pirates of the Caribbean' and 'Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast'. There is something for everyone, from high adrenaline thrills to gentle rides suitable for even the littlest of children. Memorabilia is plentiful making it difficult to leave without a trinket or too. In the words of Walt Disney: “If you can dream it, you can do it” and they certainly have.
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Parc André Citroën (Free)

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Parc André Citroën was developed over a former site of the car manufacturing brand, Citroën. Named after their founder André Citroën, it is one of the more modern parks in Paris. The park is situated on the left bank of the river Seine, spanning 35 acres. Officially opened to the public in 1992, it is the handiwork of two French landscape gardeners and three architects: Gilles Clément, Alain Provost, Patrick Berger, Jean-François Jodry and Jean-Paul Viguier. Parc André Citroën is centralised around a rectangular lawn and is a great contemporary space to relax in. Parc André Citroën is divided into three sections: the Black Garden, the White Garden and the central park. It also boasts two greenhouse pavilions, which grow an array of exotic plants. The dancing fountains found at the east end of the park are a fun addition. There are plenty of facilities for children to play in; including playgrounds, slides and a table tennis area. The park has also played host to a moored helium air balloon since 1999, which enables tourists to rise up above the park and take in the spectacles of Paris.
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104 Cent Quatre (Paid)

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To the north of Paris you will find a hub of artistic talent. 104 Cent Quatre is a public cultural space encouraging artists to freely express themselves. The building dates back to 1807 when the Archbishop of Paris ordered a new construction for funeral services. It played host to undertakers for 120 years who responsible for organising up to 150 funeral processions a day. As public sector involvement in this field declined, the building was closed in 1998. It was however, deemed a historic monument and as part of an urban renewal project, work began to restore the site in 2003. In 2008 it re-opened as the 104 Cent Quatre to be used as a space for artist exhibitions. Deemed a “public institution for cultural cooperation” the Mayor appoints a director to oversea the project. Currently Jose Manuel Goncalves holds this position. In addition to displaying the work of talented artists, 104 Cent Quatre also runs community engagement programmes and supports social enterprises. The selected resident artists are also required to show finished pieces at the quarterly festivals here. A vibrant centre of contemporary art.
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Marché d'Aligre (Free)

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One of the most popular outdoor markets in Paris, Marché d'Aligre always makes for a vibrant and lively day. Located in the 12th arrondisement behind the Bastille, it is a cool purse-friendly day out. The area actually consists of two markets: Marché d'Aligré is the outdoor area and Marché Beauvau is the indoor section. The latter is in fact one of the oldest covered markets in Paris and a protected historic building. Expect friendly banter and bargains galore. The majority of goods on sale at Marché d'Aligre are edible produce. The fresh fruit and vegetables on offer draw people from all over Paris. You will find every French delicacy imaginable and it is here you should visit for some fine foie gras. As a nation the French are known for their superior cheese, and here you will find it plentiful. Anticipate tantalised taste-buds and a rumbling stomach. Other stalls can be found selling everything from vintage clothes to hats and books. There is also a flower market where you can brighten up your day with blooms of any colour.
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Le Marché aux Puces de St. Ouen (Free)

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Le Marché aux Puces de St. Oeun, or as it is more commonly known: 'Les Puces', comprises the most popular flea markets in Paris. Dating back to 1885, there are now fifteen markets situated in this area, selling everything from low cost trinkets to extraordinary art. The sellers at Le Marché aux Puces de St Ouen mean business, with the majority opting for a three year lease. Spanning around seven hectares and attracting over a 100,000 per week it claims the title of the largest antique market in the world. Tourists will find something for every budget at Le Marché aux Puces de St. Ouen. Each market sells a different selection of goods, so if you have something in mind, it is worth researching the most appropriate market before you go. Amongst the most popular is Marché Biron, which is one of the oldest and sells a considerable amount of beautiful antique furniture. Marché Dauphine is the newest addition and has already become loved for the quirky nature of its sellers. Marché Malassis, Marché Serpette and Marché Paul Bert are also definitely worth a look. Finally, don't forget that haggling is expected!
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Montparnasse Cemetery (Free)

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Initially known as the 'Southern Cemetery', Montparnasse Cemetery can be found in the 14th arrondissement of Paris. Opened in 1824, it is one of the three main cemeteries in the city. It began life as three individual farms which were transformed into the 19 hectare burial ground you will find today. It is the second largest of its kind in Paris and is a quiet retreat of historical importance. Divided into two spaces by the Rue Èmile Richard, there is the aptly named 'small cemetery' and 'big cemetery' to explore. Over 300,000 people have been buried at Montparnasse Cemetery, and there are around 35,000 tombs that can be viewed. It is a non-denominational burial ground, housing the dead of many different nationalities. It is also the final resting place of a long list of notable figures. Just a few of the famous names that can be found include: philosopher, Simone de Beauvoir; car manufacturer Andre Citreon; and former French President, Paul Deschanel. Lined with over 1200 trees, Montparnasse offers a scenic stroll through time.
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Parc de la Villette (Free)

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Designed by Bernard Tschumi, the Parc de la Villette is hub of cultural activity. Tschumi won the opportunity to design this space in 1983, after competing against 460 other teams. The area was originally home to a large abattoirs which closed in 1974. The area was then designated to building: a musical complex, a national science and technology museum, and a large urban park. The park was finally completed in 2000 although several of the attractions on site were finished earlier. It spans 55 hectares and a whole holiday could be spent exploring what this site has to offer. Parc de la Villette contains a series of themed gardens including 'The Garden of the Dragon' and the 'Bamboo Garden'. These are all decorated with unique follies; decorative ornamental buildings. The outdoor space is known for attracting artists and musicians seeking inspiration from this culturally vibrant area. The site also boasts the largest science museum in Europe, an IMAX theatre, a concert arena, an equestrian centre and a symphony hall. It is easy to understand how this lively park receives around ten million visitors annually.
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Arènes de Lutèce (Free)

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One of the oldest attractions in Paris, the Arènes de Lutèce dates back to 1AD. Paris was at that time actually known as Lutèce. Built by the Romans, the Arènes de Lutèce is one of the largest amphitheatres ever constructed. It is located in the Quartier Latin and was once capable of holding up to 15,000 people. The Romans used it to host gladiatorial competitions among other events. The landmark was in fact lost to history for many years, becoming a cemetery towards the end of the 3rd century. It was rediscovered in the 1860s during the development of a new tram stop. Victor Hugo led the campaign for restoration, which then gradually began to take place. Areas were still being excavated all the way up to the 1940s. A visit to Arènes de Lutèce is a fascinating insight into Roman architecture. It originally spanned 132 metres long by 100 metres wide, although only parts of the stage and several animal cages are visible now. The site is mainly used for recreational activities. Football games and picnics are common along with the French sport boules.
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