|Paris Sightseeing could take you a lifetime but there are a few areas that you simply cannot miss. I will classify the sights and attractions in two different categories. The first I will call ‘classics', the second ‘great alternatives'.
The traditional Circuit will include visiting the Eiffel Tower , the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame and the Sacree Coeur. The four monuments are the pillars of the Paris Tourism industry. Then you can visit The Louvre, the “musee d'Orsee”, the “musee de Rodin” and the natural history museum which is in the "Jardin des Plantes".
Which brings us to parcs: The jardin des plantes is lovely as are the “jardins du Luxembourg ”, then you can venture into the “Jardin Atlantique” which is on top of the “Gare Monparnasse”. The “Parc Montsouris” in the 13eme is a haven of calm in one of the nicest and most relaxed areas of town. The “Parc de La Villette” was one of the latest great gardening developments undertaken under the Mitterand government. The parc covers 136 acres and is in the northeast of Paris . Invariably Versailles and its gardens are also an absolute must see. Whether you prefer the chateau or the gardens, both will dazzle and impress upon you all the glory of France 's illustrious past. However, remember that it will be a day trip so make sure you get started early.
Euro Disney is also an unavoidable destination if you have children. It's only 30 minutes south east of Paris and makes a great day trip for a family whose kids are not enjoying sightseeing as much as their parents. Also since Euro Disney has opened its second park dedicated to Disney Films and the magic of the silver screen, even Parents might have a better time.
The following sights and places to see are not on the traditional tourism circuit but are well worth the detour.
I will actually suggest visiting the “Cimetiere du Pere Lachaise” in the 20 th Arrondissement. The history of this cemetery as well as who is buried there accounts for its fascinating appeal to the tragic French nature. Asides from the thousands who flock every year to Jim Morrisons' grave many poets and authors come to seek inspiration amidst the myriad of French writers and poets who lie there. La Fomtaine and Moiliere being the most famous of those. Many actors and actresses can also be found. Buy a guide to the cemetery when you get there. There will be many people you will not know but every so often you might see a film or read about one of them…
La Defense is also worth an alternative visit, especially the “Grande Arche” and the “Esplanade”. From here you will have a great view up to the arc de Triomphe, whilst being surrounded by the forest of modern glass skyscrapers which populate the Parisian business center.
The “Cite de la Science”, home to the famous “Geode” is also worth a detour. The interactive museum really makes for a fascinating visit. Situated in the north east of Paris , it is generally a great bet if you are going to Paris with Children.
If you are up in Monmartre but cannot be asked to visit the Sacree-Coeur you can always visit the last surviving Windmill of Paris the “Moulin de la Galette”, made immortal by Renoir's painting the “Bal Populaire”. It was also the haunt of another famous French painter, Toulouse-Lautrec who used to start his evenings there with a jug of spiced red wine.
If you are in the 16 th area I suggest visiting the “Villa Montmorency” and/or the “Villa Beausejour” as they both provide great insight into Parisian life of days gone by.
In the 15 th I would strongly suggest the parc “George Brassens” as well as the “Ruche” which was built by Gustave Eiffel for the World Exposition at the turn of the 20 th century. The intricate gardens are peppered with sculptures and provides for a cosy and intimate getaway from the busy city.
In the 13 th you will find the Parisian Chinatown and overall a very eclectic and friendly atmosphere, whether you chose to walk around “place d'Italie” or “Les Goblins”. A lovely place to visit would be the “Cite Fleurie”, which is right by the Metro stop “Glaciere”. It is a beautiful set of Turn of the century workshops amidst a garden of flowers and greenery. Once again this will be a very refreshing visit as it gets you away from busy thoroughfares.
If you are traveling as a family and want to give the kids a break but are not to keen on EuroDisney, you can always take them to the “Parc Asterix” which is about 40 minutes North of Paris. This Theme parc is based around the adventures of the famous French cartoon characters Asterix and Obelix. This is the only parc of its kind in the world so it is well worth the trip.
If you would like a nice outing outside of Paris and have already been to Versailles and do not feel like going to an amusement park, I strongly suggest making a 40 minutes trip north to the town of Chantilly which is the heart and Soul of the French Equestrian World. It is also home to one of the most Beautiful Chateaux' in France .
The Chateau of Chantilly is much smaller than Versailles but it is still breathtaking and can be only the first step of a lovely and memorable day trip.
The Prince of Conde who lived in this chateau believed he would reincarnate as a horse and in consequence, he built fabulous stables so as to be fit for a Prince and called them the “Grandes Ecuries”. These extravagant stables are as big as the chateau, and in the summer, the French Equestrian association put on a spectacular Horse Ballet in an arena within the stables. This area also has many fantastic golf courses as well as a polo club, lots of woodland, and has managed to keep all of its charm in spite of its proximity to Paris .
Chantilly is not the only attraction of the area as a mere 15 minutes away you will find the old medieval town of Senlis . Here you will be able to visit one of the oldest cathedrals in France and wonder through narrow and winding old cobbled stone streets, full of history and suffused with silent poetry.
oth Chantilly and Senlis could be visited in a day but ideally you should rent a car for the day even though you can reach Chantilly by train.