What is Paris famous for

Ah, Paris – the City of Lights, of Love, the Eiffel Tower, and so much more! It is one of the most famous cities and one of the most popular tourist destinations, attracting millions worldwide.

We will explore and explain some of the most famous things about Paris, from the love locks to the monuments and museums.

Located in the ile de France, in Central France, it is the capital and biggest city in France and Europe. For centuries, Paris has been one of the most important world centers in many areas, including commerce, culture, finance, fashion, gastronomy, diplomacy, and so on.

So, without any delays, let’s examine what is Paris famous for and why it is so special!

20 things Paris is known for

Eiffel Tower

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Paris? It could be many things, but the Eiffel Tower is at the top of our list.

The Eiffel Tower is the most iconic building in Paris and one of the most recognizable structures in the world. Everyone associates the Eiffel Tower with Paris, and vice-versa.

Constructed from 1887 to 1889 as the centerpiece of the 1889 World’s Fair, many initially criticized it, but it quickly became a global cultural icon. With more than 6 Million visitors yearly, it is even the most visited landmark with an entrance fee.

Located on the Champ of Mars, it is named after Gustave Eiffel, the engineer who designed and built the tower. The tower is 330 meters (1,083 ft) tall (about the same as an 81-story building), and its square base has 125 meters on each side. For 41 years, it was the tallest human-made building until the Chrysler Building was completed in NYC in 1930.

Nicknamed the Iron Lady, the Eiffel Tower is UNESCO Heritage Site included in the listing “Paris, Banks of the Seine” in 1991.

What is Paris famous for
View of Paris and Eiffel Tower | photo by masterlu via Depositphotos

Louvre

If the Eiffel Tower is the most famous landmark, the Louvre is the most popular museum – one that almost everyone visiting Paris wants to visit.

As one of the world’s largest and most visited museums, the Louvre is home to thousands of artworks divided into numerous collections. It allows visitors to explore art from prehistory to the 21st century, including Egyptian Antiques, New Eastern Antiques, Greek, Roman, Etruscan, and Islamic art, besides French and European art.

In total, it owns 615 797 objects but only displays 35 000 works of art. On the other hand, 482 943 are accessible online. The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci and Venus de Milo are the two most famous ones.

The Louvre Museum is housed in the Louvre Palace, built in the 12th and 13th centuries. Expanded several times, It was the primary residence of the French Kings until 1682, when it was used to expose art and then became a museum after the French Revolution.

The famous glass and inverted pyramids were only built in the 20th century, becoming another symbol of the museum and Paris itself.

things Paris is known for
Louvre is the most popular museum in Paris | photo by outline205 via Depositphotos

All the other famous landmarks

The Eiffel Tower may be the most iconic building in Paris, and the Louvre the most famous museum, but they are far from Paris’s only famous French landmarks. On the contrary, Paris holds many of France’s most popular and well-known monuments and attractions.

These landmarks are a significant factor in the idea of Paris being the quintessential city of culture, history, and beauty as they contribute to its rich heritage, artistic contributions, and stunning aesthetic.

Some of the other famous Parisien landmarks we haven’t mentioned before include:

  • Notre Dame Cathedral: Iconic French Gothic Cathedral that suffered a massive fire in 2019
  • Champs-Élysées
  • Arc de Triomphe
  • Montmartre
  • Sacré-Cœur Basilica
  • Panthéon
  • Les Invalides
Famous landmarks in Paris
Famous landmarks in Paris – Notre Dame Cathedral | photo by DaLiu via Depositphotos

Art and artists

Paris has an unrivaled deep artistic heritage. No other city can claim its historic significance in the art world, which is why it is recognized as the city of art and artists. It has been a hub of artistic inspiration, creativity, and innovation for centuries, attracting renowned artists, thinkers, writers, and musicians.

The neighborhood of Montmartre, in particular, has been a gathering place for many famous artists like Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. The bohemian atmosphere and stunning city views have inspired countless works of art.

Paris was home to the surge of many art movements that had a profound impact on global art, including Impressionism, Cubism, and Surrealism.

Naturally, It is also home to many museums and galleries, including Musée d’Orsay (focusing on Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art), the Centre Pompidou (modern and contemporary art), and the Musée Rodin (dedicated to the works of sculptor Auguste Rodin), besides the already explored Louvre.

The city’s history of fostering creativity in art, literature, and design has nurtured a spirit of innovation and experimentation in every other aspect of life.

Well known things about Paris
Art being exposed in the neighborhood of Montmartre | photo by kruwt via Depositphotos

Fashion capital

Paris is also famous for being the fashion capital of the world. The combination of historical, cultural, and industrial have contributed to Paris’ position in the fashion world.

Historically, Paris has been in the center of fashion since the 17th century and the influence of the French court on style and clothing in Europe. Later in the 19th century, the haute couture concept surged also in Paris, solidifying its position as a trendsetter, which lasts until today.

Many famous and well-regarded fashion houses originated or made Paris their home. World-famous brands like Chanel, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, and Yves Saint Laurent are synonymous with elegance, creativity, and refinement. They set trends and shape the fashion world in Paris.

Naturally, Paris Fashion Week is one of the most anticipated events in the fashion world, attracting people (designers, celebrities, buyers, and fashion enthusiasts) from all over the world to see the new trends.

In summary, Paris is both a traditional and a pioneer in the fashion world.

Shopping

The fact that Paris is an extremely popular shopping destination is highly related to being the Fashion Capital of the world.

Renowned for its luxurious boutiques, extravagant fashion brands, historic department stores, and charming shopping districts, it is easy to understand why Paris is one of the world’s premier shopping destinations.

But there’s more to Paris than only luxury goods and haute couture fashion. Paris is home to iconic department stores like Galeries Lafayette and Printemps; it has charming flea markets such as Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen and street markets offering fresh produce and gourmet foods. And many specialty shops, from chocolatiers and bookshops to art supply stores.

If you love shopping while away, Paris has something – lots of things – for you.

City of Light

One of the most popular nicknames of pairs is “the city of light” or La Ville Lumière in French. Curiously, it has a dual meaning, as there are two reasons for it! First, Paris is the city of light because of its leading role in the Age of Enlightenment – in the 17th and 18th centuries. This was a time of profound intellectual and philosophical progress.

As discussed, during this period, Paris became a focal point in intellectual and artistic currents, with passionate communities of thinkers, writers, philosophers, and scientists who led discussions about reason, knowledge, liberty, and progress.

All of this led to scientific advancement, new philosophical, cultural, and artistic Movements, and ultimately political and social transformations.

Another more literal meaning is that Paris was one of the first large European cities to install gas street lighting on its boulevards and famous monuments massively. By the middle of the 19th century, Paris had more than 56,000 gas lamps, illuminating most of the famous landmarks, streets, and boulevards.

The new lighting system was impressive, and visitors soon started calling it the city of light. Even today, the city’s lightning is amazing, creating beautiful night scenery for visitors and locals.

Paris famous things
The beautiful city of Paris by night | photo by massonforstock via Depositphotos

City of Love

Another famous moniker for Paris is “the city of love.” Paris is probably the most popular romantic destination in the world, with lovers visiting the city to explore its ambiance, iconic landmarks, and cuisine culture.

The romantic allure of Paris comes from its unique blend of cultural elements, historical significance, and the way it has been portrayed in art and media.

The Eiffel Tower, the Seine River, its bridges, the lovely gardens, and the Montmartre neighborhood provide stunning backdrops for romantic experiences and declarations of love. The city’s global architecture and aesthetics, with historic buildings, charming cafes, and elegant avenues, are just lovely and appeal to everyone.

And then there’s the city’s culture with creativity and arts, alluring dreamers worldwide. It is also the setting of many literature classics, romantic movies, and even recent TV series.

Finally, we can’t forget the language and food. French is usually considered the most romantic language, while French cuisine with patisseries, cafés with terraces, and world-class restaurants side by side. Sharing a romantic meal in Paris is a highlight of any visit and an unforgettable experience.

Cafes and terraces

We have mentioned the cafes and terraces of Paris a few times, but it is such an iconic and significant part of the city culture that we need to expand on that.

The famous imagery of Parisian cafes with their outdoor seatings and terraces embodies the spirit of the Parisian experience. They offer a glimpse into the diverse Parisian life, from the trendy to historic districts, while leisurely experiencing the city’s atmosphere.

This long tradition in Paris dates back to the 17th and 18th centuries when renowned thinkers and artists gathered. This cafe lifestyle was also immortalized and romanticized in literature, art, film, and television.

Today, the cafe experience in Paris is one of the most sought-after attractions for tourists. Yet, is there anything more Parisian than sitting on a charming terrace, seeing the world go by in a relaxed ambiance while enjoying good food, coffee, and wine?

Interesting things about Paris
Parisian cafe in Montmartre in Paris | photo by KovalenkovPetr via Depositphotos

French cuisine

French cuisine is one of the world’s most popular and influential cuisines. Thus, Paris, as the capital, is one of the best places to indulge in the culinary delights of French cuisine.

In Paris, you will find incredible patisseries, chocolatiers, and fromageries everywhere. Plus, there’s delicious street food and some of the best restaurants in the world, including many renowned Michelin-starred.

The wealth of food choices (sweet and savory) makes it a dream destination for foodies and one of the world’s gastronomic capitals. In 2010, UNESCO even added French Gastronomy (and all of its contributions) to the list of the world’s “intangible cultural heritage.”

Some of the dishes you shouldn’t pass include:

  • Onion Soup
  • All kinds of French cheese
  • Jambon-beurre
  • Escargots
  • And all kinds of French Pastries, but we will talk about those below.
facts about Paris
Famous onion soup from Paris | photo by robynmac via Depositphoto

Pastries

We have established that Paris is famous for its cafe culture and the food, but there’s something that perfectly brings these two things together: French pastries. You will find them everywhere, and they are one of the most popular things in the city among locals and tourists. Who doesn’t want to have an excellent croissant with a coffee on a lovely terrace on one of the beautiful Parisian streets?

Paris has a deep-rooted history of pastry-making that spans centuries, making pastries and patisseries crucial in the city’s culinary heritage, including the world-famous croissant, which was invented in Paris. Pastry chefs continue to blend traditional recipes and techniques with innovative twists

Parisian patisseries offer various pastries in very different textures, flavors, techniques, and presentations. Some of the most popular and famous include:

  • Baguettes
  • Croissants
  • Eclairs
  • Macarons
  • The Ópera
  • croque-monsieur
  • and many intricate cakes and decadent tarts
All you need to know about Paris
Macarons of different flavours – Paris Pastries

Cabarets

Cabarets are another significant institution in Paris, one that is well-known everywhere and highly associated with the city’s bohemian culture. They have become integral to Paris’s vibrant nightlife scene and a popular tourist attraction.

Cabarets are unique entertainment venues offering a diverse mix of performances, including music, dance, comedy, theatrical acts, and various other shows. They are known for having an intimate but vibrant ambiance. As one of Paris’s most iconic symbols of artistic expression, they have also played a significant role in the city’s history.

Famous for its extravagant shows, elaborate costumes, and can-can dance performances, the Moulin Rouge is probably the most famous cabaret in the world. Other well-known and popular include:

  • Lido de Paris – extravagant shows featuring dancers, singers, and impressive sets.
  • Crazy Horse – famous for its avant-garde and artistic performances that often feature nude dancers
  • Le Cabaret des Lice – a more intimate cabaret
  • Paradis Latin – one of the oldest Cabarets
Cool things about Paris
The most famous cabaret in Paris – Moulin Rouge | photo by bepsimage via Depositphotos

Disneyland Paris

We could have included Disneyland Paris, as one of the famous landmarks in Paris, but it is so different from the others that it deserves a point of its own.

Originally inaugurated in 1992 as Euro Disney, Disneyland Paris encompasses two theme parks, several resort hotels, two nature resorts, a shopping, dining, and entertainment complex, and a golf course. The second park, Walt Disney Studios Park, opened in 2002.

Disneyland Paris is a very popular theme park, and its 320 million visitors since its opening make it the most visited in Europe. It was also the second Disney park to only second to Tokyo Disney Resort.

Disney fans immediately associate Paris with Disneyland, as it is an amazing theme park to visit, with plenty of attractions and rides. The top attractions include It’s a Small World, Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Buzz Lightyear’s Laser Blast.

Well known things about Paris
Disneyland Paris – one of the famous landmarks in Paris | photo by luisrsphoto via Depositphotos

French Revolution

Although the French Revolution is something the whole of France is famous for, its main events happened in Paris. The revolution had a significant impact on France and the world.

This period of profound political, social, and cultural disruption took place between 1789 and 1799, marking a pivotal moment in world history that reshaped the political and sociological landscape of Europe and the world.

Some key events associated with Paris include Bastille Day (now a national holiday), the revolutionary gatherings in Place de la Concorde, the execution of Louis XVI, the reign of terror, and the national assembly.

With the revolution and the new ideals, Paris became a symbol of the new republican government. Paris was forever associated with the revolutionary ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity.

Haussmann architecture

You may not know what Haussmann architecture is, but if you have ever seen Paris, you have noticed it! Even if most people have never heard the expression, it is one of the most recognizable things about Paris! So, let’s explain…

Haussmann architecture is the urban planning and architectural style implemented in Paris between 1853 and 1870. Named after Georges-Eugène Haussmann, it was an ambitious transformation that required extensive renovation and modernization of the city.

This renovation profoundly impacted Paris’ appearance, functionality, and social dynamics, improving public health and the urban environment. It was critical to developing Paris into a global cultural and economic center, which can still be seen today.

The Haussmann architecture and planning had very clear rules, characteristics, and features, including:

  • Uniform Building Facades with consistent architectural elements
  • Symmetry and Order
  • Long and wide Boulevards and avenues
  • improved infrastructure
  • Creation of new parks, squares, and public amenities throughout the city
Every thing about Paris
Champs Elysees and example of Haussmann architecture in Paris | photo by Estea-Estea via Depositphotos

Seine River

The Seine River is one of the most iconic elements of Paris as it flows through the city core and has played a crucial role in its history, culture, and urban development.

Famous for its picturesque views, long tourist boats, and charming bridges, the Seine is one of the most popular attractions in Paris. The banks are popular for leisure walks, picnics, and simply socializing in the parks and cafes lining the river.

However, the most popular thing is probably enjoying a boat cruise along the river. These provide panoramic views of many Paris Landmarks, including the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower.

top things about Paris
Seine River and its Bridges in Paris | photo by dovapi via Depositphotos

Paris Saint-German

Paris Saint-German (or PSG) is Paris and France’s most famous football club. Although it is not the most historical club, as it was created only in 1970, it quickly earned its status as one of France’s main football teams.

PSG won their first significant title in 1982 (the French Cup) and their championship in 1986. The 1990s were even more successful with a second league title, three French Cups, two French League Cups, two French Super Cups, and the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup in 1996.

However, after a decline in the early 2000s, everything changed in 2011, and PSG became a worldwide famous club. The club was bought by Qatar Sports Investments (QSI), increasing its financial power into one of Europe’s wealthiest clubs.

The new ability to bring some of the world’s best players, including Messi, Mbappe, and Neymar, led to unparalleled dominance in domestic competitions, winning multiple league titles and national cups. It is also a regular contender to win the UEFA Champions League, but it only reached the final once, in 2020.

So, when you ask what is Paris known for? Football fans will invariably answer PSG, Mbappe, Messi, and Neymar.

Roland Garros

If PSG is the symbol of Paris for football fans, Roland Garros is what Paris is known for tennis enthusiasts.

Founded in 1891, Roland Garros is the nickname of the French Open of tennis. It is one of the four Grand Slams of tennis and is currently the only one held on clay courts. The name of the tournament and the venue comes from the French aviator Roland Garros.

The seven rounds necessary to win the championship, the best of five sets matches, and the characteristics of the clay courts (slower pace, longer rallies, and high bounce) make it the most physically demanding tournament in tennis.

Rafael Nadal is the most successful player in Rolland Garros, with an incredible total of 14 titles, while Chris Evert, with eight tiles, is the most successful female player. However, most other famous tennis players have won Roland Garros, like Federer, Djokovic, and Bjorg among males, and Serena Williams, Swiatek, and Henin among females.

Paris well known facts
Stade Roland Garros in Paris | photo by zhukovsky via Depositphotos

Versailles

While Versailles is not really in Paris (or at least the center), it is close enough to be included in this list. Plus, it is a very popular destination for visitors to Paris and thus highly associated with the city.

Originally built as a simple hunting lodge in 1623 by Louis XIII, it was continuously expanded into a Palace and then into the opulent landmark it is today, with extensive gardens and historical importance. It is considered the prime example of French Baroque architecture and interior design.

The Palace of Versailles served as the royal residence of French kings and queens, particularly Louis XIV, the main responsible for it becoming a symbol of power and grandeur in the 17th century.

With about 15 million people visiting the Palace, Gardens, and Versailles yearly, it is one of the most popular landmarks in the world.

Fun things about Paris
Versailles Palace and gardens in Paris | photo by fyletto via Depositphotos

Riots and protests

A city like Paris is always in the news, and with reason, as we have demonstrated, but there is one more thing that puts Paris and France in the news regularly. French people love protests! And what better place o protest than the capital city?

Consequently, Paris has a long (very long) history of riots, protests, and manifestations. Some were very influential, while others ended up not having many consequences. Perhaps the most well-known are the May 1968 protests and strikes, which led to a major social and political upheaval in France, particularly the student demonstrations. They also led to significant changes in the country.

Recently, there have been large protests covering various issues, including labor rights, environmental concerns, civil liberties, and more. One of the largest and most recent (2018-2020) was the yellow vest protests that advocated for economic justice and political efforts.

In 2023, there were also large protests and riots against the increase in retirement age and police brutality, particularly against minorities.

Although the city has this strong tradition of demonstrations, and most of them are peaceful, there may be some clashes, which is why we suggest you avoid joining them when visiting Paris.

Smells

This is a funny one… because depending on who you ask, you may get a pleasant smell or not so much!

Some people will say that Paris smells amazing, with beautiful scents from boulangeries, patisseries, chocolatiers, and perfumeries around you. All these shops know people like the smell of their products, so they make sure their fragrances spread through the streets and attract people.

The iconic aroma of freshly baked pastries, bread, and gourmet foods floating from cafes and patisseries is a delightful experience.

Other people will point out the reputation that the city gained for the occasional unpleasant odors. Historically, the city has suffered from poor waste management and sanitation, which originated some displeasing odors.

Even worse was the habit of some people not using bathrooms and urinating in public areas, creating a horrible smell of stale urine. Plus, some people seem to forget they should collect their dog poop, making the stench even worse.

Despite this bad smell reputation, we have to say that our experience with the smells of Paris is much more positive than negative. In fact, we can’t recall experiencing the bad smells. So, maybe that’s something that has improved in the last few years.

Famous things about Paris
View of Paris, France | photo by sborisov via Depositphotos

* Cover photo by johny007pandp via Depostiphotos

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