Things to Do in Île-de-France - page 3
First opened in 1895 by Theophile Bader, Galeries Lafayette is a department store in Paris that houses luxury fashion brands including Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and Christian Dior. In addition to a stained glass dome ceiling and rooftop terrace with views of the Eiffel Tower, Galeries Lafayette features weekly fashion shows on Friday afternoons.
One of only two Seine islands in Paris (the other is the neighboring Île de la Cité), Île Saint-Louis is a tranquil oasis in the city center. Among the first parts of the city to be organized by modern urban planning works during the 17th century, the island is known for its scenic quays, elegant residences, and unhurried pace.
Located across from the Louvre in the heart of Paris, the Palais-Royal is an architectural highlight known for its scenic gardens and regal heritage. Originally named the Palais-Cardinal—it was built for Cardinal Richelieu in 1633—the palace later housed French royalty until Versailles was completed in 1682.
With red marble columns and grandiose style, the Fontaine Saint-Michel is a beautiful fountain in the heart of the Quartier Latin (Latin Quarter. The statue at the center depicts the archangel Michael standing triumphantly over the devil—it’s said to be a symbol for Napoleon’s own triumphs—and the monument is flanked by spouting dragons.
Built in 1653 by Cardinal de Richelieu, the impressive La Sorbonne building in Paris’ Latin Quarter (Quartier Latin) houses classrooms for several universities, including the University of Paris. In addition to a historic library, the Sorbonne campus—the intellectual heart of the student-filled district—features a chapel and an airy courtyard.
The Wall of Love (Le Mur des Je T'aime) is a massive work of art featuring the words “I love you” written in over 250 languages. Composed of 612 dark-blue tiles, this work by artist Frédéric Baron and calligraphist Claire Kito is a favorite meeting spot for lovers and offers more evidence that Paris is in fact the City of Love.
The Alma Bridge stretches over the Seine in the center of Paris, connecting the Champs-Élysées area to the Les Invalides monument where Napoleon Bonaparte is buried. Here you will find a perfectly composed view of the Eiffel Tower—plus a font of city history, both triumphant and poignant.
Held in an intimate underground venue, the Crazy Horse cabaret’s provocative yet sophisticated burlesque-style show celebrates femininity and specializes in the art of seduction, with a series of elaborately choreographed routines performed by highly trained dancers wearing custom-made red-soled Louboutins, bob wigs, bright red lipstick—and often little else. Avant-garde artist Alain Bernardin established the venerated Crazy Horse de Paris in 1951.
Paris’ largest and most prestigious cemetery, the Père Lachaise Cemetery (Cimetière du Père Lachaise) was founded in 1804. Today it contains more than 70,000 ornate tombs, including those of some of France’s most important public figures.
One of Paris’ top literary landmarks, Shakespeare and Company is an English-language bookstore in the Latin Quarter opened in 1951 by George Whitman. It was named after a bookstore founded in 1919 by Sylvia Beach, famous for hosting luminaries including Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, and Gertrude Stein.
More Things to Do in Île-de-France
Originally built for the 1937 World’s Fair, the Palais de Chaillot houses an array of Paris’ top cultural attractions, including a national theater, multiple museums, and even an aquarium. The landmark, renowned for its art deco design, stands directly across the River Seine from the Eiffel Tower, and its terrace is a popular photo spot.
Delighting audiences since 1860, Au Lapin Agile is one of the oldest and most beloved cabarets in Paris. The two-story cottage in Montmartre has been emblematic of the bohemian district, attracting a loyal following among artists such as Modigliani, Toulouse-Lautrec, Utrillo, and Picasso who immortalized their favorite haunt in his 1905 painting, At the Lapin Agile, which hangs inside.
Located in the 2nd Arrondissement, the Galerie Vivienne is one of the most iconic covered passages in Paris. Built in 1823 in a neoclassical Pompeian style, the 176-meter long passage features an elegant canopy, mosaic tile floors, paintings and sculptures depicting trade-related scenes and a rotunda with images of goddesses and nymphs. The arcade was originally home to a variety of shops, including tailors, cobblers, wine shops, confectioners and bookstores and enjoyed a great deal of success due to its prime location near the Vanel de Serrant Hotel. While many of its most prestigious shops eventually moved elsewhere, the passage was reborn in the 1960s.
Today, it offers a sophisticated and cozy shopping experience, with shops ranging from clothing boutiques to grocery shops to the old Jousseaume bookstore, one of only two original stores remaining. The other, the Legrand Filles and Fils delicatessen, existed before the gallery was even built.
Fronting the magnificent Jardin des Tuilieries and looking out across the Seine River, the Musée de l'Orangerie (Orangerie Museum) is situated in one of Paris’ most idyllic locations. The prestigious art museum is home to a number of masterpieces, but it’s most famous for its series of MonetWater Lilies paintings.
Servicing over 700,000 passengers every day (for a total of 190 million a year) Gare du Nord is the busiest railway station in Europe—and the busiest in the world outside Japan. The building itself, with its neoclassical design and soaring skylights, is a magnificent mix of engineering prowess and aesthetic beauty.
Hidden inside a triangle of elegant townhouses on the tip of Île de la Cité, Place Dauphine is an elegant plaza in one of most prestigious addresses in Paris. Created as a royal garden, Henri IV named the space after his son, the Dauphin of France who would become Louis XIII.
One of Paris’ liveliest markets, the Marché d’Aligre, located in the 12th arrondissement, includes an open-air portion and a covered portion (which is sometimes referred to as the Marché Beauvau). Open six days a week, this popular market sells everything from fresh produce, cheese, and meat to antiques and housewares.
Housed within a contemporary building designed by renowned French architect Jean Nouvel, The Arab World Institute (Institut du Monde Arabe houses a collection of Arabic art, scientific objects, textiles, and other items spanning thousands of years spread across four floors, from pre-Islamic ceramics to modern Palestinian art.
Located on Île de la Cité, one of the two remaining natural islands in the River Seine, the Palais de Justice is what remains of the former Royal Palace. Situated between the Gothic royal Sainte-Chapelle chapel and the former Conciergerie prison, the Palais de Justice is infamous for its role as a public execution site during the French Revolution.
Fashioned from the blueprint of London’s world-renowned Madame Tussauds, the Grevin Museum (Musée Grevin), Paris’s own waxwork museum, has been sculpting famous faces since it was founded back in 1882. Today over 500 waxwork figures—including politicians, movie stars, and historic icons—are on display.
Built as a presidential monument to Jacques Chirac, the Quai Branly Museum (Musée du Quai Branly) is a museum in Paris that feature thousands of artifacts from indigenous cultures across the globe. In addition to permanent and temporary exhibitions, the museum houses a library, lecture hall, garden, rooftop terrace, and two cafes.
Located in the famed Latin Quarter, Saint Étienne du Mont (Église Saint-Étienne-du-Mont) is one of Paris’ most interesting churches. The Gothic-Renaissance–style structure features two unique spiral staircases and the only remaining rood screen—an ornate partition common in medieval churches that separates the clergy from the worshippers—in Paris.
The École Militaire is a large complex of buildings located in the 7th neighborhood (arrondissement) of Paris that houses several different military training facilities. The original military school was founded in 1750 by Louis XV, who wanted to create an academic college for cadet officers from poor families. One of the school’s more well-known students was Napoleon Bonaparte, who graduated from the École Militaire in one year instead of the standard two. The impressively decorated building is still home to a training school for officers in the French army. The buildings are located within sight of the Eiffel Tower and the Trocadero – very close to the Champ de Mars, which originally served as a parade ground for the school’s troops and students. The front facade of the building (facing the Eiffel Tower) is decorated with true 18th-century grandeur and still contains bullet holes where German units made a ‘last stand’ prior to the liberation of Paris in WWII.
- Things to do in Paris
- Things to do in Marne-la-Vallée
- Things to do in Normandy
- Things to do in Nord-Pas de Calais
- Things to do in Loire Valley
- Things to do in Blois
- Things to do in Deauville City
- Things to do in Lille
- Things to do in Dijon
- Things to do in Brussels
- Things to do in Flanders
- Things to do in Burgundy
- Things to do in South East England
- Things to do in South Holland
- Things to do in Alsace