Paris is one of the world’s most popular travel destinations and a place that I love coming back to. The City of Light is filled with rich history, incredible art, and architecture that will blow your mind.
Of course, a trip to Paris can also be a drain on your pocketbook. As importantly, Paris is packed with tourists throughout the entire year – which often means waiting in long lines to purchase tickets at the city’s top spots.
Thankfully, there is a way to avoid much of the madness. It’s called the Paris Pass, and it can help you save both time and money in France’s most famous city.
So, what can you see and do with this card? Here are five of my favorite attractions included with the Paris Pass!
1) Palace of Versailles
Originally a royal hunting lodge, the Palace of Versailles underwent a major transformation under the reign of King Louis XIV. It served as the main residence for the kings of France from the later part of the 1600s until the French Revolution of 1789. These days, nearly 10 million people visit the palace each year.
Containing over 2,300 rooms and measuring at over 63,000 meters squared (roughly 680,000 square feet), the palace is enormous. Much of it is essentially an art gallery, with thousands of paintings hanging throughout the palace. Only certain rooms are open to the public, but you can still spend the entire day here if you want to.
Personally, my favorite parts of Versailles are the beautiful golden gates, the magnificent gardens, and the famous “Hall of Mirrors.” And, of course, admission to the palace is included with the Paris Pass. In my opinion, if you’re in Paris, a trip to Versailles is a must.
2) Louvre Museum
The Louvre has served as a fortress, a royal palace, and is now the most famous art museum in the world. Housing over 35,000 works of art and hundreds of thousands more objects, it’s also the world’s largest.
Quite frankly, just walking past the Louvre is awe-inspiring. The building is massive, measuring in at about 650,000 square feet (60,000 square meters).
Even if you’re not an art lover, you likely know many of the museum’s most famous pieces. While large crowds are sure to be found surrounding the Mona Lisa, two of my favorites are less crowded and located in the same general area – Liberty Leading the People and the massive The Coronation of Napoleon.
With over 10 million visitors each year, the Louvre is always busy. Be prepared, though, because you’re required to pre-book your timed entry to the Louvre once you’ve purchased your pass. While this will get you past the gigantic ticket line, you may still have to queue for security checks as you enter the building.
3) Palais Garnier Opera House
If you think Versailles was opulent, you haven’t seen anything yet!
Simply put, the Palais Garnier is probably my favorite building in Paris. Housing a cool little costume museum, an impressive Grand Foyer, and a world-famous chandelier, walking into this building feels like stepping into a real-life masquerade ball. It seems like the entire building is covered in golden gilt!
Oh, and you won’t be able to miss the Grand Staircase. This incredible marble staircase allowed patrons to admire, gawk, and gossip about other theatre goers as they arrived for the performance. It was like the show before the show!
Today, the building serves as the home to the Opera National de Paris – France’s primary ballet and opera company. As with the other attractions on this list, entry to the Opera Garnier is included with a Paris Pass. A guided tour of the building is also included and highly recommended.
4) Chateau Fontainebleau
Located right outside of the city, Chateau Fontainebleau makes a short and wonderful day trip from Paris. Although a castle has resided here since the 1100s, Chateau Fontainebleau came into its own during the 1500s. King Francis I had the place rebuilt in the Renaissance-style, much of which we still see standing today.
Throughout the years, the palace served as the summer residence for France’s royal and imperial families. In fact, members of the French ruling dynasties continuously inhabited the residence for eight centuries.
Today, the palace is composed of over 1,500 rooms, sits on over 130 acres of manicured gardens and parkland, and is open to the public to visit. In addition to the Grand Apartments of the French sovereigns, the palace includes several galleries, museums, and chapels to explore. With few exceptions, visitors will find the palace to be organized and decorated in much the same fashion that it was when last inhabited by Napoleon III and Eugenie in the late 1860s.
5) Basilica Cathedral of Saint-Denis
I have to admit, I was devastated when I heard the news about the fire at Notre Dame. The church was (and remains) one of the most famous landmarks in Paris. The now destroyed roof and spire were absolutely stunning, and I’m glad I was able to visit the building a few times.
If you’re looking for great churches in and around Paris, all is not lost. The city and suburbs are full of wonderful places you can explore.
Although the Basilica Cathedral of Saint-Denis may not be as famous as its neighbor, it is definitely one spot you don’t want to miss. The church serves as the burial spot for almost every French king and their families from the 10th century on. Yep, you read that right. In fact, all but three French monarchs from over nine centuries are buried here!
There are over 70 amazing Renaissance-style tombs available to view, but most of them are empty. The royal bodies were removed from their original crypts and buried in mass graves during the French Revolution. Although those graves were reopened in the early 1800s, most of the bodies became unidentifiable. Their bones have now been placed in an ossuary located behind two marble plates containing the names of the royals buried there.
Of course, if graves aren’t your thing, the basilica provides plenty for you to see. In addition to the funerary sculptures, the building itself is gorgeous – especially if you love stained glass and gothic architecture. In fact, the choir is considered to be the first major structure completely finished in the Gothic style.
So, what do you think? Those are five pretty awesome places to visit in Paris, right?
Here’s the best part: We’ve only covered a fraction of what’s included in the Paris Pass. There’s still more than 55 attractions and activities you can enjoy, including an awesome river cruise, wine tasting, entry to several other museums, and much more!
If a trip to Paris is on your travel agenda, save some time and money by checking out the Paris Pass! For more information, read our complete Paris Pass review here.
Thanks so much for reading and have a great trip. Happy traveling!