Photograph by Peter Turnley/Corbis
Paris's high-tech shrine to contemporary art. "Take the escalators up for a free view; the cafés in the square below are expensive but worth it for the best people-watching in Paris."—Photographer Michele Ch'i. Fee. Place Georges Pompidou; Métro: Châtelet-Les Halles; tel. 33 (0) 1 44 78 12 33. www.centrepompidou.fr
"Daring and sublime; iron reborn as lace."—Mosaic artist Sharon Tompkins. Tip: Go at night to avoid the crowds (open until 11:45 p.m., 12:45 a.m. in summer), see 20,000 flashing lights switched on the first ten minutes of every hour at night. Fee for the stairs and elevators. Champ de Mars; Métro: Bir-Hakeim; tel. 33 (0) 1 44 11 23 23. www.tour-eiffel.fr
One of the world's greatest art collections; old master paintings; renowned collections of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Etruscans, Greeks; tapestries and jewels. Tip: Avoid the long lines around the I.M. Pei Pyramid; there are three other entrances; buy tickets in advance at FNAC or Virgin Megastore. Fee. Rue de Rivoli; Métro: Palais Royal; tel. 33 (0) 1 40 20 50 50. www.louvre.fr
Fascinating museum in the Marais, dedicated to Paris itself. 23 Rue de Sévigné; Métro: St-Paul; tel. 33 (0) 1 44 59 58 58. www.paris.fr
Musée National du Moyen Age
The best preserved Roman ruins in Paris; first-, second-, and third-century baths and adjacent 15th-century abbey of Cluny housing Middle Ages art, including the celebrated "Lady of the Unicorn" tapestries. "Rooms filled with intricate beauty: a solid gold rose, jeweled Visigothic crowns, chess players in stained glass."—Anne Block, tour guide, www.takemymotherplease.com. Fee. 6 Place Paul Painlevé; Métro: Cluny-La Sorbonne; tel. 33 (0) 1 53 73 78 00. www.musee-moyenage.fr
"Dozens of the 19th-century's most influential images, all in the original and all under one great roof."—Anthony Peregrine, travel writer, the Sunday Times. Housed in a graceful belle epoque train station; masterpieces by Delacroix, Manet, Rodin, Monet, Renoir, Degas, Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Toulouse-Lautrec. Fee. 62 Rue de Lille; Métro: Assemblée Nationale; tel. 33 (0) 1 40 49 48 14. www.musee-orsay.fr
Musée du Quai Branly
Stunning collection of indigenous artifacts, a veritable Louvre of non-Western art; opened in June 2006 in a new garden-wrapped building designed by Jean Nouvel. "Remarkable details in the exhibits and architecture; don't miss the beautiful Siberian skirt made of fish skins, or the ceilings in the bookshop building decorated by Aboriginal artists."—Anne Block. Fee. 37 Quai Branly; Métro: Bir Hakeim; tel. 33 (0) 1 56 61 70 00. www.quaibranly.fr
Paris's splendid Gothic cathedral begun in 1163 (and finished 87 years later); sculpted doors; huge 13th-century southern rose window; flying buttresses; grand organ that plays every Sunday afternoon at 4:30 except during Lent. Fee for 255-step climb up bell tower for city view. Place du Parvis Notre Dame; Métro: St-Michel; tel. 33 (0) 1 42 34 56 10. www.cathedraledeparis.com
"Soaring stained glass held in place by the most fragile of stone frameworks; 13th-century artisans knew a thing or two about the sublime."—Anthony Peregrine, travel writer, the Sunday Times. Gothic at its most inspiring. Fee. 4 Boulevard du Palais; Métro: Cité; tel. 33 (0) 1 53 40 60 97. http://sainte-chapelle.monuments-nationaux.fr/en/
About Paris and France
This former home of French kings epitomizes royal elegance in the style of Old Europe. Get facts, photos, and travel tips for Versailles, a World Heritage site in France.
Discover the arts, foods, crafts, and vistas that make this one of Europe's most inspiring regions.
Test your knowledge of Paris with this quiz from National Geographic's Ultimate City Guides.
2014 Traveler Photo Contest
Submit your best shots for a chance to be featured in our weekly galleries and to win a grand prize trip for two to Alaska.