Paris Parcours

The Parisian monuments great race

Race to Goals

The game is simple : getting to as many monuments in our selection as possible in a limited time!

The Parisian monuments great race

17 stops

1. European House of Photography

Located in the Hôtel Hénault de Cantobre, build in 1706, the 1996-opened center owns, besides artworks, also owns authoritative books on photography. Exhibitions are essentially revolving around the second part of the XXth century and the early XXIst century.

A nice Japanese garden can be seen at the House entrance, on the left.

2. Bastille Opera

Conceived by Uruguayan-Canadian architect Carlos Ott, and inaugurated in 1989, the building forms, along with the Garnier Opera in the 2nd district, the Opéra de Paris. It was build at the location of the former Paris-Bastille Railway Station, closed in1969.

If the building is aesthetically enticing , it suffered from major construction flaws that has been, and continue to be, slowly corrected over the years.

At the center of the Place de la Bastille is the July Column, built between 1835 and 1840 to commemorate the “Trois Glorieuses” (3 days that saw the fall of King Charles X) and inspired by the Trajan Column in Rome. At the top of the Column of July stands a bronze sculpture, from Auguste Dumont, called “The Genius of Liberty”, often nicknamed “The Genius of Bastille” (French : “Le génie de la Bastille”).

3. Great Mosque of Paris

This very nice and beautiful place, built following the mudéjar style, and whose minaret is 33 meters high, was inaugurated on July 15, 1926, and is one of the largest mosques in France.

It can be visited all year, except prayer and lecture rooms which are only open to muslims. Non-muslim must pay a small fee. There is also a traditional restaurant, “Aux Portes de l’Orient”, a tea house, a hammam (open alternatively to men and women), and a shop.

4. Panthéon

Originally built as a church dedicated to St. Genevieve, it now functions as a secular mausoleum containing the remains of distinguished French citizens. It is an early example of neoclassicism, with a façade modeled on the Pantheon in Rome, surmounted by a dome that owes some of its character to Bramante’s “Tempietto”.

Located on the Montagne Sainte-Geneviève, the Panthéon looks out over all of Paris. Designer Jacques-Germain Soufflot had the intention of combining the lightness and brightness of the gothic cathedral with classical principles, but its role as a mausoleum required the great Gothic windows to be blocked.

The inscription above the entrance reads AUX GRANDS HOMMES LA PATRIE RECONNAISSANTE ( “To the great men, the grateful homeland”). By burying its great men in the Panthéon, the Nation acknowledges the honour it received from them. As such, interment here is severely restricted and is allowed only by a parliamentary act for “National Heroes”.

Source : Wikipedia contributors, “Panthéon, Paris

5. Luxembourg Palace

Construction of the Palace began in 1615, at the request of the Queen Marie de’ Medici. It now houses the French Senate (since 1799). Architect Salomon de Brosse was asked to make a building similar to Florence’s Palazo Pitti, where Marie de’ Medici was born. The Luxembourg Palace also has a characteristic French castle layout with a square court, a “cour d’honneur”, and twin pavilions.

The Palace is a treat for the eye, especially the Conference hall, the Library, the main stairs (“l’escalier d’honneur”)…

Note that the original private mansion that gave the name Luxembourg to the Palace is now called the Petit-Luxembourg, and is since 1825 the official residence of the President of the Senate.

6. Les Invalides (The National Residence of the Invalids)

This most famous parisian monument was decided by king Louis XIV en 1670, and was (and still is) used as a hospital and a retirement home for war veterans and disabled ex-serviceman. Nowadays, the building also houses the Musée de l’Armée, among others museums, and the remains of Napoléon Ier.

Libéral Bruant was in charge of the construction of the complex, apart form the Saint-Louis-des-Invalides church which is due to Jules Hardouin-Mansart. This church was raised to cathedral status, and had direct communication with the neighbouring royal chapel knowns as the “Dôme des Invalides”.

“Les Invalides” entered its golden age during the first French Empire, and Napoléon Ier was remembered here as a military hero. In the Cour d’honneur is the emperor’s statue that was initally raised on top of the Place Vendôme’s column in 1833, and in the Dôme are entombed Napoléon’s remains (the monument, finished in 1861, is by architect Louis Visconti).

But it’s also possibe, through the Corridor de Nîmes, to observe the original tombstone of Napoléon at Saint Helena, which was brough back with the remains. The tombstone is at the west of the church, in a little outside thicket.

Somewhere in the Cour d’honneur, above a skylight, is a wolf, a wolf that sees everything, which translate in french as “le loup voit” and refers to François de Louvois, King Louis XIV’s Secretary of War, who found a way to be remembered by leaving his mark on the building. Now you only have to find the sculpture.

7. Eiffel Tower

What can be said about THE parisian monument that you don’t already know ?

327-meter high, the Eiffer Tower is more than 100-meter higher than the Montparnasse Tower. In 1889, when it was build under the supervision of Gustave Eiffel for the Paris Universal Exposition, it was called the “300 meters Tower”. It’s the most visited paying site in the world. It’s worth, some say, 434 billions euros !

What is the best time to visit ? In January. The worst ? Christmas, New Year’s eve, Easter week-end, and August. Buying tickets online in advance is strongly adviced. Finally, you can climb to the 2nd floor using the stairs, but be warned that 800 steps are waiting for you…

A little tower made with red bricks is partially hidden in a small park near the west pillar. This old chimney stands relatively unknown to most since 1887. It was used to expel waste and to provide energy to the elevators. Your job is to find it !

8. Chaillot Palace and Trocadero Gardens

Created during the 1937 International Exhibition, the Chaillot Palace replaced the old Palais du Trocadéro and now tops the hill of Chaillot. It was designed in classicizing “moderne” style by architects Louis-Hippolyte Boileau, Jacques Carlu and Léon Azéma.

It is in the Chaillot Palace that the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 1948. It was also the initial headquarters of NATO.

The Chaillot Palace features two wings shaped to form a wide arc. They are independent buildings separated by a wide esplanade that leaves an open view from the place du Trocadéro to the Eiffel Tower and beyond. The Trocadéro Gardens occupy the open space bounded to the northwest by the wings of the Palais de Chaillot and to the southeast by the Seine and the Pont d’Iéna. 

The place was named in honour of the Battle of Trocadero, in which the fortified Isla del Trocadero, in southern Spain, was captured by French forces led by the Duc d’Angoulême, son of the future king, Charles X, on August 31, 1823.

Source : Wikipedia contributors, “Trocadéro

9. Arc de Triomphe

It was commissioned in 1806 after the victory at Austerlitz by emperor Napoleon at the peak of his fortunes. The Arc de Triomphe is the linchpin of the historical axis (“Axe historique”) – a sequence of monuments and grand thoroughfares on a route which goes from the courtyard of the Louvre, to the Grande Arche de la Défense.

Following its construction, the Arc de Triomphe became the rallying point of French troops parading after successful military campaigns and for the annual Bastille Day Military Parade.

Beneath the Arc is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I. Interred here on Armistice Day 1920, it has the first eternal flame lit in Western and Eastern Europe since the Vestal Virgins’ fire was extinguished in the fourth century. It burns in memory of the dead who were never identified (now in both world wars).

Source : Wikipedia contributors, “Arc de Triomphe

10. The Pagoda, formerly C.T.LOO & Cie Gallery

Created in 1926 by architect Fernand Bloch for antique dealer Ching-Tsai Loo, this Chinese pagoda-like house was until September 2012 the address of the C.T.LOO & Cie gallery, named after its founder and the oldest asian art gallery in Paris (now the company only works by appointment and its address has changed).

The 600-square meter and 6-level house is now called “The Pagoda” and has transformed into the first asian cultural center in France, with the goal of recreating the luxury atmosphere of China and the Far East.

11. Expiatory Chapel

Chateaubriand found it “the most remarkable edifice in Paris”. The chapel was partly constructed on the grounds of the former Madeleine Cemetery, where king Louis XVI and Queen Marie-Antoinette had been buried after they had been guillotined.

King Louis XVIII shared the 3 million livres expense of building the Chapelle expiatoire with the Duchess of Angoulême. Construction took ten years, and the chapel was inaugurated in 1826 in the presence of Charles X. 

The Chapelle expiatoire stands on a slight rise. There are two buildings separated by a courtyard which is surrounded by an enclosed cloister-like precinct, a peristyle, that isolates the chapel from the outside world. The building on Rue Pasquier is the entrance. 

The Chapelle expiatoire is without doubt the most uncompromising late neoclassical religious building of Paris. The chapel’s severe geometry is unrelieved by sculpture, as can be seen by the view from rue d’Anjou.

Source : Wikipedia contributors, “Chapelle expiatoire

12. Grand Palais (Great Palace)

A large historical site, exhibition hall and museum complex located at the Champs-Élysées, its construction began in 1897 as part of the preparation works for the Universal Exposition of 1900.

The structure was built in the style of Beaux-Arts architecture. The building reflects the movement’s taste for ornate decoration through its stone facades, the formality of its floor planning and the use of techniques that were innovative at the time, such as its glass vault, its structure made of iron and light steel framing, and its use of reinforced concrete. 

When one of the glass ceiling panels fell in 1993, the main space had to be closed for restoration work, and was not fully reopened to the public until 2007.

A little known fact is that the Grand Palais has a major police station in the basement which helps protect the exhibits on show.

The Grand Palais is only open when an exhibition is organized.

Source : Wikipedia contributors, “Grand Palais

13. Bourbon Palace, French National Assembly

The palace was originally built for the legitimised daughter of Louis XIV and Françoise-Athénaïs, marquise de Montespan – Louise-Françoise de Bourbon, duchesse de Bourbon, to a design by the Italian architect Lorenzo Giardini, approved by Jules Hardouin-Mansart. Giardini oversaw the actual construction from 1722 until his death in 1724, after which Jacques Gabriel took over, assisted by L’Assurance and other designers, until its completion in 1728.

During the French Revolution the Bourbon Palace was nationalized, and the Council of the Five Hundred met in the palace from 1798. Then, as part of Napoleon’s plans for a more monumental Paris, Fontanes, the president of the Corps législatif as it was now called, commissioned the magnificent pedimented portico by architect Bernard Poyet, added to the front of the Palace that faces the Place de la Concorde from the south. It mirrors the similar classicizing portico of the Madeleine, visible at the far end of the rue Royale.

The Palace has, nearly continuously since 1798, housed the lower legislative chamber of the French government under its various names and forms.

Source : Wikipedia contributors, “Palais Bourbon

14. School of Fine Arts

The worldwide-renowned school has a matching location, mostly dating back from the XVIIth, XVIIIth and XIXth centuries.

The oldest part is the chapel and its accompanying buildings , where Queen Margot of France set up one of the first art collection in Paris. In 1795, it became the location of the Musée des Monuments-Français, which now belongs (since 1816) to the School of Fine Arts even if part of its collections have been dispatched elsewhere.

The school was extended under the supervision of architects François Debret and Félix Duban, the former’s student. They build the Bâtiment des Loges, the Palais des Études, the Bâtiment des Expositions, as well as the entrance courtyards of the chapel and the (very beautiful) cloister (the Cour du Mûrier) of the old covent.

The complex as a whole is a must-see. Guided visits are possible (please contact the school) and the building is open to the public during the Journées du Patrimoine in late-september.

15. Jean-sans-Peur Tower

This fortified tower was build between 1409 and 1411 by Duke Jean Ier de Bourgogne, also known as Jean sans Peur. His was trying to protect himself from retaliation after having murdered Louis d’Orléans, the king’s brother, in 1407.

Its spiral staircase’s vault is ornamented with a stunning vegetal decoration. Nowadays, the tower is part of the yard of an elementary school.

Did you know Jean-sans-Peur created, in 1406, the Order of the Hops, and contributed to set this ingredient as the main flavor or beer ? He eventually was murdered in 1419 by the Armagnacs, who pledged allegiance to the d’Orleans family.

16. Square of the Tour Saint-Jacques

This haussmannian garden surrounding the gothic XVIth-century Saint-Jacques bell tower is the first of its kind in Paris. The tower, one of the starting points for the Compostela pilgrim route, is not opened to the public. There is a weather station on the top platform.

17. Hôtel de Sens

It was originally owned by the archbishops of Sens (a city 120km south of Paris). The building, built between 1475 and 1507, is late Gothic and early Renaissance style. It is one of three medieval private residences remaining in Paris.

It now houses the Forney art library.


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