Paris Offers Plenty of Historic Sites for History Buffs

The most useful thing to keep in mind while on your historical quest through Paris is that the Left Bank area surrounding Notre Dame is the oldest part of the city. In fact, within a fifteen minute walk of the ancient church is the old Roman amphitheater, Arènes de Lutèce, the Arènes de Lutèce. It’s hidden up a sidestreet so a landmark worth seeking out. Its ancientness is breathtaking and is a sort of miniature of Rome's gladiator arenas. Lutèce is the ancient name of the city of Paris, when it was under Roman rule.

The Île Saint-Louis, a favorite strolling area among locals and tourists alike, is also ancient. Halfway up the main thoroughfare through the middle of the island is a hotel built around the old tennis courts, called Jeu de Paume, that King Louis XIII erected. The tiny alleyways that are streets in and around Notre Dame and Place St. Michel are historic, too, dating back a thousand years or more, some of them.

Place de la Bastille, with its modern-looking relatively new Opéra House is an historical location where citizens were kept under ball and chain a mere few hundred years ago. Place des Vosges is another one of those monuments that has been so well integrated into the modern urban façade that it’s altogether too easy to forget that it dates back to the era of King Henri II and his Queen, Catherine de Medici (1500’s).

8ème Arrondissement


This impressive square in the heart of the city has seen an incredible amount of history. Created by Louix XV and completed in 1763, it eventually hosted the guillotine that put to death Louis XVI, Marie-Antoinette, Danton and Robespierre....  Read More

Île Saint-Louis
Photo courtesy of MSchuermann


There are actually two islands in the river Seine in the center of Paris: the Île de la Cité, the one that everybody knows about: home of the hunchback of Notre Dame and the Parisian police; And the Île Saint-Louis, the one which is attached...  Read More

8ème Arrondissement
Pont Alexandre III
Photo courtesy of Paige Donner, Pont Alexandre III Paris copyright 2014


Often considered Paris's most beautiful bridge, Pont Alexandre III was built in 1900 for the Universal Exhibition. It links the 7th and 8th arrondissements across the Seine, and its graceful arch bears the arms of both Russia and France. The...  Read More

5th Arondissement - Latin Quarte


This Roman-style arena was built between the first and the 2nd century A.D. Named after the city's name when it was still under Gallo-Roman rule in that era, the Arènes de Lutèce are one of only two monuments that are still standing from that...  Read More

20ème Arrondissement


Named for Louis XIV's confessor, who once lived in the vicinity, this cemetery was established in 1804. It was planned as a repository for human remains when authorities sought to improve sanitation by moving graves from the center of the city...  Read More

14ème Arrondissement
Catacombes de Paris
Photo courtesy of iStock_000006809433


These underground tunnels date from the Roman period, when quarries were created to obtain building stone. Most sit at the base of Parisian hills like Montparnasse, Montrouge and Montsouris. In the late 18th-century, authorities began to use the...  Read More

7ème Arrondissement


This gorgeous architectural gem, completed in the 17th century, is located in the city's Faubourg-St-Germain region. It was created by Louis XIV, the Sun King, as a home for aged soldiers and disabled/ injured veterans. Among its prominent...  Read More

4ème Arrondissement


Built on the site of a former royal residence, this planned square was constructed in the early 17th century by Henri IV and was originally called Place Royale. It is a unique example of 17th c. architecture. Consisting of 36 units, the complex...  Read More

L'Arc de Triomphe


This symbol of French victory was commissioned by Napoleon and completed in 1836. Adorned with sculpture and the names of military successes, the enormous arch features a small museum and rooftop viewing platform. At its base is the Tomb of the...  Read More



This wonderfully extravagant palace, where royals frittered away much of the treasury, is a necessary stop for visitors. Top designers of the day created an ornate complex of gardens, lakes, stables and guest houses to complement the luxuriously...  Read More


Meet Paige Donner

Paige's latest book, The Romantic Couple's Guide To The City of Love, Sexy Paris follows her earlier guidebook Paris On 4 Paws, A Dog Lover's Guide To The City of Light and her acclaimed...  More About Paige