How to Explore Paris from your couch with these Virtual Tours
With travel currently restricted, I found myself needing to find creative and alternative ways to explore my favourite city, even though I am all the way in Melbourne, Australia at the moment.
Thankfully, Paris more then stepped up with so many of its landmarks, sites and museums available to explore online. Instead of squeezing through crowds of people to try and get a proper look, I can now take my time online.
Of course, nothing really takes the place of being there is person, but I will take anything at the moment!
This list is of course a work in progress, as I find more places to explore in Paris I will add there here.
Whether you are using a smartphone, tablet, or computer, check your internet connection, pour yourself a glass of French champagne and join me in indulging in some Parisian escapes.
1. The Eiffel Tower Virtual Tour
The famous icon is normally one of the first stops we make when visiting Paris, so it makes sense that it is the first ‘stop’ of our virtual tour of Paris. Originally built for the World Fair in 1889, it was the worlds tallest building at the time and an engineering marvel.
Skip the lines, the stairs, and the wind to explore La Dame de Fer (the Iron Lady) from the comfort of home.
On Google Arts & Culture you can learn about the history of the tower while taking a virtual tour.
Prefer to see the Eiffel Tower light up night? Then watch these live streams from the Peninsula Hotel in Paris on Avenue Kléber.
2. Arc de Triomphe Virtual Tour
The Arc de Triomphe is one of 4 triumphal arches in Paris, commissioned by Napoleon following his victory at the Battle of Austerlitz. Instantly recognisable, it is surrounded by 12 avenues and an incredibly busy roundabout. Underneath is the tomb of the unknown soldier and the eternal flame.
The 360-degree views from the top are not to be missed, but that will have to wait until we can go in person. In the meantime, explore from the street level with this virtual tour.
3. Paris Catacombs Virtual Tour
The catacombs are a network of underground tunnels spanning a distance of over 320 kilometres, where the remains of cemeteries all over Paris were moved to due to over-crowding.
To this day it is still not known just how extensive this network is, but in each section the bones and skulls are meticulously laid out with a plaque displaying their cemetery of origin.
Intense to see in person, and just as morbid online!
Explore the catacombs with this virtual tour.
Or join an online tour group and have an expert guide talk you through the history of this incredible ossuary.
4. Notre Dame Virtual Tour
Notre-Dame, the gothic cathedral located on the Île de la Cité, has been the centre of countless books, songs and movies. Construction on this cathedral began in 1163 and was eventually completed in 1345. Sadly, due to an accidental fire in April 2019, Notre-Dame was badly damaged.
So, while we will never see the Cathedral in her original glory, we will eventually be able to see her once extensive restoration is completed.
In the meantime, we can still explore online through this 360-degree webcam.
Or for a more in-depth experience, join this online tour and have a local guide share the history of this incredible cathedral.
5. Basilique du Sacré-Cœur de Montmartre Virtual Tour
On the top of Montmartre in the 18th arrondissement, overlooking the city of Paris, is the stunning Sacré-Coeur Basilica. Compared to much of Paris, Sacre-Coeur is very young. Construction was only completed in the early 1900s.
The Basilique du Sacré-Cœur offers a virtual tour with a free audio guide that you can download and listen to, and you will even get to hear some of the organ playing.
6. Sainte-Chapelle Virtual Tour
Just streets away from the famous Notre-Dame and hidden within the Palais de Justice on the Île de la Cité, is the gorgeous Sainte-Chapelle.
Completed in 1248, King Louis IX commissioned this Chapel to hold the relics of the passion of the Christ. This Chapel is an incredible example of gothic architecture with some of the most well-preserved medieval stained glass in the world.
Get up close and explore this beautiful chapel through this virtual tour.
If you want to learn more about the Sainte-Chapelle, then Smart History will answer any questions you might have.
7. Saint Étienne du Mont Virtual Tour
Hidden away in the latin quarter, is Saint-Étienne-du-Mont. The final resting place of the patron saint of Paris, Saint Genevieve.
Inside you will find are some unique features not found in any other Church in Paris – an elaborate rood screen (which hides the chancel from the nave) and two distinctive spiral staircases on each side of the nave. While the church was heavily damaged during the French Revolution, it was restored in the 19th century.
8. The Basilica of Saint-Denis Virtual Tour
The Basilica of Saint-Denis is considered the birthplace of Gothic architecture in Europe. Moving from heavy solid construction, to the artistic elegance of its more famous relatives such as the Notre-Dame.
Normally on a quick visit to Paris we wouldn’t have time to visit as it is just outside the city limits of Paris. But now we have all the time in the world to virtually wander through this beautiful gothic Church.
9. Eglise Saint Sulpice Virtual Tour
Built in the 17th century, though its foundations date back to 12th century, this intriguing, mismatched church took 150 years to finish and is the second largest church in Paris. It was also featured in the famous novel DaVinci Code by Dan Brown.
Between the Italianate façade, the neoclassical décor and the stunning frescoes by famed French artist Eugène Delacroix, it is hard to know where to look first! The massive organ built in 1781 still plays during Sunday mass.
10. The Grand Palais des Champs-Élysées Virtual Tour
The Grand Palais is a large historic site that has had many uses during its time. First built in 1897 for the 1900 Paris Exposition, it has been the site of art exhibitions, museums, competitions, trade shows and sporting events. With the next major event expected to be during the 2024 summer Olympics in Paris, where the Grand Palais will be used for the fencing and taekwondo events.
Explore the classical stone façade on the outside, before coming inside and viewing the massive glass and iron rooftop. Make sure to look for the statues of flying horses with their chariots!
11. Palais Garnier – Opéra de Paris
The Opera Garnier or Opera House in Paris is like visiting a miniature Versailles… all gold, mirrors and marble everywhere you look! This opulent building was founded by King Louis XIV in 1875.
You can explore the Opera house through 4 virtual tours on Google Arts & Culture, which even take you to areas not normally open to the public. Visit the Opera National de Paris, the rooftop with its panoramic views of Paris, the strange lake beneath the building and the library-museum. And there is also this video tour on Youtube.