• Leslie

The Best Virtual Tours of Paris Landmarks and Museums

Updated: 15 hours ago

Luxembourg Gardens in Paris

If you're missing Paris or need some destination or cultural inspiration (who doesn't?), there's a fix. Now, you can virtually tour many of Paris' must see sites and landmarks right from your couch. If you fancy a trip to Paris, here are the best virtual tours to transport you to the City of Light.

skulls in the Paris Catacombs

1. Paris Catacombs Virtual Visit

The Catacombs is Paris' "Empire of Death,” a 200 mile honeycomb of tunnels. The system is so enormous that no one knows exactly how many tunnels or chambers exist. The Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables' Jean Valjean both haunted these tunnels. During WWII, the French Resistance used the tunnels.

With cemeteries in Paris overflowing, a portion of the tunnels were turned into an ossuary for human remains. At first, bones were haphazardly deposited. Eventually, they were organized and systematically displayed.

Now, housebound horror fans can get their fix of Parisian gore. Check out this virtual Catacombs tour. This virtual tour gets you even closer.

the beautiful dome of Les Invalides

2. Les Invalides Virtual Visit

Les Invalides is a complex of buildings in the 7th arrondissement. It includes: (1) the the royal chapel, known as the Cathedral of St. Louis des Invalides, with its iconic golden dome; (2) the Musee de l'Armee, and (3) Napoleon's Tomb.

The cathedral was Paris' tallest building until the Eiffel Tower was erected in1887. It's definitely one of Paris' must see churches.

You enter the royal chapel through monumental bronze doors decorated with fleurs-de-lys and Louis XIV's initials. Inside, the decoration is sumptuous: painted cupolas, pilasters. columns, low-relief sculptures, and stained-glass windows.

You can enjoy a virtual tour of the interior of the chapel or explore the online collections of the Musee de l'Armee (Army Museum). I've also written guides on both Napoleon's Tomb and the Army Museum, which is one of Europe's best military museums.

Sacre Coeur in Paris' Montmartre neighborhood

3. Sacre Coeur Virtual Visit

The striking white Sacre Coeur is one of the most iconic attractions in Paris' popular Montmartre neighborhood in the 18th arrondissement. It sits atop Montmartre Hill, they highest point in Paris, overlooking the city.

The Sacre Coeur is not ancient Paris. It's surprisingly new. It was only completed in the early 1900s.

The Sacre Coeur offers an actual audio guide tour of the building. It comes complete with shots of the interior and exterior. You can even listen to the organ, which you might miss on a regular visit.

Check out the virtual tour here.

the massive Louvre palace

4. Louvre Virtual Visit

The Louvre is Paris' crown jewel and the world's most visited museum. This treasure trove of history is closed right now. Unfortunately, it doesn't have an arrangement with Google Arts & Culture.

But the Louvre does offer free virtual tours of some of its important exhibits. You can walk through the Egyptian Antiquities, Napoleon's Rooms, the Medieval Louvre, and works by Michelangelo. Via my blog, you can also explore the Louvre's underrated masterpieces and what I think is the best painting in the Louvre, Theodore Gericault's Raft of the Medusa.

If you're a Beyonce fan, her recent music video featured pieces from the Louvre. Now, you can follow the Beyonce Louvre Trail.

iconic gold clock in the Musee d'Orsay

5. Musée d’Orsay Virtual Visit

Ah, this is one of my favorite museums in Paris, housed in a beautiful converted railway station. You can't visit the beautiful museum right now. But you can virtually see dozens of famous works from French and European artists who toiled in Paris between 1848 and 1914. You'll see artworks from Monet, Cézanne, Gauguin, and so many other artists.

In particular, the d'Orsay is a Van Gogh treasure trove. You can inspect his Self Portrait, Starry Night, Dr. Gachet, The Church at Auvers, and The Siesta. Other masterpieces at the d'Orsay include Manet's Luncheon on the Grass and Olympia, Paul Cezanne's Card Players, Claude Monet's Houses of Parliament, and Auguste Renoir's Moulin de la Galette.

6. Eiffel Tower Virtual Visit

The Eiffel Tower is Paris' iconic landmark. It was built for the World Fair in 1889 in record construction time, and considered an engineering marvel at the time. But the Eiffel Tower can also be a Paris tourist trap, plagued with crowds and lines.

Now, you can go up the tower virtually. On the Google Arts & Culture virtual tour, you can enjoy the view from the top over the Champs de Mar and learn about the history of the Eiffel Tower.

7. Arc de Triomphe Virtual Visit

The Arc de Triomphe, officially titled the L’Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile, was inaugurated in 1836. Napoleon commissioned the ceremonial structure following his victory at the Battle of Austerlitz.

The Arc de Triomphe is the centerpiece to a roundabout with 12 avenues. Beneath the arch lies the flame and tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The top of the Arc de Triomphe offers amazing views over Paris.

While this site doesn't have an interactive virtual tour, there are still 360 shots of the famous landmark.

8. Saint-Chapelle

Completed in 1248 and enshrined within the Palais de Justice, Saint-Chapelle is Paris’ most exquisite Gothic monument. You'll be awed by the gorgeous stained glass and intricate painted wood columns.

Now, you don't have to wait in line. You can see it up close and personal on a virtual tour.

the beautiful Musée de la Vie Romantique

9. Paris Musées Collections

In a collective effort, Paris museums have made 100,000 images of artworks from Paris museums freely available to the public. This includes digital downloads of masterpieces by artists like Rembrandt, Courbet, and Eugène Delacroix. Here's the digital collections portal.

This group includes 14 municipal museums in Paris, which are listed below. I've written guides on some of these museums and link to them below.

Henri Matisse, La Dance, 1930-33 -- at the Musee d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris

Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris

Maison de Balzac

Musée Bourdelle

Carnavalet Museum History of Paris

The Catacombs

Musée Cernuschi Museum of Asian Art

Musée Cognacq-Jay

Archaeological Crypt of Notre-Dame

Musée Galliera

Museum of the General Leclerc and the Paris’ Liberation – Jean Moulin Museum

Petit Palais City of Paris Museum of Fine Arts

Musée de la Vie Romantique

Maison de Victor Hugo Paris 

Zadkine Museum

For even more art in Paris, here's my guide to 8 free museums in Paris. And here's my guide to 10 secret museums in Paris that aren't the Louvre.

St Etienne du Mont, which makes an appearance in Midnight in Paris

10. Virtual TV and Books

Paris is a good city to enjoy vicariously. One way to experience the magic of Paris is to have a Paris movie night. My particular favorites are Midnight in Paris and Amelie. Midnight in Paris has beautiful shots of the Latin Quarter.

One of my all time favorite Netflix shows is also set in Paris, Call My Agent. It's a charming dramedy about French agents representing temperamental movie stars.

If you prefer to put your nose in a book rather than watch TV, I have a handy list of my 20 favorite books set in Paris. You can let your imagination run wild and travel through the streets of Paris in peace and quiet.

If you'd like explore virtual Paris tours, pin it for later.

479 views4 comments