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Founded in 3BC, Paris was by the 12th century the biggest city in Europe and has continued to dominate the European cultural, political and economic landscape ever since. With so much history and so much to see and do it can be daunting for first-time visitors and regular returnees alike so here (in no particular order) is our top 10 Must Do list.

1. Eiffel Tower

It’s the Paris experience and it simply must be done. Walk the 704 steps to the top (doable for anyone with a good level of fitness) or take one of the three elevators. Try to get there just before sunset, when the view is splendidly golden.

2. The Louvre Museum

Most famous as the home of Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, it has much more going for it than one enigmatic portrait. Under I.M. Pei’s glass pyramid entrance are 35,000 objets – including the wonderful Winged Victory of Samothrace – spread over 60,600 square metres. 

3. Musee d’Orsay

Housed in the striking old Orsay railway station there is something for everyone here but of special interest are the works in the 5th floor Impressionist gallery. Worth a visit for the Van Goghs alone. Just after the gallery, check out the newly renovated Café Campana. 

4. The Pantheon

This graceful building with its Corinthian columns was modelled on the Pantheon in Rome and today houses the remains of some of France’s most famous figures – Voltaire, Victor Hugo, Louise Braille and Marie Curie among them – and Foucault's famous pendulum. Take time to visit the crypt.

5. Place des Vosges

Straddling the 3rd and 4th arrondissements in the popular Marais district this little residential square with its perfectly proportioned park is said to be one of the finest in Paris. It’s not an idle boast. Have coffee and cake in one of the cafes around the outside.

6. The Catacombs

Journey into a skull- and bone-strewn labyrinth deep under the city. Wander through the remains of some six million people, disinterred and stacked here after overflowing cemeteries above ground began to pose public health issues in the 18th and 19th centuries.

7. Montmartre/Sacre Coeur

Place du Tertre, the famous open-air artists’ square in Montmartre, is touristy but still fascinating. You’ll pay a premium for everything here but if all that mammon gets too much then God is a step away at the lovely Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, aka Sacre Coeur. 

8. Coulee Verte Rene-Dumont

This unsung, 4.5-kilometre-long planted promenade sits atop an old railway viaduct that runs through the 12th arrondissement from Place de la Bastille to Bois de Vincennes. It was the only elevated park in the world until New York's High Line opened.

9. Luxembourg Gardens

Pull together a picnic and take it in to the 23 hectares of one of the city’s nicest and most chilled-out parks. There is a pretty Medici Fountain, built in 1620, and a large central pond where children can hire and sail model boats.

10. Notre Dame

Sitting on the eastern end of the pretty Ile de la Cite this towering ode to French Gothic architecture is rightly popular with tourists and sometimes very busy but always worth the wait. Make sure you take the tower tour and get up close and personal with a gargoyle.