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Paris Must-Dos

Our experts recommend the top attractions in and around Paris—with advice on how to get the most out of your visit.

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At Café Marly, you can sip your café au lait overlooking the Pyramid entrance to the Louvre museum.

Centre Pompidou
Paris's high-tech shrine to contemporary art. "Take the escalators up for a free view; the cafés in the square below are expensive but worth it for the best people-watching in Paris."—Photographer Michele Ch'i. Fee. Place Georges Pompidou; Métro: Châtelet-Les Halles; tel. 33 (0) 1 44 78 12 33.

Eiffel Tower
"Daring and sublime; iron reborn as lace."—Mosaic artist Sharon Tompkins. Tip: Go at night to avoid the crowds (open until 11:45 p.m., 12:45 a.m. in summer), see 20,000 flashing lights switched on the first ten minutes of every hour at night. Fee for the stairs and elevators. Champ de Mars; Métro: Bir-Hakeim; tel. 33 (0) 1 44 11 23 23.

One of the world's greatest art collections; old master paintings; renowned collections of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Etruscans, Greeks; tapestries and jewels. Tip: Avoid the long lines around the I.M. Pei Pyramid; there are three other entrances; buy tickets in advance at FNAC or Virgin Megastore. Fee. Rue de Rivoli; Métro: Palais Royal; tel. 33 (0) 1 40 20 50 50.

Musée Carnavalet
Fascinating museum in the Marais, dedicated to Paris itself. 23 Rue de Sévigné; Métro: St-Paul; tel. 33 (0) 1 44 59 58 58.

Musée National du Moyen Age
The best preserved Roman ruins in Paris; first-, second-, and third-century baths and adjacent 15th-century abbey of Cluny housing Middle Ages art, including the celebrated "Lady of the Unicorn" tapestries. "Rooms filled with intricate beauty: a solid gold rose, jeweled Visigothic crowns, chess players in stained glass."—Anne Block, tour guide, Fee. 6 Place Paul Painlevé; Métro: Cluny-La Sorbonne; tel. 33 (0) 1 53 73 78 00.

Musée d'Orsay
"Dozens of the 19th-century's most influential images, all in the original and all under one great roof."—Anthony Peregrine, travel writer, the Sunday Times. Housed in a graceful belle epoque train station; masterpieces by Delacroix, Manet, Rodin, Monet, Renoir, Degas, Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Toulouse-Lautrec. Fee. 62 Rue de Lille; Métro: Assemblée Nationale; tel. 33 (0) 1 40 49 48 14.

Musée du Quai Branly
Stunning collection of indigenous artifacts, a veritable Louvre of non-Western art; opened in June 2006 in a new garden-wrapped building designed by Jean Nouvel. "Remarkable details in the exhibits and architecture; don't miss the beautiful Siberian skirt made of fish skins, or the ceilings in the bookshop building decorated by Aboriginal artists."—Anne Block. Fee. 37 Quai Branly; Métro: Bir Hakeim; tel. 33 (0) 1 56 61 70 00.

Notre Dame
Paris's splendid Gothic cathedral begun in 1163 (and finished 87 years later); sculpted doors; huge 13th-century southern rose window; flying buttresses; grand organ that plays every Sunday afternoon at 4:30 except during Lent. Fee for 255-step climb up bell tower for city view. Place du Parvis Notre Dame; Métro: St-Michel; tel. 33 (0) 1 42 34 56 10.

"Soaring stained glass held in place by the most fragile of stone frameworks; 13th-century artisans knew a thing or two about the sublime."—Anthony Peregrine, travel writer, the Sunday Times. Gothic at its most inspiring. Fee. 4 Boulevard du Palais; Métro: Cité; tel. 33 (0) 1 53 40 60 97.

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