French Landmarks & Monuments

Updated April 17, 2017

If you think of a French landmark, you probably think, quite rightly, of the Eiffel Tower. Named after its designer, Gustave Eiffel, the Eiffel Tower was opened in 1889 and, at a height of 1,063 feet, it is the tallest structure in the capital city, Paris, and one of the most recognisable structures in the whole of Europe. However, there are plenty more French landmarks and monuments, inside and outside Paris, which are well worth a visit.

Eiffel Tower

The four pillars of the Eiffel Tower form a square with sides 410 feet in length and aligned with the compass points, north, south, east and west. The metal structure weighs 7,300 tons and cost nearly 8 million French francs to build. Originally, the Eiffel Tower was intended to be a temporary structure, destined to be demolished in 1909, just 20 years after its construction, but its importance as a long range radio transmitter was recognised and it became a permanent part of the Paris skyline. Indeed, the Eiffel Tower today has no fewer than 120 antennae, broadcasting nearly 70 analogue and digital TV and radio stations.

Arc de Triomphe

Paris contains the highest concentration of landmarks in France and another Parisian landmark that is often instantly recognisable is the Arc de Triomphe, designed by Jean Chalgrin and built by Napoleon Bonaparte as a memorial to the French Army in the early 19th century. The Arc de Triomphe in Paris is the most famous--it is a focal point of French state funerals and the finishing line for the Tour De France bicycle race--but it is just one of many built across France. The Arc de Triomphe stands on the western end of the Champs Élysées and can be accessed by stairs leading under the street to the monument.

Mont Saint Michel

Outside Paris, one of the most famous landmarks in France is Mont Saint Michel, a rocky, pyramid shaped islet in the Gulf of Saint-Malo off the coast of Normandy in northwestern France. Mont Saint Michel is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is famous for its Benedictine abbey, originally dating from the 12th century, and several outstanding examples of Gothic architecture. Mont Saint Michel is separated from the mainland by a narrow causeway built in the 19th century and at high tide is almost entirely cut off. Nevertheless, the islet attracts over 4 million visitors a year, many more than some other French landmarks.

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About the Author

A full-time writer since 2006, David Dunning is a professional freelancer specializing in creative non-fiction. His work has appeared in "Golf Monthly," "Celtic Heritage," "Best of British" and numerous other magazines, as well as in the book "Defining Moments in History." Dunning has a Master of Science in computer science from the University of Kent.