Paris: Much more than a tower

Les Invalides is a multi-purpose building in Paris. The largest occupant is the Museum of the Army, which houses tombs of famous French military heroes including Napoleon Bonaparte. (U.S. Air Force photo/2nd Lt. Brian Wagner)

Les Invalides is a multi-purpose building in Paris. The largest occupant is the Museum of the Army, which houses tombs of famous French military heroes including Napoleon Bonaparte. (U.S. Air Force photo/2nd Lt. Brian Wagner)

The Louvre Pyramid serves as the main entrance to the Louvre museum. Located in Paris, the Louvre holds a vast assortment of paintings and artifacts and is the world's most visited museum. (U.S. Air Force photo/2nd Lt. Brian Wagner)

The Louvre Pyramid serves as the main entrance to the Louvre museum. Located in Paris, the Louvre holds a vast assortment of paintings and artifacts and is the world's most visited museum. (U.S. Air Force photo/2nd Lt. Brian Wagner)

Tourists crowd the main entrance to the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. The famous church in Paris showcases French Gothic architecture.(U.S. Air Force photo/2nd Lt. Brian Wagner)

Tourists crowd the main entrance to the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. The famous church in Paris showcases French Gothic architecture.(U.S. Air Force photo/2nd Lt. Brian Wagner)

The Luxembourg Palace, located in downtown Paris, serves as the seat of the French Senate. In front of the palace, the Luxembourg Garden offers a popular hangout spot for Parisians and tourists. (U.S. Air Force photo/2nd Lt. Brian Wagner)

The Luxembourg Palace, located in downtown Paris, serves as the seat of the French Senate. In front of the palace, the Luxembourg Garden offers a popular hangout spot for Parisians and tourists. (U.S. Air Force photo/2nd Lt. Brian Wagner)

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy -- What consists of 2.5 million rivets, 15,000 pieces of iron, 40 tons of paint and is possibly on every tourist's must-see list? The Eiffel Tower is the symbol of Paris and has been visited by over a quarter of a billion people. But, Paris is much more than just a tower.

Paris has many other attractions that are known worldwide, including the Louvre museum, the Arc de Triomphe and the Notre Dame Cathedral. But if you do some browsing of other Paris attractions, you will realize Paris is filled with options for every traveler and it's important to highlight some stops that you may not have even considered.

Let's first travel on a short train ride to the outer limits of the city. The Palace of Versailles is the most famous palace in France and has many elaborate rooms including the Hall of Mirrors. The gardens of the palace stretch more than a half mile and include other structures built for the French royalty. This excursion to Versailles will take about four hours.

Our next stop is to the second largest museum in Paris, Musée D'Orsay. This museum is housed in a former railway station and includes artwork by famous artists such as Claude Monet, Paul Cézanne and Vincent van Gogh. The museum has kept much of its railway ornamentation and visitors can see the original station clock hanging at the eastern end of the
museum.

Our third stop off the typical visitor's path takes us to Sainte Chapelle, a chapel famous for its Gothic-era stained glass. This chapel is filled on all sides by sky-reaching windows filled with original 13th century glass. The lower chapel also houses the oldest wall painting in Paris.

The fourth destination is to a unique architectural structure: the Grand Arch of La Défense. This rectangular structure towers over the La Défense district of Paris and offers great views of the city. Once you hop off the Metro, you exit below the base of the 360-foot tall building. There are
hundreds of stores located in the three-story shopping mall found surrounding the Grand Arch.

The final stop of the tour concludes at Les Invalides, a multi-purpose building, which houses military museums and memorials. The largest occupant is the Museum of the Army, which houses the tombs of famous French military heroes including Napoleon Bonaparte.

It is best to plan for a week-long stay because there is so much to do in Paris you'll need the time to see all of the sites. Paris is also a great place to serve as base camp if you want to take day trips to other northern French sites including the Normandy beaches, Loire Valley
castles, Disneyland Paris, or the champagne fields of northern France.

Don't let your time in Europe fly by. Hop on a train or flight and head to Paris before your assignment in Northern Italy comes to an end. Bon voyage!