Since France went into lockdown, many of the museums and historical sites in Paris have opened their doors virtually in the form of online streams for the general public, including those outside of France. This means that even while you're in lockdown there's no excuse to feel like the only culture you're getting is the kind you see in Tik Tok videos.
The City of Light is a global centre of art, fashion and culture waiting to be discovered while you sit in your pjs. Come wander the Louvre in search of masterworks from Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Delacroix, amongst others. Climb the stairs at Basilica of the Sacred Heart, gaze upon the city stretched out before you and while you're at it you may as well frequent the same cafes once haunted by Sartre and Foucault.
4. Panoramic Virtual Tour Basilica of the Sacred Heart
The world’s most popular art gallery contains an unparalleled collection of masterpieces spanning prehistory to the 21st century. Begin your visit by admiring the entrance pyramid designed by the late IM Pei. Built in 1989, Pei’s work generated intense controversy before winning broad acclaim as an architectural masterpiece and exquisite example of modernism. As with other enormous galleries, it is simply impossible to see everything at the Louvre.. Everyone, of course, wanders past the Mona Lisa. Some of the museum’s other highlights include: the Winged Victory of Samothrace, Jacques-Louis David’s The Coronation of Napoleon, Eugène Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People, Théodore Géricault’s The Raft of the Medusa, the Venus de Milo, the Code of Hammurabi, and the Great Sphinx of Tanis.
Louvre has published four virtual tours including Egyptian Antiquities, Remains of the Louvre's Moat, Galerie d'Apollon and 'The Advent of the Artist', all of which can be viewed here.
2. Notre-Dame de Paris
Known the world over as the Notre-Dame, this cathedral was constructed over a century ago beginning in 1160 and was an architectural achievement even then. Magnificent stained glass rose windows sit above the western entrance as well as at the northern and southern. Stone sculptural decorations adorned the cathedral’s exterior and interior, including mighty gargoyles. Reconstructions, expansions, and other repairs occurred over many centuries. On April 15, 2019, the world was stunned to learn fire had ravaged Notre-Dame. In a matter of hours, centuries of history that had survived revolution, two world wars, and natural disasters was swept from existence. Notre-Dame was more than a church, it was the heart of Paris and its spiritual home.
The good news is that you can still visit the Notre Dame de Paris before the fire with these virtual tours.
Samsung has a VR experience for those who have Samsung VR gear at home that can be viewed here.
CNN also got a great VR for Inside Notre Dame in 360° in 2015 here.
3. Musée d'Orsay
While the Louvre ranks supreme, the Musée d'Orsay makes a bold case as the city’s next leading museum. Housing the world’s largest collection of works by impressionist masters such as Monet, Cézanne, Degas, Gauguin, and Van Gogh, Musée d'Orsay is a top-notch cultural institution. Located on the Left Bank across the River Seine from Tuileries Garden, it’s a natural stop on anyone’s tour through Central Paris. Musée d'Orsay occupies the former Beaux-Arts railway station Gare d'Orsay and the main hall bares unmistakable resemblance to this former function. A large vaulted ceiling contains exquisite decorative details. Fans of impressionism and post-Impressionism absolutely cannot pass up a visit to Musée d'Orsay. Make sure to find van Gogh’s Starry Night Over the Rhone Arles, Renoir’s Bal du moulin de la Galette, van Gogh’s Self-portrait (1889), and Cézanne’s Apples and Oranges. These masterpieces are but a small sampling of the incredible work on display at Musée d'Orsay. With continually rotating exhibitions in addition to a vast permanent collection, there is always something new to experience. Art and philosophy were integral to the culture along the Left Bank so it’s altogether fitting to explore where generations have wrestled with vexing questions facing humanity.
Explore 278 items on Google Arts and Culture as well as a virtual tour in the marvellous building itself here.
Touristtube also has a 360 virtual tour of the exterior of Musee d'Orsay here.
4. Panoramic Virtual Tour Basilica of the Sacred Heart
Notre Dame may be the spiritual centre of Paris, but the Basilica of the Sacred Heart holds special significance for Parisians. Set atop the Montmartre, the highest hill in Paris, the Basilica offers stunning views across the entire city. In addition to its prized architectural design, it is a point of pilgrimage for those seeking to capture elegant photos of the capital’s skyline. Rising above Paris, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart appears to keep watch over the streets below. Watch the tour here.
The 18th Arrondissement, where it’s located, was long one of Paris’ most restive neighborhoods. The basilica, some say, was built as a symbol of stability and order. To understand this role, one need only venture a short distance to the Boulevard de Clichy where you can find La Machine du Moulin Rouge, the concert venue and performing arts space made famous by Baz Luhrmann’s 2001 film Moulin Rouge!, which starred Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor. The freewheeling atmosphere present in the streets around the Moulin Rouge stand in contrast to the Roman and Byzantine design elements incorporated into the Basilica. Inside, a fantastic mosaic adorns the ceiling in the apse. Entitled Christ in Majesty, it is among the largest in the world. Visiting the Basilica at sunset is a magical experience and you can literally watch Paris light up before your eyes.
5. Palace of Versailles
Go on a private virtual tour of the former home of French royalty here.
Versailles was the primary residence for French royalty between 1682 and the start of the French Revolution in 1789. Located roughly 20 kilometers southwest of the city center, it is a marvelous palace with enormous gardens perfect for a leisurely stroll. A welcome respite from urban Paris, Versailles is quiet and spacious. This is where you want to venture if the hustle and bustle of city life starts to mess with your head. Easily accessible via Line C on the Paris commuter rail service known as the RER, it is a convenient day trip and well-worth the visit even if you opt not to enter the Palace itself. There are many tour routes available and you can plan ahead to discover what you would like to see. Highlights include a tour of royal carriages where you can see the exceptional collection of historic coaches, sedans, and sleds. Or opt for the palace marvels tours, which will take your through the most famous locations including the King’s Bedchamber, the State Apartments, and the Hall of Mirrors. The latter is where the treaties that ended the First World War were negotiated and signed in 1919. Versailles is a truly magnificent location with lots to offer. If you’ve never visited Paris before, you will instantly recognize why this is one of the top-10 best things to do in the city.