A symbol of glamour and luxury, a centre of gourmet cuisine and haute couture, a paragon of both classics and modernism – Paris is always among the top three most visited places in the world.
The city really inspires passions and as we all know, is involved in the story of almost every second Hollywood movie.To many people it may sound too trivial to travel just to Paris :). In such a case they could take a slightly longer trip and call it Tour of northern France, visiting also the Loire valley castles and the fabulous Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy (,details of such itinerary can be found in the post From the Loire valley castles to Mont Saint-Michel). But the other places, in spite of their splendor, are only the rays, the very sun is always Paris.
Here are some of the most popular landmarks and attractions, you should not miss to explore during your stay in Paris:
• Le Louvre – the most visited art museum in the world, a former royal residence turned today into a vast repository of artifacts distributed in collections of various genres, decorative art, Egyptian antiquities , works of Roman , ancient Greek and Islamic art, etc . One of the busiest rooms anytime is that holding the famous „Mona Lisa ” by Leonardo da Vinci . The museum treasures up yet many other masterpieces like the works of Raphael , Rembrandt , Van Dyck , Rubens , Velazquez, etc. There are always crowds around the statues of Venus de Milo, of Nike of Samothrace, Michelangelo’s „The rebellious slave “. The magnificent apartments of Napoleon III attract quite many visitors as well. Because it is not possible the Louvre museum to be thoroughly examined in one day, having in mind its corridors exceed a total length of 16 km and the exhibition area is about 60,000 square meters, you’d better list in advance all items important to you and the rooms they are located in. This will surely keep you away from the disappointment of having not seen anything that matches your interests even after a few hours of walking.
• Close to the Louvre are the Tuileries Garden, Place de la Concorde and Madeleine (the church “St. Mary Magdalene “). Starting from the exquisite Place de la Concorde you can take a walk along the most popular avenue in the world – the Champs Elysees and to reach the monumental Arc de Triomphe at its opposite end, at Place Charles de Gaulle. You will fully understand Joe Dassin and his song “Aux Champs-Elysee …” and it will probably start to sound in your head by itself :).
• Notre Dame de Paris – the famous cathedral on the Cité island in the Seine, built between the 12th and 14th century , is considered a guiding star for the gothic style and is really one of the most precious masterpieces of the French art and architecture.
• Eiffel Tower (Tour Eiffel) is perhaps the most popular,if not the most clichéd as well, symbol of the French capital. Climbing up to its highest point, however, reveals truly unique perspectives for taking pictures of Paris. And from there you will definitely notice how the streets and buildings are arranged as though in a model assembled by an architect – perfectionist. There was really such an architect and his name is Houseman. He was nominated by Napoleon III to transform the medieval layout of the city into a modern one. After his plans the present-day Paris acquired the wide boulevards, the parks and the flawless beige-stone buildings with wrought-iron balconies.
• Near the Eiffel Tower you can take a boat trip along the Seine, from which you will get a chance to see and photograph the beautiful bridges and the facades of the most attractive buildings located along the river.
• Musée d’Orsay . One of these buildings beside the Seine bank is the Museum of the Impressionists, a former railway station and a hotel. For the Impressionism connoisseurs there is no other place with so generous collections with paintings of the artists of the so called “Salon des Refusée”. This is a paradise for the admirers of Monet, Manet, Renoir, Degas, Pissarro, Van Gogh (as a matter of fact his house-museum in Amsterdam includes perhaps a larger number of works), Gauguin, Cezanne, Toulouse- Lautrec, etc.
• Luxembourg gardens with the palace of Marie de Medici is one of the biggest Parisian parks. The palace, the amazing gardens, statues and fountains were built in the early 17th century by the will of Marie de Medici in a style reminiscent the Pitti Palace in her native Florence. A fashionable place for the French nobility in the past, nowadays the palace is a place for the meetings of the Senate of France.
The park is located on the borders of the Latin Quarter near the Sorbonne. This neighborhood is inhabited by many colleges and universities, and its name originates from the Latin language, used for teaching in the Middle Ages. At this quarter you will also find some of the most lively bars and bistros in the city.
• The hill of Montmartre with the square of the artists and Sacre Coeur at the top. The picturesque streets of Montmartre hold the spirit of many famous artists who worked in their studios nearby such as Picasso, Dali, Van Gogh , etc. Close to Montmartre is the famous cabaret ” Moulin Rouge “.
• The Palace in the town of Versailles – just 30 km away from Paris – must surely take part in any culture visit of the French capital. Transformed from a castle into a royal palace during the rule of the King Louis XIV, Versailles has become one of the most famous and significant palaces in Europe. Today – part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites – the place preserves the decor of the royal court life through the time of the Sun King (le Roi-Soleil), a life – admired for its pomp and splendor, but well known for its intrigues and betrayals too.
The long list of attractions and remarkable places in Paris may include also : Les Invalides ; the Pantheon, with the remains of Victor Hugo, Emile Zola, Voltaire, Marie Curie and other glorious Frenchmen; Père Lachaise Cemetery, in which are buried Chopin , Oscar Wilde, Bizet, Balzac, Bellini, Edith Piaf and other prominent individuals in human history; Place Vendome ; the Opera ; the Montparnasse district, and many more.
Paris owns yet many faces, but it would be better if you find them by yourself. The city itself resembles a genuine French wine – after an opening-up it develops unsuspected flavor characteristics; so intense and vigorous, the flavors turn your head and leave you dizzy with a long and extraordinary aftertaste. 🙂
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