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Paris has often been called “the city of light”, because of its educational institutions and its growth during the Age of Enlightenment. Parisian romantics enjoy calling it “the city of love”. It is often touted as the most beautiful city in the world. With its mixture of ancient and modern offerings, it is a popular tourist destination.
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The name Paris came from the Parisi, a Gaulish tribe who inhabited the original Roman city of Luticia which was located on the left bank of the Seine River in what is now the Latin Quarter. It is believed the name may be Celtic in origin. It was later shortened to “Paris” by Julian the Apostate. Some remains of the original Roman city can still be seen on the grounds of the Museum of the Middle Ages.
Paris is divided into 20 districts called Arrondissements. The majority of popular sites are in the first eight of these including the Eiffel tower, the Champs- Elysees, the Louvre, the Pantheon and Notre Dame.
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Greater Paris offers the attractions of Versailles and Disneyland Paris.
There are many world class museums and art galleries as well as beautiful gardens and parks to enjoy in the city. A day could be spent cruising on the Seine River or walking the length of the Champs-Elysees taking in the sites.
Many attractions are within walking distance of each other. There is good public transportation including the Metro underground train and busses that make it easy to reach any location.
Eiffel Tower offers visitors a 42 mile view. The tower was first opened at the Paris World’s Fair in 1889. At that time, it was the tallest structure in the world.
The lattice work iron structure is considered both an engineering feat and a work of art. It is named for Gustave Eiffel, the engineer whose firm designed and built it. On the first floor, there is a display of the tower’s 120 years of history. These include drawings, films and documents with some featuring the design and building of the tower
The second floor is considered one of the best places for taking photos of the panoramic vistas. From here you can take an elevator to the top where the Champagne Bar is located. Foregoing the elevator and taking the 704 steps to the top is a feat many choose as part of their experience. Many movies have been filmed on the tower including a James Bond film where he did a base jump off the top when being chased by an assassin. It is most likely that any film ever made in Paris will at some point have at least a view of the tower. The tower is bathed in golden light at night making a walk around it magical and a draw for romantic couples. The tower offers a variety of restaurants with menus ranging from a picnic to fine French cuisine. Wheelchair access is only available to the first and second landing via elevator.
Champ de Mars 5 Avenue Anatole France, 75007 Paris
From June 15th to Sept 1st: 9 am to 12.45 am (lift), 9 am to 12.45 am (stairs). Rest of the year: 9.30 am to 11.45 pm (lift), 9.30 am to 6.30 pm (stairs)
http://www.tour-eiffel.fr | +33 892 70 12 39
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The Champs-Elysees is the most famous street in the world. Lined on the West end with sidewalk cafes, theatres, cinemas and famous luxury stores, it is often the scene of holiday celebrations. Since 1975 it has been the ending place for the Tour de France bicycle race.
The beautiful avenue runs in a straight line 1.25 miles from the 21 acre Place de la Concorde where the Obelisk of Luxor is located to the Arc de Triomphe where a dozen boulevards converge. It has wide sidewalks with benches and street lights. Pedestrians can walk leisurely, enjoying the historic buildings, gardens and scenery.
The Place de la Concorde is the location where Marie Antoinette, Louis XVI and thousands were executed during the French Revolution.
The glass topped buildings that can be seen from the street are the Grande Palais and the Petite Palais which were built for the World Fair in 1900. Today they are museums.
Originally the area was open fields and market gardens. The name came from the “Elysian fields” in Greek mythology. Its transformation began when Maria de Medici decided to extend the Tuileries Gardens with an avenue of trees in 1616. The gardens are just beyond the Place de la Concorde and end at the Louvre. It was not until the latter years of the 18th century that the area became a fashionable Parisian spot.
Begins at Place de la Concorde and ends at Place Charles de Gaulle, Arrondissement 8th.
3.Hotel des Invalides
The Hotel des Invalides was founded in 1671 by Louis XIV to provide accommodations for war veterans who were injured or impoverished. The front of the building is 163 ft. long and faces the Seine River. There are 15 court yards and two churches in the complex.
The church of Saint-Louis was opened in 1679 for the soldiers. They were required to attend mass here daily. Inspired by St. Peter’s Basilica of Rome, another church, the Domes des Invalides was erected for the exclusive use of the Royal family. Centrally placed, it dominates the Court of Honor. The dome is considered one of the triumphs of French Baroque architecture.
The complex is home to three museums dedicated to military history from the Middle Ages to the Second World War. Armor, maps, banners and weapons are exhibited from not only the Western world, but from Turkey, Japan, India and China. The military costume of Emperor Qianlong, sixth emperor of the Qing dynasty from 1711-1799 is in one of the displays.
The Emperor Napoleon is entombed here along with other military leaders including Marshall Foch. Though most of the buildings have been converted to other uses, there is still a small residence for military retirees in the complex.
129 Rue de Grenelle, 75007 Paris.
From April 1st to October 31st: Monday to Sunday, 10 am to 6 pm. From November 1st to March 31st: Monday to Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm. Tills close 30 min before the museum closes.
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4.Musee du Louvre
The Musee du Louvre is home to three of the most famous masterpieces of art in the world: the painting of the Mona Lisa, and the sculptures of the Winged Victory of Samothrace and Aphrodite, known as the “Venus de Milo”. Over thirty five thousand pieces of sculpture, paintings, decorative art, prints and drawings of the collection of over 1 million pieces are on display.
Other well-known pieces are “The Wedding at Cana”, “Psyche Revived by Cupid´s Kiss”, and the “Dying Slave” by Michelangelo.
The vast collection includes Western Art from the Medieval Ages to 1848. Egyptian, Etruscan, Greek, Roman and Islamic antiquities are represented. There is over 652,000 square feet of floor space with art displayed in three wings. While it would be impossible to take in the entire museum in one day, there are tours of the more famous pieces for those unable to make multiple trips.
Built in 1190 as a fortress, it was transformed into a modern dwelling for Francois First, then became the sumptuous palace of Louis the IV, the Sun King. After the royal family moved to Versailles, the Louvre became home to antique sculptures and the Academy of Sculptors and painters. It was dedicated to science and the arts in 1792 and has housed the museum since 1793. The Glass pyramid which serves as an entry was opened in 1989.
Musee du Louvre, 75001 Paris
Open daily (except Tuesday) from 9 am to 6 pm. Night opening until 9.45 pm on Wednesdays and Fridays. Closed on the following holidays: January 1, May 1, December 25
http://www.louvre.fr/en | +33 140 20 53 17
5.Ile de la Cité
The Ile de la Cité is the historic center of Paris. It is located on one of two natural islands on the Seine River. The ancient Celtic tribe known as the Parisi settled here in 3 BC. (It was then that Paris gained its name.) In Medieval times it became a city and the Cathedral of Notre Dame begun its construction in the 10th century.
It is linked to the banks of the Seine by eight bridges including the Pont Neuf, the oldest bridge in Paris, which was built between 1578 and 1604. The Pont Neuf is decorated with 250 grotesque masks. For over 200 years this was the main street of Paris. Vendors pedal their wares in half moon bays along what was once the first sidewalk in Paris.
6. Paris Map
Of course, Paris offers many other interesting and unique places and experiences. Do you have your favorite hidden gem or something interesting to do in Paris, or have you been to one of the places we presented in this Guide? Share it in the comments below.