Paris is Europe’s most fantastic city, a place that has everything for the traveler or visitor. Whether you visit Paris on a day trip, Paris in the Spring, Paris for a week or for far longer, this is a city that has it all! Museums, theatres, shops, fantastic historic monuments, a beautiful riverscape, Paris has all of these. this website helps you plan your visit to Paris, and get the best out of your stay in the French capital.
If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.
– via Ernest Hemingway
The wrought-iron spire of the Eiffel Tower piercing the clouds, the broad Arc de Triomphe guarding Paris’ most glamorous avenue, the Champs-Élysées, the gargoyled Notre Dame cathedral, lamplit bridges spanning the Seine and art nouveau cafes spilling on to wicker-chair-lined terraces are indelibly etched in the minds of anyone who’s visited the city – and the imaginations of anyone who hasn’t (yet). But despite initial appearances, Paris’ cityscape isn’t static: there are some stunning modern and contemporary icons too, from the inside-out, industrial-style Centre Pompidou to the mur végétal (vertical garden) gracing the striking Musée du Quai Branly.
With an illustrious artistic pedigree – Renoir, Rodin, Picasso, Monet, Manet, Dalí, and Van Gogh are but a few of the masters who lived and worked here over the years – Paris is one of the great art repositories of the world, harboring treasures from antiquity onward. In addition to big-hitters like the incomparable Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay’s exceptional impressionist collection, and the Centre Pompidou’s cache of modern and contemporary art, there are scores of smaller museums housing collections in every imaginable genre and a diverse range of venues mounting major exhibitions through to off-beat installations.
Paris’ dining is iconic: France’s reputation for its cuisine (the French word for ‘kitchen’) precedes it, and whether you seek a cozy neighborhood bistro or a triple-Michelin-starred temple to gastronomy, you’ll find every establishment prides itself on exquisite preparation and presentation of quality produce, invariably served with wine. Enticing patisseries, boulangeries (bakeries), fromageries (cheese shops), and crowded, colorful street markets are perfect for packing a picnic to take to the city’s parks and gardens. A host of culinary courses – from home kitchens through to the world’s most prestigious cookery schools – offers instruction for all schedules, abilities, and budgets.
Landmarks in Paris
Once the tallest structure in the world, the Eiffel Tower is probably Europe’s best-known landmark and Paris’s most famous symbol.
You couldn’t possibly visit Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower. Even if you do not want to visit this world-famous structure, you will see its top from all over Paris. The tower rises 300 meters tall (984 ft); when it was completed at the end of the nineteenth century it was twice as high as the Washington Monument, at the time the tallest structure in the world.
1889 World Exhibition
The Eiffel Tower was built for the World Exhibition in 1889, held in celebration of the French Revolution in 1789.
The construction was only meant to last for the duration of the Exposition, but it still stands today, despite all protests from contemporary artists who feared the construction would be the advent of structures without ‘individuality’ and despite the many people who feared that this huge ‘object’ would not fit into the architecture of Paris.
Today, there is no such aversion anymore among the Parisians, and one could not imagine Paris without the Eiffel Tower, in fact, it has become the symbol of the City of Light.
The man behind the Eiffel Tower was Gustave Eiffel, known from his revolutionary bridge building techniques, as employed in the great viaduct at Garabit in 1884. These techniques would form the basis for the construction of the Eiffel Tower. He was also known for the construction of the Statue of Liberty’s iron framework.
The structure took more than two years to complete. Each one of them about 12,000 iron pieces was designed separately to give them exactly the shape needed. All pieces were prefabricated and fit together using approx. seven million nails.
Inaugurated March 31, 1889, the Eiffel Tower would be the tallest structure in the world until the completion of the Chrysler Building in 1930.
Venus of Milo
The collection of the Louvre Museum was first established in the sixteenth century as the private collection of King Francis I. One of the works of art he purchased was the now famous Mona Lisa painting. The collection grew steadily thanks to donations and purchases by the kings. In 1793, during the French Revolution, the Louvre became a national art museum, and the private royal collection opened to the public.
The museum has a collection of over one million works of art, of which about 35,000 are on display, spread out over three wings of the former palace. The museum has a diverse collection ranging from the Antiquity up to the mid-nineteenth century.
Some of the most famous works of art in the museum are the Venus of Milo, the Nike of Samothraki, the Dying Slave by Michelangelo, and of course Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.
After entering the museum through the Louvre Pyramid or via the Carrousel du Louvre, you have access to three large wings: Sully, Richelieu, and Denon. Below a brief description of the highlights in each wing.
The Sully wing is the oldest part of the Louvre. The second floor holds a collection of French paintings, drawings, and prints. One of the highlights is the erotic Turkish Bath, painted in the late eighteenth century by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres.
The first and ground floors of the Sully wing display works from the enormous collection of antiquities. In the thirty rooms with Egyptian antiquities, you find artifacts and sculptures from Ancient Egypt such as the famous Seated Scribe and a colossal statue of Pharaoh Ramesses II. On the ground floor is the statue of Aphrodite, better known as the ‘Venus of Milo’, one of the highlights of the Louvre’s Greek collection.
For something completely different, you can go to the Lower Ground Floor of the Sully wing where you can see some remnants of the medieval castle of the Louvre.
Paintings from the Middle Ages up to the nineteenth century from across Europe are on the second floor of the Richelieu wing, including many works from master painters such as Rubens and Rembrandt. Some of the most notable works are the Lacemaker from Jan Vermeer and the Virgin of Chancellor Rolin, a fifteenth-century work by the Flemish painter Jan van Eyck. The first floor of the Richelieu wing houses a collection of decorative arts, with objects such as clocks, furniture, china, and tapestries.
On the same floor are the sumptuously decorated Napoleon III Apartments. They give you an idea of what the Louvre interior looked like when it was still in use as a royal palace.
The ground and lower ground floor are home to the Louvre’s extensive collection of sculptures. They are arranged around two glass-covered courtyards: Cour Puget and Cour Marly. The latter houses the Horses of Marly, large marble sculptures created in the eighteenth century by Guillaume Coustou. Nearby is the Tomb of Philippe Pot, supported by eight Pleurants (‘weepers’).
The ground floor also houses a collection of antiquities from the Near East. The main attraction here is the Code of Hammurabi, a large basalt stele from the eighteenth century BC, inscribed with the Babylonian law code.
The Denon Wing is the most crowded of the three wings of the Louvre Museum; the Mona Lisa, a portrait of a woman by Leonardo da Vinci on the first floor is the biggest crowd puller. There are other masterpieces, however, including the Wedding Feast at Cana from Veronese and the Consecration of Emperor Napoleon I by Jacques Louis David. Another star attraction of the museum is the Winged Victory of Samothrace, a Greek marble statue displayed at a prominent spot in the atrium connecting the Denon wing with the Sully wing.
The ground floor of the Denon wing houses the museum’s large collection of Roman and Etruscan antiquities as well as a collection of sculptures from the Renaissance to the nineteenth century. Here you find Antonio Canova’s marble statue of Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss. Even more famous is Michelangelo’s Dying Slave. On the same floor are eight rooms with artifacts from Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas. Medieval sculptures from Europe are displayed on the lower ground floor of the Denon wing.
History of the Louvre Palace
The Louvre was created in several phases. Originally built as a twelfth-century fortress by King Philip II, it was significantly expanded in the fourteenth century during the reign of King Charles V.
Its current palatial appearance goes back to the late fifteenth century when the original fortress was demolished and the wing along the Seine river was built. The palace was extended during the sixteenth century by architect Pierre Lescot, who expanded the palace into a complex with two courtyards. A decade later Catharina de Medici added the Tuileries Palace to the west of the Louvre. Construction on the Louvre was halted for some time when king Louis XIV decided to move to the Versailles Palace.
In the nineteenth century, during the Second Empire, the Louvre has expanded again with the addition of the Richelieu wing. The wings were extended even further westward during the Third Empire. The Louvre now had four symmetric wings surrounding a large courtyard. This would not last long, as the Communards burned the Tuileries Palace to the ground in 1871, opening up the west side of the palace.
The most recent addition to the Louvre was the construction of the Louvre Pyramid, which functions as the museum’s main entrance. The pyramid was built in 1989 by the renowned American architect I.M. Pei. The glass pyramid allows the sunlight to enter the underground floor.
The modern addition originally received mixed reviews, as it contrasts sharply with the classical design of the surrounding buildings, but today it is generally accepted as a clever solution which has given the museum a spacious central entrance without the need to touch the historic patrimony.
Napoleon’s Triumphal Arch
The arch was commissioned by Napoleon in 1806 to commemorate his victories, but he was ousted before the arch was completed. In fact, it wasn’t completed until 1836 during the reign of Louis-Philippe. The Arc de Triomphe is engraved with the names of generals who commanded French troops during Napoleon’s regime.
The design of the arch by Jean Chalgrin is based on the Arch of Titus in Rome. The Arc de Triomphe is much higher (50m versus 15m), but it has exactly the same proportions.
The triumphal arch is adorned with many reliefs, most of them commemorating the emperor’s battles. Among them are the battle of Aboukir, Napoleon’s victory over the Turkish, and the Battle of Austerlitz, where Napoleon defeated the Austrians.
The best-known relief is the Departure of the Volunteers in 1792, also known as the Marseillaise. At the top of the arch are thirty shields, each of them bears the name of one of Napoleon’s successful battles. Below the arch is the Grave of the Unknown Soldiers, honoring the many who died during the First World War.
Place de la Concorde
At eight hectares (20 acres), the octagonal Place de la Concorde is the largest square in Paris. It is situated between the Tuileries and the Champs-Elysées.
In 1763, a large statue of King Louis XV was erected at this site to celebrate the recovery of the king after a serious illness. The square surrounding the statue was created later, in 1772, by the architect Jacques-Ange Gabriel. It was known as the Place Louis XV.
In 1792, during the French revolution, the statue was replaced by another, large statue, called ‘Liberté’ (freedom), and the square was called Place de la Révolution. A guillotine was installed at the center of the square and in a time span of only a couple of years, 1119 people were beheaded here. Amongst the many famous people like King Louis XVI, Marie-Antionette, and revolutionary Robespierre, just to name a few. After the revolution, the square was renamed several times until 1830, when it was given the current name ‘Place de la Concorde’.
I really think that it’s disgusting that Paris is the only place where it is illegal for paps to follow you around. It actually took someone losing their life – Diana, an inspirational woman – and then it changed, but they still won’t change it in London! It’s horrible!
– via Cara Delevingne