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Visit Paris, France - Travel Tips and Tourism Guide

By Alexis Sezar on May 4, 2015

Paris, France

Paris has something for everyone - it's a multifaceted, magical, mythical and sometimes surprising capital that is always exciting. People come to Paris to admire its exceptional architectural and cultural heritage, making it one of the world's most beautiful cities. This dynamic heritage is constantly being improved and enriched. A city where something is always happening, Paris is also the capital of gastronomy, fashion and shopping.

It is committed to upholding a high quality of life and substainable development, offering its inhabitants and visitors a particularly pleasant setting. Innovative, audacious and vibrant, Paris has leapt boldly into the 21st century.

Over 300 events are happening everyday in Paris, from concerts to exhibitions to theatrical performances. Countless major outstantding events occur throughout the year as well, such as the Paris Plages, where the banks of the Seine are transformed into beaches, the Nuit Blanche all-night art festival, and la Fête de la Musique, where the streets fill with music on the summer solstice.

Top Sights to See in Paris

 

Eiffel Tower
Although she does not live in the Elysées Palace, she is undoubtedly the first lady of France. The green carpet of the Trocadéro gardens, on the shore of the Seine River, has been her home since 1889. This is where the whole world pays tribute to her. This iron lady is none other than the Eiffel Tower, landmark of Paris and symbol of France.

As you lay your eyes on the Eiffel Tower, it stands at your feet, inviting you to climb it, and unlock its iron mysteries. The poet, Jean Cocteau, called it “the beautiful giraffe in lace.” Like a quest for the Holy Grail, the spectacular views of up to 300 meters are earned with each step, a whopping 1665. For the more adventurous, dare to contemplate Paris through the glass lifts as you make your way up to the top. There are three floors to cover, three rites of passage into the sweeping view of Paris stretching beyond its horizons.

Feeling hopelessly romantic? Profess your love, with the capital of romance at your feet as your witness. How about a dinner for two at the Jules Verne restaurant? Savor unforgettable memories at 125 meters above ground. A few more steps, and already you have reached the top (third floor). At 276 m from the ground, you can almost touch the clouds while enjoying a 360 degrees view of the capital. If you are not ready to get back to earth, linger on the first floor, the widest of the three. Look straight down through the glass floor at 57 m above ground for more thrills before going on a hunt for precious souvenirs in one of the shops.

And to think that all this magic almost didn’t happen! Gustave Eiffel’s project to build the Iron Lady for the Universal Exhibition in Paris, in 1889 was met with fierce opposition. Naysayers deemed the tower “useless” and “monstrous.” The engineer dismissed bitter critics, stating that his tower symbolized “not only the art of the modern engineer, but also the century of Industry and Science in which we are living.” It took two years, two months, and five days of work for Gustave and his team to deliver the iconic symbol of France’s contribution to modern society.

Notre-Dame cathedral, Paris epicentre for over 850 years, stands in an effortless command! The cathedral, known as Notre-Dame de Paris (Our Lady of Paris), is a historical landmark, a pillar of the Arts, the foundation of spirituality, and of course, a must-see when visiting Paris! Follow the guide... As soon as you reach the parvis, the large square facing the cathedral in Ile de la Cite, a certain silence takes hold of you; the kind that presides over opening a book. Our Lady of Paris has been telling a story since she was consecrated in 1163. She is both a bible and a lesson on morality. Only, doctrines and symbols from the Book were replaced by expressions in stone and stained glass. Notre-Dame’s universal appeal is likely the reason behind the fascination it exerts.On Champs-de-Mars, childhood memories are rekindled every evening when la Belle sparkles in a light show. She even plays with fire during major events such as celebrating France’s national holiday on July 14, or honoring world leaders. Yet, the most visited paying monument in the world has not aged one bit. Between 1985 and 1990, the Eiffel Tower underwent a few makeovers. Four new elevators were added to each pillar and 1343 tons were shed off the iron structure. She was dressed-up in an elegant robe of lights, confirming Paris' moniker as the City of Light.

Notre Dame Cathedral
Notre-Dame cathedral, Paris epicentre for over 850 years, stands in an effortless command! The cathedral, known as Notre-Dame de Paris (Our Lady of Paris), is a historical landmark, a pillar of the Arts, the foundation of spirituality, and of course, a must-see when visiting Paris! Follow the guide... As soon as you reach the parvis, the large square facing the cathedral in Ile de la Cite, a certain silence takes hold of you; the kind that presides over opening a book. Our Lady of Paris has been telling a story since she was consecrated in 1163. She is both a bible and a lesson on morality. Only, doctrines and symbols from the Book were replaced by expressions in stone and stained glass. Notre-Dame’s universal appeal is likely the reason behind the fascination it exerts.

Champs-Elysées
Extending from the place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe, the Avenue des Champs Elysées is a place for strolling, sight-seeing and luxury shopping. However, until a few centuries ago this entire area was nothing but marshes and fields lying to the West of the city. Under Marie de Medici, a tree-lined path was laid, linking the Tuileries garden to the Place de l'Alma. Andre Le Nôtre's re-design of the city layout caused a great deal of change in the area: the Champs Elysées, whose name means "Elysian fields", was indeed a mere field when it was named in 1709. It was a few years later, in 1724 that the avenue as it appears today was laid by the Duke of Antin. Still a semi-wild garden until 1828, it would over time become one of the most beautiful areas of the city when the fountains and wide pavements were laid, and gas-lighting installed. Today the "most beautiful avenue in the world" hosts many prestigious events including the Bastille Day parade and the finish line of the Tour de France.

Arc de Triomphe
The Arc de triomphe originated in 1806 on the orders of Napoleon I to honor the victories of his Grande Armée. Inspired by the great arches of antiquity, the monument combines the commemorative with the symbolic and it has always played a major role in the national republican consciousness. Every evening, the flame is lit on the tomb of the Unknown Soldier from the Great War. An exhibition portrays the history and explains its symbolic importance, nationally as well as internationally. The terrace provides superb views both day and night across the city and its great sweeping avenues.

Opéra National de Paris
It was Napoleon III who took the decision to have this major Parisian opera house built and he entrusted its construction to Charles Garnier, a young architect. Building work was started in 1860 and it was completed in 1875. The Opera Garnier is a magnificent gilded marble building, a sumptuous and striking palace. From the end of the Avenue de l'Opéra, imposing and majestic, the Opera Garnier never fails to impress. Inside, a huge staircase takes you to the different levels and it is flanked on both sides by a collection of paintings and sculptures and most notably the ceiling painted by Chagall. The auditorium shimmers with red and gold touches. According to legend, a ghost haunted the palace, a story which inspired Gaston Leroux to write the novel The Phamton of the Opera, leading to many famous theatre, musical and film adaptations. In the sumptuous setting of the Opera Garnier, performances such as operas, ballets and international productions become ever more majestic, the setting perfectly complementing the sheer magic of the productions.

Centre Pompidou-Metz
The Centre Pompidou-Metz, in the city of Metz (Lorraine), is the first major decentralisation project of a cultural institution in France. From visual arts and architecture to design and video, all the creative fields are represented. The Pompidou Centre offers a diverse programme of events including dance, theatre, concerts, films, conferences, youth events and workshops. In conveying these values, the Centre Pompidou-Metz has the extraordinary advantage of being able to draw from the collections of the Centre Pompidou -National Museum of Modern Art- in Paris which, with its 65,000 works, boasts one of two the world’s finest collections in the field of modern and contemporary art, and the largest collection in Europe. The Centre Pompidou-Metz has been devised as a unique experience, a space where you can discover artistic creation in all its shapes and sizes, a living space where events take place all year round. The architecture of Shigeru Ban and Jean de Gastines make it an exceptional place. It's both a place of generosity and of excellence, thanks to its multidisciplinary programme based on innovative temporary exhibitions of international standing.

Musée du Quai Branly
Paris has been honouring indigenous arts since 2006. Musée du quai Branly features groundbreaking non-Western art with an aim to create an intercultural dialogue and officially recognise the importance of non-Western civilisations and heritages. What will you see? Many exhibitions showing definitive artistic works coming from cultures in Africa, the Americas, Asia and Oceania.

The Musée du Quai Branly has three sections:

  • Collection of musical instruments
  • Textile collections, which include more than 25,000 pieces - a grand total of 267,417 objects
  • Historical collections (linked to the discovery and history of French colonialism)

Designed by Jean Nouvel, the building's architecture is sure to leave you speechless. Visitors will be able to enjoy a contemporary and green environment, luxuriant nature mixed with modern construction forming a contrast with the bustle of Parisian life.

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