Thursday, 14 March 2013


Even though I want this publication/pack to appeal to an audience more interested in getting a real feel for Parisian culture, I feel I should still include some of the more tourist aspects of Paris as some of the most popular attractions are definitely worth a visit. 


No one could imagine Paris today without its signature spire. But Gustave Eiffel only constructed this graceful tower – the world’s tallest, at 320m, until it was eclipsed by Manhattan’s Chrysler Building some four decades later – as a temporary exhibit for the 1889 Exposition Universelle (World Fair). Luckily, the tower’s popularity assured its survival beyond the fair, and its elegant art nouveau webbed-metal design has become the defining fixture of the city’s skyline.
Lifts/elevators yo-yo up and down the north, west and east pillars to the tower’s three platforms (57m, 115m and 276m); change lifts on the 2nd level for the final ascent to the top, from where views extend up to 60km. (There’s wheelchair access to the 1st and 2nd levels.) If you’re feeling athletic, you can take the south pillar’s 1665 stairs as far as the 2nd level. Prebook tickets online to avoid monumentally long ticket queues.
Refreshment options in the tower include the 1st-level 58 Tour Eiffel (p59), the sublime 2nd-level Le Jules Verne, and, at the top, the new Bar à Champagne.

The vast Palais du Louvre was constructed as a fortress by Philippe-Auguste in the early 12th century and rebuilt in the mid-16th century as a royal residence. The Revolutionary Convention turned it into a national museum in 1793.
The paintings, sculptures and artefacts on display in the Louvre Museum have been amassed by subsequent French governments. Among them are works of art and artisanship from all over Europe and collections of Assyrian, Etruscan, Greek, Coptic and Islamic art and antiquities. The Louvre’s raison d’être is essentially to present Western art from the Middle Ages to about 1848 (at which point the Musée d’Orsay takes over), as well as works from ancient civilisations that formed the starting point for Western art.

Fresh from renovations that incorporate richly coloured walls, a re-energised layout and increased exhibition space, the home of France’s national collection from the impressionist, postimpressionist and art nouveau movements spanning the 1840s and 1914 is the glorious former Gare d’Orsay railway station – itself an art nouveau showpiece – where a roll-call of masters and their world-famous works are on display.
Top of every visitor’s must-see list is the museum’s painting collections, centred on the world’s largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist art. Just some of its highlights are Manet’s On The Beach and Woman With Fans; Monet’s gardens at Giverny; Cézanne’s card players and still lifes; Renoir’s Ball at the Moulin de la Galette and Girls at the Piano; Degas’ ballerinas; Toulouse-Lautrec’s cabaret dancers; Pissarro’s The Harvest; Sisley’s View of the Canal St-Martin; and Van Gogh’s self-portraits, Bedroom in Arles and Starry Night. There are also some magnificent decorative arts, graphic arts and sculptures.
Save time by prepurchasing tickets online or at Kiosque du Musée d’Orsay, in front of the museum, and head to entrance C. Admission drops to €6.50 after 4.30pm (after 6pm on Thursday). Combined tickets with the Musée de l’Orangerie cost €14 to visit both within four days.

This is the heart of Paris – so much so that distances from Paris to every part of metropolitan France are measured from place du Parvis Notre Dame, the square in front of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Paris. A bronze star across the street from the cathedral’s main entrance marks the exact location of point zéro des routes de France.
Notre Dame, the most visited unticketed site in Paris, with upwards of 14 million people crossing its threshold a year, is not just a masterpiece of French Gothic architecture; it was also the focus of Catholic Paris for seven centuries.
Built on a site occupied by earlier churches and, a millennium before that, a Gallo-Roman temple, it was begun in 1163 according to the design of Bishop Maurice de Sully and largely completed by the early 14th century. The cathedral was badly damaged during the Revolution; architect Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc carried out extensive renovations between 1845 and 1864. The cathedral is on a very grand scale; the interior alone is 130m long, 48m wide and 35m high and can accommodate more than 6000 worshippers.
If anything rivals the Eiffel Tower as the symbol of Paris, it’s this magnificent 1836 monument to Napoleon’s 1805 victory at Austerlitz, which he commissioned the following year. The intricately sculpted triumphal arch stands sentinel in the centre of the Étoile (‘star’) roundabout. From the viewing platform on top of the arch (50m up via 284 steps and well worth the climb) you can see the dozen avenues. Av de la Grande Armée heads northwest to the skyscraper district of La Défense, where the Grande Arche marks the western end of the Axe Historique.
The most famous of the four high-relief panels at the base is to the right, facing the arch from the av des Champs-Élysées side. It’s entitled Départ des Volontaires de 1792 (Departure of the Volunteers of 1792) and is also known as La Marseillaise (France’s national anthem). Higher up, a frieze running around the whole monument depicts hundreds of figures, each one 2m high.

The Avenue des Champs-Élysées is a street in Paris, France. With its cinemas, cafés, luxury specialty shops and clipped horse-chestnut trees, the Champs-Élysées is arguably the most famous street—and one of the most expensive strips of real estate—in the world. Several French monuments are also on the street, including the Arc de Triomphe and the Place de la Concorde. The name is French for Elysian Fields, the place of the blessed dead in Greek mythology. According to a much used description, the Champs-Élysées is la plus belle avenue du monde ("the most beautiful avenue in the world")

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