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Paris – The City of Light and Romance
Paris is the capital city of France and the largest French city. It lies in the northern part of France and resembles a bowl-shaped, low lying basin. In the heart of the city flows the majestic Seine River which stretches to 8 miles.
It is also one of the cultural capitals in the world and a powerful country in the West. And for two consecutive years since 2009, Paris was ranked as the 3rd most influential city in the world. And it is also among the top three “European Cities of the Future” heralded by Financial Times.
Today, Paris is known by many as the City of Lights and Romance. Anyone will surely fall in love with the hundreds of tourist attractions, parks and gardens as well as art galleries and museums.
Early signs of settlement in Paris were dated as early as 4200 BC. The first inhabitants in the city were the Parisii, a Celtic Senones tribe. They inhabited the area near the river until they were conquered by the Romans in 52 BC.
From then on, a new village was born, the Letetia. The Gallo-Roman town (the Romanized culture of Gaul) expanded and became a powerful city with palaces, forums, temples, theaters, baths and amphitheaters.
The collapse of the Roman Empire during the Germanic invasions caused the fall of the town. In 400 AD, the town was abandoned by its inhabitants and was merely a garrison town.
Middles Ages to the 19th Century
When Paris slightly recovered from the fall and the inhabitants reached a high level, Black Death swept the town. It killed 800 people a day. And after a year in 1466, a total of 400,000 Parisii died from the plague.
After the plague, the city fell into English hands during the Hundred Years War. It only regained its title as the French Capital when Charles VII reclaimed the city from English rule.
But it was King Frances I who returned the crown residence to Paris in 1528 and established it as the French centre of power.
In 1562, the French Wars of Religion begun. Ten years after, under the reign of Charles IX and just six days after the wedding of his sister, Margaret of Valois to Henry III of Navarre (the future Henry IV of France), the St. Bartholomew Day Massacre begun. It lasted for several days and spread throughout France.
After the Religious Wars, Paris has undergone a series of revolutions and epidemics. At last in 1840, Paris saw a new hope of progress. In the same year, the greatest development of Paris began as a network of railways brought an influx of migrants to the city.
Then in 1852, during the Second Empire, Napoleon III changed the narrow and winding streets of the city into a network of wide avenues and neo-classical facades which made up the modern Paris.
Today, Paris is seen as one of the most vibrant and beautiful cities in the world. And through the great efforts of the French Government to relive the importance, character, charm and power of the city, Paris has undergone a series of transformations of grand projects.
And the fruit of this labor was felt when Paris became a notable city as one of the richest in the world. As a matter of fact, according to the latest survey of the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), Paris is the most expensive city in the world to live in.
Paris is known to be the top tourist destination in the world. Every year, the city receives per 45 million of tourists and vacationers which make up a large percentage of France GDP. As the lead cultural and business center in the world, Paris offers numerous iconic landmarks, popular parks and gardens as well as world famous institutions and museums.
Major Tourist Spots in Paris
The city boasts of a number of world famous tourist attractions:
The Eifel Tower also known as La Dame de Fer, Iron Lady, and is considered to be one of the greatest modern architectural masterpieces in the world. It was built and designed by a renowned French engineer, Gustave Eiffel, to commemorate the 100th year anniversary of the French revolution in 1889. Since its completion, the Eifel Tower became the symbol of the City of Lights and Romance.
Today, The Tower is the tallest building in the city and it is the most paid and visited building in the world. It offers panoramic and stunning views of Paris and the Ile de France region. Aside from picturesque sceneries, the tower has a souvenir shop and a bar. It also hosts to two-world class restaurants which provide a perfect setting for a romantic dinner date or an avenue for a surprise marriage proposal.
Notre Dame Cathedral
It took 200 years for this famous Basilica to complete the gothic inspired grandeur it boasts today. Notre Dame Cathedral may not be the largest Roman Cathedral in the world but it is certainly one of the most famous basilicas next to the Vatican Church of Rome. It is famous for its large rose windows, flying buttresses and sexpartite vaults.
Many historical events happened in this church. Mary, Queen of the Scots and the Dauphin Francois and Henry of Navarre and Margaret de Valois was married in this church. Napoleon I and his wife Josephine was crowned here. And the popular, novel and 2d animation “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” was inspired and centered on this church.
The Louvre Museum was originally a palace. As a matter of fact, the remnants of the Louvre Palace are still visible today. The museum houses 35,000 art collections from pre-historic France to the middle ages, 19th century and the modern era.
It also houses different art masterpieces in the world including Egyptian and Near Eastern antiquities. It also preserves the Greek, Etruscan and Roman sculptures as well as Islamic art, world famous statues, decorative arts, paintings such as the genuine Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci and drawings of mysterious subjects from delicate parchments of paper.
The most recent addition to the Louvre Museum was the Glass Pyramid. It serves as the grand entrance of the Museum. And the museum was also the last piece of the puzzle in finding the “Holy Grail” in the 2006 Hollywood Blockbuster movie “The Da Vinci Code.”
The Pantheon was originally built as a church dedicated to St. Genevieve after King Louis XV recovered from an illness. But after a series of changes, the Pantheon became a mausoleum of the most distinguished French nationals.
Even if the Pantheon never came out as was first intended, it became one of the most architectural achievements of its time. It was also heralded as the greatest neo-classical monument in Paris.
Among the famous French citizens honored by the French government and buried in the Pantheon were: Victor Hugo, Rousseau, Voltaire, Marie Curie, Jean Moulin, Louis Braille, Emile Zola and Jean Jaures.
Avenue des Champs-Elysees
Luxurious specialty shops, trendy boutiques, cinemas, cafes and clipped horse chestnut trees, Avenue des Champs-Elysees is known as “La plus belle avenue du monde” the most glamorous and stunning avenue in the world.
It is the most expensive real estate in France and in Europe! Rent could amount to a whoping €1.1 million! Among the upscale shops in the avenue include, Abercrombie and Fitch, Luis Vuitton, Gap, Sephora, Bel Air Fashion, Zara, Cartier, Nike, Benetton, Adidas and Disney Store.
Where to Stay in the City
Paris accommodation offers a wide variety of options. From luxury hotels, bed and breakfasts, budget and cheap hotels, business and vacation rentals and backpackers accommodations are just among the various types of Parisian accommodations.
Tourists can also find a decent budget hotel for less than €100. Or vacationers can also opt for €150 2 star hotels and Paris accommodations in the Latin Quarter which are just a few metres away from open-air markets of the city.
For high end travelers, they can opt to book and reserve a room at one of the upscale 5 stars hotels and 4 stars hotels located in the heart of Paris.
Moreover, there are also hundreds or Paris hotels, apartments and rentals located close to Paris top tourist attractions like the Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum, Champs Elysees and the Latin Quarter.
All these options are available in different accommodation ranges to suit the lifestyle, budget and requirement of every tourist and vacationer in Paris.
Getting There and Around Paris
Taxies are one of the popular modes of transportation in getting around the city. The flagdown rate starts at € 2.10. And a charge of €0.80 is added per kilometre from Monday to Saturday between 10:00 and to 5:00 pm. Meanwhile, an additional €1.10 per kilometer is charged on Sundays, at night between 5:00 pm to 10:00 am and in the inner suburbs of Paris.
Moreover, taxies in Paris charge an additional €2.75 for the fourth passenger and €1 for every baggage exceeding five kilograms. Also in tipping cab drivers, always round up the tip to the nearest €1.
Bus and Trams
The bus system of the city is operated by RATP. It is one of the cheapest forms of transportation in the city of lights and romance. It runs between 5:415 am and 12:30 m on Mondays to Saturdays. Bus services are usually reduced during Sundays and public holidays.
After the regular busses made their usual routes, night busses took over the bus network of Paris from 12:30am to 5:30 am. These night busses runs through the main train stations, cross major attractions in the city and leading out into the suburbs and outskirts of Paris. The standard metro tickets costs from €1.50 depending on where you are heading. If you are not sure about how much fare you will pay, ask the bus driver how many tickets you should buy to get to your destination.
Did you know? …
• There is a replica of the Statue of Liberty in the middle of the Seine River and a replica of the torch of the famed Statue can be found above the tunnel at Pont Alma where Princess Diana was killed!
• There are 6 million people buried under the catacombs of Paris!
• That in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral is a bronze plaque placed in the pavement which is known as “Point of Zero.” It is said that all places and other French cities can be measured from Paris starting from that bronze statue!
• Painting the Eifel Tower could take up to 15 days!
• Every first Sunday of the Month, admission to the Louvre Museum is FREE!
• There are 300,000 dogs in Paris which is greater than the population of children in the city!
• Parisians eat dinner between 8:00 pm and 10:00pm (not earlier or later)!
Shop, Explore and Fall in Love in the City of Lights and Romance.
Visit Paris, France
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