Wednesday, November 20, 2013


“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.” - Ernest Hemingway.


Paris is the capital and most populous city of France. 2.2 million people living in the dense central city and almost 12 million people living in the whole metropolitan area, one of the largest agglomerations in Europe. Located in the north of the country on the river Seine, Paris has the reputation of being the most beautiful and romantic of all cities, brimming with historic associations and remaining vastly influential in the realms of culture, art, fashion, food and design. The city has the second highest number of Michelin-restaurants in the world and contains numerous iconic landmarks, such as the world's most visited tourist site the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Louvre Museum, Moulin Rouge, Lido etc, making it the most popular tourist destination in the world with 45 million tourists annually. Let see list of most notable places you should visit here.

1. Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower is an iron lattice tower located on the Champ de Mars in Paris. It was named after the engineer Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built the tower. Erected in 1889 as the entrance arch to the 1889 World's Fair, it has become both a global cultural icon of France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world. The tower is the tallest structure in Paris and the most-visited paid monument in the world; 7.1 million people ascended it in 2011.

The tower has three levels for visitors. The third level observatory's upper platform is at 279.11 m the highest accessible to the public in the European Union. Tickets can be purchased to ascend, by stairs or elevator, to the first and second levels. The walk from ground level to the first level is over 300 steps, as is the walk from the first to the second level. Although there are stairs to the third and highest level, these are usually closed to the public and it is usually accessible only by lift. The first and second levels have restaurants.

Tip: Go at night to avoid the crowds (open until 11:45 p.m., 12:45 a.m. in summer), see 20,000 flashing lights switched on the first ten minutes of every hour at night.


The design of the Eiffel Tower was originated by Maurice Koechlin and Émile Nouguier, two senior engineers who worked for the Compagnie des Etablissements Eiffel after discussion about a suitable centrepiece for the proposed 1889 Exposition Universelle, a World's Fair which would celebrate the centennial of the French Revolution. In May 1884, Koechlin, working at home, made an outline drawing of their scheme, described by him as "a great pylon, consisting of four lattice girders standing apart at the base and coming together at the top, joined together by metal trusses at regular intervals".

Initially Eiffel himself showed little enthusiasm, but he did sanction further study of the project, and the two engineers then asked Stephen Sauvestre, the head of company's architectural department, to contribute to the design. Sauvestre added decorative arches to the base, a glass pavilion to the first level and other embellishments. This enhanced version gained Eiffel's support, and he bought the rights to the patent on the design which Koechlin, Nougier, and Sauvestre had taken out, and the design was exhibited at the Exhibition of Decorative Arts in the autumn of 1884 under the company name.
The projected tower had been a subject of some controversy, attracting criticism both from those who did not believe that it was feasible and also from those who objected on artistic grounds. Their objections were an expression of a longstanding debate about the relationship between architecture and engineering. This came to a head as work began at the Champ de Mars: A "Committee of Three Hundred" (one member for each metre of the tower's height) was formed, led by the prominent architect Charles Garnier and including some of the most important figures of the French arts establishment, including Adolphe Bouguereau, Guy de Maupassant, Charles Gounod and Jules Massenet: a petition was sent to Charles Alphand, the Minister of Works and Commissioner for the Exposition, and was published by Le Temps.

Gustave Eiffel responded to these criticisms by comparing his tower to the Egyptian Pyramids: "My tower will be the tallest edifice ever erected by man. Will it not also be grandiose in its way ? And why would something admirable in Egypt become hideous and ridiculous in Paris ?".
These criticisms were also masterfully dealt with by Édouard Lockroy in a letter of support written to Alphand, ironically saying "Judging by the stately swell of the rhythms, the beauty of the metaphors, the elegance of its delicate and precise style, one can tell that… this protest is the result of collaboration of the most famous writers and poets of our time", and going on to point out that the protest was irrelevant since the project had been decided upon months before and was already under construction. Indeed, Garnier had been a member of the Tower Commission that had assessed the various proposals, and had raised no objection. Work on the foundations started in January 1887.

Those for the east and south legs were straightforward, each leg resting on four 2 m concrete slabs, one for each of the principal girders of each leg but the other two, being closer to the river Seine, were more complicated: each slab needed two piles installed by using compressed-air caissons 15 m long and 6 m in diameter driven to a depth of 22 m to support the concrete slabs, which were 6 m thick.
Each of these slabs supported a block built of limestone each with an inclined top to bear a supporting shoe for the ironwork. Each shoe was anchored into the stonework by a pair of bolts 10 cm in diameter and 7.5 m long. The foundations were complete by 30 June and the erection of the ironwork began. The very visible work on-site was complemented by the enormous amount of exacting preparatory work that was entailed: the drawing office produced 1,700 general drawings and 3,629 detailed drawings of the 18,038 different parts needed.

The task of drawing the components was complicated by the complex angles involved in the design and the degree of precision required: the position of rivet holes was specified to within 0.1 mm and angles worked out to one second of arc. The finished components, some already riveted together into sub-assemblies, arrived on horse-drawn carts from the factory in the nearby Parisian suburb of Levallois-Perret and were first bolted together, the bolts being replaced by rivets as construction progressed. No drilling or shaping was done on site: if any part did not fit it was sent back to the factory for alteration. In all there were 18,038 pieces joined by two and a half million rivets.

2. Louvre Museum

The Louvre is one of the world's largest museums and a historic monument. A central landmark of Paris, France, it is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the 1st arrondissement (district). Nearly 35,000 objects from prehistory to the 21st century are exhibited over an area of 60,600 square metres. With more than 8 million visitors each year, the Louvre is the world's most visited museum.

The collection was increased during the reigns of Louis XVIII and Charles X, and during the Second French Empire the museum gained 20,000 pieces. Holdings have grown steadily through donations and gifts since the Third Republic. As of 2008, the collection is divided among eight curatorial departments: Egyptian Antiquities; Near Eastern Antiquities; Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities; Islamic Art; Sculpture; Decorative Arts; Paintings; Prints and Drawings. The Louvre one of the finest museums in the world of art and culture. Home of the Mona Lisa and innumerable others. Enormous building and collection, plan at least two visits.

Tip: Avoid the long lines around the I.M. Pei Pyramid; there are three other entrances; buy tickets in advance at FNAC or Virgin Megastore.


The museum is housed in the Louvre Palace, originally built as a fortress in the late 12th century under Philip II. Remnants of the fortress are visible in the basement of the museum. The building was extended many times to form the present Louvre Palace. In 1682, Louis XIV chose the Palace of Versailles for his household, leaving the Louvre primarily as a place to display the royal collection, including, from 1692, a collection of ancient Greek and Roman sculpture.

In 1692, the building was occupied by the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres and the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture, which in 1699 held the first of a series of salons. The Académie remained at the Louvre for 100 years. During the French Revolution, the National Assembly decreed that the Louvre should be used as a museum to display the nation's masterpieces.
The museum opened on 10 August 1793 with an exhibition of 537 paintings, the majority of the works being royal and confiscated church property. Because of structural problems with the building, the museum was closed in 1796 until 1801. The collection was increased under Napoleon and the museum renamed the Musée Napoléon. After the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo, many works seized by his armies were returned to their original owners. The collection was further increased during the reigns of Louis XVIII and Charles X, and during the Second French Empire the museum gained 20,000 pieces.

Holdings have grown steadily through donations and gifts since the Third Republic. As of 2008, the collection is divided among eight curatorial departments: Egyptian Antiquities; Near Eastern Antiquities; Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities; Islamic Art; Sculpture; Decorative Arts; Paintings; Prints and Drawings.
By 1874, the Louvre Palace had achieved its present form of an almost rectangular structure with the Sully Wing to the east containing the square Cour Carrée and the oldest parts of the Louvre; and two wings which wrap the Cour Napoléon, the Richelieu Wing to the north and the Denon Wing, which borders the Seine to the south. In 1983, French President François Mitterrand proposed, as one of his Grands Projets, the Grand Louvre plan to renovate the building and relocate the Finance Ministry, allowing displays throughout the building.

Architect I. M. Pei was awarded the project and proposed a glass pyramid to stand over a new entrance in the main court, the Cour Napoléon. The pyramid and its underground lobby were inaugurated on 15 October 1988; the pyramid was completed in 1989. The second phase of the Grand Louvre plan, La Pyramide Inversée (The Inverted Pyramid), was completed in 1993. As of 2002, attendance had doubled since completion.
Antonio Canova's sculpture Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss, first commissioned in 1787 by Colonel John Campbell, is a masterpiece of Neoclassical sculpture, but shows the mythological lovers at a moment of great emotion, characteristic of the emerging movement of Romanticism. It represents the god Cupid in the height of love and tenderness, immediately after awakening the lifeless Psyche with a kiss. The story of Cupid and Psyche is taken from Lucius Apuleius' Latin novel The Golden Ass, and was popular in art.

Joachim Murat acquired the first or prime version (pictured) in 1800. After his death the statue entered the Louvre Museum in Paris, France in 1824; Prince Yusupov, a Russian nobleman acquired the second version of the piece from Canova in Rome in 1796, and it later entered the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg.
The plaster cast for this later version is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. For the development of the composition, a modello was used by Canova from which other versions were later made, with small differences between each version. A modello for Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss is shown in Hugh Douglas Hamilton’s 1788-89 pastel of Antonio Canova and Henry Tresham with a Model for Cupid and Psyche.

The sculpture department comprises work created before 1850 that does not belong in the Etruscan, Greek, and Roman department. The Louvre has been a repository of sculpted material since its time as a palace; however, only ancient architecture was displayed until 1824, except for Michelangelo's Dying Slave and Rebellious Slave. Initially the collection included only 100 pieces, the rest of the royal sculpture collection being at Versailles.
It remained small until 1847, when Léon Laborde was given control of the department. Laborde developed the medieval section and purchased the first such statues and sculptures in the collection, King Childebert and stanga door, respectively. The collection was part of the Department of Antiquities but was given autonomy in 1871 under Louis Courajod, a director who organized a wider representation of French works.

In 1986, all post-1850 works were relocated to the new Musée d'Orsay. The Grand Louvre project separated the department into two exhibition spaces; the French collection is displayed in the Richelieu wing, and foreign works in the Denon wing.
In this 21st century The Musée du Louvre contains more than 380,000 objects and displays 35,000 works of art in eight curatorial departments with more than 60,600 square metres dedicated to the permanent collection. The Louvre exhibits sculptures, objets d'art, paintings, drawings, and archaeological finds. It is the world's most visited museum, averaging 15,000 visitors per day, 65 percent of whom are foreign tourists.

After architects Mario Bellini and Rudy Ricciotti had won an international competition to create its new galleries for Islamic art, the new 3,000 sq m pavilion eventually opened in 2012, consisting of ground- and lower-ground-level interior spaces topped by a golden, undulating roof (fashioned from almost 9,000 steel tubes that form an interior web) that seems to float within the neo-Classical Visconti Courtyard in the middle of the Louvre’s south wing. The galleries, which the museum had initially hoped to open by 2009, represent the first major architectural intervention at the Louvre since the addition of I.M. Pei’s glass pyramid in 1989.
In 2004, French officials decided to build a satellite museum on the site of an abandoned coal pit in the former mining town of Lens to relieve the crowded Paris Louvre, increase total museum visits, and improve the industrial north's economy. Six cities were considered for the project: Amiens, Arras, Boulogne-sur-Mer, Calais, Lens, and Valenciennes. In 2004, French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin chose Lens to be the site of the new building, called Le Louvre-Lens.

Japanese architects SANAA were selected to design the Lens project in 2005. Museum officials predicted that the new building, capable of receiving about 600 works of art, would attract up to 500,000 visitors a year when it opened in 2012.









3. Notre-Dame Cathedral


Notre-Dame de Paris, French for "Our Lady of Paris", is a historic Catholic cathedral on the eastern half of the Île de la Cité in the fourth arrondissement of Paris, France. The cathedral is widely considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture and among the largest and most well-known church buildings in the world. The naturalism of its sculptures and stained glass are in contrast with earlier Romanesque architecture.

As the cathedral of the Archdiocese of Paris, Notre-Dame is the parish that contains the cathedra, or official chair, of the archbishop of Paris, currently Archbishop André Vingt-Trois. The cathedral treasury is notable for its reliquary which houses some of Catholicism's most important first-class relics including the purported Crown of Thorns, a fragment of the True Cross, and one of the Holy Nails.

Paris's splendid Gothic cathedral begun in 1163 (and finished 87 years later); sculpted doors; huge 13th-century southern rose window; flying buttresses; grand organ that plays every Sunday afternoon at 4:30 except during Lent. Fee for 255-step climb up bell tower for city view.



4. Quai Branly Museum


The Quai Branly Museum is a museum in Paris that features indigenous art, cultures and civilizations from Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas. The MQB building was designed by architect Jean Nouvel. The "green wall" (200m long by 12m high) on part of the exterior of the museum was designed and planted by Gilles Clément and Patrick Blanc. The museum complex contains several buildings, as well as a multimedia library and a garden. The museum's frontage facing onto quai Branly features very tall glass paneling which allows its interior gardens to be remarkably quiet only metres from the busy street in front of them.

Stunning collection of indigenous artifacts, a veritable Louvre of non-Western art; opened in June 2006 in a new garden-wrapped building designed by Jean Nouvel. Remarkable details in the exhibits and architecture; don't miss the beautiful Siberian skirt made of fish skins, or the ceilings in the bookshop building decorated by Aboriginal artists.




5. Sainte Chapelle


La Sainte-Chapelle, The Holy Chapel, is a royal medieval Gothic chapel, located near the Palais de la Cité, on the Île de la Cité in the heart of Paris, France. Begun some time after 1239 and consecrated on 26 April 1248, the Sainte-Chapelle is considered among the highest achievements of the Rayonnant period of Gothic architecture. Its erection was commissioned by King Louis IX of France to house his collection of Passion Relics, including Christ's Crown of Thorns one of the most important relics in medieval Christendom.

Soaring stained glass held in place by the most fragile of stone frameworks; 13th century artisans knew a thing or two about the sublime. With the Palais de la Cité, today called La Conciergerie, the Sainte-Chapelle is one of the surviving buildings of the Capetian royal palace on the Île de la Cité. Although damaged during the French revolution, and restored in the 19th century, it retains one of the most extensive in position collections of 13th century stained glass anywhere in the world.


6. Musee de l'Orangerie


The Musée de l'Orangerie is an art gallery of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings located in the west corner of the Tuileries Gardens next to the Place de la Concorde in Paris. Though most famous for being the permanent home for eight Water Lilies murals by Claude Monet, the museum also contains works by Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Amedeo Modigliani, Pablo Picasso, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Henri Rousseau, among others.

You won't expecting the magnificent display of Monet's Nympheaus. Absolutely stunning. You may think it'll be a series of rectangular pictures.  Instead, you'll find yourselves on a round room with 4 extraordinarily large pictures bathed in natural light. A cycle of Monet's water-lily paintings, known as the Nymphéas, was arranged on the ground floor of the Orangerie in 1927. They are available under direct diffused light as was originally intended by Monet. The eight paintings are displayed in two oval rooms all along the walls.

The Kiss is an 1889 marble sculpture by the French sculptor Auguste Rodin. The embracing couple depicted in the sculpture appeared originally as part of a group of reliefs decorating Rodin's monumental bronze portal The Gates of Hell, commissioned for a planned museum.

7. Luxembourg Gardens


The Luxembourg Gardens is the second largest public park in Paris 224,500 m² (22.5 hectares) located in the 6th arrondissement of Paris, France. The park is the garden of the French Senate, which is itself housed in the Luxembourg Palace.  These formal gardens, open to only royalty before the French Revolution, now serve as one of Paris's most popular destinations for relaxation. 

The garden is largely devoted to a green parterre of gravel and lawn populated with statues and centred on a large octagonal basin of water, with a central jet of water; in it children sail model boats. The garden is famed for its calm atmosphere. Surrounding the bassin on the raised balustraded terraces are a series of statues of former French queens, saints and copies after the Antique. In the southwest corner, there is an orchard of apple and pear trees and the théâtre des marionettes (puppet theatre). The gardens include a large fenced-in playground for young children and their parents and a vintage carousel. The Medici Fountain was built in 1630 by Marie de' Medici, the widow of King Henry IV of France and regent of King Louis XIII of France.


8. The Musée d'Orsay


The Musée d'Orsay is a museum in Paris on the left bank of the Seine. It is housed in the former Gare d'Orsay, a Beaux-Arts railway station built between 1898 and 1900. The museum holds mainly French art dating from 1848 to 1915, including paintings, sculptures, furniture, and photography. It houses the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces in the world, by painters including Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Seurat, Sisley, Gauguin and Van Gogh. Many of these works were held at the Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume prior to the museum's opening in 1986.

Musee d'Orsay is not to be missed, even if you "know nothing" about art.  The museum boasts the best collection of Impressionist paintings in the world.   In room after room, some of the most famous paintings in the world are side by side. You will definitely recognize these paintings, enjoy seeing them in this spectacular high ceilinged, bright, former railway station, and will be awed.  All the famous (& notorious) artists are represented here: Jean-Francois Millet, Gustave Courbet, Edouard Manet, Edgar Degas, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Alfred Sisley, Vincent van Gogh, Paul Cezanne, Paul Gauguin, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Auguste Rodin & his muse and Camille Claudel.

Tip: This is a don't miss spot in Paris.



9. Palais Garnier


The Palais Garnier is a 1,979-seat opera house, which was built from 1861 to 1875 for the Paris Opera. It was originally called the Salle des Capucines because of its location on the Boulevard des Capucines in the 9th arrondissement of Paris, but soon became known as the Palais Garnier in recognition of its opulence and its architect, Charles Garnier. The theatre is also often referred to as the Opéra Garnier, and historically was known as the Opéra de Paris or simply the Opéra, as it was the primary home of the Paris Opera and its associated Paris Opera Ballet until 1989, when the Opéra Bastille opened at the Place de la Bastille. The Paris Opera now mainly uses the Palais Garnier for ballet.

The Palais Garnier is "probably the most famous opera house in the world, a symbol of Paris like Notre Dame Cathedral, the Louvre, or the Sacré Coeur Basilica." This is at least partly due to its use as the setting for Gaston Leroux's 1910 novel The Phantom of the Opera and, especially, the novel's subsequent adaptations in film and on stage.

10. Pont Alexandre III

Pont Alexandre III is an arch bridge that spans the Seine, connecting the Champs-Élysées quarter and the Invalides and Eiffel Tower Quarter, regarded by many as one of the prettiest in Paris.

The bridge, with its exuberant Art Nouveau lamps, cherubs, nymphs and winged horses at either end, was built between 1896 and 1900. It was named after Tsar Alexander III (father of Nicholas II) of Russia who laid the foundation stone in October 1896. The style of the bridge reflects that of the Grand Palais, to which it leads on the right bank.

The construction of the bridge is a marvel of 19th century engineering, consisting of a 6m high single span steel arch. The design was subject to strict controls that prevented the bridge from obscuring the view of the Champs-Élysées or the Invalides.

The bridge was built by the engineers Résal and Alby and inaugurated in 1900 for the Universal Exhibition. Classified as historical monument, four gold-covered bronze statues hover over the bridge, on the top of 17 meter columns, representing "Renommées" standing close to Pegasus.

Numerous sculptors provided the sculpture that features prominently in the bridge. Four gilt-bronze statues of Fames watch over the bridge, supported on massive 17-meter socles, that provide stabilizing counterweight for the arch, without interfering with monumental views. The socles are crowned by Fames restraining Pegasus : on the Right Bank, Renommée des Sciences ("Fame of the Sciences") and the Renommée des Arts ("Fame of the Arts") both by Emmanuel Frémiet; at their bases, La France Contemporaine ("Contemporary France") by Gustave Michel and France de Charlemagne ("France of Charlemagne") by Alfred Lenoir.

The lions groups are by Georges Gardet.
On the Left Bank, the Renommée du Commerce ("Fame of Commerce") by Pierre Granet and the Renommée de l'Industrie ("Fame of Industry") by Clément Steiner; at their bases France de la Renaissance ("France of the Renaissance") by Jules Coutan and La France de Louis XIV ("France of Louis XIV") by Laurent Marqueste. The lions groups are by Jules Dalou.






Stay safe 

Paris is generally considered to be one of the safer cities in Europe and a very safe one to visit, and most travelers will not run into any problems. The biggest problem one may face while in Paris is pickpockets and scammers, of which there are many. Many perpetrators aim to be undetected, so direct confrontation and muggings are uncommon. Violent crime is very rare, especially in the city center. The police can be reached by phone by dialing 17. Not all police officers speak English, but those found around main attractions areas usually do. The police pride themselves on being approachable and professional and will be more than willing to help you.

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