DISCOVER THE SITES AND NEIGHBORHOODS OF PARIS
Paris is a city with an amazing history.
Traces of this history can still be found going back to the 3rd century BC. The city was founded by the Celtic "Parisii" tribe that helped give Paris it's name. It should not be surprising that the important Paris monuments are numerous, and varied in period and style. There are areas of the city that still contain Roman-era ruins. From the Middle Ages to the post-World War II memorials, these famous Paris monuments are essential keys to understanding the city's rich and complicated past.
The Cathedral of Notre Dame
is possibly the most famous Gothic church. This year the cathedral is celebrating it's 850th birthday. Located on the Île de la Cité where one can find the bronze marker "point zero". This is where all distance in France would once be measured. This shows us the importance of the cathedral locationed in the center of Paris. Notre-Dame is also close the the monuments of Ste. Chapelle and la Conciergerie. The Conciergerie is where Queen Marie-Antoinette would spend her final days during the French Revolution. A veneration of The Crown of Thorns is celebrated at Notre Dame on the first Friday of each month and also every Friday during the season of Lent.
The Arc de Triomphe
is one of the most famous landmarks in the city of Paris and the world. Construction was begun in 1806 under the order of Napoleon Bonaparte to honor the victories of this Grande Armée. Every evening the flame is lit on the tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I, the Great War. It was the scene of the U.S. troops liberating Paris and a symbol of victory for all French troops and veterans. The terrace offers a wonderful view both day and night across the city and the famous avenue des Champs-Élysées.
The Opera Garnier
is an imposing structure with seating for 2,200 people. It is also known as the Palais Garnier or simply the Paris Opera. This architectural treasure was designed by architect Charles Garnier under the second Empire being inaugurated in 1875 as the Academie Nationale de Musique -Theatre de l'Opera (National Academy of Music - Opera Theater). In stark contrast to the modern National Opera Bastilles, this building would inspire the book The Phantom of the Opera (Le Fantôme de l'Opéra, 1911) written by Gaston Leroux. This has been made into several films an stage productions including the 1984 musical.
is a neoclassical structure built originally as a church to be dedicated to Saint-Geneviève between 1758 and 1790. At the time of the French Revolution it would be renamed the Pantheon. It now functions as a secular mausoleum containing the remains of distinguished citizens of France. "Aux Grands Hommes la Patrie Reonnaissante" (To the Great Men, the Grateful Homeland) marks the front of this building. Among the great men (and woman) included are: Voltaire, Rousseau, Jean Moulin, Marie Curie, Victor Hugo, Émile Zola, Louis Braille, and Alexander Dumas.
is a vast complex built as a hospital, and convalescent home for injured soldiers under the reign of Louis XIV. A part of les Invalides continues this role today. It is most famous for housing the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte. The remains of Napoleon would be brought from Saint-Helena in 1840. Some members of Napoleon's family, several military officers who served under him, and other French military heroes are also buried here at Les Invalides. The onsite Musée de l'Armée (Army Museum) also boasts a vast collection of military artifacts including armor of ancient wars to the modern World Wars.
and the gardens of the Palais Royal are located across from the Louvre Museum. This Renaissance style palace was once the residence of Cardinal Richelieu. The gardens behind the palace is occupied today by luxury boutiques and restaurants. It is also the residents of several government offices including the Minister of Culture. For centuries the pavilions around the gardens of the Palais Royal would be a center of royal amusement. French playwright Molière occupied a theatre that once stood here with his troupe. The Comédie-Française makes its home here and is also known as the Théâtre de la République and La maison de Molière. The French Revolution started within the gardens when Camille Desmoulins leapt onto a table outside a cafe here. Just two days later the citizens would storm the Bastilles prison marking the start of the French Revolution.
Sacre-Coeur and the neighborhood of Montmartre
Sitting atop the highest point in Paris in the neighborhood of Montmartre, this basilica's foundations were begun at the end of the 19th century. Construction was completed in 1914. Standing in front of Sacre-Coeur or from the top of it's dome, one can see a spectacular view down through the center of Paris. Just around the corner from the basilica you will find what was the heart of the former village of Montmartre. The artistic traditions of this neighborhood continues in the old town square, the Place du Tertre.
The Eiffel Tower
One of the world's most famous monuments, the Eiffel Tower was built for the 1889 world exhibition in Paris. This tower would demonstrate the capabilities of modern engineering. It would remain the worlds tallest man-made structure until the construction of the Chrysler building in New York City in 1929. Elevators take visitors to the three levels to see the view over the city of Paris. The lines for the elevators can be quite long. It is now possible to pre-puchase tickets for the elevators at the Eiffel Tower website: www.tour-eiffel.fr