City Hopper: Paris, France
Next in my City Hopper series I find myself in Paris. Paris is, of course, the capital of France and is also located on the river Seine. It’s motto is “Fluctuat nec mergitur” which translated means “It is tossed by the waves, but does not sink”. Paris is also one of the most populated metropolitan areas in Europe as well.
Paris is one of the world’s leading business and cultural centers and is considered one of the greenest and most livable cities in Europe but it is also one of the most expensive as well. It also has 17 universities and 55 grandes ecoles which makes Paris have the highest concentration of higher education students in the European Union. Paris is also the most visited city in the world with 3,800 historical monuments and 4 UNESCO World Heritage Sites to boot!
Among the many, many sites to see there’s, of course, the Eiffel Tower which has practically become the symbol of Paris; the Louvre; the Arc du Triumphe; the Champs du Elysees; the Sacre Coeur and so much more!
Construction on the Sacre Coeur Basilica began in 1875 and it was finished in 1914. It was consecrated after the end of WWI in 1919. It was built of travertine stone and because of that this stone constantly exudes calcite which ensures that it remains white even with weathering and pollution. It’s a beautiful sight to see and should definitely be at the top of your list when visiting Paris.
The Musee du Louvre is one of the largest museums in the world, is the most visited museum in the world and is a historic monument as well. It’s a central landmark that has been in many movies including the DaVinci Code with Tom Hanks. It contains nearly 35,000 items from pre-history to the 19th Century so if you’re planning a visit (and you should) give this one at least a full day to take in so that you can really enjoy it.
Another ‘must see’ is Château de Versailles. Although slightly outside of Paris it has a very big place in French history not to mention the fact that the architecture is amazing. The court of Versailles was the center of political power in France from 1682, when Louis XIV moved from Paris, until the royal family was forced to return to the capital in October 1789 after the beginning of the French Revolution.
In 1575 Louis XIII was invited on several hunting trips in the forests surrounding the village of Versailles. He liked the area so much he had a hunting lodge built there in 1624. When his successor Louis XIV took over he had the hunting lodge expanded into one of the largest palaces in the world and thereafter in 1682 moved his residence and the court out of Paris to Versailles.
As if the palace itself wasn’t enough to see, the gardens on the west side of the palace cover over 800 hectares of land and contain beautifully manicured grounds, flowers, sculptures and fountains that are absolutely incredible!
The best time to come see the gardens in full regalia is from late spring to early autumn but any time you can get to Versailles is a good time.
When you start to get tired and hungry one of the things that you must do at least once a day (more if you should feel so inclined) is pick one of the many French cafes and while you’re eating your croissant and drinking your coffee you can relax and people watch.
The fact is that there so much to do here in Paris that one blog can’t do it justice. So when you decide to plan your visit here I suggest you make it at least a week if you want to hit all the museums and historical monuments in town. If you don’t, prepare for a marathon of activity to get in all the sights.
See you next time!