Things To Do in Paris: The City of Light

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Paris the national capital of France has been a site for human habitation since 7,600 BCE. It is a centre for business and commerce, for gastronomy and haute couture, for education, the arts, sculpture, architecture, literature, political thought, and environmental awareness. It has rightly been given the sobriquet ‘La Ville Lumiere’ or the City of Light. It is also known as Gay Paris for its vibrant, entertaining and exciting night life.

Visitors to Paris are spoiled for choice there is so much to see and do. One must choose carefully in order to make the best use of available time and more importantly available funds.

Museums:

Musee du Louvre: This is the largest and most diverse museum in the world. It houses over 35,000 works of art, which read as a history of human civilization. The works come from Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia and Greece. Masterpieces by Rembrandt, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo are also on display. An exhaustive tour of the museum would take at least four months; art lovers must plan their visit carefully.

Musee Rodin: The museum houses the entire collection of Rodin’s work that the sculptor donated to the French Government. The most famous being The Thinker, The Gates of Hell and The Kiss.

Musee de Orsay: This museum is located in the former Gare d’Orsay railway station. Works of art from the impressionist, post- impressionist and art nouveau periods, spanning the period 1840 to 1914, can be viewed here. Visitors can delight in Monet’s and Manet’s, Cezanne’s, Renoir’s, Van Gogh’s and many other masters.

The Army Museum is housed in the main building of the Hotel de Invalides built by Louis XIV for wounded soldiers. Napoleon’s tomb stands at the entrance. This is one of the best military museums in the world.

Musee Marmottan Monet has the largest collection of works by the impressionist painter Claude Monet (1840 to 1926). Paintings by Gauguin, Renoir, Pissarro, Degas and others are also displayed.

Musee Picasso houses 5000 drawings, engravings, paintings, ceramic works and sculptures of Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

Monuments

The Eiffel Tower: This iconic symbol of Paris is a must visit for all tourists. Getting to the top is expensive and can be done either by stairs or elevator. Elevator bookings need to be done about three months in advance. Once you get to the top if it is a clear day a spectacular view of Paris awaits. You can see 80 km in all directions. If the tickets are too expensive picnicking on the lawn is also a great experience. Ice skating and restaurants are available on the first level.

Arc de Triomphe: Also a symbol of Paris this monument was built in 1836 to commemorate Napoleon’s victory at Austerlitz. Beneath the arch lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. At eternal flame burns here in honour of the 1.3 million French soldiers who died in the First World War. The flame is rekindled at six thirty every evening.

Pompidou Centre: This quirky building was designed by Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano. Built in honour of President Georges Pompidou (1969 to 1974), the building celebrates all things modern. The Gallery of Modern Art has works of Chagall who illustrated the children’s classics of Jean de la Fontaine. An Interactive Galarie des Enfants encourages children to explore the artist within them.

Tours

Paris by Mouth is a food tour of the cheese, chocolate, pastries and wine of Paris

Biking Tours are conducted daily and also by night. Fitted with a bicycle you are taken on a magical trip through the streets of this historic city.

Others

The Notre Dame Cathedral with its remains of the Roman city of Lutstia

The Catacombs with 600 skeletal bones and skulls arranged in bizarre patterns

Cimetiere du Pere Lachaise famous for the ornate headstones of the rich and famous

Jardin des Plantes with its Natural History Museum and Zoo

Rue Mouffetard for cakes, cheese and ice-cream

Opera Garnier for classic ballet and the Marco Chagall ceiling frescoes

Opera Bastille for its modern architecture and modern works of music and dance

Vivant for creamy burratte, crispy duck leg, foie gras, roasted onion and natural wine, by Pierre Jancon

Innumerable Bars and cocktail lounges, luxurious like La Magnifique and the Ritz bar, intellectual like the Hemingway bar, and even spiritual like the Buddha Bar.

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