The City of Light
Paris, France is known as the "la Ville-Lumière", or the "City of Light". This nick-name once referred to the city's position as an intellectual hub during the Age of Enlightenment. However, Paris was also among the first cities to light its streets with gas lamps. Today, the name "City of Light" refers to the impression that the city luminesces, both with natural light by day and city lights by night.
Paris has been inhabited for well over 2,000 years, and has been called "Paris" since the 5th century. It was the largest city in the western world, prior to 1800, for over 1,000 years. Today it is a thriving city of over 2 million people, not counting the suburbs, and a major European center for business, commerce and tourism, It is an amazingly beautiful city, and there are endless attractions to explore for the visitor.
Eiffel Tower and Cruise on the Seine
Of course, every visitor to Paris will want to see the Eiffel Tower! The Eiffel tower was completed in 1889 and is made primarily of iron, which is painted dark brown. Gustave Eiffel was the man who designed and built the tower, which now serves as radio tower, observation tower and tourist attraction. It is approximately 324 meters/984 feet tall and there are 1665 stairs to the top. Of course, you can take the elevator, and the views from the top are spectacular, with the Seine river flowing below, and the breadth of Paris spread out in an elegant tableau.
Once you've seen the Seine river, which divides the city of Paris in two, you may want to take a cruise along the river to enjoy a unique view of the city. This trip is especially memorable at sunset, when pastel colors spread across the sky, or after dark, when Paris is lit by millions of lights. Drinks and food are served on the cruises, and guests are treated to music which floats out over the river into the night air.
There are dozens of churches and cathedrals, monuments and fountains, museums and examples of varied architecture throughout the city of Paris. Below are some can't-be-missed sights to be sure you visit while in the city:
There are plenty of things to do for free!
And there are lots of ways to enjoy Paris with the kids!
(click on photos below descriptions to enlarge)
Notre Dame - Impressive example of French gothic architecture, with soaring ceilings and beautiful stained glass windows. The exterior is as stunning as the interior, a photographer's dream. Be sure to buy a little guide so that you don't miss anything, as the cathedral is so intricate and has many things to see that you can overlook if you don't know what to look for.
Arc de Triomphe - Commissioned by Napoleon in 1806 to commemorate his victories, the Arc de Triomphe is adorned with reliefs depicting the many victorious battles of the famous emperor. It is situated in the midst of a busy street, so be sure to take an underpass to see it. From the top, you will have a wonderful view of the surrounding areas, including the famous Champs-Elysées and Sacré-Coeur.
Champs-Elysées - The major shopping district in Paris, a shoppers paradise! This prestigious avenue is lined with luxury shops, top notch fashion shops, as well as cafés, theatres and cinemas. Don't miss the gardens, les Jardins des Champs-Elysées, which are beautifully laid out, with fountains and several gorgeous buildings worth seeing.
Louvre - Premier museum of Paris, this vast collection of art is a feast for the eye and a must-see for art lovers and anyone who appreciates the fine arts. It is impossible to see everything in one day, or even two or three, so investigate ahead of time to decide which sections of the Louvre you most want to see. Most people want to be sure to see the Mona Lisa, for example, so you may want to start your visit there, and then hook up with a tour, or explore on your own.
Jardin du Luxembourg - The most beautiful park in Paris, this is a do-not-miss, especially if you visit Paris in nice weather. Gardens, fountains, ponds, staues, and amusements for children can be found throughout the park. You can find a chair and position it wherever you like within the park to enjoy the gardens or do some people watching.
Check out this quick photographic tour of the city of light!
So much to see!
Some words you can use!
While in Paris, you'll want to be able to converse at least a bit with the Parisiens. Below you will find Lesson Two of my lessons in basic French. These are useful words and phrases that may come in handy during your visit in Paris. To learn basic greetings in French, try Lesson One first!
Some useful words and phrases in French - listen and repeat!