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Climbing the stairwell to the top of this masterpiece is well worth the effort for the spectacular view. Construction of this great Gothic cathedral began in 1163 and was largely completed by 1212. The rebuilding of the two transept gates in 1270 marked its completion. The west face is adorned with three richly decorated doorways and crowned with two 69-meter (226-feet) tall towers. The Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris houses some of Catholicism's most famous relics, including a piece of the Holy Cross and the purported Crown of Thorns. The cathedral has figured in many works of fiction, including Victor Hugo's classic The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
The Louvre Museum houses one of the largest collections of artwork and antiquities in the world. The museum is located inside the Louvre Palace, which was constructed in the 12th-Century as a fortress Philip II. After Louis XIV decided to move his court to Versailles, the palace was occupied by a variety of institutions related to the arts. The museum was first opened under the National Assembly in 1793. The establishment is separated into sections, including drawing, painting and sculpture, and houses antiquities from Egypt, Rome, Greece, and several other cultures. Visitors to the museum can explore its many wings and see famous works like the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, and Liberty Leading the People.
Nearly 2.5 million visitors each year come to see Musée d'Orsay's mammoth collection of French art The building itself, called the Gare d'Orsay, was built as a railway station in 1900; the principal gallery of the ground floor, 138 meters long (453 feet) and 32 meters tall (105 feet), is a reminder of the building's history. Among the masterpieces in this gallery are the scandalous Enterrement à Ornans by Gustave Courbet and the glaneuses by Jean-François Millet. Fans of impressionism should head directly up to the fifth floor, where works by the greatest masters of this genre can be found.
Take a trip to the beautiful gardens of Tuileries, where the Orangerie Museum is located. The museum stocks a host of famous and fabulous artists such as Cezanne, Matisse, Picasso and Henri Rousseau. All the artwork in the museum was handed over by Jean Walter and Paul Guillaume, two art fanatics who have ensured that all these works are exhibited together, so that the public can appreciate them in all their glory. There is a surprise in the basement: the Oval Room, which houses some of Monet's Water-Lily paintings on permanent display. Another surprise awaiting you is the La Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, which is a twin tower of the Orangerie.
In 1810, the Montrouge stone quarries became catacombs. Because of a lack of space in the graveyards of Paris, it is here, 20 meters (65 feet) underground, that the remains of six million Parisians are exhibited. These ossuaries, illustrated by texts, create a chilling atmosphere and describe some of the events in the history of Paris, giving visitors substance for meditation. During World War II, this network of galleries was used as a hideaway for the Résistance movement; its vastness and the discretion of its entrances were great assets indeed. Today, these subterranean passages allow visitors to explore the true underground of Paris; a must-visit!
The Eiffel Tower, Paris' most iconic landmark, is the most-visited paid monument in the world. Designed by Gustave Eiffel for the 1889 World Fair, at 324 meters (1,063 ft) the wrought iron lattice tower is the second tallest structure in France. Its construction was initially met with criticism, and some Parisians even considered it an eye sore, but today it stands as a beloved French icon. The tower is composed of three levels that can be reached by visitors. The first and second levels house restaurants, while the third and tallest level offers jaw-dropping views of la belle Paris in all its glory. Â
Famous for housing the tomb of the unknown soldier, the Arc de Triomphe is a site of memories, current events and celebrations. The lists of the dead will move you, while the cars that drive around the monument will terrify you! Standing in a direct line between the Louvre and the Grande Arche de la Défense, the monument links the past with the present and offers amazing views of the city from atop the arch. Construction of the Arc de Triomphe began in 1806 and was completed thirty years later. Many of France's famous leaders, dictators, writers, and artists have passed under its arch on the way to their final resting place, including Napoleon and Victor Hugo. Â
Parc de la Villette is spread over three kilometers (one-and-a-half miles), is first and foremost a park where both children and parents can play and relax. With its wooded glens, a canal winding through the lawns, staircases climbing up the hillsides to lovely views, and flat lots for roller blading, this place is very popular on sunny Sundays. Children of all ages are invited to unleash their imaginations here: dragon gardens, astounding acrobatics, gentle dunes, and rolling fog set the stage. Linger for awhile in the Bamboo Garden to hear the wind blowing through these enormous grasses and imagine you are surrounded by jungle!
Parc de la Villette is the setting for this huge science museum best known for its Géode dome and impressive 180-degree cinema. Natural and scientific phenomena are explained with the help of exhibitions in an area specially designed with kids in mind. Children aged three and over can visit a real submarine, the Argonaute, and find out how it works; temporary exhibitions are organized in Espace Explora.