Underneath the glaze of the Parisian sky, the Eiffel Tower captures the dazzling spirit of its French capital. A magnificent wrought iron lattice tower that was originally built as an entrance to the 1889 World's Fair, the tower was designed by Gustave Eiffel after his inspiration was fueled by the pyramidal form of Egypt's historic landmarks. This comparison was met with ardent disapproval from several eminent Frenchmen before the tower came to be the celebrated global icon that it is known as today. At a stunning height of 324 meters (1,063 feet), the Eiffel Tower dominates the skyline as the city's tallest, and the country's second-tallest freestanding structure. Its majestic form sports three shades – darkest at the lowest level and colored in a light contrast as the tower ambles up to the top – an illusory mechanism adopted so as to complement its surroundings. The Eiffel Tower is one of the most winning sights in all of France, and even after more than a century, people continue to extol this monumental symbol of architectural beauty.
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 by 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.
Famous for housing the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Arc de Triomphe is a site of memories, current events, and celebrations. Construction of the Arc de Triomphe began in 1806 and was completed thirty years later. 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. 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. A closer look at the arc reveals six evocative reliefs carved into its historic facade, portraying key highlights and events that transpired during the French Revolution and Napoleon's reign.
The Romano-Byzantine Sacre Coeur Basilica overlooks Montmartre, one of Paris's most picturesque districts. Its distinctive travertine stone dome rises up over the rooftops, allowing visitors to the basilica the perfect vantage point from which to survey the city. Within Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, often called Sacré-Cœur, visitors will find several interesting sites, including a mosaic of Christ, an elegant organ constructed by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll, and a crypt. Commissioned by the Catholic Church, construction began in 1875 under the watchful eye of architect Paul Abadie, and was finally completed in 1914.
Palais Garnier, named after the architect who designed it in 1862, was immortalized by writer Gaston Leroux in his book Phantom of the Opera. The architecture is a mixture of baroque, classical, Greek and Napoléonic styles. Adorned with mosaics, the foyer has a cupola decorated by painter Marc Chagall and an impressive Rococo staircase, which leads to the theater's magnificent reception rooms. Outside, four stone statues represent allegories of Music, Lyric Poetry, Lyric Theater, and Dance. Since the opening of the Opéra Bastille, the Palais Garnier has concentrated on dance.
Completed in 1989, Louvre Pyramid marks the entrance to the world-famous Louvre Museum. The stunning architectural monument was dreamed up by Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei who is also famous for designing the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, the east building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Miho Museum in Japan. The pyramid reached a height of 21.6 meters (71 feet) and is flanked by other, smaller pyramids. Built completely out of glass panes held together by metallic poles, the pyramid has become one of the most recognizable and iconic structures not only in Paris, but also globally. A gateway to one of the biggest art museums, the Louvre Pyramid is thronged by tourists.
Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant is the heart of the Disneyland Park in Paris. It is the counterpart to the original Sleeping Beauty Castle in the California Disneyland. The creation of the castle was a massive project. Inspiration was drawn from a Monastery of Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy, as well as the fanciful illustrations in the Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry. The authenticity is apparent in the structure with its towers and turrets, tapestries and colored glass. Peter Chapman, who had formerly worked on the restoration of Notre Dame, was in charge of the installation of the stained-glass windows.
Located in Meaux, a small town just outside of Paris, Meaux Cathedral stands against the test of time. After over three centuries of construction, the cathedral was finally completed in the 16th Century. Due to its lengthy span of construction, visitors can see multiple periods of Gothic architecture under one roof. The spacious interior rises nearly 30 feet (9 meters) and also features an organ dating back to the 17th Century. Meaux Cathedral is truly a sight to see.
Established in the 16th Century by a certain Antoine de Brennes is the Chateau de Gregy, which is now a ruined and dilapidated structure. The castle is located in the village of Seine-et-Marne, France and was rebuilt in the 19th Century by Antoine de Clairambault to add a few elements and a north wing. After him, the castle was owned by Ogden Codman, Jr., who was a renowned architect and decorator from America.
Château de Grosbois is a beautiful castle located in France. It can be dated back to the 17th Century and the architecture draws great influence from the designs of Jacques Androuet du Cerceau. There are three bridges that lead to the castle and it also features a moat. The castle attracts those who have a liking for history or architecture and is open to public visitation all round the year.
Villepinte is a commune and a suburb of Paris that is bountifully endowed with reminders of its historic and cultural heritage, yet is home to a modern community that is geared towards the future. From historic churches to magnificent mansions, architecture aficionados and history buffs are sure to find much to pique their interest here. Located within easy reach of the Charles de Gaulle Airport, and serviced by major highways and railways, Villepinte has quickly come to be a destination of choice for international businesses and travelers who are drawn by the commune's proximity to the Paris city center. A major attraction is the Paris-Nord Villepinte Exposition Center that hosts large-scale conferences and prominent events that attract participants from all over the world. Its proximity to the airport also means that accommodation is easy to find.