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Among the various bridges spanning the Seine, the Pont des Arts is without doubt one of the most romantic, its all-metal structure providing a link between the Louvre and the L'Institut de France. This delightful little footbridge, built during the 18th Century, has always been a pedestrian bridge. Originally, a tollgate was installed at each end, ensuring that access was only given to the upper classes. The bridge faced destruction during the world wars, however, in 1981, it was restored to its former glory.
The geometrical lines of the carrés de la perspective garden greet visitors upon entering the Jardin des Plantes with marvelous effects of perspective created through careful planning and maintenance. In the 65-acre (26-hectare) botanical garden, bejeweled by flowerbeds, you'll find several attractions, including an alpine garden, a greenhouse split between a tropical winter garden, a Mexican desert ecosystem, and a rose and iris garden. Also visit the small zoo and explore one of the museums on site, which include the Grande Galerie de l'Evolution and the Galerie de Paléontologie. The garden was first created in 1635 by Louis XIII's physician Guy de la Brosse to illustrate plants' medicinal properties to medical students. It opened to the public in 1640.
The Jardin des Tuileries was commissioned by Queen Catherine de Médicis and created in 1564 as the gardens adorning the Tuileries Palace. After the French Revolution, the park was opened to the public and has been a favorite spot for romantic walks and family outings ever since. The beautiful garden spreads out from the Louvre to Place de la Concorde. A sculpture garden called Le Grand Couvert houses some very famous sculptures nestled between the park's mature trees. With its beautiful flowerbeds and a gorgeous terrace that overlooks the Seine, the garden is an ideal place to take a stroll with your sweetheart or enjoy a picnic with friends.
Le Mur des Je T'aime is a perfect piece of public art for the lovely Montmartre district, subverting the restrictive power of its medium to send a strong international message of togetherness. Designed by Frederick Baron and Claire Kito, this mirrored black wall contains over 300 declarations of love in 250 languages, creating the perfect romantic rendezvous for traveling couples or new-formed flings. An understated attraction in Paris's oldest neighborhood, Le Mur des Je T'aime is a pleasant stop on a romantic stroll.
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.
Stretching for two kilometers (one mile) and lined with trees, les Champs-Élysées has become the center for festivities and official parades in Paris. The avenue was originally created in 1667 by André Le Nôtre, Louis XIV's gardener, in order to improve the view from the Jardin des Tuileries and its palace. The avenue was lengthened at the end of the 18th Century to run from the Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe. Today, this famous boulevard is a magnet for tourists and for the multitudes who enjoy evenings spent strolling along the broad and picturesque street. The many cinemas, cafés, and restaurants tempt visitors to rest their legs for a few hours, tired from walking by the designer boutiques, banks, and embassies also situated in this chic neighborhood.
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.
Indisputably one of the most opulent buildings, the Palace of Versailles is the epitome of French royalty. Louis XIV commissioned architects Louis Le Vau and Jules Hardouin to build the Château de Versailles in 1664, on the site of his father's small hunting lodge. It became one of the largest palaces in Europe, accommodating up to 20,000 courtiers at a time. The interiors are extravagant and the highlights include the Royal Apartments and the world renowned Hall of Mirrors. The Grand Trianon (1687) and the Petit Trianon (1762) are also in the park. In the year 1919, the Hall of Mirrors played a significant role in world politics for being the place where the Treaty of Versailles was signed. An outstanding exemplar of the French Baroque architecture to this day, this UNESCO World Heritage Site palace enthralls visitors with its opulence and legends.