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.
Perched elegantly on Île de la Cité, Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris is as arresting as it is imposing. One look at the spellbinding architectural details, both inside and out, and you'll understand why it took nearly a century to complete, beginning 1160. Two monumental towers rise from it's western facade, marking the most intricately adorned portion of the cathedral. As a bonus, visitors can climb the 380 odd steps leading to the top of the towers for arguable the best views of the Parisian cityscape. Highlight of the cathedral's interiors are most certainly, the beautifully vivid rose windows in stained glass. History enthusiasts can also check out the archaeological crypt that exhibits interesting relics found in Paris. Considered to be a masterpiece of French Gothic architecture, Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris is deservedly one of the most visited of Paris' enchanting sights.
The Panthéon is a magnificent building that was built between 1764 and 1790, commissioned by King Louis XV and completed on the heels of the French Revolution. Not only is the building renowned for its Neoclassical architecture, but the Panthéon is also the resting place of famous individuals such as Victor Hugo, Voltaire and Marie Curie. The architecture is inspired by the Roman Pantheon, with the dome closely resembling that of the St. Paul's Cathedral in London. This is a must-visit for all visitors of Paris - not only for its grand history, but also the sheer beauty of the Panthéon.
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.
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.
Paris' most famous cemetery gets its name from Louis XIV's religious adviser, Père-Lachaise, who previously owned the historic property the cemetery is built on. In 1804, the city decided to turn the land it had acquired into a cemetery, the Cimetière du Père-Lachaise. 70,000 graves are interred here with memorial sculptures and ornate tombstones decorating the 44-acre (17-hectare) garden. Famous people buried here include authors Marcel Proust, Oscar Wilde and Honoré de Balzac, singers Edith Piaf and Jim Morrison (whose grave is one of the most visited), and renowned composer Chopin. Among the many 19th-century sculptures and monuments is the Mur des Fédérés, which was placed in memory of the 147 rebels shot here on May 28, 1871 during the Paris Commune.
This splendid neo-Renaissance-style building is just minutes from the Seine and right in the heart of the capital. In 1260, Louis IX decided to endow Paris with the means of organizing its own affairs. Situated in Place de Grève (grève meaning 'strike' the square gets its name from discontented workers who often demonstrated here!), the building was used as the seat of government during the French Revolution, when a guillotine stood imposingly in front of its windows. Burnt to the ground during a working-class uprising in 1871, it was rebuilt 11 years later and became the current Town Hall. Crystal chandeliers, beautiful paintings and vast function rooms are all part of its sumptuous interior.
Hop aboard one of Batostar's electric vessels for a tour of the Seine and its islands. Immerse yourself in the rich history of Paris as you cruise through the city and take in the centuries of architecture and culture. The on-board bar and lounge offers light refreshments and delicious drinks. You can even book a vessel for a private event. Visit the website to find out times and pricing information.
This monument is a perfect example of Parisian Gothic architecture. Although the 50-meter (164-foot) high tower is all that remains of Saint-Jacques-La-Boucherie church (which was built in the 16th Century and destroyed just after the French Revolution), it's still an impressive sight. At the time, scientist and philosopher Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) carried out important atmospheric pressure experiments here. His statue and the addition of a small meteorological station in a part of the tower honor his memory. Call +33 8 3668 3112 for details.
Take your family or friends along for this walking trip around Paris. The History of Art Department of Paris organizes regular walking tours, especially emphasising the architecture of the city. It includes a tour of the Bastille, the Quartier Latin, the Moulin Rouge and the Sacré-Cœur. A detailed informative exercise is also on the offer.
Located opposite the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, Crypte Archéologique du Parvis Notre-Dame is a treasure trove of important and priceless ruins from Gallo-Roman to the 19th Century. The crypt is made with the intention to preserve some of the masterpieces of an age and period, which will never return. The traces which were discovered during the excavation of 1965 were converted into a preservation space in 1980. As this place is open to the public, don't miss an opportunity to visit, when in Paris.