Located in the centre of the city within the Palais de Justice complex on the Île de la Cite, the Sainte-Chapelle (Holy Chapel) is a small Gothic chapel constructed in the Rayonnant style. Built by King Louis IX from 1238-1244, the chapel housed holy relics from the Passion believed to be Jesus' Crown of Thorns and a piece of the True Cross. These items were purchased from the Byzantine emperor Baldwin II in 1239 for a huge sum of 135,000 Livres (the church cost 40,000 livres to build) due to the King's desire to elevate France as the leader of Western Christianity. The Sainte-Chapelle provides visitors with a spectacular visual experience since the entire upper tier of the chapel is surrounded by enormous stained glass windows.
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 artworks and antiquities in the world. The museum is located inside the Louvre Palace, which was built in the 12th Century as a fortress by Philip II. After Louis XIV, he 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 divided 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 some of the most famous works like the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo and Liberty Leading the People.
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 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.
The ground on which the Jardin du Luxembourg and the Palais du Luxembourg stand was originally the site of a Roman camp. In 1257, the Chartreux religious order bought the land and built a monastery here, while the princess regent Marie de Médicis had the palace built-in 1615. This is one of Paris' favorite gardens. Ornate fountains and lush lawns set against the backdrop of a palace look no less than magical. With a truly beautiful layout, the park is popular with students and residents in the city's Latin Quarter. Children can go on the vintage style carousel, play on swings and sail their toy boats on the octagonal pond. This park is a much-loved and popular meeting place.
The city of Paris is divided into 20 administrative districts, and the 7th Arrondissement is the one marked by the Seine river on its northern border. The historically significant neighborhood of the Faubourg Saint-Germaine of the French aristocracy, with expansive mansions from the 17th century, lies in this division. The 7th Arrondissement also has the Eiffel Tower, which is the very symbol of Paris, as well as the Hotel des Invalides with its beautiful St. Louis Chapel. It also has a plethora of famous museums including as Rodin and d’Orsay.
Musée de l'Ordre de la Libération is dedicated to General de Gaulle and the Resistance movement. The history of the man and the Free French organization are documented through the exhibition of many interesting objects. The Ordre de la Libération, created in 1940 by de Gaulle, was given to people for their bravery in the struggle for the liberation of France. Over a thousand received this honor including Winston Churchill and Eisenhower. Also in the Invalides, the Musée de lArmée and the Musée des Plans-Relief are both worth a visit.
Musée des Plans-Reliefs is a historical museum located in the Hôtel des Invalides. The collection of military models from the Louvre gallery was moved to Hôtel des Invalides in 1977 and has been operating as a museum since 1943. The exhibits consists several plans-reliefs and fortified sites. Check the website for more details.
If you love old plans and archives, then this is the place for you! Started by Louis XVI, the collection of models and maps shown in this museum covers several centuries. The oldest model, representing the town of Perpignan, dates back to 1866. Note how towns and fortified areas have changed over the years. For reasons of National Security, this museum was not open to the public before the 1950s. It is also worth visiting the Musée de lArmée and the Musée de l'Ordre et de la Libération in Invalides.
Located in the Hôtel National des Invalides, Musée d'Histoire Contemporaine is a historical museum. Formed in 1914, the museum displays about 1,500,000 items and documents dating back to 1870, pertaining to French or international history. The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday, free of charge.
This national military museum was established in 1905 following the merging of the Army History Museum and Artillery Museum. It is touted to be the nation's largest military museum and is among the world's three biggest arms museum. Set in the Hôtel National des Invalides, Musée de l'Armée has a chronological collection of artifacts which are segregated into paintings, emblems, objects, weapons and military decorations. It is divided into seven main venues according to the different eras. Explore the artillery pieces in the Main Courtyard or check out the Old Department where you surely will get enthralled by the weapons and armor covering the 13th to the 17th Centuries. The themed rooms of the Modern Department will give you an insight on not only the military but also the sociopolitical and economic history of France from 1643-1870. Don't miss the Dôme des Invalides, which is the tomb of Napoleon I and a royal chapel. Get to know the story of the French army during the two great world wars in the Contemporary Department. The Cathedral of Saint-Louis Des Invalides built for the king and his soldiers will impress you with its architecture. Finally the Charles de Gaulle Monument is an interactive venue about this great French leader. No matter which space you visit, you will definitely find this museum interesting with its rich combatant history.