Reasons to visit Paris

The capital city of France is the centrepiece of the Ile-de-France region. It is renowned as one of the most romantic cities in the world and a must-see for everyone.

The Eiffel Tower still stands proud as France's tallest structure, despite only originally being supposed to stay until 1909. The Pantheon (whose façade is based on that in Rome ) in the city's Latin quarter, shows Neoclassicism at work. It has a crypt which is the resting place of many famous historical figures.

The Louvre Museum offers so much more than just a few world-famous paintings. It is one of the largest, the oldest and the most visited museums in the world, and it contains old Eastern, Egyptian, Roman, Etruscan and Greek pieces, right through to paintings and sculptures from the 21st century. The Louvre Pyramid, built in 1989, is a bit of a sight to behold too.

The Arc de Triomphe is triumphant (50 metres high), and one part of the ‘Axe Historique' (a line of monuments and iconic locations running through the city centre. Others include the Champs-Elysées and the Grande Arche. The Champs-Elysées is a widely-renowned shopping area, with a large number of mainstream shops as well as more designer ones.

Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral (‘Our Lady of Paris') took nearly two centuries to construct, and as well as being a fine example of Gothic architecture, was one of the earliest buildings to make use of flying buttresses. In the 19th century, there was the possibility of the building being demolished. Victor Hugo's book on the Hunchback of Notre Dame helped generate some interest and publicity so there is not much chance of it going now.

Paris has long attracted attention due to its romantic image, although you would think that romance could occur anywhere, and that single, lonely people in Paris might not concur with this notion. Notwithstanding that, the Basilica de Sacre Coeur (Basilica of the Sacred Heart) is the inevitable ‘must-see' romantic spot for many. The vista of the city below is really rather outstanding. It is built on the Montmartre hill, and is quite a simple design, which belies the attention to detail, such as its huge mosaic.

 Moving away from the more obvious places, there are a few underground highlights. The Catacombs are just next to the Denfert-Rocherea station of the Metro. In the late 18th century, with space in cemeteries at a premium, many old remains were re-stationed underground. Visitors can tour the catacombs and see the at-times artistic placing of bones. Graffiti artists from that era bedecked the walls. A sign at the entrance states that ‘Here is the Empire of the Dead'; a delightful piece of information. Later, a new cemetery was finally built, and this is the ‘Père Lachaise' one, which houses the bodies of such luminaries as Edith Piaf and Jim Morrison. Victor Hugo wrote in Les Misérables: ‘… Paris has another Paris under herself; a Paris of sewers, which has its streets, its crossings, its squares, its blind alleys, and its circulation, which is slime, minus the human form'. Along these lines, visitors to the capital can also indulge in a visit underground to the sewers. A somewhat novel attraction (if that's the correct term), and there is a sewer museum below the Quai d'Orsay, providing information on the engineering feats entailed.

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