Paris the capital and most populous city of France is situated on the river Seine. It covers an area of 105 square kilometers and a population of 2.24 million. Paris was founded in the 3rd century BC by a Celtic group called the Parissi who gave the city its name. By 12th century, Paris was the largest city in the western world, a prosperous trading center and the home of the University of Paris, one of the first in Europe. In the 18th century, it was the center stage for the French Revolution and became an important center of finance, commerce, fashion, science and the arts, a position it still retains today.
Often referred as the ‘city of love’, Paris always attracts tourists from all over the world. Paris earns its name as a place where romance blossoms… Many couples aspire to go to Paris on their honeymoon because the city is so well known for its romantic walks along the Seine River, sidewalk cafes and of course the Eiffel tower – all aglow at night. The beautiful architecture of the city, the lovely hotels and being the center of arts makes it a hot spot among the lovers and French the ‘language of love’. Being the place of enlightenment in the 18th century, it was called the ‘city of lights.’ Paris became the center of education, philosophy and learning. Paris was one of the first cities to start using street lights during the Great Exhibition of 1889. The streets suddenly grew safer and people were no longer forced to stay in their house all night. Paris the ‘city of art’ always attracted artists from around the world to educate themselves and to get inspired by its resources and galleries.
Monuments and Attractions
The center of Paris contains the most visited monuments in the city, including the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Louver as well as the Sainte-Chapelle, Les Invalides and the Eiffel Tower. The banks of the Seine from Pont de Sully to the Pont d’lena have been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1991. Other landmarks are laid out east to west along the historic axis of Paris, which runs from the Louvre through the Tuileries Garen, the Luxor Column in the Palace de la Concorde, the Arc de Triomphe to the Grande Arche of La Defense.
The Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower is a wrought iron lattice tower on the Champ De Mars in Paris. It is named after the engineer Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built the tower. Constructed in 1889as the entrance of the 1889 World Fair, it was initially criticized by some of France’s leading artists and intellectuals for the design, but it become a global cultural icon of France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world. The Eiffel tower is the most-visited paid monument in the world. The architectural height of the tower is 984 ft, the tip is 1063 ft and the top floor is 906 ft.
Tour Montparnasse or Montparnasse tower is 689 ft office skyscraper located in the Montparnasse area of Paris. Constructed from 1969 to 1973, it was the tallest skyscraper in France until 2011, when it was surpassed by the 758 ft Tour First. The tower has an observation deck on the 56th Floor with amazing view of Paris. A few flights of stairs will take to the terrace of the tower which also offers wonderful views of the city of Paris.
A visit to Paris will never be completed without a cruise in the Seine River. There are few companies which offer different type of boats for cruises. Most of cruises starts and finishes at Eiffel Tower. Some companies offer cruises at night also. One can enjoy the architectural excellence of the Parisian buildings from the cruise boat.
The Zouave Statue
The Zouave statue is the most famous feature of the Pont de I’Alma, a bridge that spans the seine halfway between the Eiffel tower and the Invalides. This 142 m long bridge was completed in mid 1850s and inaugurated in 1856 by Napoleon III. The Pont de I’Alma is one of the most photographed bridges in Paris, as it is famous for the statue of a Zouave Soldier standing on its single pier. The Zouaves were a group of prestigious light infantry regiments linked to French Nort Africa between 1830 and 1962. The Zouaves were among the most decorated units of French Army. The Zouave Regiment participated in the Battle of Alma during the Crimean War. The battle ended in the victory of France, England, Piedmont and the Ottoman Empire over Russia.
Each of the four piers of the Pont de I’Alma was adorned with statue representing a regiment that fought during the Crimean War. The Alma Bridge was rebuild in 1974 as it had become too narrow and unstable. The statues were transferred to other locations with the exception of Zouave, which was place on the bridge’s pier.
The Zouave statue served traditionally as an unofficial standard to indicate the rise in the water level of the Seine, until the pier was rebuild and slightly elevated. The Parisians knew that the river was dangerously rising when the water reached the foot of the Zouave statue. The year 1910 is known as the year of the “Flood of the Century”, as the waters rose by 8.62 m and reached the shoulders of the Zouave statue.
The Pont Alexandre III
The Pont Alexandre III is a deck arch bridge that spans the Seine in Paris. It connects the Champs-Elysees quarter with those of the Invalides and Eiffel Tower. This is the most ornate and extravagant bridge in the city of Paris. The bridge with its exuberant lamps and winged horses at either end was built between 1896 and 1900. It is named after Tsar Alexander III, who had concluded the Franceo-Russian Alliance in 1892. His son Nicholas II laid the foundation stone in October 1896. The style of the bridge reflects that of the Grand Palais, to which it leads on the right bank. The Nymph reliefs are at the centers of the arches over the seine, memorials to the Franco-Russian Alliance.
The Place de la Concorde
The Place de la Concorde is one of the major public squares in Paris. Measuring 21 acres, it is the largest square in the French capital. It is located at the eastern end of the Champs-Elysees. The place was designed by Ange-Jacques Gabriel in 1755 and was named Place Louis XV to honor the king at that time. During the French Revolution the statue of Louis XV was torn down and the area renamed Place de la Revolution. The new revolutionary government erected the guillotine in the square and it was here that king Louis XVI was executed on 21 January 1793. Other important figures guillotined on the site, often in front of cheering crowds, were Queen Marie Antoinette, Princess Elisabteth, Georges Danton, and Maxmilien Robespierre. In 1795 the square was renamed Place de la Concorde as a gesture of reconciliation after the turmoil of the Revolution. After Bourbon Restoration of 1814, the name was changed back to Place Louis XV. After the July Revolution of 1830 the name was returned to Place de la Concord and has remained since.
The Luxor Obelisk
The Luxor Obelisk is over 3,000 years old and was originally situated outside of Luxor Temple, where its twin remains to this day. It first arrived in Paris on December 21, 1833 having been shipped from Luxor via Alexandria and three years later, on October 25, 1836, was moved to the center of Place de la Concorde by King Louis-Phillipe. It was gifted to France by Muhammed Ali, Khedive of Egypt.
The obelisk weighs over 250 metric tons and height including the base is 75 ft. It is decorated with hieroglyphs exalting the reign of the king Ramses II. Its original pyramidion is believed to be stolen in the 6th century BC, was replaced by the government of France by a gold leafed pyramid cap in 1998.