Paris is the capital and most populous city of France, with an area of 105 square kilometers (41 square miles) and an official estimated population of 2,140,526 residents as of 1 January 2019. Since the 17th century, Paris has been one of Europe’s major centers of finance, diplomacy, commerce, fashion, science, and the arts. The City of Paris is the center and seat of government of the Île-de-France, or Paris Region, which has an estimated official 2019 population of 12,213,364, or about 18 percent of the population of France. The Paris Region had a GDP of €709 billion ($808 billion) in 2017. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit Worldwide Cost of Living Survey in 2018, Paris was the second most expensive city in the world, after Singapore, and ahead of Zürich, Hong Kong, Oslo and Geneva.
The most visited tourist attraction in Paris, the Eiffel Tower also ranks high on the list of places to visit in France. It’s hard to believe that the structure was dismissed as a monstrosity when it was first unveiled. The iconic tower was designed by Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel for the Paris Exhibition of 1889, which marked the centenary of the French Revolution.
Musée du Louvre
A sumptuous palace that was once the home of France’s Kings, the Louvre is the most important of Paris’ top museums. Visitors enter the museum in the courtyard of the palace at the glass pyramid (designed by Ieoh Ming Pei in 1917). The Louvre Museum possesses more than 30,000 artworks (many considered masterpieces)—from antiquities to European paintings of the 15th to 19th centuries.
Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris
A triumph of Gothic architecture, the Notre-Dame stands in the heart of Paris on the Ile de la Cité near the attractions of the Latin Quarter. An island in the Seine River, the Ile de la Cité is the historical and geographical center of Paris. On this small plot of land, the Romans built the Gallo-Roman city of Lutetia, and from the 6th century to the 14th century, the Kings of France resided here.
Avenue des Champs-Élysées
The most monumental boulevard in Paris used to be a desolate field of marshland until the 16th century, when it was landscaped by André Le Nôtre. A century later, the renowned Parisian city planner Baron Haussman designed the boulevard’s elegant buildings. The Champs-Elysées is divided into two parts with the Rond-Point des Champs-Elysées as its intersection.
This splendid collection of Impressionist art is beautifully presented in an expansive space (formerly the Belle Epoque-era Gare d’Orsay railway station). The collection represents the work of all the masters of Impressionism. The artists range from classic Impressionist masters Edgar Degas, Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, and Pierre-August Renoir to Post-Impressionist artists such as Pierre Bonnard, Paul Cézanne, and Vincent van Gogh; the Pointillists (Georges Seurat, Paul Signac); and Bohemian artists like Toulouse Lautrec.
Palais Garnier, Opéra National de Paris
Commissioned by Napoleon III in 1860, the Palais Garnier Opera House was designed by Charles Garnier in an exuberant Baroque style. Garnier worked tirelessly on the project for over a decade, from 1862 to 1875. Today, the opulent monument is a symbol of Napoleon’s Imperial regime.
Place de la Concorde
Created between 1755 and 1775 by the architect of King Louis XV, this impressive octagonal square is at the heart of 18th-century Paris. With its majestic dimensions, the Place de la Concorde is one of the most attractive squares in the city. It was the scene of several key historical events, including the execution of King Louis XVI, and it was part of Napoleon’s triumphal route.
Arc de Triomphe
The Arc de Triomphe is dedicated to the soldiers who fought in the French armies of the Revolution and the First Empire (Napoleonic Wars). Napoleon commissioned the building of this mighty structure in 1806 but did not live to see its completion in 1836. Designed by JF Chalgrin, the massive 50-meter-high arch features bas-reliefs with larger-than-life-size figures, which depict the departure, victories, and glorious return of the French armies.
Seine River Cruises
To truly soak up the alluring ambiance of Paris, tourists should try taking a boat cruise along the Seine River. Besides being one of the most enjoyable things to do while visiting the city, Seine River Cruises allow tourists to see the sights from a different perspective. The Seine River bridges, Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame Cathedral, and the Louvre Museum look stunning from the viewpoint of a riverboat.
Musical Concerts at Sainte-Chapelle
Sainte-Chapelle is rarely used for mass but often serves as a venue for music concerts. Listening to a choir or classical music performance in this space is an inspiring spiritual experience. Sainte-Chapelle is considered a rare jewel among medieval houses of worship and is certainly one of the most exquisite churches in Paris.
Some fun facts that will give you a brain freeze
- The Eiffel Tower was a temporary construction
- Walking from the north to the south of the city takes 2 hours
- There’s only one STOP sign in the entire city of Paris
- You have to pay around €200,000 to be a taxi driver in Paris
- The oldest bridge in Paris is the Pont Neuf (New Bridge)
- Notre Dame has more than 13 million visitors per year
- The famous love-locks bridge no longer exists
- There is a Statue of Liberty in Paris
- The Louvre is the world’s biggest art museum
- The Eiffel tower is NOT the most visited monument in Paris
- THE Parisian metro is the 4th largest in the world
- The main bell in Notre Dame’s Cathedral weighs 13 tons
- There is a beach in Paris
- There are 470,000 trees in Paris
- Place de la Concorde is one of the biggest sundials in the world
Did you learn something fun facts about Paris? Maybe you have some to share?
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