Champ de Mars, Paris 75007
Tel : +33 1 44 11 23 45
Tel : +33 1 44 11 23 22
RER: Champ de Mars Tour Eiffel
Jan 1-Jun 13: 9:30am-11pm daily (stairs: 9:30am-6pm); Jan 14-Aug
31: 9am-midnight daily;
This towering edifice was built for the World Fair of 1889,
held to commemorate the centenary of the French Revolution.
Named after its designer, Gustave Eiffel, it stands 320m (1050ft)
high and held the record as the world's tallest structure until
1930. Initially opposed by the city's artistic and literary
elite - who were only affirming their right to disagree with
everything - the tower was almost torn down in 1909. Salvation
came when it proved an ideal platform for the antennas needed
for the new science of radiotelegraphy. When you're done peering
upwards through the girders, you can visit any of the three
public levels, which can be accessed by lift or stairs. Just
south-east of the tower is a grassy expanse that was once the
site of the world's first balloon flights and is now used by
teens as a skateboarding arena or by activists bad-mouthing
Not everyone was happy when it was first built; many considered
it an eyesore and wanted it pulled down, but today it is one
of the world's most visited monuments. The first and second
floors can be reached using the stairs, and lifts take visitors
to the magnificent view at the top.
Admission (elevator to the top): EUR9.90 Adults; EUR5.30 Children
6, Place du Parvis de Notre Dame - 75004 Paris
Tel: +33 1 42 34 56 10
Tel: +33 1 40 51 70 98
RER: Saint-Michel Notre-Dame
Open: 8am-6.45pm daily.
Towers: 9.30am-6.45pm daily
The city's cathedral ranks as one of the greatest achievements
of Gothic architecture. Notre Dame was begun in 1163 and completed
around 1345; the massive interior can accommodate over 6000
worshippers. Although Notre Dame is regarded as a sublime architectural
achievement, there are all sorts of minor anomalies as the French
love nothing better than to mess with things. These include
a trio of main entrances that are each shaped differently, and
which are accompanied by statues that were once coloured to
make them more effective as Bible lessons for the hoi polloi.
The interior is dominated by spectacular and enormous rose windows,
and a 7800-pipe organ that was recently restored but has not
been working properly since. From the base of the north tower,
visitors with ramrod straight spines can climb to the top of
the west facade and decide how much aesthetic pleasure they
derive from looking out at the cathedral's many gargoyles -
alternatively they can just enjoy the view of a decent swathe
of Paris. Under the square in front of the cathedral, an archaeological
crypt displays in situ the remains of structures from the Gallo-Roman
and later periods.
The cathedral is busy at the best of times; especially on Sundays,
when much of the building is closed to visitors.
Admission: (cathedral) free; (towers) around EUR6.
Place Charles de Gaulle Etoile, Paris 75008
Tel : +33 1 55 37 73 77
Tel : +33 1 44 95 02 13
métro/ RER: Charles de
April-Oct: 9.30am-11pm daily; Nov-March: 10am-11pm daily.
Commissioned by Napoléon in 1806 to celebrate his victory at
the battle of Austerlitz and the glory of French armies, the
arch was not finished until 1836 by Louis-Phillipe and cost
ten million francs. The construction was entrusted to Chalgrin,
who built a model of the arch on the real site in 1810 for Napoléon's
wedding to Marie-Louise, daughter of the Austrian ambassador.
The Emperor did not pass through the completed, real version
until his funeral procession in 1840. Forty-five years later
Victor Hugo's wake took place under the arch. Today you can
see the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, killed in the First World
War, and his flame, lit as a memorial to all those killed in
action. The Arch is a site both of memories and current events
and celebrations. The lists of the dead will move you. The cars
that drive around the monument will terrify you! 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. A truly impressive landmark, 50 metres high and
45 metres wide, Paris would not be Paris without it!
Admission: adults 40F (EUR 6.09); 12-25 32F (EUR 4.87); under
A popular promenade for the ostentatious aristos of old, the
Avenue des Champs-Elysees has long symbolised the style and
joie de vivre of Paris. Encroaching fast-food joints, car showrooms
and cinemas have somewhat dulled the sheen, but the 2km (1mi)
long, 70m (235ft) wide stretch is still an ideal place for evening
walks and relishing the food at overpriced restaurants.
35, rue du Chevalier-de-la-Barre, Paris 75018
Tel : +33 1 53 41 89 00
This Romano-Byzantine basilica overlooks Montmartre, one of
Paris's most picturesque districts. Its distinctive dome rising
up over the rooftops, the basilica offers the perfect vantage
point from which to survey the city. Inside, the mosaic of Christ
and the crypt are of particular interest. Commissioned by the
Catholic Church, building began in 1875 under the watchful eye
of architect Paul Abadie, and was finally completed in 1914.
Admission: (basilica) free; (crypt and dome) around EUR 4.50.
of the Invalides
Esplanade des Invalides
Tel. : 01.44.42.37.72
Metro : Invalides
This church is part of a large establishment built to house
disabled veterans. Although it is generally classical in style,
particularly in the rectilinearity of the lower facade, the
church does have some Baroque elements. There is a dynamic movement
toward the center, which culminates in the central pediment.
In addition, the dome has some surprises. Unlike St. Peter's
dome, its loose model, it arranges the windows in an unusual
way--with pairs and single windows alternating instead of a
continuous row of windows separated by buttresses or piers.
Normally a window would mark the main axis; here the main axis
has a pair of columns that separates the paired windows. The
lantern is a square in plan but it is rotated so that its corner
marks the main axis.
4, boulevard du Palais,
Tel. : 01.53.73.78.51
Metro: Cite, Saint-Michel
Lying inside the Palais de Justice (law courts), Sainte Chapelle
was consecrated in 1248 and built to house what was reputedly
Jesus' crown of thorns and other relics purchased by King Louis
IX earlier in the 13th century. The gem-like chapel, illuminated
by a veritable curtain of 13th-century stained glass (the oldest
and finest in Paris), is best viewed from the law courts' main
entrance - a magnificently gilded, 18th-century gate. Once past
the airport-like security, you can wander around the long hallways
of the Palais de Justice and, if you can find a court in session,
observe the proceedings. Civil cases are heard in the morning,
while criminal trials - usually reserved for larceny or that
French speciality crimes passionnel - begin after lunch.
du Père Lachaise
16, rue du Repos 75020
Tel. : +33 1 55 25 82 10
Tel. : +33 1 43 70 42 16
Established in 1805, this necropolis attracts more visitors
than any similar structure in the world. Within the manicured,
evergreen enclosure are the tombs of over one million people
including such luminaries as the composer Chopin; the writers
Moliere, Apollinaire, Oscar Wilde, Balzac, Marcel Proust and
Gertrude Stein; the artists David, Delacroix, Pissarro, Seurat
and Modigliani; the actors Sarah Bernhardt, Simone Signoret
and Yves Montand; the singer Edith Piaf; and the dancer Isadora
Duncan. The most visited tomb, however, is that of The Doors
lead singer, Jim Morrison, who died in Paris in 1971. One hundred
years earlier, the cemetery was the site of a fierce battle
between Communard insurgents and government troops. The rebels
were eventually rounded up against a wall and shot, and were
buried where they fell in a mass grave.
Nationale de France-Cardinal de Richelieu
58, rue de Richelieu
Tel : +33 1 53 79 59 59
This is one of the largest buildings in Paris - and one of the
largest libraries in all of Europe. Most of its contents were
moved to the new site (the Bibliothèque François Mitterand or
Très Grande Bibliothèque [Very Large Library]) in 1998. Currently
the old site holds several special collections including manuscripts,
prints, photographs, maps and music. In addition, they have
a museum of coins, metals and antiquities as well as a collection
from the performing arts.
Formerly known as the Bibliothèque Royale (Royal Library), then
the Bibliothèque Impériale (Imperial Library), the library holds
the private collections of the French royalty. It has moved
five times within the past 500 years, being largely dispersed
after the Hundred Years' War. The current buildings consist
of several private hotels from the 17th Century.
The department of music contains two million works including
collections of manuscripts, books on music, and musical scores
(among them Mozart's "Don Giovanni"). The manuscripts department
also carries a daunting collection (more than 530,000 documents)
ranging from the oldest book, an Egyptian manuscript (c. 2000BC),
to manuscripts by modern French authors such as Marcel Proust
and Jean-Paul Sartre.
Métro: Les Halles, Réaumur-Sébastopol
RER: Châtelet-Les Halles
The Halles used to be a huge fruit and meat market, and was
called the "belly of Paris" by Emile Zola. Today, it has become
one of the biggest underground (the Forum des Halles) and outdoor
clothes shopping areas in the French capital, attracting a young
and mixed clientele. A few streets away lies the Centre Georges
Pompidou (Georges Pompidou Centre) cultural center, renovated
and better than ever for the new millenium.
Highlights of this area include the picturesque Rue Quincampoix,
Place Igor Stravinsky with Niki de St Phalle's amazing and colourful
fountain sculptures, the pleasant Café Beaubourg serving coffee
and tasty light meals and the rooftop of La Samaritaine department
store with its great views of Paris.
33, avenue du Maine,Paris 75015
Tel: +33 1 45 38 52 56
Even for locals, the Montparnasse tower offers a fairytale view
of the city - accessible thanks to Europe's fastest lift that
whisks you to the top in just 38 seconds. From here, 200m up,
or from the bar/restaurant on the 56th floor, the panorama extends
for miles. Situated above Montparnasse station, which serves
the west of France, the tower is home to offices and businesses.
Just by the restaurant is an exhibition that traces the history
of Paris since 1858.
Admission: around EUR7.62
In the late 18th century, Paris decided it had a problem with
its cemeteries, namely that they were full, if not overflowing.
Faced with potential outbreaks of disease, not to mention aesthetic
concerns, the city authorities decided to exhume the bones of
the buried and relocate them in the tunnels of several disused
quarries. The decision to do this was made in 1785 and led to
the creation of the Catacombes. Visitors to this disturbing
'attraction' will find themselves 20m (65ft) underground, working
their way along corridors stacked with bones. People over 60
can get in for free, which says a lot about the French sense
of humour. The tunnels, which were used by the Resistance during
WWII as a headquarters, are south of the Seine.
de Chaillot (Le)
17, place du Trocadéro
Situated almost at the foot of the Tour Eiffel, the Palais de
Chaillot was built on the hill of Chaillot by the architects
Azéma, Louis-Auguste Boileau and Jacques Carlu for the Great
Exhibition of 1937. This Neo-Classical monument, shaped like
a banana cut in two, is composed of four pavilions and two wings,
each measuring 195m in length. It is adorned with sculptures
and bas-reliefs from the Thirties, as well as gold inscriptions
by the writer, Paul Valéry.
It houses the Musée de l'Homme, the Musée de la Marine, the
Musée du cinéma Henri Langlois, the Musée des Monuments français,
Chaillots National Theatre and the Cinémathèque française. In
front of its façades lie the Jardins du Trocadéro.
métro: Tuileries, Opéra
Follow the Rues de Castiglione and de la Paix to one of the
most famous squares in Paris. Intricately linked with the history
of France since its creation in 1685, this architectural jewel
was commissioned by King Louis XIV and designed by Jules-Hardouin
Mansart. The arcades of the exquisitely fronted mansions that
surround the square form a sort of intimate salon in the heart
of the capital. Not surprisingly, it was adopted by Paris' aristocracy.
Prestigious banks and the emblems of French elegance still cluster
around the Austerlitz column that Napoléon erected. Labels of
luxury such as Chaumet, Boucheron, Van Cleef & Arpels, Cartier,
Guerlain, Chanel rule the roost. Whilst you're here, stop at
the Ritz hotel or the Palais de l'Elysée (the President's residence).
Yes, this really is the home of luxury, elegance and power.
métro: Bastille, Saint-Paul
The Marais district spent a long time as a swamp and then as
agricultural land, until in 1605 King Henry IV decided to transform
it into a residential area for Parisian aristocrats. He did
this by building Place des Vosges and arraying 36 symmetrical
houses around its square perimeter. The houses, each with arcades
on the ground floor, large dormer windows, and the requisite
creepers on the walls, were initially built of brick but were
subsequently constructed using timber with a plaster covering,
which was then painted to look like brick. Duels, fought with
strictly observed formality, were once staged in the elegant
park in the middle. From 1832-48 Victor Hugo lived at a house
at No 6, which has now been turned into a municipal museum.
Today, the arcades around the place are occupied by expensive
galleries and shops, and cafes filled with people drinking little
cups of coffee and air-kissing immaculate passersby.
Originally known as place Louis-XV, this square was created
between 1755 and 1775 by the architect, Gabriel. Renamed Place
de la Révolution in 1792, a guillotine was installed and 2800
executions took place including that of King Louis XVI. Louis-Philippe
christened it Place de la Concorde in 1830.
The Louqsor obelisk, a gift from the Viceroy of Egypt to King
Charles X of France, has been standing in the centre of the
square since 1840. The eight statues representing France's largest
cities and the two fountains were also added at this time. The
square is home to one of Paris' most prestigious hotels, the
Funiculaire de Montmartre
Why does the Place du Tertre swarm with mediocre artists clamoring
to paint your portrait? As is often the case in Paris, it's
Baron Haussmann's fault! But for once, the good baron did some
good along with the damage when, by razing many working-class
neighbourhoods in central Paris, he unwittingly encouraged the
development of Montmartre (which had been annexed to Paris in
1860). Around 1880 began the transformation of the Butte (Hill)
from a country village into the home of hordes of artists and
other marginalized folk who no longer had a place in Haussmann's
grandiose central Paris. At the foot of Montmartre cabarets
thrived - up top on the Place du Tertre, an unimaginably (to
us) intense period of artistic activity took hold. The Place
saw movements from Impressionism to Cubism to Fauvism to Surrealism
come and go; right up to the eve of World War I, such greats
as Renoir, Picasso, Braque, Dufy, Cézanne, Manet, and Toulouse-Lautrec
painted here and, often, kept studios and living quarters in
the adjacent streets. These days, despite the oppressive, constant
tourist crush on the square, one can still discover that old-time
Paris feeling here - not to mention the fact that some of the
current painters aren't too bad at all!
métro/RER: La Défense Grande Arche
With buildings such as the CNIT (Centre National des Industries
et Techniques) or the Grande Arche, the architecture of the
La Défense complex is definitely futuristic. Over 1000 major
blue chip companies -and 15 out of 50 of the world's largest-
have chosen to set up their head offices here. No less than
15000 people 20000 residents and 13000 employees) walk through
this gigantic area of scurrying activity (over 160 hectares)
every day. La Défense also houses one of the largest shopping
centres in Europe: the Quatre-Temps counts over 250 shops. The
promenade on the square (a vast concrete slab which makes up
its base) exhibits contemporary sculptures by famous artists
such as Calder, Miro, César, Takis, etc.
- Centre Georges Pompidou
Place Georges Pompidou,
Tel : +33 1 44 78 12 33
Tel : +33 1 44 78 13 03
Open: 11am-10pm Wed-Mon;
individual attractions have different hours
Métro: Rambuteau, Hôtel de Ville. RER: Châtelet Les Halles
Commonly known as the Beaubourg, this distinctive building was
commissioned in 1968 by then President Georges Pompidou, and
opened in 1977. Most Parisians were initially shocked by its
unconventional "inside out" architectural style: air conditioning,
escalators and lifts are all on the outside, giving the interior
unparalleled freedom. Extensively refurbished in the late 1990s,
the centre is home to the Musée National d'Art Moderne and the
Bibliothèque Publique d'Information (BPI) as well as temporary
exhibitions, cinemas, and other attractions. All-inclusive museum
admission: EUR10 Adults; EUR8 Reduced.
located at the intersection of Avenue du Général Leclerc,
Boulevard Raspail, Boulevard Arago and Boulevard Saint-Jacques,
is named after a colonel who led French troops in defending
the city of Belfort against Prussian attacks during the War
In the middle of the square sits a big bronze lion, a replica
of the huge Lion de Belfort (Lion of Belfort) sculpted in
1880 by Auguste Bartholdi, father of the Statue of Liberty.
The original work - a tribute to the French troops' courage
- was carved directly into a mountainside in Belfort. The
artist himself did the replica. A medallion representing Colonel
Denfert-Rochereau was added to the lion's pedestal in the
de Paris (L')
61, avenue de l'Observatoire
Tel : +33 1 40 51 21 74
Founded by Colbert in 1667 and completed in 1672, this is the
oldest observatory still in use in the world. Among the institution's
achievements has been the establishment of the dimensions of
the solar system (1672) and the drawing the first map of the
moon. The observatory is located right on the Paris Meridian,
calculated in 1667 - the reference used before Greenwich took
over in 1884. It is not open to the public, except for guided
tours that only take place on the first Saturday of each month.
Reservations -months in advance - are required. To reserve,
write to Le Service des Visites at the above address. On the
visit, one can view large telescopes, the dome and a collection
of old instruments.
The modestly sized Bois de Boulogne, on the western edge of
the city, is endowed with forested areas, meandering paths,
belle epoque cafes and little wells of naughtiness. Each night,
pockets of the Bois de Boulogne are taken over by prostitutes
and lurkers with predacious sexual tastes. In recent years,
the police have cracked down on the area's sex trade, but locals
still advise against walking through the area alone at night.
sciences et de l'industrie
30, avenue Corentin-Cariou
Tel : +33 1 40 05 80 00
Tel : +33 1 40 05 72 22
métro: Porte de la Villette
Parc de la Villette is the setting for this huge science museum
best known for its Géode dome and impressive 180-degree cinema.
Natural and scientific phenomena are explained with the help
of exhibitions in an area specially designed with kids in mind.
Children aged three and over can visit a real submarine, the
Argonaute, and find out how it works; temporary exhibitions
are organized in Espace Explora. There's also La Cité des Métiers
resource centre and a children's multimedia library (to which
admission is free).
Admission: Cité des enfants around EUR 3.81, Argonaute/ Espace
Explora around EUR 7.62, Géode around EUR 7.62
de Lutèce (Les)
47, rue Monge
8 am-sunset daily
in the 5th arrondissement, these Roman ruins are easy to miss.
They're a great place to come, however, if you're looking
for a bit of greenery and a breath of fresh air in a friendly
neighborhood setting. The ruins were first unearthed in 1869,
and have since been excavated and landscaped. Parts of the
Roman amphitheatre are clearly visible - a testament to the
Romans who founded the city of Lutetia, as Paris was first
called. On weekends, expect to find families and loads of
children running around. Or bring a book and a sandwich on
a sunny weekday, and enjoy the peace and quiet.
ZAC Cornillon Nord
Accès visite porte H
Saint-Denis 93216 cedex
Tel : +33 1 55 93 00 00
Tel : +33 1 55 93 00 49
métro: Saint-Denis Porte de Paris;
RER: La Plaine-Stade de France
when no event is on: 10am-6pm daily
Symbol of the French victory in the 1998 World Cup, this stadium
has become as famous as the other great Parisian monuments.
Any tourist will be stunned by the beauty of this 80,000-seat
stadium, which is home not only to football matches but also
to other sporting events, and concerts, thanks to its fantastic
Warning: when an event is on, expect traffic jams. It's probably
better to take the RER train line D.
Admission: Premiers Regards (First insight) guided tour: adults
38F (EUR 5.79), 6-17yrs & students with ID cards 30F (EUR 4.57);
Les Coulisses du Stade (backstage) guided tour: adults 90F (EUR
13.72), children & students 65F (EUR 9.91). Under-6s free.
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