Brief Escapes to Europe

PARIS

 

Paris is named after the Parisi, a Celtic person who settled on the city's central island-the Île de la Cité-in the 3 rd Century BC. Paris is world-famous for its beauty and charm, and for its long history as a center of learning and knowledge. The city is divided into 20 political units called arrondissements.

The river Seine enters Paris in the southeast, loops north, and then curves to the southwest before leaving the city. Many of the city's greatest monuments lie on the banks of the river.

Île de la Cité, in the center of the Seine, is considered the birthplace of Paris . The north side of the Seine is called the Right Bank because it lies on the right-hand side when one is facing downstream. Just north of the Hôtel de Ville is the Pompidou centre, also known as Beaubourg, an arts complex devoted to modern and contemporary art and design . West of the Pompidou Center is Les Halles , the site of the central market of Paris from the 12th century until 1969. The market was subsequently replaced by the Forum Les Halles , a multilevel underground complex featuring a shopping mall, museums, the Paris film library and a sports center.

The Louvre, one of the largest and most famous museums in the world, is located southwest of Les Halles , on the Seine . Construction of the current building began in 1546, on the site of a much smaller 13th-century fortress and palace. The kings of France lived here intermittently from 1363 to 1682. The Place de la Concorde , located on the west side of the Jardins des Tuileries, is the most spacious square in Paris . It was laid out in the mid-18th century by French architect jacques Ange Gabriel as a monument to King Louis XV.

The Champs-Élysées (meaning "Elysian Fields") is the most spectacular thorough fare of Paris , running west from the Place de la Concorde to the Place Charles de Gaulle-Étoile (formerly called the Place de l'Étoile). All major civic celebrations take place along this wide avenue, including the Bastille Day military parade on July 14.

Montmartre located on the northern edge of Paris, Montmartre is the highest hill in the city. This picturesque neighbourhood is popular with tourists. Countless artists lived in Montmartre in the early 20th century and the area prides itself as the birthplace of modern art. The Basilica of Sacré Coeur, at the top of the hill, was built betwe e n 1875 and 1919

Quartier Latin, or the Latin Quarter . The University of Paris , the oldest university in Europe , established in the neighbourhood in the early 13th century. The area is so named because Latin was the official language of learning until 1789. The Pantheon the secular resting place of some of the nation's heroes, including authors Victor Hugo, Voltaire, and Emile Zola. Saint-Germain-des-Prés the church constructed the 11 th century and is the only remnant of an ancient abbey. It has been renovated or altered several times . Today, Saint-Germain-des-Prés is one of the most elegant and expensive neighbourhoods in Paris , lined with boutiques and art galleries. At night it draws crowds to its restaurants, cafés, cinemas , and nightclubs. The Eiffel Tower and the École Militaire ( Military School ) face each other on the northern and southern edge of the Champ de 03 gardens, west of the Invalides. The Eiffel Tower was built for the 1889 Universal Exposition. The military academy was built in the 18th century under Louis XV. Paris contains around 150 museums . The Louvre houses an exceptional collection of Greek, Roman, and Egyptian antiquities, and great paintings of the French, Italian, Dutch, and Flemish schools. The Mona Lisa (1503-1506) of Leonardo da Vinci and the ancient Greek statues Venus de Milo (150-100 bc ) and Victory of Samothrace (about 200 bc ) are among its world-renowned treasures.

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