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.