Perfectly Paris: 5 Must-See Sights

Jocelyn Murray September 8, 2014 No Comments

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Louvre Museum

Louvre Museum
photo by Alvesgaspar / CC BY-SA 3.0

This is the place where Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa regards onlookers with her knowing and mysterious smile. The Louvre is one of the world’s largest and most visited museums. Its extensive holdings include antiquities from Egyptian, Roman, Etruscan and Greek times. The museum was once the site of a twelfth-century fortress built by King Phillip II. Its vast sculpture collection includes exquisite pieces such as Alexandros of Antioch’s Venus de Milo and Antonio Canova’s Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss. The glass pyramid gracing its entrance has come to symbolize the Louvre, making it easily recognizable and characteristic of this iconic museum.

 

Notre-Dame Cathedral

Notre-Dame Cathedral
photo by rien nothing

With is flying buttresses, pointed arches, stained-glass windows and famous gargoyles, Notre-Dame Cathedral is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture. It has been immortalized in Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre-Dame which was published in 1831. It was here that Napoleon I was crowned Emperor of the French in 1804. The cathedral houses a reliquary that includes first class holy relics such as a fragment of the True Cross, the Crown of Thorns, and one of the Holy Nails. Although it suffered extensive damage during the French Revolution, restoration efforts have helped repair this splendid symbol of France which has been witness to many historical events, and continues to draw throngs of visitors today.

 

Palace of Versailles

Palace of Versailles
photo by Nicolas Fleury

This royal chateau was once the seat of France’s political power during its monarchy in 1682 under King Louis XIV. It is well known for its exquisite gardens, Hall of Mirrors, grand apartments and overall stunning opulence which is a symbol of France’s monarchy and an expression of classical French art. Known as The Grande Gallerie, the Hall of Mirrors served as a salon and meeting place for courtiers and dignitaries. It was at the Petit Trianon on the Palace of Versailles estate that Marie-Antoinette sought refuge from the demands of court life. Visitors today can tour the magnificent estate grounds, gardens, palace and apartments to discover the glory of Versailles that is an integral part of French history.

 

Sacre-Coeur Basilica

Sacre-Coeur Basilica
photo by Carlos Ortega

The construction of the Sacre-Coeur Basilica began in the late nineteenth century, and was consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1919 after World War I ended. It rises like a beacon from the city’s summit at Montmartre – the “Mount of Martyrs.” This magnificent landmark is built of travertine that remains white despite the weathering of time, due to the calcite content of the stone. Visitors can admire the fantastic panoramic views of the Paris skyline from the top of its dome. At 475 square meters, the mosaic in the apse is one of the largest of its kind anywhere, lending the basilica a splendor to match its venerable interior and exterior.

 

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower
photo by Sathish J

The Eiffel Tower is easily Paris’s most iconic symbol. Built in 1889, it is the world’s most-visited paid monument, and soars to a lofty height of 1,063 feet tall. The tower has restaurants located on the first and second levels, and an observatory that commands breathtaking views on the third level. Named after engineer Gustave Eiffel, the Eiffel Tower was originally built in anticipation of the 1889 World’s Fair, where it served as an entrance arch. It has been featured many times in media shows, films and novels. The tower is especially beautiful at night when it appears to glow with a life of its own against the Parisian indigo sky.

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Jocelyn Murray is a travel writer and historical fiction novelist. She holds two university master's degrees in both English and Education, along with a bachelor's degree in Economics and European Studies. She also has a teaching credential and taught at the elementary school level.

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