Things to see and do - Paris
Paris by night :
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Paris by night
Paris by nightBy car, 13 km, 1 day
At night, Paris emanates an incomparably poetic atmosphere. This is when "the city of light" really lives up to its name, as most of the monuments are set aglow with lighting that skilfully sets them off. Over 220 sites are lit up in this way, starting with several of its 37 bridges, which seem to form golden arches over the Seine. But the brightest star of the Parisian night remains the Eiffel Tower, with its two light beams visible from 80 km away. And every hour, the Tower twinkles and sparkles with 20,000 flashes, like a glass of champagne.Customise this route and add it to My travel book
Designed in 1860 by Charles Garnier, its sumptuous façade, very recently restored, displays numerous sculptures. In the interior, where Garnier played with his marble statues of many origins, is incomparable. The Great Staircase and Great Hall are magical. In the great hall there is a ceiling painted by Marc Chagall in 1964. A place of mythical creations, which has hosted the greatest figures (Serge Lifar, Maria Callas, Patrice Chéreau), it is today devoted above all to ballet.
You are taken into the impressive world of the fortress that Philippe Auguste built at the start of the 13C: along the route, you will discover the counterscarp wall, the 2. 60 m thick curtain, the foundations of the dwellings that were added by Charles V in 1360, the pier of the draw-bridge and the foundations of the castle's twin towers, the moat of the circular keep, known as the «big tower», and the royal objects found at the bottom of the keep's well are on show in two rooms.
The Place de la Concorde was ordered by the aldermen of Paris to pay homage to Louis XV. The architect, Jacques-Ange Gabriel, was awarded the contract to build this 84,000 m2 octagonal square. The works which involved constructing two buildings with colonnades on either side of the Rue Royale and eight pedestals on which statutes were to be placed, were finished in 1775. The statue of Louis XV on horseback, as seen by Bouchardon, stood in the centre. It would not be long before the «Bien-Aimé» would give up his place to the guillotine which, erected near to the gate of the Tuileries gardens, never stopped working: it had 1,343 customers between 1793 and 1795! once order was restored, the architect Hittorff completed the square under Louis-Philippe and gave it the appearance that we recognise today: the obelisk was erected in the centre, eight statues symbolising the cities were placed on the pedestals: Brest and Rouen by Cortot, Lille and Strasbourg by Pradier, Lyon and Marseille by Petitot, and Bordeaux and Nantes by Caillouette. one of the two mansions, which are sober and harmonious at the same time, is the location of the Navy Staff Office Marine, while the other houses the French Automobile Club and the Hôtel de Crillon. The Louxor obelisk, given to France by Mehemet Ali in 1829, in pink granite and covered with hyroglyphics, topped with a golden « cap », measures 23 m high and weighs 220 tons. From its platform, a wonderful view up the Champs-Elysées can be enjoyed with the quivering Marly Horses (by Coustou) which match Coysevox's winged horses towards the Tuileries gardens and the Louvre.
This prestigious avenue, which over time has become the point where Parisians have met when important events have taken place during the nation's history, this huge avenue, running from the Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile, was opened during the 18th century. However, it was only during the Second Empire that it became a fashionable avenue, lined with mansions, while restaurants, panoramas, theatres, balls (such as the ones at the legendary Mabille dancehall) attracted the crowds there. The section from the Place de la Concorde to the Rond-Point is still lined by the alleys of the gardens of the Champs-Élysées. Beyond the Rond-Point, the avenue, which is an impressive 71-metres wide, has only conserved one of the mansions from the Second Empire, the Païva mansion, which belonged to a Polish adventurer who became a Portuguese marchioness and then a Prussian countess. No. 25, this mansion is famous for its large onyx staircase. Cinemas, airline companies, car showrooms (Citroën, Renault), tourist offices for foreign countries and the French provinces, shopping arcades (galeries des Champs, galerie du Claridge, galerie Point Show), large cafés (Le Fouquet's), restaurants, specialised department stores (FNAC, Virgin) and prestigious brands (Guerlain) are to be found on both sides of the avenue.
It was in 1806 that Napoleon I commanded Jean-François Chalgrin (1739-1811) to build this triumphal arch in tribute to the armies of France. Four years later, the construction was hardly above ground level, although Chalgrin had to set up a mock arch of wood and canvas for the entry into the capital in 1810 of the new Empress, Marie-Louise. The death of the architect, in 1811, the military defeats, and then the restoration led to the project being abandoned, and it was not until 1832 under Louis-Philippe that work restarted, and was finally completed in 1836. Inspired by antiquity, Chalgrin's arch is of colossal dimensions: 50 m high by 45 m long... Facing the Champs-Élysées, the arch is decorated with a superb Rude composition, entitled Le Départ des volontaires de 1792 but commonly known as La Marseillaise. This allegory of the «patrie», treated in a vibrant romantic style escapes from the grip of academism (a danger not avoided by the three groups executed by Rude's competitors, Cortot and Etex). The Unknown Soldier has since 1920 rested beneath the monument in front of the Flame of Memory revived each day at 6:30 p. m. From this location, you can see, on the interior surface of the arch, the names of battles and of 558 generals who participated in them. There is a splendid view from the platform along the twelve avenues that lead off from the square.
Dominated by the statue of Maréchal Foch, this semi-circular square, on which the palais de Chaillot stands, was laid out in 1858.
It is the symbol of Paris and probably the best-known Parisian monument in the world: endless queues form outside the lifts. And yet ... And yet, when it was first silhouetted against the skies of Paris in 1889, numerous artists made vigorous protests against the engineer, Gustave Eiffel, who was disfiguring Paris: Maupassant, Charles Garnier, Gounod signed a petition to bring the blight to an end. But its success was immediate and beyond all appeal, from the moment of its inauguration. It is true that it was almost dismantled at the expiry of the concession in 1909, but the TSF saved the tower, which successively housed the international time service, transoceanic wireless telephone communications, French radio broadcasting, television and a meteorological and air traffic centre. The structure weighs 7,000 tonnes but its weight is less than that of the cylinder of air which encloses it. It exerts a pressure of 4 kilos per sq cm on the ground, equivalent to that of a seated man. It now reaches a height of 320m. The Tower permits innumerable visitors to discover a panorama which, from the third level stretches away for 67km on a clear day. Paris is laid out like a map and display boards help you to identify the sights. A small museum (on the first level) with an audiovisual display traces the history of the tower, while on the third level you can see the office that Gustave Eiffel had built for himself.
This beautiful architectural grouping was built in 1671, according to the plans of Libéral Bruant, to welcome and care for the injured from the war. Various military administrations and the Museum of the Army occupy the buildings. In the centre of the majestic facade a magnificent portico gives access to the main courtyard and to the Church of St Louis. On the other side, the Church of the Dome, built by Hardouin-Mansart, houses the tomb of Napoléon.
During the times of Ancient Rome, the Romans already lived in this quarter, and, preferred the slopes of Sainte-Geneviève, leaving the «plain» to the Gauls. During the 12th century, clerks and scholars crossed the Seine and set up on the left bank, once they were free from the control of the diocese. In 1215, the University of Paris was founded, which was the first one in France. Numerous colleges then opened in the quarter to meet the flow of students from all over Europe. The college set up by Robert de Sorbon, founded in 1253, was going to have highly successful future, but the colleges of Sainte-Barbe, Escossois or Navarre were equally prestigious. And, right up to 1793, the classes were given in Latin, which was the main language used in the quarter! After the upheaval of the Revolution, the quarter's university calling was confirmed: the Sorbonne, the law faculty, the Ecole Polytechnique (the prestigious engineering college), the Collège de France, Henri IV, Louis-le-Grand and Saint-Louis lycées, the École Normale supérieure (prestigious teaching training school) were set up there, and even if some of them have been later «relocated», Censier's and Jussieu's creations have carried on the tradition. Medieval alleyways, students whose unruly reputation is no longer a reality, cinemas, numerous restaurants from Mount Sainte-Geneviève to Boul'Mich, from Mouffe to Luxembourg attract crowds both by day and at night.
It was the Bishop Maurice de Sully who , around 1163, began the construction of the cathedral, whose works, directed in the 12C by Jean de Chelles and Pierre de Montreuil were completed around 1300. This was the last of the great churches with tribunes and the first with flying buttresses. Another innovation: the gargoyles ejecting rainwater far from the foundations. The scene of important ceremonies, it was mutilated over the centuries, and not only by the Revolutionaries of 1789! Although criticised the restoration by Viollet-le-Duc has enabled the under-maintained sanctuary to recover all its lustre. The balanced façade is majestic. The tympanum of the door of Our Lady served as a model for the artists of the Middle Ages. Mutilated by Soufflot, that of the Last Judgement was corrected by Viollet-le-Duc. Further up, the 28 kings of Judah and Israel were replaced after 1793. The towers rise to a height of 69 metres above the ground. The right hand one provides those courageous souls who climb it with a splendid view of the spire, the flying buttresses and a nation of chimeras. The interior is striking in its daring and audacity. The wonderful stained glass windows of the transept are exceptionally large and light; the northern rose has remained almost intact since the 13C. You can see numerous chapels, funerary monuments in the ambulatory, bas-reliefs in the cloister of the choir (restored by Viollet-le-Duc) and, no doubt, far too many people to be able to really appreciate the cathedral (and as for a moment's quiet meditation, don't even think about it!).