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Paris by night

Paris by night

By 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.

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1

Palais Garnier - Opéra National de Paris   Worth a detour Worth a detour

8 r. Scribe 75001 Paris
Architecture, castles and historic districts

Designed in 1860 by Charles Garnier, the sumptuous façade of this opera house is adorned with numerous sculptures. The interior, in which Garnier used marble of varying provenance, is of incomparable beauty: the Great Staircase and Grand Foyer are quite stunning. In the Grand Foyer, admire the ceiling painted by Marc Chagall in 1964. This renowned venue has hosted some of the world's greatest performers (Serge Lifar, Maria Callas, Patrice Chéreau etc) and is mainly used today for ballet.

2

Medieval Louvre   Worth a journey Worth a journey Worth a journey

R. de Rivoli 75001 Paris
Architecture, castles and historic districts

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.

3

Place de la Concorde   Worth a journey Worth a journey Worth a journey

Pl. de la Concorde 75008 Paris
Architecture, castles and historic districts

This huge square was built from 1755-75 by the architect Gabriel. Two impressive colonnaded mansions stand either side of rue Royale. One is home to the Hôtel Crillon, the other the Navy headquarters. On the angles of the square, eight statues represent France's main cities. At its centre, the Luxor obelisk is framed by two fountains. At the junction with the Champs-Élysées, the Marly horses stand opposite Coysevox's winged horses, placed at the entrance to the Tuileries gardens.

4

Champs-Élysées   Worth a journey Worth a journey Worth a journey

Av. des Champs-Élysées 75008 Paris
Architecture, castles and historic districts

This grandiose and impressively wide avenue is the city's most famous thoroughfare, home to a string of luxury boutiques. Highly fashionable during the Second Empire period, it has preserved its fine avenues of chestnut trees, theatres and a few restaurants from this period in its lower section from Place de la Concorde to the Rond-Point. In its upper section, up to Place de l'Étoile, private houses have for the most part disappeared, to be replaced by cafés, cinemas and shopping arcades.

5

Arc de Triomphe   Worth a journey Worth a journey Worth a journey

Pl. Charles-de-Gaulle 75008 Paris
Archaeological and historical sites

Situated at the top of the Champs-Élysées, this arch occupies the centre of the Place Charles-de-Gaulle, which opens out onto 12 wide avenues. Built in 1806 by Jean-François Chalgrin upon the order of Napoleon, it was only completed in 1836. Huge in its dimensions (50m high by 45m wide), it is adorned with impressive high reliefs, including The Departure of the Volunteers in 1792, better known as La Marseillaise. Enjoy a good view of Paris from the platform. The tomb of the Unknown Soldier has rested beneath the arch since 1921.

6

Place du Trocadéro-et-du-11-Novembre  

Pl. du Trocadéro 75016 Paris
Architecture, castles and historic districts

To celebrate the capture of the Trocadéro fort near Cádiz in Spain by the French in 1823, a celebration was organised for the soldiers upon their return. This was held on the Chaillot hill and centred around a fort made from paperboard. The name Trocadéro has been given to this square since 1827. An equestrian statue of Marshal Foch stands at its centre.

7

The Eiffel Tower   Worth a journey Worth a journey Worth a journey

Champ-de-Mars 75007 Paris
Nature and gardens

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.

8

Hôtel des Invalides   Worth a journey Worth a journey Worth a journey

Pl. des Invalides 75007 Paris
Architecture, castles and historic districts

This stunning architectural complex was built in 1671, according to the plans of Libéral Bruant, to receive and care for the war wounded. Its buildings now house various military bodies and the Musée de l'Armée. In the centre of the majestic facade, a magnificent portico provides access to the main courtyard and to a church, the Église Saint-Louis-des-Invalides. On the other side, the Église du Dôme, built by Hardouin-Mansart, houses the tomb of Napoleon.

9

Latin Quarter   Worth a journey Worth a journey Worth a journey

R. de la Harpe 75005 Paris
Architecture, castles and historic districts

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 Ecole 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.

10

Notre-Dame Cathedral   Worth a journey Worth a journey Worth a journey

6 pl. du Parvis Notre-Dame 75004 Paris
Religious buildings

This site has been a place of worship for 2 000 years: a Gallo-Roman temple, Christian basilica and Romanesque church all preceded the current building. Maurice de Sully began construction around 1163. Over the centuries it has suffered significant architectural maltreatment, remedied by the restoration work of Viollet-le-Duc and Lassus begun in 1841. It was one of the last great churches with galleries and one of the first to display flying buttresses; the addition of gargoyles to displace rainwater was another new innovation. From the top of the south tower, the view extends across Île de la Cité, upon which it is built.

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