5 Cathedrals That Are a Must-Visit in Paris

Notre Dame Cathedral

The Notre Dame cathedral is one of the most beautiful and famous cathedrals in the world. The building of the cathedral was started in the 12th century, and completed in the 14th century. I quickly became the central structure in Paris. However, it did go through a period of decay until Victor Hugo immortalized it in his book “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”.

Saint-Eustache Church

This gorgeous and unique church was constructed between 1532 and 1642 right in the heart of Parisa in the Les Halles and Rue Montorgueil districts. It boasts both Renaissance elements and gothic design in a seemingly unfinished design that has an essence of charm and elegance. The organ located within the church was famously used by composers Franz Listz and Berlioz to compose various works. You can still catch a concert to this day that the church.

Eglise de la Madeleine

The church, named after Mary Magdalene, resembles none other than the famous Parthenon! It was originally set to be a government hall, a library, and a national bank, however Louis XVIII decided he’d rather it be a church. Inside the church is a remarkable statue of Joan of Arc, as well as paintings depicting the marriage of the Virgin Mary and Christ’s baptism.

Saint Etienne du Mont Church

This beauty lies right behind the Pantheon in Paris’ Latin Quarter. The church was originally constructed in the 13th century, but was rebuilt between 15th and 17th century. It houses a bell tower, beautiful stained glass, and some of Paris’ oldest organs.

Saint Coeur Basilica

Sitting right in the Montmarte quarter is the Sacre Coeur Basilica, which is actually a relatively new addition to the structures in Paris. It was built during the French Revolution of 1789 and completed in the year 1919 right after World War One. This church differs from others in Paris in that it was not built in the gothic or Renaissance style, and instead was built with a Romano-Byzantine style in mind. Inside you can find a lot of gold leaf and some gorgeous decor.

Paris in Springtime

Ahhh Springtime in Paris has finally arrived! The birds a singing, skies are blue, the flowers are blooming, and everyone has relaxed from the dreariness of winter. Paris is one of those cities that is beautiful, but even more remarkable while in full bloom during springtime. The pictures prove it.

The Castles of Loire Valley

castle 1

Outside of Paris lies the gorgeous Loire Valley – full of rolling hills, vineyards, delicious wine, and astonishingly gorgeous old castles. Over three hundred castles were built in the valley between the 10th century and the 16th century, some as fortifications and some as symbols of wealth and power. The Loire became a favorite location of French royalty throughout time. Today. some of the castles are privately owned and open to the public for viewing, others are used as hotels, and still others are operated by the government and displayed as tourist attractions.

If you’re looking to make your way outside of Paris for some sights, Loire Valley and its castles are a great choice. Here’s a list of some of the most popular castles to view in this region:

  • Amboise Castle

Amboise Castle

  • Clos Luce

 

Clos Luce

  • Villandry Castle

Villandry Castle

  • Chambord Castle

Chambord Castle

  • Cheverny Castle

Cheverny Cadtle

  • Angers Castle

Angers Castle

Mosquée de Paris

Mosquée de Paris

This gorgeous mosque was founded in 1926 as Paris’ token of gratitude to the Muslim tirailleurs after World War I where 100,000 or more died fighting against Germany. Rising a total of 33 meters high, the mosque was built in traditional  mudéjar style, and was inaugurated by President Gaston Doumergue on July 15th, 1926. Ahmad al-Alwai, founder of the modern Sufi order  Darqawiyya Alawiyya, held the first communal prayer in the mosque during its inauguration in front of the president. During World War II, the mosque was a refuge for Jews being  persecuted by the Nazis. It provided safe passage, shelter, food, and forged Muslim birth certificates.

Today, the mosque has rooms (one for man and one for wife), a clinic for circumcision, a coffee bar and restaurant serving couscous, turkish coffee, mint tea, and pastries, a souvenir shop for tourists, and a Turkish bath house. The bath house is done is traditional Turkish bath house style and can be seen below. It’s open to the public:

Mosquée de Paris

The mosque also offers courses in Arabic, a ‘great hall of honor’ for receptions and conferences, a prayer hall, a library, and a beautiful courtyard filled with cascading waters, green trees, and gorgeous sculptures. The gardens are a place where meditation is encouraged.

If you wish to visit the mosque, it’s welcomed, however modest attire is a requirement. It’s located at 2 bis place of the well of the hermit, 75005, Paris. Phone number is 33-1-45-35-97-33. They also offer a wealth of information on their website if you’re interested, including detailed history and explanations of the Quran and a guided picture tour of the mosque. Website: http://www.mosquee-de-paris.org

January’s Fun Things to Do in Paris List

Chic Shopping Paris

Chic Shopping Paris

Since Paris is the fashion capital of the world, why not experience it with a guided shopping tour from the professionals? Chic Shopping Paris has been featured in the NY Times, the Travel Channel, and more as a way to help maximize your shopping time in Paris. You can choose from themed tours such as “Made in France” or “Tres Tasty”, or build your own custom designed tour if you’re searching for something like a wedding dress.

Book your tour: http://www.chicshoppingparis.com/

 

On Rue Tatin Paris

On Rue Tatin Paris

Cooking enthusiasts will love this if they ever wanted to cook in Paris. Catch a class taught by Susan Herrmann Loomis that begins with an outdoor market tour shopping for fresh fruits, fish, meats, dairy, and breads. Then learn to cook with those ingredients.

Book your class: http://www.onruetatin.com/

 

Photo Tours in Paris

PHOTO TOURS IN PARIS

Photo Tours in Paris specializes in customized trips around Paris geared towards photographers. An award winning photographer, Randy Harris, leads the groups. You can either do a private tour, or a group tour with other photographers. The tour will help you see the sites in Paris, learn about photography, build your portfolio, and maximize your photo opportunities during your trip.

Book a tour: http://www.phototoursinparis.com/

 

Paris Authentic

PARIS AUTHENTIC

Travelers looking for the most authentic Parisian tour should check this out. You’ll travel in a 2CV car (shown above) and be taken to see the famous sights of the city. Hear anecdotes and ask questions on any Paris topic you may be interested in. You’ll also be given numerous photo opportunities and are sure to have the ride of your life!

Book today: http://www.parisauthentic.com/

 

Arc de Triomphe


When in Paris, the Arc de Triomphe is hard to miss. Standing 160ft high and 148ft wide at the end of the Champs-Elysees boulevard, in the middle of the Place Charles de Gaulle, the Arc towers over every other structure nearby.

Upon commission from Napoleon, this beautiful structure was designed in 1806 by Jean Chalgrin, who’s design was inspired by the Roman Arch of Titus. Chalgrin passed in 1811, and all architectural work was taken over by Jean-Nicholas Huyot. Work on the Arc was halted during the Bourbon Restoration, however finally in 1836 the third architect, Hericart de Thury, completed its construction.

The monument honors the soldiers who fought and died for France during the Napoleonic Wars, however the Arc also features the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with an eternal flame kept burning. This addition was added after the first World War on Armistice Day, and is a tribute and remembrance for all unknown soldiers who fought and died for their country. Since the addition of the tomb, it has been customary for all troops to march around the tomb instead of underneath it as a sign of respect for the tomb. Even Hitler ordered his troops to march around the Arc instead of underneath.

The Arc is quite a significant landmark for Parisians and Quite a few notable events have taken place at the Arc de Triomphe since its construction:

  • Napoleon’s body was carried underneath it after his passing, as well as the body of Victor Hugo being displayed there before burial.
  • In 1919, Charles Godefroy actually flew his plane under the Arc.
  • The annual Bastille Day parade takes place using the Arc as a center point
  • Successful troops home from war have rallied here in past years
  • German troops have marched through the Arc

After the Arc de Triomphe was built, 3 more Arc’s were actually built in an attempt to prolong the Avenue des Champs-Elysees: Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, Arc de Triomphe de l’Etoile, and the Grand Arche. These monuments all form Paris’s Axe Historique.

Paris Opera

The Paris Opera, founded in 1669 by Louis XIV, is a cornerstone of Paris’s long history of being a giant in the arts and music community. Originally, the idea for the French opera was that of Pierre Perrin’s, whose intention when presenting it to the king was to debunk the common thinking at the time that the French language was “unmusical”. This false idea has certainly been tossed aside over the years, as not only do some of the most beautiful opera’s take place here, but the classical ballet as it is known today rose out of the Paris Opera.

The Palais Garnier (shown above) is mainly used to host the Paris Ballet, and is more widely known than any other opera establishment in the world. Decorated with the best marble, gorgeous columns, chandeliers, and bronze busts of notable composers, the Palais Garnier is the revered in the architectural community. It’s actually the setting for one of the most famous novels of all time – The Phantom of the Opera, which was eventually turned into a musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber. The Paris Opera Library-Museum is also here.

The Opera Bastille, an opera house built in 1989 with a more modern design, is home to the Opera national de Paris currently. Here you can experience classical French opera and concerts performed by only the most talented musicians, singers, and performers .You can view the line-up for this year’s performances here. You’ll find the line-up for this season to be phenomenal, featuring Operas written by classical musician greats such as Richard Strauss, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Richard Wagner, Giuseppe Verdi, Giacomo Puccini, and much more.

The Iron Lady of Paris

The Eiffel Tower, or the Iron Lady as it’s sometimes referred to, is a 1,063 foot tall radio tower that soars in the Paris skyline.  The history of the tower is a big part of what makes it such an important landmark. It was originally built in 1889 as the entranceway to the Worlds Fair, after which it was supposed to be torn down once the permit held by its designer, Gustave Eiffel, wore out. The city saw that it could be of some use as a communication device, though, and thus it remained up and served a significant role during the First Battle of the Marne. What’s interesting here is while the City of Paris saw the tower as an asset, most Parisian citizens saw it as nothing more than an eyesore – especially the arts populace. Local papers even received angry letters criticizing the tower and its continued presence in the beloved city.

Throughout the years, the Eiffel Tower played a significant and interesting role in Parisian history. For instance, during World War II when the Nazi party occupied Paris, the French actually cut the lift cables on the tower in an effort to prevent Adolf Hitler from easily making it to the top. Hitler’s soldiers had to climb all the way to the top to hang the swastika flag, which initially flew off due to the high wind and had to be replaced with a smaller one. Interestingly, Hitler never made it to the top of the tower, which Parisians will recall fondly that Hitler may have conquered France but he couldn’t conquer the Eiffel Tower. After the city of Paris was freed from the grasp of the Nazi party, the lifts to the tower were restored within a matter of hours.

While the Eiffel Tower is probably France’s biggest tourist attraction, it still maintains its role as a radio tower, with two radio stations broadcasting their signals from the top. When visiting the Iron Lady today, there are a number of things you can view that really give you a unique perspective of the tower and its rich history. The top of the tower is host to a small apartment that Gustave Eiffel l used at one time to host parties. The apartment can still be seen today and provides an interesting glimpse into the towers history. You can even catch a meal, or two, on the Eiffel Tower at one of its TWO restaurants – Le 58 tour Eiffel on the first level and Le Jules Verne on the second level. The latter of the two restaurants even has a Michelin Star! Another unique piece of history you can view is the engraved names of the seventy-two people that helped design and contribute to what the Eiffel Tower is today. Included are inscriptions of scientists, engineers, and even Gustave Eiffel himself.

You can also learn about a few very unique events in which the Eiffel Tower starred while you are here. For example, in 1912 an Austrian named Franz Reichelt attempted to jump 60 metres from the first floor using a home designed parachute. Sadly, he failed and fell to his death. Interestingly, this would be the first of many daredevils jumping from the Eiffel Tower. You can also learn of a more recent odd fact – the Eiffel Tower is apparently married? That’s right! In 2007, Erika Eiffel, married (or as much as one can marry a steel tower) the Eiffel Tower.

Visiting this landmark that is truly a Paris, and a global, icon is a definite must see for any Parisian tourist, especially if you want to get a remarkable glimpse into the history and greatness of Paris. Plus, the view from the top, where you can see all of Paris, is just breathtaking. Make it your first stop, or make it your last stop, just as long as you stop by!

Moulin Rouge: Where Cancan is Queen

The Moulin Rouge was established in 1889 during the height of what was Paris’ most unique periods of history. At the start of the industrial revolution an interesting thing happened in Paris – social boundaries were dropped and fun, exuberance, and frivolity were in abundance. This was a big change from the former uptightness of the classicism period. In the midst of this exciting era, the most famous cabaret the world will ever know opened its doors to anyone who wanted to come.

An extravagant and wild atmosphere that no one had seen before was offered at the Moulin Rouge – including the Cancan, made famous by the Moulin Rouge. The Cancan dancers here were like none the world had ever seen. Each night when the doors opened at 10pm a fleet of young girls entered stage and threw their legs high in the air in a wave of frills and black stockings. Some of the most famous Cancan dancers were Jane Avril and Yvette Guilbert, the latter of the two going on to become a famous fortune teller.

Today, you can still visit the Moulin Rouge in all its glory and catch an exciting burlesque show. You don’t need to wait until 10pm, though. You can make reservations for a meal and a show as early as 1pm. With a history as rich and exciting as the Moulin Rouge’s, and its traditions still being upheld, don’t leave Paris without experiencing it!

Champs-Elysèes

Orientation

This impressive promenade stretches from the Place the la Concorde to the Place Charles de Gaulle, the site of the Arc de Triomphe. At its western end the Champs-Elysées is bordered by cinemas, theaters, cafés and luxury shops. Near the Place de la Concorde, the street is bordered by the Jardins des Champs-Elysées, beautifully arranged gardens with fountains and some grand buildings including the Grand and Petit Palais at the southern side and the Elysée at its northern side. The latter has been the residence of the French Presidents since 1873.
Celebrations
The Champs-Elysées is used for all the major celebrations. This is where Parisians celebrate New Year’s Eve and where the military parades are held on the 14th of July. Historic national events, like the Liberation at the end of the second World War or the victory in

Champs-Elysees street name sign
17th century – The Elysian Fields
In the 16th century this area was nothing but fields outside the center of Paris. In 1616 Marie de Medicis decided to create a long tree-lined path going east from the Tuileries. The route was redesigned in 1667 by renowned landscape designer André Le Nôtre as an extension of the Jardins des Tuileries. The promenade, now called ‘Grande Allée du Roule’ or ‘Grand-Cours’ had become a fashionable place but was still isolated from the city with few buildings surrounding the area. 27 Years later the promenade was renamed to ‘Champs-Elysées’, or Elysian Fields in English. The name was derived from Greek mythology where ‘Elusia’ is a

Champs Elysees seen towards Arc de Triomphe
place where heroes come to relax.
18th & 19th century – Further Development
In 1724 the Champs-Elysées was extended all the way to the Chaillot hill (now known as l’Etoile, the site of the Arc de Triomphe). Its current form took shape in 1838 when French architect Ignaz Hittorf – who was redesigning the Place de la Concorde – created the Jardins des Champs-Elysées. He also installed sidewalks, gas lamps and fountains. The Champs-Elysées started to attract more and more restaurants and hotels, especially after 1900 when the Paris métro line nr 1 reached the Etoile station.
Current Design
The lastest redesign of the prestigious avenue was done in 1994 by Bernard Huet. The side lanes were converted into pedestrian zones, an underground parking lot was created and new trees were planted. Cars now only occupy half the width of this grand avenue.