France: Paris

A visitor to Paris is afforded the opportunity to immerse his or herself in boundless beauty!  The city with its spectacular architecture, magnificent outdoor sculptures, grand boulevards, narrow cobble-stoned paths, historic bridges, picturesque parks, palaces, and museums offers so much for one to enjoy and contemplate.

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Unfortunately, a short stopover does not allow enough time to even touch upon Paris’ many allures. Here we strive to provide you with a very small glimpse into the treasures of Paris, France.

In the heart of Paris is the Place de la Concorde, and in the heart of the Place de la Concorde is the Obelisk of Luxor. This 3,300-year-old, 75-foot tall obelisk is one of two which once stood at the entrance of Luxor Temple in Egypt. It was presented to France as a gift in 1883 Three years later, King Louis-Philippe placed the obelisk in the center of the square to mark the spot where the guillotine once stood during the French Revolution.

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At each corner of the octagonal square is a statue representing a French city: Marseille, Lyon, Bordeaux, Strasbourg, Lille, Rouen, Nantes and Brest. The Lille and Strasbourg statues were created by James Pradier, a Swiss-born French sculptor. After the Franco–Prussian war of 1870 the statue was draped in black to symbolize France’s loss to the new German Empire. When World War I ended in victory the black drapery was removed.

The Eiffel Tower located on the Champ de Mars is named after the engineer Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built the tower. Erected in 1889 as the entrance arch to the World’s Fair, it has become both the global cultural icon of France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world. It is estimated that to date, 250 million visitors have ascended the tower.

The Tuileries Garden is a public garden located between the Louvre Museum and the Place de la Concorde. Created by Catherine de Medicis as the garden of the Tuileries Palace in 1564, it was eventually opened to the public in 1667.

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Just nine minutes away from the Place de la Concorde is the Musée National d’Art Moderne (National Museum of Modern Art) which is housed in the Centre Pompidou. Created in 1947, the museum has the second largest collection of modern and contemporary art in the world, after the MOMA in New York, with more than 99,000 works of art by 6,300 artists. These works include painting, architecture, photography, cinema, new media, sculpture and design.

Paris, National Museum of Modern Art

Within a 15-minute walking distance is the Marais neighborhood where the 17th century church, Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis stands. Construction of the church began in 1627, when King Louis XIII laid the first stone. Just 15 years later, in 1641, the church was dedicated by Cardinal Richelieu. The church displays a painting named, “Christ in the Garden of Olives (1827)” by the famous French Romantic artist, Ferdinand Victor Eugène Delacroix. Delacroix’s perhaps most recognized painting is “La Liberte guidant le people.”

Paris, Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis Church-1

Paris, Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis Church, an art by Eugene Delacroix

Christ in the Garden of Olives

Christ in the Garden of Olives

La Liberte Guidant Le Peuple

La Liberte Guidant Le Peuple

Finally, 50 miles west of Paris in the Seine valley lies Giverny. The town is probably known best for its artist in residence, Claude Monet. Monet noticed the village of Giverny while looking out of a train window. He made up his mind to move there and rented a house and the area surrounding it. In 1890 he had enough money to buy the house and land outright and set out to create the magnificent gardens he wanted to paint. Some of his most famous paintings were of his garden in Giverny, famous for its rectangular Clos Normand, with archways of climbing plants entwined around colored shrubs, and the water garden, formed by a tributary to the Epte, with the Japanese bridge, the pond with the water lilies, wisterias and azaleas. Monet lived in the house until his death in 1926. He and many members of his family are interred in the village cemetery.

Village of Giverny, 47 miles from Paris, Japanese garden-1

Village of Giverny, 47 miles from Paris, Japanese garden-2

Village of Giverny, 47 miles from Paris, Japanese garden-3

Claude_Monet-Waterlilies

Photographic credits:  Moritoshi Inaba

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