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Behind the Scenes on Paris’s Most Popular Attractions

Paris - Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

Paris is a tourist’s playground, filled with many historic and culturally significant sights and attractions. The city, which is the national capital of France, is an important social, economic and political center in Europe. Its beginnings date back as far as the 3rd century as a Gaelic strategic location along the Seine river date and it has been the center of many significant conquests and world events, including the storming of the Bastille in 1789 and its occupation in 1942 by Germany during World War II until its liberation on August 25, 1944.

Throughout the city’s 9,000 years of inhabitation, there exist many historical sights and locations that have become popular with tourists from around the world. A visit to Paris and its more than 2.2 million residents almost always includes a visit to these attractions: the Louvre; Eiffel Tower; and, the Arc de Triomphe, among other famous attractions. Here is some information behind the scenes of these famous locales as well as some little-known facts about each.

The Louvre

The Louvre is the national museum of art located in Paris along the right bank of Le Seine river. The museum was opened shortly after the French Revolution in the late 1700s and is home to more than 35,000 individual pieces of artwork from famed French and international artists. Probably the most famous of the works found in the Louvre is that of Italian painter Leonardo da Vinci, the Mona Lisa.

The opening scene from the 2003 Sony Pictures release “The Da Vinci Code” shows the body of the fictional museum’s curator from view of the glass pyramid at the entrance of the museum. The pyramid, which is where visitors can find the ticket booth for entrance, was designed by world famous architect I.M. Pei. The museum complex is part of a 12th-century fortress to repel threats from Anglo-Norman forces of which the city was at war with. King Francoise I took residency in the building in 1527, transforming the fortress into a royal residence for more than 250 years until it became the present day art repository.

The Eiffel Tower

The iron lattice tower that stands 301 meters (986 feet) was opened on March 31, 1889 after two years of construction. The tower’s designer and namesake, Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel, climbed 1,710 steps, unfurled the French flag and proclaimed the Tower as the world’s largest flagpole. The Tower was the tallest building in the world (eclipsing the Washington Monument built in Washington. D.C. also in 1889 by more than 400 feet) for just over three decades until the Chrysler Building (1,046 feet) was built in New York City in 1930. The building has transformed, like a chameleon, from a reddish brown when it opened, to yellow ten years later, to a yellow-brown/chestnut-brown to its current Eiffel Tower Brown in 1968. The Tower is painted every seven years in order to maintain its fresh appearance. The Tower was built to commemorate the centennial anniversary of the storming of the Bastille and start of the French Revolution.

Arc de Triomphe

French conqueror Napoleon I desired a commemorative column to announce to the world Paris as an empire city, entrusting architect Jean-Francoise-Therese Chalgrin with the task of constructing what is now known as the Arc de Triomphe. The Arc, among its notables, lists the name of 558 French generals who died in battle. The French Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I lays just beneath the arc, which was dedicated on November 12, 1919 (the day of the War to End All Wars armistice was signed).

While Paris is world-renowned for its street side cafes, luxurious museums and decadent gastronomy, the city itself truly must be seen to be believed. Get started planning your trip to the city of Paris by following along the travel writings of Dale Dunlop, The Maritime Explorer. Having traveled all across the globe, the Canadian travel explorer now sets his sights on Paris, France, sharing details of his journey through his travel blog. Whether you’re looking for more information on the city’s most popular attractions or looking to uncover some of the more hidden gems, follow along as The Maritime Explorer shares his experiences by visitng his travel blog.


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