Paris The City Of Light

Paris Champs de Mars

First off, I hope that you can finally SEE my new header.  I just love to see my very own pictures of food and places up there.  Then there is the cartoon car, plane and train that just look great and fun. All together I think it really represents what this blog is about and that was the goal. At the end of the post, please, let me know what you think of it .

Believe it or not I had no post of Paris, yet on this blog. So after having written a post about how to travel with Paris subway, here is a post about Paris outside of the metro.

Even though I am from Lyon, I lived in Paris just over five years, from October 1987 to January 1993 when I moved to New York City.  I moved to Paris to pursue my drama studies, and lived in a studio in the 18th arrondissement.  Even though I was some distance from the Eiffel Tower I could still see it from my balcony.  Since for some reason I’ve fell in love with the Eiffel tower since the first time I saw it, it was the first thing I’d look at every morning when I work up.

Paris the Capital of France

Paris, as you know, is the capital of France and the largest city of the country. It’s located in the northern part of the country some 5 hours from Lyon and 8 hours from the French Riviera by car.  With the  TGV, however, it’s only 2 hours from Lyon and about 3 1/2 hours from the French Rivera (Nice).

The climate is cooler in Paris than it is in Lyon and on average a good 10-15 degrees average cooler than Marseille in the south of France.

Paris is a real center of art with its most visited art museum in the world, the Louvre. Paris is also the capital of fashion where all the most famous French designers have their quarters and stores. And the city with the largest subway system in the country.

And let’s not forget, Paris is the host of what has been called the most beautiful avenue of the world, Les Champs Elysées and the incomparable Eiffel Tower which dominates the city from its 300 meters (985 ft.) and has become the icon of the whole country.

Historical Monuments Of Paris!

Paris has seen quite some history, and it’s actually a miracle that the major buildings which are literal landmarks of French history have not been destroyed during world war II as the Germans attacked the city in June 1940.

LouvreThe Louvre

The Louvre was built around 1190 as a defensive fortress by king Philippe August. It was then transformed into a more modernized dwelling (a chateau) before becoming the sumptuous palace of the Sun King, Louis XIV.  It became a museum in 1793.

In the early 19th century the Louvre saw some interior transformations for an improvement of space for the artwork. And exterior transformation and extension underwent in the mid 19th century.

In 1981 President Francois Mitterand started the Grand Louvre Project, and an ultimate modernization and extension of the present Louvre was born with an open new wing which was used to house the ministry of finance. During this last modernization of the Louvre the famous glass pyramid was born with much critics at the time saying that this mixture of modern still next to an historic building was a big mistake.

Arc De TriompheArc de Triomphe

The Arc De Triomphe is a commemoration of Napoleon’s victories commissioned by himself. The construction of the arc started in 1806 and was complete 30 years later in 1836.

The Arc de Triomphe is located at the very top end of the Champs-Elysées, in the center of the Place Charles de Gaulle, better known as “la place de l’étoile” (the star plaza), because of the 12 avenues merging together there and forming a gigantic star (étoile).

You can climb the 234 steps of the Arc de Triomphe (there is no elevator) and get to the platform where you can observe a superb view of the Champs Elysees and much of the city.

The Arc is positioned in such a way that when facing the Champs Elysées towards the Concord Plaza you can observe the Obélisque in the a perfecty straight line accross.  The view is magnificent.

Beneath the Arc de Triomphe is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier that honors French fallen soldiers from both World Wars.

Eiffel Tower under construction 1888
Eiffel Tower under construction 1888

The Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel tower was built in commemoration of the centenary of the French Revolution for the World exhibition of 1889. The construction started in 1887.  It took some 300 steel workers to build this giant tower that is now overlooking the whole city of Paris.

There were 700 proposals submitted for the special construction and Gustave Eiffel (the creator of the tower) was unanimously chosen as it included a petition of some famous names of the France of the times which included Guy de Maupassant, Emile Zola and Charles Garnier, architect of the (Opera Garnier) in Paris.

The Eiffel tower has three stories and is 300 meters high, 320 with its antenna, and weighs 7,000 tons. The Eiffel Tower was the tallest building in the world until 1930. Its height varies up to 15 cm depending on the temperature. The tower is taller in the summer as its metallic structure expends in the heat.

The First Level of the Eiffel tower is up 360 steps by stairs or can be accessed with the elevator. The first floor has a small audio-visual museum showing historical film footage of the tower.

The Second Level up 359 steps from the first level includes a fine french food restaurant which offers a superb panoramic view of the city.

The Third Level is a platform which offers the best view of Paris, as nothing is higher than you are when you are standing up there.

Incredibly, the tower was supposed to be demolished in 1909 as its permit expired since it was an exhibition temporary building. Yes, the Eiffel tower was a temporaty building. Interestingly, It’s the tower antenna that saved the tower from being destroyed because it was used for multiple purposes including the military.

To protect the Eiffel tower from rust it has to be repainted every 7 years. It takes 50 to 60 tons of three graded paint to cover the 200,000 square meters of iron. It takes 25 painters working for 15 months, 1500 brushes and 5000 sanding disk.

Even though from afar the tower appears to be gray in color it is painted with several shades of brown.

Designed To Stand

At the time the tower was built many people were shocked by its daring shape and Eiffel was criticized for the design and accused of trying to create something artistic with no regard to engineering security.

However, Eiffel and his engineers, were renowned bridge builders who understood very well the importance of wind forces and knew that if they were going to build the tallest structure in the world they had to be certain it would withstand the wind. Therefore the primary concern of Gustave Eiffel was wind resistance.

Eiffel Tower
The Champs de Mars plaza

Eiffel designed the tower in such a way that it is mathematically calculated and gives an impression of strength and beauty which has lasted up to our days.

Today the Eiffel tower is one the world’s most visited sites by tourists. If you get on the elevator that will take you up to the third floor you will experience a very unique sensation of flying upward to the sky living the ground far under. If you have a fear of heights, though, I do not recommend that you do so.

Le Sacré-Coeur

SacrecoeurLe Sacré-Coeur is a very famous church located in and area called Montmartre.   Monmartre is the famous spot where artist painters are gathering on side walks and cafes since 1880. To this day Montmartre is a real market place for artist painters who are selling their art on the sidewalks.

The name Montmartre (an area around a hill in the 18th arrondissement, north of downtown Paris) is said to be derived from the terms Mount of Martyrs or from Mount of Mars. Until 1873, when the Sacré-Coeur was built on top of the hill, Montmartre was a small village, inhabited by a mostly farming community.

The Sacré-Coeur (Sacred Heart) was built in Romanesque style.
This massive building has managed to keep its beaming white color even as  in the air has gotten more polluted over time.

This can be attributed to the Château-Landon stones which were used for the construction of the Sacré-Coeur. The stones with which the Sacré-Coeur was built are very special and react to water by secreting clacite, which act as bleacher. So, every time it rains the stones of the Sacre Coeur are getting their whiting bath. this doesn’t mean that mother nature doesn’t need a bit of help once in a while. The Sacre Coeur was cleaned in the late 1980’s and it’s true whiteness was more beautiful then ever.

Notre Dame
Notre Dame

Notre Dame

Next to the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe, Notre-Dame probably is the most easily recognizable building in Paris.
This church was Built between 1163 and 1300. It took over one hundred years for the Gothic masterpiece to be completed. The 102 feet high building is a masterpiece of sculpture and prodigious design.
Inside you can admire the numerous windows and works of art. 255 steps will take you to the famous square shape towers through the”Gallery of chimeras”, which was added during the course of the restoration program that began in 1845.  Notre Dame is also famous for its numerous gargoyles and funny-looking chimeras where, unfortunately, a gird had to be added to stop people jumping down to their death. Yes, the Cathedral was becoming infamous for suicidal jumping.
Once you’re there, take another 147 steps and you will be able to see the huge Cathedral’s bell named Emmanuel. The bell weighs 28,000 pounds and is very impressive.

If you know about Victor Hugo’s story “The Huntchback Of Notre Dame” this site will without a doubt remind you the famous story.

There are many, many more places, monuments and museums to visit in Paris, but I can’t possible name them all here on this post. So watch the video for more…

 In the future I will dedicate antoher post to museums only.


Leave your comments below!

30 thoughts on “Paris The City Of Light”

  1. Love the header. Great post as usual. I’ve been to all the places you mentioned and they are all great. I could probably spend a whole week in the Louvre.

    In the Arc de Triumph all i remember was the restrooms or the WC’s smelled like pee and my daughter kept gagging until we got to the top.

    At the eiffel tower the kids loved going to the to and enjoyed eating crepes at the little cafe on the second floor i think.

    Sacre Coeur- was great. My husband really loved it and went crazy with his camera. Afterwards, we had tartiflette at one of the many restaurants surrounding the area.

    Overall there is just so much to do. The boys really loved the skate park in Paris. Paris is great for the whole family because there’s literally something for the whole do.
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    1. Hi Annie,

      I love your memory of the Arc de Triomphe 🙂 Yes, there’s so much to do in Paris, I think that any one should stay there at least a week, because otherwise you would have to rush everything.

      I know that the last time I went back with my ex husband we stayed only three days in Paris that’s why trying to show him everything was a bit like a marathon. For example, we didn’t even attempted to get inside the Louvre which had like a 3 hour line. Thank God he wasn’t a lover of museums anyway and I had seen it a hundred times myself. But imagine trying to get there when you’re time is limited? That’s crazy.

      Thank you for sharing your lively experience, Annie.

      1. 3 days is way to short to show your ex Paris. how stressful.

        Slow travel is the way to go. When we travel we always stay at least 2 weeks. In Paris we stayed over a month because with kids everything is slower. But that is ok because slow travelling in one place for a month can be cheaper than staying in a hotel for 5 to 7days.Plus, it gives us a chance to relax, take our time and maybe even go back a second time. .
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        1. Well, we did have 3 weeks, but I have no family in Paris, and I wanted to get to Lyon asap to see my family.

          Oh, and yes, that idiot of my ex didn’t even like Paris that much either, so what was the point? As for me, I knew Paris like the back of my end so I didn’t mind rushing 🙂

  2. I went to all those places! And yes, it’s all quite beautiful. In fact I was really stunned that a city could be so gorgeous. New York has its beauty but nothing like the architecture of Paris. And a note to dumb tourists like me, you cannot cross the street at the Arc de Triomphe! Tried that 🙂

    The other thing I didn’t expect was that just about everyone speaks English. It’s quite different than being in the US where you really don’t find someone who knows another language unless it’s part of their heritage – like Spanish people tend to know Spanish, but good luck to tourists coming to NY and trying to speak their own language!

    I think when I was there we walked down the entire Champs Elysees. I really enjoyed being there and I must have about a billion photos. too bad that was before digital cameras.

    Love this post, love this city, I’m ready for another trip!
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    1. Hi Carol,

      By the way all my photos of Paris are not digital either. What you do is scan them and save them on your computer and here you have it! then you can share them with anyone via facebook or whatever 🙂 That’s how I’m able to post them on my blog.

      If you want to cross the street at L’etoile, you need go under the arc and cross there. But I know that you didn’t know that.

      Now you need to tell Adrienne that lots of people speak English in Paris, because the language is one of the things that’s holding her back 🙂 I wouldn’t say that the majority of Parisians speak English, but because of heavy tourism lots of stores, hotels and restaurants will have staff that can speak the ugly heavy French accent English 🙂

      Yes, Paris is beautiful, indeed

  3. Thank you Sylviane once again.
    When I visit this blog, it takes me to France! Paris is somewhere that I always wanted to visit. Not only because of it’s beauty and history, but I do have family there.

    No, I have never met them, but they immigrated to Paris from Italy. My cousins have all met them, but I never got the chance. I have old photos and letters from my Dad and grandmother all about Paris.

    I don’t hold on to many things, but these I do, because it is one place I would like to go. Thanks for the beautiful share,
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    1. Hi Donna,

      Well, that’s an easy trip Donna. One day just take your husby with you and get on a plane and you’re there.

      Well, I really want to go too 🙂 I do miss France more an more because I haven’t been in a long while.

    1. Hi Shalu,

      Yes, indeed interesting that the Arc in Paris is similar to the another monument in Delhi. I have to check this out!

      Thanks for coming and see you around soon.

  4. Wow,

    I was there 50 years ago and you brought back memories that haven’t surfaced in many years. For example (I was 16) the tour guide assured my grandmother that the night club act was fine for children. Since it was topless it was certainly fine by me 🙂 🙂 She was mortified. 🙂
    Dr. Hale
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    1. Hi Hale,

      Ahaha, you sure made me laugh here. I totally understand what you mean here. What is OK as per French standards for youngsters and underage may be very different than what is OK for Americans.

      However, my experience in both countries also taught me that French people are not any worse by any mean because of that. As a matter of fact, the first time I heard the term “serial killer” was in the US…. You know what I mean? To this day, I do not know of a serial rapist or killer in France. Yet the French are much less puritans.

      Thanks for you input, Hale.

  5. Hi Sylviane,

    I love this post, it brought so much fun memories from my two visits to Paris in the late 1980’s. Oh, I loved Paris so much and I liked its old buildings and the beautiful scenes everywhere you go, but I didn’t have enough time to visit all those places you mentioned in your post, but I visited the Eiffel Tower and I loved it so much.

    I should keep this post as a reference in case I visit Paris again anytime soon.

    Thanks Sylviane for sharing this information and for bringing those nice memories about the beautiful Paris.

    Be Blessed,

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    1. HI Neamat,

      Wow, you know Paris? That’s great!

      I’m so glad you loved it. In the future I will also write about specific things about Paris, such as museums and parks.

      Thanks for coming by 🙂

    1. Hi Sarah,

      I hope you can make this wish come true. It’s not out of reach you know.

      Thanks for coming by 🙂 I appreciate that!

  6. Okay first off, I love the header. Great job but your picture could be a little bit bigger. Your lovely face could shine through a little bit more.

    What an educational post Sylviane. I feel like you take me to these places every time I read one of your posts introducing me to something. Paris is so beautiful and as you know I’ve never been. But I’ve heard so much about it and seen pictures from my sister’s many trips. Yes, she works for an airline so her travel is free. Now you know why she goes so much.

    Thank you though for this tour. I loved learning all about this beautiful city.

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    1. Hi Adrienne,

      I’m glad you like the header. Well, for this one I didn’t want my face too much, but thanks for the compliment, though. I wanted people to see more the other pictures and understand what the theme of this blog is which is the travel and the food, and less of me 🙂

      I was commenting back and forth with Sue last week and we said that we should go to France the three of us one of this days. I mean not as a joke, but for real!

      That would be great. And you know that neither me or Sue would make you feel like that ex-friend of yours, right?

        1. That’s great Adrienne. That would be great to do this in the not too far away future. I just have a darn hard time living my four legged daughter behind. I remember the last time I was in New York in a restaurant with friends, and a wave of sadness overwhelmed me because I thought about my cats being in North Carolina. What can I say, that’s me 🙂 I never felt that for a husband 🙂

  7. Hi Sylviane

    As you know I love Paris and have visited these places. It is my favorite city so far (meaning there are still many places in the world I am yet to see).

    I love the culture, the food and the people. I also love the beautiful buildings.

    That is such a great video too Sylviane and yes I do like your new header 🙂

    Thanks for the beautiful reminder of a wonderful city.

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    1. Hi Sue,

      I know you love Paris and frankly that tough not to like Paris, unless you’re my stupid ex husband maybe, but that’s not a reference. I lived there for five years and still loved it.

      I’m glad you like the header too 🙂

  8. Hi Sylviane
    What a wonderful post about Paris! It brings back many happy memories of many visits. Paris is one of my most favourite cities in the world and I love to visit on a Sunday when everyone is out and about. I love to get lost in the back streets of Paris, discovering wonderful cafes and bars and it is the best place to people watch in the world. We make a point of visiting a museum each time we go to Paris and my favourites are the Rodin Museum, the Orangerie and of course the Louvre. Actually, there is noting I dislike about Paris now I think about it 🙂
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    1. Hi Louise,

      Welcome back. I hope you’re doing well.

      I’m glad that you enjoyed this post about Paris. Talking about museums, an upcoming post will focus on Paris’ museums only. There’re too many museums not to dedicate a post for them only.

      Paris is a city that people love, indeed.

      Thanks for your visit here 🙂

  9. Thanks for sharing this wonderful information about Paris, I haven’t seen Paris but After reading your post I would like to visit Paris with my Beautiful wife Hope I will enjoy there but anyone can suggest me which is the best Hotel in Paris?

    1. Hi Castello,

      Well, there’re so many hotels in Paris, but if I would suggest anything I would suggest a hotel in the Sacre-Coeur/Abbesses area, because it’s quite and rather affordable. It’s located in the 18th arrondissement of Paris (north part of the city). I used to live close to there.

      1. I am coming Paris next month so I really Thankful to you for giving this information….

  10. The romantic atmosphere, the lovely people, and the food!!! Those are the main things that make Paris, Paris to me. I hope to visit it soon! Maybe in my husband and I’s second honeymoon! I’ll keep dreaming! 🙂

  11. Ah! Such nuggets about Paris and Eiffel towers, I have been fortunate enough to be till the top level and would love to do it again some time soon;. Paris is one of the most beautiful city to discover and I loved walking in it. Whenever you get tired some cafe is close by and you can relax and have a cup of coffee and enjoy the movement around you… thanks
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