Another Paris attractions

Written by Lisa Alexander 

15 Centre Pompidou

Centre Pompidou
Centre Pompidou
Between the Halles district and the Marais in Paris is the Centre Pompidou, an art and cultural center. In contrast to the historic buildings of the quarter, the Centre Pompidou features shocking modern architecture, sometimes described as an “inside out” design because the architectural details of staircases and elevators appear on the exterior. The main attraction of the Centre Pompidou is the National Museum of Modern Art, which displays an extensive collection of contemporary art, beginning with the Fauves (Derain, Dufy, Matisse, and Bonnard) continuing with Cubism (Picasso, Braque, and Léger), then Expressionism, Constructivism (Klee and Mondrian), Dadaism and Surrealism (Dalí, Ernst, Magritte, and Masson), Abstract Expressionism (de Staël, Hartung, Poliakoff, Estère, and Dubuffet), New Realism, and Pop Art (Warhol, Oldenburg). The sculpture collection is also noteworthy.

16 Les Invalides

Les Invalides
Les Invalides

The Hôtel des Invalides was founded as a home for disabled soldiers. Before the time of Louis XIV disabled soldiers received medical care, if at all, in hospitals or monasteries, but were usually reduced to begging. With the Hôtel des Invalides the “Sun King” founded the first home for men that became disabled while serving in his armies. The building was created from 1671 to 1676 under the direction of the architect Libéral Bruant and centered on the Eglise Saint-Louis-des-Invalides, which was later redesigned by the great architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart in 1706. The church became known as the Eglise du Dôme des Invalides and is an outstanding ecclesiastical building of the French classical period. The Eglise du Dôme des Invalides is most famous for being the site of Napoleon’s Tomb, installed here in 1840. Les Invalides has an Army Museum, founded in 1794 as the Artillery Museum, which occupies the wings around the courtyard. The museum displays a large collection of military equipment and uniforms, weapons, prints, and curiosities from many countries. There are also mementos and relics of Napoleon and well-known generals as well as plans of the French campaigns.

Address: Esplanade des Invalides, Avenue de Tourville, 75007 Paris

17 Palais-Royal

Palais-Royal
Palais-Royal

This majestic building opposite the Louvre Museum is another example of royal architecture. The Palais-Royal was created as a Cardinal’s Palace during the reign of King Louis XIII and later became a royal place; it was a seat of power for four centuries. Exemplifying classical French architecture, the building features a lovely central courtyard. This quiet enclosed tree-lined courtyard has the feeling of being a village in the city. Inside the courtyard is an unusual modern sculpture installation of small striped columns, which vary in height. The sculptures arouse a sense of surprise and curiosity.

Address: Address: 6 Rue de Montpensier, 75001 Paris (Métro: Palais Royal-Musee du Louvre or Pyramides station)

18 Bastille

Bastille
Bastille
Now, only the name of this square is a reminder that the notorious state prison known as the Bastille, the much-hated symbol of absolutist power, once stood here. After the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789, the prison was completely demolished. In the center of Place de la Bastille is the 51-meter-high Colonne de Juillet, topped by a graceful gilded figure of Liberty. The monument commemorates the July Revolution of 1830, which overthrew King Charles X and brought Louis-Philippe to power. Four Gallic cocks and a lion relief on the base of the column symbolize the free people ofFrance. A spiral staircase of 283 steps inside the column leads to a viewing platform, which offers an excellent view of the new Opéra-Bastille. On the site of the Bastille prison is the new Opera House that was officially opened by President Mitterrand on July 13, 1989. This immense modern theater has seating for 2,745 people. The view of the stage from the auditorium and the acoustics are both excellent. The Opéra-Bastille has a year-round calendar of events with performances by the National Opera and National Ballet companies.

Address: Address: Place de la Bastille, 75012 Paris (Métro: Bastille)

19 Place du Châtelet & Tour Saint-Jacques

Place du Châtelet & Tour Saint-Jacques
Place du Châtelet & Tour Saint-Jacques
The Place du Châtelet stands at the very center of Paris in the 1st arrondissement, overlooking the Seine River. Gracing this expansive square are two celebrated Parisian theaters. The elegant 19th-century Théâtre du Châtelet presents operas and classical music concerts. The Théâtre de la Ville is a listed historic monument that was once named after Sarah Bernhardt who directed shows here; this theater stages contemporary dance performances as well as a wide range of music concerts.

The area around Place du Châtelet is also worth exploring. Continue towards the Rue de Rivoli past the Boulevard de Sébastopol and wander through the small park to find the Tour Saint-Jacques. Built between 1508 and 1522 in the Late Gothic style, this tower is all that remains of the Eglise Saint-Jacques-de-la-Boucherie (the patron saint of butchers), the town’s old parish church. During the Middle Ages, this church was the meeting point for pilgrims setting out on the “Way of Saint James” pilgrimage trail to Santiago de Compostela, one of the three great pilgrimage destinations of medieval Christendom (the others being Jerusalem and Rome). The Saint-Jacques Tower is also famous as the place where Blaise Pascal conducted one of his barometric experiments, which showed the effect of altitude on the height of a column of mercury.

20 La Conciergerie

La Conciergerie
La Conciergerie
Never mind the inviting name, this medieval fortress is the infamous prison of the French Revolution. Here, prisoners including Marie-Antoinette and Robespierre were kept in dank cells while awaiting their fate. The Conciergerie was originally part of the medieval palace of the Capetian kings and is now a museum. The Salle des Girondins displays relics of the bloody days of the Terror, including a guillotine blade, prison regulations, and a copy of Marie-Antoinette’s last letter. The Salle des Gens d’Armes is a vaulted Gothic hall of awesome proportions. In this forbidding room the condemned prisoners were handed over to the executioner. For an exceptional view of the building’s Neo-Gothic facade, stand on the opposite side of the Seine River on the Quai de la Mégisserie. From this distance, the fortress’ three round towers and the Tour de l’Horloge (Clock Tower) resemble a fairy-tale castle rather than a penitentiary.

21 Grand Arche of La Défense

Grand Arche of La Défense
Grand Arche of La Défense
In the west of Paris at the end of Avenue Charles-de-Gaulle is a complex of high-rise buildings developed since the mid 1960s. The quarter is named La Défense, which recalls the bitter resistance by French forces in this area during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871. Nowadays, this neighborhood is seen as heralding Paris’ entry into the 21st century. Designed by Johan Otto von Spreckelsen, the Grande Arche makes a striking impression. This huge 110-meter-high rectangular triumphal arch is faced with white Carrara marble. The monument was inaugurated in 1989 on the bicentenary of the French Revolution and is considered a contemporary symbol of fraternity.

Address: Address: 1 Parvis de la Défense, 92040 Paris (Métro: La Défense)

22 Bustling Boulevards & Legendary Cafés

Bustling Boulevards & Legendary Cafés
Bustling Boulevards & Legendary Cafés Roger Salz
To discover the legendary Paris cafés, the best place to start is the Boulevard Saint-Germain in the 6th arrondissement. This broad tree-lined boulevard is lined with upscale shops, prestigious cafés, and classic brasseries. The most celebrated are theCafé de Flore (172 Boulevard Saint-Germain), which was the meeting place of Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, and the Café des Deux Magots (6 Place Saint-Germain-des-Prés), the haunt of James Joyce, Picasso, Hemingway, and other creative types. At both cafés, tourists are treated to a classic Parisian café experience, complete with waiters wearing bow ties (although the waiters have a reputation for their brusque service).

The brasseries of Boulevard Montparnasse were also frequented by famous artists and writers. Le Dôme in Montparnasse is a Paris institution (108 Boulevard du Montparnasse). In its gorgeous Art Deco dining room, the restaurant serves gourmet cuisine focused on seafood. La Coupole (102 Boulevard Montparnasse) is another classic French brasserie with a mythical past; since the 1920s it was visited by famous artists such as Derain, Léger, Man Ray, and Picasso. La Coupole also boasts having served Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Chagall. Le Rotonde (105 Boulevard Montparnasse) was a gathering place for painters and Surrealistic artists in the 1920s and still attracts cinematographers and artists today.

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