is famed throughout the world for the beauty and variety
of its monuments. Towers, churches, palaces, archways, bridges or fountains. an extraordinary collection of landmarks that transports us back in time. Of course, Paris wouldn't be Paris without the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame or Sacre Coeur. And each evening a special magic takes over the city when all these splendid constructions are illuminated! A sense of romance along the Pont Neuf, a shiver in the catacombs or an exotic mood at the Mosque: Paris is also a mix of atmospheres and cultures. From the must-see to the more unusual, all these monuments relate two thousand years of the capital's history. Most of the monuments in Paris stay open at the weekend and close on one weekday, as well as on some public holidays. They are usually open late one evening a week. Guided tours often need to be booked in advance and special reductions are available for children and groups. Check our information pages for details or contact the monuments directly.
A number of monuments which now lend Paris its international identity were met with scorn and disdain by native Parisians at the time of their construction. For example, the Eiffel Tower, which was built to serve as a centerpiece for the Paris Exposition (World's Fair) in 1889, met with vociferous dissension among a number of the Parisian literati, who wrote, "We, the writers, painters, sculptors, architects and lovers of the beauty of Paris, do protest with all our vigour and all our indignation, in the name of French taste and endangered French art and history, against the useless and monstrous Eiffel Tower"
Arguably the world's most famous art museum, the Louvre's most popular piece is Leonardo da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" It was established in 1793, and is one of the oldest museums in Europe. Its collections spans from the birth of great civilizations up to the 19th century. A whopping 5.7 million tourists visited the museum in 2002.
The funky and hip Centre Pompidou features a wonderful collection of modern art within its creatively designed building. It also features a cinema, concerts and children's activities. The Centre attracts 5.5 million visitors annually.
Arc de Triomphe
The Arc de Triomphe is the world's largest traffic roundabout and the meeting point of 12 avenues. It was commissioned in 1806 by Napoleon to commemorate his imperial victories, but remained unfinished until 1836. Since 1920, the body of an unknown soldier from WWI taken from Verdun in Lorraine has lain beneath the arch, his fate and that of countless others like him commemorated by a memorial flame rekindled each evening around 6:30pm.
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-elysees is bordered by cinemas, theaters, cafes and luxury shops. Near the place de la Concorde, the street is bordered by the jardins des champs-elysees, beautifully arranged gardens with fountains and some grand buildings including the grand and petit palais at the southern side and the elysee at its northern side. The latter has been the residence of the french presidents since 1873.
The champs-elysees 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 the world cup football were also celebrated on this wide avenue.
The interior of the Opera Garnier building is even more impressive than its exterior. The marble Grand Staircase has a height of 30m/98ft The 54m long Grand Foyer features a mosaic covered ceiling and a large number of chandeliers. It is so luxurious that it can be compared with the corridors in Versailles.
Behind the Grand Foyer and below the green copper dome is the lavishly
Opera Garnier seen from the Avenue de l'Opera
decorated auditorium with red velvet, plaster cherubs and gold leaf. The auditorium's magnificent chandelier weighs a massive six tonnes. Its large ceiling was painted in 1964 by Marc Chagall. The stage behind the auditorium is 60 meter high (197 ft) and has room for up to 450 actors.