The French capital city, Paris, by the river Seine, is one of the most seductive and celebrated cities in the world. With beauty and romance in each and every part of it, it is not an exaggeration to tell that it is the most beautiful city in the world. The landmarks of Paris, like the celebrated Eiffel tower and the Louvre Museum, are more familiar than any other in the world. Like all great cities, Paris is rich and populous. Unlike other great cities, Paris is always alive and pulsating. This vibrant city is a kaleidoscope of art, literature, film, architecture, and whatnot. Paris is portrayed as the city of lights (“La Ville-Lumière”), the city of love, and the city of fashion, and is one of the richest cities in the world. No other city is so loved by its inhabitants. Anyone who has visited this charming city falls head over heels in love with it.
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Paris is considered inhabited permanently from around 4200BC, the oldest known inhabitants being the Celtic tribes called Parisii. Paris was conquered by the Romans by BC52 and it expanded to become a prosperous city with palaces, temples, baths, theatres, and forums over the years. Paris was made the capital city first by King Clovis I. The Counts ruled Paris in the middle ages and saw the increasing prosperity of the city as a hub of commerce, trade, politics, and culture. Many famous architectural marvels like the cathedral of Notre Dame and the basilica at St. Denis were built during the middle ages. Paris was conquered by the British and lost its title as the capital but it regained the title when Charles VII reclaimed the city from the English after the Hundred Years’ War in 1436. Paris was the main center of the French Revolution in the late 1680s. It was Napoleon the Third who made the greatest transformation of the city to almost the way in which we see it now. Paris was occupied by the Russians and the Germans in its past. With the advent of industrialization, Paris grew to become the richest high–tech city in the world.
The very first impression about Paris is its noise. The busy streets with shouting street vendors, the untiring barking of dogs, the blaring automobile horns, and the constant motion of people make Paris look like a turmoil. But the beauty of the city is so overwhelming that the noise is often forgotten.
The design of the city is very unique and is quite unlike other major cities in the world. The center of the city is called intra-muros, a Latin term for ‘within the walls’, and is a small compact form of the big city. The city districts called arrondissements are arranged spirally around the center. There are almost twenty city districts around the city center. The districts are divided into quarters or neighborhoods. The city stands on a relatively plain flat land and hence the Eiffel Tower, the Centre Pompidou or the Telegraph metro station can give an excellent view of the whole city.
The City Life
The city life of Paris is a celebration of festivals. It has a culture of art, music, films, museums, and theatres. It is one of the leading business and fashion centers in the world. A blend of both old and new architecture, parks and squares, the beautiful Seine River, and the beautiful Parisians make it a unique and fascinating place to visit or to live in. The spring season is the best to visit, especially in May – June. The city is also beautiful and easy to live in during the autumn. The beautifully landscaped parks and walkways make it a pedestrian-friendly city. The streets are lined with booksellers and street artists. The walk through the beautiful streets takes you along small and beautifully adorned shops, sidewalk cafes, art galleries, elegant restaurants, and hotels. Paris has a population of about 11.3 million which is about 19% of the population of France. Yet, it is one of the most preferred tourist destinations in Europe.
The art and architecture
Some of the world’s renowned museums are located in Paris which includes the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay. An estimate says that there are almost 130 museums in Paris, which is an enormous number for a city. Louvre is the city’s most important attraction which houses masterpieces like the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo statue. Musée d’Orsay holds the paintings and arts of the impressionist period including the famous The Lady and the Unicorn. Musee Picasso and Musee Rodin are exclusive museums for the works of Pablo Picasso and Auguste Rodin respectively. The third-largest museum, the Musee du quai branly was opened in June 2006 and encases arts and artifacts from Asia, Africa, and the Americas.
The Opera Garnier is the largest opera in Paris and showcases classic ballets and operas. The modern Opera Bastiile has ballets and operas with a mix of classic and modern forms. Theatres and Operas have always been an indispensable part of French culture, especially in Paris.
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Paris has a mix of Roman, Gothic, and French architectural styles. The most famous piece of Parisian architecture is perhaps the Eiffel Tower. The Basilique de St. Denise is a classic example of French gothic architecture. The Notre Dame de Paris and the Basilique du Sacre-Coeur are the cathedrals in the city. The Place de la Concorde and the Place de la Bastille are architectural marvels and hold a significant positions in French history.
Paris also has a huge number of exquisite hotels, beautiful French houses with narrow streets, and a balanced mix of modern and ancient architecture.
Paris has a mixture of cultures because of its large immigrant population and this has been the base of its diverse culinary skills. French cuisine is rich in fresh ingredients and a wide variety of flavors. Parisians have perhaps the most refined and complex cooking procedures which make the most delicious food on the planet. Paris has got a large number of small and large elegant restaurants which cater to the tastes of almost everyone. The Parisians have an artistic style in serving their meals and the food is something to be savored. Fresh baked bread and cheese are part of a Parisian’s daily diet. Paris serves nearly five hundred varieties of cheese made from goat, ewe, or cow milk. Each region in Paris has its own specialty. The entire city is lighted up in the night which renders the most breathtaking sight from the top of the Eiffel tower. The city is rightly called the city of lights with its mind-blowingmind blowing beauty in the night. Paris has been a favorite destination for tourists, students, and businessmen right from the eleventh century. The presence of the world’s most famous landmarks has made Paris a dream destination for many. Paris is also the economical capital of France. As an old French saying says, when Paris sneezes, France catches a cold.