ParisThe initial thoughts that come into my mind when I visualized Paris were romance, medieval architecture and baguettes in Parisians' bags as they walked about the city streets. However, during this past Friday's French lesson I discovered there is more to Paris than what we see in Hollywood movies. The city is the capital city of France and was nicknamed 'City of Lights' as a result of the Age of Enlightenment. This nickname took a literal sense in the 1980s when French statesman, Napoleon the third had the boulevard and streets of Paris illuminated by fifty six thousand gas lamps.
George-Eugene Haussmann's Renovation of ParisHaussmann was a state's representative of the Seine region (where Paris is located) and he was commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte to renovate Paris. He achieved this by demolishing congested neighborhoods and building wide avenues, parks and boulevards to connect various areas in the city. Before this renovation, Paris was a filthy city with slums scattered all over the place and narrow roads that horse-carts could barely pass through. The city was also divided into administrative districts, 'arrondissements' in French. Haussmann's project saw a change in the face and structure of the city which we now admire.
|Renovation of Paris|
Famous Places in Paris
Eiffel towerThe Eiffel tower is a symbol used internationally when referring to the French nation. The lattice iron tower was completed in 1889 to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the French revolution.
Notre Dame de ParisA historic Catholic cathedral built using a gothic style of architecture, Notre Dame de Paris is one of Paris' greatest tourist attractions. The building features stained glass windows, gigantic bells and gargoyle statues. The cathedral reminds me of the 1996 Disney animation, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, which was inspired by a fictional novel authored by French writer, Victor Hugo.
|Notre Dame de Paris|
Cafes in ParisCafes or coffee houses in Paris are very popular among the French people. Cafes are currently a place where hot beverages and meals are served, usually located on a street beside a road. Pastries like croissants, tartes, crepes and crème brulee are served in Parisian cafes. However, previously cafes were more than just a place to order a cup of coffee and watch traffic by the roadside while reading the daily L'Humanite. They were previously meeting points for intellectuals to discuss, share and exchange ideas.
Louvre MuseumThe Louvre is a world famous museum with a collection of popular antiques, sculptures and art work.
|Louvre Museum and Pyramid|
Champs ElyseéIt is a boulevard in the 8th arrondissement where the Elysee palace (official residence of the French president) is located. It is also home to the monument, Arc de Triomphe.
|From left: Elysee Palace and Arc de Triomphe|
Métro de ParisThe Paris Metro is a subway system in the Paris metropolitan area. It facilitates the transportation of millions of French citizens and tourists daily.
Quartier LatinAlso known as the Latin Quarter of Paris, it's an area known for its bustling student life, lively atmosphere and bistros. Several universities are found here for example, L'Universite de Paris or Sorbonne.
MontmartreIt is an area located on a hill where many popular artists like Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir are believed to have worked. The beautiful Basilica of Sacre-Couer is also found here.
|From left: Basilica of Sacre-Coeur and Place du Tetre in Montrmatre|
Other places of interest
BellevilleThis is a multi-racial neighborhood in Paris situated on a hill. The name Belleville means 'beautiful town' in French. Belleville offers a view to a completely different side of Paris that is portrayed by media. The town has a majority of Asian and African residents. The streets and subway stations are decorated with graffiti art and several Chinese restaurants are located here.
|Graffiti art on the streets of Belleville|
Museé DapperThis is a center located in Paris that hosts numerous exhibitions of African art. It was established to bring into view African culture through art pieces, sculptures and story telling sessions.
|From left: Musee Dapper entrance and African art exhibition|
The study of the City of Lights was definitely eye-opening. The Parisian parks, museums, cafes and cathedrals are definitely irresistible to the ordinary tourist and enjoyed by the Parisian residents daily. It is a city illuminated by rich history and culture and of course world-class cuisine. A visit to Paris just landed itself on my bucket list!