Paris, the 'city of lights', has been ranked among the three most important and influential cities in the world. A settlement in existence for more than two millennia, Paris is today one of the world's leading business and cultural centres, and its influences in politics, education, entertainment, media, fashion, science, and the arts - all contribute to its status as one of the world's major global cities. As one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, the Paris region receives 45 million tourists annually, 27 million of whom are foreign visitors. The city and region contain numerous iconic landmarks, world-famous institutions and popular parks.
Paris is considered today to be one of the most beautiful and vibrant cities in Europe. It is located in the north-bending arc of the River Seine and includes two islands, the Île Saint-Louis and the larger Île de la Cité, which form the oldest part of the city. Overall, the city is relatively flat, and the lowest elevation is 35 m above sea level. Paris has several prominent hills, of which the highest is Montmartre at 130 m.
Much of contemporary Paris is the result of the vast mid-nineteenth century urban remodelling. For centuries, the city had been a labyrinth of narrow streets and half-timber houses, but, they are now beginning to make way for wide avenues lined with neo-classical stone buildings of bourgeoisie standing. Most of this 'new' Paris is the Paris we see today.
Sights to See
- Place de la Bastille (4th, 11th and 12th arrondissements, right bank) is a district of great historical significance, not only for Paris, but for France, too. Because of its symbolic value, the square has often been a site of political demonstrations.
- Champs-Élysées (8th arrondissement, right bank) is a seventeenth century garden-promenade-turned-avenue connecting the Concorde and Arc de Triomphe. It is one of the many tourist attractions and a major shopping street of Paris.
- Place de la Concorde (8th arrondissement, right bank) is at the foot of the Champs-Élysées, built as the "Place Louis XV," site of the infamous guillotine. The Egyptian obelisk is Paris' "oldest monument." On this place, on either side of the Rue Royale, there are two identical stone buildings: The eastern one houses the French Naval Ministry, the western the luxurious Hôtel de Crillon. Nearby Place Vendôme is famous for its fashionable and deluxe hotels (Hôtel Ritz and Hôtel de Vendôme) and its jewellers. Many famous fashion designers have had their salons in the square.
- Les Halles (1st arrondissement, right bank) was formerly Paris' central meat and produce market, and, since the late 1970s, a major shopping centre around an important metro connection station (Châtelet-Les Halles, the biggest in the World). The original Les Halles was destroyed in 1971 and replaced by the Forum des Halles. The central market of Paris, the largest wholesale food market in the world, was transferred to Rungis, in the southern suburbs.
- Le Marais (3rd and 4th arrondissements) is a trendy right bank district. It is architecturally very well-preserved, and some of the oldest houses and buildings of Paris can be found there. It is a very culturally open place. It is also known for its Chinese, Jewish and gay communities.
- Avenue Montaigne (8th arrondissement), next to the Champs-Élysées, is home to luxury brand labels such as Chanel, Louis Vuitton (LVMH), Dior and Givenchy.
- Montmartre (18th arrondissement, right bank) is a historic area on the Butte, home to the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur. Montmartre has always had a history with artists and has many studios and cafés of many great artists in that area.
- Montparnasse (14th arrondissement) is a historic Left Bank area famous for artists' studios, music halls, and café life. The large Montparnasse - Bienvenüe métro station and the lone Tour Montparnasse skyscraper are located there.
- Avenue de l'Opéra (9th arrondissement, right bank) is the area around the Opéra Garnier and the location of the capital's densest concentration of both department stores and offices. A few examples are the Printemps and Galeries Lafayette grands magasins (department stores), and the Paris headquarters of financial giants such as BNP Paribas and American Express.
- Quartier Latin (5th and 6th arrondissements, left bank) is a twelfth-century scholastic centre formerly stretching between the Left Bank's Place Maubert and the Sorbonne campus. It is known for its lively atmosphere and many bistros. Various higher-education establishments, such as Sciences Po Paris, the École Normale Supérieure,and the Jussieu university campus, make it a major educational centre in Paris.
- Faubourg Saint-Honoré (8th arrondissement, right bank) is one of Paris' high-fashion districts, home to labels such as Hermès and Christian Lacroix.
- Arc de Triomphe - Monument at the center of the Place de l'Étoile, commemorating the victories of France and honoring those who died in battle.
- The Conciergerie - Located on the Île de la Cité, it is a medieval building which was formerly used as a prison where some prominent members of the ancien régime stayed before their death during the French Revolution.
- The Eiffel Tower - A "temporary" construction of Gustave Eiffel for the 1889 Universal Exposition.
- Les Invalides - Complex containing museums and monuments relating to the military history of France
- The Louvre - Extensive art gallery.
- Musee d'Orsay- Housed in a rail station, this museum is smaller than the Louvre but it houses one of the largest Impressionist exhibits.
- Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie - A hands-on science museum that attracts over 2 million visitors yearly.
- Muséum national d'histoire naturelle - National Museum of Natural History.
- Montmartre - An old district of Paris on a hill containing the Basilica of the Sacré Cœur and the Place du Tertre.
- Notre Dame de Paris (Cathedral of Notre Dame) on the Île de la Cité - Paris's 12th-century ecclesiastical centrepiece.
- Palais Garnier - Paris's central opera house, built in the later Second Empire period.
- The Grand Palais - A large glass exhibition hall built for the 1900 Paris Exhibition.
- Sainte-Chapelle - Also located on the Île de la Cité, it is a 13th century Gothic palace chapel.
- The Panthéon - Church and tomb of a number of France's most famed men and women.
- The Sorbonne - One of the universities of Paris (Paris IV), the centre of Paris's Latin Quarter.
- Statue of Liberty replica - A smaller version of the New York City harbor statue which France gave to the United States in 1886, located on the Île des Cygnes on the Seine. Another version is in the Luxembourg Garden.
- Place des Vosges - Square in the Marais district laid out by Henry IV.
- The Wallace Fountains - can be found throughout the city.
- Flame of Liberty Replica of the flame held by the Statue of Liberty.
- Centre Georges-Pompidou - Hosting the Paris Museum of Modern Art.
- Parc de la Villette - Hosting the Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie, a science museum, and the Cité de la Musique which houses various musical institutes, a museum, and a concert hall.
- Palace of Versailles - The famous former palace of French kings.
- Parc Asterix - One of many of Paris' theme parks.
- Futuroscope - Paris' futuristic theme park.
- Château de Vincennes (Vincennes Castle) - A large medieval castle nearby the Bois de Vincennes (Vincennes Wood).
- Disneyland Resort Paris - the largest theme park in Europe.
- Saint Denis Basilica - the burial site of the French monarchs.
- Château de Fontainebleau - Built by Francis I of France, it is one of the largest of the French royal châteaux.
- Chateau de Chambord – A castle located in Loire Valley.
- Parc de Sceaux - A Park located nearby the 17th century Château de Sceaux (Sceaux Castle).
- Château Villette- a château built in the 18th century.