Ch. de Gaulle - Étoile Grande Armée, 75116 Paris, France
While the Arch de Triomphe is before us, please take a moment to see the modern arch behind us. Before us stands, La Defense. The arch was commissioned as part of France's bicentennial celebration of the French Revolution in 1989. The Grand Arche's design is a magnificent modern interpretation of the iconic Arc de Triomphe, with a colossal cube-shaped structure rising to a height of 110 meters (361 feet). As a representation of modernity and progress, the Grand Arche at La Défense stands as a reminder of France's rich history and its continual pursuit of innovation. The arch sits so you can see the Arch de Tromphe symbolizing Frances past, and as you look at La Defense: the future.
139 Av. des Champs-Élysées, 75008 Paris, France
Welcome to the Arc de Triomphe. The Arc is the center point of twelve grand avenues that get you anywhere across the city. The Arc de Triomphe stands magnificently at the western end of Champs-Élysées, a symbol of France's military prowess. Commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1806 to honor the victories of the French army, the construction faced delays due to historical events, finally reaching completion in 1836. Adorned with intricate sculptures and reliefs, the arch commemorates significant military events and pays tribute to the brave soldiers who fought for France's glory. It serves as a solemn reminder of the nation's rich history and the sacrifices made for its freedom. Beneath the imposing arch lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a poignant memorial dedicated to the fallen heroes of World War I. An eternal flame burns here, perpetually illuminating their memory and honoring their sacrifice for the nation.
130 Av. des Champs-Élysées, 75008 Paris, France
Feel free to continue walking as the audio plays.
Referred to as the "most beautiful avenue in the world," the Champs Élysées has exuded an aura of luxury and prestige for over a century. Along its grandeur, you'll find a delightful array of cinemas, restaurants, and charming cafés. This renowned boulevard serves as a showcase for France's finest brands, boasting illustrious names like Louis Vuitton, Guerlain, Ladurée, Dior, Lacoste, Cartier, Galeries Lafayette, as well as PSG and Séphora, welcoming visitors seven days a week and into the late hours.
On the first Sunday of every month, the avenue transforms into a pedestrian and cyclist paradise, free from motor traffic—a truly enchanting promenade.
Yearly, the Champs Élysées hosts a traditional military parade on July 14th, as well as the exhilarating finish of the prestigious Tour de France. And as the year draws to a close, from mid-November to early January, the boulevard is bedecked with radiant illuminations, creating a dazzling and colorful spectacle for all to enjoy.
25 Rue Lincoln, 75008 Paris, France
Ladurée is a famous French luxury bakery known for its exquisite macarons. Established in 1862, it originally started as a simple bakery but later gained fame for creating the double-decker macaron sandwich we know today. The bakery has maintained its timeless charm and continues to be a favorite spot for locals and tourists alike to indulge in delightful pastries and sweets. Ladurée's macaron flavors range from classic (such as raspberry and chocolate) to unique (like licorice and rose petal).
5 Pl. Clemenceau, 75008 Paris, France
The Grand Palais and Petit Palais are two magnificent landmarks built for the 1900 Exposition Universelle, a showcase of arts and culture in Paris. While the Petit Palais was designed to exhibit fine arts and is now home to the City of Paris Museum of Fine Arts, the Grand Palais serves as a versatile venue for various exhibitions and events, solidifying its status as an integral part of the city's artistic scene. Both buildings boast a blend of Beaux-Arts and Art Nouveau styles, reflecting the elegance and artistic richness of the past.
The Petit Palais, with its impressive murals and decorative arts, offers visitors a glimpse into the artistic grandeur of bygone eras. Additionally, the surrounding garden provides a serene oasis in the heart of the bustling city, inviting visitors to indulge in a moment of tranquility. An added perk is that the entrance to the permanent collections is free, making it an accessible cultural experience for all.
Meanwhile, the Grand Palais stands out with its remarkable glass dome, the largest of its kind in Europe. This architectural marvel is not only a symbol of modern engineering but also holds historical significance. During World War II, the Grand Palais served as a military hospital and later became a gathering point for the Nazis. Today, it is designated as a historical monument, preserving its legacy for generations to come.
Together, the Grand Palais and Petit Palais form a remarkable testament to Paris's artistic heritage, captivating visitors with their exquisite architecture, diverse exhibits, and historical significance.
73 Pl. de la Concorde, 75008 Paris, France
Place de la Concorde, with its grandeur and historical significance, holds a prominent place in the heart of Paris. During the turbulent years of the French Revolution, the square was the site of several pivotal events, including the infamous guillotine executions of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, as well as many other prominent figures.
Renamed to reflect the newfound principles of harmony and unity, Place de la Concorde today stands as a symbol of the city's resilience and transformation over the centuries. This is the second largest square in Paris and the spacious layout is adorned with magnificent statues, elegant fountains, and the majestic Luxor Obelisk. This ancient monument, dating back over 3,000 years, was gifted to France by Egypt in the early 19th century, adding a touch of exotic allure to the Parisian landscape.
As one stands amidst the splendor of Place de la Concorde, surrounded by the echoes of history, it becomes evident that this remarkable square remains not only a captivating architectural masterpiece but also a living testament to the resilience and spirit of the French people.
20 Quai des Tuileries, 75001 Paris, France
L'Orangerie was originally built in the 19th century as a shelter for orange trees during the winter. However, in the 1920s, it was transformed into an art gallery to showcase the works of prominent artists, most famously Claude Monet. Monet's Water Lilies series are displayed in two oval-shaped rooms designed by the artist himself. The gallery's design and natural lighting were carefully curated to enhance visitors' experience and appreciation of the art.
All. de Castiglione, 75001 Paris, France
The Musée d'Orsay, housed in a former railway station, is a cultural gem renowned for its extensive collection of French art from the mid-19th to early 20th century. Stepping into this historic building is like embarking on a journey through time, where the captivating exhibits showcase the brilliance of artists like Van Gogh, Renoir, and Degas. The museum's impressive clock, situated on the top floor, not only serves as a timepiece but also grants visitors a mesmerizing view of Paris, encompassing iconic landmarks such as the Basilica of Sacré-Cœur perched on the Montmartre hill.
Since its opening in 1986, the Musée d'Orsay has become a beloved cultural institution, attracting art enthusiasts and history buffs alike. The grand interiors and vast glass roof of the former railway station provide a unique and enchanting setting, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the artistic heritage of France. As you wander through the halls filled with masterpieces, you'll find yourself transported back to an era of artistic revolutions and cultural renaissance, understanding the profound impact these artists had on the world of art. The Musée d'Orsay stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of French creativity and serves as a must-visit destination for those seeking to appreciate the beauty of human expression.
All. Centrale, 75001 Paris, France
Jardin des Tuileries, a historic park and garden, dates back to the 16th century when it was created for the Tuileries Palace. Spread across 22-hectares, the Tuileries Gardens are one of the largest green areas in Paris. Designed in 1664 by the landscape architect André Le Nôtre, under Louis XIV, they have remained much the same since. Quite different from Catherine de Medici's Italian garden, this garden is perfectly designed and strictly symmetrical in the French style and extends from the Louvre to Concorde. The garden's layout was redesigned multiple times over the centuries, and today it remains a popular destination for locals and tourists to relax, stroll along tree-lined paths, and enjoy the scenic beauty of sculptures, fountains, and flowerbeds. More than 100 sculptures decorate the garden. The garden was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991. It also served as a source of inspiration for various artists and writers, including Édouard Manet and Marcel Proust. It has even been used as a runway for Paris Fashion Week in the past.
63 Pl. du Carrousel, 75001 Paris, France
The Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel was built in 1808 to commemorate Napoleon's military victories. It stands in alignment with the Champs-Élysées and the larger Arc de Triomphe. The monument is adorned with intricate reliefs portraying Napoleon's achievements and French military prowess during that period. Today, it serves as a significant historical landmark in central Paris. It was inspired by the ancient Roman Arch of Constantine in Rome. Let's continue onto the Louvre where we'll see the famous Louvre Pyramid and talk about the Louvre's collection and architecture.
6 Pl. du Carrousel, 75001 Paris, France
The Pyramide du Louvre, designed by architect I.M. Pei, was inaugurated in 1989 as the new main entrance to the Louvre Museum. With it's 673 glass panes the pyramid stands 21.6 meters (71 feet) tall and has a base of 35 square meters (377 square feet) Although initially controversial, the glass and metal pyramid has become an iconic symbol of modern architecture blending harmoniously with the historic Louvre Palace. It houses the ticket area and provides access to the museum's vast collections.
Let's continue into the heart of the Louvre to see it from a different angle.
1 Cour Carrée, 75001 Paris, France
The Cour Carrée is the main courtyard of the Louvre Palace and is surrounded by the museum's wings. Here you can see the essence of French Renaissance architecture, adorned with intricate sculptures and decorative details. Subsequent monarchs continued to add wings and pavilions, further enhancing the grandeur of the Louvre. Long before it became a museum, the building was the residence of the kings of France: first a dark fortress and then a stately palace. Built in the 12th century, this was originally a medieval fortress before being transformed into a royal palace and then of course into the museum the world knows and loves today.
The Louvre is home to an astonishing array of art and artifacts, spanning over 9,000 years of history. Its extensive collections comprise over 380,000 objects, including masterpieces from diverse civilizations, ancient antiquities, European paintings, decorative arts, and more. Among the Louvre's most famous treasures are Leonardo da Vinci's enigmatic "Mona Lisa". The Louvre's collection is so vast that even if you spent a minute viewing each artwork, it would take over a month to see everything.
2 Prom. Marceline Loridan-Ivens, 75006 Paris, France
Pont des Arts, also known as the "Bridge of Arts," is a pedestrian bridge famous for its love locks. The tradition of attaching padlocks to the bridge's railings symbolizes eternal love. In the past, the weight of the locks became an issue, and the city took measures to preserve the bridge's structure while still allowing visitors to enjoy the romantic ambiance and stunning views of the Seine River.
Pont Saint-Michel - Quai des Orfèvres, 75001 Paris, France
Pont Saint-Michel, connecting the Île de la Cité with the left bank of the Seine, is an iconic bridge with rich historical significance. The original bridge was constructed in the 14th century and has been rebuilt multiple times over the years. It features a majestic statue of Saint Michael slaying a dragon, symbolizing the triumph of good over evil.
8 Bd du Palais, 75001 Paris, France
Sainte-Chapelle, a stunning Gothic chapel, was built in the 13th century by King Louis IX to house his collection of religious relics. The king’s ambition was to make Paris the second capital of Christendom after Rome, a “New Jerusalem”. Constructed in 1248, the chapel consists of two levels. The lower chapel was meant for the royal palace staff, while the upper chapel housed Louis's most treasured relics, including the Crown of Thorns and a fragment of the True Cross. The upper chamber was designed to resemble a shrine and was adorned with over 1,100 biblical scenes depicted in its numerous windows. They are now part of the Notre-Dame de Paris treasure. The Sainte-Chapelle no longer houses these relics.
During the French Revolution the Sainte-Chapelle was sacked by the Revolutionaries who saw in the shrine a symbol of royalty by divine right. Symbolizing the monarchy, the Sainte-Chapelle became a primary target for French Revolutionaries in 1789. Although about two-thirds of its stained glass windows remain original, various restorations over time have resulted in the removal of some panels from the chapel's history.
7 Parvis Notre-Dame - Pl. Jean-Paul II, 75004 Paris, France
With our final stop of the tour we'll end at the iconic Notre Dame. The Notre-Dame Cathedral is a masterpiece of French Gothic architecture and one of the most famous cathedrals in the world. Construction began in 1163 and took over 200 years to complete. The cathedral has witnessed numerous historical events, including coronations and significant religious ceremonies. It also suffered damage during the French Revolution. However, the most significant event occurred on April 15, 2019, when a devastating fire broke out, engulfing the roof and toppling the spire. The fire caused extensive damage to the cathedral, including the destruction of the original 19th-century spire, known as "La Flèche." In the aftermath of the fire, an international effort was launched to restore and rebuild the iconic landmark. Notre-Dame's stunning facade, flying buttresses, and iconic towers have made it an enduring symbol of Paris and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The cathedral's treasury houses various precious artifacts, including the Crown of Thorns. The famous "Emmanuel" bell in the South Tower weighs over 13 tons and has been ringing since 1681. And of course we can't talk about Notre Dame without mentioning Victor Hugo's novel "The Hunchback of Notre-Dame" helped raise awareness about the cathedral's need for restoration in the 19th century.
Thank you for taking the time today to see and visit Paris with me. I hope you enjoyed your time and bon voyage!