I love Paris in the springtime … I love Paris in the fall …
Excerpts from my Paris app:
*******the Louvre is much more than a museum—it represents a saga that started centuries ago, having been a fortress at the turn of the 13th century, and later a royal residence.
he most recognized symbol of Paris is the Tour Eiffel, but the ultimate traveler’s prize is the Louvre. This is the world’s greatest art museum—and the largest, with 675,000 square feet of works from almost every civilization on earth. The three most popular pieces here are, of course, the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, and Winged Victory. Beyond these must-sees, your best bet is to focus on whatever interests you the most—and don’t despair about getting lost, for you’re bound to stumble on something memorable. Pick up an excellent color-coded map at the information desk.
The museum opened on 10 August 1793 with an exhibition of 537 paintings, the majority of the works being royal and confiscated church property.
Bear in mind that the Louvre is much more than a museum—it represents a saga that started centuries ago, having been a fortress at the turn of the 13th century, and later a royal residence. It was not until the 16th century, under François I, that today’s Louvre began to take shape, and through the years Henry IV, Louis XIII, Louis XV, Napoléon I, and Napoléon III all contributed to its construction. Napoléon Bonaparte’s military campaigns at the turn of the 19th century brought a new influx of holdings, as his soldiers carried off treasures from each invaded country. During World War II the most precious artworks were hidden, while the remainder was looted. Most of the stolen pieces were recovered, though, after the liberation of Paris. No large-scale changes were made until François Mitterrand was elected president in 1981, when he kicked off the Grand Louvre project to expand and modernize the museum.
Mitterrand commissioned I.M. Pei’s Pyramide, the giant glass pyramid surrounded by three smaller pyramids that opened in 1989 over the new entrance in the Cour Napoléon. In 2012, the Louvre’s newest architectural wonder opened—the 30,000-square-foot Arts of Islam wing. Built into the Cour Visconti in the Denon wing and topped with an undulating golden roof evoking a veil blowing in the wind, the two-level galleries house one of the world’s largest collections of art from all corners of the Islamic world.
**********The Eiffel Tower is to Paris what the Statue of Liberty is to New York and what Big Ben is London: the ultimate civic emblem. French engineer Gustave Eiffel—already famous for building viaducts and bridges—spent two years working to erect this monument for the World Exhibition of 1889.
ecause its colossal bulk exudes a feeling of mighty permanence, you may have trouble believing that it nearly became 7,000 tons of scrap metal (the 1,063-foot tour contains 12,000 pieces of metal and 2,500,000 rivets) when its concession expired in 1909. At first many Parisians hated the structure, agreeing with designer William Morris, who, explaining why he had been spending so much time at the tower, said “Why on earth have I come here? Because it’s the only place I can’t see it from.” Only its potential use as a radio antenna saved the day (it still bristles with a forest of radio and television transmitters). Gradually, though, the Tour Eiffel became part of the Parisian landscape, entering the hearts and souls of Parisians and visitors alike. Today it is most breathtaking at night, when every girder is highlighted in a sparkling display originally conceived to celebrate the turn of the millennium. The glittering light show was so popular that the 20,000 lights were reinstalled for permanent use in 2003. The tower does its electric shimmy for five minutes every hour on the hour until 1 am.
The glittering light show was so popular that the 20,000 lights were reinstalled for permanent use in 2003.
You can stride up the stairs as far as the third floor, but if you want to go to the top you’ll have to take the elevator. (Be sure to take a close look at the fantastic ironwork.) Although the view of the flat sweep of Paris at 1,000 feet may not beat the one from the Tour Montparnasse skyscraper, the setting makes it considerably more romantic—especially if you come in the late evening, after the crowds have dispersed. Beat the crushing lines by reserving your ticket online. You can also book a guided tour.