France travel information
It's little wonder that so many wistful songs have been penned over the years about France's capital, Paris
. Few cities leave the visitor with such vivid impressions.
Cathédrale de Notre-Dame, Sainte-Chapelle
Palais du Louvre
, in the city's centre, provide a constant reminder of Paris's religious and royal past. The backdrop of the streets is predominantly Neoclassical, the result of nineteenth-century development designed to reflect the power of the French state. Each period since, however, has added, more or less discreetly, novel examples of its own styles - with
Auguste Perret, Le Corbusier, Mallet-Stevens
among the early twentieth-century innovators. In recent decades, the architectural additions have been more dramatic in scale, producing new and major landmarks, and recasting down-at-heel districts into important centres of cultural and consumer life. New buildings such as
La Villette, La Grande Arche de la Défense
Institut du Monde Arabe
have expanded the dimensions of the city, pointing it determinedly towards the future.
museums and galleries
, not least the mighty
, number among the world's finest. The tradition of state cultural endowment is very much alive in the city and collections are exceedingly well displayed and cared for. Many are also housed in beautiful locations, such as old mansions and palaces, others in bold conversions, most famously the
, which occupies a former train station. The Impressionists here and at the
, the moderns at the
Palais de Tokyo
, the smaller
museums - all repay a visit. In addition, the contemporary scene is well represented in the
that fill the Marais, St-Germain, the Bastille and the area around the Champs-Élysées, and there's an ever-expanding range of museums devoted to other areas of human endeavour - science, history, decoration, fashion and performance art.
If you've time, you should certainly venture out of the city. The region surrounding the capital - the Île de France - is dotted with cathedrals and châteaux as stunning and steeped in history as the city itself -
, for example. An equally accessible excursion from the capital is that most un-French of attractions,
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