Boasting an impressive resume that includes being one of the tallest buildings in the world and a design that was lauded when it was built for the 1889 Exposition Universelle - a festival to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution - La Tour Eiffel, commonly known as the Eiffel Tower, originally served as a radio transmitter and a symbol of the innovations achieved during the industrial era. Today, the Eiffel Tower stands proudly amidst Paris and glimpses of it can be seen from all over the city. In reverse, the Eiffel Tower provides a view to the whole city; a ride to the top of the tower takes visitors 276 meters up for a panoramic view of the entire city, stretching out for miles in each direction. At night, the Eiffel Tower comes alive with a light show that increases its role as the city's most recognized feature.
This gorgeous architectural gem, completed in the 17th century, is located in the city's Faubourg-St-Germain region. It was created by Louis XIV, the Sun King, as a home for aged soldiers and disabled/ injured veterans. Among its prominent features are a sweeping esplanade, a series of gardens, and a striking domed church, where Napol� I and other military heroes are interred. One of those military heroes is Turenne, one of the most famous marshals of France, whose tomb was installed in 1800 under the Dome. It wasn't until 1840 that Napoleon I's body was transferred to this site under the direction of King Louis-Philippe. The Emperor passed away on St. Helena in 1821. Also at this location is the Mus�de l'Arm� an outstanding art and military history museum, with extensive armament collections. METRO: Invalides, Latour Maubourg
Stretching between the Louvre and place de la Concorde, this garden originally dates to 1564, when Catherine de Medici had it constructed as a reminder of her home in Italy. Historically, it marked one of the first times that Paris displayed beauty and elegance outdoors rather than only inside. It took its present layout by Andr� Le Nôtre during the reign of Louis XIV. Boasting gravel paths, avenues of lovely trees and numerous sculptures, both historic and modern, the garden is a peaceful place to spend an afternoon, or to come for lunch when visiting the Louvre as there are several outdoor caf�s and restaurants. In summer there is a big funfair.
The world's largest, richest collection of art and antiques occupies the Louvre, the world's largest museum and the one-time royal palace to French Kings and Queens. Originally built in 1190 as a fortress, part of which can be viewed in the basement, the Louvre began taking its present form during the 16th century under Renaissance monarch Fran�ois 1er, whose successors began filling it with artworks, but didn't officially open it as a museum until 1793 after the French Revolution. In 1981, then-President Mitterrand spearheaded a stunning renovation of the facility, notably the glass pyramid that now provides the main entrance. Leonardo's Mona Lisa and masterpieces of French Romanticism by Delacroix and G�ricault are several of its superstars. The popular Ancient Egyptian department is much loved by kids. There are excellent book and gift shops and several caf�s in the Carrousel du Louvre, the new shopping center it opens up onto.
This Catholic Church is the main church of the picturesque Île St.-Louis, the oldest inhabited area of Paris. The church was built according to the architectural designs of Le Vau in stages between 1624 and 1726. Le Vau was the royal architect of Versailles. The church's patron saint is Saint Louis de France who reigned as King Louis IX from 1226 - 1270. One of its most distinguishing attributes is the 18th c. church tower and the clock that decorates its exterior. Within its walls, the church has many valuable paintings including by Carle Van Loo. There are frequent concerts - classical and choir - given at the church. Check the website to see updated times and events. Mass is held Sunday mornings at 11 a.m.
Centuries later and it's altogether too easy to forget that before he was the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson also served a term here in Paris as the US Ambassador to France (1785-89). He succeeded the first US Ambassador, who, of course, was Benjamin Franklin. Historical records attest to his spending long hours sketching sitting in the area of the Tuileries gardens that overlook the Seine and offer a direct view onto the Hôtel de Salm (currently the Museum of the Legion of Honor - Musée national de la Légion d'Honneur et des Ordres de Chevalerie). He was sketching the architecturally forward but with classic lines Hôtel de Salm, built in 1782, the building with its signature pillars. He later used these sketches for his beloved Monticello, which he built when he returned back to his native Virginia.
There's a brand new tourist office in Paris that's unlike any tourist office you've ever seen. Gone are the harried functionaries who don't speak your language. They have been replaced by a young hip staff who are only too happy to show you how to use the complimentary digital tablets and computers that are programmed to assist you in just about any language you can imagine. The location, at Paris' City Hall (Hotel de Ville) means, too, that it is a great launching area for meandering walks through the Marais, a jaunt down along the Seine, a foray through Île Saint-Louis or a morning or afternoon spent at Les Halles with a stop in at the celebrated Centre Pompidou.
Named for Louis XIV's confessor, who once lived in the vicinity, this cemetery was established in 1804. It was planned as a repository for human remains when authorities sought to improve sanitation by moving graves from the center of the city to its outskirts. Now park-like in its appeal, P� Lachaise is a much-desired place to be buried. Within its bounds are the graves of Moli�, Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, Chopin, Edith Piaf, Sarah Bernhardt, Marcel Proust, and other famous figures. The very first burial at the cemetery however was Ad�� Paillard de Villeneuve, a five-year-old girl who was the daughter of a bell-boy. Her grave no longer exists today because it was a temporary concession. Stately trees and beautiful memorials add to the cemetery's present-day calm. METRO: P� Lachaise, Philippe Auguste
This central building to Paris' city center made a huge architecturally splash when Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers designed it as "an evolving spatial diagram" in the 70s. Breaking away from the then customary Parisian stone façades, the architects created a building of steel (15,000 tons) and glass (118,403 sq. ft.) and then color-codes its infrastructure which they placed outside its walls. Hence the inner workings of the building are emblematically visible on its exterior: red signifies pathways for people (elevators and escalators); yellow denotes circulating electricity; green is for water; and blue is for circulating air conditioning. As much a national library as it is a museum, there is nonetheless over 60,000 artworks housed here covering the 20th and 21st centuries. It is the largest collection in Europe of modern and contemporary art. The public information library is a multi-media one that uses all current forms of media.
This wonderfully extravagant palace, where royals frittered away much of the treasury, is a necessary stop for visitors. Top designers of the day created an ornate complex of gardens, lakes, stables and guest houses to complement the luxuriously furnished palace, where Louis XIV, XV and XVI lived before the kingdom gave way to revolution. Beautifully restored rooms hint at the court's wealth, as seen in the gilt, crystal and hand-painted furnishings and details. Make sure to see the historic Hall of Mirrors. Guided and unguided tours are available. The gardens are as much as an attraction as the interior, especially when the spectacular fountains are turned on to music on summer weekends. Access from Paris by train (RER line C; Versailles Rive Gauche station is an 8-minute walk from the palace).