Daughter of Enlightenment
From Venus de Milo to the surrealists
Travel non stop. The capital of France has a fabulous network of museums and galleries. The first obvious choice will be the Louvre, at the heart of the city. The collection of art and archaelogy is just unparalleled and comprises all periods in history. Visiting will take long. Don’t forget to notice the palace: did you know it was once the seat of the French monarchy?
Then comes the rest, which is immense
The Georges Pompidou centre, a revolutionary project in the Marais area, has more than 60 thousand contemporary art pieces. After seeing Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa at the Louvre, here you’ll find Marcel Duchamp’s ironic version.
Installed in a former railwway station, Musée D’Orsay’s building is as impressive as its 19th Century fine arts collection. Van Gogh, Renoir, Degas, Monet and so many others are here – and the queues are not as long as in the Louvre.
The works of sculptor and author of The Thinker can be seen in the Musée National Rodin, while the Musée du Quai-Branly is dedicated to ethnology and other civilizations. Ever wondered what’s the largest science museum in Europe? Look no further: the futurist Cité des Sciences et de L’Industrie is just a bit farther away from the centre of Paris, in Parc de la Villette.
History in the façades
Visiting museums will give you a great perspective on Paris rich architecture. But there’s so much more. The journey continues through various styles, not limited to the baroque splendour of Versailles.
Medieval wise, Île de la Cité is the place to go. That’s where you’ll find the Concierge, an antient royal palace, court and prision. And also the famous Notre-Dame cathedral, built in the 13th Century.
The renaissance influence stands out in Hotel de Ville, where the city hall is located. On the other hand, the Arc de Triomphe and the Panthéon are true jewels of the neoclassical style. The Eiffel Tower is the maximum symbol of Paris since 1899 and represents art nouveau design during “Belle Époque”, along with the Grand Palais.
Sacré-Coeur, the monumental basilica of Montmartre, finished construction in the 20th Century. Although recent, it’s inspired in old byzantine style and especially the Hagia Sophia of Istanbul. As for post-modernism, it resonates through the Pompidou and the Cité de la Musique.
The book passion
This is the country with more Literature Nobel Prizes winners. Fifteen to be correct — including Patrick Modiano, who won in 2014. There’s even a parisian tour to follow the footsteps of the great writers, both French and foreign.
Between many options, there’s of course Shakespeare & Company, a tribute to the original book store where names like James Joyce, Hemingway and Ezra Pound hang out in the 1920’s. Today, it’s located in 37 rue Bûcherie.
In Musée Carnavalet, a reconstruction of Marcel Proust’s bedroom shows the atmosphere where the seven volumes of In Search of Lost Time where written.
And there’s no escape from visiting the houses of two 19th Century giants: Victor Hugo’s at 6 Place des Vosges and Balzac’s at 47 Rue Raynouard.
Debussy, Ravel, Berlioz and Bizet are the great names in french classical music, featured in productions from Opera Bastille and Cité de la Musique.
Contemporary music marks presence in events promoted by the experimental centre IRCAM. Le Zenith is where many live albums where recorded and currently the main spot for mainstream concerts. And in the Summer, the Rock en Seine festival is among the hot happenings.
Moliére & company
The great stages are a part of the parisian charm. Comédie-Française, Bobino, Mogador and Gaîté-Montparnasse are the main theatres for classic and contemporary shows. Just like Théâtre du Châtelet, where musicals are also on display. Ballet pieces are featured regularly at Palais Garnier’s old neo-baroque building.
And then, of course, who can forget the red windmill on the rooftop of Moulin Rouge? Located in the Pigalle, its cabaret perfomance is probably the most famous show in the city.