The City of Light – 5 Things to Do in Paris
Paris is one of the most visited cities in the world. It’s known for its romantic feel and many cultural attractions. Paris earned itself the nickname ‘City of Light’ because it was an intellectual center during the Enlightenment Era. The name stuck as it was one of Europe’s first cities to use gas lighting. Today, standing from the observation deck of the Eiffel Tower, you can see why it keeps this name.
Paris Art Museums
If you visit Paris, you have to do the Louvre. One of the world’s best known buildings, this art museum is the home of the Mona Lisa and many other notable works of art. Musée d’Orsay is another of the city’s most famous art museums. But while both house important works of art, they’re usually crowded with tourist. If you visit Paris, take the time to visit some of its small museums where you’ll find art that’s just as spectacular.
Notre Dame de Paris
Notre Dame is a gothic architectural masterpiece built from the 12th to the 14th centuries. One of the world’s most beautiful churches, the inside is dark and serene even when it’s bright and sunny outside. There are Gregorian Mass and Vespers services held daily. You can also climb the cathedral towers and see the church’s famous gargoyles. Unfortunately, it’s known as one of the city’s most crowded attractions, but during the winter off-season you can have it all nearly to yourself.
The Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower is a symbol of Paris and it’s something you have to see if you visit Paris. Although derided by the artistic elite, who gave it the nickname ‘metal asparagus,’ this structure is a fascinating part of the city’s history. It offers incredible views of the city and surrounding landscape. Trips up the Tower at night are less crowded and you can see the city lit up before you.
The Latin Quarter
Once you’ve seen the postcard attractions, it’s time to delve into Paris’s rich culture. A great place to do this is in the Latin Quarter. Here you’ll find a lively cultural atmosphere with bistros full of students, artists and bohemians. It’s still the center of the city’s great universities. This is where the Left Bank scene happened and it still retains that bohemian feeling even though it’s been gentrified somewhat. You can wander its maze of tiny streets or sit at one of its endless cafes to enjoy some people-watching. It also offers some of the city’s most affordable cafes.
Finally, Paris offers something incredibly unique but you have to go underground to see it. Leave the sunny atmosphere of the Latin Quarter and venture down into the massive underground cemetery below the city. The Catacombs, which were open to the public in the late 19th century, provided the inspiration for many a spooky tale from the Victorian Era. The public area is around 2 kilometers of skulls, bones, crosses and tombstones.