Paris (1)

Voyages & Images, a photographic guide

When I told a friend that I intended to go to Paris on my planned travel to Europe, he suggested leaving the city to the end of the journey. I asked him why and he said: "Because nothing compares to Paris…"
From the urban point of view, Paris is a live exhibition composed of some of the most impressive monuments and architectural icons of mankind. From the cultural point of view, the city has an amazing gathering of works of art of all times. From the historical point of view, you can find references at each corner, from evidences of the Roman occupation to indications where heroes of the French resistance have fallen. From the gastronomic point of view, there are restaurants and cafés of all styles and prices, allowing the visitor to appreciate the special French cuisine. Perhaps nothing really compares to Paris… I can not deny that I had this impression in May 2005, when I first visited the French capital.
 Defining what can not be missed in Paris is a difficult task. The quantity of attractions to see and experiment is only limited to the visitor's available time. The service of Paris metro is excellent and covers the whole city. In spite of that, the exploration of the central region of the city must be made on foot.
A walk in the Ilé de la Cité, take us to two religious monuments built in the Middle Ages. The cathedral of Notre Dame, a great gothic architectural monument by the River Seine is one of the symbols of Paris and France. The Saint-Chapelle is a jewel of the Middle Ages, with notable stained glass windows representing passages of the Old and New Testament.

The Gardens of Luxembourg, at the Quartier Latin, is the place where many Parisians like to stay on the sunny days, mainly at the weekends. During the week days the park is usually full of students of the nearby University of Sorbonne. Close to the Gardens of Luxemburg, the Pantheon, an astounding architectural achievement originally built as a church, holds the tombs of many historical personalities of France.
The Museum of Louvre has got a priceless collection of artistic treasures and objects of civilizations of all times. The glass pyramid and the underground complex, built in the 20th century, provide an unusual contrast to the original architectural style of the palace of Louvre. The Museum d'Orsay has got an impressive collection of French artists of the second half of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, including an extensive collection of master pieces of the Impressionism

Les Invalides is a building complex of monuments and museums, originally built as a hospital for veterans of war. There you can find the tomb of Napoleon, in a specially built crypt under a huge golden dome. The Rodin Museum, beside Les Invalides, stands in the middle of a beautiful garden with sculptures of the famous artist.
A mandatory experience in Paris is to take a walk along the great axe that goes from Museum of Louvre to the Arch of Triumph. Starting at the Louvre and passing through the Arch of Carrousel, Garden of Tuileries, Place de la Concorde (where the Obelisk of Luxor is situated), Avenue de Champs Elysees till the Arch of Triumph

The great axe goes, in fact, till the Great Arch de La Defense, in a modern borough of Paris. A line of the metro runs along the axe, so if you ever get tired, you can always get a shortcut.
At the top of the hill of Montmartre lies the astounding church of Sacre Coeur, from where you can get a view of good part of Paris. Close to the Sacre Couer you can find the Square of Tertre, a place where you can buy works of art from popular artists and painters and even have your own portrait painted.

An entire day must be reserved for a visit to the Palace of Versailles, 17 km away from the center of Paris, which was the residence of the French royalty till the 1789 revolution. The palace is situated amidst a giant garden that stretches itself as far as the eye can see.

A visit to Paris would not be complete without a visit to the Eiffel Tower. Do not bother to stand in long queues to go to the top of the tower because it will be an unforgettable experience. The 360 degree view of the city from the top is breathtaking. From the Palace of Chaillot in Trocadero, you can get one of the best views of the Eiffel Tower, specially at night where you can watch, from a privileged point of view, the show of multicolored flashes every hour on the hour.

Paris is perhaps the most photogenic city of the world and, therefore, a never-ending source of subjects for all sorts of photographers, and not only for the most experienced ones.