The Seine River is France’ second longest river. It is one of Paris’ most notable natural features. It greatly contributes to the unique character of the city making it very distinctive and remarkable.
“Seine” originates for the Latin word “Sequana” which means “sacred river”. The Seine has inspired the works of artists such as Maurice Boitel, Frédéric Bazille, Raoul Dufy, Richard Parkes Bonington, Camille Corot, Eugène Boudin, Charles-François Daubigny, Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro and Raimond Lecourt.
Apart from serving as artistic inspiration and as a romantic backdrop in many photographs of the city, the river is a major commercial waterway in the Île-de-France and Haute-Normandie regions. With tourist boats offering sightseeing excursions of the Rive Gauche and the Rive Droite, the Seine River also contributes largely to Paris’ thriving tourist industry.
The river ends at the English Channel. Ten percent of its length going towards Rouen is traversable by oceanic transport while sixty percent from Burgundy is navigable by commercial riverboats. Recreational boating is allowed on most parts of the river.
Within Paris, the river’s width is spanned by 37 bridges while dozens more lie outside the city. These bridges include the Pont Neuf, the Pont Louis-Philippe and one of the world’s longest cable-stayed bridges , the Pont de Normandie
The Palais de Justice can be found in the Île de la Cité, which is in Central Paris. The Île de la Cité is one of the two natural islands on the Seine River. The other is the Île Saint-Louis. The Palais de Justice stands on the original site of Saint Louis’ royal palace. The palace’s Sainte Chapelle still remains.
The gendarmes are responsible for providing security in the Palais de Justice. Since the medieval period, the Palais de Justice has been the place where justice was dispensed.
It served as the seat of the Parlement de Paris since the 16th century. It is home to several courts including the Paris Court of Large Claims, or the Tribunal de Grande Instance, the Paris Court of Appeal, the Paris Correctional Court, and the French Cour de cassation, which is at the top of the French judicial order.
The Palais de Justice also has, within its walls, the ancient Conciergerie. The Conciergerie used to be a royal palace and prison. As with hundreds of prisoners during the French Revolution, it was where Marie Antoinette was held before her execution on the guillotine. The Conciergerie is now a museum whose exterior features the work of sculptor Jean-Marie Bonnassieux.
The charming city of Paris, capital of France, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the globe. Every year, it attracts an average of 45 million tourists. It is the largest city in the country and it is right at the center of the Île-de-France region.
Since the 1860s, most of Paris has remained unchanged. Through the centuries, Paris has become a well-established business and cultural center. With a population of over 11 million, Paris is one of Europe’s most populated metropolitan areas.
Its huge impact and influence in education, politics, media, science, entertainment, fashion and the arts make Paris one of the world’s most powerful global cities. Paris’ tourist industry started to boom during the 19th century when rail travel became possible. In 1848, France’s rail network was laid out with Paris at the center.
The Expositions Universelles were among the first tourist attractions that caught international interest. Many of Paris’ architectural icons and monuments originated from these events. The most popular of which is, of course, the Eiffel Tower.
The museums in Paris are also highly-esteemed destinations. Their vast contribution to the tourism industry has pushed the city to establish new museums. The Louvre is the most prized art museum in the city, and the most visited in the entire world. Other attractions in the city include the Notre Dame, the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur and the Disneyland Resort Paris.
The popular Canal Saint-Martin is a long canal in the lovely city of Paris. It is 4.5 kilometers long and it connects the Seine River and the Canal de l’Ourcq. In 1802, Napoleon I ordered the construction of the canal to create a channel through which fresh water may come into Paris to support the increasing population and to help prevent the spreading of diseases such as cholera and dysentery.
A prefect of Paris by the name of Gaspad de Chabrol proposed the building of a canal from the Ourq River. The excavation for the canal began in 1802 and ended in 1825. The project was funded by the newly imposed tax on wine.
After its construction, the canal did more than just bring fresh water in the city. It also became the gateway through which food, building materials and other goods were brought into Paris. The Bassin de la Villette and the Port de l’Arsenal were built to receive supplies carried by canal boats.
During the 1960s, traffic on the canal had greatly decreased and it was almost converted into a highway. The canal is now filled in between the Place de la Bastille and the Rue du Faubourg du Temple.
At the La Fontaine de Medicis in Paris’ Jardin du Luxembourg is a beautiful sculpture by Auguste Ottin called Polyphemus Surprising Acis and Galatea. It was made for Marie de Medici. Acis and Galatea are character from Greek mythology. In the Metamorphoses by Ovid, Acis was the son of Faunus and Symaethis, the sea-nymph daughter of the River Symaethus.
Acis and Galatea were deeply in love, but Acis was murdered with a boulder by a jealous Sicilian Cyclops named Polyphemus. According to the tale, Galatea was so distraught over the murder of her beloved that she turned his blood into the Acis River that flowed in Sicily near Mount Etna.
Some historians believe that the tale was fabricated as a political satire about Dionysius I, an infamous Sycilian tyrant. His favorite concubine was also named Galatea. However, others believe that the story was made up to explain the presence of a shrine on Mount Etna that is devoted to the Nereid, Galatea.
The tragic story grew in popularity since the beginning of the Renaissance. Acis and Galatea became popular subjects for artists and musicians. The tale became the inspiration for musical pieces such as Handel’s Acis and Galatea and Aci, Lully’s Acis et Galatée, Jean Cras’s opera Polypheme, Antonio de Literes’ zarzuela Acis y Galatea and Galatea e Polifemo.
Parc de la Villete is located on the fringes of Paris’ 19th arrondissement. It forms the border of the ring road around the city called the Boulevard Périphérique, and of the Seine-Saint-Denis suburb. The park covers fifty-five hectares, and more than half of the area is devoted to open, green space. It is the biggest fully landscaped park in all of Paris. It is bested only by the Père-Lachaise cemetery.
French architect Bernard Tschumi designed Parc de la Villette after winning the design competition for the park, and then consulting deconstructionist philosopher, Jacques Derrida. Tschumi built the park in 1982 in partial fulfillment of an urban redevelopment project. Pard de la Villete was built on what used
to be the national wholesale meat market. The site was also where the Parisian abattoirs or slaughterhouses, which were built in 1867 and relocated in 1974, used to stand.
Parc de la Villette is home to science and music facilities including the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie, and the Omnimax domed theater called La Géode. The Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie is the largest European science museum. It specializes in fostering technical and scientific culture. The museum was established under President Giscard d’Estaing’s initiative of spreading scientific and technical knowledge to the people.
Disneyland Resort Paris is located in a town in the eastern suburbs of Paris called Marne-la-Vallée. It is a holiday and recreation spot 32 kilometers off the center of Paris. Most of the resort is on Chessy, and it has two theme parks, a dining, retail and entertainment district, and seven hotels.
Paris’ Disneyland Resort is the second to open outside of the United States. The first is the Tokyo Disney Resort in Japan. It started operating in April 12, 1992, and with over 15 million visitors in 2008, it has become one of the top tourist destinations in Paris.
In March 1988, Disney and a group of four architectural giants – Michael Graves, Frank Gehry, Robert Venturi and Robert A.M. Stern – decided to build the hotels following an exclusively American theme. Each of the seven Disney-owned hotels in the resort depicts a region in the United States.
Gehry is the architect behind Disneyland Resort Paris’ entertainment, dining and shopping complex, which is called Festival Disney. He used Downtown Disney in Walt Disney’s World as the inspiration for his work. Gehry’s final design features towering silver and bronze columns illuminated by an array of lights. One of the popular attractions in the resort is Lake Disney. It is an artificial lake that draws millions of tourists every year. In some months, the resort has more visitors than the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower combined.
Another museum in the charming city of Paris, France is the Palais de Tokyo located on Avenue du President Wilson in the 16th arrondissement near the Trocadero. The Palais de Tokyo is a modern art museum hosting the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, which opened to the public in January 2002. The museum contains artworks from the 20th century.
The Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, which was inaugurated in 1961, was built for the 1937 International Exhibition of Arts and Technology. It contains more than eight thousand pieces showcasing the numerous art trends that developed in the 20th century.
The museum boasts of exhibitions on the major contemporary art movements in Europe. The thematic and monographic displays show the key trends in modern art.
Painting, sculptures and other works of art by famed artists such as Pablo Picasso, Rauol Duffy, Henri Matisse, Georugers Rouault, Maurice de Vlaminck, Fernand Léger, Francis Picabia, Georges Braque, Giorgio de Chirico, Chaïm Soutine, Amedeo Modigliani, Kees van Dongen, Robert and Sonia Delaunay, Suzanne Valadon, Pierre Bonnard, František Kupka, Maurice Utrillo, Yves Klein, André Derain, Hans Bellmer, Juan Gris, Jean Fautrier, Alberto Giacometti and Pierre Soulages can be found in the museum.
Located in the 8th Arrondissement of Paris, along 158 Boulevard Haussman, is the Musee Jacquemart-Andre. The public museum was created from Edouard Andre and Nelie Jacquemart’s private home. The museum is a showcase of the art pieces Andre and Jacquemart collected throughout their life.
Edouard Andre came from an affluent Protestant banking family. He spent a large part of his fortune on art. In 1869, he commissioned architect Henri Parent to design a mansion for him where he could display the beautiful pieces of his collection. In 1875, Parent completed the project.
Andre married Nelie Jacquemart who was a popular and talented society painter. Jacquemart painted Andre’s portrait ten years before they got married. The wealthy couple frequently traveled to Italy where they acquired beautiful works of art. Over the years, they were able to put together one of the finest Italian art collections in France.
After Andre’s death, his wife continued to add on to their collection. She traveled to the orient to source for more works to display in their museum. Following the plans she and her husband made, Jacquemartt donated the mansion and all its contents to the Institut de France. In 1913, the museum opened to the public.
The Louvre Museum, also known as the Musée du Louvre or the Grand Louvre or, simply, the Louvre, is France’s largest national museum. It is a grand historic monument and is the most visited museum all across the globe. Located in the 1st arrondissement on the Right Bank of the Seine River, it is Paris’ central landmark.
The museum contains almost 35,000 objects and artifacts dating from prehistory to the 19th century. These items are displayed over an overwhelming 60,600 square meter area.
Louis XIV left the Louvre as a venue to display the royal collection in 1672 when he transferred his household to the Palace of Versailles. The Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres and the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture then occupied the building for a hundred years. However, during the French Revolution, it was decreed by the National Assembly that the Louvre should function as a museum where masterpieces of the nation may be put on display.
On August 10, 1793, the museum opened to the public with an exhibition of over five hundred paintings. Over time, the museum’s collection expanded, and is now divided into eight departments: Near Eastern Antiquities; Egyptian Antiquities; Etruscan, Greek and Roman Antiquities; Sculpture; Decorative Arts; Islamic Art; Prints and Drawings and Paintings.