Published April 03, 2012
Paris has been romanticized in so many stories, books, movies, poems and songs that it seems almost redundant to embellish it with any more superlatives. The truth is that the City of Light both reinforces preconceptions and dispels them. It is impossibly romantic and effortlessly sophisticated, but Paris is also much more than you might imagine.
The Centre Pompidou is one of the world's boldest and most innovative museums. Conceived by former French president, Georges Pompidou, the center actually comprises several different cultural attractions, including a public information library, a music institute, a large forecourt for public performances and - the building's centerpiece - The National Museum of Modern Art. This wonderful gallery houses some 40,000 works from modern luminaries of the 20thh and 21st centuries, such as Marcel Duchamp's trademark Dada-style sculptures, and paintings by Salvador Dali and Henri Matisse.
The most distinctive feature of the Centre Pompidou is arguably the building itself. Its transparent façade showing the crisscrossing ducts and colorful pipes winding through the main structure provides a strong first impression that is not easily forgotten.
Cimetiere du Pere-Lachaise
Paris is notorious for its pricy real estate, but believe it or not, the most exclusive property in the city is actually within the grounds of Pere-Lachaise cemetery. That's because this world-famous graveyard's long list of residents includes some of the most famous names of the last two centuries. On a stroll through the grounds of this 109-acre cemetery, visitors will encounter the graves of icons like Oscar Wilde, Frederic Chopin, Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf, Gertrude Stein and Jean Paul Sartre.
Housed within a stunning old railway station and illuminated through an arching glass roof, the Musee d'Orsay's stylish and sophisticated setting is wonderfully Parisian. The museum documents a golden age for European art between the mid-19th and early-20th centuries, when leaders of movements such as symbolism, realism and late-romanticism produced many of their greatest works. Seminal paintings from French greats like Monet, Manet and Degas hang next to the works of renowned Dutch, American and Italian artists.
The Eiffel Tower is arguably the most beautiful, and certainly the most recognizable landmark in the world. In the daylight, a trip to the top of this magnificent structure will yield sumptuous views of endless mansard roofs and winding avenues, while at night the twinkling city lights can be seen for miles around. Of course, the most beautiful view is of the tower itself, which is best observed from the nearby Place du Trocadero.
Musee du Louvre
The Louvre is, without a doubt, among the greatest museums in the world. The sheer scale and scope of its massive collection is mind-boggling. Certainly, you could take in the highlights of the Louvre's 30,000-strong collection within a few hours, but to truly appreciate the entire museum would take days, or even weeks. The huge assortment of paintings, sculpture, decorative arts and ancient Greek, Roman and Egyptian antiquities was amassed by French monarchs and governments over several centuries, while the building itself was restored by Napoleon Bonaparte during the 18th century. As one of world's greatest cultural attractions, it is a must-see for even the most casual art-lovers.