History is what describes Paris. Add to it fashion, life style, lights and last but not the least romance that defines Paris. As the adage goes ‘love is in the air’, travelers and revelers all throng the city for the kiss that would last lifelong. Undoubtedly and rightfully it’s called a city of love. The moment you put your foot on the city you fall in love with this place.
The city was founded around 3rd BC by the Gauls also known as Parisii. There are many theories about the history of the city, but the interesting one is that in 52 BC Julius Caesar conquered the region and established the Roman city, Lutetia on the existing settlement. In the second century AD Christianity made its advent and the domination of Romans ended in the 5th century with the arrival of Franks. Clovis I established Paris as the capital of the kingdom in 508. Though it’s difficult to cut short the history that too of Paris, but the city experienced great prosperity in middle ages. In the 12thcentury, construction started on cathedral of Notre Dame, Sorbonne opened its door in 1253 and swampy area of Marais was drained to become the area now called Right Bank. Saint Chapelle was completed in 1248. It was also a tumultuous times for Paris. Hundred year war broke out in 14th century between Capetians of France and Norman England that led to defeat of France and English rule was established over Paris. In the mid fifteenth century finally Joan of Arc reconquered and took Paris away from British rule. But that was not the end of war. Paris witnessed and experienced 16th century full of wars, the battle between Catholics and Huguenots resulted in the death of more than three thousand people in the name of religion.
Peace returned but was short lived. Towards the end of 17th century Louis XIV was crowned. In 1789, Parisians revolted that led to the famous fall of Bastille and triggered French revolution. This attracted huge repression from the regime and it became a reign of terror in which more than seventeen thousand people were guillotined. It was then Napoleon Bonaparte took over as Consul for life to provide stability. In 1804, he was crowned as Emperor of France by the Pope and ruled till 1815 till his defeat at waterloo, Belgium. After the fall of Napoleon, a coup d’etat brought Napoleon III to power who ruled for seventeen years. It was in this period that major city projects were envisaged, planned and implemented. Wide boulevards were constructed that changed the appearance of Paris. The city suffered a massive setback under the Nazi occupation in 1940’s. At the end of war, Paris reconquered its role as promoter of innovation and encouraged strong liberal movement.
Strong political movements, a historical legacy of the city continues. Fifth republic, as we know France today, has witnessed many political movements such as student revolt of 1968 and many similar events that have shaped it.
Paris has been home to many renowned figures of the literary world not only born in France but also numerous expatriates who fell in love with the city and made it a subject matter of writing. The city can boast the names of several novelists, poets and play writers like Moliere, Voltaire, Balzac, Victor Hugoand Zola. The expatriate writers who made it their home include the name of Oscar Wilde, Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Henry James, Milan Kundera. It is also interesting that very few of the writers of Paris were actually born there. They all got attracted to the city because of its University and also that it was a major centre of publishing industry that included newspapers and journals. The literary life of the city centred on the left bank post second world war because there was a huge concentration of book stores. Writers like Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir held court here in the numerous cafes. Sartre was the most prominent writer of this period and was founder of the school of existentialism. He was also a novelist, playwright and theatre director. Beauvoir, a life-long companion of Sartre was another important literary figure of the time and early proponent of feminism. This list would be incomplete without mentioning the name Albert Camus, who died young but has great works to his name.
Escape from the Heat
The city during summers is full of tourists who try to escape from the scorching heat back home. With the temperature hovering around twenty degrees, the city offers a cool environment. The city is one of the favorite destinations for travelers and has something to offer everyone. This mesmerizing city will not let you down and fulfill all your expectations. The city is well connected by rail and air from various destinations across the world. High speed Euro rail connects the city from various locations across Europe. In case you are travelling from London to Paris by train, you traverse through the Channel Tunnel, which is owned and operated separately by Eurotunnel. Once you step in to the city you need to chalk out your itinerary carefully because you have to pack in so much. The places you would like to visit, the food you would like to relish, the markets you would like to shop at. Champs de Elysees could be your first stop if you are an avid shopper. It has all the high end restaurants, flagship stores of top notch brands such as Louis Vuitton and Prada. it is located at the corner of Arc de Triomphe, the famous monument. In the perfect windy weather a few hours of walk here will fill you with greed and you would love to spend few extra hours here. Paris that you have heard of will come true in front of your eyes.
City of Lights
The city is aptly called ‘City of lights’. You got to see Paris at its best once the sun shine fades and lights are on. You get on top of the summit at Eiffel Tower then and see the breath taking view of the city. It’s an unbelievable experience. You feel on top of the world standing over this mammoth three hundred twenty meters tower. One can see the whole city in all its shining glory and the exceedingly huge number of couples around you, reminds you why Paris is called the City of love. The tower gets a new coat of paint every seven years and it takes a year to get the job done. Simultaneously a night cruise from one of the nearby ports will add fun to your trip. A night cruise in the river Seine is a life time experience. It’s difficult to describe the experience, you can just feel it. While cruising you go through these incredible structures of various bridges lit with these yellow lights, cool breeze literally sweeps you away to another world altogether.
Places of Interest
Well,it’s said that no matter how much time you spend in Paris, it’s going to be less. But even on a short duration trip one would like to visit: Les Tuileries, Dôme des Invalides, La Défense, Montmartre, SacréCœur, Place du Tertre, Place des Abbesses, Montparnasse, Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower, Quartier Latin. And the three triumphal arches that fit each other like Matroshkas: Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, Arc de Triomphe, La Grande Arche. A long walk in Monmartre is worth it. You start from Sacre Coeur, a visual treat with historical significance go all the way to Moulin de Rouge. On the way you find a lot of painters waiting to make a portrait of yours under loud carnival music. The walk to Moulin Rouge from Monmartre is a long one. In between you find lots of souvenir shops, sex shops, night clubs and joints. At the end of it you find Moulin Rouge that happens only at night. If you are interested in museums, sculptures and paintings it’s going to take you months to see them all..obviously even if you are short on time you would not give a miss to Mona Lisa at Louvre museum. A visit to Disneyland willremind you of your childhood days. The car stunt show is a must and so are the rides in the park. You might have to spend a few hours in the queue as they are long and serpentine. But every penny and wait is worth it.
Wining and Dining
This is a place which feasts all the time. From breakfast to supper it’s elaborate, tasty and sour if you are a wine lover. One gets up in the morning heads straight to a Creperie where you relish ham and cheese and Nutella crepes. Crepe originated in Britanny, located in northwest of France, but its consumption is widespread across the country, almost a national dish now. If you want to compare it to a dish in your city what comes close to it is African Injera, Indian Dosa and the Mexican Sope. Crepes are often prepared with mixes berries, fresh fruits or lemon cream. Roadside cafes offer you a good meal and depending upon the weight of your wallet you can choose a place for your diner.
The city described as ‘City of love’ has come under attack in recent times. The life in Paris has come under attack in the last couple of years. Stadium, concert hall, cafes have all been attacked and hundreds have been killed. City has been attacked at least six times in the last three years. Nevertheless, the undying spirit of the city has refused to be cowed down. The Bataclan concert hall reopened with a concert of rocker Sting. In the audience, the majority were the victims at Bataclan. Bars and restaurants that came under attack were back to life and all signs of violence were gone. Take a stroll around the city today and you will find it difficult to notice any change in the attitude of the city and its life post these attacks. You will find laughter all around, sounds of cheers and no conversation about what the city has gone through. Scars may be deep, but Parisians find a way out to live the life as they want and offer the same to all the visitors who come to explore this city. You talk to a Parisian and he/she will tell you that we are attacked because ‘we love life’. The only answer to these attacks is ‘joie de vivre’, the joy of life.