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FROMMER'S PARIS 2011
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LANDMARKS & MONUMENTS in PARIS
 
 
           
 
       
  Michel Turgot map of Paris
A detail from one of the 21 plates in Michel Turgot's large-format atlas Plan de Paris (Paris, 1739), Louis Bretez, cartographer. Notre Dame cathedral appears at upper left. The Seine is alive with boats. An axonometric view, this is fine draftsmanship for a man without a helicopter. "It is one of the great city views and shows the primacy of French cartography in the period," says Tom Conley, professor of Romance languages and literatures. Conley teaches that the advent of widely available maps – which rapidly became the basis of statehood, of the management of property, of taxation – revolutionized the way people formed mental images of space.
 

The street plan and total urban development of Paris are divided into two parts by the Seine and connected by 31 bridges. The major street pattern is the result of the 19th-century plan (effected between 1853 and 1870) of Baron Georges Haussmann, prefect under Napoleon III. He positioned the main streets and boulevards so that they are long and straight and focus on the major traffic circles, intersections, and architectural landmarks throughout the city. Between the major thoroughfares are the narrow, winding, congested streets.

Towering, graceful, majestic, triumphant - these are but a few of the adjectives one tends to ascribe to many of the monuments in Paris. Certainly, foreigners associate such architectural marvels as the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, and Notre Dame Cathedral with Paris, but the City of Light offers a wealth of other breathtaking, thought-provoking, and often controversial landmarks to behold. Veteran tourists will tell you that there's no point trying to see them all in one trip; console yourself with the knowledge that you'll need to revisit Paris another time.

A number of monuments which now lend Paris its international identity were met with scorn and disdain by native Parisians at the time of their construction. For example, the Eiffel Tower, which was built to serve as a centerpiece for the Paris Exposition (World's Fair) in 1889, met with vociferous dissension among a number of the Parisian literati, who wrote, "We, the writers, painters, sculptors, architects and lovers of the beauty of Paris, do protest with all our vigour and all our indignation, in the name of French taste and endangered French art and history, against the useless and monstrous Eiffel Tower."

Modern-day citizens surely felt mixed emotions about the Pompidou Centre, commissioned in 1968, which is known as the most infamous post-modernist outhouse (in polite terms) in Europe. British architect Richard Rogers' notorious "inside-out" design places the framework of the structure on the outside of the building itself!

Whatever your opinion may be on the worth of avant garde design, you will surely agree that the tremendous range of architectural period styles in Paris mirrors a fascinating history which traces back through its 2,000 years of evolution. Some may prefer the grandeur of High Gothic architecture evidenced by Notre Dame, or the resplendent furnishings and decor at the Palace of Versailles, while others may opt for the simplicity and clean lines of the Grande Arche de la Défense. You be the judge.

Museums and Monuments Card

If you are planning to visit many monuments and museums during your séjour à Paris, Discover France offers the "Paris Pass", valid for unlimited visits and priority access to approximately 70 locations in and near Paris – no waiting in long lines! It also provides unlimited transportation on the métro, buses, tramways, and the Montmartre funicular. Cards are available in denominations valid for either one, three, or five consecutive days in your choice of travel zones (Paris intra muros and/or the suburbs).

Author: Ian C. Mills ©1998- – All Rights Reserved

Bibliography & recommended reading: Eyewitness Travel Guides – France, 2006, Dorling Kindersley (DK) Publishing Inc., New York. Eyewitness Travel Guides – Paris, 2006, Dorling Kindersley (DK) Publishing Inc., New York. Fodor's Exploring Paris, Fodor's Travel Publications, New York. Fodor's Paris, Fodor's Travel Publications, a division of Random House Inc., New York. Frommer's Paris, Frommer's Guides, Wiley Publishing Inc., Hoboken, NJ. Frommer's Paris From $95 A Day, Haas Mroue, Wiley Publishing Inc., Hoboken, NJ. Insight Guide - Paris, 2007, Insight Guides, a division of Langenscheidt Publishing Group, Duncan, SC. Let's Go Paris, 14th Edition, 2006, Let's Go Publications Inc., Cambridge, MA. Lonely Planet Paris, 2006, Steve Fallon & Annabel Hart, Lonely Planet Publications, Oakland, CA. Michelin Green Guide: Paris (English), Heather Stimmler-Hall & Gwen Cannon, 2007, Michelin Travel Publications. Paris for Families, 2000, Larry & Michael Lain, Family Travel Guides, a division of Interlink Publishing Group, Northampton, MA. Pauline Frommer's Paris, Pauline Frommer Guides, Wiley Publishing Inc., Hoboken, NJ. Rick Steves' Paris, 2008, [Rick Steves, Steve Smith, & Gene Openshaw], Avalon Travel Publishing, Berkeley, CA. Romantic Paris, 2002, Thirza Vallois & Juliana Spear (photographer), Interlink Publishing Group Inc., Brooklyn, NY and Northampton, MA. Time Out Paris, 2007, Time Out Group Ltd., London. Time Out Paris Eating & Drinking, 2006, Time Out Group Ltd., London. Unexplored Paris, 2003, Rodolphe Trouilleux & Jacques Lebar, Parigramme, Paris. The Unofficial Guide to Paris, 2005, David Applefield, Unofficial Guides, Wiley Publishing Inc., Hoboken, NJ.

Historical facts & walking tours: Discover France highly recommends the following 3-volume set of books (available individually), written by Thirza Vallois. They are engaging and fun to read, while providing a meticulously-researched historical background on each of Paris' 20 arrondissements (neighborhoods).

 
 

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