Paris – Places of Interest

Over the coming months there will be four blog posts for each city on the Davis High School Baroque Ensemble’s 2020 England-France Tour tour: Place of Interest; Concert Venue; Music; History of the city. This week’s post, the seventeenth of the series, is on places of interest in Paris.


Temporary paper optical illusion collage - entrance Courtyard of the Musée du Louvre

Temporary paper optical illusion collage – entrance Courtyard of the Musée du Louvre

The final concert of the DHSBE tour will take place in Paris. The choice of places of interest in the city is overwhelming, with some of the best known being the Eiffel Tower, Montmartre and Sacre Coeur church, the Louvre museum, and Ile de Paris & Notre Dame Cathedral – all of which all well worth a visit, as well as a cruise on the Seine, and shopping! The following are places of interest that may be less well known:

Les Invalides

Les Invalides

Les Invalides is one of the finest buildings from the Baroque period in Europe. It was built in 1670 as a hospital and retirement home for veterans, and still serves that purpose today. It is also the home of a military museum, and a church that is the burial site of many ‘war heroes’, including Napoleon Bonaparte. Les Invalides is where rioters obtained the cannons and muskets they used to storm the Bastille prison in 1789 at the start of the French Revolution.

Place des Vosges, dating from 1605, was the prototype for all formal residential squares in Europe. All houses were built using the same materials: red brick with steep pitched slate roofs. The building of the Square turned the Marais district, in which it is situated, into a fashionable area for French nobility up until the French Revolution.

Musée Rodin

Musée Rodin

Musée Rodin is housed in the grand early 18th century town-house Hôtel Biron. The museum collection includes Rodin’s well known sculptures ‘The Thinker’, ‘Honore Balzac’, and ‘The Burgers of Calais’, and many hundreds of his other works. Many of his famous works are displayed in the formal gardens surrounding the house.

The Pantheon was originally a church dedicated to St. Genevieve, Patron Saint of Paris. The church was re-built in Neoclassical style by Louis XV. It became a mausoleum during the French Revolutions to honor revolutionary martyrs, and many famous famous French citizens, including Voltaire, Victor Hugo, and Marie Curie, are buried there.

Musée de l’Orangerie is located in a corner of the Tuileries Garden (adjacent the the large courtyard containing the entrance to the Louvre.) It is the home of eight enormous ‘Water Lilly’ murals by Monet, and also contains paintings by other Impressionists, and by Cezanne, Picasso, and Matisse.

Les Catacombes

Les Catacombes

Les Catacombes under the streets of Paris, and just under a mile long, houses the remains of millions of Parisians who were removed from old cemeteries, some dating from the Roman and medieval periods. The bones were arranged artistically in the early 19th century.

The original Shakespeare & Company bookshop was opened by Sylvia Whitman, an American, in 1919, in part to be a place for writers to meet such as Ezra Pound and James Joyce. A second S&C bookstore opened in the 1950s, and was also frequented by writers including Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs, some of whom lodged in the store for a time.

Place de la Concorde, the largest square in Paris, situated at the eastern end of Avenue des Champs-Élysées, is where Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, and many others were guillotined during the French Revolution. The tall 3,200 year-old obelisk in the center of the square was brought from the Temple of Luxor in the 19th century.

Sainte Chapelle

Sainte Chapelle

Sainte Chapelle is recognised as one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in the world. Construction began c.1239 and the chapel was consecrated in 1248. Fifteen huge mid-13th century stained glass windows, some of the finest in the world, fill the nave and apse, and a large ‘rose’ window was added to the west wall in 1490.

Musée d’Orsay is known for the world’s premier collection of Impressionist paintings.  Located in a former railway station on the banks of the Seine, this grand museum showcases thousands of art works from the mid 19th century until the early 1900s, including work by Monet, Van Gogh, Cezanne, Degas, Pissaro, and Renoir.

Centre Pompidou

Centre Pompidou

Centre Pompidou, built in a still controversial high-tech style in 1977 at the instigation of President Pompidou. It is a cultural institution that houses a huge public library, the largest collection of modern art in Europe, a bookshop, movie theater, and has a panoramic terrace. Musée National Picasso –  Hôtel Salé,contains several thousand of his works of art including paintings, sculpture, ceramics, prints and engravings in an beautiful mid-17th century town-house.

Jardin du Luxembourg is a public park on the ‘left bank’ of the Seine. The gardens contain the original palace built in 1612 for Marie de’ Medici, widow of Henry IV of France. Visitors can stroll around the formal and informal gardens, and there are opportunities for sailing model boats, riding ponies, playing tennis, and there is a playground for children.

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