Paris, France

What can be said about Paris that hasn’t been written before? This travel guide provides a walking tour of the world’s most romantic city. Make sure you also make a day trip to Versailles.

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Eiffel Tower and Statue of Liberty Composite for Paris, France

This composite photo of the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty was created on November 14, 2015, the day after the terrorist attacks on Paris. The inscription on the Encircle Photos Facebook page read: “In united sympathy and support.”

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1 Arc de Triomphe South Façade in Paris, France

In the center of Place Charles de Gaulle is the Arc de Triomphe, an iconic war memorial that was inaugurated in 1836 to honor the dead from the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars. It also contains the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I. It has been the site of several victory parades plus part of the burial services for Napoleon and Victor Hugo.

1 Place Charles de Gaulle, 75008 Paris-8E-Arrondissement, France
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2 Trocadéro at Palais de Chaillot in Paris, France

The Palais de Chaillot is a two-winged building that was built for the 1937 World’s Fair. Today, it houses The Naval Museum (Musée de la Marine), the Museum of Man (Musée de l’Homme) and an Architecture Museum, plus a 1,200 seat theater (Théātre National de Chaillot). However, when most tourists reach the Chaillot Hill, their primary focus is the view of the Eiffel Tower from the terraced Trocadéro gardens and fountains then down a long esplanade and across the Seine.

7335 Avenue des Nations Unies, 75116 Paris, France
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3 Eiffel Tower, Seine River and Pont d’léna Bridge in Paris, France

What started as the entrance to the 1889 World’s Fair drew harsh criticism from the Parisian elite. But Gustave Eiffel believed his 81 story structure – consisting of over 18,000 pieces – would be as important as the Egyptian pyramids. He was called mad and insane. Today, the famous architect is considered visionary for creating one of the world’s most iconic structures. The Eiffel Tower is shown along with the Pont d’léna Bridge and the Seine from the Avenue de New York.

Place de Varsovie, 75016 Paris, France
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4 Eiffel Tower Horizontal Close Up in Paris, France

The La Tour Eiffel, better known as the Eiffel Tower, attracts over six million paid visitors a year and almost everyone snaps countless photos so it is impossible to take a unique image of this Parisian icon. But this landmark at Champ de Mars was the first stop of my self-guided walking tour. I also came back several times a day to see it in different light. Each visit was exciting.

5 Avenue Anatole France, 75007 Paris, France
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5 Wall for Peace Monument and Eiffel Tower at Champ de Mars in Paris, France

On one end of the esplanade Champ de Mars stands the Eiffel Tower and at the other is Ecole Militare, a military training facility where Napoleon Bonaparte went to school. Between them is the “Wall for Peace” monument, a glass structure with the word “peace” etched in 32 languages and 18 alphabets. It was designed by Clara Halter and built in 2000 by architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte.

Wall Of Peace, Rue du Champ de Mars, 75007 Paris, France
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6 Southern Façade of Hôtel des Invalides in Paris, France

Majestically positioned at the end of a 1,640 foot esplanade from the Seine is the 640 foot wide, northern façade of Hôtel des Invalides. Equally impressive is the backside of this massive complex. It was built in 1676 to care for war veterans. Hôtel des Invalides now houses three museums: Musée de l’Armée (military), Musée des Plans-Reliefs (models of French fortifications) and Musée de l’ordre de la Libération (highlights of the WWII and Charles de Gaulle).

2 Avenue de Tourville, 75007 Paris, France
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7 Close up of Dôme des Invalides at Hôtel des Invalides in Paris, France

The most prominent and crowning feature of the Hôtel des Invalides is the 350 foot Dôme des Invalides. Built in 1708, the Dome Church first served as a royal chapel. It is best known for containing the tomb of Emperor Napoleon I. Napoleon Bonaparte died in 1821, received a state funeral in 1840, and was encrypted here in 1861.

2 Avenue de Tourville, 75007 Paris, France
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8 Grand Palais and Seine River in Paris, France

The glass, iron and steel roof of the Grand Palais is the world’s largest and is best seen from across the Seine along the Quai d’Orsay promenade. This beautiful, art-nouveau landmark was created for the 1900 World Exposition and is still used as a museum and for exhibitions.

45 Quai d'Orsay, 75007 Paris, France
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9 Louis XIV’s France Statue at Pont Alexandre III in Paris, France

Adorning the four corners of the Pont Alexandre III bridge are 55 foot, concrete pillars that are topped with golden statues called the Fame of Sciences, Arts, Commerce and Industry. Below each is a statue representing an important period in French history, like this one on the Seine’s south bank by Laurent Marqueste which represents Louis XIV’s France. It is beautiful but also functional: these pillars are counterweights for the bridge.

3336 Pont Alexandre III, 75007 Paris, France
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10 Grand Palais and Pont Alexandre III in Paris, France

It is thrilling to stroll across the Pont Alexandre III towards the Grand Palais while savoring the decorations on this 1900 bridge that include four enormous pillars topped by gilded “Fames,” statues of French history, the ornate street lamps decorated with cherubs, and the nymphs that represent a French alliance with Russia. You won’t want to hurry this moment.

1 Pont Alexandre III, 75008 Paris, France
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11 Nymph of Seine at Pont Alexandre III and Eiffel Tower in Paris, France

The beautiful connection over the Seine between the Grand and Petit Palais and the Hôtel des Invalides is an Art Nouveau bridge called Pont Alexandre III. It was built in time for the 1900 World Exposition and celebrates the Franco-Russian Alliance in 1892. The statue that encircles the Eiffel Tower is one of two copper nymphs of Seine in a ship that symbolizes France.

Pont Alexandre III, 75008 Paris, France
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12 Grand Palais West Churchill Entrance in Paris, France

When you approach the Grand Palais from the West Churchill entrance, you can no longer see its magnificent glass roof but its façade is equally impressive with Corinthian columns, copper and stone statues, cherub reliefs plus a 240 foot mosaic. It is not a palace. Instead, it houses both a science and art museum, an exposition hall (Galleries National du Grand Palais), and an event hall (Nef du Grand Palais).

4 Avenue Winston Churchill, 75008 Paris-8E-Arrondissement, France
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13 Quadriga Statue at Grand Palais in Paris, France

I always get excited when I see a magnificent structure adorned with a quadriga, which is typically shown as a chariot powered by four horses and driven by a Greek or Roman figure that represents victory or some other meaning. So image my delight when I saw the Grand Palais has two copper statues. They are known collectively as Récipon Quadrigas. This one, which commands the sky near the Seine, stands for “harmony triumphing over discord.”

6 Cours la Reine, 75008 Paris, France
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14 Le Petit Palais in Paris, France

Like several other beautiful structures nearby, Le Petit Palais was built for the 1900 Universal Exhibition and converted into a museum two years later. Walk through this gorgeous main entrance and be delighted by the wonderful murals, sculptures, stained glass and mosaics that greet you inside. After admiring the building, you’ll also enjoy the collection of medieval and Renaissance paintings in this City of Paris Museum of Fine Arts.

6 Avenue Winston Churchill, 75008 Paris, France
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15 Gare Saint-Lazare West Entrance in Paris, France

The Gare Saint-Lazare, which opened in 1837, is a railway station that serves over 100 million people a year. Although its yellow, western façade is handsome, it pales in comparison to so many architectural masterpieces in Paris. However, it is worth a visit on your way to shopping at the nearby Printemps because the station has been featured in so many films, books and even art by Monet.

1 Cour de Rome, 75008 Paris, France
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16 Printemps from Boulevard Haussman Exterior in Paris, France

This wonderful façade on Boulevard Haussman is one of several entries to the flagship Printemps department store which opened in 1865. It pioneered several retail practices like fixed prices, discount sales and having fashion models in store windows. Paris also offers other shopping neighborhoods that range from high-end luxury shops, to boutiques, to flea markets. So, depending on your taste and budget, you’re bound to find the right stores to take your euros.

64 Boulevard Haussman, Le Printemps, 75009 Paris, France
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17 Palais Garnier Opera House Facade in Paris, France

This beautiful Beaux-Arts building, called Palais Garnier, opened in 1874. Seventy sculptors created bronze busts of famous composers adorning the southern façade plus more gilded statues atop Corinthian columns. The Opera House has something to please any observer. The interior is more impressive. Primarily ballet is performed at Opéra Garnier. Most operas are staged at the L’Opéra Bastille.

8 Rue Scribe, 75009 Paris, France
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18 Palais Garnier Opera House Grand Foyer in Paris, France

The interior of the Palais Garnier Opera House is exquisite as evident by the Grand Foyer’s ceiling which shows highlights of musical history. But you’ll also be wowed by the marble grand staircase, the salons, numerous beautiful statues, huge auditorium, and a seven ton chandelier. One chandelier fell in 1896 and killed a patron which inspired the 1910 novel “Phantom of the Opera.” I could almost hear the soundtrack from the film and musical.

8 Rue Scribe, 75009 Paris, France
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19 La Madeleine in Paris, France

La Madeleine had several false building starts in the 18th and 19th centuries before becoming a Roman Catholic church in 1842 that’s dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene. Its Neo-Classical style, with 52 Corinthian columns and pediment of the Last Judgment, give it a classic, Roman temple appearance. The funeral of Frédéric Chopin, the famous Polish composer, was conducted within the lavish interior in 1849.

Place de la Madeleine, 75008 Paris, France
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20 Maritime Navigation Fountain at Place de la Concorde in Paris, France

In the center of Place de la Concorde is an Egyptian obelisk surrounded by two elaborate fountains that were commissioned by King Louis-Philippe in 1831. The main figures below the bowl in this Maritime Navigation Fountain are cast iron while the tritons and mermaids are bronze. The square was originally used during the French Revolution to guillotine over 1,000 people, including Marie Antoinette.

70 Place de la Concorde, 75008 Paris, France
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21 l’Obélisque at Place de la Concorde in Paris, France

It is surprising to see a 75 foot, 200 ton obelisk that is covered in ornate hieroglyphs and towers over the center of the 20 acre Place de la Concorde. Apparently, this 3200 year old treasure from a Ramses II temple was a gift from the Egyptians in 1831. It is nicknamed Cleopatra’s Needle or L’aiguille de Cléopâtre in French.

Place de la Concorde, 75008 Paris, France
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22 Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel at Axe Historique in Paris, France

Near the Musée du Louvre is this Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel which was built in 1808 to celebrate Napoleon’s victories. On top is a quadriga that symbolizes peace. It is a copy from St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice. Visible under the right arch is the obelisk in the Place de la Concorde. Further aligned to the west are the Arch de Triomphe and the Grande Arche de la Défense. This five mile corridor is called the Axe Historique or the Grand Historic Axis.

99 Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris, France
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23 Pavillon Richelieu and Louvre Pyramid at Palais du Louvre in Paris, France

It is so exciting to be standing next to the Louvre Pyramid and Pavillon Richelieu in the Napoleon Courtyard of the Palais du Louvre. Formerly a palace, the museum opened in 1793. It now has a collection of over 35,000 pieces spread across 14 acres of space. The Musée du Louvre has nearly ten million visitors a year. Most people want to catch a glimpse of its famous resident, Mona Lisa.

10 Place du Carrousel, 75001 Paris, France
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24 Musée du Louvre and Seine River in Paris, France

The French word “quai” means a dock or pier but in Paris it also is equivalent to a street or promenade that runs parallel to the Seine. This couple is sharing a peaceful, romantic moment along Quai Malaquais with a beautiful view of the Louvre across the river and the Pont du Carrousel bridge.

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25 Hôtel de Ville and Fountain in Paris, France

The Hôtel de Ville, or city hall, is a magnificent French Renaissance building that was built in 1628 and restored internally after a fire in 1871. It has over 100 statues of famous Parisians and 30 more that represent French cities. Around the clock are female figures that represent the Seine, Paris, work and education. You’ll enjoy sitting by this fountain, a short distance from the river, while drinking in the beauty of this architecture.

94 Quai de l'Hôtel de ville, 75004 Paris, France
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26 Hôtel de Ville at Sunset in Paris, France

Back in the 12th century, this square was a harbor or port called Place de Gréve and in 1357 the first municipal building of Paris was built here. It was replaced by the current Hôtel de Ville in 1628, burned during a revolt in 1871 and restored in 1892. This square and city hall have witnessed lots of history from five centuries of beheadings to Charles de Gaulle’s speech after the liberation of France in 1944. Its façade assumes a warm glow at sunset.

94 Quai de l'Hôtel de ville, 75004 Paris, France
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27 Mairie de Paris DU IV Arrondissement in Paris, France

This is the city hall for the fourth of twenty arrondissements (or administrative districts) of Paris. The medieval city began in this neighborhood so it is where you’ll find several of the most prestigious landmarks including Hôtel de Ville and Notre-Dame.

1 Place Baudoyer, 75004 Paris, France
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28 Hôtel de Sully Courtyard through Arch in Paris, France

Near the Place des Vasges is the architectural gem called Hôtel de Sully. It was built as a mansion in 1624 and today is the Centre des monuments nationaux, which houses prestigious and historical monuments. The two sculpture reliefs in the main courtyard seen through an arch are, on the left, a man carrying grapes called Autumn, and on the right an old man with a cane called Winter. And you guessed it, the other two seasons are also represented by reliefs off camera.

62 Rue Saint-Antoine, 75004 Paris, France
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29 Place des Vosges in Paris, France

In 1612, Place Royale was a favored lawn for duels. However, it became unique for medieval Paris because 35 identical homes from red brick topped by blue slate roofs with dormers were built around a large, four-sided square. It was renamed Place des Vosges at the turn of the 19th century. Today, you can visit Victor Hugo’s residence where he wrote “Les Misérables.”

Place des Vosges, Paris, France
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30 L’Opéra Bastille in Paris, France

Paris has two opera houses: the Palais Garnier which is extraordinarily beautiful, and this Opéra Bastille. Its glass cube design is uncharacteristic of the city’s wonderful architecture. Inside it is colorless with poor acoustics. It’s been the home of the Paris National Opera since 1989.

28 Place de la Bastille, 75012 Paris, France
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31 Notre-Dame Cathedral Western Façade in Paris, France

It took 182 years, from 1163 through 1345, to build one of the most magnificent and famous cathedrals in Europe and perhaps the world: Notre-Dame de Paris or Our Lady of Paris. Surrounded by the Seine on an island called Île de la Cité, this western façade is impressive with its rose window, arches, statues, 226 foot twin towers and a spire soaring almost 300 feet. After marveling at this French Gothic masterpiece, take a tour inside and then walk around the parameter. You will also enjoy the harmony of the cathedral’s ten bells.

6 Parvis Notre Dame - Place Jean-Paul II, 75004 Paris, France
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32 Notre-Dame Cathedral Gallery of Kings Statues in Paris, France

The large, rose window of the Virgin Mary with Child is the centerpiece of Notre-Dame’s western façade. Below it is a row of 28 statues called the Gallery of Kings. Starting in the 13th century, a statue was added for each new king of France. They were destroyed during the French Revolution but recreated in the 19th century. Interestingly, pieces of the originals were discovered in 1977.

6 Parvis Notre Dame - Place Jean-Paul II, 75004 Paris, France
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33 Notre-Dame Cathedral Eastern Façade in Paris, France

When the walls of the Notre-Dame de Paris proved weak during construction in the 13th century, arched supports were added to the eastern façade and became a unique, architectural trademark of this beautiful Roman Catholic cathedral in the center of Paris on the island called Île de la Cité. This photo was taken from a lovely park with a great view of the Seine River, a perfect place to rest during a busy day of sightseeing.

6 Parvis Notre-Dame - Pl. Jean-Paul II, 75004 Paris, France
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34 Tourist Boat on Seine from Pont d’Arcole Bridge in Paris, France

Tourists from every country flock to the geographical backbone of Paris: the Seine. I find walking along the quais most enjoyable. They are promenades that also act as mooring stations. But you can also float by several major landmarks on different types of sightseeing boats, from one-hour excursions to cruises. Along the way, you’ll also see barges, speed boats, paddle boats, yachts and more navigating along this historic river.

Pont d'Arcole, 75004 Paris, France
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35 Padlocks on Pont des Arts Bridge in Paris, France

Thousands of couples who believe that Paris is for lovers have demonstrated their commitments with padlocks on the Pont des Arts and other bridges and then, usually while kissing, toss the key into the Seine. Some view this as very romantic while others consider it an eyesore. I think the photo would make a great jigsaw puzzle. This timeless expression of love only costs five or ten euros. But, just as all love does not last forever, your padlock will probably be gone when you return to Paris because the bridge panels are frequently replaced.

Pont des Arts, 75001 Paris, France
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36 Man Sitting on Stairs along Seine at Île de la Cité in Paris, France

I work hard to avoid showing crowds in my photos but in Paris that’s a very hard feat to accomplish. Throngs of people are everywhere. However, this man found a quiet, remote spot on a staircase leading up from the Seine River on Île de la Cité. Notice the rusted mooring rings in the stone wall used to tether boats. Consider his example if you need a respite from all of the tourists.

53 Petit Pont - Cardinal Lustiger, 75004 Paris, France
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37 La Sorbonne University Main Building in Paris, France

The University of Paris, called La Sorbonne, was founded in 1257 and governed by the church and not subject to the king’s laws. It is among the most famous medieval universities. In 1970, it was split into 13 institutions, four of which are housed in this main building that was built in 1901 in the Latin Quarter of Paris.

1 Rue Victor Cousin, 75005 Paris, France
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38 La Sorbonne Building in Paris, France

Located in the Latin Quarter is La Sorbonne building which houses the common administration functions (called Rectorate of Paris) for the 13 universities that formed in 1970 when the University of Paris was divided. This photo was taken from Sorbonne Square, which in French is Place de la Sorbonne.

1 Rue Victor Cousin, 75005 Paris, France
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39 Palais du Luxembourg in Paris, France

What began as a palace in 1645 was converted into a museum and then a legislative building at the turn of the 19th century. Since 1958, Palais du Luxembourg has housed the French Senate. What the Parisians love about it is the 61 acre garden in back. On weekends, people lounge on the lawn and tan or eat ice cream. Parents huddle together for a chat while their children run around a large fountain floating toy sailboats they propel using long sticks. The Luxembourg Garden is a perfect spot to spend a spring afternoon in Paris.

15 Rue de Vaugirard, 75291 Paris, France
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40 Saint-Sulpice Church in Paris, France

Saint-Sulpice is the second largest Roman Catholic church in Paris (Notre-Dame is slightly larger) and it snared some fame among tourists when it was in the “The Da Vinci Code.” Construction began in 1631 when it replaced a 13th century church and continued until the 18th century under the management of several architects who frequently changed the design. As a result, it combines several architectural styles. For example, notice the mismatched twin towers on this western façade. The fountain was constructed in 1884 by Visconti and features the image of four bishops along with lions.

2 Rue Palatine, 75006 Paris, France
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41 Musée d’Orsay in Paris, France

The Gare d’Orsay was a railway station originally built for the 1900 Exposition Universelle. Plans to demolish it in the early 1970’s gave way to becoming a museum for predominately French art including works by Monet, Degas, Renoir and Van Gogh. It opened in 1986 under the name Musée d’Orsay.

7 Quai Anatole France, 75007 Paris, France
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42 Basilique du Sacré-Cœur in Paris, France

On the highest hill in Paris, butte Montmartre, stands the majestic Roman Catholic church called Sacré-Cœur or the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris. Its bright white stone, 272 foot dome and equestrian statues of Joan of Arc and King Saint Louis IX are spectacular to view at ground level and it becomes more impressive during the exhausting 234 steps to the top. Or you can ride the funicular to see this beautiful, Romanesque-Byzantine church that was completed in 1914. The summit also provides a wonderful view of the city.

35 Rue du Chevalier de la Barre, 75018 Paris, France
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43 Basilique du Sacré-Coeur Apse Mosaic and Dome in Paris, France

The interior of Sacré-Coeur is dark in sharp contrast to the basilica’s bright white, Château-Landon stone on the outside, but the glow from the enormous dome highlights the stunning apse mosaic which is one of the largest in the world. Designed by Luc-Olivier Merson, the Christ in Majesty is surrounded by the Virgin Mary, Joan of Arc and St. Michael the Archangel. Beautiful!

35 Rue du Chevalier de la Barre, 75018 Paris, France
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44 Marianne Statue at Place de la République in Paris, France

After a 20 million euros renovation in 2013, the historic Place de la République was converted from a roundabout to the city’s largest pedestrian zone where local kids come to play and crawl on this bronze statue of Marianne, who represents the French republic, and the lions near the monument’s base. It was created by Leopold and Charles Morice in 1883. The square is also popular among political demonstrators.

Place de la République, 75003 Paris, France
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45 La Grande Arche at La Défense in Paris, France

This huge, white marble and glass La Grande Arche is at the western point of the historic axis that aligns two other famous triumphal arches across Paris. It’s located at La Défense, which is a 400 acre complex of modern skyscrapers housing over 3,500 companies (15 of the world’s largest) and their 150,000 employees plus Europe’s number one transportation hub and shopping center. Pick up a walking tour guide at the visitors’ center. The booklet explains all of the marvelous buildings and outdoor sculptures.

1 Parvis de la Défense, 92044 Puteaux, France
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46 Man and Woman Drinking at Outside Restaurant Table in Paris, France

On a gorgeous afternoon in Paris, you will see countless people sitting outside bars and restaurants sipping their favorite libation, socializing, sunning and people watching. What you drink and say while you are seated is not important. What is important is having fun while drinking in the experience of being in Paris with friends or family on a gorgeous afternoon. Life rarely gets better. This neighborhood café is now Au Bougnat.

26 Rue Chanoinesse 75004 Paris, France
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47 Arc de Triomphe South Façade Detail in Paris, France

The Arc de Triomphe is so large (64 feet tall and 148 feet wide) that a biplane flew through it in 1919. Therefore, it is hard to see its gorgeous details. The south façade’s two sculptures are Le Triomphe de 1810 on the left and Le Départ de 1792 on the right. Above them are the reliefs called La bataille d’Aboukir and Les funérailles du général Marceau. Take time to walk around and admire the other sculptures and reliefs.

1 Place Charles de Gaulle, 75008 Paris-8E-Arrondissement, France
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48 Château de Versailles Marble Courtyard in Versailles, France

What started as a royal hunting lodge of Louis XIII in 1623 evolved into the magnificent Château de Versailles until the French monarchy had to flee in 1789 during the French Revolution. This is the opulent marble courtyard which greets visitors with the promise of more grandeur behind its golden walls. On the backside are elaborate gardens and the petit appartement of Marie-Antoinette. This UNESCO World Heritage site is definitely worth the train ride from Paris.

Cour de Marbre, 78000 Versailles, France
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49 Château de Versailles Hercules Room Ceiling in Versailles, France

This opulent ceiling is called Apotheosis of Hercules and it was painted by François de Moyne in 1773-36 in the Château de Versailles’ Hercules Salon (salon d’Hercule). The room was a ballroom during the reign of Louis XV. It is just one beautiful example of the paintings, sculptures, period furniture, and gilded statues that will amaze you as you walk through the palace on a self-guided tour accompanied by a headset.

Place d'Armes, 78000 Versailles, France
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50 Château de Versailles Royal Gate Apollo Detail in Versailles, France

While waiting to enter the Château de Versailles, you will stand in line (perhaps for hours) in the Ministers Courtyard with a partial view of the Marble Courtyard protected by a beautiful gilded fence. This detail is part of the front gate. It represents the sun king motif of Louis XIV, who was responsible for building many of the famous additions onto the château.

Place d'Armes, 78000 Versailles, France
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