A Romantic Weekend in Paris

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With thirty million visitors each year, Paris is one of the most visited places in the world. This is not surprising as it is the leading cultural, business and political centre and holds influence in fashion and gastronomy.

It has also been described as the most romantic city in the world with many couples enjoying honeymoons, anniversaries or just a romantic weekend. Paris evokes images romance and bohemian lifestyle. Paris is a haven for artists and street performers, cafe culture and people watching and a certain 'joie de vive'

The Louvre
Attracting up to six million visitors each year, the Louvre has been open since 1793. Its collections are renowned worldwide. One of its greatest treasures is the Mona Lisa painted by the great man Leonardo de Vinci. Made ever more popular by the publication of the Da Vinci Code, thousands of people come each day to stand and stare at this enigmatic portrait. She is well protected behind glass from the air and flash photography. There are a number of 'thematic trails' where you can wonder at ancient Greek sculptures including the famous Aphrodite or Italian renaissance paintings and so much more. The guides are impressive in their knowledge of the collections.

The building is impressive with the 'Glass Pyramid' being the focal point. Built by I.M. Pei, it was inaugurated in 1989 amid some controversy. Rumours were spread that the pyramid was constructed from 666 panes of glass - a number associated with the devil. These rumours were further fuelled with references in Dan Brown's novel. As your guide will tell you, there are actually 673 panes of glass that make up the structure. The impact of Brown's book is such that there are now special Da Vinci Code trails that unravel fact from fiction.

Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel tower was a temporary structure which has come to symbolise Paris. Designed by Gustave Eiffel, it was built in 1889 to commemorate the centenary of the French Revolution. Up until 1930, it was the tallest building in the world. There are 1652 steps to the top and it has three platforms. The second platform offers exclusive dining at the Jules Verne restaurant. The top platform has a bar, shop and the office of Gustav Eiffel. The views are breathtaking particularly just before sunset.

Arc de Triomphe
The Arc de Triomphe is a spectacular monument conceived by Napoleon to celebrate victory in battle. Completed in 1836, it provides a focal point for French patriotism. The tomb of the Unknown Soldier lies under the arch, commemorating the dead of the two world wars. From the roof there are spectacular views of Paris, including the Louvre and Place de la Concorde. Access to the arch is through a tunnel as traffic around the arc is notoriously bad. Inside the arc there is a museum documenting its history and construction.

Notre Dame Cathedral
Although mass is still held here, the cathedral is owned and maintained by the state. The building is a fine example of French Gothic architecture. Construction began as early as 1160. It has undergone many changes and is still being restored today. The cathedral is named after Our Lady of Paris and displayed within its walls is an extravagant sculpture known as the Virgin of Paris.

Moulin Rouge
What better way to spend an evening than a visit to the Moulin Rouge - Paris's most famous theatre. The Cancan dancers performed by beautiful girls were immortalised by Toulouse Lautrec. Many famous artists have performed here including Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Elton John and Edith Piaf. You can be sure of a great night out in true Parisian style.

Ann Coveney http://www.askann. co.uk is a freelance writer and part time school teacher. She can be hired to write articles on a wide range of topics. The web site she uses the most for low cost travel and hotel booking is http://www.AskVicki.co.uk

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