Two thousand years of shaping and reshaping have resulted in monumental building, sweeping avenues, grand esplanades and celebrated bridges, and many of its older buildings have survived intact, having been spared the ravages of flood and fire and saved from Hitler’s intended destruction.
Yet for all the tremendous pomp and magnificence of its monuments, the city operates on a very human scale, with a walk around the riverside quais on a summer evening, the sound of blues in atmospheric cellar bars, or the ancient alleyways and cobbled lanes in the historic Latin Quarter and villagey Montmartre, Paris is a city to visit.
Architecturally, the Cathédrale de Notre-Dame, Sainte-Chapelle and the Palais du Louvre , provide a constant reminder of Paris’s religious and royal past and the history of development and design reflects the power of the French state. For more information visit www.travelrobe.com/destination/France
Paris’s museums and galleries, not least the mighty Louvre, number among the world’s finest. The tradition of state cultural endowment is very much alive in the city and collections are exceedingly well displayed and cared for. Many are also housed in beautiful locations, such as old mansions and palaces, others in bold conversions, most famously the Musée d’Orsay , which occupies a former train station.
Children are also catered for and one of the city’s best treats for children of every age from three upwards is the Cité des Sciences in the Parc de la Villette. A number of other museums may also appeal to children, for example the Musée des Arts Africains et Océaniens, with its masks, tropical fish and live crocodiles, the Grande Galerie de l’Évolution offers a children’s discovery room on the first floor with child-level microscopes, glass cases with live caterpillars and moths and a burrow of Mongolian rodents.
Finding your way around Paris is remarkably easy, with an integrated public transport system – the RATP (Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens). The system is cheap, fast and meticulously signposted, comprising buses, underground métro and suburban express trains, known as RER (Réseau Express Régional) trains. The whole network is divided into five zones.