For centuries, Paris has attracted artists from around the world, who arrive in the city to educate themselves and to seek inspiration from its vast pool of artistic resources and galleries. City was in its artistic prime in the 19th century and early 20th century, when it had a colony of artists established in the city and in art schools associated with some of the finest painters of the times.
Parisian examples of European architecture date back more than a millennium, including the Romanesque church of the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés (1014–1163, map), the early Gothic Architecture of the Basilica of Saint-Denis (1144, map), the Notre Dame Cathedral (1163–1345, map), the Flamboyant Gothic of Saint Chapelle (1239–1248, map), the Baroque churches of Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis (1627–1641, map) and Les Invalides (1670–1708, map).
The 19th century produced the neoclassical church of La Madeleine (1808–1842, map), the Palais Garnier serving as an opera house (1875, map), the neo-Byzantine Basilica of Sacré-Cœur (1875–1919, map), as well as the exuberant Belle Époque modernism of the Eiffel Tower (1889, map).
Catacombes de Paris (map). Used to store the exhumed bones from the overflowing Paris cemetery. The bones of more than 6 million bodies lie here.
Since the late 18th century, Paris has been famous for its restaurants and haute cuisine, food meticulously prepared and artfully presented. Today, due to Paris’ cosmopolitan population, every French regional cuisine and almost every national cuisine in the world can be found there; the city has more than 9,000 restaurants. >> (*French cuisine).
Fontainebleau (map). A lovely historic town south of Paris (55.5 km or 35 mi). A favourite weekend getaway for Parisians, it is renowned for its large and scenic forest, and for its château. 35 min train ride from Gare de Lyon (map).
Good listings of current cultural events in Paris can be found in Pariscope, weekly magazines listing all concerts, art exhibitions, films, stage plays and museums. Timeout is a good option for tourists, who don’t speak French.
Flea markets >> The most famous of these is the Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen (Clignancourt Flea Market, map), Métro: Porte de Clignancourt, a haven for lovers of antiques, second-hand goods, and retro fashion. The best days to go are Saturday and Sunday. The Marché aux Puce de Vanves (map)
Foreign visitors who have an idealized view of Paris might be shocked by the typical challenges of visiting any large city; crime, traffic noise, pollution, garbage, and relatively high costs. In the worst case, visitors might experience the Paris syndrome; a psychological state of delusion.
To enjoy the wonders of Paris, make realistic plans. The amounts of attractions and landmarks is overwhelming; visiting only the most famous ones (which can be overcrowded during major holidays) takes more than a week.