Île de la Cité

5 October 2016 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Palaces, Castles, Manors, Parks, Paris / Île-de-France Reading Time:  9 minutes

© GuidoR/cc-by-sa-3.0

© GuidoR/cc-by-sa-3.0

The Île de la Cité is one of two remaining natural islands in the Seine within the city of Paris (the other being the Île Saint-Louis). It is the centre of Paris and the location where the medieval city was refounded. The western end has held a palace since Merovingian times, and its eastern end since the same period has been consecrated to religion, especially after the 10th-century construction of a cathedral preceding today’s Notre Dame. The land between the two was, until the 1850s, largely residential and commercial, but has since been filled by the city’s Prefecture de Police, Palais de Justice, Hôtel-Dieu hospital and Tribunal de commerce. Only the westernmost and northeastern extremities of the island remain residential today, and the latter preserves some vestiges of its 16th-century canon‘s houses.   read more…

Place de la Concorde in Paris

5 September 2016 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Paris / Île-de-France Reading Time:  12 minutes

Fountaine des Mers © Robert Raderschatt

Fountaine des Mers © Robert Raderschatt

The Place de la Concorde is one of the major public squares in Paris. Measuring 8.64 hectares (21.3 acres) in area, it is the largest square in the French capital. It is located in the city’s 8th arrondissement, at the eastern end of the Champs-Élysées. The place was designed by Ange-Jacques Gabriel in 1755 as a moat-skirted octagon between the Champs-Élysées to the west and the Tuileries Garden to the east. Decorated with statues and fountains, the area was named Place Louis XV to honor the king at that time. The square showcased an equestrian statue of the king, which had been commissioned in 1748 by the city of Paris, sculpted mostly by Edmé Bouchardon, and completed by Jean-Baptiste Pigalle after the death of Bouchardon. At the north end, two magnificent identical stone buildings were constructed. Separated by the rue Royale, these structures remain among the best examples of Louis Quinze style architecture. Initially, the eastern building served as the French Naval Ministry. Shortly after its construction, the western building became the opulent home of the Duc d’Aumont. It was later purchased by the Comte de Crillon, whose family resided there until 1907. The famous luxury Hôtel de Crillon, which currently occupies the building, took its name from its previous owners.   read more…

Theme Week Normandy – Honfleur

26 July 2014 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General Reading Time:  6 minutes

© flickr.com - Yves Remedios/cc-by-2.0

© flickr.com – Yves Remedios/cc-by-2.0

Honfleur is a commune in the Calvados department in northwestern France. It is located on the southern bank of the estuary of the Seine across from Le Havre and very close to the exit of the Pont de Normandie. Its inhabitants are called Honfleurais.   read more…

Theme Week Champagne – Troyes

22 March 2014 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General Reading Time:  6 minutes

Old Town © KBWEi

Old Town © KBWEi

Troyes is a commune and the capital of the Aube department. It is located on the Seine river about 150 km (93 mi) southeast of Paris. Many half-timbered houses (mainly of the 16th century) survive in the old town. Troyes has been in existence since the Roman era, as Augustobona Tricassium, which stood at the hub of numerous highways, primarily the Via Agrippa. The inhabitants of the commune are called Troyens.   read more…

The Paris Beaches

21 December 2013 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Paris / Île-de-France Reading Time:  6 minutes

© flickr.com - Sharat Ganapati/cc-by-2.0

© flickr.com – Sharat Ganapati/cc-by-2.0

Paris-Plages is a plan run by the office of the mayor of Paris that creates temporary artificial beaches each summer along the river Seine in the centre of Paris, and, since 2007, along the Bassin de la Villette in the northeast of Paris. Every July and August, roadways on the banks of the Seine are blocked off and host various activities, including sandy beaches and palm trees. French city-dwellers traditionally escape to the seaside or the countryside during the summer, especially in August. Paris is avoided, as the weather is unpleasantly hot and humid, and the centre is full of tourists. Nevertheless, each summer many residents are obliged to remain in the city, however reluctantly. The Paris-Plages scheme was instigated in 2002 as a haven for relieving the misery of those cooped up in the sweltering city.   read more…

Grand Palais and Petit Palais in Paris

31 August 2013 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Museums, Exhibitions, Palaces, Castles, Manors, Parks, Paris / Île-de-France Reading Time:  5 minutes

Grand Palais © MarkusMark

Grand Palais © MarkusMark

The Grand Palais des Champs-Elysées, commonly known as the Grand Palais (English: Great Palace), is a large historic site, exhibition hall and museum complex located between the Avenue des Champs-Élysées and River Seine on Avenue Winston Churchill in the 8th arrondissement of Paris. Construction of the Grand Palais began in 1897 following the demolition of the Palais de l’Industrie (Palace of Industry) as part of the preparation works for the Universal Exposition of 1900, which also included the creation of the adjacent Petit Palais and Pont Alexandre III.   read more…

Le Havre in the Haute-Normandie

21 November 2012 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, UNESCO World Heritage Reading Time:  6 minutes

Le Havre Beach © Urban

Le Havre Beach © Urban

Le Havre is a city in the Seine-Maritime department of the Haute-Normandie region in France. It is situated in north-western France, on the right bank of the mouth of the river Seine on the English Channel. Le Havre is the most populous commune in the Haute-Normandie region, although the total population of the greater Le Havre conurbation is smaller than that of Rouen. It is also the second largest subprefecture in France (after Reims). Its port is the second busiest in France (after that of Marseille).   read more…

Rouen, city of art and history

9 November 2012 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General Reading Time:  6 minutes

City Hall and Church of St. Ouen © Tango7174

City Hall and Church of St. Ouen © Tango7174

Rouen in northern France on the River Seine, is the capital of the Haute-Normandie (Upper Normandy) region and the historic capital city of Normandy. Once one of the largest and most prosperous cities of medieval Europe, it was the seat of the Exchequer of Normandy in the Middle Ages. It was one of the capitals of the Anglo-Norman dynasties, which ruled both England and large parts of modern France from the 11th to the 15th centuries. It was here that Joan of Arc was executed in 1431. People from Rouen are called Rouennais.   read more…

Theme Week Paris – Arrondissement du Palais Bourbon (7th) and Arrondissement de l’Élysée (8th)

22 October 2011 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Palaces, Castles, Manors, Parks, Paris / Île-de-France, UNESCO World Heritage Reading Time:  7 minutes

7th arrondissement - Palais Bourbon - Seat of the National Assembly © Webster

7th arrondissement – Palais Bourbon – Seat of the National Assembly © Webster


7th arrondissement – Arrondissement du Palais Bourbon
The 7th arrondissement includes some of Paris’s major tourist attractions, such as the Eiffel Tower and the Hôtel des Invalides (Napoléon’s resting place), and a concentration of such world famous museums as the Musée d’Orsay and the Musée du quai Branly.   read more…

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