There’s no other city quite like Paris. Sure, every capital is something of a melting pot and every city has its own rich heritage, culture and history – but Paris really is in a league of its own. Fall under the spell of this enchanting city and get to know the stories that lie behind the beautiful architecture and iconic monuments.
Bonjour, and welcome to Paris, the city of Lights and of Love! I will be guiding you through this fantastic metropolis, giving you all the secret tales of the landmarks we pass. This is the world-famous Notre Dame. Construction for this cathedral began over 900 years ago in the 12th century, under the reign of King Philip Augustus. Philip was obviously quite the architectural enthusiast; it was under his supervision that construction also began for a certain fortress called La Louvre. You might have heard of that particular landmark too, oui?
Learn more about the trials and tribulations of Notre Dame as well as the secrets inside its walls with the AnyTour app, for free with your Imbarc membership.
This imposing fortress with the golden gates up ahead was the first royal palace of the French Kings. When Charles V decamped to the more glamorous Louvre, the Conciergerie was transformed into an administrative building. In the late 14th century, part of it became a prison, which would later go on to define the building for centuries. Both petty thieves and political treasonists were held within its walls. Your stay in prison at the time was very much dictated by your personal finances.
To learn more about the inner mechanics of the Conciergerie and the notable characters held within its walls including Louis XVI, Marie-Antoinette and Charlotte Corday download the AnyTour app for the full walking tour.
To your right, you will see a bridge arching over the Seine. Its name translates as ‘the New Bridge’, which is rather ironic as the Pont Neuf is one of Paris’s oldest bridges. It was built between 1578 and 1607. This bridge connects the 1st arrondissement with the 6th arrondissement, which shares little other than the physical link. While the 1st arrondissement is one of Paris’s least populated neighbourhoods, the 6th is easily one of this metropolis’s most famous areas. It is renowned as being both the intellectual and stylish heart of Paris.
To hear why nearly 3 million people flocked to this bridge in 1985, download the AnyTour app for the full walking tour.
To say that the Seine is an important part of Paris is like saying air is rather important to humans. Paris exists because of the Seine. The water and the strategic placement of the islands within the river were what drew people to settle here in the first place. But Viking invasions were an occupational hazard of living on a river. After two enormous raids by the horned pillagers, the Parisian people rebelled against their king Charles the Fat, who was apparently too busy gorging himself to bother with protecting his subjects.
To learn more about how the people of Paris became particularly comfortable with the Seine, download the AnyTor app. For the full walking tour.
The Louvre, a one-time royal residence that now houses the crown jewels of the art world. Since 1190, one structure or another called La Louvre has existed in this specific place. Originally, it was a fortress, built to protect Paris from Anglo-Normand attacks. King Francis I demolished this in order to create an ‘urban château. King Charles V commissioned this structure as a royal residence in the 16th century. Though it’s the seat of culture today, back then, it had a rather more sordid nature. A bloodbath took place in this very courtyard in 1572; throughout Paris, tens of thousands of Huguenots were massacred on the 24th of August, which came to be known as St Bartholomew’s Day.
To learn more about the Louvre, including the long period of time it spent abandoned and the 7 million Francs it cost to restore it, download the AnyTour app for the full walking tour.
Welcome to the splendid Musée d’Orsay. After the uprising of the Paris Commune in 1871, this entire area was actually burnt to the ground and the smoking ruins of the Palais d’Orsay were left untouched for decades; a poignant reminder of the horrors of civil war. Eventually, the French government decided that something had to be made of the shell of the once-magnificent building. The Orleans railway company won the tract; they had long wanted a central station from which to base their many steam locomotive journeys that were transforming the country.
To learn about the Musse d’Orsay journey from rail station to civil monument to the Museum it is today, download the AnyTour app for the full walking tour.
Place de la Concorde, which is the cobbled area in front of you. Though it’s comparatively sedate now, it has had a wildly violent past. The first bloodshed took place in 1770, during a firework display celebrating the marriage of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette. A firework exploded, and the backfiring rocket injured a few people. Panic ensued and 1,200 people were ferociously trampled to death as the masses stomped out of the Place de la Concorde.
To learn more about this historical square including the rise and the fall of Marie-Antoinette as well as the exclusive Hotel Crillion and a curious gift from the Viceroy of Egypt download the AnyTour app for the full walking tour.
Now, let us begin our walk down the magnificent Champs Elysées. This avenue was little more than a marshy field until Napolean constructed the Arc de Triomphe you see at the far end. It was named after the Elysian Fields, which is where Grecian heroes were laid to rest in tales of old. The avenue quickly sprang to life throughout the 19th century. It came to epitomise the atmospheric heart of this city – in the roaring twenties, French writers often spoke of how its cafés ‘burst with atmosphere, even when they were empty’.
To learn more about the noisy neighbours that resided on Champs Elysées, including one Thomas Jefferson be sure to download the AnyTour app for the full tour.
If you can believe it, what used to stand in this spot was a farm! Once the pigs and horses were trotted away, an architect named Ange-Jacques Gabriel set about building this fantastic structure in 1769. Work on the Military School finished a mere 3 years later. Gabriel was no modest mouse; his ambition for his building was to outshine the Invalides, but his lofty dreams were hobbled by the significant financial difficulties that beset the building process. Ironically, the construction’s budget was slashed thanks to France’s bloated military budget. The troops who studied at the school were to use the Champs du Mars as a training ground, so the building was oriented to face out onto it.
To learn about the 4 imposing statues that adorn École Militaire’s grounds download the AnyTour app for the full walking tour.
Designed by Gustave Eiffel and built in 1888, the Eiffel Tower had stiff competition within the design world; one architect proposed building an enormous guillotine here to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution. However, the guillotine idea got the chop, not because of design but instead, mostly to do with the strict budget; Eiffel’s idea was much cheaper. His tower, however, was certainly not the most popular idea out there. In fact, it probably has a prominent place in history as being one of the most hated designs ever created. A group of artists angrily called it a ‘menace to French history’.
Paris is steeped in history and culture, whether you are walking down the cobbled streets or find yourself exploring one of its magnificent architectures there is so much to see, learn and do in one of Europe’s most popular cities. That’s why we have created an awe-inspiring audio walking tour which you can download for free with your Imbarc membership from the AnyTour app.
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