a lovely city,
It has a relentlessness about it, cool stuff everywhere, all entangled in some of histories most epic moments, an orgy of design and pomp. It also has a relentless bustle and impatience about it akin to any big city. foot traffic is pacy, the metro is packed, fast and confusing, smart cars, scooters and cyclists take varying lengths of consideration into running most red lights.
It is epic, few cities truely come across this way, in both scale, function and design, Paris has a certain feel to it that seems to draw endlessly from Frances penchant for Glory and conquest.
200 years ago, it was a mess, festering pools of animal waste congealed the veins of the medi evil streets, tanneries would throw implausibly fetid excreta into the streets as if it were disinfectant and people were none to shy about squatting or squirting in the narrow passageways, Versailles palace was noted for a whopping 20,000 or so residents and visitors and a mere 2 toilets. Drunken Parisians falling over in the streets gave birth to the term 'shit faced' as one would not always be guaranteed a dry landing spot when buckling over in a moment of inebriation.
The sewers needed attention, poo salvation would come in the form of Baron Van Haussman, a man left with the responsibility of cleaning up the streets. What he did was revolutionary, albeit controversial as he leveled much of the old medi evil city to make way for wide radiating avenues and his sewerage system. He bolstered the cities defendability, Viking pillages in the past saw Paris sacked many times during the dark ages, by making the streets very wide and very long, brigades were able to cannonade the enemy from distance.
The effects of his design were not limited to pragmatic defense, he also set about creating two amazing lines of symmetry, which are best viewed from the 2nd level of the Eiffel Tower. One line of symmetry starts from the eyeball of a horse, mounted by the sun king Louis the X1V in the courtyard of the Louvre, it passes beneath the Arc De Triomphe du Carousel which once held the Quadriga of the Brandenburg Gate on it during Napolean's time.
This Arc is the smallest of 3 and is situated in the Jardin de Tuilleries. The line continues through to Place de la Concorde in perfect alignment with the obelisk of luxor (Paris' oldest monument), the line continues all the way up the Champs Elysses beneath the Arc Du Triopmph until it reaches its final destination in the CBD of Paris beneath the Grand Arc. What makes this line of symmetry awesome is the fact that the 3 arcs are able to absorb the next one into its own bodice, so the grand arc can eat the Arc de Triomphe which can eat the arc in the tuilleries garden!
The other line of symmetry cuts across place de la Concorde, again using the obelisk as it's focal mid point, and provides a mirror image of two identically designed building facades, the Eglise de Madeline and the National assembly, both the triangular pediments and columns on the facades are identical.
The city owes much of it's skyline success to it's favorite son's, or omnipotent French Monarchs who commissioned buildings of grandeur and splendor, to house histories greatest religious relics, or play host to some of histories greatest stories. here is a list of my favorite buildings / sites in Paris.
Opera de Garnier - Charles Garnier who also designed the Grand Casino in Monte Carlo..
Eglise Du Dome - Louis X1V - sun king who commissioned this building as a private chapel, now the resting place of Napolean.
Pompidou centre - Named after French president George Pompidou, the building boasts a unique inside out design, where materials usually hidden away are give prominence in the exterior.
Musee D'orsay - An old train station that has been converted into one of Paris' best art museums.
Louvre - means block house, and started it's life as a fort, has since been converted into the 2nd largest museum in the world. (1st is Hermitage, St Petersburg)
Notre Dame - not the biggest gothic cathedral in the world, but certainly one of the most awe inspiring, what I like is the explanation inside the church as to how on earth they built the thing at the turn of the 11th century.
Austerlitz column (Rue Royale) - This column was inspired like so many others around Europe by Trajans column in Rome, what impresses me about this one, is it was made using cannons confiscated off Austrian soldiers after they were defeated at Austerlitz, the cannons were melted down to make the column in which Napolean stands triumphantly atop it dressed in a Toga, you will also find the Ritz hotel in this square which is where the last footage of Princess Diana was taken.