Paris Travel Guide

Culture

Art

Painting and sculpture

For centuries, Paris has attracted artists from around the world, arriving in the city to educate themselves and to seek inspiration from its vast pool of artistic resources and galleries. As a result, Paris has acquired a reputation as the "City of Art". Italian artists were a profound influence on the development of art in Paris in the 16th and 17th centuries, particular in sculpture and reliefs. Painting and sculpture became the pride of the French monarchy and the French royals commissioned many Parisian artists to adorn their palaces during the French Baroque and Classicism era. Sculptors such as Girardon, Coysevox and Coustou acquired a reputation were being the finest artists in the royal court in 17th century France. Pierre Mignard became first painter to the king during this period. In 1648, the Academy of Painting and Sculpture was established to accommodate for the dramatic interest in art in the capital. This served as France's top art school until 1793.

Paris was in its artistic prime in the 19th century and early 20th century, when Paris had a colony of artists established in the city, with art schools associated with some of the finest painters of the times. The French Revolution and political and social change in France had a profound influence on art in the capital. Paris was central to the development of Romanticism in art, with painters such as Géricault. Impressionism, Expressionism, Fauvism and Cubism movements evolved in Paris. In the late 19th century many artists in the French provinces and worldwide flocked to Paris to exhibit their works in the numerous salons and expositions and make a name for themselves. Painters such as Pablo Picasso, Henry Matisse, Vincent van Gogh, Paul Cézanne, Jean Metzinger, Albert Gleizes, María Blanchard, Henri Rousseau, Amedeo Modigliani and many others became associated with Paris. Montparnasse and Montmartre became centers for artistic production. The Golden Age of the Paris School ended with World War II, but Paris remains extremely important to world art and art schooling, with institutions ranging from the Paris College of Art to the Paris American Academy, specialised in teaching fashion and interior design.

Museums

The Louvre is the world's most visited art museum, housing many works of art, including the Mona Lisa (La Joconde) and the Venus de Milo statue. There are hundreds of museums in Paris. Works by Pablo Picasso and Auguste Rodin are found in the Musée Picasso and the Musée Rodin, respectively, while the artistic community of Montparnasse is chronicled at the Musée du Montparnasse. Starkly apparent with its service-pipe exterior, the Centre Georges Pompidou, also known as Beaubourg, houses the Musée National d'Art Moderne.

Art and artefacts from the Middle Ages and Impressionist eras are kept in the Musée de Cluny and the Musée d'Orsay, respectively, the former with the prized tapestry cycle The Lady and the Unicorn. Paris' newest (and third-largest) museum, the Musée du quai Branly, opened its doors in June 2006 and houses art from Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas, including many from Mesoamerican cultures.

Photography

Paris has attracted communities of photographers, and was an important centre for the development of photography. Numerous photographers achieved renown for their photography of Paris, including Eugene Atget, noted for his depictions of early-19th-century street scenes; the early 20th-century surrealist movement's Man Ray; Robert Doisneau, noted for his playful pictures of 1950s Parisian life; Marcel Bovis, noted for his night scenes, and others such as Jacques-Henri Lartigue and Cartier-Bresson. Paris also become the hotbed for an emerging art form in the late 19th century, poster art, advocated by the likes of Gavarni.

Literature

Countless books and novels have been set in Paris. Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre Dame, is one of the best known. The book was received so rapturously that it inspired a series of renovations of its setting, the Notre Dame de Paris. Another of Victor Hugo's works, Les Misérables is set in Paris, against the backdrop of slums and penury. Another immortalised French author, Honoré de Balzac, completed a good number of his works in Paris, including his masterpiece La Comédie humaine. Other Parisian authors (by birth or residency) include Alexandre Dumas (The Three Musketeers, The Count of Monte Cristo,),

The American novelist Ernest Hemingway, like many other expatriate writers, emigrated to Paris, where he was introduced to such varying cultural figures as Pablo Picasso, Juan Gris, James Joyce, and Gertrude Stein, who became his mentor. While in Paris, he produced works including The Sun Also Rises and Indian Camp. The Irish author James Joyce emigrated to Paris and lived there for more than 20 years, concluding his Ulysses, in the city. He also produced numerous poems while in Paris, published in collections including Pomes Penyeach, and Finnegans Wake. Another Irish author to have emigrated to Paris is Samuel Beckett, referred to as either the last modernist or the first postmodernist.

Entertainment and performing arts

Theatre

The largest opera houses of Paris are the 19th-century Opéra Garnier (historical Paris Opéra) and modern Opéra Bastille; the former tends towards the more classic ballets and operas, and the latter provides a mixed repertoire of classic and modern. In middle of the 19th century, there were three other active and competing opera houses: the Opéra-Comique (which still exists), Théâtre-Italien, and Théâtre Lyrique (which in modern times changed its profile and name to Théâtre de la Ville).

Theatre traditionally has occupied a large place in Parisian culture. This still holds true today, and many of its most popular actors today are also stars of French television. Some of Paris' major theatres include Bobino, the Théâtre Mogador, and the Théâtre de la Gaîté-Montparnasse. Some Parisian theatres have also doubled as concert halls. Many of France's greatest musical legends, such as Édith Piaf, Maurice Chevalier, Georges Brassens, and Charles Aznavour, found their fame in Parisian concert halls such as Le Lido, Bobino, l'Olympia and le Splendid.

Music

In the late 12th century, a school of polyphony was established at the Notre-Dame. A group of Parisian aristocrats, known as Trouvères, became known for their poetry and songs. During the reign of Francois I, the lute became popular in the French court, and a national musical printing house was established. During the Renaissance era, the French royals "disported themselves in masques, ballets, allegorical dances, recitals, opera and comedy", and composers such as Jean-Baptiste Lully became popular. The Conservatoire de Musique de Paris was founded in 1795. By 1870, Paris had become the most important centre for ballet music, and composers such as Debussy and Ravel contributed much to symphonic music.

Bal-musette is a style of French music and dance that first became popular in Paris in the 1870s and 1880s; by 1880 Paris had some 150 dance halls in the working-class neighbourhoods of the city. Patrons danced the bourrée to the accompaniment of the cabrette (a bellows-blown bagpipe locally called a "musette") and often the vielle à roue (hurdy-gurdy) in the cafés and bars of the city. Parisian and Italian musicians who played the accordion adopted the style and established themselves in Auvergnat bars especially in the 19th arrondissement, and the romantic sounds of the accordion has since become one of the musical icons of the city. Paris became a major centre for jazz, and still attracts jazz musicians from all around the world to its clubs and cafes.

Paris is the spiritual home of gypsy jazz in particular, and many of the Parisian jazzmen who developed in the first half of the 20th century began by playing Bal-musette in the city. Django Reinhardt rose to fame in Paris, having moved to the 18th arrondissement in a caravan as a young boy, and performed with violinist Stéphane Grappelli and their Quintette du Hot Club de France in the 1930s and 40s. Some of the finest manouche musicians in the world are found here playing the cafes of the city at night. Some of the more notable jazz venues include the New Morning, Le Sunset, La Chope des Puces and Bouquet du Nord. Several yearly festivals take place in Paris, including the Paris Jazz Festival and the rock festival Rock en Seine. The Orchestre de Paris was established in 1967.

Cinema

Antoine Lumière launched the world's first projection, the Cinematograph, in Paris on 28 December 1895. Many of Paris' concert/dance halls were transformed into movie theatres when the media became popular beginning in the 1930s. Later, most of the largest cinemas were divided into multiple, smaller rooms. Paris' largest cinema today is by far Le Grand Rex theatre with 2,800 seats, whereas other cinemas all have fewer than 1,000 seats. There is now a trend toward modern multiplexes that contain more than 10 or 20 screens.

Parisians tend to share the same movie-going trends as many of the world's global cities, that is to say with a dominance of Hollywood-generated film entertainment. French cinema comes a close second, with major directors (réalisateurs) such as Claude Lelouch, François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Chabrol, and Luc Besson, and the more slapstick/popular genre with director Claude Zidi as an example. European and Asian films are also widely shown and appreciated. On 2 February 2000, Philippe Binant realised the first digital cinema projection in Europe, with the DLP CINEMA technology developed by Texas Instruments, in Paris.

Cuisine

Paris is renowned for its haute cuisine, food meticulously prepared and presented, often accompanied by fine wines, served and celebrated by expensive restaurants and hotels. A city of culinary finesse, as of 2013 Paris has 85 Michelin-starred restaurants, second in the world to only Tokyo, and many of the world's leading chefs operate restaurants serving French cuisine in Paris such as Alain Ducasse and Joël Robuchon. As of 2013, Paris has ten 3-Michelin-star restaurants, the most coveted award in the restaurant business; these include Ducasse's Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée, Alain Passards's L'Arpège, Yannick Alleno's Le Meurice in the Hôtel Meurice, Eric Frechon's restaurant at Hotel le Bristol, and Pierre Gagnaire. Joël Robuchon, the chef with the most Michelin stars worldwide, runs L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon and La Table de Joël Robuchon in Paris, both of which are 2 Michelin-star restaurants.

The growth of the railway in the late 19th century led to the capital becoming a focal point for immigration from France's many different regions and gastronomical cultures. As a result, cuisine in the city is diverse, and almost any cuisine can be consumed in the city, with over 9,000 restaurants. Hotel building was another result of widespread travel and tourism in the 19th century, especially Paris' late-19th-century Expositions Universelles (World's Fairs). Of the most luxurious of these, the Hôtel Ritz appeared in the Place Vendôme in 1898, and the Hôtel de Crillon opened its doors on the north side of the Place de la Concorde, starting in 1909.

Fashion

Paris is a global hub of fashion and has been referred to as the "international capital of style". It ranks alongside New York, Milan and London as a major centre for the fashion industry. Paris is noted for its haute couture tailoring, usually made from high-quality, expensive fabric and sewn with extreme attention to detail and finished by the most experienced and capable seamstresses, often using time-consuming, hand-executed techniques. The twice-yearly Paris Fashion Week, an apparel trade show, is one of the most important events on the fashion calendar and attracts fashion aficionados from all around the world. Established in 1976, the Paris Fashion Institute offers courses in design, manufacturing, marketing, merchandising, and retailing. International Fashion Academy Paris is an international fashion school, established in 1982 and headquartered in Paris, with branches in Shanghai and Istanbul.

Paris has a large number of high-end fashion boutiques, and many top designers have their flagship stores in the city, such as Louis Vuitton's store, Christian Dior's 1200 square foot store and Sephora's 1500 square foot store. Printemps has the largest shoe and beauty departments in Europe. Sonia Rykiel is considered to the "grand dame of French fashion" and "synonymous with Parisian fashion", with clothes which are embraced by "left bank fashionistas". Petit Bateau is cited as one of the most popular high street stores in the city, the Azzedine Alaïa store on the Rue de Moussy has been cited as a "shoe lover's haven", and Colette is noted for its "brick-and-click" clothing and fashion accessories. The jeweller Cartier, with its flagship boutique near Paris' place Vendôme, has a long history of sales to royalty and celebrities: King Edward VII of England once referred to Cartier as "the jeweller of kings and the king of jewellers." Guerlain, one of the world's oldest existing perfumeries, has its headquarters in the north-western suburb of Levallois-Perret.

Festivals

The earliest grand festival held on 14 July 1790 was the Federation of July festival at the Champ de Mars. Since then many festivals have been held such as the Festival of Liberty in 1774, the Festival for the Abolition of Slavery in 1793, the festival of Supreme Being in 1794, and the 1798 funeral festival on the death of Hoche. On every anniversary of the Republic, the Children of the Fatherland festival is held. Bastille day, a celebration of the storming of the Bastille in 1789, is the biggest festival in the city, held every year on 14 July. This includes a parade of colourful floats and costumes along with armed forces march in the Champs Élysées which concludes with a display of fireworks. The Paris Beach festival known as the "Paris Plage" is a festive event, which lasts from the middle of July to the middle of August, when the bank of the River Seine is converted into a temporary beach with sand and deck chairs and palm trees.


source: Wikipedia

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