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Paris, the ultra-cosmopolitan French capital city, has a longstanding global reputation as a mecca of art, culture, fashion, gastronomy, history and architecture. Called the City of Light, City of Love and Capital of Fashion, Paris is not only brimming with internationally famous attractions but is an energetic city where beauty and vivacity ever-weave its curvy streets. Paris' starring role on the global stage makes it a prime destination for travelers, who have many reasons to visit beyond the emblematic Eiffel Tower and the world-renowned wines.
Paris has been an international artists' hub for centuries. The world's most visited museum, Musee de Louvre, attracts millions of visitors each year. It offers thousands of collections and some of the world's most famous original works from prominent artistic eras, such as Da Vinci's Mona Lisa from the Italian Renaissance. After an art history tour, visitors can indulge in world-famous modern and contemporary art collections in the Pompidou Centre, an architecturally anomalous structure in the heart of Paris, dedicated to European art collections. The Musee d'Orsay is also a popular destination for art-loving tourists. This famous museum offers all things French, including famous Impressionist collections of works by Auguste Renoir and Claude Monet. Parisian landmarks are recognized as much for their architectural grandeur as for their historical significance. One of the most popular landmarks is the Arc de Triomphe, which overlooks the world-famous Champs-Elysees avenue. Commissioned in 1806 in honor of the French military and completed 30 years later, this aesthetically impressive structure houses military-related historical art and artifact collections, and offers a panoramic view of Paris from its high terrace. Notre Dame is another historic landmark, and one of the world's most famous cathedrals. With its breathtaking Gothic and Renaissance design, and an equally overwhelming interior of artistic detail, Notre Dame has a colorful history that lends insight into French culture. Also, the Chateau de Versailles, located in the Parisian suburbs, offers tourists a visually stimulating and educational experience. Once Louis XIII's hunting lodge, the Chateau de Versailles has been named a world-heritage site by UNESCO.
French culture is as thick and complex as the language, and theater, film and music are significant components. No trip to Paris is complete without a visit to the Palais Garnier, visited as often for its beauty (including the world-famous Chagall painting on the Opera Room ceiling) as it is for its grand performances of ballet, symphony and opera. For cinema aficionados, the Cinematheque Francaise (known to tourists as the Museum of French Cinema) offers one of the largest film archives in existence. Film collections and cinema memorabilia span beyond French culture to include all film-producing countries of the world. Music is another omnipresent part of Parisian life, with festivals and street performers constantly populating the city streets. The Cite de la Musique is a Paris attraction dedicated to music's historical and current significance. With antique instrument collections and musical artifacts, the Cite de la Musique offers an entertaining and educational experience. The French are keen on preserving history in a fashion as well-polished and tidy as the French manicure. The Musee Carnavalet and the Musee de l'Armee are but two popular destinations for insight on French--and, specifically, Parisian--history. The Carnavalet, comprised of two mansions, opened in 1880 as a space committed to Parisian history, offering collections of artifacts from medieval times, antique furniture of the 15th through 19th centuries, French Revolution memorabilia, and art pieces that illustrate these centuries. The Musee de l'Armee is a wonderland of over 500,000 artifacts of French military history. A ticket to this museum also allows a visit to Emperor Napoleon's I's tomb (as well as the tombs of his brothers), the Dome Church, and the World War II-focused Musee de l'Ordre de la Liberation.