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Seeing the essentials in Paris: Five ideas for a Parisian escape

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Paris is one of the world’s most popular destinations, and for decades “The City of Light” has attracted artists and lovers alike.

Home to great food, fantastic wine, instantly recognizable structures and some of the best art on display anywhere in the world, Paris is the quintessential travel destination. Of Paris, author Charles Dickens once wrote: “I cannot tell you what an immense impression Paris made upon me. It is the most extraordinary place in the world.”

Here are five ideas of what to see on a trip to Paris.

Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images

Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower, or La tour Eiffel as it’s known in French, was built as the entrance arch to the 1889 World’s Fair. While its design was roundly criticized at first, the iron lattice Tower has since grown into one of France’s — and the world’s, for that matter — most recognizable symbols. The tallest structure in Paris, the Tower welcomes more than 6 million visitors per year, making it the most-visited paid monument in the world.

Arc de Triomphe
Arc de Triomphe Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Arc de Triomphe

Construction on the Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile started in 1806 and lasted until 1836. Located in the Place Charles de Gaulle and at the western end of the Champs-Élysées, the Arc honors French soldiers who died fighting for France during the French Revolutionary and the Napoleonic wars. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I is also located beneath the Arc, which was the tallest triumphal arch in the world until 1938.

Louvre
Louvre Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Louvre

The Louvre is perhaps the world’s greatest art museum and houses some of the most famous and consequential works of art ever created. The collection includes Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, arguably the single most famous painting. A former royal palace, the Louvre is located between the Tuileries Gardens and the church of Saint-Germain l’Auxerrois and is situated on the Right Bank of the Seine River. Construction on the earliest incarnation of the building, the Louvre Castle started in 1202 while construction on the Louvre Palace dates to 1546.

Notre-Dame de Paris
Notre-Dame de Paris Julien Hekimian/Getty Images

Notre-Dame de Paris

Construction on Notre-Dame de Paris, which means “Our Lady of Paris,” started in 1163. The famous Catholic cathedral, completed in 1345, is considered to be one of the best examples of French Gothic architecture in addition to its status as one of the most famous churches in the world.

Musée d'Orsay
Musée d'Orsay Antoine Antoniol/Getty Images

Musée d'Orsay

Housed in the former Gare d’Orsay railway station, the Musée d’Orsay is home to one of the largest collections of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces. Manet, Monet, Degas, Renoir, Gauguin and Van Gogh are among the artists prominently featured in the museum, which opened in 1986.

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