Ah, Paris. The City of Lights, as well as romance, food, and other wonderful things. Personally, my favorite city in the world to visit.
As famous as Paris is, do you know its origins? Or its present-day wonders? Well…
The city’s name comes from the Parisii tribe, which was another name for the Gaulish tribe, a group of Pagans who inhabited the original island and surrounding lands before the Romans arrived. (France and the surrounding area also used to be called Gaul.) The Romans called the city Lutetia until about the sixth century, but slowly the name formed into the Paris we are all familiar with.
At the heart of Paris is a small island named the Île de la Cité, where some people believe the original city began. Translated, it means “island of the city.” Most of the tourism industry is here, due to there being many historical and architectural monuments, such as Notre Dame de Paris, Sainte Chapelle, the Conciergerie, and the Palais de Justice. There is even a golden plaque on this island, representing the exact middle of the city!
There is another island connected to the Île de la Cité by the pont Saint-Louis named the Île Saint-Louis. This is a mostly a peaceful residential area, with no metro stations and mostly narrow, one-way streets. A famous church here is the Saint-Louis-en-l’Île Church.
Both these islands are accessible from both the Right and Left Banks of Paris by the many bridges surrounding them. The Left Bank, La Rive Gauche, is the smaller of the two, and historically known as the artistic part of the city, where many famous writer and artists, such as Picasso, Matisse, and Hemingway called home. Today, you’ll find the Montparnasse neighborhood as well as the Latin Quarter, known for the Sorbonne University and its many young-adult-focused clubs and cafes. Some other attractions here include the Eiffel Tower, the Paris Catacombs, the Luxembourg Gardens, and the Pantheon.
The Right Bank, La Rive Doite, is the large of the two banks and is known for traditionally being the wealthier bank. Many of the city’s big businesses are located here, as well as many tourist destinations. However, this does not mean you have to stay in a hotel here, since the Paris Metro has many stations around Paris to help you get around. The magnificent Champs-Elysees is on the Right Bank, which leads to the Arc de Triomphe (as well as plenty shopping opportunities.) Some other attractions are
the Louvre Museum, the Sacre Coeur Basilica, the infamous Moulin Rouge, the Musee Picasso, and the Opera de Paris.
There are also some attractions around the city which aren’t so famous, which I’ll explain more about in the next blog post! Have any more questions? Leave a comment, and I’ll try to answer them!
And on a last note, how did Paris even get the name “City of Lights?”
This is the nickname it was given both for its fame as a center of education and ideas, plus its early adoption of street lighting.