Travel Guides Crafted by Experienced Archaeologists & Historians

Paris City Guide

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Along the banks of the river are architectural masterpieces from the Cathedral of Notre-Dame and the Sainte Chapelle, to the Eiffel Tower and the Palais de Chaillot, representing an extraordinary history from the medieval to the 20th century. On the same river bank in the 1990s archaeologists recovered 6,000 year old canoes during excavations of an early Neolithic settlement. This collection of culturally significant landmarks is why that part of the French capital along the banks of the Seine is on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. Not surprisingly then Paris is one of the most visited destinations in the world. Unfortunately it is also one of the most expensive. Our Paris Travel Guide, produced specifically for History Buffs, is not only packed with suggestions for what are the must see attractions and museums, but also money saving tips for what to see and do in Paris.

Reasons to Visit Paris

Museums & Art Galleries,

Emperors, Kings & Queens,

Historic Landmarks,

… and the Café Culture.

Interesting Things to Know About Paris

Archaeological excavations at a few sites along the banks of the Seine River have provided evidence for human occupation of Paris as far back as the Mesolithic. At one such hunter-gatherer campsite where stone and bone tools were made, slaughtered animals were butchered, and their hides prepared for use, archaeologists recovered a fragment of a human femur and the lower jaw of a male. Dated to about 10,000 years old, these are the oldest human remains so far found in Paris. 

During the Age of Enlightenment, in French le Siècle des Lumières – which translates literally as ‘the Century of Lights’, Paris became known as the City of light. Paris’ intellectuals and scientists played an influential role in the scientific revolution, which fundamentally changed the way society thought of itself and its relationship to nature. And it was the ideas that developed in the salons at this time that did much to shape the Paris we visit today.

Paris is surely best known around the World for what has come to be called the French Revolution; a period of immense social upheaval with political consequences that extended beyond France and even Europe. Back in 1789 the Bastille, then a prison, was a significant flashpoint for the revolution and its activities in Paris – it being a symbol of the excesses of the French monarchy. While there is very little of the Bastille to see today, there are many other landmarks and points of interest in Paris that are associated with the French monarchy.

On the morning of 14 June 1940, four days after the French government had fled their capital city, an advance guard of the German army entered Paris from the north east at Porte de La Villette. Ten days later, two days after the signing of the Armistice in Compiègne, Hitler toured the city – his first and only time in Paris. The city of light was officially and symbolically occupied. Paris has a number of poignant landmarks that tell the many, varied stories of a city under siege and an occupied nation’s complicity in the Holocaust.

The greater Paris region has three designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the banks of the Seine from the Louvre to the Eiffel Tower, the Palace and Park of Versailles, examples of the architectural work of Corbusier. When taking the entire Île-de-France region into account, a further two attractions are on the list: the fortified medieval town of Provins and the medieval Palace and Park of Fontainebleu.

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Louvre Glass Pyramid Sunrise

Louvre Museum

La Sainte Chapelle

Sainte-Chapelle

VERSAILLES, FRANCE - AUGUST 12, 2021 : Hall of Mirrors (Galerie des Glaces), Versailles, Paris, France

Palace of Versailles

Musee Cluny Paris

Cluny Museum

Human bones stacked up the underground passages of the Paris Catacombs.

Paris Catacombs

Inspiration & Itineraries

Roman Bath House Paris

Prehistoric & Ancient Paris

Louvre Palace Glass Pyramid

3 Days in Paris

Luxor Obelisk Place De La Concorde

Ancient Egypt in Paris

Explore Paris More Deeply

What to See in Paris

Roman Paris - Lutece

The Roman settlement, originally named Lutetia and later Lutèce, was located on the Left Bank at Sainte Geneviève Hill and the Île de la Cité. Until the collapse of the Roman Empire in the 5th century AD, Lutèce became a prosperous city with substantial palaces, baths, temples and theatres, as well as a forum and an amphitheatre (Arènes de Lutèce). Few of these buildings survive today, but the most impressive is the public baths – one of the largest surviving Roman buildings in north western Europe (Thermes de Cluny). Remains of the later Roman period of Paris have been uncovered in and can be seen at the La crypte archéologique de l’île de la Cité in front of Notre Dame Cathedral.

Palaces & Castles

For anyone visiting Paris with a penchant for castles, there are many to choose from that are within easy reach of the city. A number of these are only an hour or so by car, train, or metro and can be easily visited in a single day trip from Paris. As they are further out and many little-known, visiting these chateaux is often a great way to escape the crowds of Paris for a while. Once private or official residences, some now are home to world-class collections of all sorts of objects and artefacts. Whatever your interests, spectacular architecture with sumptuous interiors, gorgeous gardens or wild forests, culture and history, you are sure to find it at one

Holocaust, WWII & the Third Reich

Paris is not widely thought of as a destination where visitors can explore the stories of World War II. For a start, the city itself was not as visibly marked and dramatically scarred by the war as many other European cities were. More significantly, and for understandable reasons, the French capital tends to be overlooked for the D-Day Beaches. Perhaps most visitors know that Paris was occupied by the German Third Reich from 14 June 1940 to 25 August 1944. Few are aware, however, that beyond a few memorials and museums Paris has a number of poignant landmarks that tell the many, varied stories of a city under siege and an occupied nation’s complicity in the Holocaust.

The D'Orsay Museum and the banks of the Seine River lit up at night.night,

Museums & Art Galleries

With over 130 museums in the greater Paris region, choosing which ones to visit takes a bit of planning. Generic lists of ‘must see museums’, or X’s top 30 recommendations often only have a limited value as they are created for broad appeal. Our list of museums and art galleries in Paris attempts to order and rank the various institutions thematically. Any attempt to group disparate museums is going to be problematic, but thematic groupings do have some value in showing what is there for you to visit.

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