Sunday, December 19, 2010

Paris – the Tourists’ Lover

Take a poll to find one place that attracts the tourists most in the world and one would be amazed to find the unanimity of choice – Paris. Famous for its expensive clothes and perfumes, its dazzling and colorfully lit malls and market places and of course the rusty old pal – the Eiffel Tower, Paris is one place on earth that draws out maximum tourists than any other city does in the world.

I first heard of Paris when my father, then heading the Interpol in Pakistan, had gone to Paris to attend the annual Interpol conference. Paris happens to be the headquarters of the ICPO and the Interpol. He brought back sweet smelling perfumes for our mother and many small gifts and presents for us brothers. He would narrate us the beauty of Paris, its markets and hospitality of its people. There were lot so photographs of him posing in front of the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe.

Then years later I saw the famous movie “Hunchback of Notre Dame” that featured Anthony Queen in one his most unforgettable roles as the Hunchback and Gina Lolobrigida as Esmeralda, the beautiful Gypsy. This film introduced to me yet another landmark of Paris – the Notre Dame church. Although not the biggest church even in Paris, it is said to have risen to prominence after Victor Hugo’s Hunchback of Notre Dame introduced it to the movie goers around the world.

I don’t have to say much about the Eiffel Tower as even children in remote areas of the world would recognize this steel structure. No visitor would leave Paris without seeing this tower that stands some 324 meters tall (1,063 ft), located on the Champ de Mars. Inaugurated March 31, 1889, the Eiffel Tower remained the tallest structure in the world until the completion of the Chrysler Building in 1930 in New York (the Empire State Building taller than the two was completed in 1931). The tower has three levels for visitors. The walk to the first level is over 300 steps, as is the walk from the first to the second level. The third and highest level is accessible only by elevator. Both the first and second levels have restaurants for visitors to take rest and have a far stretched view of Paris. Eiffel Tower is also nicknamed: La dame de fer, the iron lady.

Arc de Triomphe - the famous monument designed in 1806 to honour those who fought for France, stands in the centre of the Place Charles de Gaulle and located on the western end of the Champs-Elysees. The monument is the second largest triumphal arch in existence, and its design was originally inspired by the Roman Arch of Titus. The massively monument allowed Charles Godefroy to fly his biplane through it after the victory parade in 1919. The place is open for general public, except of course on national holidays when some ceremony is planned at the monument.

The Louvre, one of the largest and most visited museums in the world, was originally a palace. It is visited by almost anyone who is touring Paris to have a glimpse of the famous painting of Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci, the Dying Slave by Michelangelo and Venus of Milo. It is located in the 1st arrondissement at the heart of Paris. In 1989, a glass pyramid was added to the Louvre, which now acts as its entrance. The glass pyramid allows the sunlight to come in on the underground floor. Although the two structures, the original Louvre and the glass pyramid look a mismatch due to vast difference between their architecture, the place still continues to attract tourists who take the blend of old and new technologies as a symbol of changing times.

Oh before I forget, the mention of landmarks of Paris would be incomplete without The Avenue des Champs-Élysées, the prestigious avenue in Paris, The avenue houses cafes, luxury shops, cinemas and much more. The avenue perhaps is the most famous road in the world. One cannot describe the beauty of the avenue. It has to be seen to cherish its beauty and memories for a long time.


Paris as they say is the shoppers’ paradise, despite it being very expensive, specially the its top brands. Most of the tourists and even the Parisians themselves would go to shopping centres spreads all over the residential areas, located far from the city centre. Why? Well for the simple reason to save money, otherwise the central Paris would be too costly and heavy on your wallet. Remember Paris is a lively cosmopolitan, but it remains a very French city. You know what I mean. However one can find everything in these hypermarket type market places where under one roof one can buy from a needle to an expensive car or an outfit.

Those who are frequent visitors of Paris would know that there are certain sections of Paris which are expensive, but a few minutes’ walk would take them to areas where one feels comfortable in buying things one needs. For designers clothing stores, sidewalk cafés, Saint Germain in the upper Saint Germain des Prés district is the exclusive choice. But in Rue de Buci, the clothing stores ease you in selecting less expensive attire.

Whether Paris is expensive or not, it continues to attract tourists from across the world around the year. And I am sure many of my readers would have already visited Paris. And those who haven’t would one day be attracted by Paris, for it’s a true tourists’ lover.


Asghar Javed said...

True! Paris in number one on my wish list.