ATTRACTIONS. Everyone has a destination they wish they could stay or even recommend to fellow travel enthusiasts. ANGELICA NANKINGA brings you five must-visits from Paris.
Paris is known to the world as the 'City of Love'. Many dream of visiting this beautiful city, of climbing the Eiffel Tower, staring up at the Mona Lisa, or simply walking its streets.
What is so beautiful about Paris is that everything is within reach due to the well-connected transportation system. So, you are always one train ride away from a world renowned tourist attraction. If you're visiting Paris, here are my top five world's most famous attractions you should see.
1. The Louvre museum
This is home to the Mona Lisa, the most famous painting in the world by Leonardo Da Vinci. The painting of a smiling woman sits at one end of the Louvre. It is said to attract about six million visitors per year. Here, crowds of tourists push one another in order to have a glimpse of the famous portrait. To get a good view of the Mona Lisa, my friend and I arrived towards the end of the day after most of the tourists had left. It is amazing how such a small painting has managed to capture the world's eye.
2. Chatelet Les Halles
Only in Europe, can one find train stations that are so beautiful that they could be turned into museums. Chatelet Les Halles is one of them. Known as the world's largest underground station, Chatelet Les Halles is a must-visit. In a single day, about 750,000 people use this station to connect to all corners of Paris and beyond. You will find a large mall inside the station.
3. Eiffel Tower
You cannot speak of Paris, without mentioning the iconic Eiffel Tower. Originally, the tower was built for temporary use during the 1889 World exhibition. The structure was built to commemorate the 100 years following the French Revolution. It was meant to be destroyed after its 20-year contract, but was maintained for its great beauty.
The tower draws seven million visitors a year. You can take the elevator up the tower, where you find exclusive restaurants. Imagine dining with the view of Paris as a backdrop.
You have to see the tower at night. For one, it's less crowded and two, on special occasions, (most of the year, really) the lights of the Eiffel Tower are turned on that it shines like a million diamonds have been carefully placed around it. Plus, you will avoid being run over by couples as they pose for cheesy wedding photos.
4. The Love Bridge
The love bridge is a famous bridge in Paris where couples lock padlocks with their names engraved to signify 'eternal love'. Upon locking the padlocks, the key is thrown into the famous Seine River. The act symbolizes eternal love.
Lately, there has been major controversy surrounding the famous bridge as the Paris city council says that the padlocks are too heavy and are weighing the bridge down.
So, there are future plans to take down the padlocks and already (in 2015), 40,000 kgs of padlocks were removed. So, you might want to see it before it's all gone.
But even after it is gone, the Love Bridge will be remembered for drawing millions of tourists with a promise of eternal love.
5. Versailles Chateau
Located 19km outside of Paris, the Versailles Chateau was home to several French kings up until the 1789 French Revolution. Today, it is a world renowned museum that depicts the luxurious life of Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette, the last residents of the castle.
A walk through the castle takes you back to the 18th Century, as you witness what life was like back then. Take a tour through the famous Hall of Mirrors, Marie Antoinette's chambers (have a glimpse of her bed in particular) and Louis XVI's chair (it's amazing how small he was).
A walk through the gardens and the farmlands fully stocked with chicken, sheep and goats is mind-blowing. This experience is truly a walk through history.