France has a large number of decorated caves from the upper Paleolithic era.
In 600 BC, Ionian Greeks ( Greeks from Izmir of Turkey
) from Phocaea founded
the colony of Massalia (present-day Marseille),
on the shores of the Mediterranean
Sea. This makes it France's oldest city.
At the same time, some Gallic
Celtic tribes penetrated parts of eastern and northern France,
gradually spreading through the rest of the country between the 5th and 3rd century BC. The concept of Gaul emerged during
this period. The borders of modern France roughly correspond to ancient Gaul, which was inhabited by Celtic Gauls. Gaul was then a
prosperous country, of which the southernmost
part (e.g. Modern day Nice) was heavily subject to Greek and Roman cultural and economic influences. Gaul was a
region of Western Europe first described by the
Romans. According to one theory Iron Age inhabitants of
Great Britain and Ireland should be regarded as Celts.
Around 390 BC, the Gallic chieftain
defeated the Romans and ransomed Rome. The
Gallic invasion left Rome weakened, and the Gauls continued to harass the
region until 345 BC when they entered into a formal peace treaty with Rome. But the
Romans and the Gauls would remain adversaries for the next centuries, and the
Gauls would continue to be a threat in Italy.
Around 125 BC, the south of Gaul was conquered by the
called this region Provincia Nostra ("Our Province"), which over time
evolved into the name Provence in French (E.g Nice, Cannes are in Provence -
South East France. My friend said it should be pronounced as Provos.Nobody
will understand,if you pronounce it was Provence). Julius Caesar conquered
the remainder of Gaul and overcame a revolt carried out by the Gallic
chieftain Vercin-getorix in 52 BC. The Gallic Wars resulted
in 1 million men sold into slavery and another 3 million dead in
battle. Celtic Gaul was divided by Roman King Augustus (27 B.C.
- 14 A.D.) into
3 Roman provinces:
Lyon, Belgium and Aquitaine. Many
cities were founded during the Gallo-Roman
period, including Lugdunum (present-day Lyon), which is considered
the capital of the Gauls. These cities were built in traditional Roman
style, with a forum, a theatre, a circus,
an amphitheatre and thermal baths.
The Gauls mixed with Roman settlers and eventually adopted Roman culture.
From the beginning of the 5th century, the Barbarian Invasions resumed in Roman Gaul. and independent petty kingdoms arose
in this region. The first leader to make himself king of all the Franks, was Clovis I,
who began his reign in 481, routing
the last forces of the Roman governors of the province in 486. Clovis I was the first Germanic conqueror
after the fall of the Roman Empire to convert to Catholic Christianity.
France was given the title "Eldest daughter of the Church" by the Pope.
The name France comes from the Latin Francia or "realm
of the Franks", originally applied to the whole Frankish Empire. Frankish Empire, was the largest post-Roman
barbarian kingdom in Western Europe. The Franks embraced the Christian Gallo-Roman culture and ancient Gaul was eventually renamed Francia ("Land
of the Franks"). The Germanic Franks adopted Romanic
languages. Clovis made Paris his capital and established the Merovingian dynasty, but his kingdom
would not survive his death.
The last Merovingian
kings lost power to their mayors of the palace .
One mayor of the palace, Charles Martel,
defeated an Islamic invasion of Gaul at the Battle of Tours (732)
and earned respect and power within the Frankish kingdoms. His son, Pepin the Short,
seized the crown of Francia from the weakened Merovingians and
founded the Carolingian dynasty. Pepin's son, Charlemagne, reunited the Frankish kingdoms and built a
vast empire across Western and Central Europe.
Proclaimed Holy Roman Emperor by Pope Leo III ,
Charlemagne tried to revive
the Western Roman Empire and its cultural
grandeur. Charlemagne's son, Louis I (Emperor
814–840), kept the empire united; however, this Carolingian Empire would not
survive his death. In 843, the empire was divided between Louis's 3 sons,
with East Francia going to Louis the German, Middle Francia to Lothair I,
and West Francia to Charles the Bald.
West Francia approximated the area occupied by, and was the precursor to,
The Carolingian dynasty ruled France until 987 AD, when Hugh Capet,
Duke of France and Count of Paris, was crowned King of the Franks. His descendants—the Capetians,
the House of Valois, and the House of Bourbon—progressively
unified the country through wars and dynastic inheritance into the Kingdom of
France. French Renaissance (1400–1650) saw a spectacular cultural development and
the first standardization of the French language. It also saw a long set of
wars, known as the Italian Wars, between France and the House of
Habsburg. French explorers, such as Jacques Cartier or Samuel de Champlain, claimed lands in the Americas for France, paving the way for
the expansion of the First French colonial empire.
The monarchy reached its peak during the 17th century, during
and the reign of Louis XIV. By turning powerful feudal lords into courtiers at
the Palace of Versailles, Louis XIV's personal
power became unchallenged. Remembered for his numerous wars, he made France the
leading European power. France became the most populous country in Europe and had
tremendous influence over European politics, economy, and culture. French became the most-used language in
diplomacy, science, literature and international affairs, and remained so until
the 20th century. Even Russian Czars used to learn French. Louis XVI, Louis XV's grandson, actively supported the Americans, who were seeking
their independence from Great Britain (realized
in the Treaty of Paris (1783)).
The financial crisis
aggravated by France's involvement in the American Revolutionary War was one of
many contributing factors to the French
Facing financial troubles, King Louis XVI summoned the Estates-General in May 1789 to
propose solutions to his government. As it came to an impasse, the
representatives of the Third Estate formed into a National Assembly,
signalling the outbreak of the French
Revolution. Fearing that the king would suppress the newly
created National Assembly, insurgents stormed the Bastille on
14 July 1789, a date which would become France's National Day.
In early August 1789, the National Constituent Assembly
(earlier called National Assembly) abolished the
privileges of the nobility .
In November 1789, the Assembly decided to nationalize and sell all property of
the Roman Catholic Church which had been the largest landowner in the country and
cancelled the authority of the Church to levy taxes. In September 1791, the National Constituent Assembly forced King Louis
XVI to accept the French Constitution of 1791, thus turning the French absolute monarchy into
The National Convention, was chosen in the
first elections on 20 September 1792, and succeeded the Legislative Assembly and on 21st
September abolished the monarchy by
proclaiming the French First Republic. Ex-King Louis XVI
was convicted of treason and guillotined in January 1793.
Political disagreements and enmity in the National Convention between October 1793
and July 1794 reached unprecedented levels, leading to dozens of Convention
members being sentenced to death and guillotined.
Napoleon Bonaparte seized control of the Republic in 1799
becoming First Consul and later Emperor of the French Empire (1804–1815). European monarchies wedged war against the French
Republic - on Napoleon's Empire. Napoleon’s armies conquered most of
continental Europe with swift victories. Members of the Bonaparte family were appointed as
monarchs in some of the newly established kingdoms. These victories led to the
worldwide expansion of French revolutionary ideals and reforms. In June 1812,
Napoleon attacked Russia, reaching Moscow. Thereafter his army disintegrated
through supply problems, disease, Russian attacks and finally winter.
the catastrophic Russian campaign, Napoleon was defeated and
the Bourbon monarchy restored. After his brief return from
exile, Napoleon was finally defeated in
1815 at the Battle of Waterloo and the monarchy
was re-established (1815–1830).
1830, French troops conquered Algeria, establishing the first colonial presence
in Africa, since Napoleon's abortive invasion of Egypt in
1798. In 1852, the president of the French Republic, Louis-Napoléon
Bonaparte, Napoleon I's nephew, was proclaimed emperor of the second Empire, as Napoleon III. Napoleon
III was unseated following defeat in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 and his
regime was replaced by the Third Republic.
Paris is one of Europe's largest
cities, with 2.2 million people living in the dense, central city and almost 12
million people living in the whole metropolitan area. Paris has the reputation
of being the most beautiful and romantic of all cities, brimming with history
and capital of culture, art, fashion, food and design of Europe. It is home to
the world's finest and most luxurious fashion designers and cosmetics, such as
Louis Vuitton, Dior, Yves Saint-Laurent, L'Oréal, etc.
A large part of the city is a UNESCO
World Heritage Site. The city has the second highest number of Michelin
restaurants in the world (after Tokyo) and contains numerous iconic landmarks,
such as the world's most visited tourist site the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de
Triomphe, the Notre-Dame Cathedral (Notre
Dame is French for "Our
Lady" and refers to the Blessed Virgin Mary. There are many Notre Dame in
France, just like there are many Kremlin in Russia), the Louvre Museum,
Moulin Rouge, making it the most popular tourist destination in the world .
The city of Paris itself is officially divided into 20 districts called arron-dissements, numbered from 1
to 20 in a clockwise spiral from the centre of the city (located at
the front of Notre Dame). You might stay in the "5th", which would be
written as 5e in French.
The Layout of Paris by district
(important ones only) :
• 1st (1e) : The geographical centre
of Paris and a great starting point for travellers. The Musée du Louvre, the
Jardin des Tuileries, Les Halles, Palais Royal and Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel
are all to be found here.
• 2nd (2e): The central business
district of the city
• 4th (4e): Notre-Dame de Paris can
be found here.
•5th (5e): Jardin des Plantes,
Universités, La Sorbonne are located here.
• 6th (6e): Jardin du Luxembourg,
Place Saint-Michel and Saint-Germain des Prés can be found here.
• 7th (7e): Tour Eiffel and its Parc
du Champ de Mars, Musée d'Orsay can be found here
• 8th (8e): Champs-Elysées, Arc de
Triomphe, Place de la Concorde, le Palais de l'Elysée can be found here.
• 10th (10e): Gare du Nord, Gare de
l'Est, Porte Saint-Denis, can be found here.
• 12th (12e):Opéra Bastille, Gare de
• 18th (18e): Montmartre can be found here.
Those on the west of Paris are wealthy residential communities. Those to the northeast are poorer communities, often
populated by immigrants.
Paris started life as the Roman settlement on the Île de la Cité, the island in
the Seine, currently occupied by the Cathédrale Notre-Dame. It takes its present name from the name of
the dominant Gallo-Celtic tribe in the region, the Parisii. At least that's
what the Romans called them.
The Romans held out here, for as long as anywhere else in the Western Empire,
but by 508 AD they were gone, replaced by Clovis
of the Franks, who is considered by the French to have been their first king. After
Clovis Carolingians dynasty
held onto the expanded Lutetian state for nearly 500 years through Viking raids
and other calamities. The Capetian Duke of Paris was voted to succeed the last
of the Carolingians as King of France in
The medieval period also witnessed the founding of the Sorbonne - as the
"University of Paris", it became one of the most important centres
for learning in Europe - if not the whole world, for several hundred
In the late 18th century,
there was a period of political and social upheaval in France and Europe,
during which the French governmental structure, previously a monarchy with feudal privileges for the aristocracy
and Catholic clergy, underwent radical change. Notable events during and
following the revolution were the storming of the Bastille 4th arrondissements,
and the rise and fall of Napoleonic France. Out of the violent turmoil, the
French Revolution, enlightened the modern day France.
Hitler's order to burn the city was
thankfully ignored by the German General von Choltitz who was quite possibly
convinced by a Swedish diplomat that it would be better to surrender and be
remembered as the saviour of Paris, than to be remembered as its
Following the war, the city
recovered quickly at first, but slowed in the 1970s and 1980s when Paris began
to experience some of the problems faced by big cities everywhere : pollution,
housing shortages and occasionally failed experiments in urban renewal.
During this time however, Paris
enjoyed considerable growth as a multi-cultural city, with new immigrants from
all corners of the world, including most of northern and western Africa as well as Vietnam and Laos. These immigrants brought their foods and music,
both of which are of prime interest for many travellers.
Immigration and multi-culturalism
continues in the 21st century with a marked increase in the arrival of people
from Latin America, especially Mexico, Colombia, and Brazil.
Paris is well connected to the rest of Europe by train. There is no central station serving Paris and the 6
different stations are not connected to each other. You need to know in advance
at which station your train is arriving, so as to better choose a hotel and
plan for transport within the city. So if plane fare to a particular country is
expensive, one can buy plane ticket to France – where rates are lower and go there by Flix bus or train.
• Gare du Nord - TGV trains (Fast
Train) to and from Belgium, the
Netherlands, and Cologne, Germany (Thalys), and the United Kingdom (Eurostar)
and regular trains from Northern Europe. Passengers
coming in by train from Charles de Gaulle Airport, can also get off here.
• Gare d'Austerlitz -
regular trains to and from the centre and southwest of France (Orléans,
Toulouse), Spain and Portugal and arrival of majority of the night trains.
• Gare de l'Est - ICE/TGV to
and from Luxembourg, Frankfurt, and Stuttgart, Munich in Germany.
• Gare de Lyon - regular
and TGV trains to and from Southern
and eastern France, French Alps,
Marseille, Lyon, Dijon, Switzerland (by TGV Lyria): Geneva, Lausanne, Neuchatel
- Bern - Interlaken, Basel - Zurich, and Italy.
• Gare de Bercy : Overnight trains
from and to Italy
• Gare St Lazare - trains to
and from Basse-Normandie
• Gare Montparnasse - TGV and
regular trains to and from the west and south-west of France (Nantes, Bordeaux, Toulouse the fastest way and
All these are also metro stations. The SNCF
(French national railways, like Indian Rail) operates practically all
trains within France. The SNCF website allows booking and
buying tickets up to 2 months in advance. There are significant discounts if
you book weeks ahead.
a number of different kinds of high speed and normal trains:
• TER: The regional trains (Train Express Régionale); cheapest
tickets, though prices are variable on the time of the day of departure. RER are slower, stopping at almost all stations.
(RER is a network operated
jointly by RATP (Métro
and buses) and SNCF. It is different from TER)
• TGV: The world-famous French high-speed trains (Trains à Grande
Vitesse) run very frequently to the Southeast Nice (5-6h), Marseille (3h) and
Avignon (2.5h), Geneva (3h), Bern (4h30), Zurich (4h) in Switzerland and Dijon
(1h15), the Southwest Bordeaux (3h).
• Thalys A high-speed train service running daily to/from the
Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. It can be a bit expensive compared to normal
trains, but cheap enough if you buy in advance.
• Intercity: Intercity trains leave for all parts of Europe,
including overnight trains to San Sebastian in Spain, Porto and Lisbon in
• Eurostar: The Eurostar service connects Paris with London St. Pancras directly and Brussels indirectly, as
well many other destinations indirectly. Travel time between Paris Gare du Nord
and London St Pancras International currently averages at 2 h 15min, following
the opening of a new rail link in late 2007. Eurail and InterRail passes are not valid for this train
• CNL: The overnight services (City
Night Line) by the German operator Deutsche Bahn
• Eurolines, A trans-European bus company
that offers trips from across Europe and Morocco
to Paris. Generally offers prices significantly cheaper than the train at the
cost of much longer journey.
. OUIBUS, part of the French transport network, now offers bus service
to London. I have used it number of times.
• FlixBus, offering routes from
Paris since summer 2015 from the station Paris Porte Maillot. I
have used it number of times and it saved lot of money for me !
The best and cheapest way to get around Paris is on
foot, and secondly, using the Métro.
To get a great orientation of the
city on foot while seeing many of Paris' major sights, you can do a West to East walk from the Arc de Triomphe to Notre Dame. This walk takes about 1-2 hours without any
Start at the top of the Champs
Elysees (at the Arc de Triomphe) and
begin walking towards Place de la Concorde. On the way you'll see the major
stores and restaurants of Paris' most famous avenue, Petit Palais and the Grand
Palais to your right. At Place de la Concorde, you'll be able to see many of
Paris' major monuments around you. In front of you are the Tuileries, behind
you are Arc de Triomphe, behind you to your right are the Tour Eiffel/Eiffel
Town and Musee d'Orsay. Continue straight ahead and enter the Tuileries Gardens
passing by fountains, flowers, and lovers in the park. As you continue straight
ahead and out of the garden, you'll see the pyramid entrance to the Louvre
directly in front of you.
With the pyramid directly in front
of you, turn to your right and walk towards the Seine. Now you can walk along
the Seine (eastwards) until you reach Pont Neuf. Cross Pont Neuf and walk
through the Latin Quarter, cross the river again to reach Notre Dame Cathedral on Ile de la Cité.
Another interesting walk in the city let you discover the top sights of
Montmartre in a few hours. The smartest travellers take advantage of the
walkability of this city and stay above ground as much as possible. A metro ride of less than 2 stops, is best
avoided, since walking will take about the same amount of time and you'll be
able to see more of the city.
Paris and its surrounding areas are served by
different rail systems:
• Métro - Look for the Métro stations, marked with a large "M"
• RER - Regional Express network used by suburban commuters and services to airports (CDG) - RER
A, B, C, D, and E.
While sharing a single system of
tariffs, you have to take care to validate your ticket when
switching from one system to another.
Keep your ticket or pass with you at
all times as you may be checked. Otherwise you will be forced to pay on the
spot between 35-50 euros.
• However within the city of Paris,
there is little functional difference between the RER and Métro (there are
numerous transfers between the two networks, and a ticket for the Métro is also
valid for the RER within the city limits ).
There are 16 Métro lines (lignes) on
which trains travel all day at intervals of a few minutes 05:00-00:30 (Saturday
night/Sunday morning: 01:30), stopping at all stations on the line. Trains
usually come 2-3 minutes apart during rush hour and 5-10 minutes apart during
For the Metro, a single ticket costs €1.90. A pack of 10 tickets (carnet)
can be purchased for €14.90 at any station. RER + Métro & Bus + Tram are 2 separate systems, but they
use the same tickets. This means you have to use a new ticket if you transfer from Bus to Metro or vice versa.
Strikes are a regular occurrence on
the Paris public transit system. Generally during a strike, there will be
reduced or no service on certain lines but parts of the network will continue
to operate; however, in some cases the entire network may shut down completely.
We faced this problem every day and keep
this in mind, before going to airport by metro– you might even miss the flight.
It occurred to us - not once , but
number of times. So the metro is very unpredictable – you must have a back-up
Landmarks with Metro Stations :
• Arc de Triomphe (8th) — Métro/RER Charles de Gaulle-Etoile (1,
2, 6, A)
• • Château de Versailles
(Versailles) — RER C : Versailles Rive
• The Eiffel Tower (Tour Eiffel)
(7th) — Métro Bir-Hakeim (6)
or RER C : Champ de Mars-Tour Eiffel . Eiffel Tower staff held a strike on May
22nd, 2015 as a result of increased pickpocketing gang activity in the
vicinity. Paris is nightmare for tourists because of pickpockets. Be very
very careful. We have been targeted twice. I have never seen such an unsafe
metro in my life.
• Sacré Coeur (18th) — Métro
Anvers (2) or Abbesses (12)
• The Louvre (1st) — Métro Palais Royal
- Musée du Louvre (1, 7)
• Musée d'Orsay, (7th ) — RER Musée
d'Orsay (C) or Métro Solférino (12)
• Rodin Museum, (7th) — Métro
• Picasso Museum, (3rd )— Métro
Saint-Paul (1) or Chemin Vert (8)
• Musée Marmottan-Monet
(16th)— Métro La Muette (9)
• Giverny - The inspirational house
and gardens of the Impressionist painter Claude Monet are a day-trip away. The
gardens and its flowers are the most interesting part of the visit, so avoid
Since the Métro is primarily structured around a hub-and-spoke model, there are
some journeys for which it can be quite inefficient, and in these cases, it is
worth seeing if a direct bus route exists. A bus ride is interesting if you
want to see more of the city. When boarding the bus, you'll have to validate
your ticket, like any other place in Europe.
Be aware that you cannot transfer
between the Métro and the Bus with a single-ride Ticket, like, say, Budapest. However,
you can transfer from bus to bus or
between the bus and the tram, within 90 minutes of validating the ticket.
Another option for travellers who want to see the sights of Paris with a
stop on every street corner is the Paris L'Open tour Bus, an open-topped double
decker hop on hop off bus. You can purchase tickets at the bus stop. A
one-day pass is €31 for adults.
There are several excellent boat services which make use of the Seine. You can
buy a day or 3 day ticket and hop on and off the boat .
There are trams too in Paris.
Generally French is spoken at all
the tourist places. For most Parisians, English is something they had to
study in school.
When in need of directions : find a
younger person or someone reading a book or magazine in English, who is
obviously not in a hurry; say "hello" or "bonjour"
(bon-zhor) and then start by asking if the person speaks English,
"Parlez-vous anglais?" (Par-LAY
voo on-glay?) ; even if the person can read something in English, speak
slowly and clearly; write down place
names if necessary. You will probably get the cold shoulder if you stop
someone in the métro (such as a middle-aged person in a hurry), fail to greet them and simply say "where is place X or street
Y". It happened to us more than
If you speak French, remember two
magic phrases : "Excusez-moi " [ex-kuh-zay moowah ("Excuse me")
and "Pourriez-vous m'aider?" [por-EE-AY voo may-DAY] ("Could you
help me?") especially in shops; politeness will work wonders.
This is not to say that Parisians are in fact, by nature, rude. Parisians'
abrupt exteriors will rapidly evaporate if you display some basic courtesies. A
simple "Bonjour, Madame" when entering a shop, or
"Excusez-moi" when trying to get someone's attention, are very
important; say "Pardon" or "je suis désolé" if you bump
into someone accidentally. Courtesy is extremely important in France. This
level of extreme politeness is about the closest one can come to a magic wand
for unlocking Parisian hospitality. If you know some French, try it! However
after I went to Naples, things became much, much less formal.
Cabarets are traditional shows in
Paris. They provide entertainment, often towards adult audiences, with singers
and dancers or burlesque entertainers. The most famous one is at the Moulin Rouge. The
tickets usually cost from €80 to €200, depending if you have dinner before the
Paris is one of Europe's main
culinary centres. It may, however, come as a surprise that Paris isn't
considered the culinary capital of France; Paris has long been considered
by some people as second to Lyon for fine dining.
Take-away falafel or Sawarma usually
goes for €5 or less. Lebanese food is by
far the cheapest in France. We have been to these shops number of times.
Phone cards are available from most
"Tabacs" or Tobacco shops.
We had our breakfast with the food, we had bought yesterday from the supermarket. After that our host
(physiotherapist) dropped us at a convenient place - from where we went easily to
Louvre museum, by taking metro (Palais de Royal). She goes to her parents’
house near Central Paris- which is also her chamber. We had bought the Louvre
museum ticket in India. There is a grace time of 30 minutes from the appointed
time. After that time, you have to stand in the normal queue. We reached little
late. But we were lucky, since there was no queue.
The Louvre is one of the world's largest museums and houses one of the most
impressive art collections in history. This magnificent, baroque-style palace
and museum — sits along the banks of the Seine River in Paris.
The Louvre was originally built as a
fortress in 1190, but was
reconstructed in the 16th century to serve as a royal palace (that is why the name of the nearest metro is so named , Palais
de Royal). In 1546 , Francis I,
who was a great art collector, had this old castle razed and began to build
on its site a royal residence, the Louvre. Under Francis I, only a small
portion of the present Louvre was completed. Like many buildings, it was
built and rebuilt over the years. During its time as a royal
residence, the Louvre saw tremendous growth. Nearly every monarch expanded it,
according to History.com. In 1682, Louis XIV moved the royal residence to Versailles, and
the Louvre became home to various art academies, offering regular exhibitions
of its members' works.
The National Assembly opened the Louvre as a museum in August 1793 with
a collection of 537 paintings. The museum closed in 1796 because of structural
problems with the building. Napoleon reopened the museum and expanded the
collection in 1801, and the museum was renamed Musée Napoléon. It was
Napoleon Bonaparte who created the foundation for the museum the Louvre, as it
is known today.
The Louvre's collection includes Egyptian antiques, ancient Greek and Roman
sculptures, paintings by the Old Masters and crown jewels and other artifacts
from French nobles. Its works span the 6th century B.C. to the 19th
The displays are divided into 8 departments: 1. Near Eastern Antiquities; 2. Egyptian
Antiquities; 3. Greek, 4. Etruscan
and Roman Antiquities; 5.
Islamic Art; 6. Sculptures; 7 Decorative Arts; 8 Prints and Drawings.
Without any question, the Louvre's most famous work is Leonardo da
Vinci's "Mona Lisa" .This small, iconic painting — it is only 21 inches by 30 inches is covered with
bullet-proof glass and flanked by guards. This protection is the result of it
being stolen in 1911. (It was recovered in 1913.) The line to see the Mona
Lisa can get quite long.
Apart from that there is "Venus de Milo" , "Winged Victory" , the ancient Greek
sculpture - also known as "Nike of Samothrace" . Other popular works
include the Code
of Hammurabi, Leonardo da Vinci's tragic sculpture "The Dying
Slave" . Eugene Delacroix's "Liberty Leading the People," which
depicts the bare-breasted Liberty goddess leading a charge in the French
Revolution and is thought to have inspired Victor Hugo's "Les
The Louvre’s paintings represent all periods of European art up to the
Revolutions of 1848. The paintings after that date that
the Louvre once housed, were transferred to the Musée d’Orsay, upon its opening in 1986.
We saw many pictures of Raphael, Boticelli. There are some Monet also. The
Egyptian collection is huge. I think I have missed one floor. It seemed to
me that the Hermitrage museum is equally good, if not better. We finished at 3 pm.
Before leaving Louvre, we went to the museum courtyard. Architect I.M. Pei designed a glass pyramid structure in
the courtyard. We bought some key rings of Eiffel tower infront of Louvre from
It is quite an old city with a
history 2000 years . During the last decades of
the first century B.C., a certain number of decisions made by Roman King Augustus
(27 B.C. - 14 A.D.), gave rise to the rapid growth of Lugdunum (the
Roman name of the modern day Lyon). Augustus
divided Celtic Gaul into 3 provinces: Lyon, Belgium and Aquitaine. Lugdunum
became the capital of the province of Lyon. The site of Lyon is at the
strategic confluence of the Rhône and Saône - which placed it on an important
axis of the Rhône Valley. All periods of Lyon's 2000 years history have
left visible traces in the city's architectural
and cultural heritage, from Roman ruins to Renaissance palaces to
contemporary skyscrapers. It never went through a major disaster (earthquake,
fire, extensive bombing).
traces of settlement date back to 12,000 BC but there is no evidence of
continuous occupation prior to the Roman era. Lugdunum was officially founded
in 43 BC by Lucius Munatius Plancus, then Governor of Gaul. The first Roman settlements
were on Fourvière hill and the first inhabitants were probably veterans of
Caesar's war campaigns. The development of the city was boosted by its
strategic location and it was promoted Capital of Gauls in 27 BC by General
Agrippa, emperor Augustus's son-in-law and minister. Large carriageways were
then built, providing easy access from all parts of Gaul.
became one of the most prominent administrative, economic and financial centres
in Gaul, along with Narbonne. The main period of peace and prosperity of the
Roman city was between 69 and 192 AD. The population at that time was estimated
between 50,000 and 80,000. Lugdunum consisted of 4 populated areas : the top of Fourvière
hill, the slopes of Croix-Rousse (a
hill 254 metres (833 ft) high) around the Amphithéâtre , the Canabae
(around where Place Bellecour is
today) and the right bank of the Saône river, mainly in what is today St Georges neighbourhood.
was the place where the first Christian
communities of Gaul appeared. It was also where the first martyrdoms took
place, most notably in 177 AD when the young slave Blandine was killed in the
Amphithéâtre des Trois Gaules, along with 47 other martyrs.
city lost its status of Capital of Gauls in 297 AD. Then, in the early years of
the 4th century, the aqueducts, which brought water to the top of Fourvière
suddenly stopped functioning. This was due to lack of funds for their
maintenance and security; the lead pipes which carried the water were stolen
and could not be replaced. The city was completely deprived of water overnight.
This triggered the end of the Roman Lugdunum , which lost a large part of its
population and was reorganized around the Saône river.
the Middle Ages, the city developed on both banks of the Saône. The name
"Lion" or "Lyon" appeared in the 13th century. The early Middle Ages were very
troubled politically. Since the political geography of France kept changing,
the city belonged successively to multiple provinces. It then belonged to the
Holy Roman Empire from 1018 to 1312, when it was given to France at the Vienna
Council. At that time, the city was still of limited size, but had a large
religious influence. In 1078, Pope Gregory VII made the
Archbishop of Lyon the highest Catholic dignitary in the former Gaul .
the Renaissance, fiscal advantages and the organization of numerous trade fairs
attracted bankers from Florence and merchants from all over Europe. The city became more and more prosperous and
experienced a second golden age. The main industries were silk weaving,
introduced in 1536 and printing. Lyon became one of Europe's largest cities and
its first financial place, helped by the advantages given by King François I
who even considered, at one time, making Lyon the capital of France. Around
1530, the population of Lyon reached 50,000.
the French Revolution, in 1793, Lyon took sides against the central power of the National Convention (Parliament),
which caused a severe repression from the army. Over 2,000 people were executed.
the early 19th century, the silk industry was still developing, notably thanks
to Jacquard's loom which made the weaving work more efficient. Social crisis,
however occurred in 1831. The first revolt was harshly repressed. The workers
were protesting against the introduction of new technology, which was likely to
The traditional silk industry
disappeared at the end of the century because of diseases affecting the French
silk worms and the opening of the Suez Canal which reduced the price of imported silk from Asia. Various other
industries developed at that time; the most famous
entrepreneurs of the late 19th century were the Lumière brothers, who invented
cinema in Lyon in 1895. It is also the
birthplace of cinema.
World War II, Lyon was close to the border between the "free zone"
and the occupied zone and was therefore a key
strategic place for the Germans and the French Resistance alike. Jean
Moulin, head of the Resistance, was arrested in Caluire (North suburb of Lyon).
On 26 May 1944, Lyon was bombed by the Allied aviation. The Liberation of Lyon
occurred on 3 September, 1944.
the 1960s, the construction of the business district of Part-Dieu began; its
symbol is the "pencil" tower, the tallest building in Lyon.
1974, the first line of the metro was opened. In 1981, Lyon was linked to Paris
by the TGV (high speed train) line. In the 1980s and 1990s, a huge number of
buildings in Vieux Lyon and Croix-Rousse were renovated. The landscape of Lyon
is still evolving, notably with the new Rhône
banks promenade or the construction of new skyscrapers in Part-Dieu.
southeastern suburbs of Vénissieux and St Priest host large automotive plants, such as Renault's truck and bus factories.
But as in most Western metropolises, the service
industry is now dominant. Many large banking and insurance companies have
important offices in Lyon and the IT services industry is also well developed.
From an economic point of view, Lyon is the most attractive and dynamic city in
France. This may be explained by the easy access from all over Europe (second
only to Paris in the country), the availability of qualified workforce and
research centres, and cheaper real estate prices compared to the capital.
Lyon is the third largest city in
France and centre of the second largest metropolitan area in the country. It is
the capital of the Rhone-Alpes region. It is known as a gastronomic city with a vibrant cultural scene. Lyon has many
preserved historical areas. It is in a strategic location between Northern and
The city itself has about 480,000
inhabitants. However, the direct influence of the city extends well over its
administrative borders, with the population of Greater Lyon (which includes 57
towns/communes) : at about 2.1 million. Lyon and its metropolitan area are
rapidly growing because of their economic attractiveness.
is shaped by its two rivers, the Rhône River (to
the East) and the Saône (to the West), which both run North-South. The main areas of
Fourvière hill - Also known as "the hill that prays" due to the
numerous churches and religious institutions it hosts. The hill was also the place where the Romans settled.
Croix-Rousse - The
area, especially the traboules, may be worth taking a guided tour. Croix-Rousse
is known as the "working hill"
but for centuries, it had been as much of
a "praying hill" as Fourvière. The name "Croix-Rousse"
comes from a limestone cross which was erected at the top of the hill in the
beginning of the 16th century. It was then destroyed and rebuilt several times.
Vieux Lyon (Old Lyon) - The Renaissance area, along the right bank of the Saône. It
is divided into 3 parts which are named after their respective churches:
St Paul, north of place du Change, was the commercial area during the
St Jean, between place du Change and
St Jean cathedral, was home to most wealthy families: aristocrats, public
St Georges, south of St Jean, was a craftsmen's district.
Presqu'île - between the 2 rivers,
the real heart of the city. For the
people of Lyon, Presqu'île is the place to go for shopping, dining or clubbing.
It also represents a large part of the city's economic activity.
Place Bellecour - The largest clear square in Europe. In the center stands
the equestrian statue of Louis XIV (usual meeting point for locals).
Fourvière, Vieux Lyon, Croix-Rousse (a
hill 254 metres /833 ft high ) and a large part of Presqu'île are
classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
has 9 administrative subdivisions called arron-dissements (similar to Paris),
which are designated by numbers.
On foot - The city centre is not big and most attractions can be
reached from each other on foot. T The rule of thumb is that metro stations are
generally about 10 min walk apart.
and trams run approximately from 5 AM to midnight. Some bus lines do not run
after 9 PM. The prices are: €1.90 for a single journey (valid for 1 hour after
the first use on buses, trams, metro and funiculars, unlimited number of
transfers), €5.80 for a daily pass.
boat trip can be a good way to see Lyon from a different point of view. Night
trips available on Fridays and Saturdays - €9, child €6.
traditional restaurants in Lyon are
called bouchons; the origin of the word is unclear (it literally means
"cork"). They appeared at the end of the 19th century and flourished
in the 1930s, when the economic crisis forced wealthy families to fire their
cooks, who opened their own restaurants for a working-class clientele. These
women are referred to as mères (mothers); the most famous of them, Eugénie Brazier, became one of the
first chefs to be awarded three stars (the highest ranking) by the famous
Michelin gastronomic guide. She also had a young apprentice called Paul Bocuse.
Eating in a good bouchon is certainly a
They serve the typical local dishes:
salade lyonnaise (Lyon salad): green salad with bacon cubes, croutons and a
saucisson chaud : a hot, boiled sausage; can be cooked with red wine (saucisson
beaujolais) or in a bun (saucisson brioché);
quenelle de brochet: dumpling made
of flour and egg with pike fish and a crayfish sauce (Nantua sauce);
andouillette: sausage made with chopped tripes, usually served with a mustard
gratin dauphinois: the traditional side dish, oven-cooked sliced potatoes with
cervelle de canut (cervelle' = ' brain): fresh cheese with garlic and herbs.
rognons de veau à la moutarde : veal kidneys in a mustard sauce.
local association awarded the "Authentique
bouchon Lyonnais" label to 22
restaurants all over town (but mostly on Presqu'île), considering the
quality of their food and wine, their decor and the owner's strong personality.
But like Saktigarh’s Lyangcha in West
Bengal, most of the Restaurant’s claim to be Bouchons !