Bob Marley sang, “If you know your history, then you would know where you’re coming from. Then you wouldn’t have to ask me who the heck do I think I am.”
You should know your history. You should also know other people’s history, so you won’t have to ask them who the heck they think they are. France is one of the great nations of Europe whose internal affairs have shaped universal thinking. The French Revolution, for instance, was the first of its kind in the modern world. It triggered many other similar revolutions in European countries, leading to drastic changes in forms and structures of governance. You should strife to learn more not about Paris, but also other cities away from your country.
Some of the heritage sites in Paris include:
Place De La Concorde
For many historians, the moment France is mentioned, they think only of the French Revolution, which was her darkest period in history. Place De La Concorde, the largest square in Paris, is a reminder of this period.
This magnificent square is situated right in the heart of Paris. It has witnessed significant historical events. King Louix XV established it in 1763. During the French Revolution, a guillotine was erected in this very place and used to behead King Louis XVI and his wife, Marie-Antoinette. Another notable person also publicly executed here by the guillotine included Danton, a renowned chemistry scientist. As you stroll through this site, take a moment to reflect on human cruelty. Good people like Danton were executed for weird reasons. Charles Dickens, an English author, captured these rough moments in his famous novel, A Tale of Two Cities.
But the place is not all about gloom and sad memories. There are various fountains and statues of prominent historical figures. You can stroll around and enjoy life without thinking about the guillotine. Also in the square is Obelisk of Luxor, installed in 1836 by King Louis-Philippe. It was a present from Egypt. It is believed to be 3,300 years old, made in the era of Pharaoh Ramesses II. It stretches 75 feet into the sky!
Catacombes de Paris
These are underground tunnels created in the Roman period. They were actually quarries dug to obtain building stones. But in the 18th century, the authorities turned the tunnels and caverns into dumpsites for bones exhumed from old cemeteries that had become health-risks. The catacombs were also the base to the French Resistance during World War Two.
The catacombs are now open to the general public. The ancient bones are artistically arranged along the 2km underground route down a steep staircase. The place is well-lit. You don’t want to go to such a site if it’s dark.
Notre Dame, a cathedral whose construction span over 200 years, started in the 12th century. At its base is a bronze plaque marking the center of Paris. It is from this point that other French cities are measured. Notre Dame has played a significant role in the religious life of the French.
Arc de Triomphe
To celebrate his military achievements, Napoleon commenced the building of the Arc of Triomphe monument in 1806. But after he suffered defeat at Waterloo, the construction came to a halt. It was resumed after 30 years by King Louis Philippe. It provides a panoramic view of the city of Paris. Within the monument is a tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which is a symbol of the wars the French army has lost.
Although France is near England, remember the language mainly spoken there is French, not English. You may want to practice some French greetings and common phrases before getting there.