Paris Sightseeing

Paris is one of the European cities boasting dozens of stunning parks, and other outdoor/landscaped sites, including cemeteries.

Two of the parks that visitors to Paris might put on their itinerary, are the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont and the Bois de Boulogne.

Parc des Buttes-Chaumont

The Parc des Buttes-Chaumont derives its name from the combination of two French words, "mont", for mountain, and "chauve", which means bald: A feature of the area until late in the 1800s, was a bare-faced lime mining operation.

It has a tragic past for such a charming area, beginning with an invasion by the Normans in 885 A.D. and on through the Middle Ages, when the west side of the hill featured the infamous Montfaucon gallows.

In 1862, Paris bought the quarries, and Napoléon III commissioned the park as a monument to plants, and so it remains, amazing in its variety, and surprising in its design of open spaces.

Bois de Boulogne

The Bois de Boulogne is a feast of trees, including beech, oak, cherry, redwood, cedar, lime, chestnut and elm, all surrounding the lawns, 35 kilometres of footpaths, eight kilometres of cycling paths, and 29 kilometres of riding or bridle paths.

The park also offers visitors such amenities as a swimming pool, sports track, bike and boat rentals, as well as a variety of cafes.

Montparnasse Cemetery

For admirors of sculpture and landscaping with a healthy dose of curiosity, there are a number of famous cemeteries, including Montparnasse and Père Lachaise.

The Montparnasse Cemetery is ranked third in size for the city of Paris, and contains the last resting places of many Parisian and other French intellectuals. It is well worth a visit purely for a tour of the monuments, some from the early 1800s and others from only a decade ago.

Buying a map on entering the gates can save you a great deal of time searching out a particular grave, and can help you plan a leisurely walk through the well laid out paths.

Père Lachaise

Père Lachaise is the most famous of Paris' twenty cemeteries. At 44 acres and with over 5300 trees, it also qualifies as Paris' largest park. Opened in 1804, and holding some 70,000 plots, it is host to more than two million visitors a year.

Some of the most famous and infamous Parisians or transplanted residents found their final resting place here, including Jim Morrison, Frederick Chopin, and Oscar Wilde.

The most famous monuments in Paris would have to be the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower.

Arc de Triomphe

The very impressive Arc de Triomphe was commissioned by Napoléon in 1806 but was not completed until long after he was deposed as Emperor.

At the base of each of the four pillars, there is a huge sculpture. These depict The Triumph of 1810, The Departure of the Volunteers, Peace, and Resistance.

Names of major victories in the Napoleonic and Revolutionary wars are engraved around the top of the monument. Less important victories, along with the names of 558 generals are engraved on the inside walls.

Underneath the arch you'll find the tomb of the unknown soldier, with an eternal flame commemorating the dead of two World Wars.

Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower is not a sight you can miss, in any sense of the word. At 300 metres tall, it was the world's highest manmade structure until 1930.

It weights 7,000 tons, required 40 tons of paint, has 1652 steps to the top, and was built over two years by 300 workmen to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution, in 1889.

If your sightseeing tastes run to more variety, or something that is different, you can try some of the unadvertised attractions off the beaten track.