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A Beginner’s Guide to Paris

by xoJohn

One of the world’s major capital cities, Paris, France has a venerable history spanning more than 10,000 years. It grew from a small settlement in the middle of the Stone Age to be the greatest city in France, developing as a center of art and culture, fashion, high finance, medicine, science and tourism. The metropolitan area is one of the largest in Europe, home to more than 12 million people. Centuries of political and cultural development have resulted in an abundance of museums, theaters and galleries as well as a wide selection of architectural styles and monuments.

What to see

Top of the list of famous Parisian landmarks is the Eiffel Tower, which has become the symbol of the ‘City of Love’, also known as the ‘City of Light.’ Designed by Gustave Eiffel, the tower was created originally for the 1889 World’s Fair. It stands 1,063 feet tall (around 81 stories) and is the tallest building in Paris. No first visit to the city is complete without climbing it to benefit from the incredible views from each of the three different levels, the first two of which have restaurants and can be accessed via elevator or stairs, while the third and highest level is only accessible via the elevator.

The wonderful cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris on the Île de la Cité is one of the most famous in the world. Originally built in 1163 and added to many times over the centuries, it was damaged during the French Revolution in the late 18th century. The fabulous French Gothic architecture was restored during the early part of the 19th century and it is now a stunningly beautiful building and a major tourist attraction.

Fine art lovers all over the world are familiar with the world’s most visited museum in Paris, the Louvre, and more than eight million visitors each year flock to see the extraordinary collection of artworks gathered there from all parts of the globe, particularly Leonardo Da Vinci’s enigmatic Mona Lisa. Established in 1793, the Louvre was a product of the French Revolution. The controversial glass pyramid leading to an underground lobby was completed in 1989.

Where to eat

There are many wonderful restaurants and diners in Paris and more than a few are very special indeed. If seafood is a favorite, try the charming, unassuming Huitrerie Regis in St. Germain des Pres for the best fresh oysters in town, delivered directly from the Marennes-Oléron region on the Atlantic coast. Fruits de mer may also include, clams, sea urchins and prawns, depending on availability.

In the heart of the city overlooking the Palais Royal try Macéo for great vegetable dishes as well as scallops and wild sea bass. The wine list here is superb and Englishman Mark Williamson, who owns the restaurant, also runs the bar around the corner.

Getting around

First-time visitors to Paris arriving on one of the Air France flights at Charles de Gaulle or Orly airports can take the train, an airport shuttle bus or a minibus into the city center, depending on where their accommodation is located. Public transport in the city is excellent and there are a range of travel cards and tickets to choose from, depending on the length of your vacation.

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Exclusive Interview with Les Nubians

by Dana Bingham

Les Nubians2010 In 1998, I had just moved to the DC area and naturally I jumped right into the concert scene. The first show I ever saw in DC was a free concert by Les Nubians. I had fallen in love with the French/English singing sister duo. Their songs Makeda and Tabou were on regular rotation on 96.3 WHUR. I do not speak French nor have I attempted to study it, but the way Les Nubians sing, language is not a barrier.

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