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The City of Light

Paris is the capital of France and its largest city, with over 2 million people living in the city and 12 million living in the metro area. Paris was founded in the 3rd century BC by a Celtic tribe called the Parisii, was taken over by the Romans in 58 BC, and was made the capital of the Merovingian dynasty by Clovis the Frank in 508. As a French identity began to form during the Middle Ages, Paris was undoubtedly its center. The city continued to grow in importance, beauty, and population, however, by the end of the 18th century, dissatisfied Frenchmen deposed the king and declared revolution. Paris has seen power change hands many times, and there are still plenty of people alive in the city that remember the German occupation during World War II.

As France’s cultural center, it is no surprise that some of the best artwork and architecture can be found in Paris. A trip to Paris is not complete without a stop at the Louvre, if only to merely see the Mona Lisa. The original museum, which was the King’s palace until Louis XIV moved to Versailles, and the glass pyramid designed by I.M. Pei, showcase the incredible and varied architectural features that have made the complex famous. The Eiffel Tower is, naturally, the most iconic architectural feature of the city, and a visit is obligatory for any visitor, both for the view and the inevitable Facebook post. The Notre Dame cathedral is an even more impressive structure, and is the finest example of French Baroque architecture in the world.

Of course, Paris is also famous for its food. French wine is known throughout the planet as some of the best, and in Paris it’s easy to imbibe some of the finest vintages at a fraction of the price you would pay at home. For the more adventurous eater, escargot is served at many restaurants, and foie gras is also famous, though some may consider it cruel. Duck is also used for other preparations, and pairs well with many of the local red wines.

Getting around Paris is rather simple with miles upon miles of roadways that accommodate a large amount of food and bike traffic. The city also has an extensive metrorail system, and is serviced by a number of rail lines connecting it to other European cities. Charles de Gaulle International Airport is also connected to the city by rail.