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The Eiffel Tower (French: Tour Eiffel, [tuʀ ɛfɛl]) is a 19th century iron lattice tower located on the Champ de Mars in Paris that has become both a global icon of France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world. The Eiffel Tower, which is the tallest building in Paris, is the single most visited paid monument in the world; millions of people ascend it every year. Named after its designer, engineer Gustave Eiffel, the tower was built as the entrance arch for the 1889 World's Fair. The tower stands at 324 m (1,063 ft) tall, about the same height as an 81-story building. It was the tallest structure in the world from its completion until 1930, when it was eclipsed by the Chrysler Building in New York City. Not including broadcast antennas, it is the second-tallest structure in France, behind the Millau Viaduct, completed in 2004. And while the Eiffel Tower is a steel structure, and weighs approximately 10,000 tonnes, it actually has a relatively low density, weighing less than a cylinder of air occupying the same dimensions as the tower. The tower has three levels for visitors. Tickets can be purchased to ascend either on stairs or lifts to the first and second levels. The walk to the first level is over 300 steps, as is the walk from the first to the second level. The third and highest level is only accessible by lift. Both the first and second levels feature restaurants. The tower has become the most prominent symbol of both Paris and France. The tower is a featured part of the backdrop in literally scores of movies that take place in Paris. Its iconic status is so established that it even serves as a symbol for the entire nation of
France, such as when it was used as the logo for the French bid to host the 1992 Summer Olympics.
The Musée du Louvre or officially the Grand Louvre — in English, the Louvre Museum or Great Louvre, or simply the Louvre — is the largest national museum of France, the most visited museum in the world, and a historic monument. It is a central landmark of Paris, located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the 1st arrondissement (neighbourhood). Nearly 35,000 objects from prehistory to the 19th century are exhibited over an area of 60,600 square metres (652,300 square feet). The museum is housed in the Louvre Palace (Palais du Louvre) which began as a fortress built in the late 12th century under Philip II. Remnants of the fortress are still visible. The building was extended many times to form the present Louvre Palace. In 1672, Louis XIV chose the Palace of Versailles for his household, leaving the Louvre primarily as a place to display the royal collection, including, from 1692, a collection of antique sculpture. In 1692, the building was occupied by the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres and the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture, which in 1699 held the first of a series of salons. The Académie remained at the Louvre for 100 years. During the French Revolution, the National Assembly decreed that the Louvre should be used as a museum, to display the nation's masterpieces. The museum opened on 10 August 1793 with an exhibition of 537 paintings, the majority of the works being confiscated church and royal property. Because of structural problems with the building, the museum was closed in 1796 until 1801. The size of the collection increased under Napoleon when the museum was renamed the Musée Napoléon. After his defeat at Waterloo, many works seized by Napoleon's armies were returned to their original owners. The collection was further increased during the reigns of Louis XVIII and Charles X, and during the Second French Empire the museum gained 20,000 pieces. Holdings have grown steadily through donations and gifts since the Third Republic, except during the two World Wars. As of 2008, the collection is divided among eight curatorial departments: Egyptian Antiquities; Near Eastern Antiquities; Greek, Etruscan,
and Roman Antiquities; Islamic Art; Sculpture; Decorative Arts; Paintings; Prints and Drawings.
The Palais Garnier, also known as the Opéra de Paris or Opéra Garnier, but more commonly as the Paris Opéra, is a 2,200-seat opera house on the Place de l'Opéra in Paris, France. A grand landmark designed by Charles Garnier in the Neo-Baroque style, it is regarded as one of the architectural masterpieces of its time. The building is located in the 9th arrondissement of Paris and is served by the metro station Opéra. Upon its inauguration in 1875, the opera house was officially named the Académie Nationale de Musique - Théâtre de l'Opéra. It retained this title until 1978 when it was renamed the Théâtre National de l'Opéra de Paris. After the opera company chose the Opéra Bastille as their principal theatre upon its completion in 1989, the theatre was renamed as the Palais Garnier, though its more official name, the Académie Nationale de Musique, is still sprawled above the columns of its front façade. In spite of the change of names and the Opera company's relocation to the Opéra Bastille, the Palais Garnier is still known by many people as the Paris Opéra, as have all of the many theatres which have served as the principal venues of the Parisian Opera and Ballet since its founding. Corbiac is a historic chapel and former monastery located in the French Pyrenees (département Pyrénées-Orientales) between the villages of Molitg-les-Bains and Mosset. Its Gothic chapel was built in the 13th century with a single nave and equipped with a gallery from the late 16th century, and an apse decorated with frescoes from the 17th. At the end of the 16th century, the Trinitarian Order founded a monastery here. Several objects originating from the chapel are now preserved in the church at Mosset. In 1989, the buildings were bought by Rosemary Bailey, a British writer, and her partner.  Their restoration of the property featured in Bailey's book, Life in a Postcard - Escape to the French Pyrenees. They sold the property in 2006. In 2000, Corbiac was listed as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture. Despite this, Corbiac is still a private house and not open to the public.
Notre Dame de Paris ('Our Lady of Paris' in French), also known as the Notre Dame Cathedral, is a Gothic, Roman Catholic Cathedral on the eastern half of the Île de la Cité in the fourth arrondissement of Paris, France. It is the cathedral of the Catholic archdiocese of Paris: that is, it is the church that contains the "cathedra", or official chair, of the Archbishop of Paris, André Cardinal Vingt-Trois. Notre Dame de Paris is widely considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture in the world. It was restored and saved from destruction by Eugène Violletle-Duc, one of France's most famous architects. The name Notre Dame means "Our Lady" in French, and is frequently used in the names of Catholic church buildings in Francophone countries. Notre Dame de Paris was one of the first Gothic cathedrals, and its construction spanned the Gothic period. Its sculptures and stained glass show the heavy influence of naturalism, unlike that of earlier Romanesque architecture. Notre Dame de Paris was among the first buildings in the world to use the flying buttress (arched exterior supports). The building was not originally designed to include the flying buttresses around the choir and nave. After the construction began and the thinner walls (popularized in the Gothic style) grew ever higher, stress fractures began to occur as the walls pushed outward. In response, the cathedral's architects built supports around the outside walls, and later additions continued the pattern. The cathedral suffered desecration during the radical phase of the French Revolution in the 1790s, when much of its religious imagery was damaged or destroyed. During the 19th century, an extensive restoration project was completed, returning the cathedral to its previous state. The châteaux, numbering more than three hundred, represent a nation of builders starting with the necessary castle fortifications in the 10th century to the splendor of those built half a millennium later. When the French kings began constructing their huge châteaux here, the nobility, not wanting or even daring to be far from the seat of power, followed suit. Their presence in the lush, fertile valley began attracting the very best landscape designers.
Château de Valençay. By the middle of the 16th century, King Francois I, had shifted the center of power in France from the Loire back to the ancient capital of Paris. With him went the great architects, but the Loire Valley continued to be the place where most of the French royalty preferred to spend the bulk of their time. The ascension of King Louis XIV in the middle of the 17th century made Paris the permanent site for great royal châteaux when he built the Palace of Versailles. Nonetheless, those who gained the king's favour and the wealthy bourgeoisie, continued to renovate existing châteaux or build lavish new ones as their summer residence in the Loire. The French Revolution saw a number of the great French châteaux destroyed and many ransacked, their treasures stolen. The overnight impoverishment of many of the deposed nobility, usually after one of its members lost their head to the guillotine, saw many châteaux demolished. During World War I and World War II, some chateaux were commandeered as military headquarters. Some of these continued to be used this way after the end of WWII. Today, these privately owned châteaux serve as homes, a few open their doors to tourist visits, while others are operated as hotels or bed and breakfasts. Many have been taken over by a local government authority or the giant structures like those at Chambord are owned and operated by the national government and are major tourist sites, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.
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