- Invoking Ancient Rome at the Musée National du Moyen Age/Thermes de Cluny (Musée de Cluny): This museum associates two historic edifices: the medieval Hôtel of the Abbots of Cluny and the ruins of the city's Gallo-Roman baths. These ancient thermal baths date from when the city — then known as Lutetia — was under Roman rule, between the 1st and 3rd centuries. Thermae, or municipal baths, were at the center of daily life in Roman society, providing a social forum for citizens. These ruins, along with the nearby outdoor amphitheater, are the only significant traces of the city's Roman period.
- Discovering the Oldest Church in Paris at St-Germain-des-Prés: This is the oldest church in Paris, predating the Gothic Notre-Dame cathedral nearby by at least 600 years. The site was originally a Benedictine abbey founded in 542 by the Merovingian King Childebert to house a relic of the cross brought back from Spain. The Vikings pillaged the building in the 7th century, but the tower and nave were rebuilt 2 centuries later, and are now the only remaining vestiges of Romanesque architecture left in Paris.
- Remembering Marie Antoinette at the Conciergerie: The seat of royal power for 400 years, from the 10th to the 14th centuries, this is the oldest royal palace in the capital. After Charles V abandoned the palace for a new residence in the current Marais, it was converted into a prison, and during the French Revolution, Marie Antoinette was held there before being guillotined. It's a great example of the architecture of the Middle Ages; don't miss the Gens d'Armes room, the Guard room, and the kitchens. On the northeastern corner you can still see the city's first public clock, installed in 1370.
- Exploring the Musée du Louvre: The history of the Louvre and the history of Paris are practically one. This emblematic building has dominated the center of the city since the 12th century, changing over the years from a medieval fortress (you can still see these foundations in the basement today) to the gargantuan palace it became under the Sun King, Louis XIV, in the 17th century. Today, the Louvre is one of the world's most important museums.
- Commemorating Medieval Times at La Sainte-Chapelle: This medieval monument on the Ile de la Cité was built to house Christ's crown of thorns, which King Louis IX (Saint Louis) bought from the emperor of Constantinople in the 13th century. Considered a veritable masterpiece of Gothic architecture, it features 600 sq. m (6,460 sq. ft.) of magnificent stained-glass windows. The architecture is so delicate that when you are inside the church, you feel as if you are in a palace entirely constructed of colored glass.
- Reliving the French Revolution at Place de la Bastille: The Bastille prison once stood here, and its storming on July 14, 1789, signaled the start of the French Revolution. In 1794, the revolutionary authorities beheaded 75 enemies of the state with its guillotine. Today, the Bastille Square remains a powerfully symbolic site for Parisians, and many marches and demonstrations start or finish here.
- Honoring Napoleon at the Arc de Triomphe: Napoleon commissioned this triumphal arch in 1806 in homage to his military victories. It is decorated with reliefs and sculptures representing scenes from his epic battles, and is the centerpiece of the Place Charles de Gaulle-Etoile. Twelve majestic avenues commence at the base of the monument, most of which bear the names of famous battles fought by Napoleon (for example, Friedland and Wagram). The view from the top is incredible.
- Drinking with the literary greats at Café de Flore: The Café de Flore has been at the center of the city's intellectual life since it opened its doors in 1887. The writer Charles Maurras wrote his book Au signe de Flore there. The cafe has been associated with poets Guillaume Apollinaire, Louis Aragon, and Jacques Prévert; philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre; and expat American writers Arthur Koestler, Ernest Hemingway, and Truman Capote. Today, you can still order a glass of vin and toast to all the drinks, arguments, and ideas that have passed through this exceptional place.
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