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France Eiffel Tower an immense stucture of exposed latticework supports made of puddle iron, was erected for the Paris Exposition of 1889. The Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII of England) officiated at the ceremonial opening. Of the 700 proposals submitted in a design competition, one was unanimously chosen, a radical creation from the French structural engineer Alexandre Gustave Eiffel (b. Dec. 15, 1832, d. Dec. 28, 1923), who was assisted in the design by engineers Maurice Koechlin and Emile Nouguier, and architect Stephen Sauvestre. Pont Alexandre III is an arch bridge that spans the Seine, connecting the Champs- Élysées quarter and the Invalides and Eiffel Tower quarter, widely regarded as the most ornate, extravagant bridge in Paris. The Musée du Louvre or officially Grand Louvre is one of the world's largest museums, the most visited art museum in the world and a historic monument. It is a central landmark of Paris and located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the 1st arrondissement (district). 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 1682, 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 Place de la Concorde (Harmony Square) is one of the major public squares in Paris, France. In fact, in terms of area, its 86,400 square metres make it the largest square in the French capital. It is located in the city's eighth arrondissement, at the eastern end of the Champs-Élysées. The Avenue des Champs-Élysées is a prestigious avenue in Paris, France. With its cinemas, cafés, luxury specialty shops and clipped horse-chestnut trees, the Avenue des Champs-Élysées is one of the most famous streets in the world, and with rents as high as €1.1 million (USD1.5 million) annually per 1,100 square feet (92.9 square metres) of space, it remains the second most expensive strip of real estate in Europe, having recently (as of 2010) being overtaken by London's New Bond Street. The name is French for Elysian Fields, the place of the blessed dead in Greek mythology. The Gothic loftiness of Notre-Dame dominates the Seine and the Ile-de-la-Cité as well as the history of Paris. On the spot where this majestic cathedral now stands, the Romans had built a temple to Jupiter, which was followed by a Christian basilica and then a Romanesque church (the Cathedral of St. Etienne, founded by Childebert in 528). PALACE OF VERSAILLES The Palace of Versailles was the official residence of the Kings of France from 1682 until 1790. It was originally a hunting lodge, built in 1624, by Louis XIII. It was expanded by Louis XIV beginning in 1669. He used it as a little lodge as a secret refuge for his amorous trysts with the lovely Louise de la Valliere and built a fairy tale park around it. Jules Hardouin Mansart, the king's principal architect, drew the plans to enlarge what was turning more and more into a palace from A Thousand and One Nights. The terrace that overlooked the gardens was removed to make way for the magnificent Hall of Mirrors, the Galarie de Glaces. It is here from which the king radiated his power and where the destiny of Europe was decided over a century. The French classical architecture was complemented by extensive gardens. Les Baux-de-Provence is a commune in the Bouches-du-Rhône department in southern France, in the province of Provence. It has a spectacular position in the Alpilles mountains, set atop a rocky outcrop crowned with a ruined castle overlooking the plains to the south. Its names refers to its site — in Provençal, a baou is a rocky spur. The village gives its name to the aluminium ore Bauxite which was first discovered there in 1821 by geologist Pierre Berthier. The Millau Bridge is in southern France and crosses the River Tarn in the Massif Central mountains. It was designed by the British architect Lord Foster and at 300m (984 feet) it is the highest road bridge in the world, weighing 36,000 tonnes. The central pillar is higher than the famous French icon, the Eiffel Tower. The Bridge opened in December 2004 and is possibly one of the most breath taking bridges ever built. Carcassonne is a fortified French town in the Aude department, of which it is the prefecture, in the former province of Languedoc.It is separated into the fortified Cité de Carcassonne and the more expansive lower city, the ville basse. The folk etymology – involving a châtelaine named Carcas, a ruse ending a siege and the joyous ringing of bells ("Carcas sona") - though memorialized in a neo-Gothic sculpture of Mme. Carcas on a column near the Narbonne Gate, is of modern invention. The fortress, which was thoroughly restored in 1853 by the theorist and architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1997. Mont-Saint-Michel and its Bay Perched on a rocky islet in the midst of vast sandbanks exposed to powerful tides between Normandy and Brittany stand the 'Wonder of the West', a Gothic-style Benedictine abbey dedicated to the archangel St Michael, and the village that grew up in the shadow of its great walls. Built between the 11th and 16th centuries, the abbey is a technical and artistic tour de force, having had to adapt to the problems posed by this unique natural site. Grande Île the historic centre of Strasbourg, France, is an island in the Ill River. Literally "Grand Island", Grand Île was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988. At the time, the International Council on Monuments and Sites noted that Grand Île is "an old quarter that exemplifies medieval cities". Aside from the Strasbourg Cathedral—the world's fourth-tallest church and an ornate example of 15-century gothic architecture—Grand Île is home to four other centuries-old churches: St. Thomas, St. Pierre-le-Vieux, St. Pierre- le-Jeune, and St. Étienne.To mark Grand Île's status as a World Heritage Site, 22 brass plates were placed on the bridges giving access to the island.Grand Île is sometimes referred to as "ellipse insulaire" because of its shape. Vézelay Abbey (now known as Basilique Sainte-Marie-Madeleine) was a Benedictine and Cluniac monastery in Vézelay in the Yonne département in Burgundy, France. The Benedictine abbey church of Ste-Marie- Madeleine (or Basilica of St. Mary Magdalene), with its complicated program of imagery in sculpted capitals and portals, is one of the outstanding masterpieces of Burgundian Romanesque art and architecture, though much of its exterior sculpture was defaced during the French Revolution. The church and hill at Vézelay were added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1979. The Romanesque Abbey Church of Saint- Savin-sur-Gartempe begun in the mid 11th century, contains many beautiful 11th- and 12th-century murals which are still in a remarkable state of preservation. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983. It is located in Saint-Savin-sur-Gartempe, in Poitou, France. The cruciform church carries a square tower over its crossing. The transept was built first, then the choir with its ambulatory with five radial chapels in the polygonal apse. In the next building campaign, three bays of the nave were added, the bell tower and its porch, and finally the last six bays of the nave. The bell tower is finished by a fine stone spire more than 80 meters high, added in the 14th century (and restored in the 19th century). Pont du Gard (Roman Aqueduct) is a notable ancient Roman aqueduct bridge that crosses the Gard River in southern France. It is part of a 50 km (31 mi) long aqueduct that runs between Uzès and Nîmes in the South of France. It is located in Vers-Pont-du-Gard near Remoulins, in the Gard département. The aqueduct was constructed by the Romans in the first century AD and was added to UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites in 1985. It is the highest of all Roman aqueduct bridges and is the best preserved after the Aqueduct of Segovia. The bridge has three rows of arches, standing 48.8 m (160 ft) high, and formerly carried an estimated 200 million litres (44 million gallons) of water a day to the fountains, baths and homes of the citizens of Nîmes. The aqueduct descends in height by only 17 m (56 ft) over its entire length, indicative of the great precision that Roman engineers were able to achieve using only simple technology. It was possibly used until as late as the ninth century, well after the fall of Rome. However, lack of maintenance after the fourth century meant that it became increasingly clogged by mineral deposits and debris that eventually choked off the flow of water. The Pont du Gard's subsidiary function as a toll bridge ensured its survival in the Middle Ages. Although some of its stones were looted, the local lords and bishops were for centuries responsible for its upkeep in exchange for the right to levy tolls on travellers using it to cross the river. It attracted increasing fame from the 18th century onwards and became an important tourist destination. It underwent a series of renovations that culminated in 2000 with the opening of a new visitor centre and the removal of traffic and buildings from the bridge and the area immediately around it. Today it is one of France's most popular tourist attractions. Arles is a city and commune in the south of France, in the Bouches-du- Rhône department, of which it is a subprefecture, in the former province of Provence.A large part of the Camargue is located on the territory of the commune, making it the largest commune in Metropolitan France in terms of territory (though Maripasoula, French Guiana is much larger. The city has a long history, and was of considerable importance in the Roman province of Gallia Narbonensis. The Roman and Romanesque Monuments of Arles were listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1981. The Dutch post- Impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh lived in Arles in 1888-1889 and produced over 300 paintings and drawings during his time there. An international photography festival is held in the city since 1970. The Roman Theatre of Orange one of the largest and best preserved Roman theatres in Europe, was built in the 1st century during the period of Emperor Augustus. The wall of the facade is 103 meters long and 37 meters high. King Louis XIV called it 'the finest wall in my kingdom'. The statue of Emperor Augustus is located at the center of the stage wall. The Triumphal Arch, located on the former via Agrippa, was built during the same period, as a tribute to the 2nd Gallic Legion. The Abbey of Fontenay is a former Cistercian abbey located in the commune of Marmagne, near Montbard, in the département of Côte-d'Or in France. It was founded by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux in 1118, only a few years after he left Cîteaux Abbey to found Clairvaux Abbey. Located in a small forested valley 60 kilometres northwest of Dijon, it achieved great prosperity in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Fontenay enjoyed the protection of the Kings of France but was plundered in the Hundred Year's War and the Wars of Religion. Later, its fortunes declined, and the refectory was demolished by the monks in 1745. The abbey was closed in the French Revolution, and became a paper mill until 1902, owned for most of its period of operation by the Montgolfier family. Bordeaux (French pronunciation: is a port city on the Garonne River in southwest France, with an estimated (2008) population of 250,082. The Bordeaux-Arcachon-Libourne metropolitan area, has a population of 1,010,000 and constitutes the seventh-largest urban area in France. It is the capital of the Aquitaine region, as well as the prefecture of the Gironde department. Its inhabitants are called Bordelais.Bordeaux is the world's major wine industry capital. It is home to the world's main wine fair, Vinexpo, while the wine economy in the metro area moves 14.5 billion euros each year. Bordeaux wine has been produced in the region since the eighth century. The historic part of the city is on the UNESCO World Heritage List as "an outstanding urban and architectural ensemble" of the 18th century.
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