La Ville Lumière, or the “City of Light,” is one of many nicknames for Paris, France, and was bestowed on the capital for two reasons. During the Age of Enlightenment in 18th century Europe, intellectuals sought to promote science and the exchange of ideas, as opposed to intolerance and superstition. Paris was regarded as a leading light of the cultural movement because of the city’s strong support of Enlightenment ideals. At the end of the 19th century, newly invented arc lamps were used to light up the Grands Magasins du Louvre – a huge department store – and Paris was bathed in a different kind of brightness.
In the 21st century, the French capital continues to shine as one of the principal European centers for culture. It is a stylish destination full of stunning historic buildings and attracts more than 30 million visitors from all over the world every year.
One reason why so many people find Paris appealing is that the city truly has something for everyone. Singles, couples, seniors, and families alike can find plenty to see and do. There are too many landmarks to name them all, but the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, and Notre Dame cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are among the most well known.
Monuments and museums abound in Paris, and a visit to the Louvre, not least to see the Mona Lisa up close, is a great place to start. If traveling as a family, older children will enjoy the museum’s collection of Egyptian mummies. Several other museums also have special exhibitions designed for children, such as at the National Natural History Museum, where the focus is on young people aged 6 – 12 years.
Parisian cuisine is legendary, and dining out in the city is a serious business. There are many fine restaurants, cafés, cheerful brasseries selling child-friendly food and fresh fruit juices, and street vendors specializing in delicious savory pastries and sweet crêpes. Of course, with kids in tow, it may be necessary to take a trip to the oldest candy store in Paris, À la mère de Famille.
Visitors strolling along the Avenue des Champs-Élysées can admire the fine boutiques, cafés and cinemas as well as the Luxor Obelisk in the Place de la Concorde and the Arc de Triomphe. At the delightful Tuileries Gardens, children can enjoy the additional amusements on offer, which include a wooden carousel, a giant slide, trampolines, and also sail toy boats in the park basins.
The Jardin du Luxembourg, a public park made famous by several novelists including Victor Hugo, Henry James, and William Faulkner, houses the stately Luxembourg Palace and a fabulous collection of more than a hundred sculptures. The large playground, sandpits, and pony rides available in the park will delight families.
A short trip from downtown Paris, Disneyland Paris is the largest and most visited theme park in France and Europe. The vast resort area includes two theme parks as well as shopping, dining, and entertainment complex and seven hotels. Celebrity visitors have included Buzz Aldrin, Claudia Schiffer, and Elton John. Disney tickets can be booked online before traveling to save time and fully enjoy the magical attractions on offer.