Paris is the capital and most populous city of France. Situated on the Seine River, in the north of the country, it is in the centre of the Île-de-France region, also known as the région parisienne.
In 2013, the city of Paris welcomed 29.3 million tourists, the largest number of whom came from the United States, followed by the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany and Spain. There were 550,000 visitors from Japan, a decrease from previous years, while there was a growth of 20 percent in the number of visitors from China (186,000) and the Middle East (326,000).
The Paris region received 32.3 million visitors in 2013, putting the region just ahead of London as the world's top tourist destination region, measured by hotel occupancy. The largest numbers of foreign tourists to the Paris region came in order from the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, Italy and China.
In 2014, visitors to Paris spent $17 billion (€13.58 billion), the third-highest sum globally after London and New York. In 2012, according to the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau, 263,212 salaried workers in the city of Paris, or 18.4 percent of the total number, were engaged in tourism-related sectors: hotels, catering, transport and leisure.
Monuments and attractions
There were 72.1 million visitors to the city's museums and monuments in 2013. The city's top tourist attraction was the Notre Dame Cathedral, which welcomed 14 million visitors in 2013. The Louvre museum had more than 9.2 million visitors in 2013, making it the most visited museum in the world. The other top cultural attractions in Paris in 2013 were the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur (10.5 million visitors); the Eiffel Tower (6,740,000 visitors); the Centre Pompidou (3,745,000 visitors) and Musée d'Orsay (3,467,000 visitors). In the Paris region, Disneyland Paris, in Marne-la-Vallée, 32 km (20 miles) east of the centre of Paris, was the most visited tourist attraction in France, with 14.9 million visitors in 2013.
The centre of Paris contains the most visited monuments in the city, including the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Louvre; Les Invalides, where the tomb of Napoleon is located, and the Eiffel Tower are located on the Left Bank south-west of the centre. The banks of the Seine from the Pont de Sully to the Pont d'Iena have been listed as a UNESCOWorld Heritage site since 1991. Other landmarks are laid out east to west along the historic axis of Paris, which runs from the Louvre through the Tuileries Gardens, the Luxor Column in the Place de La Concorde, the Arc de Triomphe, to the Grande Arche of La Défense.
Several other much-visited landmarks are located in the suburbs of the city; the Basilica of St Denis, in Seine-Saint-Denis, is the birthplace of the Gothic style of architecture and the royal necropolis of French kings and queens. [The Paris region hosts three other UNESCO Heritage sites: the Palace of Versailles in the Vest , the Château de Fontainebleau in the south and the medieval fairs site of Provinces in the east.
The Louvre was the world's most visited art museum in 2013 and is the home the Mona Lisa (La Joconde) and the Venus de Milo statue.Starkly apparent with its service-pipe exterior, the Centre Georges Pompidou, the second-most visited art museum in Paris, also known as Beaubourg, houses the Musée National d'Art Moderne. The Musée d'Orsay, in the former Orsay railway station, was the third-most visited museum in the city in 2013 it displays French art of the 19th century, including major collections of the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. The original building - a railway station - was constructed for the Universal Exhibition of 1900. The museum is known for its beauty, inside and out.
An opulent glass awning serves as the entryway, while inside the second level overlooks much of the ground level terraces. The Musée du quai Branly was the fourth-most visited national museum in Paris in 2013 it displays art objects from Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas. The Musée national du Moyen Âge, or Cluny Museum, presents Medieval art, including the famous tapestry cycle of The Lady and the Unicorn. The Guimet Museum, or Musée national des arts asiatiques, has one of the largest collections of Asian art in Europe. There are also notable museums devoted to individual artists, including the Picasso Museum the Rodin Museum, and the Musée national Eugène Delacroix.
Paris hosts one of the largest science museums in Europe, the Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie at La Villette. The National Museum of Natural History, on the Left Bank, is famous for its dinosaur artefacts, mineral collections, and its Gallery of Evolution. The military history of France, from the Middle Ages to World War II, is vividly presented by displays at the Musée de l'Armée at Les Invalides, near the tomb of Napoleon. In addition to the national museums, run by the French Ministry of Culture, the City of Paris operates 14 museums, including the Carnavalet Museum on the history of Paris, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Palais de Tokyo, the House of Victor Hugo and House of Balzac, and the Catacombs of Paris.
There are also notable private museums; The Contemporary Art museum of the Louis Vuitton Foundation, designed by architect Frank Gehry, opened on October 2014 in the Bois de Boulogne.
The largest opera houses of Paris are the 19th-century Opéra Garnier (historical Paris Opéra) and modern Opéra Bastille; the former tends toward the more classic ballets and operas, and the latter provides a mixed repertoire of classic and modern.In middle of the 19th century, there were three other active and competing opera houses: the Opéra-Comique (which still exists), Théâtre-Italien, and Théâtre Lyrique (which in modern times changed its profile and name to Théâtre de la Ville). Philharmonie de Paris, the modern symphonic concert hall of Paris, opened on January 2015.
Theatre traditionally has occupied a large place in Parisian culture. This still holds true today, and many of its most popular actors today are also stars of French television. Some of Paris' major theatres include Bobino, the Théâtre Mogador, and the Théâtre de la Gaîté-Montparnasse.Some Parisian theatres have also doubled as concert halls. Many of France's greatest musical legends, such as Édith Piaf, Maurice Chevalier, Georges Brassens, and Charles Aznavour, found their fame in Parisian concert halls such as Le Lido, Bobino, l'Olympia and le Splendid.
Victor Hugo, the first book printed in France, Epistolae ("Letters"), by Gasparinus de Bergamo (Gasparino da Barzizza), was published in Paris in 1470 by the press established by Johann Heynlin. Since then, Paris has been the centre of the French publishing industry, the home of some of the world's best-known writers and poets, and the setting for many classic works of French literature. Almost all the books published in Paris in the Middle Ages were in Latin, rather than French. Paris did not become the acknowledged capital of French literature until the 17th century, with authors such as Boileau, Corneille, La Fontaine, Molière, Racine, several coming from the provinces, and the foundation of the Académie française.In the 18th century, the literary life of Paris revolved around the cafés and salons, and was dominated by Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Pierre de Marivaux, and Beaumarchais.
During the 19th century, Paris was the home and subject for some of France's greatest writers, including Charles Baudelaire, Stéphane Mallarmé, Mérimée, Alfred de Musset, Marcel Proust, Emile Zola, Alexandre Dumas, Gustave Flaubert, Guy de Maupassant and Honoré de Balzac. Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre Dame inspired the renovation of its setting, the Notre-Dame de Paris.Another of Victor Hugo's works, Les Misérables, written while he was in exile outside of France during the Second Empire, described the social change and political turmoil in Paris in the early 1830s.One of the most popular of all French writers, Jules Verne, worked at the Theatre Lyrique and the Paris stock exchange, while he did research for his stories at the National Library.
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