Paris: Places to Explore

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Around the Eiffel Tower

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One of Paris's most upscale neighborhoods, the posh 7e arrondissement is home to the French bourgeoisie and well-heeled expats, where nearly every elegant block affords a view of the ultimate symbol of France—the Eiffel Tower.

Lording over the southwestern end of Paris, the Eiffel Tower was considered a monstrosity when it opened in 1889. Today it is a beloved icon, especially at night when thousands of twinkling lights sparkle at the top of every hour and the rotating searchlight is a beacon across the Paris night sky.

There are other larger-than-life sights here, too, notably Hôtel des Invalides, a sprawling baroque complex with a towering golden dome under which lies the enormous tomb of the pint-size dictator, Napoléon. Along the river, the Palais Bourbon, seat of the French Parliament, is an 18th-century homage to ancient Greek architecture. Nearby is the modern, rectangular Musée du Quai Branly built by star architect Jean Nouvel. Don't miss the Musée Rodin, where the master's outsize sculptures, oozing sensuality, dot the garden and the interior of the Hôtel Biron, the artist's onetime home and workshop.

From the Eiffel Tower east, the walkway along the Seine will take you past one of Paris's most unusual museums, Les Égouts (the Sewers—and they are indeed working sewers), and the American Church. Cross the Pont Alexandre III, the city's most ornate bridge spanning the Seine from Invalides to the Grand Palais. Built between 1896 and 1900, it is bedecked with gilded sculptures, cherubs, and Art Nouveau lamps. It was named for the Russian czar to celebrate Franco-Russian friendship.

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