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France
- info - Paris & Ile de France -
Paris

Paris is a city which cannot be completely described as there are sights and experiences on very street corner. A minimum amount of time that one should spend in this grand city is three days, in order to fully appreciate the flavor that Paris gives to the visitor.

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Ile de France

Owing to its location beside Paris, the capital and seat of the French Kings, the Ile France is the setting to many architectural innovations and masterpieces. Some of the more notable sights are the Chartres Cathedral, the Chateau de Versailles, Chateau de Fontainebleau, Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte, and Monet's gardens in Giverny.

The town of Chartres was one of the first urban conservation cities in France. As a result there are many 12th to 17th century buildings and cobble stone roads run throughout the town. The greatest site though, is the Chartres Cathedral. The current Cathedral was built in only 25 years and has a style and beauty that few others possess. The most notable characteristic of the Cathedral is the stain glass windows. Donated by guilds between 1210 and 1240 there are over 150 windows covering a surface area of over 3000 sq m (26,900 sq ft) and depict biblical stories and daily life of the 13th century. During both World Wars these windows were dismantled piece by piece for safety purposes and in the 1970's underwent some restoration work. The result is a Gothic Cathedral of unspeakable glory.

Louis XIV started Chateau de Versailles in 1668 and in 1682 the Royal Court and Government moved there to become a permanent resident. Court life at Versailles was to develop into the basis on which all European royal courts of the time were to be modeled. The rooms are opulently decorated and culminate in the Hall of Mirrors, a 70 m (233 ft) long hall, looking out over the gardens. The gardens are simply breathtaking. They were designed and built in celebration of the divine authority of Louis XIV and feature over 200 statues amongst the numerous fountains and ornate gardens.

Chateau de Fontainbleau is made up of a series of architectural styles. It started as a hunting lodge for the kings, for nearby is a 62,000 acre forest. Napoleon Bonaparte made this his principle residence and it was from the Escalier du Fer-a-Cheval, an imposing horseshoe shaped grand staircase, which Napoleon made his farewell address of abdication in 1814. Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte was designed by Louis Le Vau, decorated by Charles la Brun and the gardens were laid out by Andre Le Notre, all to such an intimate splendor that the chateau was to become the archetypal design of the era. Louis XIV was to use the exact same team of designers when it came to designing his new court palace at Versailles.

Giverny is the small town where impressionist painter Claude Monet made his home. The gardens, which were the subject of some of the best known studies done by Monet have been restored to their original glory.

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Learn More about France and it's other Regions

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