Art, Travel

Paris: The Beating Heart of Art and Culture

Paris, the phenomenal capital of France, is one of the most famous cities in the world. Known as the city of light and love, Paris is a heaven for art lovers. The city hosts some of the most famous architectural landmarks.

Parisian life is all about elegant simplicity with a hint of glamour. It is hard not to agree with Audrey Hepburn, saying, “Paris is always a good idea!” The divine French cuisine, rich cultural and architectural heritage, countless exhibitions, festivals, and concerts are only a few reasons to make Paris an irreplaceable tourism destination.

Paris has always been an inspiration for artists. Especially after the 17th century, it hosted many local artists and foreigners coming from different countries. The artists were moving to Paris because their art was appreciated and encouraged by society. They were able to exhibit their artwork in exhibition centers called “salon.” Moreover, they were able to meet with fellow artists and exchange ideas. Many cafes and restaurants in Paris take pride in being frequently visited by the greatest artists. One of the most famous ones is Cafe de Flore, which was Picasso and Hemingway’s favorite. It was possible to come across Simone de Beauvoir, Sartre, or James Joyce in Les Deux Magots, or run into Fitzgerald, Oscar Wilde, Hemingway, and Picasso in La Closerie de Lilas.

Top 5 Must-See Paintings in Paris

It is no secret Paris has countless museums that are home to the most famous paintings of all time. They were preserved and exhibited to the visitors for centuries. Here is a list of paintings you should not miss in Paris.

Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci, 1503

1. Mona Lisa – Leonardo da Vinci / The Louvre Museum
The Louvre Museum has no shortage of well-known masterpieces. Mona Lisa, known initially as La Jaconde, is one of the most valuable paintings of history. It is a half-body portrait of a lady; whose identity is still unknown. Her gaze and her mysterious smile had been subject to many types of research and arguments. The Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci proves his exceptional genius and talent with the sfumato technique he used in Mona Lisa.

While visiting the Louvre, you will have the opportunity to discover the iconic French Revolution painting, Liberty Leading the People. Vermeer’s exquisite Lacemaker painting, Rembrandt’s bewitch-ing masterpiece Bathsheba In Her Bath, Théodore Géricault’s The Raft of The Medusa are also must-see art pieces.

The Dance Class by Edgar Degas, 1874

Edgar Degas was one of the most successful painters and sculptors of all time, mostly known for his dance-themed masterpieces. The Dance Class painting depicts a ballet rehearsal scene in the most realistic way. The impeccable detailing makes it resemble a real-life sequence.

Self-portrait by Vincent van Gogh, 1889

 3. Self-Portrait – Vincent Van Gogh / The Orsay Museum
Van Gogh, the master of colors, is one of the most remarkable artists in history. He is well-known for his landscape paintings and auto portraits that he created using vivid colors and unique brush strokes. You can enjoy his triumphant masterpiece Self-Portrait in the Orsay Museum.

Water Lillies by Claude Monet, 1895-1926

4. Water Lilies – Claude Monet / The Orangerie Museum
The Orangerie Museum hosts an exquisite collection of impressionist paintings. As Monet is the founder of the movement, it is no surprise that his Water Lilies series are the most precious paintings of the museum. The artist graciously paints water lilies and exotic flowers floating on the surface of the pond. His unique way of using colors, lighting, and reflections has inspired many artists to pursue his legacy.
Speaking of Monet, it would be unfair not to mention his painting Impression, Sunrise. It is known as the artwork that inspired the whole Impressionist movement. The painting is open to visits in the Orsay Museum along with many masterpieces.

The Luncheon on the Grass by Édouard Manet, 1862 – 1863

5. The Luncheon on the Grass – Edouard Manet / The Orsay Museum
Manet, one of the most famous impressionists, takes a step towards modernism with his pastoral masterpiece The Luncheon on the Grass. He depicts an unreal scene where a nude woman has a picnic with two men. Manet intentionally refuses the general rules of perspective by disrupting the dimensional balance. The Renaissance period, along with Japanese art, influenced him profoundly.
Top 5 Must-See Architectural Landmarks in Paris
Paris has a matchless architectural legacy that attracts millions of visitors every year. Blooming from the roots of rich history and an aesthetically oriented gusto, Paris hosts some of the most magnificent landmarks. Marked by multiple movements, the city is home to the most outstanding French Renaissance, Gothic Style, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, and Belle Époque.

Tour Eiffel

1. Eiffel Tower
The first thing that comes to mind about Paris has to be the Eiffel Tower. Gustave Eiffel built the magnificent structure in 1889. It is the most iconic landmark in the city that attracts millions of visitors. The majestic iron castle overlooks the city like a protector for centuries.

Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris

2. Notre Dame Cathedral
One of Paris’ most ethereal symbols, Notre Dame Cathedral, is a beautiful work of gothic style. Its proud silhouette adorns the city with colorful windows and enormous bells. It is no surprise that the author Victor Hugo serenades to its eternal glory with a splendid novel. In 2019, a part of the cathedral heartbreakingly caught fire; yet it still looks captivatingly divine.

Palace of Versailles

3. Palace of Versailles
Some of the most memorable historical events took place in the Palace of Versailles. The famous French monarch figures lived here, such as Louis XIV, Marie Antoinette, and Madame de Pompa-dour. It is an excellent example of French classical style with an elegant and elaborate design. The heavenly outdoor surroundings and the use of baroque style marbles makes the palace a famous touristic landmark.

The Basilica of Sacré-Cœur

4. The Basilica of Sacré-Cœur
The sacred heart of Paris is built on the uphill of Montmartre. Resembling a cross, it is one of the most visited Catholic monuments of the world. You need to climb 300 spiraling steps to reach Sacré-Cœur. It gains a magical look with the use of travertine stones and breathtaking mosaics used in interior design. While saying goodbye, you might want to take a walk along the heartwarming cobble-stone streets of Montmartre as great artists Picasso, Dali, and Van Gogh did.

Louvre Pyramid

5. Pyramid of the Louvre
The Louvre Museum not only hosts the most exceptional artworks; but has a unique, marvelous architecture. With the effect of Egyptian architecture, the entrance is built as a gigantic glass pyramid. Three smaller pyramids are encircling it and one underground. It is one of the most hauntingly remarkable landmarks of Paris.
Paris offers numerous adventures for people who are interested in art and culture. Every street, every building bear traces of the city’s rich history and classy atmosphere. It rightfully becomes a popular tourist attraction every season.

REFERENCES – Lifestyle and Culture in Paris – French Art History in a Nutshell
Vivian Zhu –  The Parisian Café Guide to Your Favorite Writers and Artists – 10 Famous Literary Cafés in Paris
Sophie Davis – Art in Paris: Famous French Artists and Where to Find Their Works
Jade Cuttle- 10 World-Famous Paintings You Can See Only in Paris
Huw Oliver – The 22 best museums in Paris
Katrina E. Bastian – Guide to the Best Museums in Paris
Johan Barthold Jongkind, The Pont Neuf, ca. 1849–50 via – Mona Lisa – The Dance Class – The Luncheon on the Grass, 1862 by Edouard Manet – Self Portrait, 1889 by Vincent Van Gogh
10 Facts You Might Not Know About Claude Monet’s “Water Lilies.” – Impression Sunrise by Claude Monet
Virginia Duran – 23 Places in Paris Every Architect Must Visit
Paris Life Magazine – Life in Paris: A Fabulous Journey Through History – Eiffel Tower
Lisa Alexander – Visiting the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris: Attractions, Trips & Tours – Palace of Versailles – Basilique du Sacré-Cœur – Louvre – The Louvre Pyramid: History, Architecture, and Legend