The French Republic in western Europe comprises overseas islands and inland territory that is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, English Channel, and Mediterranean Sea. The country is blessed with a cultural diversity and religious tolerance that manifest in every architectural display, the foremost factor responsible for more than 82 million tourists visiting the country each year. Gothic or French architecture has generated remarkable monuments in the form of cathedrals, basilicas, and castles.
Well-known French Monuments
Basilica of St. Denis
Cathedral Basilica of St. Denis is one of the most visited abbey churches in the world. It was founded in the 7th century and is currently the seat of Bishop Pascal Michel Ghislain Delannoy. The Dagobert I discovery unearthed the mortal remains of France's patron saint, Saint Denis. Famous as a place of pilgrimage for the locals and known as the 'coronation' site, the abbey church is a huge monastic complex. Built in true Gothic style, the basilica is an architectural model replicated around the world.
Cathedral of Notre Dame, Reims
This Roman Catholic cathedral was destroyed in a fire in 1211. The original site was the place where Saint Remi baptized Clovis, in 496 AD. The sprawling Roman baths makes it a spectacular 'must-see'. The cathedral is today the seat of the Archbishop. The 267 ft tall towers and two great bells; one of which weighs 11 tons are Middle Age masterpieces.
The castle is located by the Vienne river. Its position made it a major stop along medieval trade routes. The rocks along the banks give the castle a natural fort-like appearance, while protecting the structure from the annual flooding of the Vienne. The building is today an important cultural center in France. This massive chateau stretches over 400 m long and 76 m wide. There is a 14th century clock tower that stands at a height of 115 feet. The castle was the primary home of King Henry and Charles VII.
The Eiffel Tower or Tour Eiffel, is an iron structure. It is constructed on the Champ de Mars, in Paris and is a French icon. The tower gets its name from its engineer, Gustave Eiffel. It is not only the tallest building in the whole of Paris, but also a World Heritage Site. The Eiffel Tower stands 1,063 ft tall! The tower's weight is estimated at 10,000 tons. The Eiffel Tower is synonymous with French culture and tourism. It is on record for being the most visited site in the world.
The glass and metal Louvre pyramid and the courtyard of the Musée du Louvrein Paris has recently gained added media exposure on account of the extensive mention in the novel by Dan Brown, 'Da Vinci Code'. The structure was completed in 1989 and is today, a landmark in Paris. The pyramid was commissioned by François Mitterrand, the French President, in 1984. Designed by I. M. Pei, the structure is a classic held together by glass segments. All of its 70 feet and base of 115 ft is constructed out of 673 triangular and rhombus-shaped glass segments. The rich contrast in classical and ultra-modern architectural styles attracts artists and students each year.
Arc de Triomphe
The Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile is one of the most recognized monuments in Paris. It is located in the center of the Place Charles de Gaulle, at the western end of the Champs-Élysées. The monument was built to honor soldiers from the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. Beneath the monument's vault lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I.
Architectural grandeur encompasses the urban and rural facets of France. Little villas that line the rocky cliffs and the intended concrete grandeur surpass structures seen anywhere else in the world. The mystical air created by structures such as mentioned and more make France tourism a dream.