Regional Overview

The City of Lights

Visiting Paris may feel like a daunting proposition. Its size, popularity, and the long list of possibilities can be intimidating. Rather than a complete guide to the city, I will focus on the Paris of the Ancien Regime. Paris was the reluctant capital of a wealthy medieval kingdom and later a global empire. However, little of this ancient city has survived to the present. The beautiful streets of the Belle Epoch that we see today mask remnants of a much different city, which I hope to highlight here.

Regional Identity

What to Lookout For

  • The almost entirely preserved 19th-century historicist cityscape and its monuments to the Belle Epoch, e.g., the Eifel Tower, Palais Garnier, and the Orsee Museum
  • The splendor of the Age of Absolutism represented by e.g. the Louvre, the Invalides, and Place de Vosges
  • Fragments of a powerful medieval kingdom, from its soaring churches to the Castle of Vincennes and the Cluny Museum




Justin Bunch | CityscapeTravel

What is Paris?

Paris is a modern-day metropolis with almost 12 Million People living in its metropolitan area. However, for tourists and visitors, only parts of the city are of interest to us. When I look at Paris here, the focus is on the urban areas within the outer defensive ring of the Thiers System. These outer fortresses were built during the 1840s and were positioned 5km outside the city walls. The most exciting parts of the city are within these limits.

Mostly, I find the core inner-city easy to traverse on foot or with public transport. The interesting part of the city is not as large as you might think and most of the major tourist attractions are easily reached from each other. You may notice while walking around that the cityscape appears uniform. This uniformity comes from Napoleon III’s grand renovation in the 1850s, which saw most of the city rebuilt under the oversight of Georges-Eugène Haussmann.

As a result, experiencing the history of “old” Paris will require interacting with the city, that is, going into museums, churches, or other monuments. This section will focus on figuring out which ones to see.

Regional Overview

My Subjective Travel Rankings

To understand where the categories come from, see this article here.

10 / 10

The score is based on the following:

  • Accommodation: 10
  • Transportation: 10
  • Volume/Capacity: 10
  • Infrastructure: 10
  • Interactivity: 10

10 / 10

The score is based on the following:

  • Context: 10
  • Monuments: 10
  • Quality: 10

7.5 / 10

The score is based on the following:

  • Abstraction: 5
  • Tradition: 10



The Crownlands of the French Monarchs

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