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Paris

What weighs 7,000 tons and has 1,665 steps and 10,000 light bulbs? The Eiffel Tower! This breathtaking landmark was built by Gustave Eiffel (did you know he also designed the framework for the Statue of Liberty?) for the 1889 Universal Exhibition to commemorate the centenary of the French Revolution. It was opened by the Prince of Wales, who later became King Edward VII of England.

The 164-foot Arc de Triomphe was planned by Napoleon to celebrate his military successes, but wasn't finished for another 20 years after he took a trip to Elba. It has some magnificent sculptures, and the names of Napoleon's generals are inscribed on the stone facades. There is a small museum halfway up the arch devoted to its history (you can actually climb to the top). France's Unknown Soldier is buried beneath, and the flame is rekindled every evening.

notre dame paris gargoyle blue skyAlthough it's probably easier to take the elevator up to the top of the Eiffel Tower, you can also climb 387 steps up to the south tower of 12th-century Notre-Dame for a nice view of the city. It was here in 1804 that Napoleon crowned himself emperor and then crowned Josephine as his empress. When planning your visit, keep in mind that the cathedral has longer opening hours than the towers (which are operated by the National Monuments Centre) and crypt (which is operated by the Musee Carnavalet); check ahead to avoid disappointment.

The Louvre is the world's greatest art museum -- so it really doesn't matter if you've been here before since there's no chance you've seen it all. Collections divide into Asian antiquities, Egyptian antiquities, Greek and Roman antiquities, sculpture, objets d'art, paintings, and prints and drawings. Obviously, the top attractions (and most likely the ones you've seen) are the "Mona Lisa" and the 2nd-century "Venus de Milo." Note: Avoid the never-ending lines to enter through the Pyramid. Instead, come in from the Carrousel de Louvre mall on rue de Rivoli or, even better, through the Louvre's Metro stop.

Moulin Rouge has been putting on its famous show since 1889. Of course, being immortalized by Henri Toulouse-Lautrec and known for the risque can-can didn't hurt either. It's still fabulous with plenty of feathers, sequins and, of course, gorgeous semi-naked showgirls. It's open every night.

Musee d'Orsay is in fact a magnificent 1900 railway station that now houses a superb collection of Impressionist art from 1848 - 1914, including major works from Degas, Monet, Renoir, van Gogh and Gauguin. If you don't have lots of time, browse the Upper Level to see the enormous railway clocks in addition to some of the museum's best exhibits.

Photos: 12 Unforgettable France Experiences

There's little left of the Bastille, and its remains are pretty much surrounded by a neighborhood filled with an array of popular cafes, clubs and the Opera Bastille, completed in 1990. The Colonne de Juillet dominates la Place de la Bastille, marking the site of the prison that was stormed at the start of the French Revolution in 1789. sacre coeur paris montmartre flowers

In the 16th century, 30 windmills were built in Montmarte for winemaking and milling grain, but only two remain today. Wander the back streets, away from the main square and souvenir shops. At dusk, sit on Basilica du Sacre-Coeur's top steps and watch Paris indeed become the City of Lights. The basilica is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Christ and the crypt contains what many believe to be Christ's sacred heart. By the way, when its 19-ton bell tolls, you not only hear it -- you feel it!

Check out one of the city's off-the-beaten-path museums. The Musee Rodin was once the home of Rodin and now houses several of the artist's impressive collections, including personal ones. The garden is as spectacular as the inside, so leave time for both. Hotel des Invalides is the magnificent 17th-century domed structure constructed under the direction of Louis XIV to shelter old and wounded soldiers; it's also the site of Napoleon's tomb. The Musee d'art et d'historie du Judaisme (Museum of Jewish Art and History) in the Marais is a wide-ranging collection of objects dating as far back as the Middle Ages.

Paris Walks offers informative two-hour walking tours that range from the Latin Quarter to Hemingway's Paris. They even have foodie tours that include chocolate tastings. The tours are a great way to get up close and personal with the city.

Head for the rue de Bac for smart shops and a bit of neighborly biographic history. Edith Wharton lived around the corner on the rue de Varenne at Nos. 53 and 58; the Prime Minister's official residence is at No. 57 on Varenne. The chapel of the Miraculous Medal, where Catherine Laboure was said to have visions of the Virgin in 1830, is at No. 140.

Cite de l'Architecture et du Patrimoine, which opened in 2007, is the first and only permanent collection dedicated to architecture and architectural heritage. Designed by Jean-Louis Cohen and Jean-Francois Bodin, the museum showcases the collections of drawings, drafts and models of the French Institute of Architecture.

Pari Roller lets you skate with thousands of locals any Friday at 10 p.m. from Place Raoul Dautry along a three-hour police-escorted route. Not up to the challenge? Then watch! It's the most incredible sight to behold. The 18-mile event is strictly for experienced skaters.
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