The 7 wonders of France

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  • The pieces left of the artificial harbor that had been created for the attack on D-Day remain on the beaches and coastline of the small town. Even though the grit from that day has been washed from the beach, the mechanics from WW2 still remain.

    Photo by Kt Mattern

  • Street art decorates some of the alleys in the town, mostly advocating for peace with simple captions. The poppies dotting the bottom of the piece of art symbolize peace and remembrance for lost soldiers.

    Photo by Kt Mattern

  • From up high, the town looks like a normal coastal place to visit except for the war craft still stationed along the beach. Instead of disposing the historic machines, Arromanches protects the history.

    Photo by Kt Mattern

  • With a population of approximately 50 people, the island is mainly home to the few families who have been there for generations, along with the few monks and nuns who live in the abbey.

    Photo by Kt Mattern

  • The island features a monastery, after which the island was named, that dates to the 8th century.

    Photo by Kt Mattern

  • From 1647-1874, the Strasbourg Cathedral was the tallest building in the world.

    Photo by Kt Mattern

  • Taking a river cruise not only allows tourists to see buildings from a new perspective, but they can learn more about the city’s history from a professional's point of view.

    Photo by Kt Mattern

  • A mural covers one of the ceilings in the Palace of Versailles which depicts the Greek gods and other mythical figures.

    Photo by Kt Mattern

  • When the Eiffel Tower was first built, patrons of the city criticized its unique structure. Over time, though, it has been able to bring millions of tourists.

    Photo by Kt Mattern

  • Using the telescopes stationed at the different levels, tourists can use the elevated sightlines to get a closer look at the different streets of Paris.

    Photo by Kt Mattern

  • The fire on April 15 destroyed centuries worth of architecture, but one billion dollars has already been raised with the help of numerous donators.

    Photo by Kt Mattern

  • A sculpture of Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, is set on a pedestal in the Greek section of the Louvre. Found in Velletri, Rome, this statue of Athena represents her as a peaceful and strong leader.

    Photo by Kt Mattern

Arromanches-les-bains

While many tourists may not visit the beautiful country of France to see old war zones, the town of Arromanches-les-Bains is a true testament to natural beauty even if bombs once raided the same beaches that people now sunbathe on. Mostly known for bordering one of the beaches where D-Day took place, the town of Arromanches has cultivated the devastating history into a teaching moment for both older and younger generations.

While the trip driving in might be difficult on the small cobblestone streets, the stress is worth it. The town may seem easy to overlook, but feeling the soft sand move under your feet as you read the carved names of past visitors in the remnants of the artificial harbors built almost a century ago can make you feel more in tune with your own time while glancing back at reminders from the past.

Along with many older monuments in the town, there are also a few newer additions, including street art spreading the message of peace through simple drawings and photographs with accompanying spray painted words.

 

Mont-Saint-Michel

Off the coast of France lies the commune Mont Saint Michel. A path of hundreds of stairs leads to the top of the island where the monastery is situated. Even though the island doesn’t look too expansive from the outside, there are numerous buildings that fit into the small space.

Mixing modern and centuries old cultures, the island holds both modern eateries and shops along with a historic monastery that has been there since the 8th century. While the climb may be tiresome, the trip to the abbey is worth it.

The abbey itself will take your breath away. With ceilings seeming to reach to the sky and centuries old stones that build the foundation, the abbey holds some of the oldest Christian practices in the world. The decorum also changes from room to room. While some rooms are simple with columns and plain walls, others have stained glass windows and arched ceilings.

 

Strasbourg

Seated on the border between France and Germany, Strasbourg is a mixture of both cultures. In the last few centuries the province of Alsace, where it presides, has been fought over between the neighboring countries, causing the culture to combine to become a unique centerpiece in European culture.

At almost 500 feet tall, the Strasbourg Cathedral draws attention from any point in the city. Along with being the tallest building in the city, the cathedral is also almost 600 years old with centuries of Gothic and Romantic architecture.

With many rivers flowing alongside the streets of Strasbourg, tourists can see the city from the perspective of a ship. This not only gives people the chance to travel without tiring themselves but also the option to see buildings from a different vantage point.

 

Palace of Versailles

Even though the Palace of Versailles is no longer the home of kings and queens, it is open to the public to tour. With 700 rooms ranging from salons to the Hall of Mirrors, the palace holds many artifacts that anyone would love to visit.

The most famous room, the Hall of Mirrors, holds some of the most well known artwork in the world. During Louis XIV’s reign, the Hall acted as a room for entertainment due to its mirrors throughout the room that would reflect the artwork and act as a maze for participants.

The King’s apartments, which consist of seven salons, are each inspired by a Roman or Greek myth such as The Salon of Apollo and The Salon of Mercury. Even though each room architecturally looks the same, they all have their own individual mural covering the ceiling.

One of the other reasons to go to the palace is to visit the Gardens of Versailles. With over 1,900 acres of gardens and fountains, the Gardens are full of ways to admire the carefully maintained grounds.

 

Eiffel Tower

One of the most well known tourist sites in the world is the famous Eiffel Tower. Standing at a little over a thousand feet, the creation can be seen from almost anywhere in the city.

Don’t worry if the trek up the stairs doesn’t seem worth it. There are elevators that can take patrons up to the different levels.

With three levels, tourists can decide how high they dare to go. The first floor is not for the faint hearted since it’s made of glass flooring, making it look like you’re floating a few hundred feet up in the air. On all three levels, there are different restaurants where tourists can dine with the best view in the city, along with different stores to purchase souvenirs. The third level, as close to the sky as you can get, is one of the best sights where you can see all of Paris.

 

Notre Dame Cathedral

Even without the hunchback, the Notre Dame Cathedral is a must see. Standing in the very middle of Paris, the cathedral draws around 13 million visitors in a year alone. Even though the Eiffel Tower may come to mind when thinking of Paris, Notre Dame Cathedral beats the tower for the most visited site in Paris.

With many statues on the outside of the building, the facade gives a tangible story of the Bible. Just standing outside the building, tourists can immediately glimpse the architectural artistry from centuries ago.

Even with the fire on April 15 bringing down the main wooden part of the structure, tourists should still feel encouraged to see the remainder of the historic cathedral.

Even for those who don’t identify as Christian or religious, anyone who would admire the architecture should visit the cathedral.

 

The Louvre

This museum is worth the talk. Filled with astounding paintings from vastly different centuries, the Louvre shows the timeless abilities of people across the world.

While the Mona Lisa and other paintings are some of the more popular attractions, the Greek sculptures are actually what caught my attention. With sculptures built to tower over the average person, the Greeks’ dedication to the gods is easily proven in the detail-oriented artwork they created.

And here’s a pro tip for those who plan to visit in the summertime: Prepare for the heat. Since this historic museum was built in the days before air conditioning, make sure you are aware of what crowds of people in the summer heat will feel like. As a trademark of French art, the Louvre also has an implied rule that suggests visitors wear nicer clothing.

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