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Architecture of France. Must see and must visit landmarks

Abbey of Saint Victor, Marseille

Location on the map:   Interesting facts: » According to the chronicles, the building was constructed in the 5th century. Later, militant nomads destroyed it. The Catholic monastery was rebuilt in the 11th century.
»  The dwelling is named after the warrior and martyr St. Victor who lived in the 3rd century. It was executed upon the order of the nobles for his refusal to participate in the rite of sacrificing to gods.
»  In the abbey, there is a preserved crypt with bishops’ relics dating back approximately to the 4th century.
»  There is the Black Madonna in the form of the ebony statuette. It is displayed to celebrate the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Parishioners light green candles symbolizing hope.
»  Today, the monastery is not working. However, its church still welcomes visitors.
»  The building is fenced with the notched protective wall. The Abbey of Saint Victor resembles a fortification with its exterior: it has thick walls with loopholes and rectangular towers. There is a bell on one of it. The exterior is plain.
»  During the French Revolution, the halls of the abbey were turned into a barn where prisoners were detained. There were also barracks for soldiers.
»  There is the altar of white marble (the 5th century), the sculpture of the Great Martyr, and the organ.
»  You need to go through the arched stone doorway to get inside.

Aix-Marseille University, Marseille

Location on the map:     Interesting facts:
» The higher education institution includes five separate zones for students. One of them is located in Aix-en-Provence and four - in Marseille. The main building is located in Marseille too.
»  Aix-Marseille University was founded in 1409. This was promoted by French King Louis II.
»  Modern AMU was opened in 2012. The institution has an academic status.
»  Here, students can get professional education for the following specialties: political science, economic management, human sciences, medicine, and technological developments.
»  Many eminent figures, for example, the President (1973), the writer and the winner of the International Award Clézio, graduated from the university.
»  71 000 students study here. There are 10 000 foreign students. Entrants come here from 128 countries. They are taught by 4 000 teachers.
»  The library network consists of 59 libraries, which fund includes 662 000 books and 20 000 periodicals. All the bookcases are 50 km long in total.
»  Aix-Marseille is among the 5 best academic institutions.
»  Its financial fund is $650 million.

Ancient Theatre of Fourviere, Lyon

Location on the map:     Interesting facts:
» The ancient theatre on the hill of Fourvière was discovered during excavations in the 19th century.
»  The Roman city of Lugdunum stood on the hill more than 2,000 years ago. The Romans built a city theatre for 10,000 spectators there.
»  It had very good acoustics. Theatrical performances and concerts by different musicians and singers took place here.
»  After the 1933 renovation, it was decided to hold an annual music festival in the ancient theatre. It was called Fourvière Nights.
»  It’s held in midsummer. Film, circus, drama, and comedy artists, musicians, and singers take part in the festival events.

Arc de Triomphe, Paris

Location on the map:     Interesting facts:
» The Arc de Triomphe was created by Napoleon in honor of military victories of France during the Revolution and the First Empire. Triumphal arch celebrates 128 battles and more than 600 officers.
» Pylons of the Arc de Triomphe are decorated with huge bas-reliefs: Le Depart des volontaires, Le Triomphe, La Paix, La prise d'Alexandrie, La bataille d'Austerlitz, Le passage du pont d'Arcole.
» The Arc de Triomphe is surrounded by 100 granite pedestals (in honor of the hundred days of Napoleon) connected by cast-iron chains.
» Napoleon was unable to see the Arc de Triomphe during his lifetime; he only saw its layout.
» Solemn funeral ceremony with a stop under the Arch was arranged for Napoleon, Thiers, Gambetta, Victor Hugo, Lazare Carnot, McMahon, etc.
» Parisians say that twice a year, May 10 and August 1, the sun sets precisely on the historical axis and sunset can be seen through the vaulting arches, even when you are on the Champs Elysees.

Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourviere, Lyon

Location on the map:     Interesting facts:
» The Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourviere is a landmark of Lyon that is under the protection of UNESCO. It is located on top of the Fourviere hill and seen from any parts of the city.
»  The basilica was built in 1168 at the site of an old church. When it was destroyed, the chapel remained undamaged and has survived to this day.
»  The magnificent church with four towers and a belfry has two naves. The upper one is decorated with stained glass windows, sculptures, and mosaics. In the basement, there is the crypt of St. Joseph. The basilica was completed only in 1964.
»  The chapel preserved since ancient times was restored in 1845. Its top is decorated with the huge golden statue of the Virgin Mary. Exactly in this chapel, Anne of Austria prayed for the birth of a son in 1630.

Basilica of St. Michael, Bordeaux

Location on the map:   Interesting facts: » In the basilica, services visited by worshipers living outside the city. Industrialists donated to its construction.
»  It started to be built in the 14th century. The construction lasted over 2 centuries. The bell tower is 114 m high.
»  When it was reconstructed in 1791, 70 graves were found in the basement of the basilica. The bodies were well preserved in the clay soil. Mummies were deposited in the crypt of the cathedral. In 1990, the remains were buried at the city cemetery.
»  Its exterior is decorated with multiple prolonged stone arches. You can see openwork patterns on them. Above the entrance, there is a decorative element in the form of the outlet with floral ornaments.
»  The inner space is divided into 17 sectors. Each one is dedicated to particular craftsmen. Here, you can see old items and canvasses telling about past epochs. In one of the rooms, you can see the wooden altar of the 17th century. In the anglers’ sector, there is the statue of St. Catherin, the patroness of sailors.
»  The central room is 75 m long, 38 m wide, and 23 m high. The hallway leads to the open gallery with an organ in it.
»  22 bells proclaim the beginning of the service.

Basilique du Sacre Coeur, Paris

Location on the map:     Interesting facts:
» Sacre Coeur, literally Basilica of the Sacred Heart, is a bizarre imitation of a Byzantine church. The tower and the snow-white dome became an integral part of the Paris sky.
» The Cathedral is almost as high as the Eiffel Tower. The dome of the cathedral is equipped with an observation deck, which offers spectacular panorama, where Paris and its surroundings are clearly visible.
» The basilica owes its current name, Sacre Coeur, to the Catholic feast of the Sacred Heart of Christ, and the temple is dedicated to the memory of victims of the Franco-Prussian War.
»  There is the crypt under the altar and choral part of the basilica, where you can see church relics and the stone statue of Jesus with his glowing heart.
» The milky-white tone of Sacre Coeur is due to stone selected for constructing the Basilica. It was produced not far from Paris, in the town of Château-Landon. As it turned out, it has the property to turn white after been sprinkled by water.

Bordeaux City Hall, Bordeaux

Location on the map:   Interesting facts: » The City Hall has been housed in the Rohan Palace since 1835. The palace was built in 1784.
»  The architectural construction corresponds to the state institution in it. Side lines and the facade are quite strict. The monumentality is highlighted by huge columns. The entrances are arched doorways.
»  The construction has two outbuildings. One of them has housed the museum since the 19th century. Here, you can see pieces of fine art.
»  There are wooden panels in many rooms of the Palais Rohan. You can see carved flowers and leaves on them.
»  The dining room looks bigger due to the specific painting.
»  The City Hall is located near the parking area with the landscape structure created in the middle of the 19th century. This style is called English.
»  The Bordeaux City Hall was constructed by the wish of the archbishop. He belonged to the noble family and was the spiritual father of Bonaparte’s wife. The three-storey construction required significant funds. To finish the construction, the clergyman had to sell his own lands.
»  Some saloons and fragments of the stairs have survived to this day in their original form.

Cathedrale Notre-Dame, Grenoble

Location on the map:     Interesting facts:
» The cathedral was first mentioned in the chronicles of 902. It was recognized as the Church of the Virgin Mary.
»  During the excavations in 1989, it was found out that there had already been a religious building at the site of the modern cathedral. It was constructed in the 3rd century. A room where people were baptized was found here.
»  In the 4th century, there was a clergymen’s residence.
»  In the 13th century, the complex of several constructions (a parish church, a cathedral, and a courtyard) was built.
»  The church was completed and rebuilt of different materials in different periods of history.
»  The lower level dates back to the 12th century. It is limestone. The upper level is brick. There is also a quadrangular belfry. The spire of the tower is 17 m high. There are arched windows at all the levels. Higher levels have more windows.
»  At the side of the building, there are sarcophagi with the remains of heirs to the throne.
»  In the hall, there is a 14-meter altar that dates back to the 15th century. A wooden carved table in the middle of the altar was made in the 18th century.
»  Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Grenoble is located on the Square of the Mother of God.

Cathedrale Saint-Andre, Grenoble

Location on the map:   Interesting facts: » The Prince of Grenoble dreamed of showing his superiority over the head of the religious community. The Cathedral of Saint Andrew was built upon his order.
»  So, the church was consecrated in honor of the apostle, intercessor, and patron of Guigues VI.
»  The building was much more important and bigger than the modern one. It belonged to clergymen and did not formally obey the bishop.
»  Here, the heir to the king found burial places for himself and his successors. There was a sarcophagus with remains until the shrine had been looted by militant Protestant Huguenots in the 16th century.
»  The foundation is supported by limestone blocks. Upper walls are brick. The octagonal spire of the bell tower is 56 m high. Four small bells are covered with silver tuff.
»  In the 14th century, a clock was mounted to the tower. At that time, it was the first tower clock in the city. Its hands resemble dolphins.
»  Bordeaux Cathedral is built in the Gothic style that features narrow lancet vaults, a unique structure, and high windows.
»  The house is unusual and resembles a magical palace but not a religious building.

Chaban-Delmas Stadium, Bordeaux

Location on the map:   Interesting facts: » The stadium is a place for trainings of the local football team.
»  It was named after the state official Jacques Chaban-Delmas in 2001. He had ruled the city for many years. He was also famous as an excellent tennis player and rugby player.
»  The sports complex includes an amazing racing circuit.
»  In 1938, the international football championship was held here.
»  This sports ground was the first stadium where stands with the covering but without pillars have been constructed. They were abandoned during the construction not to distract people from the game, as pillars partially obstructed the spectators’ view of the field.
»  The reconstruction of the stadium’s dome caused additional difficulties too. It was decided to install additional seats on the cycling track in the open air.
»  To attract more fans to rugby world competitions, two big 37 m2 displays were bought in 2007.
»  Sportsmen’s changing rooms are linked with the field by the 120-meter tunnel.
»  The building of the sports arena is a historical construction.
»  About 35 000 fans can watch the game at the same time.

Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Lyon

Location on the map:   Interesting facts: » The Palais de la Bourse is a large, skillfully decorated building that attracts tourists and is the pride and landmark of the city.
»  Architect René Dardel used balconies, columns, allegorical statues, and stone carvings to decorate the building.
»  The construction was completed in 1860. Its opening was attended by Napoleon III and his wife.
»  The building housed trade companies, courts, banks. Today, it is the city’s chamber of commerce and industry.
»  In 1894, the Palais de la Bourse hosted an exhibition that was attended by French President Sadi Carnot. During President’s speech, a criminal attacked him and mortally wounded him with a knife.

Chapelle de la Trinite, Lyon

Location on the map:   Interesting facts: » The Trinity Chapel is the first city construction built in the Baroque style by architect Martellange. It made an indelible impression on the townspeople. It happened on the territory of Jesuit College in 1622.
»  The inner walls of the chapel were decorated with sculptural panels by Pierre David, a sculptor that was famous at that time. Today, they are located in two chapels situated between the choir balcony.
»  During the 20th-century restoration, bronze lamps, which were exact copies of the 17th-century items, were made.
»  In 1802, the Jesuit College was renamed Imperial Lyceum. It was connected with the occasion when Napoleon declared himself president of the Italian Republic during a college meeting.
»  The lyceum is currently named after André-Marie Ampère, a former math teacher. The present-day Trinity Chapel hosts performers, musicians, artists, and even demonstrates fashion shows.

Eglise Saint Georges, Lyon

Location on the map:     Interesting facts:
» The Church of St. George is a traditional building. It was erected in the neo-Gothic style (the movement dates back to the Middle Ages), which is reflected in the facing of the building.
»  It was originally named the Church of Eulalia in honour of a 13-year-old girl ranked among the Christian martyrs in the Roman Empire.
»  The invasion by Saracens, nomadic robbers, damaged the building.
»  In the 14th century, it became the main house of the Hospitallers. This Christian organization took care of the poor, but parishioners could attend the temple.
»  Restoration works began in 802. It is mentioned as a divine place in Bishop Leidrad’s letter.
»  The church was restored in the 9th century. The temple was reconstructed in 1844.
»  French architect Pierre Bossan created a through stone pattern around the perimeter of the building. The interior of the elongated room is partly decorated with 19th-century drawings and sculptures by renowned craftsman Charles Dufraine.
»  The building is made of red brick. It consists of the main hall. A two-level rectangular tower was built onto it. The exterior of the church is not replete with stucco decorations, which makes the building look strict.
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In the UK, IHG opened voco hotels in Oxford, Reading, and Cardiff. Much attention is paid to sustainability. Guests of the voco hotels can be sure that all bedding is made from 100% recycled materials, and restaurants offer menus based on regionally sourced ingredients. To make sure guests enjoy a safe stay, IHG adopted Way of Clean procedures developed together with Cleveland Clinic, Diversey, and Ecolab. Read this

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Photogallery of France architecture

What to see in top cities of France

Paris
While walking on lively shopping streets, many travelers pass Shakespeare&Company bookstore that is, however, a very interesting place to visit. Even travelers who do not plan to buy special editions and thick books will find much excitement there. The opening of the legendary shop took place in 1951. In the middle of the 20th century, Shakespeare&Company was a favorite meeting place for literature bohemia. Such famous people as Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and James Joyce … Read more
Nice
When you’re about to explore La Colline du Chateau, one of the main landmarks in Nice, there are several peculiarities that are worth your attention. If you don’t want climbing up the hill to become the more tiresome experience of your Nice vacation, consider using a comfortable elevator. Not all travelers know about the elevator, and so they have to walk kilometers in any weather. It’s not hard to find the elevator. For that purpose, head to Place Massena and then reach one of the streets … Read more
Cannes
Palais des Festivales et des Congres de Cannes Palace is another internationally famous symbol of the city. This is the location of the iconic red carpet of the film festival. Every year, numerous film stars and celebrities walk on this carpet, greeting fans and journalists. Many tourists dream of taking a photograph on this red carpet, and it is not hard to make this dream come true. Actually, Palais des Festivales is the venue of not only the legendary film festival but also many other … Read more
Lyon
What about some walking? Lyon's historic district would be an ideal place for unhurried walks. Here, inquisitive tourists will have the opportunity to walk down one of the oldest streets in Europe. The first mention of rue Saint-Jean dates back to the 3rd century AD. It's easy to find the old street along which Roman legionnaires strolled - it begins next to the eponymous cathedral. Another fun quest that can be enjoyed in the Old Town is walking through the old "traboules". This is the … Read more
Bordeaux
Believe that the best French wine and oysters can be only tried in restaurants? In fact, it's best to do a tasting on the Sunday market. Buy a dozen oysters, fresh bread, and cheese from one of the local sellers and move to the nearest free bench. On Sunday morning, on the waterfront, you can see a huge number of people sitting on wooden benches or just on the lawn and slowly savoring home-made wines and fruit from the local market. The Sunday market is a real paradise for lovers of cheese and … Read more

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