Paris, Banks of the Seine - Visit time : 4 days to 1 week.
It is of course “Paris, city of light”, but also “Paris, capital – and symbol— of France”, a city that expresses its country’s influence throughout the world.
The city of Paris is a stunning architectural ensemble, built up over the centuries in spectacular unity. The area of the classified site that runs along the banks of the Seine reflects the evolution of the city and the importance of the river that runs through it. It offers visitors views of the most beautiful monuments in Paris, simultaneously tracing the city’s rich history. As you visit, you will move from the oldest districts, already occupied in ancient times, to the palaces of the kings, on to the major axes created by Baron Haussmann in the 19th century, and finally arrive at the 20th century additions and the Eiffel Tower.
The history of Paris unfolds before your eyes in an enthralling journey through time. Whether cultural, historic, artistic, religious or architectural, the city’s rich heritage offers something for everyone.
Date of inscription: 1991
From the Louvre to the Eiffel Tower, from the Place de la Concorde to the Grand and Petit Palais, the evolution of Paris and its history can be seen from the River Seine. The Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris and the Sainte Chapelle are architectural masterpieces, while Haussmann's wide squares and boulevards influenced late 19th- and 20th-century city planning the world over.
The choice of the zone between Pont de Sully and Pont d'léna is based on the age-old distinction between Paris upstream and Paris downstream. Upstream, beyond the Arsenal, begins Paris, the port and river transport town; downstream is the royal and subsequently aristocratic Paris, which had only limited commercial activity. It is this latter section of the city that was selected for the World Heritage List. The powerful hand of the state is extremely visible here through its constructions and the legislation in effect. It can be seen how the site and the river were gradually brought under control with the articulation of the two islets (small islands), Ile de la Cité and Ile Saint-Louis, the creation of north-south thoroughfares, installations along the river course, construction of quays, and the channeling of the river. Similarly, although the successive walls of the city have disappeared (the enceintes of Philippe-Auguste, Charles V, and the Fermiers Généraux), their traces may be read in the difference in size and spacing of the buildings: closer together in the Marais and the Ile Saint-Louis, more open after the Louvre, beyond which are a greater number of major classic constructions laid along three perpendicular axes: Palais Bourbon-Concorde-Madeleine, Invalides-Grand and Petit Palais, Champ-de-Mars-École Militaire-Palais de Chaillot. The ensemble must be regarded as a geographical and historic entity. Today it constitutes a remarkable example of urban riverside architecture, where the strata of history are harmoniously superposed.
Criteria for selection
Criterion (i) : The banks of the Seine are studded with a succession of masterpieces, including, in particular, Notre Dame and Sainte Chapelle, the Louvre, Palais de l'lnstitut, Les Invalides, Place de la Concorde, Military Academy, La Monnaie (Mint), Grand Palais des Champs Elysées, Eiffel Tower and Palais de Chaillot. A number of them, such as Notre Dame and Sainte Chapelle, were definitive references in the spread of Gothic construction, while the Place de la Concorde and the Invalides building complex exerted influence on the urban development of European capitals. The Marais and Ile Saint-Louis have coherent architectural ensembles, with highly significant examples of Parisian construction of the 17th and 18th centuries (Hôtel Lauzun and Hôtel Lambert on the Île St Louis, Quay Malaquais and Quay Voltaire).
Criterion (ii) : Haussmann's urbanism, which marks the western part of the city, inspired the construction of the great cities of the New World, in particular in Latin America. The Eiffel Tower and the Palais de Chaillot are living testimony of the great World’s Fairs, which were of such great cultural importance in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Source : Unesco / ICOMOS