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The finest approach to Paris is by St. Germain, a broad straight street, lined with lofty buildings, leading from Neuilly to the City, where the view is terminated by the Arc de l'Etoile, which stands on an elevation. From this to the charming Champs Elysées extends a walk about a mile-and-ahalf in length, planted with fine elms, and lined on both sides with handsome houses and beautiful gardens.
I shall not have space to say much about the history of Paris.
It was originally founded on the island on which the Church or Cathedral of Notre Dame now stands. Here it offered a temporary resistance to the Roman detachment sent against it by Cæsar. In 486, the Franks conquered it, and made it the capital of the kingdom. It was considerably improved under Charlemagne. In 1165, Bishop Maurice de Saly nearly completed the Cathedral of Nôtre Dame, as it is to be seen.
In 1418, Paris was visited by famine and pesti lence, by which 100,000 persons perished in three months. In 1420, Paris was taken by the English, who retained it for some years, and shortly after their expulsion by Charles VII., the City again become depopulated by plague and famine.
In succeeding ages Paris has been greatly improved. The foundation of the Royal College was laid by Francis I., and under Louis XIV. was effected the great improvment of levelling the walls or boulevards, and planting on them beautiful trees. These are since covered by the finest streets in Paris, which completely encircle the City. Napoleon the Great, anxious to make Paris the finest city in the world, improved, extended, and beautified the city to an enormous extent. He cleared the Place de Carrousel and adorned it with
a triumphal arch, and completed the Louvre, filling it with sculptures and paintings of great beauty and value. In 1814, Paris was taken by the Allied Powers, who dismantled the Louvre, and sent back to their respective owners all the rare pictures and works of art which Napoleon, as a conqueror, had formerly taken from his enemies. Then came the accession of Louis XVIII; then the revolution and dethronement of Charles X; then the revolution and dethronement of Louis
Phillipe; then the Republic under Lamartine, and his colleagues; then the coup d'etat of Louis Napoleon; and now the establishment of the Empire, by one who has proceeded in his course with great diligence of purpose, clear-headed prudence, and great daring, and not destitute of humanity directed to proper objects.
But to say a few words about Paris itself. It would take a volume to describe it; and all that poor old Peter Parley can do, is to give a few on dits on the surprising things my young friends may see there, should they be so fortunate as to go this summer, which they can very easily. The principal things to see are the churches, the palaces, and the gardens; and of these I shall say a few words, leaving my young friends to consult Peter Parley's “Peep at Paris," for more extended information.
The Palace of the Tuileries is one of the principal edifices of Paris. It was so called because a tile-kiln stood on the site of its erection. It was commenced in May, 1546; Henry IV. enclosed the building; and in 1660, began the grand Gallery which adjoins it—the Louvre. Here we have enormous domes, galleries, and ante-chambers, filled full of the most beautiful works of art. The Gallery of Paintings occupies the first floor of the wing of the Louvre, built by Henry II. and Charles IX. The grand staircase which leads to it is wonderfully fine. The first room contains some of the earliest paintings of the middle ages, which are very curious. The next, called the Grand Saloon, contains the best pictures of the French, Flemish, and Italian schools; the total number being 1,406. The Salle de Bijoux, or Jewel Room, contains a collection of ancient cups, vases, jewels, armour, &c. Among these are a remarkable Arabian basin, of great antiquity and curious workmanship, covered with handsome chasings. It was used at the baptisms of Philip Augustus, and the Count de Paris. In the Museum of Greek and Roman Antiquities are a great number of entertaining objects, vases, statues, busts, bronze instruments; and the ceilings of the rooms are superbly decorated. The Egyptian Museum contains the antiquities that were obtained during Bonaparte's invasion of Egypt. Behind these Museums is a suit of nine rooms, called La Galerie Française, which contains a choice collection of the paintings of the French school.
Close to these apartments is the chamber of Anne of Austria, mother of Louis XIV.; and adjoining is the bedroom of Henry IV., where the king slept when he inhabited the Louvre, and in which the alcove remains, containing the royal bed in which the body was laid after the assassination. The next room is the apartment of Henry II. In the centre is a glass-case, containing a suit of armour that once belonged to that king, aud worn by him on the day he lost his life by the piercing of his eye by the Count of Montgomery's spear, when tilting.
The Musée de la Marines is very interesting, and I should much like to see something equal to it in our country. It consists of six rooms full of nautical matters, models of ships, ports, rivers, dykes, bridges, &c. Another room, called the Salle des Sauvages, contains a variety of matters connected with savage life, and some relics of the ship of La Perouse.
Under the same roof we have the Musée des Antiques, full of antiquities of the most beautiful kind, and numbers above 250 statues, 200 busts, 200 bas reliefs, 233 vases, candelabra, &c., being more than 1,000 in all. The modern sculpture is arranged in fine halls, and contains the finest specimens of French sculpture, and few by foreign artists. Beside these, there is a suite of five rooms, called the Standish Collection, in which are the most rare and beautiful books, MSS., antiquities, and rareties of every kind, left by a gentleman named Standish, to France, because us English would not find a place for his noble and unique collection.
Besides the Louvre and Tuileries, the French capital boasts of many wonderful places, each of which would take many days to see, and a few of which I shall allude to; but before I do so, I must say a few words on the Palace of Versailles, which is, perhaps, the most astonishing place in the whole world. Versailles is an elegant town, built to accord with the palace, a few miles from Paris. It is approached through an open space, called the Place d'Armes, eight hundred feet broad, on the eastern side of which are the royal stables, affording accommodation to 1,000 horses. On the front of the palace, as you approach it, you read in letters of gold, “A toutes le Gloires de la France," which Mr. Smith put up before he came to this country in a fishing boat.
It would be impossible to describe this palace in PETER PARLEY'S ANNUAL; the book, containing a mere catalogue of the pictures, was over 700 pages. One division of it is what is called the Historical Museum-a series of rooms, containing more than a thousand large pictures. Then there is & Statue Gallery of eleven great rooms, and numerous others, some containing the portraits of all the celebrated men of France. There is said to be eight miles of pictures on the walls, and it will take you the whole day to walk through, without stopping to examine them. Besides all this, there is the Chapel, which is a most glorious place to look at; the apartments of the Emperor, the throne-room, the grand gallery, the hall of mirrors, the cabinets, Salon de la Paix, marble staircase, and grand gallery of the Empire. The rooms of the King or Emperor are what is called consecrated to the life and deeds of Louis XIV. The Salon de la Guerre is also consecrated to his military glory. This leads