My choice of the Seven Man-Made Wonders of France includes some incredible structures that have endured for centuries as well as some more recent attractions. Look for the photo album, to follow, which pictorially represents these masterpieces.
1. Eiffel Tower, Paris. This iron structure, the tallest in Paris at over 1,000 feet, was built in 1889 by Gustav Eiffel for the World’s Fair. It has become the most recognizable symbol of Paris and sits prominently on the left bank of the River Seine.
2. Mont St-Michel, Normandy. One of the most unique locations on the globe, this village/fortress/church, sculpted from rocky mount just off the Normandy shore, has been a monastery, a pilgrimage site, and a prison. A narrow, winding lane, the Grand Rue, thoroughly lined with shops and restaurants, leads from the King’s Gate to the Abbey.
3. Pont du Gard, near the city of Nimes, in Provence. This Roman aqueduct was built in the mid-first century AD to bring water to the Roman city which is now Nimes. It was built entirely without mortar and is a marvel of engineering.
4. Versailles Palace, just southwest of Paris. This palace, perhaps the most ornate house in the world, was built as a hunting cottage in 1624, then expanded over the years to its present size, with hundreds of rooms and extensive gardens. Perhaps the most impressive room in the chateau is the Hall of Mirrors which is over 200 feet long, with numerous chandeliers and almost 400 mirrors.
5. Chartres Cathedral, in Chartres, about 80 kilometers southwest of Paris. Considered a monumental and ground-breaking engineering achievement when built in the 12th Century, this cathedral was the first to introduce flying buttresses and the also increased the heights to which construction could reach. Its stained glass is legendary, with its characteristic blue, known as "Chartres blue," considered a totally new color at the time. Its basic design has been much-copied over the years.
6. Chambord Chateau, in the eastern end of the Loire Valley. This incredibly gradiose chateau is the largest castle in the Loire Valley with 440 rooms, 365 fireplaces, and distinctive French Renaissance architecture.
7. Arc de Triomphe, Paris. This monument, which occupies the center of the Place Charles de Gaulle and marks the end of the famous boulevard, Champs Elysses, was commissioned in 1806 by Napoleon to commemorate France’s soldiers, especially those who fought in the Napoleonic Wars, and today also include the France’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It stands over 150 feet tall and provides great views of the city of Paris and the Eiffel Tower.
Other sites considered:
Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris