Palace of Versailles

In 1789, the French Revolution forced Louis XVI to leave Versailles for Paris. The Palace would never again be a royal residence and a new role was assigned to it in the 19th century, when it became the Museum of the History of France in 1837 by order of King Louis-Philippe, who came to the throne in 1830. The rooms of the Palace were then devoted to housing new collections of paintings and sculptures representing great figures and important events that had marked the History of France. These collections continued to be expanded until the early 20th century at which time, under the influence of its most eminent curator, Pierre de Nolhac, the Palace rediscovered its historical role when the whole central part was restored to the appearance it had had as a royal residence during the Ancien Régime.

The Palace of Versailles never played the protective role of a medieval stronghold. Beginning in the Renaissance period, the term “chateau” was used to refer to the rural location of a luxurious residence, as opposed to an urban palace. It was thus common to speak of the Louvre “Palais” in the heart of Paris, and the “Château” of Versailles out in the country. Versailles was only a village at the time. It was destroyed in 1673 to make way for the new town Louis XIV wished to create. Currently the centrepiece of Versailles urban planning, the Palace now seems a far cry from the countryside residence it once was. Nevertheless, the garden end on the west side of the Estate of Versailles is still adjoined by woods and agriculture

Louis XIV first visited the château on a hunting trip in 1651 at the age of twelve, but returned only occasionally until his marriage to Maria Theresa of Spain in 1660 and the death of Cardinal Mazarin in 1661, after which he suddenly acquired a passion for the site.[8] He decided to rebuild, embellish and enlarge the château and to transform it into a setting for both rest and for elaborate entertainments on a grand scale.The first phase of the expansion (c. 1661–1678) was designed and supervised by the architect Louis Le Vau. Initially he added two wings to the forecourt, one for servants quarters and kitchens, the other for stables.In 1668 he added three new wings built of stone, known as the envelope, to the north, south and west (the garden side) of the original château. These buildings had nearly-flat roofs covered with lead. The king also commissioned the landscape designer André Le Nôtre to create the most magnificent gardens in Europe, embellished with fountains, statues, basins, canals, geometric flower beds and groves of trees. He also added two grottos in the Italian style and an immense orangerie to house fruit trees, as well as a zoo with a central pavilion for exotic animals.After Le Vau’s death in 1670, the work was taken over and completed by his assistant François d’Orbay.

Notre Dame Cathedral

The cathedral’s construction began in 1163 under Bishop Maurice de Sully and was largely complete by 1260, though it was modified frequently in the following centuries. In the 1790s, Notre-Dame suffered desecration during the French Revolution; much of its religious imagery was damaged or destroyed. In the 19th century, the cathedral was the site of the coronation of Napoleon I and the funerals of many presidents of the French Republic.Popular interest in the cathedral blossomed soon after the 1831 publication of Victor Hugo‘s novel Notre-Dame de Paris (better known in English as The Hunchback of Notre-Dame). This led to a major restoration project between 1844 and 1864, supervised by Eugène Viollet-le-Duc. The Allied liberation of Paris in 1944 was celebrated within Notre-Dame with the singing of the Magnificat. Beginning in 1963, the cathedral’s façade was cleaned of centuries of soot and grime. Another cleaning and restoration project was carried out between 1991 and 2000.

The cathedral is one of the most widely recognized symbols of the city of Paris and the French nation. As the cathedral of the Archdiocese of Paris, Notre-Dame contains the cathedra of the Archbishop of Paris (Michel Aupetit). In 1805, Notre-Dame was given the honorary status of a minor basilica. Approximately 12 million people visit Notre-Dame annually, making it the most visited monument in Paris.The cathedral was renowned for its Lent sermons, founded by the Dominican Jean-Baptiste Henri Lacordaire in the 1830s. In recent years, an increasing number have been given by leading public figures and state-employed academics.The cathedral has been progressively stripped of its original decoration and works of art. Several noteworthy examples of Gothic, Baroque, and 19th-century sculptures and a group of 17th- and early 18th-century altarpieces remain in the cathedral’s collection. Some of the most important relics in Christendom, including the Crown of Thorns, a sliver of the true cross and a nail from the true cross, are preserved at Notre-Dame.

While undergoing renovation and restoration, the roof of Notre-Dame caught fire on the evening of 15 April 2019. Burning for around 15 hours, the cathedral sustained serious damage, including the destruction of the flèche (the timber spirelet over the crossing) and most of the lead-covered wooden roof above the stone vaulted ceiling.Contamination of the site and the nearby environment resulted.Following the fire, many proposals were made for modernizing the cathedral’s design. However, on 29 July 2019, the French National Assembly enacted a law requiring that the restoration must preserve the cathedral’s ‘historic, artistic and architectural interest’.Stabilizing the structure against possible collapse was completed in November 2020, with reconstruction beginning in 2021. The government of France hopes the reconstruction can be completed by Spring 2024, in time for the opening of the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.President Emmanuel Macron confirmed on 14 April 2021 that the cathedral site will be formally returned to the church on April 15, 2024, and the first mass will be held in the cathedral nave on that day, even if the reconstruction is not finished.

South Island

The South Island, also officially named Te Waipounamu, is the larger of the two major islands of New Zealand in surface area, the other being the smaller but more populous North Island. It is bordered to the north by Cook Strait, to the west by the Tasman Sea, and to the south and east by the Pacific Ocean. The South Island covers 150,437 square kilometres (58,084 sq mi), making it the world’s 12th-largest island. At low altitude, it has an oceanic climate.The South Island is shaped by the Southern Alps which run along it from north to south. They include New Zealand’s highest peak, Aoraki / Mount Cook at 3,724 metres (12,218 ft). The high Kaikoura Ranges lie to the northeast. The east side of the island is home to the Canterbury Plains while the West Coast is famous for its rough coastlines such as Fiordland, a very high proportion of native bush and national parks, and the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers. The main centres are Christchurch and Dunedin. The economy relies on agriculture and fishing, tourism, and general manufacturing and services.

As it is 32 percent larger than the North Island, the South Island is sometimes nicknamed the “mainland” of New Zealand.[3] It is home to 23 percent of New Zealand’s 5.1 million inhabitants. After the 1860s gold rushes in the early stages of Pākehā (European) settlement of the country, the South Island had the majority of the European population and wealth. The North Island’s population overtook the South Island’s in the early 20th century, with 56 percent of the New Zealand population living in the North Island in 1911. The drift north of people and businesses continued throughout the twentieth century.In the 19th century, some maps identified the South Island as Middle Island or New Munster, and the name South Island or New Leinster was used for today’s Stewart Island/Rakiura.[5] In 1907, the Minister for Lands gave instructions to the Land and Survey Department that the name Middle Island was not to be used in the future. “South Island will be adhered to in all cases”.

Although the island had been known as the South Island for many years, in 2009 the New Zealand Geographic Board found that along with the North Island, the South Island had no official name After a public consultation, the board officially named the island South Island or Te Waipounamu in October 2013.Said to mean “the Water(s) of Greenstone“, Te Waipounamu possibly evolved from Te Wāhi Pounamu (“the Place of Greenstone”). The island is also known as Te Waka a Māui which means “Māui’s Canoe”. In some Māori legends, the South Island existed first, as the boat of Māui, while the North Island was the fish that he caught. Various Māori iwi sometimes use different names, with some preferring to call the South Island Te Waka o Aoraki.In prose, the two main islands of New Zealand are called the North Island and the South Island, with the definite article It is also normal to use the preposition in rather than on, for example “Christchurch is in the South Island”, “my mother lives in the South Island”.Maps, headings, tables, and adjectival expressions use South Island without “the”.