For centuries Paris has been a flourishing European cultural centre and a meeting point for artists from all over the world. Today the city's multicultural inheritance can be admired in hundreds of museums, galleries, and churches that grace nearly every part of the city. The spirit of Paris is also cast in the music of local artists and in the architectural splendour that gives the city its luxurious appeal.
Although usually considered the cradle of French culture, Paris is at heart a multicultural metropolis. Pieces of art found in private galleries or on open-air exhibitions clearly indicate that the colonial past of France and the contemporary immigration boom have left a permanent mark on the cultural consciousness of the city. Various experiences of immigrants from all over the world are inscribed in local art, architecture, food and annual festivals.
In mid-February, for example, Parisians gather in the Chinese district (Quartier Chinois) to celebrate the commencement of the Chinese New Year. Although this tradition is without doubt a foreign import, few locals would question its affinity with Parisian culture. That's why, each year thousands gather here to watch the colourful parade, as it marches from the Place d'Italie towards the Porte de Choisy in a spectacle full of paper dragons, firecrackers, ethnic dances and loud music. The festival is also a good opportunity to get the taste of Parisian cuisine, which these days comprises not only typically French croissants and cafe au lait but also specialities from Chinese, Vitetnamese, and Arab cuisine.
However, if you'd like to experience Parisian culture, as it was prior to the 20th-century rapid diversification, visit one of the city's museums to study the history of Paris as represented in the masterpiece paintings and sculptures. One of the best places to start your trip down Parisian memory lane is the Louvre. The museum holds a vast collection of works from 13th to 19th Centuries, including works painted by such French masters as Achille Michallon and Jacques Blanchard. In order to see Paris through the eyes of the local impressionists, stroll along to Musée d'Orsay or Musée Marmottan-Monet, which houses numerous paintings by Claude Monet, Edouard Manet, Edgar Degas and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.