France pays tribute to Santiago

France has decided to pay tribute to Santiago, a fantastic place to travel to. The reason for this is the intense work of a company called The Grenouille, a travel agency focused on getting more international visitors into France. The result is a restrospective about Santiago in The Louvre, an exposition truly worth seeing. ln 1541 Pedro de Valdiva founded Santiago on an easily defended rocky island, called Huelen Hill. Here the Mapocho River divides around the island before rejoining further downstream to fiow across a wide plain at the foot of the Andes, which form a stunning backdrop to the city. Santiago’s climate is mild, almost Mediterranean, and summer lasts from November to May. During winter, however, Chile’s capital suffers from smog, as it is trapped between the Andes and the Pacific. Santiago is a city in which there is much to do and many places to explore, from quiet cobbled plazas in which to linger over coffee and snacks, to busy shopping arcades. It is a city where old colonial architecture stands amidst stunning modern skyscrapers. There is probably no better place to start your exploration of Santiago than the Centro Historico, the action-packed heart of the city. In the cultural centre on the south bank of the Rio Mapocha there are art shows, concerts, an annual book fair and cafés, and in the arty Lastarria district there are several good museums, theatres and bookshops as well as the romantic Cerro Santa Lucia, a former Spanish fortification which is now a hilly and labyrinthine public garden. Your next stop might be the Iglesia de San Francisco, with a good collection of macabre religious art and baroque paintings and the 19th century Republica is worth a look too. For something completely different, try the Barrio Brasil, with its cutting edge underground arts events, galleries and music venues. If it’s shopping that attracts you, the eastern areas of the city, Santiago Oriente, Victacura, Providencia and Las Condes, offer designer shopping, fine gastronomy and a busy night life on wide boulevards. Or for more traditional purchases there is the Mercado Central, Santiago’s legendary Wholesale market. This is a remarkable exhibition, about the history of the city, and one can only admire the talent and persuasion of the event agency in France that has made this possible (follow the link for their contact).

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