Paris has become the latest metropolis to welcome self-driving shuttle buses.
The city first offered rides on the two "EZ10" buses on Monday, Jan. 23 with city officials eager to prepare for the "revolution" of autonomous vehicles.
Both box-shaped, electric shuttles puttering along a designated lane -- which is estimated to be 1 kilometer long -- kicked off the city's three-month trial with these vehicles.
RELATED: 25 must-see Paris landmarks
25 must-see Paris landmarks travel - AD
25 must-see Paris landmarks travel - AD
Just take a 20-minute walk in Paris and you’re likely to glimpse a handful of major landmarks. The Eiffel Tower shoots up from one end. The gilded cap of the Les Invalides gleams just a few blocks away. The Louvre stretches across its waterfront plot, just across the Seine. But in between the staple Paris attractions—or in some cases, a short RER ride away—you’re in close quarters with dozens more significant sites, like the recently renovated Picasso Museum, situated in a 17th-century mansion in the Marais, or Oscar Niemeyer’s slick, undulating design for the Communist Party headquarters, out in the 19th arrondissement. If you can’t keep track, AD has compiled 25 things to do in Paris, both on and off the beaten path.
Located on the Île de la Cité, a thin island in the Seine, Notre Dame de Paris is perhaps the most famous cathedral in the world. Characterized by its classic French Gothic architecture, the structure was one of the first to use a flying buttress.
In 1806 Napoléon ordered the construction of the Arc de Triomphe to honor those who fought in the Napoleonic wars. The massive archway, which wasn’t completed until 1836, anchors the Place Charles de Gaulle at the western end of the Champs-Élysées. Architect Jean-François-Thérèse Chalgrin modeled the monument after the ancient Roman Arch of Constantine, which he doubled in size.
The Centre Pompidou—designed in the 1970s by Renzo Piano, Richard Rogers, and Gianfranco Franchini—garnered much attention upon completion for its high-tech style. Its color-coded, tubular façade (green pipes are plumbing, blue ducts are climate control, electrical wires are yellow), with an elevator that climbs in diagonals up the front, looks straight out of Super Mario Land.
The Sacré-Cœur Basilica, designed by Paul Abadie between 1875 and 1914, crowns the summit of Montmartre, the highest point in the city.
Devised by Gustave Eiffel in 1889 as the entrance to the World’s Fair, the iron lattice Eiffel Tower that was originally viewed as an eyesore has become an emblem of the City of Light. At the top of the tower visitors can now glimpse the petite apartment—complete with paisley wallpaper and oil paintings—that Eiffel kept for himself and his most prominent friends.
A dramatic contrast to Paris’ majestic palaces and cathedrals, Oscar Niemeyer’s command center for the Communist Party in Paris—completed in 1972 when it was still a major political force—makes quite a statement with its undulating glazed facade. Niemeyer, a staunch Communist himself, built the structure free of charge.
A central landmark in Paris, the Louvre is a must for anyone visiting France. Originally built to house the royal family in the late 12th century (it officially opened as a museum in 1793), the palace has undergone countless renovations and extensions since, including the installation of I. M. Pei’s iconic glass pyramids—which topped the museum’s new entrance—in 1989.
Located in Paris’s business district, La Défense, La Grande Arche—the 20th-century counterpart to the Arc de Triomphe—was conceived by Danish architect Johann Otto von Spreckelsen and completed by French architect Paul Andreu. Shaped like a cube with its middle cut out, the structure is made from a concrete frame encased in glass and Carrara marble.
With its gleaming, gilded dome, Les Invalides is easy to spot from anywhere in the city. Established by Louis XIV in 1670 for old or unwell soldiers, the complex of buildings now houses several museums, a church, and—staying true to its origins—a hospital and home for retired soldiers.
Frank Gehry’s striking Fondation Louis Vuitton, an art museum located on the outer rim of Paris in the 16th arrondissement, resembles a futuristic ship with its overlapping glass sails. Be sure to explore its verdant grounds, adjacent to the Jardin d’Acclimatation in the Bois de Boulogne.
For Paris’s Panthéon, modeled after the original in Rome, architect Jacques-Germain Soufflot embellished a classical structure with Gothic detailing. Though it originally served as a church, the building now acts as a burial place for notable French citizens.
After a five-year renovation and expansion that was completed in 2014, the Picasso Museum looks better than ever. Devised by architect Jean-François Bodin, the enhanced space includes more square footage, inserting contemporary white-wall galleries into the Hôtel Salé, a Baroque 17th-century mansion. Keep an eye out for mesmerizing plaster-white lighting and furniture by Diego Giacometti.
The Cinémathèque Française—the original location of which was the site of mass leftist student protest in 1968—moved into a postmodernist, Frank Gehry–designed building in 1993. The museum and cinema holds one of the largest collections of film documents and paraphernalia in the world.
The opulent Opéra Garnier was built in the late 19th century by Charles Garnier and famously served as the setting of Gaston Leroux’s 1910 novel The Phantom of the Opera.
The Grand Palais, resembling a giant greenhouse, has hosted a military hospital (during WWI), the World Fencing Championship, and Paris Fashion Week. Most days, though, the Beaux Arts building serves as the venue for one of the city’s many fine-art museums.
Paris’s City Hall—the Hôtel de Ville—has served as a grand home to the Mayor of Paris since its purchase in the year 1357. These days, the building also moonlights as a magnificent party venue.
Jean Nouvel merges interior and exterior so seamlessly in his Fondation Cartier, designed in 1994, that, when museumgoers stand inside the contemporary glass-and-steel structure, they remain surrounded by the lush gardens outside.
Built in 1861, the Jeu de Paume first housed tennis courts, then Nazi plunder in the 1940s. It’s now hung with modern and postmodern photography. The building, located on the north corner of the Tuileries Gardens, was revised by Antoine Stinco in 1989 to create a light-filled exhibition space.
The Jardin des Plantes, one of the Museum of Natural History’s seven departments, comprises the Galerie de l’Évolution (shown), the Mineralogy Museum, the Paleontology Museum, and the Entomology Museum, in addition to the gardens. The establishment started in 1626 as a medicinal herb garden for Louis XIII.
Located near Notre Dame on the Île de la Cité, the the Palais de Justice is part of a complex that contains some of the oldest buildings from the former royal palace, such as the Sainte-Chapelle, built in 1240, and the Conciergerie, a prison where Marie Antoinette was held before her execution.
The Palais de Tokyo was revitalized in 2002 by architecture firm Lacaton & Vassal, which stripped away the building’s monumental interior to reveal a raw backdrop to the modern and contemporary art on display.
The Philharmonie de Paris, designed by Jean Nouvel and completed just last year, is constructed from cast aluminum and reflective steel, with a shimmering façade made up of 340,000 tiles that depict abstracted birds.
The Musée d’Orsay, located on Paris’s Left Bank, originated as the Gare d’Orsay, a Beaux Arts railway station built between 1898 and 1900. Now the popular museum houses works of art from the period 1848 through 1914.
Originally built in the 17th century for Marie de Médicis, the mother of Louis XIII, the Palais du Luxembourg was transformed after the French Revolution into a legislative building, which has served, since 1958, as the seat of the French Senate.
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The buses, which are capable of carrying 10 people, will be offering free rides seven days a week. There are already plans of expansion to other locations in the city later this year.
"Autonomous vehicles represent a revolution for every city on the planet [that] will change our urban environment and public space in a spectacular fashion over the next 20 years," Jean-Louis Missika, the deputy mayor of Paris, told AFP.
Elisabeth Borne, head of the Paris transport network, says she hopes that the buses will one day be used to link homes and railway stations in the suburbs -- which are currently served by overland trains called RERs.
"We dream one day of having buses like these parked near RER stations which would come to collect passengers on demand," she told reporters at the launch.