To many, the Great Wall, the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace are China's landmark attractions.
Yangshao Culture, a cradle of Chinese civilization, is barely known, a perception the local government is moving to change with a show in Paris.
Dating back 5,000 to 7,000 years, the ancient culture was discovered in the city now called Sanmenxia in Henan province.
The culture is known for its painted pottery with a variety of finely designed geometrical patterns, which archaeologists say reflect an advanced civilization during the New Stone Age.
When the first relics were discovered in the 1920s, the culture was named after Yangshao village in Mianchi county, now under the city's administration. It neighbors the two provinces of Shanxi and Shaanxi.
The Sanmenxia's exhibition in Paris this summer "showcases Chinese people's splendid intellect and wisdom", Yang Shuping, Party secretary of Sanmenxia, told China Daily.
Some 48 replicas of ancient painted pottery and 36 introductory panels were displayed at an exhibition that opened in mid-June at the Chinese Cultural Center. It has attracted more than 3,000 visitors
"I like Chinese culture and often visit shows or exhibitions related with China, but this is the first time that I have seen China's prehistoric culture - very amazing," said a French visitor.
"China has such an old and rich history," the visitor added. "We should protect the world cultural heritage."
During a visit, Yang handed over the exhibits to the Chinese Culture Center in Paris, where they will be on long-term display.
"The discovery of a large number of Paleolithic and Neolithic relics and ancient human fossils traces the history of human activities in Sanmenxia back to Paleolithic age," Yang said.
People during the period hunted, fished and gathered food to survive. Yangshao wares include a tripod, bowl, cup, basin, kettle and urn. Pottery for daily use is usually red since it was made of red pottery.
The culture's pottery art is renowned for its painted patterns and representations of animals.
Publicizing Yangshao Culture is a good way to promote tourism and cultural industries in Sanmenxia, linking the city with the world, said Yang.
Local authorities will encourage culture-related industries, which are expected to grow to contribute more than 5 percent of the area's GDP in five years, according to the city government's work report for 2011.
In addition to Yangshao Culture, Sanmenxia is well known for Taichu Palace where famed Chinese philosopher Laozi wrote the Dao De Jing, the central classic of Taoism, during the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC).
Other sites of historic interest in the city include Hangu Pass, a famous military fortress built in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), and Guo State Chariot and Horse Museum, the largest tomb complex for kings in the Western Zhou Dynasty (c. 11th century-771 BC) yet discovered in China.
"Sanmenxia is also called Swan City, because thousands of white swans from Siberia migrate to the wetlands in the city to spend winter every year," Yang noted. "It's a beautiful scene," he added with pride.
Surrounded by mountains and rivers, Sanmenxia is considered as one of the most livable and environmentally friendly tourist cities in Henan province.
"The promotion activities in Europe also expand our opening-up, strengthening economic and trade cooperation with developed countries, and spur the city's economic and social progress," Yang said.
Yang and his delegation also visited the United Kingdom and Germany, where they met the president and other executives of Schmidt Group.
Schmidt Group is a leader in photovoltaic technology that has advantages in quality, environmental protection and cost efficiency, the official said.
The Sanmenxia enterprise Dijiu Mining Industry signed an agreement with Schmidt Silicon in 2010 to import a state-of-the-art, 1,000-ton poly-silicon photovoltaic production line.
It was the first time the German technology was brought to China.
"It has played a positive role in the development of the new energy industry in Henan while providing a broader platform for Schmidt's development in China," Yang said.
Sanmenxia is a relatively new city, rising with the building of the first dam on the Yellow River in 1957. It now covers an area of nearly 10,500 sq km and has a population of 2.24 million.
Since its founding, it has made great economic achievements and created a friendly investment environment, the local official said.
It is now a transportation hub for the province, bordering Henan's another city Luoyang on the east and Shaanxi's capital Xi'an on the west.
Sanmenxia also lies along the envisioned "Asia-Europe land bridge" that will link China with the West, and is an economic zone on China's major Lianyungang-Lanzhou railway line that runs from east to west.
Some 66 different minerals have been discovered in Sanmenxia, 50 of them with proven reserves and 37 under utilization. Its deposits of gold, aluminum ore and coal are nationally significant.
With such abundant resources, Sanmenxia has established an industrial system centered around coal, electricity generation, textiles, machinery, chemicals and building materials.
The city is now developing strategies to improve services and transportation to attract more high-tech industries, business and tourism.
"In the future, we will be more open and energetic, and cooperate more with European countries, both in culture and in business," Yang said.