Yes, we dit it! A hear-shaped (well, almost) itinerary… But above all a nice loop among the magical spots of Paris city center.
Let yourself be guided by our proposed route, but you can of course make changes, as the districts you pass through are rich in beauty, curiosities and interests!
1. Saint-Michel Square
Located in the center of a highly popular tourist area, the square is in itself more of a meeting point and a handy landmark, because of its proximity with various modes of public transport, as well as restaurants and fast-food, than an indisputable work of art (the Napeoleon III styled fountain Saint-Michel is a little academic).
2. Hôtel de la Monnaie
The XVIIIth century building, laid out by architect Jacques Denis Antoine, has become the Musée de la Monnaie de Paris, and belongs to the French institution responsible for the minting of money. First inaugurated in 1833, the current museum is open since 1991.
It houses a vast collection of coins from 110 different countries, as well as medals and tools. Temporary exhibitions, sometimes unrelated to the museum’s theme, are also organized.
3. Pont des Arts
Between 1802 and 1804, under the reign of Napoleon I, a nine-arch metallic bridge for pedestrians was constructed at the location of the present day Pont des Arts (or Passerelle des Arts) : this was the first metal bridge in Paris. The engineers Louis-Alexandre de Cessart and Jacques Dillon initially conceived of a bridge which would resemble a suspended garden, with trees, banks of flowers, and benches.
The bridge would be closed to circulation in 1977 and, in 1979, suffered a 60 metre collapse after a barge rammed into it. The present bridge was built between 1981 and 1984, identically, according to the plans of Louis Arretche, who had decided to reduce the number of arches from nine to seven, allowing the look of the old bridge to be preserved while realigning the new structure with the Pont Neuf.
The bridge has sometimes served as a place for art exhibitions, and is today a studio en plein air for painters, artists and photographers who are drawn to its unique point of view. The Pont des Arts is also frequently a spot for picnics during the summer.
In recent years, many tourist couples have taken to attaching padlocks with their first names written or engraved on it to the railing or the grate on the side of the bridge, then throwing the key into the Seine river below, as a romantic gesture. This gesture is said to represent a couple’s committed love. The City of Paris has not yet adopted a definitive policy on how to deal with this new fad. The French police have been known to patrol this bridge to stop keys from being thrown into the river.
Source : Wikipedia contributors, “Pont des Arts”
4. Louvre Museum
A central landmark of Paris, France, it is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the 1st arrondissement (district). Objects from prehistory to the 19th century are exhibited. With more than 8 million visitors each year, the Louvre is the world’s most visited museum.
The museum opened on 10 August 1793 with an exhibition of 537 paintings, the majority of the works being royal and confiscated church property.
By 1874, the Louvre Palace had achieved its present form of an almost rectangular structure with the Sully Wing to the east containing the square Cour Carrée and the oldest parts of the Louvre; and two wings which wrap the Cour Napoléon, the Richelieu Wing to the north and the Denon Wing, which borders the Seine to the south.
In 1983, French President François Mitterrand proposed, as one of the Grands Projets of François Mitterrand the Grand Louvre plan to renovate the building and relocate the Finance Ministry, allowing displays throughout the building. Architect I. M. Pei was awarded the project and proposed a glass pyramid to stand over a new entrance in the main court, the Cour Napoléon.
The pyramid and its underground lobby were inaugurated on 15 October 1988. The second phase of the Grand Louvre plan, La Pyramide Inversée (The Inverted Pyramid), was completed in 1993. As of 2002, attendance had doubled since completion.
Source : Wikipedia contributors, “Musée du Louvre“
5. Comédie Française
The Comédie Française (or French Theater) was created in 1680 through a royal ordinance from Louis XIV. It only occupies the current place since 1799 though.
6. Palais-Royal Garden
The Garden as well as the entire Palais-Royal complex is an exquisite place situated just north of The Louvre Palace, west of the Bank of France and right near the Comédie-Française (France prestigious state theater) and the Louvre des Antiquaires (a group of 250 antiques and jewellery shops).
If entering the garden by the north (from Vivienne or des Petits-Champs streets), you’ll probably exit at the controversial Buren’s columns (1986, restored in 2009 ; the installation actual name is “Les Deux Plateaux”). You’ll then find the Saint-Honoré street and the Square of the Palais-Royal, from where you can see the Cour de l’horloge.
The Palais-Royal now houses the Conseil d’Etat (whose entrance is situated Cour de l’horloge), the Constitutional Council and the Ministry of Culture.
7. Vivienne Gallery
This famous covered passageway, located between Place des Victoires, the French National Library and the Palais-Royal Garden, opened in 1826 under the name of its commissionner, Marchoux. It was a time where such places, allowing to shop while sheltered from the rain, were quite popular.
The three entrances to the Gallery are : 6, Vivienne street ; 5, de la Banque street ; and 4, des Petits-Champs street.
At the number 13 of the Gallery, one can admire a big staircase with a wrought iron ramp. It was François Vidocq’s, a former convict who became chief of police between 1811 and 1827, house in the late part of his life.
There are a few masonic symbols throughout the Gallery. One in particular, at the entrance of… But wait, we won’t tell you which entrance, will we ? Tip : it is a symbol of fraternity.
8. Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Basilica
This basilica is well-known for its collection of 3 ex-voto (offerings left there by the faithful), mostly devotional plaques. 95% are in French. Some are as big as 1 square meter.
The Blessed Mother is notably prayed at the basilica.
9. Saint-Eustache Church
The church became a parish church in 1223. It was a chapel dedicated to Sainte-Agnès, a Roman martyr. The construction of the current church began in 1532, the work not being finally completed until 1637. The name of the church refers to Saint Eustace, a Roman general of the second century AD who was burned, along with his family, for converting to Christianity.
The church is an example of a Gothic structure clothed in Renaissance detail. The front and rear aspects provide a remarkable contrast between the comparatively sober classical front and the exuberant rear, which integrates Gothic forms and organization with Classical details.
A Keith Haring sculpture made of silver stands in a chapel of the church in memory of the epidemic of AIDS deaths during the 1980s.
The organ is reputed to be the largest pipe organ in France, surpassing the organs of Saint Sulpice and Notre Dame de Paris.
Source : Wikipedia contributors, “Saint-Eustache, Paris“
10. Montorgueil Street
Lined with restaurants, cafés, bakeries, fish stores, cheese shops, wine shops, produce stands and flower shops, rue Montorgueil is a place for Parisians to socialize while doing their daily shopping. At the southernmost tip of rue Montorgueil is Saint-Eustache Church, the Centre Georges Pompidou and Les Halles, and to the north is the area known as the Grand Boulevards.
La Maison Stohrer at 51, rue Montorgueil, is one of the oldest (1730) bakeries in Paris. It was at this location that baba au rhum was invented.
(Source : Wikipedia)
11. Arts-et-Métiers Subway Station
Among the few Paris subway stations that are worth the look, this one, part of line 11, has been redecorated in 1994 by François Schuiten, the belgian comic book artist responsible for “Les Cités Obscures” (published in English as “Cities of the Fantastic”). One is under the impression of being in a submarine.
12. Des Archives Street
The rue des Archives is an animated street in the Marais district, and a pleasant walk with high architectural value.
The street is named after the “Archives nationales” (National Archives), partially located in the majestuous Hôtel de Soubise, which itself replaced the Hôtel de Clisson, whose XIVth century turrets remain visible today.
A word on the Billettes Cloister, “the house were God was boiled” – the only remaining medieval cloister in Paris, it was build onto an expiatory chapel commemorating a miracle involving the Jew Jonathas, who cut holy bread with a knife, causing it to bleed, then threw it in boiled water, causing it to fly away. Hence the name “the house where God was boiled”. Jonathas was sentenced to death for his crime and burned alive at the now Square du Vert-Galant.
13. Hôtel de Ville
The big (and stunning) City Hall of Paris (l’Hôtel de Ville) was build in the XIXth century from blueprints by architects Théodore Ballu and Édouard Deperthes.
Its neo-renaissance facade is largely inspired by the one of the previous palace, build between 1533 and 1628 – although Paris’s administration has been located at this spot since 1357 – but destroyed by fire during the Paris Commune in May 1871.
The Place de Grève, now called Place de l’Hôtel-de-Ville (since 1803) is a pedestrian square since 1982. It is here that Nicolas Pelletier, the first ever convict to be executed with a guillotine, found his death on April 25, 1792.
The Hôtel de Ville is the largest City Hall in Europe. Visits are only possible during the Journées du patrimoine.
14. Notre-Dame Cathedral
Widely considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture and among the largest and most well-known churches in the world ever built, Notre Dame is the cathedral of the Catholic Archdiocese of Paris ; that is, it is the church that contains the cathedra (official chair) of the Archbishop of Paris, currently André Vingt-Trois.
The cathedral treasury is notable for its reliquary, which houses the purported crown of thorns, a fragment of the True Cross and one of the Holy Nails – all instruments of the Passion and a few of the most important first-class relics.
Notre Dame de Paris is often reputed to be one of the most prominent examples of Gothic architecture in both France and in Europe as a whole, and the naturalism of its sculptures and stained glass are in contrast with earlier Romanesque architecture. The first period of construction from 1163 into 1240s coincided with the musical experiments of the Notre Dame school.
The cathedral suffered desecration during the radical phase of the French Revolution in the 1790s, when much of its religious imagery was damaged or destroyed. An extensive restoration supervised by Eugène Viollet-le-Duc removed remaining decoration, returning the cathedral to an ‘original’ gothic state.
Many small statues were placed around the outside. These were crafted inpidually and served as supports for columns and water spouts. Among these are the famous gargoyles and chimeras (the former of which is designed to run off rain water). These were originally colored, as was most of the exterior. The paint has worn off, but the grey stone was once covered with vivid colors. The cathedral was essentially complete by 1345. The cathedral has a narrow climb of 387 steps at the top of several spiral staircases; along the climb it is possible to view its most famous bell and its gargoyles in close quarters, as well as having a spectacular view across Paris when reaching the top.
Source : Wikipedia contributors, “Notre Dame de Paris“
15. Square René-Viviani
The Square René-Viviani – Montebello, created in 1928, is located north and around Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre church, opposite Notre-Dame. It is named after the French lawyer and politician René Viviani, (who was responsible for introducing the income tax in France, and who died in 1925), and after the nearby Montebello embankment.
What’s specific about this square is the black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) planted in 1601 by botanist Jean Robin who introduced the species in France. This tree is thought to be the oldest of Paris.
Source : translated from Wikipedia contributors, “Square René-Viviani – Montebello“
CulturalPrestigiousWeekend in the city
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