PARIS — Élysée

The 8th arrondissement is the western most arrondissement and it is connected to the wealthy suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine. It is home to one of the most beautiful avenues in Paris — the Champs Élysée with the Arc de Triomphe down one end and the Place de la Concorde the other. The 8th arrondissement is very grand with its luxurious hotels such as the Crillon, the Hotel Bristol and the Plaza Athenée; Avenue Montaigne which has to be one of the world’s most exclusive residential streets and the home of haute couture brands such as Valentino, Christian Dior, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and Prada. This district is also one of the main business districts of Paris.

The sights found here are:
Parc Monceau
Musée Cernuschi
Musée Nissim de Camondo
Jacquemart-André Museum
Église Saint-Augustin de Paris
Gare Saint Lazare
Chapelle Expiatoire
Élysée Palace
La Madeleine
Fauchon
Maxim’s Art Nouveau Collection 1900
Hôtel de Crillon
Place de la Concorde
Pont de la Concorde
Pont Alexandre III
Pont des Invalides
Pont de l’Alma
Théâtre des Champs-Élysées
Palais de la Découverte
Grand Palais
Petit Palais
Champs-Élysées
Arc de Triomphe

Parc Monceau

Parc Monceau
This is one of the prettiest parks in Paris. It was commissioned by the Duke of Orléans in the 18th century to be designed in an English style rather than the more formal French style by Louis Carrogis Carmontell. When the Duke was executed during the French Revolution the park was made public and redesigned to the more formal French style of garden. In 1860 it was sold to the city of Paris and half the park was kept but the other half was used for housing which is still there today. Today you can still see some of the original features such as the pyramid from the Duke of Orléan’s time, the grotto and the waterfall that were added later. There are several playgrounds in the park as well as some pretty flower gardens to walk through. The park is open daily from 7am until 8pm in the winter and until 10pm in the summer. The main entrance to the park is on Boulevard de Courcelles where the nearest Métro station, Monceau is also located.

Musée Cernuschi
This museum is found in the former mansion of Henri Cernuschi near the edge of Parc Monceau. It is a museum of Chinese and Japanese art which was collected by Cernuschi on his travels to Asia. The museum has some beautiful pieces of old Chinese pottery, jade items, ivories, bronzes as well as some contemporary paintings. The museum also offers calligraphy and oriental painting demonstrations. Entrance to the permanent collection is free but the museum offers special exhibitions which incur a fee. It is open every day except Mondays and Public Holidays from 10am until 6pm.
For information about the museum visit the website at: http://www.paris.fr/portail/english/Portal.lut?page_id=8229

Musée Nissim de Camondo
This museum is part of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs and it is the reconstruction of an 18th century aristocratic home which was the pre-WW1 town house donated by the Comte Moïse de Camondo in memory of his son who was killed in WW1. The house has impressive furnishings and decorations. There are some lovely tapestries, Sèvres porcelain, crystal chandeliers and one of the highlights is the very grand Blue Room.
For information about the museum visit the website at: http://www.lesartsdecoratifs.fr/english-439/nissim-de-camondo-742

Jacquemart-André Museum

Jacquemart-André Museum
This museum is housed in the former mansion of Edouard André and his wife Nélie Jacquemart who left their house and art collection to the Institut de France and it was opened in 1913 to the public as a museum. It is the finest museum of its type in Paris with its treasure trove of 18th century French paintings and furnishings, 17th century Dutch and Flemish paintings, and Italian Renaissance works including works by Bellini, Carpaccio, Uccelo, Van Dyck, Rembrandt, Tiepolo, Rubens, Watteau, Boucher, Fragonard, and Mantegna. The rooms in the mansion are also beautifully decorated with their tapestries and antiques.
For information about the museum visit the following website at: http://www.musee-jacquemart-andre.com/en/jacquemart

Traveller's Tip

A must for any visit should be lunch or coffee and pastries in the stunning Jacquemart-André Museum Tea Room which is a high-ceilinged dining room where you dine surrounded by beautiful Belgian tapestries and a fresco by Tiepolo. In the summer months you can sit in the adjacent courtyard.
Église Saint-Augustin de Paris

Église Saint-Augustin de Paris
This is the church where Charles de Foucauld was converted and then went on to be a priest living with nomadic people in the Sahara desert. He was assassinated there and is considered to be a martyr by the Catholic Church. Église Saint-Augustin de Paris was built between 1860-1871 by Victor Baltard who was also the architect of Les Halles and it was one of the first sizeable buildings in Paris to be constructed with a metal frame. Inside it has some impressive stained glass windows depicting bishops and martyrs of the first centuries as well as cast-iron columns with polychrome angels. The church’s organ was built by Charles Spackman Barker and was one of the earliest organs to use electricity. There is a statue of Joan of Arc, by Paul Dubois in front of the church dating from 1896.
For information about the church visit the website at: http://www.saintaugustin.net (in French only)

Gare Saint Lazare

Gare Saint Lazare
This was the first railway station in Paris and was originally built in 1837 but it was rebuilt between 1841 and 1843 and extended between 1851 and 1853 with the addition of five metal structure covered halls. The present building has a 17th century Beaux-Arts style façade and was built around the older buildings. The Gare Saint Lazare has been the subject of a number of paintings including a series by Claude Monet as well as paintings by Manet, Caillebotte and lesser known artists.

Gare Saint Lazare

Chapelle Expiatoire
This chapel is on the site of the cemetery where Louis XV1 and Marie-Antoinette were buried after their execution and it is dedicated to their memory. It was built in 1815 at the request of Louis XV111. The chapel contains a hall, two gantries and a vault and there is a garden surrounding it.
For information about the Chapelle Expiatoire visit the website at: http://www.chapelle-expiatoire.monuments-nationaux.fr

Élysée

Élysée Palace
This is the residence of the French President and is closed to the public except on Patrimony Day which is the third weekend in September. It was originally built as a private mansion in 1718 for Comte d’Evereux who lived here until his death in 1753 when it was sold to Madame de Pompadour. Numerous alterations were made during her time here and on her death she left it to Louis XV. During the lifetime of Louis XV it was used as an Art Gallery and he owned it until 1786 when he transferred the property to Louis XV1 but he still retained the use of it. After this time it was redecorated and extended and the garden was relaid in the English style and has retained much of this look to the present day. Louis XV1 sold it to the Duchess of Bourbon who renamed it the Hôtel de Bourbon. After she was arrested during the French Revolution the house was put to different uses but the Duchess was freed in 1795 and she regained possession of it. To help with her finances she rented the house out and it was used for public dancing. During this time the house was renamed the Élysée Palace. It was sold again and various people lived here including Napoléon and the Duke of Wellington and then in 1848 it was declared as the residence of the French President. The structure you see today dates from around 1867 when major alterations took place.

La Madeleine

La Madeleine
The church of St Mary Magdalene found in the Place de la Madeleine was originally built twice and pulled down due to disagreements about its style and use. In 1806 Napoléon commissioned the building of a ‘Temple de la Gloire de la Grand Armée’ (Temple to the Glory of the Great Army) based on the design of an ancient temple to be built here. With the building of the Arc de Triomphe the role of La Madeleine changed and the building of the temple was halted. During the Restoration King Louis XV111 decided its role would be as a church but it wasn’t until 1842 that it was consecrated. Today it is affiliated with a Benedictine Abbey. The design of the church that you see today is that of a Roman temple with 52 columns each 20 metres high around the exterior of the building. The pediment is decorated with a sculpture of the Last Judgement and the bronze doors have reliefs of the Ten Commandments. The interior of the church is lavish and one of the highlights is the statue at the rear of the church above the high altar of St Mary Magdalene being carried to heaven by two angels. The organ is also rather special and concerts have been held here with some famous musicians playing it such as Saint-Saëns and Fauré.
For more information about La Madeleine visit the website at: http://www.eglise-lamadeleine.com (in French only)

Fauchon

Fauchon
This is an upmarket gourmet food company where you can buy lots of yummy food including some beautiful cakes, pastries, chocolates, cheeses, terrines and so on. Prices are expensive but the food is pretty special and even if you don’t buy anything it is worth a visit. There is a restaurant and cafe on the premises. The shop is found at Place de la Madelaine.
For more information about Fauchon visit the website at: http://www.fauchon.com

Maxim’s Art Nouveau Collection 1900
This is a private collection of Art Nouveau objects and decor found above Maxim’s restaurant. Part of the history of Maxims are the courtesans that were here and visited by Princes, Kings, Dukes, Ministers and other members of international high society who frequented the restaurant in the 1900s. The collection recreates this world as it was in 1900 in a 12 room Parisian apartment furnished with the most beautiful creations from the 1900s signed by Majorelle, Tiffany, Toulouse-Lautrec and so on. It is open for guided tours in the afternoon except Monday and Tuesday and an admission fee is charged.
To find out more about Maxim’s Art Nouveau Collection 1900 visit the website at: http://www.maxims-artnouveau-museum.com

Hôtel de Crillon
This is one of the oldest luxury hotels in the world and is found at the end of the Champs Élysées. It was built in 1758 along with an identical building to be government offices. The building to the left of the hotel is still the headquarters of the French Navy. The Hôtel de Crillon has had several owners over the years both private and government until 1788 when the Count of Crillon aquired the building for a hotel but it was confiscated during the French Revolution. It was eventually returned to its owner and it was run as a family owned hotel business for more than 100 years. In 1907 this very luxurious hotel passed to new owners — Groupe du Louvre. and is now owned by even newer owners who are members of the Saudi Arabian royal family. On February 6, 1778, the Hôtel de Crillon was the site of the signing of a treaty of friendship, commerce and alliance between the French government and the newly formed United States, with Benjamin Franklin among others representing the US. This Treaty of Alliance marked France as the first country to recognise the independence of the United States. The Hôtel de Crillon was also used as one of the headquarters of the occupying German army during WWII.
To find out more about the Hôtel de Crillon visit the website at: http://www.crillon.com/?l=en

Place de la Concorde

Place de la Concorde
This square is the largest one in Paris and it was originally named after Louis XV when it was built in 1772. It originally contained a statue of him that was replaced during the French Revolution when the square was renamed Place de la Révolution. During this time a guillotine was put in the centre of the square and around 1119 people were beheaded there including King Louis XV1 and Marie Antoinette. There is a bronze plaque at the western centre of the square that commemorates those that were executed there. After the Revolution the square was renamed several times until 1830 when it was called Place de la Concorde. In the 19th century the Viceroy of Egypt gave the 3200 year old obelisk that is found in the centre of the square as a gift to King Louis-Phillipe. This column is made from red granite and is 23 metres tall and weighs over 250 tons and required a great deal of effort to transport it here. On each side of the obelisk there is a fountain similar to those found in St Peter’s Square in Rome. The square marks an intersection of two axes. The major axis is that of the Triumphal Way which extends east-to-west in a perfectly straight line from the Louvre, past the Arc du Carrousel and through the Tuileries Gardens, up the Champs-Élysée to the Arc de Triomphe, and finishing at the Grande Arche in the Paris suburb of La Défense. The minor axis is formed by the line between Place de la Madeleine, down Rue Royale through the square and across the Pont de la Concorde, finishing at the Palais Bourbon. From the Place de la Concorde you can see the Arc de Triomphe in the west, La Madeleine in the north, the Tuileries in the east and, across the Seine, the Assemblée Nationale in the south.

Pont de la Concorde

Pont de la Concorde
The Pont de la Concorde is the bridge opposite the Assemblée Nationale which links Place de la Concorde with the left bank of the Seine. The bridge was built between 1787 and 1791, using stone from the demolished Bastille to replace the ferry that was here. Over time statues were put on the bridge but the last ones during the Bourbon Restoration were too heavy and were moved to Versailles. The bridge has been widened over time due to increasing traffic but care has been taken to keep its original Neoclassical style.

Pont Alexandre III

Pont Alexandre III
The Pont Alexandre III is an arch bridge connecting the Grand and Petit Palaces and the Hôtel des Invalides. It is considered by many to be the prettiest bridge in Paris with its beautiful Art Nouveau lamps with cherubs flanking its sides and gilded winged horses at each end. It was built between 1896 and 1900 for the 1900 Universal Expo and consists of a 6 metre high arch made from a single span of steel.

Traveller's Tip

This is a lovely spot to come at sunset because the view down the river and across the bridge is just magnificent. Another good way to view the bridge is from the river itself on either a Bateaux-Mouche or the Batobus .
For information about the Bateaux-Mouches visit the website at: http://www.bateauxparisiens.com
For information about the Batobus visit the website at: http://www.batobus.com
Pont des Invalides

Pont des Invalides
This is the lowest bridge crossing the Seine River and the bridge you see today was built between 1854 and 1856 so it would be in time for the Universal Exposition in 1855. Prior to this there had been a suspension bridge that had to be demolished due to subsidence. The new stone bridge used the existing piers of the previous suspension bridge and a new central pier was built. It was decorated by two allegorical groups, Victory on land by Victor Vilain upstream, and Victory at sea by Georges Diébolt downstream. The piers are decorated with military trophies bearing the imperial coat of arms. Over time there has been some restoration to the bridge such as widening but mostly it is much the same as it would have looked when it was built.

Pont de l’Alma
This bridge was first built between 1854 and 1856. The bridge serves as a measuring instrument for water levels and a dam for Parisans when the Seine River floods. Parisians use the statue of the French soldier as a flood measure so when the water level reaches the statue’s feet access to the footpaths on the embankment are usually closed and when the water reaches the thighs the river cannot be navigated. The government officially uses the Pont de la Tournelle as its gauge for flood levels. The bridge underwent reconstruction between 1970 and 1974 because it needed to be widened and there was some subsidence and the only feature left after this was the statue. This bridge is close to the Pont de l’Alma tunnel where Diana, the Princess of Wales died in a car accident in 1997. The Flame of Liberty which is found at the north end of the bridge has become an unofficial memorial to Diana.

Théâtre des Champs-Élysée
This Parisian theatre is famous for being the site of the scandal associated with the first performance of Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring in 1913. The police had to be called because the audience ripped the seats because of their outrage at the performance which was different to anything they had experienced before. It is found at 15 Avenue Montaigne not on the Champs-Élysée as you would expect from the name. If you are interested in Art Deco then this is worth visiting because it is one of the few major examples of that type of architecture in Paris. Today performances here include opera, dance performances, jazz, world music, orchestra and chamber concerts.
For information about the Théâtre des Champs-Élysée visit the website at: http://www.theatrechampselysees.fr/saison-detail.php?t=4&s=149

Palais de la Découverte
This science museum and planetarium is part of the Grand Palais. It was built in 1937 for the International Exposition of Arts and Techniques in Modern Life and was visited by more than 2,225,000 people during this time. This museum was created by André Léveillé, vice-president of the Confederation of Intellectual Workers. In 1990, the museum came under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of National Education and Research and Technology which means that it is directed by scientists with the aim of education through the use of permanent and temporary exhibitions, lectures and interactive experiments and demonstrations and workshops for adults and children. Some of the highlights are the eruption of a volcano, interactive electrostatic experiments, chemistry and cooking lessons as well as other workshops. There is also a planetarium with several programs taking place that last 45 minutes each but there is additional charge for here. The museum is open from Tuesday to Saturday from 9am until 6pm and on Sundays and from 10am until 7pm. It costs €7 to visit the museum and an extra €3.50 to visit the planetarium.
To find out more about Palais de la Découverte visit the website at: http://www.palais-decouverte.fr (in French only)

Grand Palais

Grand Palais
This is another of the buildings that were constructed for the 1900 World Expo. It is has a stone façade and the huge Art-Nouveau ironwork and glass roof makes it one of Paris’ most recognisable landmarks. It is currently the largest existing building of its kind in the world. The Grand Palais is used as a public exhibition hall and hosts many events such as car and fashion shows. There are three different areas in the Grand Palais and each have their own entrance. There is the Palais de la Découverte, the Galeries National du Grand Palais which is the exposition hall with an entrance at Clémenceau Square and the Nef du Grand Palais which is an event hall found opposite the Petit Palais.
To find out more about the Grand Palais visit the website at: http://www.grandpalais.fr/visite/en/

Petit Palais

Petit Palais
The Petit Palais was also built for the 1900 World Expo and like the Grand Palais it was designed by Charles Girault. It is designed in the Beaux Arts-style with ionic columns at the front. Today it is mainly the Museum of Fine Arts with exhibits ranging from the ancient to the 20th century. It contains prints, tapestries, sculptures, medieval objects, rare manuscripts and icons which are mainly from the collection of Auguste Dutuit who left it to the Petit Palais. The highlight of the Petit Palais are the paintings from Picasso, Matisse, Modigliani, Cézanne, Renoir, Monet and Courbet. Access to the permanent collection is free but you will have to pay for temporary exhibitions.
To find out more about the Petit Palais visit the website at: http://petitpalais.paris.fr/en

Champs-Élysée

Champs-Élysées
This is a very impressive promenade that stretches for 2 kilometres from the Place de la Concorde to the Place de Gaulle and the Arc de Triomphe. It is a wide avenue bordered by trees and contains expensive designer shops, hotels and cafes. This is where a lot of French celebrations are held including New Year’s Eve and the 14th July (Bastille Day). In the 16th century this area was fields but in 1616 Marie de Médici created a long tree-lined path going east from the Tuileries which was redesigned in 1667 as an extension of the Jardins des Tuileries. It was named the Champs-Élysées towards the end of the 17th century. In 1724 the Champs-Élysées was extended to what is now the Arc de Triomphe. It became city property in 1828 and this is when footpaths, gas lamps and fountains were added. Over time there have been numerous redesigns with the most recent being in 1994 when the footpaths were widened. It is now the second most expensive real estate strip in the world (Bond Street in London is the most expensive).

Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe
This is the world’s largest triumphal arch. This arch was commissioned by Napoléon in 1806 to commemorate his victories but he was exiled before it was finished in 1836 during the reign of Louis-Phillipe. The design of the arch is based on the Arch of Titus in Rome but the Arc de Triomphe is taller being 50 metres rather than 15. It is adorned with reliefs commemorating Napoléon’s battles. The most famous is the relief known as the Departure of the Volunteers or the Marseillaise. There are 30 shields at the top with the names of Napoléon’s successful battles. Since 1920 the Arc de Triomphe has housed the tomb of France’s Unknown Soldier with its eternal flame commemorating the dead from both World Wars. The Arc de Triomphe is the site of some special events in Paris including Armistice Day (11th November) where the President lays a wreath; on Bastille Day (July 14th) there is a military parade that starts from here and proceeds down the Champs-Élysées; on national holidays and other important state occasions the French flag is hung from the vaulted ceiling inside the arch and the last leg of the Tour de France bicycle race finishes here on the 3rd or 4th Sunday in July.
To find out more about the Arc de Triomphe visit the website at: http://www.arcdetriompheparis.com