PARIS — Hôtel-de-Ville

The 4th arrondissement is found on the right bank of the Seine and contains one of the oldest districts of Paris known as the Marais. It was once an area for Royal residences and evidence of this can be found in some of the beautiful squares found here. Today it is a mixture of bars, restaurants, boutiques, galleries, beautiful squares and narrow medieval streets. Paris’ two islands of Île de la Cité and Île St Louis are also found in this district and these provide some of the most expensive and desirable residential areas.

The sights found here are:
Centre Georges Pompidou
Old Jewish District
Shoah Memorial and Museum
Place des Vosges
Maison de Victor Hugo
Hôtel de Sully
Place de la Bastille
Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal
Salle des Traditions de la Garde Republicaine
Musée de la Magie
St-Gervais-et-St-Protais Church
Place de l’Hôtel de Ville
Hôtel de Ville
Tour St Jacques
Seine River Booksellers
Flower Market and Bird Market
Notre Dame Cathedral
Île Saint Louis Neighbourhood
Hôtel de Sens
Bibliothèque Polonaise de Paris

Centre Georges Pompidou

Centre Georges Pompidou
This centre named after a former French President was opened in 1977 to much controversy because of its daring and unusual architecture. The outside is a mixture of glass, air ducts, heating shafts and stairwells which were put here to create more space inside. It is visited by a huge number of people every day and for a time it was the most visited museum in Paris. The Pompidou Centre is the home of the National Museum of Modern Art which has a wonderfully diverse collection of modern works. There are also a lot of temporary exhibits that are staged here. The centre contains a large public library, a restaurant and an internet cafe.
For information about the centre visit the website at: http://www.centrepompidou.fr

Old Jewish District
Paris’ most famous Jewish neighbourhood is in the Marais and is known as the Pletzl which means Little Place in Yiddish. This area has been home to Jews on and off since the 13th century. The areas occupied by Jewish restaurants, bookshops, kosher food shops and synagogues are found along and around Rue des Rosiers between Rue Malher and Rue des Hospitalières-St.-Gervais.

Shoah Memorial and Museum
The Shoah Memorial and Museum opened its doors in January 2005. This museum contains the largest archive of the Holocaust in Europe including the history of Jews in France during WW11 The permanent exhibition presents a chronological and thematic sequence tracing the history of Jews in France during the Holocaust. Temporary exhibitions also focus on the fate of Jews in other European countries. The museum provides a series of educational activities, meetings, discussion evenings, lectures and screenings and there is a Multimedia Learning Centre and a bookstore.
For information about the Shoah Memorial and Museum visit the website at: http://www.memorialdelashoah.org/getHomeAction.do?langage=en

Traveller's Tip

Your experience at this museum will be very moving because of the video presentations of the personal accounts of people who lived through the Holocaust and especially the wall of children who never came back. It is one of those places that you should visit to make sure these atrocities never happen again.
Place des Vosges

Place des Vosges
This is the oldest square in Paris and one of its most beautiful. It dates back to 1604 when King Henry 1V built a Royal pavilion at the southern end of the square. All the other buildings here were then built in the same style which gives it a uniform look and adds to its beauty. In 1612 it became the ‘Place Royale’ and it was a favourite place for duels. In 1799 Napoleon renamed it to the Place des Vosges as thanks to the Vosges district in France which was the first district to pay taxes. Inside the square there are some beautiful fountains and a statue of Louis X111 who was the monarch at the time when the square was completed.

Maison Victor Hugo

Maison de Victor Hugo
Maison de Victor Hugo is found at number 6 Place des Vosges and was the former home of the 19th century novelist, Victor Hugo between 1832 and 1848. This museum is full of drawings with illustrations from Hugo’s works. There are lots of his personal mementos, samples of his handwriting, first editions of his books as well as some lovely 19th century furniture. The Chines Room is particularly beautiful.
For information about the Maison de Victor Hugo visit the following website at: http://www.paris.fr/portail/loisirs/Portal.lut?page_id=5852

Hôtel de Sully

Hôtel de Sully
This mansion was built between 1625 and 1630 for the financier Mesme Gallet and it contained gardens and an orangery. The site was chosen so that it could have access to what is now the Place des Vosges. In 1634 it was bought by the Duc de Sully who was the Superintendent of Finances to King Henry 1V. The Hôtel still bears the name of his family. Over time it had many owners but in 1862 it was classified as an historical monument and it was gradually restored. Since 1967 it has been the home of what is now known as the Centre des Monuments Nationaux which looks after the management of historic buildings and monuments under state care. The Hôtel de Sully has two courtyards. The first one opens onto Rue Saint Antoine and on its right-side is the Information Centre for the Centre des Monuments Nationaux. You can get information, free maps and brochures on museums and monuments. Under the second arch is a bookstore with books about anything French. The second courtyard is the main courtyard and has some beautiful lawns and hedges which you can enjoy from the benches found here. In this courtyard you will find the exhibition room for temporary photographic exhibitions of the museum Jeu de Paume found in the Tuileries Garden. Along the back of the courtyard is a building which was originally the orangerie but is now used as office space.
For information about the Hôtel de Sully visit the website at: http://sully.monuments-nationaux.fr/en/

Traveller's Tip

Make sure you look at the bas-relief sculptures that adorn the walls of the main courtyard. They represent the four seasons and the elements and are the same bas-relief sculptures of the seasons found on the façades of the Hôtel Carnavalet.
Place de la Bastille

Place de la Bastille
This is the square where the infamous Bastille prison stood until it was stormed during the French Revolution. At the centre of the square is the Colonne de Juillet or July Column which commemorates the events of the July Revolution in 1830. In this square you will find the Bastille Opéra and the Bastille métro station. The square often hosts concerts and other events including political demonstrations such as the huge anti-CPE demonstration of 28 March 2006.

Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal
This library became one of the branches of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in 1934. The collections of the library originated with the private library of several wealthy people in the mid 18th century but during the French Revolution it was taken over by the state and increased by many valuable items seized from the abbeys of Paris and also by the archives of the Bastille. In 1797 it was declared a public library. In the 19th century the collections became increasingly focused towards literature, especially drama.
To find out more about the Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal visit the following website at: http://www.bnf.fr/fr/la_bnf/sites/a.site_bibliotheque_arsenal.html

Salle des Traditions de la Garde Republicaine
This is a museum dedicated to the traditions of the Garde Republicaine which is the ceremonial unit of the French National Gendarmerie. The museum has collections of arms, uniforms, equipment, hairstyles, musical instruments and other displays involving the Garde Republicaine. It is open weekdays by appointment and admission is free.
To find out more about the Garde Republicaine visit the following website at: http://www.gendarmerie.interieur.gouv.fr/garde_republicaine

Musée de la Magie
This is another of those museums in Paris that are rather unusual. The Museum of Magic was established in 1993 by George Proust and contains everything involved in the art of magic, conjuring tricks and illusion from the 18th century to the present day. There are seven rooms containing collections of magic wands, boxes, magicians’ hats as well as posters, engravings and items about the history of magicians. There are also magic shows on a regular basis. It is open Wednesdays and the weekend from 2pm until 7pm and costs €9 for adults and €7 for children.
For information about the museum visit the website at: http://www.museedelamagie.com/accueil1.html (in French only)

Traveller's Tip

If you are travelling with young children or love magic then this is the museum for you but be aware that the show and a lot of the exhibits are in French. This is not really a problem as most of it is highly visual.
St-Gervais-et-St-Protais Church

St-Gervais-et-St-Protais Church
This church is one of the oldest in Paris and is known for its music and connection with famous French musicians, the Couperin family. They played music in the church for more than two centuries beginning in 1653 and the organ that a member of the family played on is the one you still see today. The façade of the church contains statues made by Simon Guillain who was a well-known sculpturer from the French Baroque period. One of the highlights of the interior of the church is the painting Le Martyre de Sainte Pétronille (St Pétronille’s Martyrdom) by Guercino.

Place de l’Hôtel-de-Ville

Place de l’Hôtel de Ville
This square was originally called Place de Grève and it was where most executions in Paris took place. People were beheaded, quartered and burnt at the stake and in 1792 a guillotine was set up here which was used during the French Revolution. In 1830 it was renamed Place de l’Hôtel de Ville after the last execution was held here. It was enlarged over time and in 1982 it became a pedestrian zone. It is the site of city hall — Hôtel de Ville.

Hôtel-de-Ville

Hôtel de Ville
This is the City Hall of Paris and the first Hôtel de Ville was built in 1553 by Francis 1 but it was only completed in the Renaissance style in 1628. In 1871 a fire destroyed the building along with the city archives so the city government held a competition for construction of a new city hall. Architects Théodore Ballu and Edouard Deperthes won the competition with their design to reconstruct the Hôtel de Ville’s original style. This building was officially opened in 1881. Each façade of the building is decorated with statues representing famous Parisians and other features. The clock at the tower in the middle of the building has sculptures representing the Seine River, the city of Paris, ‘Work’ and ‘Education’. Inside is just as grand with its large staircase, lovely stained glass windows, beautiful chandeliers and murals by famous painters. City Hall serves the functions of housing the local administration, the Mayor of Paris and as a venue for large receptions.
To find out more about the Hôtel de Ville visit the website at: http://www.paris.fr/english/heritage-and-sights/main-sights/hotel-de-ville/rub_8275_stand_34686_port_19140

Tour St Jacques

Tour St Jacques
This highly ornate 52 metre tall tower was built in the 16th century in the Gothic style. It was originally part of the Saint-Jacques de la Boucherie Church which was demolished at the end of the 18th century leaving only its bell tower. The tower has been restored over time to its former glory and it sits majestically in a beautifully landscaped park.

Seine River Booksellers

Seine River Booksellers
Paris has over 200 independent outdoor booksellers, offering new and used books and magazines. The sight of their green metal stands is an iconic part of the landscape of Paris. The tradition extends back to the 16th century when during the Renaissance booksellers set up permanent places of business alongside and nearby the Seine River. Despite the fact that there are more and more chain bookstores these outdoor booksellers still remain a much-loved part of the city of Paris. It is a lovely way to spend some time wandering along the quays and browsing through some collectible and rare titles though most of these are in French. Most of the booksellers are open from just before noon until sundown but they can be closed if the weather is too bad and on public holidays. You will find the outdoor booksellers on both banks of the Seine from Pont Marie and the Louvre on the Right Bank and from Quai de la Tournelle to Quai Voltaire on the Left Bank.

Flower Market and Bird Market
This market dates from 1808 and is found on the Île de la Cité between the Conciergerie and Hôtel Dieu near the Notre Dame. It is the oldest and one of the largest flower markets in Paris. It is open year round from Monday to Saturday and it is full of exotic as well as more mundane flowers and trees. On Sundays it becomes a bird market with cages of parakeets, canaries, and lots of other brilliantly coloured species with cages for sale as well.

Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame Cathedral
This beautiful cathedral is found on the Île de la Cité. Notre Dame Cathedral is the most popular monument in France with around 13 million visitors each year. Even though it is a popular tourist attraction it is still a working church with many religious events of national significance taking place here. Building of the cathedral commenced in 1163 during the reign of Louis VII and it was completed roughly 200 years later in about 1345 in the French Gothic style. Over the years there have been lots of alterations and additions and during the French Revolution a lot of the treasures were destroyed or stolen. The cathedral fell into disrepair and a restoration program was carried out in 1845 taking 23 years to finish. During this time the spire and the sacristy were added. It underwent another restoration in the 1990s. During its history, Notre Dame has been the site of numerous official and other ceremonial occasions including the crowning of several monarchs such as Henry V1 of England; Mary Stuart, Queen of France and Napoleon and Josephine. One of the highlights of the cathedral is the glorious set of three rose windows that date from the 13th century. The west front of the cathedral has two 69 metre tall towers. The south tower houses the cathedral’s most famous and oldest bell Emmanuel. The three west portals have sculptured scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary, the Last Judgement and scenes from the life of St Anne who was the Virgin Mary’s mother.
For information about the Notre Dame Cathedral visit the website at: http://www.notredamedeparis.fr/-English-

Traveller's Tip

You can visit the inside of the cathedral for free but it is probably best not to visit on a Sunday as services are held then and it is closed at certain times. You can visit the towers, the treasury and the archaeological Crypt for a fee and information about these can be found on the website. Be aware that the tower has 387 steps that are narrow and winding and there isn’t a lift but the view is quite spectacular from here and you can get a close-up view of the gargoyles and the bell.
  • There are tours organised by the cathedral each day which are free of charge. You will need to check the website if you are interested. There are also audio guides available for a charge of around €5 if you would like a commentary. This is a good idea if it is your first visit because it talks about the history as well as the architecture of the cathedral.
  • Come back and visit the cathedral in the evening as the façade is lit up — quite a spectacular sight.
    Île Saint Louis Neighbourhood

    Île Saint Louis Neighbourhood
    The small island of Île Saint Louis is found close to the Notre Dame Cathedral. It is a very quiet area with a village-type of atmosphere with its bakeries, cheese shops, cafes and markets. It is also home to Berthillon Ice Cream which is found at 31, Rue St Louis-en-l’Île and considered by many to be the best icecream in Paris. There are some interesting places to see in this quaint part of Paris including St Louis-en-l’Île Church which was first built in 1622 and has a large and impressive interior. Make sure you check out the magnificent wooden doors decorated with angels. The little bridge that connects Île St Louis and Île de la Cité is popular with street performers and is a great place to hang out.

    Hôtel de Sens

    Hôtel de Sens
    This mansion is one of only three medieval private residences that still exist in Paris. The original inhabitants of the Hôtel de Sens were the Archbishops of Sens who were the order of bishops that Paris belonged to in the Middle Ages. The mansion was built between 1475 and 1507 and this is reflected in the mixture of Medieval and Renaissance architectural styles of the building. The main façade has Medieval-style turrets and windows as well as a keep. It has had several occupants over time including Queen Margot who was the first wife of Henry 1V. During her time here she pursued many love affairs. It now houses the Bibliothèque Forney which is a library devoted to the decorative and fine arts, as well as industrial techniques. It also has a large collection of posters and wallpaper. Make sure you visit the elegant formal gardens which are a lovely place to sit on a sunny day.

    Bibliothèque Polonaise de Paris
    This is the main Polish library in Paris. The Bibliothèque Polonaise de Paris was established in 1838 and is the main Polish library in Paris. It has one of the largest collection of Polish books and documents outside Poland and the most famous book stored here is De revolutionibus orbium coelestium by Nicolaus Copernicus. Found in the library as well is a small museum dedicated to the Polish poet Adam Mickiewicz which is open by guided visit from Tuesday to Friday from and another one-roomed museum dedicated to the famous composer Frederic Chopin with a number of his personal mementos.
    To find out more about the library visit the website at: http://translate.googleusercontent.com/translate_c?hl=en&sl=fr&u=http://www.bibliotheque-polonaise-paris-shlp.fr/index.php%3Fid_page%3D202&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dbibliotheque%2Bpolonaise%2Bde%2Bparis%26hl
    %3Den%26prmd%3Divnsm&rurl=translate.google.com.au&twu=1&usg=ALkJrhjG5LodMwPaC6WhK6iScg650gKQgA