PARIS — Louvre

The 1st arrondissement occupies the Right Bank of the River Seine and extends onto the western section of the Île de la Cité in the middle of the river. It is the least populated district in terms of residents but it is well populated with tourists. The 1st arrondissement is at the geographical centre of Paris and is full of historic sights including some of the finest parks, museums, shops, and bars in the city.

The sights found here are:
Sainte Chapelle
La Conciergerie
The Pont Neuf
The Pont des Arts
The Louvre
Le Palais Royal
Musée de La Mode et du Textile
Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel
Jardin des Tuileries
Musée de l’Orangerie
Jeu de Paume
Place Vendôme
Musée en Herbe
Musée du Barreau de Paris
Église Saint-Eustache
Forum des Halles

Sainte Chapelle

Sainte Chapelle
This church was built between 1246 and 1248 by King Louis 1X as a chapel for the former royal palace to house precious relics. It was possible for the king to walk from his palace directly into Sainte Chapelle. During the French Revolution it was converted into an administrative office and some of the chapel during this time was destroyed including most of King Louis’ precious relics. Some of the relics that survived are now housed in the Notre Dame Cathedral. Thankfully the superb windows were covered up so they were spared the destruction. In the 19th century the chapel was restored by Viollet-le-Duc. There are two chapels to see — the lower chapel is rather plain but the upper chapel has the huge stained glass windows surrounded by painted stonework. This church is easily considered one of the most beautiful in Paris.



Traveller's Tip

The interior of this church especially the stained glass windows on a sunny day is just superb and well worth the wait on a busy day. Make sure you purchase the museum pass which is well and truly worth it if you wish to visit more that a few museums and other sights because not only will it save you money but you can escape the long and inevitable queues especially during the summer months. Be aware that the security surrounding this church is quite tight and you will have to go through a screening process.
For information about the museum pass visit the website at: http://en.parismuseumpass.com
  • There are concerts held in the Saint Chapelle as well as other venues around Paris and for information about what is on and ticket purchase go to the following website: http://www.classictic.com
    La Conciergerie

    La Conciergerie
    The Conciergierie is part of the first palace — Palais de la Cité on the banks of the River Seine that was used by the Kings of France before they moved to the Louvre in the 14th century. In 1391 it was turned into a prison and many famous prisoners have spent time here including the French Royal family in the time of the French Revolution, Mme du Barry, mistress of Louis XV and the American Thomas Paine. Today a visit here will reward you with its splendid gothic architecture especially in the three halls which date from the 14th century.
    For information about the Conciergerie visit the following website at: http://www.conciergerie.monuments-nationaux.fr/en

    Traveller's Tip

    A visit to the Conciergerie will probably only take you about 20 minutes as there isn’t a lot to see apart from the cells of some of its more famous inmates including that of Marie Antoinette. If you have the museum pass and you are in the area then a quick visit is probably worth it.
    The Pont Neuf

    The Pont Neuf
    The Pont Neuf is the oldest standing bridge in Paris and is one of its most beautiful. It was the first bridge in Paris not to have houses on it and was used by many people as a meeting place. It dates from the 16th century in the time of King Henry 1V whose statue sits at the centre of the bridge. The bridge stands on the western point of the Île de la Cité which is the island in the middle of the River Seine and connects its right and left banks.

    Traveller's Tip

    This bridge is best viewed from the river where you can see the figures on the arches which depict dentists, pickpockets, loiterers and so on. Take a boat ride down the river for the best view. There are several different boats that travel down the river including the tourist boats called Bateaux-Mouches which give you a guided tour of the river or the Batobus which allows you to get on and off but there is no commentary.
    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
    The Pont des Arts

    The Pont des Arts
    This is a pedestrian bridge that crosses the River Seine. It links the Institut de France and the central square of the Palais du Louvre. The original bridge was built between 1802 and 1804 and was the first metal bridge in Paris. Damage to the bridge during both world wars as well as collisions by boats over time meant it had to be rebuilt between 1981 and 1984 in the original style. Today the bridge is an open-air studio for artists and photographers and in summer you will find many picnics taking place here.

    The Louvre

    The Louvre
    The Louvre was originally built as a fortress in the 12th century and in the 14th century it was converted into a royal palace for Charles V. The building you see today is the result of many additions made over the following centuries by the various royals who lived here. The collection of art found here was established in the 16th century by Francis 1 including its most famous work of art — the Mona Lisa. In 1793, during the French Revolution the private royal collection opened to the public. The glass pyramid which is used as the main entrance to the museum was constructed in 1989 and was a source of controversy at the time because of the contrast between its modern design and the classical facade of the rest of the building. Today it is seen as an advantage because firstly it allows light into what was once a dark space and it provides room at the entrance where it is needed. The Louvre museum that you visit today is enormous and contains around 35,000 objects organised into seven departments and spread over three wings of the former palace. Each of the wings have 3 stories and there is also an area below ground level. The collections on display range from European art and sculpture through to antiquities of the ancient world as well as Objets d'Art, prints and drawings. Some of the treasures of the Louvre include the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci; the Venus de Milo; the Dying Slave by Michelangelo and the Winged Victory of Samothrace.
    For information about the Louvre visit the website at: http://www.louvre.fr/llv/commun/home.jsp?bmLocale=en

    Traveller's Tip

    You will need to allow several hours to visit the Louvre and preferably you should schedule your visit over a few days as there is so much to see and it is impossible to take it all in in just one visit. If you are short on time a good way to visit the Louvre would be to take one of the many guided tours that are available. Information about these can be found on the website.
    Le Palais Royal

    Le Palais Royal
    The Palais Royal was originally known as the Palais Cardinal as it was the residence of Cardinal Richelieu who was the prime minister in the time of Louis XIII. When Richelieu died it was inherited by the monarchy. Louis XIV spent part of his childhood here with his mother, Anne of Austria, but later resided at the Louvre and Versailles. The palace was then owned by the Duc de Chartres et Orléans and the palace became the centre for gambling and prostitution. During the French Revolution it was the scene of political activity. Today it houses government offices and isn’t open to the public but you can visit the garden and the courtyard with its sculpture of short black and white columns.

    Musée de La Mode et du Textile
    This is a very interesting museum if you like the decorative arts such as clothing and jewellery. It is a treasure house of over 6,000 items ranging from the Middle Ages to the present day. There are also different galleries representing different decorative arts such as the Jewellery Gallery, a toy gallery and some that change from time to time. One of the highlights is a 1920s Art Deco boudoir, bath and bedroom for the designer Lanvin.
    To find out more about the museum visit the website at: http://www.lesartsdecoratifs.fr

    Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel

    Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel
    The Arc du Carrousel was commissioned by Emperor Napoleon in 1806 to commemorate his Austrian victories and to honour his grand army. The design of the arch was based on the Arch of Constantine in Rome and it has three archways. On top of the arch are four gilded bronze horses which are copies of those you find on the top of St Mark’s Basilica in Venice. Originally they were the ones you see on St Mark’s Basilica but they were returned after Napoleon lost at Waterloo. Later a chariot and a figure as well as statues were added to the horses. The arch contains several bas-reliefs depicting the story of Napoleon’s military campaign. The arch is found on the Place du Carrousel on the site of the former Tuileries Palace.

    Jardin des Tuileries

    Jardin des Tuileries
    This is one of the most visited gardens in Paris due to its position as between the Louvre and Place de la Concorde. In 1559 a palace was built here for Catherine de Médici which included a large garden modelled after those found in Tuscany in Italy which is where she was born. Between 1660 and 1664 the garden was redesigned in the French formal style. The garden was one of the first to open to the public in Paris and has been popular for many years with its cafes, kiosks, deck chairs and public toilets. This is a beautiful garden to walk through with its many fountains, sculptures and the two museums you can visit. The palace was demolished in 1871 which opened up the view that you see today from the Louvre to the Arc de Triomphe.

    Water Lillies

    Musée de l’Orangerie
    This building was originally an ‘orangery’ for the Tuileries Palace. An orangery was the place where the wealthy kept their orange trees under cover during the winter to protect them. In the 1920s two oval-shaped rooms were built at the Musée de l’Orangerie to house eight big murals of the artist Monet. These were his Water Lillies series which he donated. There are also works by other impressionist and post impressionist artists including Picasso, Cezanne, Matisse, Renoir and Modigliani.
    For information about the Musée de l’Orangerie visit the website at: http://www.musee-orangerie.fr/

    Jeu de Paume
    The Jeu de Paume is a museum of contemporary art found in the north-west corner of the Tuileries. It was built during the reign of Napoleon 111 to house tennis courts which gives it its name. During the war it held confiscated Jewish art by the Nazi regime in Paris and some of this art which was considered ‘degenerate’ was destroyed by them. It used to house important impressionist art before it was moved to the Musée d’Orsay in 1986. These days the Jeu de Paume is a combination of three associations, the Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, the Centre National de la Photographie, and Patrimoine Photographique which merged in 2004 to become a centre for photography and video, displaying mechanical and electronic images. The exhibitions are changed on a regular basis.
    To find out more about the Jeu de Paume visit the website at: http://www.jeudepaume.org/index.php?_langue_=english&PHPSESSID=221698010d4a1ec9cf84b53748965e87

    Place Vendôme

    Place Vendôme
    This large square built in 1702 is dominated by a 44 metre column — Colonne Vendôme which is modelled on the Trajan Column in Rome. The column was built to commemorate the victory at Austerlitz by Napoleon and originally it was called Colonne d’Austerlitz. The bas-relief bronze plates found on the column were made from cannons taken during the Austerlitz battle. If you look at the buildings around the square you will notice all of them are identical. Number 12 which houses the jewellery shop, Chaumet was where Chopin lived and died and is also where Napoléon III enjoyed trysts with his mistress. Also found on the square is the famous Hotel Ritz which is popular with the rich and famous especially its tiny Hemingway Bar.

    Musée en Herbe
    This is an art museum for children with exhibitions and workshops. There are lots of hands-on activities for your children to enjoy and there are different activities for different age groups. Children can have birthday parties here.
    To find out more about the museum visit the website at: http://www.musee-en-herbe.com

    Musée du Barreau de Paris
    This museum is found in the cellars of the Hôtel de la Porte and is dedicated to the Paris bar and its lawyers. It is found near the Église Saint-Eustache and admission is free but it is only open on weekends by appointment. Here you will find collections of manuscripts, photos, paintings and engravings. Some of the more interesting trials represented in the collections include those of Marie-Antoinette, Louis XV1, the Dreyfus affair and the assassin of Jean Jaurès. It is also the place to find the writings of great lawyers, such as Gambetta and Poincaré.

    É Saint-Eustache

    Église Saint-Eustache
    This large church found at the entrance of the markets of Les Halles looks like a slightly smaller version of the Notre Dame. It was built between 1532 and 1640, with foundations dating back to 1200. The church has a Gothic exterior with impressive flying buttresses and a Renaissance interior. A lot of famous people have been associated with this church over time including Mme de Pompadour, Cardinal Richelieu, Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson and Molière’ who were all baptised here. Molière’ was also married here. Funerals that have been held here include those of Anne of Austria (mother of Louis 1V), Turenne (a marshal of France) and Mozart’s mother. Inside you will find the black-marble tomb of Jean-Baptiste Colbert with his marble effigy flanked by statues of Abundance and Fidelity on top. The church’s most famous painting is Rubens’ The Pilgrimage to Emmaus. Make sure you look at the organ found in the church. It is reputed to be the largest pipe organ in France.
    For more information on this church visit the website at: http://www.saint-eustache.org (in French only)

    Forum des Halles
    Les Halles is named after the large central wholesale marketplace which was demolished in 1971 and was replaced with an underground modern shopping precinct called the Forum des Halles. This open-air centre is below street level and contains sculptures, fountains and museums including the Musée Grévin-Forum des Halles which is a wax museum. Under the shops is the underground station Châtelet-Les-Halles, which is a central hub of the Paris rail system.
    For more information about this shopping precinct visit the website at: http://en.forumdeshalles.com/vue/form/forumdeshallesuk/accueil/accueil.htm