PARIS 1 IN A NUTSHELL
From the Place Vendome to the Ile de la Cité, the 1st arrondissement is one of the oldest districts of Paris and also the district of the great Kings of France. The royal palace, the Tuileries, the Louvre and the Palais de la Cité are where the royal power and its court were established for centuries, making the area one of the most sumptuous in the capital.
In this area, the Louvre Museum is the star. The former Palais Royal with its glass pyramid commissioned by François Mitterand attracts art lovers and novices alike. The neighboring streets are mainly devoted to retail and sometimes luxury, particularly in the direction of Place Vendôme.
It is also in Paris 1 where we can find most of the “Royal Squares”. These squares were originally peaceful places of walk designed to admire the statue of the sovereign. Place Dauphine (1614), Place des Victoires (1686), and Place Vendôme (1699) are the Royal Squares in the 1st arrondissement.
Nestled between the Palais Royal and Île Saint-Louis, Les Halles was the traditional central market of Paris. In 1183, King Philippe II Auguste enlarged this marketplace and built a shelter for the merchants, who came from all over to sell their wares at “the Belly of Paris” Today the underground Forum des Halles replaces that old market and its new spectacular architecture deserves a little visit, even if you don’t want to shop. When night falls, the bars are packed and artists invade Place des Halles to take part in shows.
TOP SIGHTS IN PARIS 1
No surprises here: you can find all these places on all the guidebooks about Paris so no article talking about the 1st arrondissement would be complete without them. If you are visiting Paris for the first time you will like to visit some of them, they are very touristy but beautiful !
Jardin des Tuileries
Jardin du Palais Royal
Place Vendôme (and its stylish stores)
Musée du Louvre
Musée de l’Orangerie
Les Bouquinistes (book sellers along Seine’s docks)
BEST THINGS TO SEE IN PARIS 1 (AMAZING OR QUIRKY SIGHTS)
Some of them are part of touristy sights, some of them are hidden gems. This is our personal list of best things to see in the 1st arrondissement if you want to know Paris 1 like a local.
Salle d’Armes de la Conciergerie – quintessence Medieval Architecture
Cour Napoléon at Louvre – admire Pei’s Glass Pyramid. It is especially beautiful at night when it is lit up
Saint Germain L’Auxerrois Church (XII-XVth century) – one of our favorite churches in Paris
Main Nave at Musée des Arts Décoratifs – Monumental Architecture, beautiful mosaics
Sainte Chapelle’s Higher Chapel – stunning stained glass windows 15m high
Buren’s columns – they are funny!
The oldest public Clock in Paris – this clock has been giving time to Parisians since 1371!
Bourse de Commerce (Commodities Exchange) Main Hall – built in the XVIIIth century it was originally used for the storage and sale of wheat
Restaurant Le Grand Véfour (inside) – Jewel of the 18th century “art décoratif”, a place stuck in time
Forum Les Halles’ new architecture – beautiful contemporary architecture in our humble opinion !
BEST THINGS TO DO IN PARIS 1
Despite being one of the most touristy districts of Paris we like to visit the 1st arrondissement from time to time, especially when the weather is nice. These are in our opinion the best things to do in Paris 1 like a local.
Coffee at one of Place Dauphine’s cafes on a sunny day – just a little break in one of the most beautiful squares in Paris
Check how Parisians set their watches in the XVIII th century – learn the story of quirky Petit Canon
Quirky photo session at Buren’s columns – funny for kids and adults, with great photo opportunities
A picnic on the banks of the Seine – a locals’ must. Vin, fromage & baguette, Paris’ beautiful architecture, Bateaux Mouches . . . quintessential Paris as its best
Improvised concert under the Louvre’s archways – street musicians playing their most beautiful scores
Maillol Hunting Statues (Jardin des Tuileries) – More than 20 sculptures scattered all over the gardens! Discover the feminine forms so dear to the artist
Coffee & crêpe at Café Diane (Jardin des Tuileries) – the perfect place for people watching on a sunny day
Paris Plage in summer time – for kids and not that kids : -)
Fall into temptation and buy a little box of Ladurée’s macarons – (Ladurée Macarons 14 rue de Castiglione 75001 Paris)
Explore quirky 59 Rue de Rivoli – the quirkiest (urban) art workshops in Paris 1
Walk, bike or cruise along the Seine at night – just magical
WHERE TO EAT IN PARIS 1 LIKE A LOCAL
Check our proposals of best places to eat in Paris (by Paris arrondissement) on Yummy Paris. This is a living page which we are continuously “feeding” with our Parisian friends’ suggestions so we recommend you to come back from time to time to check the newest additions.
WHERE TO STAY IN PARIS 1
On Where to Stay in Paris 1 section we always try to give 3 top options of best hotels in Paris in each price brackets. However in this “royal area” in the heart of Paris it is really difficult to find quality budget hotels (-100€ /night). These are our proposals for the 1st arrondissement. You can check all the hotel options for the 1st arrondissement here
Ranked among the most luxurious hotels in the world and recently renovated, Ritz is all about location, (Place Vendôme), history and glamour. Featured in many notable works of fiction, the Ritz hosted people like Chanel, Hemingway and Princess Diana of Wales.
Good location (5 min walk to Louvre or Tuileries) and a beautiful building with the charm of Parisian Belle Époque. Rooms have an exclusive atmosphere, all decorated with that French style that you are looking for. The hotel’s Bar is a real institution in Paris.
If you are looking for a more contemporary style, this is the hotel for you. Good location (facing Palais Royal) and an ancient building from the outside but pleasantly modern inside. The ensuite rooms are cozy and big for Paris standards.
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