The 16th is a well-to-do and elegant arrondissement with many points of interest and assets: a varied cultural offer, including many museums, large green spaces to get some fresh air and play sport, and a noteworthy and diverse architectural heritage.
The 16th has a large number of museums and cultural venues with a rich and varied programme of events all year round.
To the north of the arrondissement, the recent Louis Vuitton foundation designed by Frank Gehry is a glass and metal beacon in the Bois de Boulogne. The foundation is devoted to contemporary art and the exhibitions held here offer insights into the artistic movements of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Located between Avenue de Iéna and Avenue du Président Wilson in the north-eastern section of the 16th, the Palais Galliera is the City of Paris fashion museum, opened in 1977. It has one of the biggest collections in the world – 200,000 items of clothing, accessories, photographs, drawings, illustrations and prints. These rare items can be admired during temporary exhibitions. At the nearby Musée Yves Saint-Laurent, fashionistas can explore the couture house and the work of one of the greatest French designers. Another museum in the vicinity is the Musée Guimet showcasing nearly five thousand years of Asian art.
At the foot of the Chaillot hill, the imposing Palais de Tokyo is home to all forms of contemporary art. The City of Paris’s modern art museum occupies the east wing while the west wing is given over to the Palais de Tokyo, devoted to contemporary art. The monumental 1930s-style Palais de Chaillot at the top of the Chaillot hill houses four outstanding institutions: la Cité de l’architecture et du patrimoine devoted to architecture and town planning; the Musée National de la Marine (currently closed for renovations), which places the spotlight on France’s maritime history, the Musée de l’Homme, which studies the evolution of mankind and society, and Chaillot - Théâtre National de la Danse, devoted to modern dance.
The Musée Marmottan-Monet, formerly Jules Marmottan’s hunting lodge, is well worth a visit. It has the world’s largest collection of works by Claude Monet. Besides a hundred-odd works by the painter of the Water Lilies, one can admire paintings by Gauguin, Renoir, Sisley and Berthe Morisot.
Cut across the Jardin du Ranelagh heading to the Seine and you will come to the famous Théâtre du Ranelagh. The 300-seat theatre with ornate carved oak panelling and a painted coffered ceiling is a listed building.
The very unusual Rue des Eaux (it gets its name from the Passy iron-rich mineral spring discovered in the vicinity in the 18th century) has often served as a filming location. It leads to Rue Raynouard, the location of Balzac’s house, now a museum. The writer moved into the house in 1840 to escape his creditors. The house’s second entrance on the picturesque Rue Berton enabled him to go out without being spotted.
The arrondissement also has some interesting and little-known places with a history, such as Gustave Eiffel’s aerodynamics laboratory, which is still operational, at 67 Rue Boileau, and the studio of the Breton sculptor René Quillivic at 73 Boulevard de Montmorency.
The 16th’s large green spaces are great places for a family outing, for playing a sport or simply for relaxing.
A 16th arrondissement must-see, the majestic Trocadéro gardens created in the 1930s offer a stunning view of the Eiffel Tower dominating the capital. The centrepiece of the gardens is the famous Warsaw fountain with 20 water cannons providing an enchanting water display on summer evenings.
The Bois de Boulogne, the ‘green lung’ of western Paris, is an 846-hectare expanse of greenery. Once used for wood production and as a royal hunting preserve, it was given to the city of Paris by Napoleon III in 1852 to be turned into a public park, and has been one for more than 150 years. Cycling enthusiasts take note: it has 15 kilometres of cycle paths. The Jardin d’Acclimatation is located on the northern edge of the Bois. Created during the Second Empire, this green space extending over more than 18 hectares is the oldest amusement park in the capital. The park’s Empire style architecture has been preserved, and it combines period attractions with modern rides. The Bois is also home to the charming Parc de Bagatelle, with its magnificent rose garden and music festivals, and the Pré Catelan. Tucked away inside the latter is the enchanting Shakespeare garden, which becomes one of the loveliest open-air Paris theatres every spring.
The Jardin du Ranelagh at the edge of the Bois is a haven of peace. Marie-Antoinette once came here to dance with her friends. It was redeveloped by Baron Haussmann and opened to the public in 1860. Besides the puppet theatre and the merry-go-round with wooden horses – the oldest in Paris – the garden has many decorative statues.
In the southern part of the 16th, a stone’s throw from the Porte d’Auteuil metro station, is the 7-hectare Jardin des Serres d’Auteuil, created during the reign of Louis XV in 1761. In the five greenhouses set around a formal French parterre garden, visitors are transported into another world. There are rare plants and trees, a palm house and a magnificent aviary.
The 16th is also an arrondissement with exceptional architecture. There is plenty to see, from cobblestone streets to opulent 18th-century-style buildings and art nouveau buildings.
The tranquil, flower-filled village of Auteuil is reputed for its green spaces, private villas, shops and market. It is entered through the Porte de Saint-Cloud where, in the centre of the square, there are two 10-metre-high fountains in the art deco style with decorative bas-reliefs. The first illuminated fountains in the capital, they are the work of the sculptor Paul Landowski.
On Rue Nungesser-et-Coli, you will see the glass façade of the Molitor building designed by Le Corbusier and his associate and cousin Pierre Jeanneret in the 1930s. It is the first glass apartment building in the history of architecture. Le Corbusier’s studio-apartment on the 7th and 8th floors, a duplex where the architect lived and worked for several years, has been renovated and furnished as it was in 1965 and is open for visits.
Near to the Jasmin metro station, at the far end of the Square du Docteur Blanche, are the twin buildings the Maison La Roche and the Maison Jeanneret. The two houses, built between 1923 and 1925 by Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret, are examples of Le Corbusier’s purist villas: geometrical lines, the use of reinforced concrete and stilts, a roof garden and large windows. The two villas are also the headquarters of the Fondation Le Corbusier.
The 16th arrondissement also has the largest number of buildings and private mansions in the art nouveau style in Paris. The Hôtel Guimard at 122 avenue Mozart with its randomly positioned windows and balconies is a prime example. In the Chaillot district, the Hôtel Pauilhac (59 Avenue Raymond Poincaré) is another example of the neogothic trend of art nouveau architecture.
The Hôtel de Polignac in a very different style is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful classical houses built in Paris during the Belle Epoque. Since 1945 it has been the headquarters of the Fondation Singer-Polignac, which funds activities in the arts, literature and science. The Château de la Muette, now the headquarters of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) was built in the 1920s in the 18th century style.
The village of Passy is also worth a visit. This former hamlet with cobblestone streets, beautiful private mansions, green spaces and shops along Rue de l’Annonciation and Rue de Passy still has a feel of the countryside. At Number 16 on the prestigious Avenue Victor Hugo, the restaurant Chez Prunier, where caviar has been a speciality since 1925, has art nouveau decor and a turquoise tiled façade, listed since 1992.
Another must-see is the majestic Trocadéro esplanade. Also known as the Human Rights Square, it is framed by the wings of the Palais de Chaillot. It dominates the Trocadéro gardens and ponds and offers a spectacular view of the Eiffel Tower.