The 8th arrondissement, on the right bank of the Seine, is home to numerous major historic sites, a rich and varied choice of cultural attractions and some of the city’s most prestigious luxury and haute couture addresses. Naturally, it’s a favourite with visitors!
You will find some of Paris’s most iconic monuments in this part of the city.
In the centre of place Charles de Gaulle stands the majestic Arc de Triomphe, commissioned by Napoleon in 1806 to commemorate the victories of France’s armies. Under the arch lies the tomb of the unknown soldier. The eternal flame that burns above it is rekindled every evening. Climb to the top of the arch to admire panoramic views down the Champs-Élysées to the Tuileries Gardens and the Louvre.
The legendary avenue des Champs-Élysées stretches for two kilometres from the foot of the arch. A succession of top stores, Michelin-starred restaurants, concert halls, cinemas and luxury hotels gives way at the far end to wide tree-lined walkways. The avenue runs a busy calendar of national, popular and sporting events throughout the year. On the first Sunday of each month, the whole road is pedestrianized so that you can enjoy it traffic-free.
At the opposite end of the Champs-Elysées to the Arc de Triomphe, overlooking the Seine and Tuileries Gardens, is Paris’s largest and most spectacular square – the octagonal-shaped place de la Concorde. This is where the guillotine was located during the French Revolution. In the centre lies the 3,200-year old Luxor Obelisk. A full 23 metres high, it forms the gnomon (pointer) of a giant sundial. Either side of it are two fountains, the Fontaine des Mers and the Fontaine des Fleuves. At night, they sparkle with lights making the perfect photo opportunity! On one side of the square stand two identical colonnade-fronted buildings, the luxurious Hôtel de Crillon and the emblematic Hôtel de la Marine. The second of these was used under the Ancien Régime to store the royal furniture, and later housed the Ministry of the Navy. It is now open to the public offering immersive tours of its sumptuous apartments and state rooms.
Looking down rue Royal from place de la Concorde, you have an excellent view of another major monument, the Madeleine Church. This church, set in the middle of place de la Madeleine, resembles a Greek temple with its 52 columns. The building was commissioned by Napoleon in 1806 to celebrate his Grand Army. After work lasting many years, it was eventually consecrated as a church in 1845.
Beyond these highlights, the 8th arrondissement boasts a long list of cultural sites, including the impressive, 100-metre long Saint-Augustin Church, a blend of Romanesque and Byzantine styles, the Byzantine Revival Saint-Alexandre-Nevsky Russian Orthodox Cathedral, the Chapelle Expiatoire, dedicated to the French royal family and built on the burial site of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, Saint-Philippe du Roule Church, the American Cathedral in Paris and the Notre-Dame-de-Consolation Chapel.
Down by the river Seine, don’t miss the stunning Alexandre III Bridge, built in 1891 in the Belle Époque style to celebrate the alliance between Russia and France.
Many important government buildings are located in the 8th arrondissement, among them the Élysée Palace (the official residence of the French President), the Interior and Justice Ministries, and the embassies of seven G20 countries.
With beautiful avenues and carefully designed vistas, this is a gorgeous area to explore on foot. If you’re hankering after some green space, stroll the paths of the Champs-Élysées Gardens, alongside the avenue of the same name. While you’re there, don’t miss the fountains and bandstands. Within the gardens, you will find top restaurants, several theatres and the Guignol puppet show, a favourite with local children.
In the north of the arrondissement lies Monceau Park. As soon as you see the elegant black and gold wrought iron gates, you’ll know you’re in for a treat. Besides its lush gardens and mature trees, the park is full of surprises – a lake bordered by Corinthian columns, numerous statues, a pretty Italian bridge, a grotto and a waterfall.
The 8th arrondissement is home to some of Paris’s most fascinating museums and cultural attractions.
The Cernuschi Museum, opposite Monceau Park, is dedicated to Asian art and has a collection of 15,000 pieces from China, Japan, Vietnam and Korea. Also alongside the park is the Nissim-de-Camondo Museum, housed in a building built to resemble the Trianon at Versailles. Inside is a priceless collection of French decorative arts dating from the second half of the 18th century.
Head south to boulevard Haussmann to admire the splendid Jacquemart-André Museum. This Second Empire mansion is the former residence of two prolific art collectors, Édouard André and Nélie Jacquemart. The museum holds some very rare works ranging from Italian Renaissance art to paintings by masters from the German and Flemish schools as well as frescos and sculptures.
On avenue Winston Churchill, just off the Champs-Élysées, stands the Grand Palais with its vast glass roof. This is a key Parisian venue for exhibitions, shows, events and sports fixtures. With the main site currently closed for renovation, a temporary exhibition hall, the Grand Palais Ephémère, has been set up in place Joffre to host the major events of each season.
The nearby Palais de la Découverte uses interactive experiences to explore science in all its guises. As it is also undergoing major refurbishment, a delocalised events programme is currently running at Les Etincelles, a temporary installation on the edge of André Citroën Park.
Another of the 8th arrondissement’s must-see museums is the exquisite Petit Palais. Built for the Universal Exhibition of 1900, it now houses the city of Paris’s art collection, a panorama of works extending from Ancient Greece and Rome to the early 20th century. Its enclosed garden is an oasis of peace.
Also in the 8th arrondissement, leading contemporary art is on display at a number of prestigious galleries, including Hopkins, Malingre, Lelong, Gagosian, Kamel Mennour and Emmanuel Perrotin.
The performing arts are not forgotten either. There are several major theatres in this area: the théâtre des Champs-Élysées, the théâtre du Rond-Point, the théâtre Marigny, the théâtre de la Madeleine, the théâtre des Mathurins and the théâtre Michel. They stage everything from classic and contemporary plays, light comedy and musicals to ballets, concerts and more. If shows are more your thing, head for the Salle Pleyel, the Salle Gaveau, the Crazy Horse or Espace Pierre Cardin.
The 8th arrondissement has long been known as the epicentre of Parisian chic.
The haute couture houses – including Chanel, Dior, Prada, Gucci, Givenchy, Yves Saint-Laurent and Louis Vuitton – and other fashion boutiques are based in the ‘Golden Triangle’ between avenue Montaigne, avenue des Champs-Élysées and avenue George V, on rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré or around place de la Madeleine or place de la Concorde. Galeries Lafayette has recently opened its own high-end concept store on the Champs-Élysées offering pieces from the most in-vogue designers and brands.
This arrondissement has no less than six luxury hotels (Le Bristol, Hôtel de Crillon, the Four Seasons Hotel George V, the Plaza Athénée, La Réserve Paris and Le Royal Monceau Raffles) and two five-star hotels (the Prince de Galles and the Hôtel Barrière Le Fouquet’s) offering superlative service and the very best facilities (concierge, restaurants run by famous chefs, elegant rooms and suites, etc.).
The area is also known for its numerous Michelin-star restaurants – Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée, Le Cinq at the George V (Christian Le Squer), Épicure at Le Bristol (Eric Fréchon), Pavillon Ledoyen (Yannick Alléno), restaurant Pierre Gagnaire and Le Chiberta (Guy Savoy) – as well as leading gourmet restaurants including Maxim’s, La Table Lucas Carton, Lasserre, L’Arôme, Le Laurent, Le Clarence and La Scène.