The contrasts within Paris’s central 9th arrondissement are striking. Stretching from Haussmann’s hallowed Grands Boulevards to up-and-coming Pigalle, it has many different facets, historic and family-focused, cultural and business-minded, with tourist spots and a lively night scene.
The ‘Opera arrondissement’ may be one of the smallest but it’s internationally renowned thanks to the highly prestigious Palais Garnier (Paris Opera House), one of the jewels of Parisian culture. Built by Charles Garnier and opened in 1875, it offers a programme of operas, concerts and ballets. Don’t miss the opportunity to take in a performance by the Paris Opera Ballet, one of the oldest ballet companies in the world. Inside the opera house, look up at the ceiling to see the opulent paintings by Marc Chagall.
You’ll find cultural gems all over this arrondissement. In the Nouvelle-Athènes district, the Musée de la Vie Romantique displays works by the painter Ary Scheffer and is located in his former home. The first floor is dedicated to the writer George Sand. At the little-known Musée National Gustave Moreau, you can explore this Symbolist painter’s former home and studio. Grévin Paris, the famous wax museum on boulevard Montmartre, remains one of Paris’s leading attractions and is a favourite with all ages. In a completely different style, the Musée de la Franc-Maçonnerie (museum of freemasonry) is located in the headquarters of the Grand Orient de France organization in rue Cadet and contains a wealth of information on the history, traditions and symbols of freemasonry.
The 9th arrondissement boasts some noteworthy buildings. Sainte-Trinité Church was designed to be viewed from the Opéra Garnier, at the request of Baron Haussmann. Notre-Dame-de-Lorette Church in rue de Châteaudun contains one of the most colourful frescos in Paris. Just a stone’s throw away lies the Grand Synagogue of Paris, also known as La Victoire Synagogue, built during the Second Empire period by Alfred-Philibert Aldrophe. Behind boulevard Haussmann’s department stores, you will find Saint-Louis d’Antin Church. It is one of Paris’s busiest, with mass celebrated seven times a day. Sainte-Eugène-Sainte-Cécile Church, at Bonne-Nouvelle, is famous as the first church in the city to have its entire roof frame built of metal. There are also a number of protestant churches in the area, including the Protestant Redemption Church, where Paul Gauguin was married, and the Christuskirche German Protestant Church.
The department stores on boulevard Haussmann and in the Chausée d’Antin district are long-standing institutions. Printemps Haussmann and Galeries Lafayette are temples of Parisian shopping, dedicated to fashion, beauty and luxury. But save some energy for the smaller stores too: there are some great boutiques in the mall at passage du Havre, as well as in quaint passage Jouffroy and passage Verdeau.
The 9th arrondissement is packed with bustling shopping streets. The Blanche-Trinité district is noted for its wide range of unusual stores. Leading north from the Faubourg-Montmartre district, rue Notre-Dame-de-Lorette is home to some highly specialised shops, with a focus on decor and interior design.
The very long rue des Martyrs, the main artery of ‘SoPi’ (South Pigalle), is hipper still, with its restaurants, fashionable boutiques and small independent shops. The Saint-Georges district and rue Cadet are also known for their great shopping, and offer numerous specialist food outlets and local stores.
In the Blanche-Pigalle district, the attractive Anvers food market is recognized for its quality produce. Close by, you will find the cosmopolitan, typically Parisian Rochechouart district with its many clothing stores. It is particularly famous for its cut-price wedding boutiques!
The 9th arrondissement is the ideal place to head for a night out.
The legendary L’Olympia Bruno Coquatrix venue in boulevard des Capucines has hosted many leading French and international artists (including Edith Piaf, Jacques Brel, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones) and top actors have performed at the nearby théâtre Edouard VII. The Athénée Théâtre Louis-Jouvet, opened in 1896 and now a listed historic monument, is one of Paris’s most beautiful Italian-style theatres.
With so many restaurants, cinemas and theatres around the Grands-Boulevards and Faubourg-Montmartre districts, you’ll be spoilt for choice. The théâtre des Nouveautés stages light comedy and vaudeville theatre, while at the well-known Folies Bergère the accent is on musicals and concerts by contemporary artists. At théâtre de Paris, the programme is both prestigious and adventurous.
The Casino de Paris is not in fact a casino, but a famous music hall. Its varied repertoire spans everything from French and international artists to comedians and magicians. Adults and children alike will be transported by the musicals staged at théâtre Mogador. Broadway, eat your heart out!
Theatres also thrive in the Saint-Georges district. The iconic théâtre Saint-Georges is a pretty Italian-style auditorium. Théâtre Petite Loge, which opened in 2008, is a springboard for young stand-up comedians. Théâtre La Bruyère has a focus on modern works. The International Visual Theatre and L’Antre Magique are two places to experience something a little different. The first presents bilingual performances in French and French sign language, and the second, magic shows.
Théâtre Fontaine stages side-splitting modern comedies. Nearby, the Blanche-Pigalle district is home to a number of cabarets such as the Carrousel de Paris and La Nouvelle Eve, offering a completely different style of entertainment.
Rue des Martyrs has a concentration of typical Parisian cafés, lively bars, cabarets and celebrated music venues. Once the sun goes down, it becomes the party district and the fun continues late into the night.