On the Right Bank of the river Seine, discover majestic Paris as designed by Baron Haussmann on this walk that takes you from the Opera and Paris’s world-famous department stores along the broad boulevards and prestigious avenues with their elegant apartment buildings and private mansions. From the Palais Garnier opera to the Monceau plain, see how Second Empire Paris has remained relatively untouched and soak up French art de vivre – the opera, shopping, gastronomy and museums. The Haussmann buildings lining the boulevards are richly decorated, and some of the finest mansions are now museums, where you can get a glimpse of 19th-century Paris. The walk starts at the Opéra metro station (lines 3, 7 and 8).
1/ Palais Garnier – Paris National Opera
The Palais Garnier was not called a palace for nothing – the Paris National Opera was designed to dazzle. From its monumental Grand Staircase to the Grand Foyer, the opulent interior is all coloured marble, mosaics and gold. Architect Charles Garnier was commissioned by Napoleon III to build this temple dedicated to opera and ballet in 1875. Today, a rich and varied programme of operas, ballets and concerts, ranging from the classical repertoire to contemporary creations, is designed in conjunction with the more modern Opéra Bastille. Visit the Palais Garnier to admire its architecture and decor, and don’t miss the extraordinary ceiling painted by Chagall in 1964. If you opt for a guided tour, you’ll hear some interesting anecdotes such as the story of the Phantom of the Opera, whose box is still visible today!
Opéra national de Paris - Palais Garnier - Place de l'Opéra, Paris 9th
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2/ Galeries Lafayette
Paris’s world-famous department store Galeries Lafayette, with its art nouveau dome, has been a feature of boulevard Haussmann since 1893. An essential stop on any shopping trip, the store has been reinventing the retail experience for the last 130 years. The rooftop terrace, the glass walkway suspended 16 metres above ground under the dome, and the souvenirs section all make for a thoroughly memorable shopping experience. All major brands in fashion, beauty, home decoration and fine food, ranging from affordable to high end, have an outlet at the Galeries Lafayette. And to top it all, there’s a spectacular view over the city from the rooftop terrace.
Galeries Lafayette Paris Haussmann - 40 boulevard Haussmann, Paris 9th
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3/ Printemps Haussmann
Established in 1865, the Printemps Haussmann department store has undergone numerous successive revamps. Top luxury brands have exclusive outlets here alongside household names, and the beauty section is the largest of its kind in the world. The figures are jaw-dropping: a million references in fashion, luxury items, home decoration, and beauty, spread across 25 floors and three stores. Good food and fine wines are to be found at the Printemps du Goût where a selection of the best French products is displayed over two floors of delicatessens and tasting counters. Don’t leave the store without paying a visit to the art deco dome and rooftop terrace with its panoramic view.
Printemps Haussmann - 64 boulevard Haussmann, Paris 9th
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Printemps du Goût - 7th and 8th floors - Printemps Haussmann buildinf for men, Paris 9th
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4/ Musée du Parfum - Fragonard
The Fragonard perfume museum – where visitors can discover the secrets behind perfume-making and the history of perfumery since antiquity – is housed in an unusual setting. Once a theatre, the site was turned into a velodrome in the 1890s offering Parisians an opportunity to learn to ride a bicycle. Fragonard, founded in Grasse in 1926, displays its collection of objects and presents the techniques it has developed – from raw materials and extraction to distillation, formulation and bottle design. From Ancient Egypt to the present day, follow the history of perfume and see how it became an iconic French product.
Musée du Parfum - Fragonard - 3-5 square de l'Opéra - Louis Jouvet, Paris 9th
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5/ Athénée Louis-Jouvet theatre and the works of Felice Varini
Opposite the Fragonard perfume museum, notice the beautiful façade of the Athénée Louis-Jouvet theatre. Inside, admire one of the finest examples of Italian-style theatre in Paris. Close by are three works by Swiss artist Felice Varini: Four Triangles for Two Windows, Double Trapezoid for Four Triangles and Five Open Ellipses. These graphic installations created on the walls appear at first sight to be fragments of geographical shapes. But if you stand in the right place, you’ll see how they come together to make up a single work.
Athénée théâtre Louis-Jouvet - Square de l'Opéra Louis-Jouvet - 7 rue Boudreau, Paris 9th
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6/ Chapelle Expiatoire
A Neoclassical building nestling discreetly in square Louis XVI, the Expiatory Chapel is one of Paris’s historic monuments. It was erected on the site of the Madeleine cemetery, where Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette were buried after their execution. In 1815, Louis XVIII had the royal couple’s remains transferred to the basilica at Saint-Denis and commissioned this commemorative chapel, which was completed in 1826. Inside, two monumental white marble sculptures pay tribute to Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette.
Chapelle expiatoire - 29 rue Pasquier, Paris 8th
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7/ Église de la Madeleine
Place de la Madeleine, famous for its specialist fine food outlets, is dominated by the church of the same name. Commissioned by Napoleon to honour his armies, the majestic Greek temple style church is well known today as a regular venue for concerts and other events. The interior is richly decorated with marble, frescoes and mosaics, compensating for the lack of stained-glass windows; Aristide Cavaillé-Coll’s famous organ is a reminder that Camille Saint-Saëns and Gabriel Fauré were organists here. The Madeleine Church is a popular choice for the funeral services of famous people. These have included Chopin, Mistinguett, Edith Piaf, Coco Chanel, Joséphine Baker, Marlene Dietrich and, more recently, Johnny Hallyday.
Église de la Madeleine - Place de la Madeleine, Paris 8th
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8/ Village Royal
Between rue Royale and rue Boissy d’Anglas, the discreet and charming Village Royal is situated on the site of an 18th-century market, installed beside the former barracks of the musketeers, Louis XIII’s royal guard. Today it’s a luxury shopping area in the heart of one of Paris’s most elegant districts, its pedestrian streets lined with high end brand boutiques.
Village Royal - 25 rue Royale, Paris 8th
9/ Élysée Palace
This superb 18th-century classical style building, the former residence of the marquise de Pompadour, is now the official headquarters of the Presidency of the French Republic. It is only open to the public on European Heritage Days, when visitors queue to discover the garden that stretches down to the avenue des Champs-Élysées. The interior is furnished and decorated with carefully conserved and restored objects as well as contemporary art works and items of furniture commissioned by successive French Presidents and incorporated into the national furniture collections – a real showcase of French savoir faire.
Palais de l’Élysée - 55 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, Paris 8th
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10/ Église Saint-Augustin
At the crossroads of boulevard Haussmann and boulevard Malesherbes, the monumental Church of Saint-Augustin – 100m long and 80m high – dominates the surrounding streets. Architect Victor Baltard’s metal framework design avoided the need for flying buttresses. The metal structure is visible inside the church, in the vaulting, columns, and gilded cast-iron supporting pillars. The coloured stained-glass windows are also noteworthy.
Église Saint-Augustin - 1 avenue César Caire, Paris 8th
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11/ Musée Jacquemart-André
This splendid private mansion, built in the 1870s, was the residence of Nélie Jacquemart and Édouard André. They used it to house their remarkable collection of paintings, which includes works by Fragonard, Uccello, Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Canaletto, David, Vigée-Lebrun and Botticelli, as well as frescoes by Tiepolo, priceless tapestries and sumptuous furniture. The building is a work of art in itself, with its winter garden and its double spiral staircase, music room, and reception rooms that can be modulated to accommodate up to a thousand guests for lavish receptions. Today, visitors can admire not only the magnificent art collection and prestigious exhibitions, but also discover late 19th-century Parisian art de vivre in a refined setting.
Musée Jacquemart-André- 158 boulevard Haussmann, Paris 8th
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12/ The Paris Pagoda
You’ll come across a rather intriguing building in the rue de Courcelles – a Chinese pagoda. Redesigned in 1925 by art dealer and collector Ching Tsai Loo, it is now an art gallery exhibiting and selling Chinese and Asian art and antiques. Mr Loo’s original collection, made up of 1,300 books, 3,000 exhibition catalogues, 3,000 original photographs and numerous rare objects, is still kept here. The Pagoda features all the traditional elements of Chinese architecture – red façade, exotic wood gate surmounted by sculptures of mysterious creatures, curved eaves covered with varnished tiles and, inside, elaborate 18th-century lacquered panelling.
The Pagoda Paris - 48 rue de Courcelles, Paris 8th
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13/ Parc Monceau
Created in 1769, Monceau Park is one of the most romantic of Paris’s parks and gardens. Re-landscaped several times before being inaugurated by Napoleon III in 1861 in its definitive form, it’s full of surprises, including a Renaissance archway (from the Paris City Hall that burnt down in 1871), a pyramid, an obelisk and the famous Naumachia, an oval water basin partly surrounded by a colonnade of Corinthian columns. Numerous statues commemorate illustrious French musicians and authors such as Gounod, Musset, Chopin and Maupassant. Among the many remarkable trees, don’t miss the Oriental plane, seven metres in circumference and more than 200 years old. Monceau Park is a favourite with runners – one lap of the park is exactly one kilometre, very practical when it comes to measuring performance!
Parc Monceau - 35 boulevard de Courcelles, Paris 8th
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14/ Musée Cernuschi – the City of Paris’s Museum of Asian Arts
Among the elegant buildings around Monceau Park, the mansion housing the Cernuschi Museum stands out for its style, a contrast to the typical Haussmann buildings. Its neoclassical façade features medallions representing Leonardo da Vinci and Aristotle, and bearded atlantes support a cornice. The mansion now houses the priceless collection amassed by Henri Cernuschi in the 19th century, encompassing 2,500 years of Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese art history. Ceramics, bronzes, paintings, drawings, photographs and, the centrepiece of the collection, the imposing four-metre-high bronze Japanese Buddha Amida set on a raised platform in the centre of the large, light-flooded room with its vast bay windows. Entrance to the museum is free of charge.
Musée Cernuschi - Musée des arts de l'Asie de la Ville de Paris - 7 avenue Vélasquez, Paris 8th
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15/ Musée Nissim de Camondo
Built in the 1910s, the mansion that houses the Nissim de Camondo Museum offers a fascinating insight into the life of a wealthy Parisian family in the early 20th century. Ultra-modern for its time, the house had a filtered-air heating system, pneumatic elevator, vacuum cleaning, and up-to-date kitchen and bathrooms – just as fascinating to visit as the splendidly furnished reception rooms and bedrooms. The museum showcases a spectacular collection of 18th-century French decorative art.
MAD - Musée Nissim de Camondo - 63 rue de Monceau, Paris 8th
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16/ Citéco – a fun place to learn about the economy
A former branch of the French central bank, the Hôtel Gaillard stands out in Paris’s architectural landscape, with its fairy-tale turrets, steep slate roofs and elaborate brickwork freely inspired by the Châteaux de la Loire. Today the building houses Citéco - Cité de l’économie, a museum-cum-learning centre that aims to introduce the general public to finance and economics in a fun way. Through the permanent collections and specialised temporary exhibitions, visitors learn about the history of finance from the first shell currencies to algorithmic trading on the stock exchange. From its banking past, the building has retained the underground vaults extraordinarily well protected by an armour-plated door, moat, drawbridge and sliding floor.
Citéco - Cité de l'économie - 1 place du Général Catroux, Paris 17th
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17/ Musée national Jean-Jacques Henner
Housed in one of the splendid private mansions of the Monceau plain, the National Jean-Jacques Henner Museum presents a comprehensive collection of the work of this artist, who won the prestigious Prix de Rome in 1858. He became a successful academic painter, working in the early days of Impressionism. Discover his portraits, landscapes, female nudes and nymphs and naiads. The house was built and is decorated in an eclectic style typical of the late 19th-century, featuring neo-Renaissance, Ottoman, Andalusian, North-African and Chinese influences.
Musée national Jean-Jacques Henner - 43 avenue de Villiers, Paris 17th
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