© 2006 Chris Card Fuller All rights reserved. Viewed from the top of the Eiffel Tour, the Palais du Chaillot is a sample of 1930s architecture in Paris. Perched on Chaillot hill, this was on Catherine de Medici’s travel route from St. Germain-en-Laye back to the center of Paris.
Art Nouveau buffs: the 16th arrondissement suffers from clichés like any other Paris neighborhood. Stuffy, snobbish, residential, nothing but banks and embassies. This is how many of us think of the 16th. The 16th is the neighborhood where you make your money and then go home to another neighborhood. However, the 16th has its own treasure trove, especially if you’re a fan of Art Nouveau architecture. You’ll want to find your way to Rue de la Fontaine to see architect Hector Guimard’s Castel Beranger along with other buildings of the same era.
© 2006 Chris Card Fuller. All rights reserved.
If you find a hotel around Trocadero, you will follow in the footsteps of Catherine de Medici who used to stop off here on her way from St. Germain en Laye to Paris. In those days, it was called Chaillot Hill. There used to be a vineyard and curative springs (at Passy).
Nowadays, there’s the great view of the Eiffel Tower you can enjoy from the esplanade of the Palais de Chaillot which houses the Aquarium and the Musée de l’Homme. You are in walking distance of the Eiffel Tower if you cross the Seine, or stay on the Right Bank and discover some of the priciest shopping streets in Paris.
Also in the 16th are beautiful parks less visited by tourists like Ranelagh Metro: Ranelagh or Muette. The Marmottan Museum at Ranelagh’s entrance has several of Monet’s most famous paintings. The 16th borders the Bois de Boulogne, a huge park dotted with lakes and a maze of paths winding through the woods. You can rent rowboats in the park during the summer months.
© 2007 Chris Card Fuller. All rights reserved.
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St. Germain des Prés/St. Sulpice
Located on the Left Bank, St. Germain des Prés is the fashion epicenter of ‘Left Bank chic’. Here is where you’re likely to see fashion models strutting in front of the Deux Magots and Café Flore along Boulevard St. Germain des Prés. Here’s where the publishers meet with their bestselling writers and you might even catch a glimpse of Catherine Deneuve who is said to live in the neighborhood. Antique shops and galleries dot Rue de Seine and Rue Napoleon.
St. Sulpice is a ten-minute walk from Boulevard St. Germain. A warren of restaurants can be found on the side streets between the two churches: St. Sulpice (made famous by the Da Vinci Code and St. Germain des Prés (the ‘oldest’ church in Paris – or at least, parts of the church could be called the ‘oldest’). It doesn’t matter if you find a hotel closer to St. Sulpice or St. Germain des Prés (except that St. Germain des Prés will put you closer to the Seine and closer to Notre Dame. Either one of these neighborhoods is lively day and night with tons of restaurants, bars, jazz clubs and trendy spots to while away the afternoon, the evening or the early morning hours. Whereas the Latin Quarter is good for tight budgets, if you have a little bit more cash to splash, you’ll want to be in St. Germain des Prés.
Rue Cler (one of Rick Steve’s neighborhood choices). Rue Cler is located in the 7th Arrondissement of Rue de Grenelle. (Metro: Ecole Militaire). I have to admit I had never set foot on Rue Cler until I read about it in Rick Steve’s guidebook, and he’s absolutely right. It’s a great little street. If you’re looking for a Paris ‘neighborhood’, this is it. The only negative might be running into a lot of other people who’ve also read his guidebook!
Another street to think about is Rue Daguerre in the 14th arrondissement. Film Director Agnes Varda lives on this street and made a movie about its residents. (Daguerrotypes).
Metro: Denfert Rochereau.
Rue Delambre. 14th arrondissement. Metro: Vavin. There are a number of 3 star hotels on this street. They used to be dumps in the seventies, but were all bought and renovated. You are in the heart of café country from the elegant Dome, La Coupole, and Le Select to more down to earth cafes on Edgar Quinet. The Montparnasse train station is around the corner which will take you to Chartres, or to Brittany, or Bordeaux. Not a bad place to hang your hat. The #13 Metro line at Metro: Gaite will take you straight to the Champs Elysees.
Rue Montorgueil in the 2nd arrondissement. Until I read Sarah Turnbull’s Almost French, I didn’t know about Rue Montorgueil and it too is a great street. You are a short walk from St. Eustache church which is almost as impressive as Notre Dame. Also, in walking distance is the tour Jean the Fearless (a fascinating surviving example of a medieval private residence, one of the few remaining in Paris). This is a totally different aspect of Right Bank Life from what you’ll see if you decide to book a hotel near the Louvre on Rue de Rivoli or near Trocadero. Prices should be more down-to-earth.
These are just some general descriptions of different neighborhoods. Needless to say, there are other neighborhoods and in Paris, they’re constantly evolving. Neighborhoods fall in and out of style as the trendsetters search for affordable housing. If the cost of real estate in Paris continues to expand, it will be more and more difficult for the new designers and artists’ boutiques to remain. Already many of the people working in Paris commute from the nearby towns of Boulogne, St. Cloud, Clichy, Vincennes, St. Mande, to name a few.