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Deciphering the 16th Arrondissement

Photo by Chris Card Fuller ©2007
I have to be honest. The 16eme arrondissement has always intimidated me. It probably started when I was a student trying to look for the Rochas parfumerie where a friend, Patricia Msika was working (Patricia, if you’re reading this, let me know – qu’est-ce que tu es devenue?i.e. what’s become of you?)

Setting up house in the 16th arrondissement would be considered by some people to be comparable to buying an apartment in New York City’s upper East Side – Park Avenue, Central Park South, Fifth Avenue for example.
Home to many foreign embassies, I passed by several of them on Avenue Raymond Poincare including the Ivory Coast Embassy and the Republic of Georgia. The 16th is all about grandiosity, weight and solemnity. Here, you’re likely to hear conversations in the street about the strong Euro or ‘la bourse’ the stock market. Most working men and women are dressed in conservative suits (although I have to admit that many of the suits do not fit as well as they have in the past).

For tourists, the favorite spots in the 16th will be the Champs Elysees and the Arc de Triomphe. When the weather is good, you’ll want to make a foray into the Bois de Boulogne, or if you’re not ready to loose yourself in the kilometers of wooded paths, at least go to the Ranelagh Gardens, the 16th’s classiest gardens for the children of the elite. (This is also a popular spot for wedding pictures). At the entrance to the Ranelagh Gardens, you’ll find the Marmottan Museum which I’ve mentioned in past posts as a the place to must-see museum before you head out to Monet’s Gardens at Giverny.

L’Etoile, or Charles de Gaulle Etoile or L’Arc de Triomphe is a real jigsaw puzzle when it comes to locating one of the twelve avenues that emanate from its hub. If you are popping up from the Metro, I guarantee you will find yourself invariably at the opposite extreme from whatever avenue you hope to find.

Whatever you choose to do, DO NOT decide to be bold and cut across the circle. This holds true for visiting the L’arc de Triomphe which you can reach by a reasonably well-indicated underground passage located at the Avenue de la Grand Armee. To reach Le Champs Elysees, you will have to circle half way around the L’arc de Triomphe.

Good luck asking for directions if you’re lost. As a student, when I asked for directions to Avenue Montaigne, I tried practicing my French, by asking “Do know where Avenue Montaigne is located?” The well-dressed resident, replied quickly, “Yes, I do.’ And he kept walking.

That was many years ago, and honestly, Parisians are much more helpful these days. Seriously. But, also, my French has improved. Nevertheless, the 16th arrondissement is still confusing – and I still get lost. Yesterday, I decided to walk from Palais de Chaillot at Trocadero to the Champs Eysees. Do not try this without a map or your Plan de Paris. I promise that you will get lost – which can be a good thing.

Given that the 16eme is one of the most expensive neighborhoods in Paris, here are some suggestions about inexpensive ways to enjoy this arrondissement. Go visit La Petite Marquise at Place Victor Hugo (Metro: Victor Hugo).
Photo by Chris Card Fuller ©2007

When you are hungry and lost, try to make your way to Place Victor Hugo and stop in at the Boulangerie, Salon de The, La Petite Marquise. At 3:30 in the afternoon, you can restore yourself with a petite quiche for 2 Euros 55 and a mini-bottle of Cotes de Rhone for app. 2 Euros 60. Cafe and Cafe Cremes are also reasonably priced. You can sit at the counter or any of the table and bar stools located in the back of the bakery.
Photo by CCF ©2007

Regarding shopping in this neighborhood, I can tell you where the residents like to shop (any of the shops around Place Victor Hugo and Boissiere are a good place to start). You’ll have to cross over the Champs Elysees to Rue St. Honore to find the outrageously priced ‘designer’ boutiques. If you’ve been reading Parislogue for long (you’ll know that the only sensible place to go in that neighborhood is Miss Griffes on 15 rue Penthievre).

But honestly, there’s no need to spend an arm and a leg in the 16th. My advice is to take a look at the Metro boutiques – if you take a little time, you are very likely to find some very attractive designs at reasonable prices.
Try Aida’s boutique at the Wagram exit to the Arc de Triomphe (the sales staff is very friendly!)

Getting lost is how I discovered the natural gem bead shop called La Morganite, 64 Rue de Longchamp Tel. 01 47 04 09 66 Metro: Victor Hugo.

“Getting lost is how most people find us,” says the daughter of this Mother/daughter boutique specializing in necklaces and pendants designed to bring you closer to the gem or semi-precious stone that will create harmony in your life.

I learned that Libras would do well to protect themselves from the elements by wearing sapphires, smoky quartz and some stones I’ve never heard of. The name of the store La Morganite gives you a clue as to one of the owner’s favorite stones: morganite.

This was one of the most pleasant places to visit in the 16th.
You can finish off your visit to the 16th with a stroll in the grounds surrounding Palais du Chaillot. Many of the trees have apparently been thinned out around the new Centre de l’Architecture du Patrimoine which replaces the Cinematheque Francaise (now located at Bercy).
You can see the Eiffel Tower framed by fall colors here.
In this peaceful corner of the 16th, you can meditate on the beauty of the changing seasons. And our changing seasons.

I’m glad I got lost – once again in the 16th and found my way home again to Chaillot.
Photo by Chris Card Fuller ©2007