Central Paris - a Mix of Attractions and Shopping
arrondissement) (R) -
The Place de la Concorde separates the Tuileries Gardens on the east from
the Avenue des Champs Elysées to the west. The Place de la Concorde is not
an end destination but a waypoint on a visit to the Tuileries, Louvre or
The Obelisk at the center of this square came from the Egyptian temple at
Luxor and was installed in the center of the Place de la Concorde in the
19th century. The obelisk and nearby fountains have come to be landmarks of
Paris. It was in the Place de la Concorde that Marie Antoinette, Louis XVI,
Robespierre and many others associated with the French royalty were guillotined in the
center of the square at the end of the 18th century.
The Place del la Concorde has been renamed many times (it was once called
Place Louis XV and, then, Place de la Revolution) and has always been a
popular gathering place and often used to host civic celebrations, such as
soccer championship celebrations. On weekend and in summer you will find
street entertainers offering zany skits.
At the head of the square, (on the corner of Rue Boissy) is the stately Hôtel de Crillon, one of the most luxurious places to stay
If you admire the oblelisk at Place de la Concorde, you might want to
know what the Egyptian received in return for this impressive gift. We don't
want to ruin the story, but it is still regarded by the Egyptians as a bad
deal. You can read about the controversy in our guide to Salah
Citadel in Cairo, Egypt.
(1st arrondissement) (R)
Rue Royale north towards the Place de La Madeline and the first intersection
you come to will be Rue Saint-Honoré, which runs west to
the Place Vendome (described below). Along Rue Saint-Honoré you will find
Saint Laurent, Prada, Cartier, Prada, Lanvin and many stores offering luxury
goods. Continue along Rue Royale north and you will pass Gucci, Dior
and Ralph Lauren and arrive at the Place de la Madeleine.
(1st arrondissement) (R) -
The Place de la
Madeleine is an area known for its gourmet food shops. While on Rue
Royale, keep and eye out for
Ladurée Royale, a tea salon famous for its
pastries at number 16.
While in this area, you may want to take a look at its namesake church
known as La Madeleine (19th century). It was originally designed as
a memorial to the army of Napoleon, but was eventually commissioned as a Catholic church, with a temple-like
design. The interior is quite attractive and worth a quick glance.
The view of the city from the top of the steps is quite pleasant.
To the northeast of this area you will find a number of covered shopping arcades
known as "passages couverts", which were the 19th century precursor to
modern shopping malls. Many are luxurious, most have interesting
architecture and all invite shopping. See the official websites of
Passage du Grand Cerf or the
Panoramas to determine if this is the shopping experience for you.
If so, you may enjoy the Passage Jouffroy (across Boulevard Montmartre
(north side) between Rue Vivienne and Rue Montmartre) or the Galerie Vero-Dodat
at 19 Rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
Place Vendome and the Colonne de la Grande Armée (1st
arrondissement) (R) -
Place Vendome is one of the best squares in Paris from an architectural point of view.
The site is notable for many reasons, but is particularly associated with its lovely arcaded buildings. This square houses many upscale stores and
is the location of the "original" Ritz Hotel.
Column (the Colonne) of the Grand Army that is located in the center of the
Place Vendome was commissioned by Napoleon (whose
statue once adorned the top of the column). The column's
exterior is faced with plates made
from enemy cannons captured at the battle of Austerlitz in1805. The
battle was one of Napoleon's most celebrated victories and led to the end of
Holy Roman Empire. If the column looks familiar to you, it was based
on the design for Trajan's Column in Rome, that was also used to commemorate
an important battle, but one that was over a thousand years earlier.
The shopping at the Place Vendome features jewelry from Cartier, Chaumet and other
providers of luxury
goods, such as Charvet (one the world's best known custom shirt
tailors). (9th arrondissement) (R) -
Paris Opera is a richly decorated music hall built for Napoleon III by the well-regarded
architect Charles Garnier. The Opera has recently been refurbished and the major
roof statuary re-gilded to magnificent effect. The Opera, which has a
stunning interior, is not an end
destination for most visitors, but a walk-by on your way to local shopping along the Grand
Boulevards. Visit the
official website for more information.
Phantom of the Opera buffs should know that a deep lake was discovered
during the construction of the Opera and that this was one of the
inspirations for Gaston Leroux's original novel titled "Phantom of the
Paris has a number of wide avenues called the "Grand Boulevards", which
were designed by Georges Haussmann, the planner responsible for the look of
much of central Paris, during the last half of the nineteenth century. The
Grand Magasins (the great department stores) were attracted to the Grand
Boulevards. If you have a chance, visit the two Grand Magasins on Boulevard
Haussmann: Galeries Lafayette (#40) and Printemps (#64). Note
that the main shopping area along Boulevard Haussmann is to the east near
Rue de Rome
Printemps is an impressive department store that has a delightful restaurant (Printemps
de la Mode - Level 6) sitting beneath the store's stunning stained glass,
"Art Nouveau Cupola" that dates from the "Twenties". You can find a
Ladurée Patisserie here, as well as the Café Be, which is managed by the
famous chef Alain Ducasse.
Galeries Lafayette's is another of the Grand Magasins and is an impressive
and large store. On its 6th floor you will find the largest shop for Paris
souvenirs in the city. On the same floor is the Lafayette Café, which
offers good food and an outdoor terrace with views of the city. See their
official website for more information.
For those of you interested in the Grand Magasins,
La Samaritaine, a Paris landmark on the Left Bank and one of the City's most
celebrated department stores, closed in June, 2005 due to "environmental"
issues. For some time, it was thought that the store would reopen in
2015, but more recent news indicates that the La Samartaine building, when
it does reopen, will host a hotel, apartments and other uses, but not one of
the grand department stores.
Next - explore our menu on the right to find other
types of sightseeing in Paris.
Or - if you want to find out about a specific attraction
and know its name, look for it in our
Index of the Best Places To Visit In Paris.
If you need information about another travel destination, try
Destination Guide Index
or Googling ThereArePlaces.