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Paris - Around Town : Tuileries and Opéra Quarters (part 1)

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These two quarters were once the province of the rich and the royal. Adjoining the Tuileries Gardens is the largest museum in the world, the Louvre, while the grand opera house gives the second quarter its name. The Place de la Concorde is one of the most historic sites in the city.

Storming of the Tuileries

Looking at the Tuileries Gardens now, where children play and lovers stroll, it is hard to imagine the scenes that took place here on 20 June 1792. The palace and gardens were invaded by French citizens seeking to overthrow the monarchy. This was finally achieved on 10 August, when the Tuileries Palace was sacked and Louis XVI overthrown.




Sights

  1. Musée du Louvre

    Louvre façade

    Café Marly, Louvre
  2. Rue de Rivoli

    Commissioned by Napoleon and named after his victory over the Austrians at Rivoli in 1797, this grand street links the Louvre with the Champs-Elysées. It was intended as a backdrop for victory marches but was not finished until the 1850s, long after the emperor’s death. Along one side, railings replaced the old Tuileries walls, opening up the view, while opposite, Neo-Classical apartments sit atop the long arcades. These are now filled with a mix of shops, selling luxury goods or tourist souvenirs.

  3. Place de la Concorde

    This historic octagonal square, covering more than 8 ha (20 acres), is bounded by the Tuileries Gardens on one side and marks the starting point of the Champs-Elysées on the other. It was built between 1755–75 to designs by architect Jacques-Ange Gabriel as the grand setting for a statue of Louis XV, but by 1792 it had become the place de la Révolution and its central monument was the guillotine. Louis XVI, Marie-Antoinette and more than 1,000 others were executed here . In 1795, in the spirit of reconciliation, it received its present name. The central obelisk, 23 m (75 ft) tall and covered in hieroglyphics, is from a 3,300-year-old Luxor temple, and was a gift from Egypt, erected in 1833. Two fountains and eight statues representing French cities were also added. On the north side of the square are the mansions Hôtel de la Marine and Hôtel Crillon, also by Gabriel.

  4. Jardin des Tuileries

    These gardens were first laid out as part of the old Tuileries Palace, which was built for Catherine de Médici in 1564 but burned down in 1871. André Le Nôtre redesigned them into formal French gardens in 1664. At the Louvre end is the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, erected by Napoleon in 1808. Here is also the entrance to the underground shopping centre, the Carrousel du Louvre. Nearby, sensuous nude sculptures by Aristide Maillol (1861–1944) adorn the ornamental pools and walkways. At the far end is the hexagonal pool, the Jeu de Paume gallery and the Musée de l’Orangerie, famous for its giant canvases of Monet waterlilies.

  5. Musée des Arts Décoratifs

    This huge collection covers the decorative arts from the Middle Ages through to the 20th century. With more than 100 rooms, the many highlights include the Medieval and Renaissance rooms, the Art Deco rooms, and a wonderful jewellery collection. Also in the same building are the Musée de la Mode and the Musée de la Publicité, which are open for temporary exhibitions and worth a visit.

    • 107 rue de Rivoli, 75001

    • Open 11am–6pm Tue–Fri (until 9pm Thu), 10am–6pm Sat & Sun

    • Admission charge

    • www.lesartsdecoratifs.fr

  6. Art Nouveau Museum

    This small museum (part of Maxim’s restaurant and downstairs nightclub) houses Pierre Cardin’s impressive Art Nouveau collection – an elegant assembly of 550 works of art designed by big names such as Tiffany, Toulouse-Lautrec, Galle Massier and Marjorelle. A guided visit can be combined with lunch in the glamorous restaurant.

  7. Palais-Royal

    In the late 18th century this former royal palace and garden underwent extensive changes under the dukes of Orléans. The architect, Victor Louis, was commissioned to build 60 uniformly styled houses around three sides of the square and the adjacent theatre, which now houses the Comédie Française, France’s national theatre. Today the arcades house specialist shops, galleries and restaurants, and the courtyard and gardens contain modern works of art .

    • Pl du Palais Royal, 75001

    • Public access to gardens and arcades only

    Palais Royal courtyard
  8. Place Vendôme

    Jules Hardouin-Mansart, the architect of Versailles, designed the façades of this elegant royal square for Louis XIV in 1698. Originally intended for foreign embassies, bankers soon moved in and built lavish dwellings. It remains home to jewellers and financiers today. The world-famous Ritz hotel was established here at the turn of the 20th century. The central column, topped by a statue of Napoleon, is a replica of the one destroyed by the Commune in 1871.

  9. Opéra National de Paris Garnier

    Designed by Charles Garnier for Napoleon III in 1862, Paris’ opulent opera house took 13 years to complete. A range of styles from Classical to Baroque incorporates stone friezes and columns, statues and a green, copper cupola. The ornate interior has a Grand Staircase, mosaic domed ceiling over the Grand Foyer and an auditorium with a ceiling by Marc Chagall. There’s even an underground lake – the inspiration for Gaston Leroux’s Phantom of the Opera – sadly closed to visitors .

    • Pl de l’Opéra, 75009

    • 01 40 01 17 89

    • Open 10am–5:30pm daily (closes at 1pm on day of matinee performances; closed some dates in Dec)

    • Admission charge

    • www.operadeparis.fr

    Opéra de Paris Garnier façade
  10. Place de la Madeleine

    Surrounded by 52 Corinthian columns, the huge Classical-style La Madeleine church commands this elegant square. On the east side a colourful flower market is held Tuesday to Saturday. The square is surrounded by some of the most up-market épiceries (food stores) and speciality shops in the city (see Au Verger de la Madeleine).

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