Paris/1st arrondissement

The Louvre

The centre of contemporary Paris and the site of such landmarks as the Louvre and of the Tuileries and Palais-Royal, the 1st arrondissement is full of attractions for travellers of all inclinations, including some of the finest parks, museums, shops, and bars in the city. The 1st occupies the Right Bank of the River Seine and extends onto the western section of the Île de la Cité in the midst of the river.

For occupying such a compact space, however the 1st feels remarkably different from one end to the other. The almost incredibly upscale western end of the arrondissement gives way to the hustle and bustle of the big city east of the Palais Royal, and then further east to the pedestrian (and tourist) dominated area around Les Halles and the (currently shuttered) Samaritaine, where tourists mix with (especially young) Parisiens and Parisiennes in huge numbers (on the order of 800,000 unique visitors per day according to the Mayor's office).

Understand

Quartiers of the 1st arrondissement

Paris was historically centred on the Ile de la cité, but by the time Baron von Hausmann was given the task of carving up the city, the centre had shifted somewhat to the previously suburban Royal Quarter surrounding the Louvre and the Palais Royal, which is why the numbering of the arrondissements started there.

With fewer than 18 000 inhabitants, the 1st is statistically the least populous and least densely inhabited of all the 20 arrondissements, but at the same time among the most visited by Parisians and tourists alike. Like every other arrondissement, it is divided into four quartiers, each with a different character:

  1. Quartier Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois runs along the bank of the Seine across the district, encompassing the Tuileries gardens, the Louvre and the western part of Ile de la cité.
  2. Quartier Les Halles has a markedly different, much more down-to-earth character, dominated by the eponymous massive Les Halles shopping centre (under redevelopment until 2016)
  3. Quartier Palais-Royal is obviously dominated by the Palais Royal itself, and also contains the larger part of the busy cosmopolitan Avenue de l'Opera.
  4. Quartier Place Vendôme in the west is centred around the Place Vendome and characterized by regular, 18th-century street grid. The quarter's historic buildings house the most luxurious hotels and boutiques of famous fashion and jewellery brands.

Get in

Schematic of metro and RER lines in and around the 1st arrondissement

The transportation hub of the 1st arrondissement is the   Châtelet/Les Halles station in its eastern extremity, the largest and busiest of the metro stations. RER lines A, B (from the Charles de Gaulle airport) and D stop there, as well as métro lines 1, 4, 7, 11 and 14. There exists a total of seven entrances/exits scattered around the eastern end of the 1st Arrondissement, concentrated (not surprisingly) between Les Halles and Place du Châtelet, and also accessing the basement of the Les Halles shopping mall itself. If you are in a hurry—or have never used this station previously—it might be better to alight one Métro stop earlier or later. Until 2016 the Les Halles area will undergo extensive reconstruction, which further adds to potential confusion and inconvenience.

Other métro stations that are major hubs allowing easy access to the 1st arrondissement are the   Concorde. (lines 1, 8 and 12) and   Madeleine. (lines 8, 12 and 14), both with exits at the western border of the 1st. Lines 1, 7 and 14 traverse the arrondissement roughly from east to west, stopping close to important points such as the entrance to the Louvre museum. Lines 1 and 14 are fully automated and it is worth acquainting oneself with their modus operandi and safety precautions before using them.

RER C, which runs generally on the left bank of the Seine, does not stop in the 1st, but you can use it to arrive at   Musee d'Orsay. and cross the Seine in style over the Passerelle Solferino footbridge right into the Tuileries.

The   Pyramides. metro station is at the Rue de Pyramides, not at the pyramid at the entrance of the Louvre. For that pyramid and the entrance to the museum, travel to the station called   Palais Royal / Musee de Louvre. .

Arriving from specific points

Get around

Having arrived in the 1st arrondissement walking will most likely suffice for transport. That said, Paris cabs are quite cheap. Still, even they don't have access to much of the car-free eastern end of the arrondissement.

If travelling from east to west by Métro you are probably better off using any station other than Châtelet/Les Halles unless you have to connect there. Although the Métro trains themselves are fast and frequent, the crowded labyrinth at Châtelet can make getting to the trains an adventure.

See

Window in Sainte Chapelle

Landmarks

Le Palais Royal
Place Vendôme
Map of the 1st Arrondissement

Museums and Galleries

Do

Comédie Française

One of the great joys of a visit to Paris is to simply walk around and explore to get the feel of the city. The 1st is as good a place to start as any, with the largely car-free section around Les Halles, and the right bank of the river Seine as good places to start. As a little bonus if you are in Paris in the summer time, the express lanes at river level are converted to an all pedestrian road called "Paris Plage" which fills with rollerbladers and sun-bathers just about every afternoon.

A number of Paris theaters are located in the eastern end of the 1st. English language productions are not unheard of, but the opera is likely to be in Italian anyhow. Your best bet if you are interested in finding a show in either language is to pick up a copy of Pariscope which you can find at any newsstand for around €0.50. There are ticket outlets at Forum Les Halles (FNAC) among other locations.

St. Eustache from Les Halles

Buy

  •   Lorenz Bäumer, 19, place Vendôme, e-mail: . M-Sa, 10:30-19:00. On her wedding day Princess Charlène de Monaco wore a Lorenz Bäumer tiara. This new jewellery-maker fashions novel forms combined with classical influences.
  •   Van Cleef & Arpels, 22-24, place Vendôme,  +33 1 55 04 11 11. M-F, 10:00-19:00. Princess Caroline de Monaco got her wedding ornament at this traditional shop, open since 1906.
  •   Patek Philippe Salons, 10, place Vendôme,  +33 1 42 44 17 77. M-F 10:30-18:30, Sa 11:00-12:30,14:00-18:30. The Swiss luxury watch manufacturer, founded in 1851, is known for precise mechanics.

Eat

The 1st provides rather a wide range of eating possibilities, considering its central location and overall poshness. A large variety of inexpensive food is sold out of windows and stalls, especially on the car-free east end of the arrondissement near Les Halles. You'll always pay a bit more to sit down, of course.

On the other hand if you are looking for a nice posh place to take your mom or a date there are plenty, and some of them actually have food that is good enough to be worth the considerable prices.

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Drink

Jardin des Tuileries

Sleep

Some of the most opulent hotels in the world are either in or very close to the 1st arrondissement, and there's some choice in the mid-range. Budget travellers, on the other hand, are probably better off in other, less central parts of town.

During fashion weeks, hotels, especially the 1st, are occupied by trade professionals and visitors, as well as brand showrooms. Finding a room can be a challenge and the rates go sky-high. Consult Mode à Paris for fashion week dates and avoid them if you do not want to clash with it.

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Connect

Internet Cafés

  La Baguenaude, 30, rue Grande-Truanderie (Métro: Les Halles),  +33 1 40 26 27 74, e-mail: . M-Sa, 10:00-20:45. This all SUSE Linux shop offers courses in the use of KDE and GIMP (in French). 1/2 hr, €2.30; hr, €3.80; 2 hr, €6.10.

Wireless hotspots

There are a number of cafés in each arrondissement which offer free wireless for customers (for 20 min at a time). In the 1st:

A complete listing is available from the company which provides the service:

Of course many hotels also offer wireless connectivity, but usually for a fee.

Go next

Routes through 1st arrondissement

La Défense 8th arrondissement  W  E  4th arrondissement 12th arrondissement
18th arrondissement 2nd arrondissement  N  S  4th arrondissement 14th arrondissement


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Sunday, January 31, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.