As promised, this week we begin our tour of all 20 arrondissements of Paris. And where better to start than in the centre of the city with the 1er arrondissement? And no, that is not a typo. In French, 1st is written as 1er. Interestingly, 1er is the only number to use this suffix. From here on out, you’ll be seeing the ending ème a lot. But back to the 1er. This central district is named after the Louvre museum. And with so much of the 1er occupied by the museum and various other administrative buildings, it’s actually the least populated arrondissement in Paris. But it may also just be the most visited. Below are a few of the reasons why.
Musée du Louvre
The Louvre Museum is the largest museum in the world and the home of the Mona Lisa. For those reasons alone, many people believe that a trip to Paris is not complete without a visit to the Louvre. I would have to agree, but there are many other things to see in the Louvre that I would prioritize over the Mona Lisa. However, a visit to the Louvre itself is a must.
Directly adjacent to the Louvre is the beautiful Tuileries Garden. What was once a private royal garden is now open to the public, and Parisians take advantage of it in droves. Runners, bikers, and dog walkers stroll through this park by the thousands, and seasonal markets and fairs set up shop in the Tuileries Garden throughout the year. Personally, I love to read in the garden when the sun is shining, or take a stroll along the paths with a hot chocolate from Angelina when it’s not. Either way, I am definitely a frequent visitor.
The Palais Royal is another building that used to belong to the French monarchy, but which now belongs to the people. The Tuileries Garden is beautiful, but if you really want to feel like a local, head to the Palais Royal to while away the hours in its beautiful central garden. As an added bonus, Les Deux Plateaux, the art installation by Daniel Buren located at the entrance to the garden, offers limitless photo ops for the Instagram crowd.
Place Vendôme (pictured above) is home to some of the most expensive retail space in the city, as well as the iconic Ritz Hotel and its famed Bar Hemingway. This royal place is also known for the imposing column at its centre, which was originally built by Napoléon Bonaparte to commemorate the Battle of Austerlitz. According to urban legend, the material used to make the column was taken from the melted down canons of the enemies Napoléon had vanquished. Which is very on brand for him if you ask me.
There is so much more to discover in the 1er arrondissement, but a few of my favourite hidden gems include:
- Librairie Galignani – An English language bookstore located on Rue de Rivoli that claims to be the first English language bookstore that was established on the European continent.
- Bourse de Commerce – A contemporary art gallery that houses highlights from the Pinault Art Collection.
- Omusubi Gonbei Paris Palais-Royal – A takeaway Japanese restaurant that is both affordable and delicious. I will often pick up one of their snack boxes to eat in the Palais Royal just around the corner.
- Église Saint-Eustache – My favourite church in Paris after Notre Dame Cathedral, and not just because there’s never a line to get in.
Want to read more about the arrondissements of Paris? Click HERE.
Laura Moore is a professional storyteller who loves history and the many stories that make Paris one of the most fascinating cities in the world. Join one of her signature tours to learn the story of a city.