Our tour of the arrondissements continues with one last stop on the left bank and a look at the 15e arrondissement of Paris. The 15e is many things, including the most populous district in Paris. But it is also bordered to the north by the 7e and the city’s star attraction, the Eiffel Tower. As a result, few visitors ever venture further south of the Iron Lady. But they should, because the 15e has so much more to offer than just residential spaces. So for the last time on the left bank, let’s dive in!
The Tour Montparnasse
Ironically, the most famous site in the 15e is often mistaken as being a landmark of the neighbouring arrondissement. The 14e may be known for its historic Montparnasse neighbourhood, but the 15e is home to the famous Tour Montparnasse. Or perhaps I should say the infamous Tour Montparnasse. This unsightly skyscraper was built between 1969 and 1973 as part of an initiative to build a new business district in the city centre. However, upon completion, the Tour Montparnasse was universally loathed by Parisians. Two years later, a law was put in place that banned the construction of buildings over seven stories in Paris.
The Tour Montparnasse remains, however, and Parisians by and large still hate it. It has been rated as one of the ugliest buildings in the world by many architectural associations, and for years, it was filled with asbestos. But it’s not all bad news. For one thing, the asbestos has now been removed, which I’m sure is quite a relief for the building’s tenants. The tower is also home to a viewing deck on the 56th floor that boasts one of the most spectacular views of the city. This view is a favourite among locals because it’s the only place in Paris from where you can’t see the tower. Savage. But accurate.
The Modernity of the 15e
Paris is famous for its Haussmannian architecture that dates back to the 19th century. And the 15e has plenty of this architecture on display. But it is also the location of many modern additions to the city, all of which make this district unique. For example, the 15e is home to the Front de Seine, an urban development of approximately 20 high-rise towers that is located along the Seine river. The Front de Seine was built in the 1970s, and it is one of the few places in the city centre with a concentrated group of buildings this size.
The 15e is also home to several modern public parks, including the beautiful Parc André Citroën in its southwest corner. This 35 acre park opened in 1992, and today it is home to the Paris Ballon, which offers the highest view of Paris in the city. Parc André Citroën is also home to six themed garden landscapes, as well as a paved courtyard with dancing water fountains that is the perfect place to cool off in the summer. However, if the Parc André Citroën is a bit too far out to venture, you can always head to the Gare Montparnasse to take a walk through the beautiful Jardin Atlantique. This rooftop garden features several themed spaces that tell the story of the train station below. It’s a beautiful green oasis that is well worth a visit.
The 15e is one of the largest districts in Paris, and as a result, it has the largest residential population in the city. But it is also home to a thriving commercial district as well. Several organizations have their headquarters in the 15e, including the Ministère des Armées, Orange, Eutelsat, and La Poste. However, in 2016, the 15e became the centre of the culinary world when the famed Cordon Bleu institute moved to a brand new 40,000 square foot campus in this district. Today, professional and amateur chefs travel to the 15e from all over the world to learn the secrets of French cuisine.
Musée Bourdelle – A beautiful art museum located in the former home of sculptor Antoine Bourdelle.
Île aux Cygnes – A man-made island with pedestrian walking trails and a miniature replica of the Statue of Liberty.
Pont de Bir Hakeim – A stunningly beautiful, double level arch bridge that spans the Seine River, and has been featured in almost every movie filmed in Paris.
Rue du Commerce – A gorgeous and quaint shopping street, packed with shops, restaurants, and cafes.
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.