The Beating Heart Of Paris – The 1st And 2nd Arrondissements

Among the oldest city neighborhoods, the 1st and 2nd Arrondissements are what we consider to be the very center of Paris — the heart of the city. Since Charles V moved the seat of power from the Île de la Cité to the Louvre back in 1365 this has been where French government action has been. You can see it today in the many palaces and monuments built by kings and emperors.

There's the Louvre itself, of course. Though now a famous museum it was once the center of government in France. From there the Tuileries Garden stretch out to the Place de la Concorde. Across from the Louvre is Palais Royal. And the historic list goes on.

line

Top Things to See in the Heart of Paris

The Louvre Art Museum

The Louvre Art Museum

Well-known to millions (10 million of them every year) as the greatest art museum in the world, visiting the Louvre requires some strategy and planning. The lines are long — always — and you could end up spending hours of your precious time in Paris waiting to get in.

Since the Louvre is an absolute must-see when you're in Paris, we have a couple of strategies to avoid standing in line so long. Our top strategy is to book a skip-the-line guided tour that gets you into the museum and directly to the famous works of art without waiting in the ticket lineup. You have to arrange this in advance, before you leave home. Our guide to the top Louvre Museum tours will help you out.

Our next strategy is useful for whatever museums you might want to visit. (Most of them, anyway.) Have a Paris Museum Pass in your pocket and you can skip the ticket lines at something like 60 museums and monuments in Paris. The best way to get ahold of this is to buy The Paris Pass, which includes the museum pass. Do this before you leave home. Read our article for all the details, as well as a special discount code that gets you 10% off.

The Other Museums at the Louvre

Musée des Arts Décoratifs

Musée des Arts Décoratifs

Housed in a wing of the Louvre palace, but arrived at through a separate entrance along Rue de Rivoli, is this smaller but extensive museum that boasts 150,000 objects describing the French art of living. Not to be missed.

Musée de la Mode et du Textile

Formerly a separate museum, but now part of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Musée de la Mode et du Textile is still a fashion space where you will find temporary exhibits from their extensive collection of historic costumes.

More to See & Visit in the Heart of Paris

Garden of the Palais Royal

Garden & Courtyard of the Palais Royal

Just across from the Louvre, but hidden away behind walls and colonnades, is the garden of the Palais Royal. Once home to royalty, today the garden is a peaceful place with lime trees, a central fountain, and benches to relax on. The courtyard has been given over to a fascinating modern art installation.

  • Rue St-Honoré. Access from Rue de Valois 75001.
Kiosk of the Night-Walkers

The front corner of Palais Royal itself houses Comédie Francaise Richelieu and just in front of that, at Place Colette, is an entrance to Metro Station Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre. This glass and metal fantasy was completed by artist Jean-Michel Othoniel in 2000. He called it "Kiosque des noctambules."

Jardin Carrousel & Jardin des Tuileries

These two gardens stretch out west from the courtyard of the Louvre to the Place de la Concorde. Carrousel refers to the the place (plaza) where military parades were held when the Louvre was a palace. Also here was the Tuileries Palace, the place where royalty and emperors lived until it was burned down during the Paris Commune in 1871.

The Tuileries was created to be the garden playground of the kings of France, and the splendour still can be seen today. There are fountains, seats, and cafes.

Place del la Concorde is at the end of both the Tuileries and the 1st Arrondissements. It's famous for its obelisk, grand statues, and the lovely fountains.

Musée de l'Orangerie

Musée de l'Orangerie

Speaking of lovely, you want to make sure to take in this small museum. It houses a fascinating collection of art, but is far more famous for being the home of Monet's large-scale water lily paintings.

Jeu de Paume

If, like us, you're interesting in the work of the world's best photographers, then you'll want to pay a visit the the Orangerie's sister museum, just a few steps across the park. There are new exhibitions four times a year.

Place Vendôme

Today the aristocratic Place Vendôme is most famous for being the home of the Ritz Hotel (and for some people, the home of very high-end jewelers.) But the place was built by Louis XIV to celebrate his (future) conquests; in fact, it was first named Place des Conquêtes. However, when things didn't turn out quite as gloriously as Louis had anticipated, he renamed it Place Louis le Grand.

Returning to a military theme, Napoleon erected a column in the place in 1810 to celebrate his victory at Austerlitz, and the bronze plating covering the column was made from cannons actually captured during that battle. Although the column was famously pulled down during the Paris Commune of 1871 it was rebuilt in 1874, and the original bronze plates reinstalled.

Église Saint-Eustache

Église Saint-Eustache

Following in what was somewhat of a Parisian tradition, the church of Saint Eustache took about a century to complete, being finished in 1632. The flying buttresses and especially the south face are incredible examples of the art of Gothic architecture. The interior seems to soar to the sky.

line

Hotels We Love in the Heart of Paris

Everybody wants to stay in the heart, so you know you're going to find some pretty wonderful hotels. Here are a few of our personal favorites, with links to reviews and more information.

Ritz Hotel Paris Ritz Hotel Paris
The Newly-Renovated Ritz Paris

You though it was good before? You thought it was luxurious? Well, wait until you see it now, after a 4-year, $450 million facelift. It's still the same Ritz, but brought up to date. "Modernized, but with discretion," is what they're calling it.

line

Hotel du Louvre – The First Luxury 5-Star Hotel in Paris

Right in the center of all things Paris, and cozied in between the Louvre and Palais Royal is this elegant 5-star hotel that promises easy access to all the things you want to see and do.

line

Le Burgundy Hotel

We also give this 5-star hotel one of our top ratings. In our review we note "Le Burgundy's blend of modern with the timeless sensibility of Parisian design."

line

Mandarin Oriental Hotel Paris

Our last recommendation for this part of Paris is a hotel that has received the highest distinction possible in France — the Palace rating. Just take a look at the photos in our review!

Chocolate Walking Tour in the Heart of Paris

Chocolate Walking Tour in the Heart of Paris

Take your sweet tooth on a 2-hour guided promenade in the 1st Arrondissement to five of the best chocolate shops in Paris. Along the way, you'll walk through Place de la Concorde, along Rue St-Honoré, pass by the Louvre, and even get to view Palais Garnier. Of course, they'll be lots of sampling! And it's a small group, so there'll be plenty for you!

line

quotation

Had such a fun time on this tour. Guide was so sweet and answered so many questions about Paris for us. She even took us to the metro after the tour, helped us buy tickets and put us on the right train to get back to our hotel. Definitely worth the time and money."
– 5-Star Review

Shopping in the 1st & 2nd Arrondissements

Epicerie de Brunog

Carrousel du Louvre

The Carrousel du Louvre is a busy luxury underground shopping center found in the Louvre complex. It's a great place to shop for books, accessories and jewellery and is home to the first Apple store in France.

Epicerie de Bruno

You might walk right on by this tiny shop, but make it a point to stop and explore. Bruno will gladly show you his explosive collection of unique and rare spices including a dazzling array of peppercorns.

  • 30 Rue Tiquetonne 75002
E. Dehillerin

A Paris institution since 1820, this place has everything you need for a professional kitchen, or a very good home kitchen. Copper pots, pastry molds and everything to make a cook happy.

Markets – 1st & 2nd Paris Arrondissements

Shopping

Rue Montorgueil

This famous food street is lined with all the bounty of Francepoissonnieres (fish stores), fromageries (cheese shops), boulangeries and patisseries,including the legendary Maison Stohrer. It runs north-south between Saint-Eustache and Rue Réaumur in the 2nd Arrondissement.

  • Monday to Saturday
Marché Saint-Honoré
  • Place du Marché Saint-Honoré 75001
  • Metro: Les Halles
  • Wednesday: 12:30 to 8:30 PM
  • Saturday: 7:00 AM to 3:00PM
Marché Saint-Eustache – Les Halles
  • Place de la Bourse 75002
  • Metro: Bourse
  • Tuesday & Friday: 12:30 PM to 8:30 PM

Five Free Paris Planning Guides

Grab Your 5 Free Paris Planning Guides Today! Bon Voyage!