The Heart Of Paris – The Classic Attractions Of The 1st & 2nd Arrondissements

Among the oldest city neighborhoods, the 1st and 2nd Arrondissements are still 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 the monumental reminders of history in the palaces and monuments built by kings and emperors still standing today.

To be strictly correct, the 1st and 2nd Arrondissements no longer exist — in 2020 they were amalgamated, along with the 3rd and 4th, into a new administrative district called Paris Central. But that doesn't change how we feel about the heart of Paris and the things we love about it like the Louvre, the Jardin des Tuileries, Place Vendôme, and so much more.

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The Most Popular Louvre Skip-the-Line Tours

Skip-the-line Guided Tour of the Louvre
Skip the Louvre lines with an expert guide to get past the crowds and into the museum to visit the masterpieces.
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Skip-the-line Guided Tour
Skip the lineups and go directly to the Mona Lisa and other stunning works of art in the world-famous museum.
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11 Great Things About the Heart of Paris

1. The Louvre Art Museum

The Louvre Art Museum

Well-known to millions (nine or ten 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 Louvre Museum will help you out.

2. 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.

3. Musée de la Mode et du Textile

Musée de la Mode et du Textile

A section of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Musée de la Mode et du Textile is a fashion space where you will find temporary exhibits from its extensive collection of historic costumes and fashion accouterments.

4. Garden & Courtyard of the Palais Royal

Garden 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 next to the garden has been given over to a fascinating modern art installation.

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The Top Seine River Dinner Cruises

Privilege Dinner Cruise with Bateaux Parisiens
This romantic dinner cruise includes champagne, a 4-course classic meal, and VIP seating. #1 Traveler Choice.
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Champagne Tasting on a Seine River Cruise
Cruise down the Seine on a bateau while being served a multi-course gourmet meal prepared by a French chef. 8:30 PM sailings.
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5. Kiosk of the Night-Walkers

Kiosk of the Night-Walkers

The front corner of Palais Royal complex houses Comédie Française 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.

6. Jardin des Tuileries & 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 located here at one time was the Tuileries Palace, the residence of royalty and emperors until it was burned during the Paris Commune in 1871, never to be rebuilt.

The Tuileries was created to be the garden playground of the royal court of France, and the splendor can still 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.

7. Musée de l'Orangerie

Musée de l'Orangerie

Speaking of lovely things in Paris, 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. Located in the Jardin des Tuileries at Place de la Concorde.

8. Jeu de Paume

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 jardin. There are new exhibitions four times a year.

  • Jardin des Tuileries at Place de la Concorde
  • Website…

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The Most Popular Ways to Visit Versailles

Best of Versailles. Skip the Line, with Transportation & Lunch
This day trip from Paris gets you inside the royal estate without waiting in the long lines. Included is a 3-course traditional lunch by the Grand Canal.
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Skip-the-Line Guided Tour to Versailles, with Transportation
Half-day, small-group or private tours. The best of Versailles including the King's Apartment & the Hall of Mirrors. Plus, time to stroll in the gardens.
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9. Place Vendôme

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 in the late 17th century 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.

10. Église Saint-Eustache

Eglise Saint-Eustache

Following in a Parisian tradition of laid-back church building, the church of Saint Eustache took about a century to complete, finally 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.

11. 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!

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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

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Find Hotel Deals for Your Dates in Paris

Check with Booking.com to find today's sale prices on hotel rooms in every arrondissement of Paris. Save 20% to 30%… or even more!

Booking.Com Paris Hotel Deals
Find hotels in the Latin Quarter, Saint Germain, the Right Bank, the Marais, near the Eiffel Tower.
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The Best Places to Stay in the Heart of Paris

The Updated Ritz Paris

The Ritz Paris

You thought it was good before? You thought it was luxurious? Well, wait until you see it now, after a 4-year, $450 million facelift (completed in 2016). It's still the same Ritz, but brought up to date. "Modernized, but with discretion," is what they're calling it.

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

Hotel du Louvre

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.

Le Burgundy Hotel

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."

Hotel de Crillon

Hotel de Crillon

The Ritz isn't the only central Paris hotel to undergo a multi-year renovation. The classy and luxurious Hotel de Crillon recently re-opened after a five-year, $200-million makeover. And, in short order, it was awarded the prestigious Palace rating as one of the best hotels in all of France.

Mandarin Oriental Hotel Paris

Mandarin Oriental Hotel

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!

The Top Food Markets in the Heart of Paris

Shopping

Rue Montorgueil

This famous food street is lined with all the bounty of Francepoissonniers (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: 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM
  • Saturday: 7:00 AM to 2:30 PM
Marché Saint-Eustache – Les Halles
  • Place de la Bourse 75002
  • Metro: Bourse
  • Thursday: 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM
  • Sunday: 7:00 AM to 2:30 PM

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