Royal Paris Walk (Self Guided), Paris

The capital of France is made up of 20 administrative districts, commonly referred to as “arrondissements”. The 1st arrondissement of Paris sits mainly on the right bank of the River Seine and is the home of royal palaces and lush gardens. This self guided walk explores Jardin des Tuileries, Palais-Royal, La Conciergerie and many other prominent sights.
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Royal Paris Walk Map

Guide Name: Royal Paris Walk
Guide Location: France » Paris (See other walking tours in Paris)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.3 Km or 2.7 Miles
Author: karen
1
Tuileries Garden

1) Tuileries Garden (must see)

Nowadays a lovely park, the Tuileries Garden has been a witness to some of the most turbulent events in French history. Centermost of all the Paris city parks, it forms part of the triumphal axis (the so-called “Grand Axe”) stretching from La Défense plaza all the way to the Louvre. The garden is almost totally flat and has a circular fountain in the middle, which is most popular in summer.

Originally, this Italian Renaissance-style garden was created for Queen Catherine de Médici who, in the 16th century, began construction of a palace just outside the western walls of the capital, which took the name of the tile factories (called “tuileries”) that it replaced.

In 1789, following the fall of the Bastille, King Louis XVI and his wife, Marie Antoinette, moved into the palace in a publicity stunt to get “closer to the people.” Sadly, this stunt eventually produced the undesired effect and resulted in the royal family being locked up in the palace under house arrest. Three years later, the Tuileries Palace came under attack in what proved to be the defining moment of the French Revolution. The French monarchy was abolished as a result, and quite radically so, with the help of the then newly-invented guillotine installed in Place de la Concorde. The last king of France, as he rose to the scaffold, turned to his captors and said: "Gentlemen, I am innocent of everything of which I am accused. I hope that my blood may cement the good fortune of the French."

In the 19th century, Napoleon merged the Tuileries with the Louvre in a bid to create one huge super-palace complex. The project was barely completed when, during the bloody revolutionary uprising of 1871, the former royal Tuileries Palace was set on fire and completely destroyed. But the palace garden survived and still retains the general outline of the original master-plan.

In the 1990s, the landscape was renewed as part of the Grand Louvre project. Now free to access, the park is an oasis of calm amid the bustle of Paris. At visitors disposal here are a good number of green chairs to sit on and enjoy ice cream or drinks, plus a pond with small rented boats from which one can enjoy a marvelous view of the Eiffel Tower or simply unwind to the chirp of the local birds.

Tip:
Don't just stay in just one place – explore a variety of views and spots, as each provides a different perspective!

Gated Area Opening Hours:
7am-9pm (Apr-May, Sep); 7am-11pm (Jun-Aug); 7:30am-7:30pm (Oct-Mar)
2
Hotel Ritz

2) Hotel Ritz

The Hôtel Ritz is a grand palatial hotel in the heart of Paris, the 1st arrondissement. The hotel, which today has 159 rooms, was founded by the Swiss hotelier, César Ritz, in collaboration with the chef Auguste Escoffier in 1898. The new hotel was constructed behind the facade of an 18th-century town house, overlooking one of Paris's central squares. It was reportedly the first hotel in Europe to provide a bathroom en suite, a telephone and electricity for each room. It quickly established a reputation for luxury, with clients including royalty, politicians, writers, film stars and singers. Several of its suites are named in honor of famous guests of the hotel, including Coco Chanel and Ernest Hemingway who lived at the hotel for years. The palace and the square are masterpieces of classical architecture from the end of the reign of Louis XIV. The facade was designed by the royal architect Mansart in the late 17th century before the plot was bought and construction began in 1705. The Hôtel Ritz comprises the Vendôme and the Cambon buildings with rooms overlooking the Place Vendôme, and, on the opposite side, the hotel's famous garden.
Sight description based on wikipedia
3
Colonne de Vendome

3) Colonne de Vendome

The original column was started in 1806 at Napoleon's direction and completed in 1810. It was modeled after Trajan's Column, to celebrate the victory of Austerlitz; its veneer of 425 spiraling bas-relief bronze plates was made out of cannon taken from the combined armies of Europe. These plates were designed by the sculptor Pierre-Nolasque Bergeret and executed by a team of sculptors. A statue of Napoleon, bare-headed, crowned with laurels and holding a sword in his right hand and a globe surmounted with a statue of Victory in his left hand, was placed atop the column.
Sight description based on wikipedia
4
Place Vendome

4) Place Vendome

Place Vendôme was built on the orders of Louis XIV, as a grandiose setting that would embody absolute power in the very heart of Paris. Its regular architecture by Jules Hardouin-Mansart and pedimented screens canted across the corners give the rectangular Place Vendôme the aspect of an octagon. The original Vendôme Column at the centre of the square was erected by Napoleon I to commemorate the Battle of Austerlitz; it was torn down on 16 May 1871, by decree of the Paris Commune, but subsequently re-erected and remains a prominent feature on the square today.
Sight description based on wikipedia
5
Le Grand Vefour

5) Le Grand Vefour

Le Grand Véfour, the first grand restaurant in Paris, France, was opened in the arcades of the Palais-Royal in 1784 by Antoine Aubertot, as the Café de Chartres, and was purchased in 1820 by Jean Véfour, who was able to retire within three years, selling the restaurant to Jean Boissier. A list of regular customers over the last two centuries includes most of the immortal heavyweights of French culture and politics, along with the tout-Paris. Sauce Mornay was one of the preparations introduced at the Grand Véfour. Closed from 1905 to 1947, a revived Grand Véfour opened with the celebrated chef Raymond Oliver in charge in the autumn of 1948. Jean Cocteau designed his menu. The restaurant, with its early nineteenth-century neoclassical décor of large mirrors in gilded frames and painted supraportes, continues its tradition of gastronomy at the same location, "a history-infused citadel of classic French cuisine."
Sight description based on wikipedia
6
Palais-Royal

6) Palais-Royal (must see)

The Palais-Royal, originally called the Palais-Cardinal, was the residence of the royal family until the Palace of Versailles was built. The Palais Royal was built by Richelieu in 1628 and then inherited by King Louis XIII upon his death. Louis XIV spent part of his childhood there. The palace features a charming garden that opens to public. The garden is a fun place for kids and a great place to relax in the busy city center.

On 12 July of 1789, Camille Desmoulins, a journalist and politician of the time, gave a speech on a table in the garden of Palais Royal. Fearing that King Louis would crack down on the Third Estate after the having dismissed finance minister Jacques Necker, Desmoulins called the people to uprise. This led to the storming of the Bastille two days later.

Why You Should Visit:
A little seclusion in a busy part of town that really transports you to a different place and time – imagining what court life must have been like.
Ideal for a day/night walk (much more beautiful by night).

Tip:
On the other side of the garden is the trendy Rue des Petits-Champs with nice wine bars, and the beautiful Place des Victoires.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 7am-11pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
7
Sainte-Chapelle

7) Sainte-Chapelle (must see)

The crown jewel of Gothic architecture in Paris, the Holy Chapel, is located not far from the Notre-Dame Cathedral. Aged almost 800 years, the chapel is renowned for its stained glass and most notably the 15th century rose windows in the upper part, widely regarded to be the best of its kind in the world. These and other things make this church outstanding even among the most extraordinary medieval monuments of Paris.

The chapel was built for an exceptional man, King Louis IX, who led the 7th and 8th Crusades to the Holy Land and brought home, among other treasures, what was believed to be the Crown of Thorns worn by Jesus himself! Naturally, a precious relic such as this required a depository, but besides that, the Holy Chapel was conceived also as the palace chapel for the king and the royal family.

Over the centuries, the chapel had sustained multiple damages. A repeated victim of floods and fires, it suffered particularly badly during the French Revolution when its sculptures were deliberately destroyed and furnishings looted. Eventually, to mend the damage, in the 19th century a great deal of renovation became necessary involving skilled craftsmanship and meticulous attention to detail. The result of that work deserves commendation, and the chapel we see today is as much a 19th century monument as it is a medieval one. Miraculously, about two-thirds of the original stained glass has survived. It looks particularly impressive in sunny weather, but even when it's cloudy, the glass is absolutely fabulous.

Just like many other religious sites of the period, the Holy Chapel was a symbol of Jerusalem meant to evoke paradise on Earth for those saved at the Last Judgment. To this end, the building had a cedar wood spire placed on top, which at that time was considered a technical feat. It proved to be just as great from an artistic standpoint either, magnificently capturing the spiky spirit of the Gothic forms. The Holy Chapel is impressively simple and coherent, compared to other cathedrals and churches of that period, and represents medieval Gothic architecture in its purest form. In contrast to its apparent architectural simplicity, on the inside, the chapel boasts rich decoration in the upper part which is truly remarkable and dazzling in its gilding and color.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am-5pm (Oct-Mar); 9am-7pm (Apr-Sep)
8
La Conciergerie

8) La Conciergerie (must see)

The City Island (Île de la Cité) in Paris, situated amid the river Seine, is a home to the 14th-century palace that went down in history as the seat of the French parliament prior to the French Revolution. It is also known as the home of France's first public clock, installed around 1370. Build on orders of King Philippe IV, the palace was recurrently added to and rebuilt up until the early 20th century, thus gradually becoming a fascinating conglomeration of buildings.

Nowadays, it is particularly famous for its Conciergerie section which owes its name to a “concierge”, the official nominated by king to maintain law and order in Paris. In 1391, the building was partially transformed into jail to hold both regular criminals and political prisoners. The treatment of inmates depended totally on their wealth, social status and personal connections. The most affluent were usually allowed separate cells with a bed, desk and reading/writing materials. Those less rich settled for more modest cells, called “pistols”, furnished with a rough bed and a table, whereas the poorest ones were kept in the dark, damp and vermin-infested cubicles, known as “oubliettes” (or “dungeons”). Most prisoners wouldn't stay there for long though, as the carts carrying the condemned to the nearby guillotine, in Place de la Concorde, kept running on a regular basis.

During the French Revolution, hundreds of people were killed. At some point, the Conciergerie became a VIP prison seeing among its inmates the likes of Queen Marie Antoinette and Napoleon III. Later, Marie Antoinette's cell was made into a chapel and is currently open for public viewing, featuring, among other relics, several of her portraits made during the final days before the execution.

Those eager to learn more about the French Revolution and the history of France in general are free to explore this fascinating Gothic site with its halls and dungeons. For more information and better understanding of what this place was like back in the day, consider spending a few euros on the little 'Histopad' gadget, combining both audio & visual function, offered on the site. It is quite handy!

Why You Should Visit:
An absolutely fascinating Gothic landmark where you can learn about the French Revolution and other historic moments.

Tip:
Visiting the Conciergerie is possible on a combined ticket granting access to the neighboring Holy Chapel as well.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9:30am-6pm

Walking Tours in Paris, France

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The capital of France takes its name from the Celtic tribe of Parisii who, back in the Iron Age, around the 3rd century BC, settled near the river Seine. The Romans conquered the Parisii and established on their land a garrison town which, towards the end of the 5th century AD, fell to the Franks and flourished under their rule. Despite wars, revolutions and numerous social cataclysms, Paris had...  view more

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Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
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