From Bastille to Père Lachaise

Place de la République, cemetery of Père-Lachaise, place de la Bastille, encounters with a popular Paris

Mix accordion, a musette waltz and the oompahpah-pahs of the Firemen’s Ball with the “Je t’aime de 14 juillet”. Take a tightrope walker in midair from under the cupola of the Cirque d’Hiver. Throw in a sandwich and liqueurs from a pre-war cafe on rue de la Main-d’Or, some shiny souvenirs of oldtime trades – boiler makers, scrap-metal merchants, and matchstick sellers – and that’s just the first third.
Next, take a parade of demonstrators marching and chanting from the column at the Bastille to the statue with its Phrygian bonnet at République. Incorporate several revolutions, powder and canons.
Finally, the last third: add a pinch of spice from Brazil, lemon, cane sugar, Cap Vert, salsa and tapas, one after the other. Sprinkle with showrooms and fashionable spots, soup stores, Wi-Fi, fruit juice, and make-up. Season with plush sofas, silver dance floors, moleskin wall seats and the soft lighting of inner-rooms and glean some glam rock, jungle, disco remix, high-spirited DJs, and alternative labels. Do not shake – the cocktail mixes itself!

More info : An unusual stroll through the Père-Lachaise cemetery

1 Marché d’Aligre

Marché, Paris © OTCP - Amélie Dupont

Already in the 18th century, the market supplied the Faubourg Saint-Antoine with vegetables and pork products. From Tuesday to Sunday, it is one of the most lively and mouth-watering markets – hence its popularity!

2 Pavillon de l’Arsenal

Pavillon de l'Arsenal - Maquette, Paris © Pavillon de l'Arsenal

Paris information, documentation and exhibition centre for urban design and architecture/ The permanent exhibition 'Paris, Visite Guidée' (Paris, a guided tour), is a multimedia, bilingual display that’s also suitable for children. Images, landmarks, interactive terminals, and a giant model present the capital from the origins of the Cité to projects for the future. The decor on the first floor changes … three times a year! Under the aegis of architectural experts, the centre adapts completely to the theme exhibited. And as it is always a fine show, visitors enjoy prolonging their visit in the red cocoons of the video lounge, in the bookshop.

3 Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal

Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal, BNF, Paris

Ah, beautifully bound books! Precious volumes, medieval manuscripts and prints of the Marquis de Paulmy were placed in François I’s former Arsenal in 1757, which was rebuilt by Sully. The collection became richer as the years went by. Declared a public collection in 1797, it became part of the Bibliothèque nationale in 1934. Exhibitions are the ideal opportunity to discover its treasures and ancient wood panelling.

4 Opéra national de Paris - Opéra Bastille

Opéra Bastille © Studio TTG

This ultra modern opera house, the work of architect Carlos Ott, was inaugurated in 1989. The architecture is characterized by the transparency of its facades and by the use of the same materials for the interior as for the exterior. With a huge 2,703-seat auditorium with homogenous acoustics, unique staging equipment, workshops integrated with decors, costumes and accessories, work and rehearsal rooms, the Bastille opera house is a great contemporary theatre. Guided visits are organized.

5 Place de la Bastille

L'Opéra Bastille, Paris © OTCP - David Lefranc

In the 14th century, an eight-tower fortress was built here to defend the royal city. However, the city quickly expanded and the Bastille lost its military role. It became a prison, the cells of which symbolised the arbitrary nature of royal power. Six hundred rioters, mostly from the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, stormed it on 14 July 1789, and at the cost of one hundred deaths, they set free … six prisoners. The fortress was demolished soon afterwards, and the legend built. In the centre of the square, the Colonne de Juillet, crowned by a winged figure of Liberty, commemorates the revolutionary days of 1830 that also set alight this rebellious neighbourhood.

6 Around Bastille

Boutique 39 Charonne, Paris © OTCP - Stéphanie Rivoal

This is the place to check out young fashion designers and cool street wear. On rue de Charonne and rue Keller, boutique windows vie with each other in colour: orange, turquoise blue, candy pink ... the neighbourhood is also a favourite of neo-punk Lolitas, fans of vintage, mangas and tattooing. At the end of the day, bars ring the bell for happy hour. Towards rue de la Roquette, there is a concentrated cocktail of Latino aperitif bars, pulsing restaurants, lounge cafes and euphoric dance floors.

7 The Smoking Museum

Musée du Fumeur, Paris  © DR

The Musée du Fumeur exhibits a permanent collection of objects and plants made use of by smokers at different periods in history. A selection of ... snuffboxes, pipes and engravings are on display, along with a 'plantarium' housing a variety of plants cultivated especially for smoking. The museum’s bookshop stocks a variety of tobacco-related works, from comic books and paperbacks to treatises on the subject. In addition, this compact venue can be hired out for private functions, birthdays, meetings, etc. The Musée du Fumeur is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 2pm to 7pm.

8 The Père Lachaise cementery

Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris © Thinkstock

The Père Lachaise is the biggest and best-known cemetery in the capital. Located in the 20th arrondissment, it sprawls across an area of 44 hectares ... The Jesuits originally purchased the site in the 17th century with the intention of starting a convalescent home there. One of the most famous occupants was François d’Aix de La Chaise, known as 'Le Père La Chaise', the Sun King’s confessor. Père La Chaise’s brother subsequently enlarged the property before being forced to sell it to pay off a debt. The gardens were abandoned for a while and then bought by the Prefect of the Seine in the 18th century. In the 19th century, Consul Napoleon Bonaparte ordered several new cemeteries to be built to make up for the lack of burial places within the city.

9 Pavillon de l’Ermitage

Pavillon de l'Ermitage, Paris © DR

The only regency-style Parisian folly, built by the duchess of Orléans, the daughter of Louis XIV.

10 Place de la République

Place de la République, Paris © OTCP - Amélie Dupont

The square’s huge dimensions were drawn up in 1854, at the convergence of the new Haussmannien boulevards. Its creation severed the boulevard du Temple from its most lively section, nicknamed the 'boulevard of crime' in reference to the melodramas played out in its many theatres. Among the allegories of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, a nine and a half metre-high bronze Marianne was erected at the centre of the square. Draped with a classical toga and leaning on the Tables of Law, she brandishes an olive branch.

11 A few steps away from République

Ave Maria restaurant, Paris © OTCP - Amélie Dupont

The bustling crossroads of rue Oberkampf and rue Saint-Maur, as well as rue Jean-Pierre-Timbaud, are full of cosmopolitan crowded bistros, cafe theatres and small bars. In this little area, you’ll find music and everything you could want to nibble, sip, whistle and mix right through the night.