Monumental Paris

The Eiffel Tower, the Invalides, the Pont Alexandre III ... A walk with grandiose perspectives and sights

The area around the Eiffel Tower is on a fitting scale to the tower itself. On a clear night, its beam sweeps through the sky in a radius covering 80 kilometres. The spectacle is awesome and one feels so small in this grandiose area with its massive buildings and vast green spaces!
Just opposite, for example, are the gems of the 1937 Universal Exposition: 71 artists decorated the Palais de Chaillot and a quartet of architects designed the Palais de Tokyo and its white colonnade. On show in the latter is the acclaimed fresco La Fée Électricité by Dufy and the monumental La Danse triptychs by Matisse. For La Porte de l’Enfer, see the Musée Rodin.
And what spectacular perspectives – one stretching from the Esplanade des Invalides to beyond Pont Alexandre III, the other between the equestrian statues of the two marshals, Foch in place du Trocadéro and Joffre at the opposite end of the Champ-de-Mars, in front of the École Militaire. Did you know that this institution trained a young Corsican, who was 'an excellent sailor', and who was none other than Napoleon Bonaparte? Today, his imperial remains lie beneath the golden dome of the Invalides.

1 Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris

The city’s museum of modern art, also known as MaM, reopened in 2006 after renovation and is situated in the east wing of the Palais de Tokyo. Inaugurated in 1947, it is a monumental building in a sobre style, composed of two perfectly symmetrical wings separated by a fountain and stone staircases. The glass ceilings provide natural daylight for the majority of rooms. The permanent collections of the museum comprise more than 8,000 works illustrating the many different artistic currents of the 20th century, with works by artists such as Pablo Picasso, Juan Gris, Henri Matisse, Alberto Giacometti, Georges Braque, and Yves Klein, just to mention a few. The museum also shows major temporary exhibitions.

2 Palais de Tokyo - Site de Création Contemporaine

Palais de Tokyo, Paris © OTCP - Amélie Dupont

In 1934, while it occupied part of the ancient Savonnerie carpet factory, the state set about creating a national museum of modern art. On 24 May 1937, the Palais des Musées d’Art Moderne was opened. It has been modified numerous times, notably with the attribution of cultural sites within the Palais de Tokyo. In 1999 Catherine Trautmann, minister of culture and communication, decided to open the West Wing of the building to inaugurate the centre for contemporary art. Today, it is a cultural centre that takes an interest in the up-and-coming interdisciplinary and contemporary scene in various forms. The modular interior of the place makes it suitable for the installation of all types of events.

3 Musée Galliera - Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris

Palais Galliera - Musée de la mode de la ville de Paris - Façade, Paris

The musée Galliera is the City of Paris Museum of Fashion. Opened in 1977, it is housed in a Renaissance-style palace built at the end of the 19th century for the Duchesse de Galliera.

4 Musée des arts asiatiques Guimet

Musée Guimet, Paris © OTCP - Marc Bertrand

Created at the initiative of an industrialist from Lyon Émile Guimet (1836-1918), this museum has become a great centre for knowledge of Asian civilizations. The Galeries du Panthéon bouddhique, also part of the museum, have an exceptionally fine Japanese garden and tea pavilion, a gift from Japanese patrons of the arts. This place full of serenity was designed specially to harmonize with all the aspects of the traditional tea ceremony.

5 Musée national de la Marine

Musée national de la Marine, Paris © OTCP - Amélie Dupont

Discover one of the world’s oldest maritime museums, a meeting place for lovers of the sea and the curious-minded: models of ships from the 17th century onward, painting and maritime objects, legendary figures and current maritime issues are all explored here. The impressive age and diversity of its collections have contributed to its reputation as one of the world’s most important maritime museums.

6 Cité de l’architecture & du patrimoine

Cité de l'Architecture et du Patrimoine, Paris © OTCP - Marc Bertrand

Housed in a wing of the Palais de Chaillot, this cité – open to all – devotes its 23,000 sq.m. to the urban environment. The museum’s galleries present architectural moulds, medieval and Renaissance wall paintings and an architectural panorama from 1850 to the present day.

7 Museum national d'Histoire naturelle - Musée de l’Homme

Musée de l’Homme, Galerie de l'Homme, mezzanine, d'où venons-nous, Museum national d'Histoire naturelle, Paris © Patrick Tourneboeuf - OPPIC - Tendance floue

Even its name will change! Come back in 2013 to discover a brand new wonderful Musée des Sciences naturelles de l’homme. To include a great journey through time from man’s appearance 150,000 years ago to the present day, in a totally museum layout.

8 Trocadéro

Trocadéro, Paris © OTCP - Marc Verhille

The elevated “Troca” has a privileged viewpoint of the Eiffel Tower on the opposite bank of the Seine. Between the curved wings of the vast Palais de Chaillot – emblem of the 1930s – are gently sloping terraces and gardens, bordered by century-old Caucasian wingnut and hazel trees, and dotted with gilded bronze statues. Skaters and rollerbladers weave alongside the fountains beneath the gaze of Apollo and Hercules, sculpted on the pediment of the pavilions.

9 Eiffel Tower

Tour Eiffel - Paris © OTCP - DR

Stop to gaze up at all of its 324 metres! The tower was saved from demolition after twenty years because of its scientific utility. A few more figures: 10,100 tons, 2,500,000 rivets, 1,665 steps, two years of relentless work for the 50 engineers and 132 workers directed by Gustave Eiffel, and approximately 230 million visitors since its construction. The tower is a special landmark symbolizing Paris and France throughout the world and it sparkles every evening until 1am (in winter) or 2am (in summer).

10 Champ-de-Mars

Champ de Mars, Le Mur pour la Paix © OTCP - David Lefranc

The vast park laid out below the famous tower has nothing warlike about it, and even boasts a Wall of Peace! Its name, borrowed from the god of war, relates to the early history of the “champ” as an exercise area for the young cadets of the military school. Later, as the centre point of the Expositions universelles, it was chosen as the site of the biggest attraction of 1889, the Eiffel Tower.

11 Musée du Quai Branly

Musée du Quai Branly, Paris © OTCP - David Lefranc

Devoted to the art and civilizations of Africa, Asia, Oceania and the non-Western Americas, it is situated on quai Branly opposite the Seine and close to the Eiffel Tower. Designed by the architect Jean Nouvel and inaugurated in 2006 by President Jacques Chirac, it comprises five buildings over a surface area of 40,600 m². The main building, which houses the exhibitions, is in the innovative shape of a metallic bridge and is a reminder that the Eiffel Tower is close by.

12 Paris sewer system

Musée des égoûts de Paris © OTCP - Assainissement Ville de Paris

Paris boasts the world’s most extensive network of sewers, forming an astounding underground city. There are over 2,400 km of tunnels, which corresponds to the distance between Paris and Moscow!

13 Hôtel national des Invalides

Hôtel des Invalides, Paris © Thinkstock

In 1671, Louis XIV decided to build "a royal hostel that would be large and spacious enough to house all officers, crippled, old and retired alike". The ‘pensioners‘ began arriving in 1674. The Église Saint-Louis – or ‘Soldiers Church’ – and the Église du Dôme (transformed into a military pantheon) were built afterwards. This magnificent ensemble, with its wonderful green lawn, today houses canons with rather disturbing names such as ‘The Scourge’, the Ministry of Defence and the Musée de l’Ordre de la Libération, Musée des Plans et Reliefs and Musée de l’Armée. The Musée de l’Armée houses the tomb of Napoléon, the department of arms and ancient armoury and that of the two world wars.

14 Musée Maillol –Fondation Dina-Vierny

Salle des Sculptures, Musée Maillol, Paris © DR

Dina Vierny was the muse and friend of the painter and sculptor Aristide Maillol. The foundation and the museum reveal the work of the artist and offer a panorama of 20th-century art through his collection and that of Dina: B for Bonnard, D for Duchamp, K for Kandinsky… S for seductive!

15 Musée Rodin

Musée Rodin, Paris © OTCP - Jacques Lebar

Housed in the Hôtel Biron, an 18th century former mansion house, the Rodin museum boasts French gardens laid out with plants, shrubs and trees, and decorated with sculptures by the artist. Auguste Rodin took up residence here in 1908, surrounded by a park teeming with brambles and rabbits. The museum opened in 1919, two years after his death. Sculptures in marble, bronze, and terracotta alternate with drawings by the master, works by Camille Claudel (his muse), paintings by his friends Carrières, Monet, Van Gogh and others. In the garden, roses and statues have replaced the rabbits, but the charm remains unique.