The Eiffel Tower district on either side of the Seine has many museums, green spaces and observation points from where you can take memorable photos. This walk is about culture, architecture and extravagance. Transformed in the course of the Universal Exhibitions held between 1867 and 1937, the banks of the Seine around the Eiffel Tower offer a combination of perspectives, palaces and gardens. The most iconic buildings in the district, which are these days devoted to history and culture, all offer a unique view of the Eiffel Tower, the monument to which all visitors flock.
1/ The Paris museum of modern art and the Palais de Tokyo
The Paris museum of modern art and the Palais de Tokyo occupy the two wings of a huge white marble building which was built in 1937 for the Paris International Exhibition. The Musée d'Art moderne de Paris, known as MAM, is in the east wing. Its collection offers a wide-ranging view of art movements spanning the 20th century and all the way to the present day, including works by Pablo Picasso, Raoul Dufy, Amedeo Modigliani, Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse, Alberto Giacometti, Georges Braque and Christian Boltanski. The first two versions of La Danse by Henri Matisse and Raoul Dufy’s La Fée électricité (The Electricity Fairy) are the museum’s two major artworks.
The Palais de Tokyo in the west wing is devoted to contemporary art. It hosts major themed and monographic exhibitions accompanied by talks, screenings, concerts and performances over a vast 22,000 m² area. The restaurants alone are a good reason to visit the Palais de Tokyo – there is a breath-taking view of the Eiffel Tower from the restaurant at the foot of the building.
Musée d'Art moderne de Paris - 11 avenue du Président Wilson, Paris 16th
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Palais de Tokyo - 13 avenue du Président Wilson, Paris 16th
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2/ The Yves Saint Laurent Paris museum and the Palais Galliera
Located only a short distance apart, the Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris and the Palais Galliera are two of three Paris museums devoted to fashion. The Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris is located inside the couture house where Yves Saint Laurent worked for 30 years. Its archives contain all the designer’s work, including more than 5,000 prototype outfits. There are the rooms in which clients once attended the catwalk shows, and the famous studio where Yves Saint Laurent created all his collections. Dresses, accessories, sketches, photos and videos are presented in the course of temporary exhibitions. The Palais Galliera - Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris has a vast and rich collection. It tells the story of fashion and clothing in France from the 18th century to the present day. More than 250,000 pieces are conserved in the museum and displayed in temporary exhibitions. The Renaissance-style building set in an elegant courtyard has a pleasant public garden.
Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris - 5 avenue Marceau, Paris 16th
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Palais Galliera - Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris - 10 avenue Pierre Ier de Serbie, Paris 16th
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3/ National Museum of Asian art - Guimet
Located in the heart of Passy’s hillside, the Musée Guimet takes visitors on a journey through time. The collection explores 5,000 years of Asian art – from Afghanistan, Southeast Asia, India, Korea, China, Japan, Pakistan and Central Asia. The collection has been constantly enriched since 1889, and currently comprises more than 50,000 items – statues, engravings, textiles, jewellery, porcelain, pottery, paintings, lacquered objects, sabres and armour. It is considered one of the world’s most remarkable collections.
Musée national des Arts asiatiques - Guimet/MNAAG - 6 place d’Iéna, Paris 16th
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4/ Palais de Chaillot : musée de l'Homme, musée national de la Marine, Cité de l'architecture et du patrimoine, théâtre national de la danse
Built atop the Chaillot hill with a stunning view of the Seine and the Eiffel Tower, the Palais de Chaillot is a gigantic multi-purpose building housing no fewer than three museums and a theatre.
The Musée de l’Homme is one of the sites in Paris of the national museum of natural history, and is home to remarkable collections devoted to anthropology and palaeontology. Among the treasures it conserves and displays are the famous Venus of Lespugue, a statuette dating to the Upper Palaeolithic, and the skull of René Descartes.
The Musée National de la Marine (closed for renovations; reopening scheduled for mid-2022), located in the same wing as the Musée de l’Homme, is the place for fans of maritime adventure. Thousands of model ships, weapons, scientific and technical tools, paintings and photographs tell the story of the conquest of the seas from the 17th century onwards.
Located in the opposite wing of the Palais de Chaillot, the Cité de l’architecture et du patrimoine houses invaluable remnants of French architectural history from the Middle Ages to the present day. Plaster casts, murals, stained glass windows and scale models show how architecture and large-scale buildings decorated with paintings and sculpture changed over time. This is also where you can see many objects and documents relating to Notre Dame Cathedral: casts, drawings, photographs and a superb scale model of the now-vanished spire.
Chaillot – National Theatre of Dance is located under the central terrace of the Palais de Chaillot, in the exact spot where the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed in 1948. The theatre has three rooms and more than 1,600 seats. It hosts a challenging, eclectic and international programme focusing on contemporary choreography. Its large foyer, which often features in films, offers a spectacular view of the Eiffel Tower.
Palais de Chaillot - 1 place du Trocadéro et du 11 novembre, Paris 16th
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Musée de l’Homme - Muséum national d'histoire naturelle - Palais de Chaillot - 17 place du Trocadéro et du 11 Novembre, Paris 16th
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Musée national de la Marine - Palais de Chaillot - 17 place du Trocadéro et du 11 Novembre, Paris 16th
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Cité de l’architecture & du patrimoine - Palais de Chaillot - 1 place du Trocadéro et du 11 novembre, Paris 16th
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Chaillot - Théâtre national de la Danse - 1 place du Trocadéro et du 11 Novembre, Paris 16th
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5/ Trocadéro and the esplanade
This is surely the most famous balcony in Paris. The esplanade overlooking the Trocadéro gardens and fountains offers the best view of the Eiffel Tower and the one most popular with photographers. From here, you can get a sweeping view not only of the Eiffel Tower but also of the Seine and the whole of the Left Bank. Once they have admired the view, visitors are inevitably drawn to the stairs that go down to the sloping gardens and the enormous Warsaw Fountain with 20 water cannons providing a spectacular display in summer. There are children’s play areas, copses, rockeries and a little stream in this eclectic and relaxing garden.
Le Trocadéro et son esplanade - Place du Trocadéro, Paris 16th
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6/ Aquarium de Paris
The Aquarium de Paris located under the Trocadéro Gardens is one of the world’s oldest aquariums. It was inaugurated in 1867 during the Universal Exhibition. More than 50 tanks house nearly 8,000 fish including 50 sharks, but also 700 coral colonies and Europe’s biggest jellyfish exhibit. The Aquarium presents the diverse range of aquatic habitats in France and its overseas territories – the Atlantic, the English Channel, the Mediterranean, Tahiti, the Caribbean and Guyana. Every week, the aquarium hosts educational events that provide information about its conservation work and breeding programmes.
Aquarium de Paris - 5 avenue Albert de Mun - Jardins du Trocadéro, Paris 16th
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7/ Musée du Vin - Paris
The charmingMusée du Vin - Paris is located on a square in the 16th arrondissement. Its 15th-century vaulted cellars are the setting for the museum’s collection, comprising more than 2,000 objects illustrating France’s rich winemaking heritage, traditions and know-how. The visit can be combined with a wine-tasting session. You can also take a wine-tasting course and enjoy a meal in the restaurant, also in a historic cellar, at this unusual museum.
Musée du Vin Paris - 5 square Charles Dickens, Paris 16th
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8/ L'île aux Cygnes and the Statue of Liberté
Cross the Seine along the Pont de Bir-Hakeim. In the middle of the bridge, there is a staircase leading down to the Île aux Cygnes, an artificial tree-filled island around 10 metres wide. Walk all the way to the far end of the island to see Paris’s 16-metre-high replica of the Statue of Liberty.
Île aux Cygnes - Between the pont de Grenelle and the pont de Bir-Hakeim, Paris 15th
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9/ The Maison de la Culture du Japon à Paris
A glass-fronted building set back from the Seine houses the Japanese cultural centre, the Maison de la Culture du Japon à Paris. Like Japanese culture itself, the building designed by the architects Masayuki Yamanaka and Kenneth Armstrong is a blend of tradition and modernity. Visitors can learn Japanese as well as the basics of ikebana (floral art), calligraphy, the board game go, origami and manga. All year round, the centre organizes exhibitions, talks, shows and films that everyone is welcome to attend, thereby strengthening ties between France and Japan.
Maison de la culture du Japon à Paris - 101 bis quai Branly, Paris 15th
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10/ The Eiffel Tower
The 330-metre-high Eiffel Tower, the symbol of Paris and even France, has dominated the Paris skyline since 1889. The first floor offers a dizzying experience: a walk across the transparent glass floor. An immersive show is screened in the projection room. A cultural trail with screens and touch screens retraces the history of the monument. Various special events are organized on the first floor at different times of year, such as photo exhibitions and a temporary ice-skating rink. The view from the second floor is even more spectacular, and it is at this level that the photos you take of Paris will come out best. On the top floor, viewpoint indicators show the direction and distance to other cities around the world. You’ll be surprised to see a reproduction of Gustave Eiffel’s office at an altitude of 276 metres!
Tour Eiffel - 5 avenue Anatole France - Champ-de-Mars, Paris 7th
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11/ The Parc du Champ-de-Mars
This is one of the most frequently photographed green spaces in Paris because it is home to the Eiffel Tower. Extending between the Seine and the École Militaire, the vast lawns of the Champ-de-Mars draw tourists and Parisians alike. People come here for a run or to picnic. There is a puppet theatre, playground equipment, a clear view of the Bastille Day firework display and a Christmas market in December. It is a popular place for mass gatherings. In 2024, it will host several events during the Paris Olympics.
The Grand Palais Éphémère is a 10,000 m² pop-up designed and built by Jean-Michel Wilmotte on the Champ-de-Mars, in front of the École Militaire, during the renovation of the Grand Palais. It hosts the art, fashion and sport-related events usually organized in the nave of the Grand Palais. During the 2024 Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games, the judo, wrestling and para table tennis competitions will be held here.
Parc du Champ-de-Mars - Quai Branly - Avenue de la Motte Picquet, Paris 7th
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Grand Palais Éphémère - Place Joffre, Paris 7th
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École Militaire - 21 place Joffre, Paris 7th
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12/ Musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac
Shielded by a glass palisade, nestling amid lush vegetation is the Musée du Quai Branly - Jacques Chirac. Its bold architecture by Jean Nouvel follows the curve of the Seine, with a long façade perched on 26 piles, dotted with coloured cubes that resemble tree houses. Facing the Seine, a gigantic plant wall by Patrick Blanc provides a finishing touch to the garden, which runs around and underneath the museum. Access to the garden is free of charge and it is well worth visiting, with 169 trees and many copses lit up by 1,200 fluorescent tubes. Inside the museum, the 3,500 works on display are a fraction of the collection comprising 350,000 artefacts from Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas, whose art and civilizations are presented here: clothing, jewellery, musical instruments, paintings and sculptures as well as photographs, films and audio recordings.
Musée du Quai Branly - Jacques Chirac - 37 quai Jacques Chirac, Paris 7th
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13/ Passerelle Debilly
On your way to or from the museum, stop to take a photo on the Passerelle Debilly, which is reserved for non-motorized transport. This footbridge is a metallic structure dating to the early 20th century, decorated with dark green ceramic tiles. People come here for the view of the Eiffel Tower and to admire the sunset.
Passerelle Debilly - Quai Branly - Avenue New York, Paris 7th
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14/ Cathédrale de la Sainte-Trinité – Russian Orthodox church
Before crossing the Pont de l’Alma to return to the Right Bank, you will see the five onion domes covered in 90,000 sheets of gold leaf of the Sainte-Trinité Russian Orthodox cathedral. The building located one end of Quai Branly was designed by Wilmotte & Associés Architectes. Besides the cathedral, there is a spiritual and cultural centre, two exhibition rooms and a shop.
Cathédrale de la Sainte-Trinité - 1 quai Branly, Paris 7th
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15/ The sewers of Paris
On the other side of the avenue, there is an unusual place waiting to be explored: the sewers of Paris. A portion of this city underneath the city (extending over a total distance of 2,600 km) can be visited. You will learn about the history of sanitation in Paris from Lutetia to the present day.
Musée des égouts de Paris - Pont de l'Alma - Face au 93 quai d'Orsay, Paris 7th
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