From Passy to the Bois de Boulogne

Museums, architect-designed houses, gardens and amusement parks: see what western Paris has to offer

Both Passy and Auteuil were once villages. Nowadays they are quiet, affluent and leafy districts, well worth exploring. Those with an interest in architecture will be delighted to come across buildings designed by Hector Guimard, Auguste Perret, Le Corbusier, Robert Mallet-Stevens and even Frank Gehry. There is plenty to do with the kids: botanical gardens, amusement parks, and of course the vast Bois de Boulogne, with two racecourses. And the museums have much to offer anyone with a taste for classical or contemporary art. Start your exploration from La Muette metro station (Line 9).

1 / Rue de Passy

Quartier de Passy, Paris © OTCP - Marc Bertrand

The main shopping street in western Paris provides plenty of scope for window shopping and foodie indulgence. This lively upmarket street is also a popular meet-up spot for Parisians living in the well-heeled 16th arrondissement. Big-name international brands rub shoulders with lesser-known boutiques here. From the Grande Epicerie Rive Droite (the Right Bank branch of the gourmet supermarket) and the covered market to the Passy Plaza shopping centre and tempting little food shops and restaurants along Rue de l’Annonciation, the area around Rue de Passy is a genuine shopper’s paradise.

Rue de Passy, Paris 16th

More info on the Rue de Passy

2 / Musée du Vin

Musée du Vin Paris - Pressoir © Musée du Vin

Located a short walk from Rue de Passy, in a cul-de-sac leading off Rue des Eaux, is the Musée du Vin.  It is housed within the old cellars of the 15th-century Abbey of Passy. Because of the constant temperature inside the cellars, they were used by the Eiffel Tower restaurant in former times for storing wine. They are now home to a wine museum displaying more than 2,000 items relating to the history of wine, French wine regions and traditional French winemaking. You can enjoy a wine-tasting session and a meal in the restaurant after your visit.

Musée du Vin – 5 square Charles Dickens, Paris 16th

More info on the Musée du Vin

3 / Maison de Balzac

Maison de Balzac - Extérieur - Vue sur la tour Eiffel, Paris

With its beautiful garden and amazing view of the Eiffel Tower, the Maison de Balzac is a throwback to Passy in the 19th century. It is a house on the slope of a hill in a verdant area away from the city’s hustle and bustle. The writer Honoré de Balzac lived and worked here in the 1840s. Visiting his Passy apartment feels like delving into his magnum opusThe Human Comedy. There are depictions of hundreds of characters from the novel, and some of the writer’s most cherished possessions are on display in the restored study, including his desk, his coffee pot and his cane. The museum also showcases galley proofs bearing Balzac’s handwritten corrections, and the touchingly awkward love letters he wrote. The café with a terrace overlooking the garden is a pleasant place to linger after your visit (which is free of cost).

Maison de Balzac - 47 rue Raynouard, Paris 16th

More info on the Maison de Balzac

4 / Maison de Radio France

Maison de la Radio - Concert, Paris

Nicknamed ‘Maison ronde’ (the round house), this beloved iconic building on the banks of the Seine has been home since 1963 to the Maison de la Radio, the headquarters of France’s public radio broadcaster. The Orchestre National de France, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, and the Chœur et la Maîtrise de Radio France (school and choir) are based here, and give prestigious concerts throughout the year. The Auditorium with its 5,320-pipe organ and ultra-modern interior made entirely of wood has exceptional acoustics, and manages to convey a feeling of intimacy despite its vast size: it seats more than 1,400 people. The restaurant offering a panoramic view over the Seine is popular with both music-lovers and tourists.

Maison de Radio France – 116 avenue du Président Kennedy, Paris 16th

More info on the Maison de la Radio

5 / Musée Marmottan Monet

Musée Marmottan Monet - Jardin

This museum in an 1860s private mansion nestling discreetly near the Jardin du Ranelagh contains the world’s biggest collection of works by Claude Monet and Berthe Morisot – notably Impression: soleil levant (Impressions: sunrise), the Monet picture which is thought to have provided Impressionism with its name. More than 100 Monet paintings are showcased here, including a few of his monumental ‘Water Lilies’ compositions. A number of works by other great masters also line the walls: Manet, Caillebotte, Degas, Pissarro, Renoir, Sisley, Rodin, Boudin, Corot, Delacroix, Gauguin and Chagall. Besides its sizeable holding of Impressionist and post-Impressionist paintings, the Musée Marmottan Monet has a superb collection of paintings, sculptures, art objects and furniture dating from the Middle Ages to the Empire period.

Musée Marmottan Monet – 2 rue Louis Boilly, Paris 16th

More info on the Musée Marmottan Monet

6 / Le Corbusier Foundation – Maison La Roche

Maison La Roche - Extérieur - jardin, Paris © Maison La Roche Photographies O.Martin-Gambier FLC/ADAGP

Head to Auteuil to visit the Maison La Roche - it is the perfect introduction to the work of the architect Le Corbusier. This four-storey building designed in the 1920s displays the five key elements of architecture that Le Corbusier formulated and used: ‘pilotis’, or load-bearing columns; ribbon windows, a flat roof, an open-plan interior and a free-standing façade. It embodies Le Corbusier’s concept of the ‘architectural promenade’, i.e. that buildings should be designed to be ‘roamed through’. It is made up of simple geometrical shapes, and uses an abundance of light with deliberate touches of colour. The most eye-catching room is the art gallery with its curved ramp – a trademark element of the architect’s style, which he also used at the Villa Savoye near Paris.

Fondation Le Corbusier – Maison La Roche – 10 square du Docteur Blanche, Paris 16th

More info on the Maison La Roche

7 / The Auteuil racecourse

Hippodrome d'Auteuil © Régis Grman

Created in 1873, the Hippodrome d’Auteuil on the edge of the Bois de Boulogne is France’s most famous steeple-chase racecourse. The biggest meeting of the year is the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris in May: a truly spectacular race featuring the Rail Ditch and Fence with its fearsome 4.10-metre spread.

Hippodrome d’Auteuil – Bois de Boulogne - rue d’Auteuil aux Lacs, Paris 16th

More info on the Hippodrome d’Auteuil

8 / Jardin des Serres d'Auteuil

Serres du jardin d'Auteuil Paris © OTCP - Amélie Dupont

From the racecourse, it is a short walk to the beautiful Jardin des Serres d’Auteil. This botanical garden was created in 1761, and the greenhouses were opened here in 1898. More than 6,000 plant species from around the world thrive in a variety of ecosystems. There is a central lawn with the symmetrical planting of the classic French garden, an English garden, a Japanese garden, and a small garden devoted to Mediterranean plants. The imposing cast-iron greenhouses host giant palm trees, orchids, fig trees, banana trees and many rare plants. In June 2019 the garden acquired some modern greenhouses, inside which climates suited to plants from South America, Africa, Southeast Asia and Australia have been recreated.

Jardin des Serres d'Auteuil – 3 avenue de la porte d’Auteuil, Paris 16th

More info on the Jardin des Serres d’Auteuil

9 / Stade Roland Garros

Internationaux de France de tennis - Roland Garros © FFT / Christophe Saïdi

Stade Roland Garros, a complex of 24 tennis courts located at the Porte d’Auteuil, has hosted the French Open since 1928. Björn Borg, John McEnroe, Steffi Graf, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams are among the tennis superstars to have played matches on its famed clay courts.

Roland Garros has undertaken an ambitious renovation, refurbishing existing courts and building new spaces. The latest developments include the opening of Court Simone Mathieu, a sunken court framed by Auteuil’s modern greenhouses, and the installation of a retractable roof for Court Philippe Chartier.

Stade Roland Garros - 2 avenue Gordon Bennett, Paris 16th

More info on the Stade Roland Garros

10 / Le Corbusier’s apartment/studio

Appartement - Atelier de le Corbusier - Salle à manger

This eye-catching apartment building at 24 Rue Nungesser et Coli overlooking the concrete latticework of the Jean Bouin stadium was the world’s first building with a fully glazed façade. Le Corbusier designed the building, and lived here from 1934 until his death in 1965. The 7th and 8th floor duplex where he lived and painted has now been reconstructed and furnished exactly as it was in 1965, and opened to the public. The location was – and still is – ideal, with its proximity to the Jean Bouin and Roland Garros stadiums, the Parc des Princes velodrome and the Molitor swimming pool. The project gave Le Corbusier the opportunity to design a residential building entirely in line with his five points of architecture, which he had formerly put into practice at the Maison La Roche.

Appartement-atelier de Le Corbusier - 24 rue Nungesser et Coli, Paris 16th. Scheduled to reopen in September 2020

More info on the Le Corbusier' apartment/studio

11 / ParisLongchamp racecourse

Hippodrome de Longchamp - Piste de course, Paris © ScoopDyga

The ParisLongchamp racecourse inside the Bois de Boulogne first opened in 1857 in the presence of Emperor Napoleon III. It reopened in 2018 after an extensive makeover by the architect Dominique Perrault, not just as one of the world’s premier horse racing venues, but also as a stunning space for celebrations on a grand scale, with a sprawling garden restaurant, a vast rooftop lounge with panoramic views and an open-air concert venue. The prestigious Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe – a highly competitive flat race, open to the finest thoroughbreds – is among the world’s most famous sporting events.

Hippodrome ParisLongchamp – Bois de Boulogne - 2 route des Tribunes, Paris 16th

More info on the ParisLongchamp racecourse

12/ GoodPlanet Foundation

The Château de Longchamp in the vicinity of the racecourse now houses the GoodPlanet Foundation set up by the documentary photographer and filmmaker Yann Arthus-Bertrand. It is dedicated to promoting environmental awareness by bringing people from all walks of life together in a peaceful, verdant setting where they can share ideas and find inspiration. The chateau’s vast expanse of parkland and its forest trail, dotted with evocative sculptures, are frequently the setting for exhibitions, talks, workshops and concerts.

Fondation GoodPlanet – Bois de Boulogne - 1 carrefour de Longchamp, Paris 16th

More info on the GoodPlanet Foundation

13 / Parc de Bagatelle

Parc Bagatelle, Paris © OTCP - David Lefeuvre

Remarkable trees, little bridges and waterfalls, water lily ponds and a Chinese pagoda are among the delightful features of the Bagatelle park, which also showcases beautiful collections of flowers such as irises, clematis, peonies and, of course, roses – more than 1,200 different species in all. You might come across the resident peacocks strutting around as you stroll through the peaceful green alleys of this romantic park with its magnificent rose garden. The Bagatelle park and Orangerie host a number of concerts and exhibitions every year.

Did you know? The Bagatelle park was built in a mere 64 days as a result of a bet between Marie-Antoinette and her brother-in-law.

Parc de Bagatelle – Bois de Boulogne - route de Sèvres à Neuilly, Paris 16th

More info on the Bagatelle park

14 / The Pré-Catelan park and the Shakespeare garden

Théâtre de Verdure du Jardin Shakespeare, jardin 1, Paris © OTCP - DR

There are some lovely gardens inside the Bois de Boulogne, including the Jardin du Pré-Catelan, which has been a popular place for walks and leisure pursuits ever since its creation in 1850. It is also the location of the Michelin-starred restaurantLe Pré-Catelan, with chef Frédéric Anton at the helm. The park’s alleys, lined with remarkable trees (some of them more than 150 years old), lead to play areas and the Jardin Shakespeare, so named because it is an open-air theatre surrounded by trees, herbs and flowers mentioned in five Shakespeare plays: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Tempest, Macbeth, Hamlet and As You Like It. A number of plays are performed here every summer.

Jardin du Pré Catelan – Bois de Boulogne, chemin de la Croix Catelan, Paris 16th

More info on the Jardin du Pré-Catelan

Théâtre de Verdure du jardin Skakespeare - Bois de Boulogne - route de la Reine Marguerite, Paris 16th

  More info on the  Jardin Shakespeare

15 / Louis Vuitton Foundation

Fondation Louis Vuitton, vue panoramique 3, Paris © Iwan Baan Eberle for Fondation Louis Vuitton - 2014

The Louis Vuitton Foundation can be spotted from quite a distance. This building designed by the American architect Frank Gehry defies description. Looming above the treetops in the Bois de Boulogne, it has been compared to a ‘cloud’, a ‘sailing ship’ and an ‘iceberg’.

Launched in 2014, the Foundation has since become one of Paris’s leading contemporary art venues. It houses the LVMH chairman Bernard Arnault’s personal collection of contemporary art. These works are showcased in temporary exhibitions alongside some of the finest contemporary art pieces from around the world. Workshops and live performances are also held here on a regular basis. The roof terraces offer sweeping views of the Bois de Boulogne, the Eiffel Tower and the neighbouring La Défense district.

Fondation Louis Vuitton – 8 avenue du Mahatma Gandhi, Paris 16th

More info on the Louis Vuitton Foundation

16 / Jardin d'Acclimatation

Jardin d'Acclimatation - Chaise Volantes , Paris

Adjoining the Louis Vuitton Foundation is the Jardin d’Acclimatation. It was originally created in 1860 as a zoo and leisure space, with more than 110,000 exotic animals to delight Parisian children. Nowadays it is the 45 new attractions they rush to see, although there are still some exotic birds in the aviary, as well as an educational farm with rabbits, goats, sheep and chickens. There are all kinds of rides for people of all ages, from traditional chair-o-planes to terrifying roller coasters. And a little train has been running since 1878 between the Jardin d’Acclimatation and Porte Maillot.

Jardin d’Acclimatation – Bois de Boulogne - extends from Rue de la Porte Dauphine to Porte des Sablons, Paris 16th

More info on the Jardin d’Acclimatation