If you only have time for a few stops in Paris, make sure the Louvre/Tuileries area is on your to-see list. Besides playing host to the legendary Louvre Museum, the neighborhood affords fantastic opportunities to see the classic Paris so lovingly portrayed in certain films and iconic photos. With scores of grand squares, epic gardens, posh cafes and timeless architecture, you're unlikely to be the only one snapping pictures.
Orientation and Transport: Getting There and Getting Around
The Louvre/Tuileries neighborhood lies in the 1st arrondissement of Paris. The Seine River touches the southern border, with the neighborhoods known as Bourse (old Stock Exchange) and the "Grands Boulevards" department store district to the north. The famed Egyptian Obelisk can be seen to the west at Place de la Concorde, with the central Chatelet Les Halles area holding up the eastern edge.
Main Streets: Rue de Rivoli, Rue St-Honoré, Rue du Louvre, Quai des Tuileries
Transportation: The district is best served by metro line 1. Get off at Louvre-Rivoli or Palais Royale-Musée du Louvre to stop right at the museum, or take it to Tuileries to head directly to the famed formal gardens. Concorde (line 1, 8 & 12) will take you to the Obelisque and the western edge of the Tuileries.
Places of Note in the Area:
Louvre Museum: The world-famous museum, housed in the Louvre Palace, holds nearly 35,000 pieces of art ranging from prehistory to the 19th century.
Go to see the celebrated Mona Lisa painting, the glass pyramid in the courtyard, or the sheer size of the 652,300 square foot space.
Tuileries Gardens: The sprawling elegance of the Tuileries, which act as a continuation of the Louvre Palace, are a glorious sight to behold - especially on a summer day when the foliage is in full bloom.
Snag one of the much-coveted chairs and soak up the sun or watch children float sailboats on the ponds at these formerly royal gardens. At the west end, make sure to stop in at the Musee de L'Orangerie to see one of Claude Monet's monumental works, Les Nymphéas.
More Information on the Tuileries Gardens
Palais-Royal: While a bit less majestic than the neighboring Louvre and Tuileries gardens, this former royal palace (now housing the French legal authority known as the Conseil d'Etat) is still worth checking out for its famous forecourt, striking columns and calm gardens out back. A walk around the rear of the garden will take you to some of the older buildings of the French National Library (Bibliotheque nationale de France), home to 6 million books, maps and documents.
The Rue Saint-Honoré Fashion District: The narrow but ultra-coveted artery of the French couture industry houses some of the more coveted Paris concept stores such as Colette, in addition to flagship boutiques from countless major designers.
La Comedie Francaise: Dating to 1680, the French state theater was founded by the "Sun King" Louis XIV and was the place where famed playwright Molière rose to prominence. Recent productions have included Edmond Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac.
Out and About in the Louvre-Tuileries District:
47, rue de Richelieu
Tel: +33 (0)1 42 97 46 49
This cozy wine bar/restaurant is perfect for a night out with close friends. With only 35 seats, dimmed lights and 50's-style art lining the walls, eating at Juveniles is like dining in a swankier version of home. Pair your wine choice with one of the many traditional French entrees, like foie gras or entrecôte de boeuf.
5 Rue de l'Echelle
Tel: +33 ( 0)1 42 60 69 29
The first things you'll notice about this typical French brasserie are the glowing red chandeliers hanging overhead. The overall ruby-hued decor gives this otherwise touristy spot a stylish, young vibe that is still very typically Parisian. It's also perfectly situated across the street from the Louvre. For this, expect to pay a little extra for your café crème.
226 Rue de Rivoli
Tel: +33 (0)1 42 60 82 00
An ornate tea and brunchhouse across from the Louvre and amid the tourist souvenir shops, Angelina is widely reputed for its ultrarich, frothy hot chocolate. A great spot for warming up in the colder months.
Read related feature: Best places for hot chocolate in Paris
Ladurée: Gourmet Macarons, Pastries and Tea
Stop over at Ladurée on Rue Royale to sample a delicious macaron, a signature Parisian cake made primarily with eggs, almonds, sugar, and delicate ganache cream. This is one of the more prized purveyors of macarons in Paris.
46, rue Saint Anne
Tel: +33 ( 0)1 42 86 02 22
Just over the 1st arrondissement's border and midway to the Opera Garnier area, you'll find Little Tokyo and a plethora of Japanese restaurants. For something fun, try this quality fast-food joint, where you can get salmon-stuffed rice triangles, vegetable tempura and authentic green tea on the quick. There's even a Japanese grocery attached with all the essentials.
5, rue de la michodiere
Tel: +33 (0)1 47 42 95 22
If you're looking for a classy night on the town, check out this retro theater with its ticket-takers dressed in suits and bow ties and gold-plated doors lining the entrance. Catch any number of shows here, from plays to cabaret.
About the Author
Colette Davidson is an American freelance writer living in Paris, where she contributes regularly as a correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor, Al Jazeera, and other outlets. Until December 2008, she was a reporter and editor for French News, based in Southwest France. She is originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota.