Whilst investigating a trip to Paris, I came across the ‘Hotel-de-Ville’ area of Paris and discovered that it was what I consider Paris to be all about – a mix of history, the arts and joy of life!
The area is located on the Right Bank of the River Seine and contains some of the most popular tourist sites in Paris but also some that you may not have heard of. The ambience is one of lively bars, restaurants, galleries, boutiques and large open squares, not including the narrow medieval streets of the Marais district. This was once a royal residential area but fell into disrepair when it was abandoned during the Revolution. However, in the 1960’s it was rediscovered and soon became a fashionable address – more commonly know now as the ‘Gay’ Quarter.
The diverse mix of artists, Jewish and gay communities make for a truly cosmopolitan character. Add into the mix the Pompidou Centre, Place de l’hôtel de Ville and The Notre-Dame Cathedral, and you have a unique hotchpotch of styles and attractions to experience.
The Pompidou centre located in Place George Pompidou is a work of art in its own right. Built in the 1970s, the architects literally “turned the architectural world upside down” with its exposed skeleton and functional pipes and escalators on the outside of the building. 4o years on and it is still as dramatic and conceptual as it was then – maybe even more of an attraction than the art inside! The streets around the Square are littered with cafés and bars and make a great meeting point.
And of course no trip to Paris would be complete without visiting Notre Dame Cathedral. This famous gothic Cathedral, famous for its fictional hunchback, is dramatic and imposing. Its beautiful Rose windows, stone carvings and gargoyles make for an impressive exterior but it’s the history inside that is why people flock there. It is witnessed so much French history – the coronations and weddings of Kings and Emperors and the Revolution when it was ransacked.
Notre Dame is also a great location to start a walk along the River Seine. Head west and you will come across The Louvre, The Tuileries Gardens, Musée d’Orsay and The Eiffel Tower. A walk along the Seine is not just for lovers as you pass some of Paris most famous tourist attractions and you get to watch Parisian life on either side of the River without all the traffic pollution of the main streets.
This area of Paris is truly beautiful and very desirable, so staying there on your trip could be very expensive. I would advise that if you don’t have a massive budget that you should stay in one of the outer arrondissements and take the efficient and cheap Metro into the centre.
Enjoy your stay!