The Experienced Travelers slip into comfy shoes to continue our tour of Paris neighborhoods. All aboard the Batobus to visit the left bank’s elegant, aristocratic 7th.
The 7th arrondissement is bounded by the Eiffel Tower and the Musée d’Orsay, with the Seine along it’s curved spine. There is real life here in the 7th, which is well-served by bus and metro. It’s an oasis of normalcy when the Euro-mall atmosphere of the Champs-Élysées makes you long for the madness to cease.
Hotels in the 7th run the gamut from budget accommodations to more luxurious digs, with many in the mid-range. We like the Hotel Muguet, where rooms range from 115 – 180 euros. (we must do a write-up on this ET favorite). Apartment rentals are numerous and Paris Perfect has many flats in the area.
What’s Nearby: Eiffel Tower, the Hôtel des Invalides, Place de la Concorde, Le Bon Marché department store and la Grande Épicerie, the Musées Rodin, d’Orsay and Louvre, UNESCO, the École Militaire, Gare Montparnasse, the Paris Sewer Museum and shopping at Sèvres-Babylone.
So let’s have a look around. Near the edge of the 6th at Place Saint-Germain is the Sèvres-Babylone shopping mecca. This is a welcome alternative to the crazy crowds at the Galeries Lafayette and Printemps. Scores of boutiques and specialty shops hover like flying buttresses around the legendary Le Bon Marché department store and it’s enormous gourmet specialty store, la Grande Épicerie. One-stop shopping, dear Readership!
Along the Seine, the 7th is a nerve center of French government and foreign affairs (in a manner of speaking). Dominated by the forbidding walls of embassies and ministries, the Assemblée Nationale and the Prime Minister’s Hôtel Matignon, it’s a sea of suits, smartphones and sunglasses.
If you want to confer with the political elite, go at noontime when they’re busy legislating the Fifth Republic over lunch. The ETs don’t bother them much and they reciprocate by granting us tourist visas and dispensation from the V.A.T.
Come with us now to the ET Paris power base – our center of operations near the rue Cler, where we habitually stay. Within walking distance to Napoleon’s tomb (and stuffed dog) in the Hôtel des Invalides or the Eiffel Tower, this neighborhood has a comfortable pace and the convenience of food stores, groceries, local cafés, restaurants and shops on our doorstep.
The ETs profess complete loyalty to our preferred cheese and baguette ladies, Monsieur charcuterie, the mean fish man and the hearty smoking guys at the fruit-and-veg.
We like having the post office on the corner, where we buy the “whatever fits in this box can be shipped for one price” mailers. We’ve used them twice, and our treasures arrived the following week – in great shape.
If you want to dine out, try Christian Constant’s trio of restaurants on the rue Saint-Dominique, or our favourite Le Florimond. For a quick lunch, there’s the Café du Marché or Café Central where we had the best burger on earth. Enjoy an affordable full breakfast at Le Petit Cler which has the largest café au lait on the street. This doesn’t scratch the surface of the dining possibilities in the quartier.
Don’t overlook the exquisite Musée Rodin located in his workshop, the Hôtel Biron (which once housed the Academy of the Sacred Heart, an ET alma mater). This compact museum features a delightful sculpture garden where you can contemplate “The Thinker” contemplating you.
We would be remiss not to mention that ET hero-author Nancy Mitford entertained DeGaulle’s Chief of Staff at her home in the rue Monsieur. One day we’ll write up our pilgrimage to Nancy’s digs and my brush with literary greatness.
We’re ecstatic that we’ll be returning to our haunts in the 7th next month. Watch for “as-it-happens” reports from our habitual table at La Terrasse du 7eme.