Paris Neighborhoods: Rive Gauche – The 7th

There's lots to see in the 7th arrondissement

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.

The brilliant gold dome of the Hôtel des Invalides is a hallmark of the 7th. In addition to Napoleon, it has a fine military museum. If you visit and locate Napoleon's stuffed dog, please write us immediately with details.

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.

Le Bon Marché, a 7eme alternative to "les grandes magasins" in the boulevard Haussmann. Photo by François Rejeté

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.

Cafés, food stores and restaurants on the rue Cler. You won't leave hungry!

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.

Does anyone have a knife? Cheese and other goodies in the rue Cler. This is *not* the mean fish man.

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.

Dinnertime shopping near the Place de l'Ecole Militaire. Grab an inexpensive alfresco meal at the numerous grocery stores or the rue Cler market.

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.

Rodin's The Thinker. We surmise he is pondering which 7th arrondissement restaurant to book for dinner.

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.

The ET version of "The Thinker". Definitely pondering dinner....

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8 Responses to “Paris Neighborhoods: Rive Gauche – The 7th”

  1. Terry Says:

    Recommendations all noted. Ravioles de Homard at Le Florimond calling to me…..any news of the stuffed dog will be immediately dispatched.

    • Julie Says:

      Hello Terese! The ravioles de homard are the stuff that dreams are made of. They’re a house specialty and Laurent will see that you have an excellent meal. But before dinner you can be on the trail Napoleon’s stuffed dog because I bet looking for him will work up an appetite. Thanks so much for your comment.

  2. orsay54 Says:

    ahhhhhh….PERFECT, Julie!!!!!
    My old home, so many pleasant memories. Some bad too..LOL!!

    Lived at 54 Rue de Babylone.. across from YSL and La Pagoda!

    My favorite memories was walking at night, listening to music on my WALKMAN..:):)…..each night, a different direction but mainly towards Tour de Eiffel..sometimes to have a drink overlooking the Eiffel….. so nice..

    Haven’t been back to Paris since 2004!

    THANKS do much for this one, Julie!

    • Julie Says:

      Orsay, it’s time you took that walk again from the rue Babylon to the Eiffel Tower -and this time with your smartphone! I might add that the search for Napoleon’s stuffed dog is right on your route… Thanks so much for your comment – it’s always good to hear from you.

  3. orsay54 Says:

    BTW, I WISH I had recommendations, has been so long since I was there, much must have changed, in reference to shops and restaurants!

    One thing I know that is no longer there, although not really in the 7e, is Le Drugstore in St Germain.. My very first meal in Paris was there!

    Looking forward to recommendations from others that have been there recently!

    • Julie Says:

      Orsay, Le Drugstore was legendary. I never got there but I’m glad you are one of the lucky ones that did!

  4. orsay54 Says:

    You better believe that it’s time I get back, there!!!!

    I will this summer!! Will take the Train from London for a few days!

    thanks again for you blog and especially the series on the arrondissements.. So much fun to read!!!!

  5. Joanne Says:

    Long sighhhhhhhhh. This brought back such strong memories of our times there. I might just have to…

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