Paris: 7eme arrondissement

Home. That space between Boulevard Raspail and Boulevard de Grenelle where Napoleon I rests in his enormous tomb and la Tour Eiffel casts a graceful shadow over the École Militaire. Where the Musée d’Orsay and Musée du Quai Branly delight observers with Impressionist paintings and indigenous art. Where I lived on the sleepy and peaceful Rue Saint Dominique for six months during college. The 7th arrondissement will always be one of my favorite (if not most favorite) places in this beautiful City of Lights. Emilie and I lived not more than a mile apart from each other in 2010, and the two of us would agree that there are few reasons to live anywhere but the 7th…as long as you can afford property in this affluent neighborhood.

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The 7th arrondissement is highly esteemed as the most aristocratic district of Paris, dating back to the 17th century when nobility started moving out of the Marais to the Faubourg Saint-Germain. It was here that the oldest and most prestigious families built their mansions, such as the Hôtel Matignon, where the French Prime Minister currently resides. This also happens to be on the same street where Emilie lived.

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This is the beautiful, green expanse stretching between l’Hôtel National des Invalides and the Seine. One of my favorite parts about living in the 7th was being able to walk past this on afternoon strolls to the Eiffel Tower. Les Invalides is where Napoleon I’s tomb resides and where the Musée de l’Armée showcases the history of the French military.

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Pont Alexandre III. Art Nouveau in all her glory. This bridge was built to coincide with the Universal Exhibition along with its close neighbors the Grand Palais and Petit Palais. It is pretty much the epitome of grace and romance right in the middle of Paris.

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The Boulevard Saint Germain is one of the true gems of the 7th arrondissement. This was undoubtedly the most important element of Haussmann’s adjustments to Paris in the 19th century. This wide boulevard replaced countless small streets and made way for automobiles and pedestrians alike to easily traverse the 5th, 6th, and 7th arrondissements. For the past century it has been regarded as a highly intellectual and fashionable neighborhood. In the 7th specifically, there are many furniture designers who have set up shop on the ground floors. A particular favorite of mine was always Roche Bobois, which I would walk past every day on my way to class.

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Above, the four of us took a break on a stroll through the 7th (which turned into an all-day stroll through the entire city if I’m remembering correctly). This is the Pont de la Concorde, which connects the Place de la Concorde to the Assemblée Nationale, the lower house of the French Parliament. Remarkably, this bridge was constructed during 1787 and 1791. Any French history buff would know that the French Revolution occurred right in the middle of this. Some of the stones in this bridge were actually taken from the demolished Bastille.

One of my favorite residences in the 7th is on Rue de Varenne (just like the Prime Minister). This is the Musée Rodin, a museum which opened in 1919 to showcase the works and life of sculptor Auguste Rodin. Rodin himself actually rented out several rooms on the ground floor of this building (officially the Hôtel Biron) to house his sculptures, and this ultimately became his personal studio. Upon his request, the Hôtel Biron was converted into a museum for his property, archives and the contents of his studio after his death.

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