1st Arrondissement

Why You'll Want to Visit!

Paris Guide: 1st Arrondissement Top Attractions

10 Fascinating Places for You to Explore & Enjoy in the Bourse

The 1st Arrondissement is where Paris began around 2,300 years ago when a Celtic tribe called the Parisii settled on a small Seine River island now called Île de la Cité and along the nearby area on the Right Bank. 

Later, kings and queens built their palaces and superb gardens here, which is why this area is still known as "Royal Paris."

La première, as the 1st is commonly called in French, continues to be the historic heart of the city and is absolutely packed with famous historic and cultural attractions, spectacular parks and gardens, and shopping areas ranging from haute couture fashion showrooms to the largest mall in Paris. 

If you are planning your first trip to Paris, the 1st arrondissement is where you'll find many of your "bucket list" must-visit attractions - the Mona Lisa and other masterpieces in the Louvre Museum, Monet's huge waterlily paintings in Musée de l'Orangerie (Orangerie Museum), spectacular stained glass and classical concerts in 15th century Sainte-Chapelle, the haunting medieval Conciergerie where Marie Antoinette spent her final days as a prisoner, exquisite jewelers around Place Vendôme, and designer Coco Chanel's favorite spot for hot chocolate, the Angelina tea room. 

You can discover and explore unexpected treasures here as well - 19th century shopping arcades, fascinating market streets and street markets, and highly acclaimed jazz clubs and wine bars.  During summer months, you can relax in parks along the Seine River's banks, and from November through early January, stroll around several of the city's best and biggest Christmas markets.

The 1st district also offers many excellent hotels in all price ranges, and a wide assortment of superb bistros, brasseries, bakeries, and restaurants along with the city's highest concentration of popular Japanese and Korean cafes and ramen bars. 

If you're planning a return visit to Paris, you're likely to discover attractions you missed during previous stays, or even new places as the city changes and evolves, just as it has throughout its long history.  Plus, the First's many metro lines and stations make getting to and from other city neighborhoods quick, easy, and convenient.

Our guide to the 1st arrondissement introduces you to over 30 top attractions, plus recommendations for interesting neighborhood tours, where to stay, and where (and what) to eat. 

Top photo: Fountain and pool in Tuileries Garden (Jardin des Tuileries) near the Louvre Museum in Paris's 1st arrondissement

1st Arrondissement Attractions Map

Want to know where the 1st's top attractions are located?  Use this map to get oriented:

 

 

 

Famous "Bucket List" Attractions in the 1st Arrondissement

If you're visiting Paris for the first time and want to see the city's most famous attractions, at least a few of these seven iconic places may be on your must-see bucket list. 

If you're a return visitor, they're all worthy of a repeat visit!

Louvre Museum - Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, Winged Victory

Louvre Museum pyramid at night
Louvre Museum pyramid at night

Home to Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa and numerous other treasures, the Louvre is an architectural marvel and the world's biggest art museum, with around 35,000 works of art on display at any one time. 

You can see everything from Egyptian mummies to medieval art to Emperor Napolean III's lavish 19th apartments - plus famous Greek and Roman sculptures such as Venus de Milo and the Winged Victory of Samothrace, Italian Renaissance masterpieces by Titian and Raphael, gallery after gallery of Northern European and English paintings, a new Islamic pavilion, and the crown jewels of Louis XV. 

Where to start?  For many Paris visitors, a small group Louvre tour provides a wonderful introduction while showing you some of the most famous pieces.  But there are also plenty of other options:


Read our review of a top-rated small group louvre tour

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Sainte-Chapelle - Spectacular Medieval Stained Glass

Medieval stained glass windows in Sainte Chapelle
Medieval stained glass windows in Sainte Chapelle

Montmartre's annual Grape Harvest Festival ("Fête des Vendanges de Montmartre) takes place each on the second weekend of the month - October 10-14 this year. 

Find Paris concerts for other months


L'Orangerie Museum

Le Trabendo at Parc de la Villette in Paris
Monet's Water Lilies paintings at Musée de l'Orangerie

Montmartre's annual Grape Harvest Festival ("Fête des Vendanges de Montmartre) takes place each on the second weekend of the month - October 10-14 this year. 

Find Paris concerts for other months


Tuileries Garden (Jardin des Tuileries)

Spring day at Tuileries Garden
Spring day at Tuileries Garden

Montmartre's annual Grape Harvest Festival ("Fête des Vendanges de Montmartre) takes place each on the second weekend of the month - October 10-14 this year. 

Find Paris concerts for other months


Rue Saint-Honoré - Fashion Designer Boutiques

Chanel sign on Rue Saint-Honore in Paris

Montmartre's annual Grape Harvest Festival ("Fête des Vendanges de Montmartre) takes place each on the second weekend of the month - October 10-14 this year. 

Find Paris concerts for other months


Place Vendôme -

Place Vendome - Photo credit Leo Serrat
Place Vendôme - Photo credit Leo Serrat

Montmartre's annual Grape Harvest Festival ("Fête des Vendanges de Montmartre) takes place each on the second weekend of the month - October 10-14 this year. 

Find Paris concerts for other months


Seine River

Paris Motor Show - top Paris October event

Montmartre's annual Grape Harvest Festival ("Fête des Vendanges de Montmartre) takes place each on the second weekend of the month - October 10-14 this year. 

Find Paris concerts for other months

Where to Stay in the 1st Arrondissement

Paris Hotel Map - 1st Arrondissement

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More Top Things to Do & See in the 1st Arrondissement

Once you've completed seen the iconic "bucket list" attractions in Paris's first district, you'll still find an almost endless number of historic and modern places to see and explore here, plus lots of interesting things to do.

Here are our recommendations, organized by category because there are so many:

More Famous Museums, Monuments, & Historical Places in the 1st Arrondissement

Fontaine des Innocents
Fontaine des Innocents

Conciergerie

The Conciergerie began its existence as a Medieval royal palace built in the 10th century, with Sainte-Chapelle added a couple of centuries later.  After King Charles V moved across the Seine River to the Louvre Palace end of the 14th century, the Conciergerie became a prison where Marie Antoinette awaited her fate at the guillotine during the French Revolution.  

Although the Paris judicial courts use much of the enormous building, some of the most interesting historic areas opened to the public about 100 years ago. 

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Combo Skip-the-Line Tickets to Sainte Chapelle + Conciergerie

Save money when you get a combo skip-the-line ticket giving you entrance to both Sainte Chapelle and the Conciergerie

 

Jeu de Paume

Almost totally by an elegant 16th century palace with shopping arcades along three sides, the Palais Royal Garden is almost hidden from sight but well worth the effort of seeking out (the easiest way to access it is through Passage du Perron, an extension of Rue Vivienne).  Find a comfortable chair next to the pool and fountain, join a game of boules in the shaded allées between the long rows of manicured lime and chestnut trees, or just stroll around admiring the beautiful displays of roses, perennials, and statues.

Pinault Collection - Opening Soon

After an extensive renovation and redesign by Japanese architect Tadao Ando, the former Bourse de Commerce (Paris stock market) is expected to reopen in 2020 as a showcase for contemporary art collected by François Pinault, owner of luxury brands such as Gucci and one of the wealthiest men in France.  Look for three levels of galleries inside the round building and, no doubt, jaw-dropping art.

Comédie Française

Named after Molière's troupe of actors, Comédie Française (2 Rue de Richelieu, in the Palais Royal complex) dates back to 1680 and is the oldest active theater company in the world.  Attend a show here (in French), or go on a guided 1-hour tour offered on Saturdays and Sundays.  Not only will you see public areas including the ornate lobby, grand stairway, galleries, and theater auditorium, but you also get to visit private spaces with painted ceilings, art, and the red velvet armchair where Molière collapsed on stage while performing in his comedy, The Hypochondriac, and then died a short time later at his nearby home.   Book your tour on the theater's website - and do note: tours slots usually fill up 2-3 months in advance.

Theâtre du Chatelet

Almost totally by an elegant 16th century palace with shopping arcades along three sides, the Palais Royal Garden is almost hidden from sight but well worth the effort of seeking out (the easiest way to access it is through Passage du Perron, an extension of Rue Vivienne).  Find a comfortable chair next to the pool and fountain, join a game of boules in the shaded allées between the long rows of manicured lime and chestnut trees, or just stroll around admiring the beautiful displays of roses, perennials, and statues.

Fontaine des Innocents

Almost totally by an elegant 16th century palace with shopping arcades along three sides, the Palais Royal Garden is almost hidden from sight but well worth the effort of seeking out (the easiest way to access it is through Passage du Perron, an extension of Rue Vivienne).  Find a comfortable chair next to the pool and fountain, join a game of boules in the shaded allées between the long rows of manicured lime and chestnut trees, or just stroll around admiring the beautiful displays of roses, perennials, and statues.

More 1st Arrondissement Gardens & Parks

Palais Royal Garden (Jardin du Palais Royal)
Palais Royal Garden (Jardin du Palais Royal)

Palais Royal Garden (Jardin du Palais Royal) 

Almost totally by an elegant 16th century palace with shopping arcades along three sides, the Palais Royal Garden is almost hidden from sight but well worth the effort of seeking out (the easiest way to access it is through Passage du Perron, an extension of Rue Vivienne).  Find a comfortable chair next to the pool and fountain, join a game of boules in the shaded allées between the long rows of manicured lime and chestnut trees, or just stroll around admiring the beautiful displays of roses, perennials, and statues.

Nelson Mandela Garden (Jardin Nelson Mandela)

Located between the newly redesigned Forum des Halles shopping/entertainment center and the majestic Saint-Eustasche Church, Nelson Mandela Garden includes expansive green lawns, a large and innovative children's playground, a tropical greenhouse, beautiful plantings, a splash pool/fountain, and lots of places to sit.  Enjoy the park as you explore the surrounding areas:  the church, the Forum, pedestrian-only Rue Montorgueil market street, and all the fascinating cookware shops and small restaurants nearby.

Parc Rives de Seine (Seine Riverbank Park)

Batobus - Louvre stop
Parc Rives de Seine - Batobus Louvre stop

The Parc Rives de Seine runs along both sides of the river in place of former highways.  On the Right Bank bordering the 1st arrondissement, look for plenty of places to relax:  grassy expanses, hammocks, and lounge chairs.  Paved lanes next to the embankment provide plenty of space for joggers, skate boards, and bicycles.  You can even board the Batobus hop on/hop off sightseeing cruise boat at the Louvre stop and explore more of the river.  More about Batobus and tickets

Square du Vert-Galant

If you've taken a Seine River cruise, you've probably seen Square du Vert-Galant, a small leafy space at the very tip of Île de la Cité designated as a public park in 1607.  Stroll around the paths and admire the views of the Louvre Palace and the Institut de France, or bring a blanket, bottle of wine, cheese, and a baguette for a picnic on the grass.

Historic Churches in the 1st Arrondissement 

Palais Royal Garden (Jardin du Palais Royal)
Palais Royal Garden (Jardin du Palais Royal)

Saint Eustasche

Almost totally by an elegant 16th century palace with shopping arcades along three sides, the Palais Royal Garden is almost hidden from sight but well worth the effort of seeking out (the easiest way to access it is through Passage du Perron, an extension of Rue Vivienne).  Find a comfortable chair next to the pool and fountain, join a game of boules in the shaded allées between the long rows of manicured lime and chestnut trees, or just stroll around admiring the beautiful displays of roses, perennials, and statues.

Saint Roch

Located between the newly redesigned Forum des Halles shopping/entertainment center and the majestic Saint-Eustasche Church, Nelson Mandela Garden includes expansive green lawns, a large and innovative children's playground, a tropical greenhouse, beautiful plantings, a splash pool/fountain, and lots of places to sit.  Enjoy the park as you explore the surrounding areas:  the church, the Forum, pedestrian-only Rue Montorgueil market street, and all the fascinating cookware shops and small restaurants nearby.

Saint Germain l'Averrois

If you've taken a Seine River cruise, you've probably seen Square du Vert-Galant, a small leafy space at the very tip of Île de la Cité designated as a public park in 1607.  Stroll around the paths and admire the views of the Louvre Palace and the Institut de France, or bring a blanket, bottle of wine, cheese, and a baguette for a picnic on the grass.

Oratoir

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Christmas Markets in the 1st Arrondissement

During November and December, two of the biggest and best Paris Christmas markets open in the 1st arrondissement and spread holiday cheer with hot mulled wine, roasted chestnuts, sparkling lights, and Swiss-style chalets filled with arts and crafts, festive Christmas decorations, regional food specialties, and other gifts.

La Magie de Noël (The Magic of Christmas) in Tuileries Garden next to the Louvre features around 100 chalets offering mostly French-produced food products, wine, and gifts.  You can also enjoy a dozen or so carnival rides, an ice rink, and lots of glittering lights, festive crowds, and guest appearances from Santa. 

 

 

Canopee

Montmartre's annual Grape Harvest Festival ("Fête des Vendanges de Montmartre) takes place each on the second weekend of the month - October 10-14 this year. 

Marche Saint-Honoré

Montmartre's annual Grape Harvest Festival ("Fête des Vendanges de Montmartre) takes place each on the second weekend of the month - October 10-14 this year. 

Unexpected but Cool Things to See in the 1st Arrondissement

With all its layers of history, the 1st arrondissement has more than its share of unusual sights and artifacts that are easy to walk by unless you know where to look.  Here are a few of our favorites:

Medici Column:  Catherine de Médicis' Astrological Observatory

Medici Column behind the Bourse de Commerce building
Medici Column behind the Bourse de Commerce building

Located behind the Bourse de Commerce at the western edge of the Nelson Mandela Garden, the 92 foot (28 m) high fluted column topped with an iron frame once covered with glass is easy to miss but evokes 16th century royal history.  Queen of France Catherine de Médicis ordered the Colonne Médicis to be built in 1575 as a tribute to her late husband King Henry II, whose death had been predicted by Nostradamus, and for experiments conducted by her personal astronomer/sorceerer/childhood friend Cosimo Ruggieri, who later predicted her death. 

Inside the column, a spiral staircase with 145 steps leads to the top.  Outside, walk around the square base and you can see how each corner corresponds to the point on a compass.

Molière Fountain

Moliere Fountain where Rue Moliere and Rue de Richelieu merge together in Paris's 1st arrondissement
Moliere Fountain where Rue Moliere and Rue de Richelieu merge together in Paris's 1st arrondissement

Tucked away in a quiet corner between Palais Royal and bustling Avenue de l'Opéra is the stately Molière Fountain with a statue of the famous 17th century playwright/actor/poet who lived, rehearsed, wrote and died in this neighborhood.

But in a city filled with statues, what makes the Molière Fountain significant?  When it was erected in 1844, the bronze sculpture of Molière was the first public monument commemorating a non-royal, non-military person.

Where to Eat in the 1st Arrondissement

Areas with Markets, Street Markets, & Culinary Themes

Marché Saint-Honoré Restaurants - Numerous small cafes and bistros lining the narrow streets around the market - Place du Marché Saint-Honoré, Rue du Marché Saint-Honoré, and Rue de la Sourdière - typically serve up French brasserie-type fare: simply prepared meats and seafood, steak-frites, salads, pasta, burgers, soups, and quiche. 

Rue Montorgueil Market Street - One of the most popular pedestrian-only market streets in Paris.  In addition to butchers, fishmongers, and cheese sellers, you'll find dozens of small eateries such as Au Rocher de Cancale (#78) which offers well-prepared traditional French food, bars, and bakeries including the famous pastry shop La Maison Stohrer (#51).  Or buy a wedge or two of cheese at La Fermette, pick up a baguette and bottle of wine, and head to nearby Nelson Mandela Park.

Rue Sainte-Anne - Considered to have the city's best Japanese & Korean restaurants, Rue Sainte-Anne and nearby streets offer dozens of excellent and affordable spots such as Sapporo, Kadoya, JanTchi, On the Bab, and Kunitorayato where you can feast on sushi, ramen, dumplings, bibimbop, and other East Asian specialties.  Look for other cuisines as well:  Vietnamese, Laotian, Chinese, Thai, and Cambodian.  Just don't call the area "Little Japan" (as many guidebooks do) - that label hasn't been accurate or used locally for at least a decade.

Where to Eat near the Louvre

Although the Louvre does have 8-9 cafes, bakeries, refreshment counters, and bistros inside the museum, you'll find more interesting choices nearby.  Several favorites to consider:

Angelina (226 Rue de Rivoli) - Richly delicious hot chocolate poured from a pot, over-the-top pastries, and light meals in a gilded Belle Époque tea room; a favorite of famous designer Coco Chanel as well as modern fashionistas.  Reservations usually needed for lunch or dinner.

Cafe Marly (93 Rue de Rivoli) - Tucked away in the arcades of the Louvre, with lovely terrace views of the Pyramid and gardens.  Continuous service, with somewhat elevated brasserie-type fare.  Three courses plus wine and coffee will run at least €100/person.  Reservations are usually a good idea.

Le Nemours (Place de Colette) - Quintessential Paris grand café next to Comédie Française and the Palais-Royal Garden offering continuous service, a heated terrace, and high-quality, reasonably-priced casual fare.

Loulou (107 Rue de Rivoli) - Located next to the Musée des Arts Décoratifs with a spendid outdoor terrace for summer dining; on the pricy side but fantastic Italian cuisine.  Reservations almost always essential.



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Best 1st Arrondissement Tours

  • Paris in One Day Sightseeing Tour - This popular tour offered through booking service Viator includes a guided tour of the 1st arrondisement's most important attraction, the Louvre Museum.  You also get a Seine River cruise to the Eiffel Tower, where you can either end your tour with or without lunch, or opt to continue and visit the outside of Notre Dame Cathedral.  Find out more
  • Secret Paris: Cheese, Art, & Life - You'll see famous sights as well as hidden enclaves known only to locals during this tour that starts in the heart of Paris and winds past the Louvre and through its arcades, and into the medieval neighborhood of the Marais, ending in front of the fabulously modern Pompidou Center.  Along the way, you'll sample a macaroon, walk through a beautiful garden, and visit a fromagerie (cheese market) where you can taste some cheese.  This tour lasts 3 hours and usually fills up fast, so don't wait to book.  Find out more
  • Book a Local Friend - For the ultimate flexibility, book a local Parisian who will customize a personalized tour of the 1st arrondissement - or anywhere else in Paris - based on what you want to see and do.  Find out more

More to See & Do in the 2nd Arrondissement