Fountain in the 1st arrondissement of Paris with water spraying into the air, surrounded by lush greenery and people walking and relaxing, with historic architecture in the background under a partly cloudy sky.

What to See in the 1st Arrondissement in Paris | A Local’s Guide

Last Updated on June 3, 2024 by April Nicole

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Looking for an in-depth 1st arrondissement travel guide?

Then you’re in the right place!

Located at the heart of Paris, the 1st arrondissement is a treasure trove of culture, history, and artistic flair.

This area, known for iconic landmarks like the Louvre and the Palais Royal, offers an eclectic mix of activities that cater to both the avid tourist and the discerning local.

Looking for things to do in the 1st arrondissement in Paris can often overwhelm visitors due to its rich array of attractions and experiences.

As someone who has lived in Paris since 2021, I’ve explored every nook and cranny of this district, discovering hidden gems and learning how to navigate its bustling streets efficiently.

To help you make the most of your visit, I’ve tailored a guide that highlights not only the must-see sites but also the lesser-known spots.

Whether you’re a history buff, art lover, or simply in search of a memorable Parisian experience, this guide promises to enrich your journey through the 1st arrondissement.

If you are in a hurry, here’s a summary of the 1er arrondissement Paris:

1st Arrondissement in Paris Map

1st Arrondissement in Paris History

The history of the 1st Arrondissement is a dynamic story that begins in the medieval era, when it was mostly inhabited by nobles and the royal family. The district was the original site of the medieval city of Paris, known then as Lutetia.

Over the centuries, it has been the stage for many of France’s significant historical events, including royal processions, public speeches, and revolutionary activities.

Things to Do in 1st Arrondissement Paris

Major Attractions

Louvre Museum

As the world’s largest art museum, the Louvre is a central landmark of Paris, not just geographically but culturally. Housing over 38,000 objects from prehistory to the 21st century, the museum’s collections span approximately 652,300 square feet. Iconic masterpieces such as Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” and the “Venus de Milo” draw millions of visitors each year. The Louvre’s architectural evolution from a medieval fortress to the present-day museum is a testament to French history.

Palais Royal

Just a short walk from the Louvre, the Palais Royal is a palace with gardens that are a hidden treasure of tranquility in Paris’s bustling center. Built in 1633 by Cardinal Richelieu, the Palais Royal has been a royal residence and a venue for significant historical events. Today, its colonnaded arcades are home to world-class boutiques and cozy cafes.

Jardin des Tuileries

Designed by André Le Nôtre, the chief gardener of King Louis XIV, the Tuileries Garden is an excellent example of French formal garden design. The garden serves as a cultural walking area for Parisians and tourists alike, adorned with statues by Rodin and Maillol and offering a peaceful retreat with stunning views of the Champs-Elysées.

Musée de l’Orangerie

Musée de l’Orangerie is renowned for housing impressionist and post-impressionist paintings, most famously Claude Monet’s “Water Lilies” paintings, which is displayed in two oval rooms specifically designed by Monet to present the works. The museum’s tranquil setting in the corner of the Tuileries Gardens complements the immersive nature of these large-scale paintings. Additionally, the museum boasts works by other prominent artists such as Renoir, Picasso, and Matisse, making it a pivotal site for art enthusiasts interested in the developments of modern art.

Église Saint-Eustache

Église Saint-Eustache in the 1st arrondissement of Paris, framed by blooming trees and greenery on a sunny day, showcasing its impressive Gothic architecture.

Église Saint-Eustache is one of Paris’s most visited churches, standing out with its impressive Gothic architecture with a Renaissance touch, reflecting its construction period that spanned the 16th to 17th centuries. Known for its rich history and beautiful stained glass windows, the church also offers one of the largest organs in France. Its vibrant music program, including classical and contemporary concerts, makes it a cultural hub within the bustling market area of Les Halles.

Place Vendôme

Known for its deluxe boutiques and prestigious jewelers, Place Vendôme is synonymous with Parisian luxury. The octagonal square is dominated by the Vendôme Column, which was erected by Napoleon to commemorate the Battle of Austerlitz.

Musée des Arts Décoratifs

Musée des Arts Décoratifs celebrates the art of design and its impact on daily life through a vast collection ranging from the Middle Ages to the present day. Located in the wing of the Louvre Palace, it features decorative arts, design, and fashion. The museum’s exhibits include everything from ancient tapestries to contemporary furniture, providing insights into the historical trends and cultural shifts in decorative art practices. 1st arrondissement in paris

Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel

1st arrondissement in paris: Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel in the 1st arrondissement of Paris, showcasing its detailed carvings and statues under a bright blue sky, with the Louvre Museum and the glass pyramid in the background.

Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel stands at the western end of the Louvre, marking a monumental gateway that aligns with the more famous Arc de Triomphe and the Grande Arche de la Défense. This smaller arch was built to commemorate Napoleon’s military victories in 1805. Decorated with reliefs and statues, it offers a detailed and ornate representation of Napoleonic military achievements.

La Sainte-Chapelle

1st arrondissement in paris: The stunning stained glass windows of Sainte-Chapelle in the 1st arrondissement of Paris, featuring intricate Gothic architecture and vibrant colors that fill the chapel with light.

La Sainte-Chapelle stands as a masterpiece of French Gothic architecture, located within the medieval Palais de la Cité. Commissioned by King Louis IX to house his collection of Passion relics, including Christ’s Crown of Thorns, this chapel is renowned for its stunning stained glass windows. These 15 magnificent panels depict 1,113 scenes from the Old and New Testaments, bathing the interior in a kaleidoscope of color that illustrates biblical stories with extraordinary detail and vibrancy. The effect is both spiritual and mesmerizing, making La Sainte Chapelle a profound testament to the artistry and craftsmanship of the High Middle Ages.

Shopping and Commerce

Rue Saint Honoré

This street is the epitome of Parisian fashion and luxury. It is home to flagship stores of world-renowned designers like Chanel, Hermès, and Saint Laurent. Shopping here is not merely about buying; it’s an experience of high fashion in beautifully designed spaces that reflect the elegance and history of Paris.

Rue Montorgueil

1st arrondissement in paris: a bustling street scene on Rue Montorgueil in Paris, filled with pedestrians and lined with shops, cafes, and market stalls. The atmosphere is vibrant with people shopping, dining, and walking along the narrow street.

Rue Montorgueil is a lively pedestrian street in the heart of Paris, famous for its vibrant atmosphere and historic character. Lined with renowned bakeries, cheese shops, florists, and cafes, the street embodies the essence of Parisian daily life and cuisine. It’s a favorite among locals for its high-quality food shops and the festive ambiance, especially during events like the Fête de la Musique.

Le Carrousel du Louvre: Located beneath the Louvre Museum, Le Carrousel du Louvre is a unique shopping center that combines culture with commerce. This underground complex not only provides a convenient access point to the museum but also houses an assortment of boutiques and shops, offering everything from high-end jewelry and fashion to gifts and souvenirs that are distinctively Parisian.

Les Halles

1st arrondissement in paris: the exterior of Forum des Halles in Paris, featuring its modern architectural design with a wavy, gold-colored roof and large glass windows. People are gathered and walking around the plaza in front of the building under a clear blue sky.

Once known as “the belly of Paris,” Les Halles has transformed from a bustling wholesale food market into a modern shopping center, the Forum des Halles. It features a wide range of shops from popular global brands to local boutiques, all under a striking canopy of glass and metal. This spot is a blend of the old and new, offering a contemporary shopping experience while nodding to its historical roots.

Rue de Rivoli

1st arrondissement in paris: a busy street in Paris with classic Haussmann-style buildings featuring arched ground-floor arcades. There are cars, motorbikes, and pedestrians moving along the street, highlighting the lively urban atmosphere.

Stretching along the northern border of the 1st Arrondissement, Rue de Rivoli is lined with shops catering to a variety of tastes and budgets. From souvenir shops and smaller boutiques to famous brands like Zara and H&M, this street offers a diverse shopping experience. Its long arcades provide a picturesque and sheltered walkway, ideal for leisurely shopping sprees.

Transportation and Accessibility

A Paris Metro train at a station platform with a few people waiting. A sign above indicates directions for lines 2 and 5, pointing towards Pte Dauphine, Nation, Bobigny, and Place d'Italie.

The 1st Arrondissement is exceptionally well-connected, making it one of the most accessible areas in Paris. Its central location is served by numerous modes of public transport, including metro, bus, and RER lines.

Metro Connectivity

  • Metro Stations: The 1st Arrondissement boasts several major metro stations that serve as key transit hubs. These include:
    • Louvre-Rivoli: Direct access to the Louvre Museum, making it especially convenient for tourists.
    • Châtelet: One of the largest underground stations in the world, Châtelet acts as a central hub connecting multiple metro and RER lines. It provides easy access to other parts of Paris and surrounding areas.
    • Concorde: Located near Place de la Concorde and the beginning of the Champs-Elysées, this station connects you to metro lines 1, 8, and 12, facilitating direct travel across the city.
    • Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre: Another station close to the Louvre, ideal for tourists visiting the museum and the surrounding attractions.
    • Les Halles: Adjacent to the Forum des Halles shopping center, this station is connected to the RER A line, which is perfect for rapid transit to La Défense business district and Disneyland Paris.

Bus Routes

  • Comprehensive Bus Service: Numerous bus lines run through the 1st Arrondissement, providing convenient access to both well-trodden and off-the-beaten-path locations. Key bus routes include:
    • Lines 21, 67, 74, and 85: These buses serve various parts of the district, offering scenic routes that are perfect for sightseeing as well as practical routes for daily commuting.
    • Night Buses: For those exploring Paris by night, several Noctilien night bus services operate through the district, ensuring safe and accessible travel options during the later hours.

RER Trains

  • RER Access: The RER (Réseau Express Régional) train network complements the metro by providing faster and longer-distance services. Key RER stations in the 1st Arrondissement include:
    • Châtelet-Les Halles: This station is a central node for the RER lines A, B, and D, linking the district to both Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports, as well as suburban areas like Marne-la-Vallée (Disneyland).

Walkability and Cycling

  • Pedestrian-Friendly Streets: The 1st Arrondissement is one of the most pedestrian-friendly areas in Paris. Many streets are either pedestrian-only or have limited vehicle access, which enhances the walking experience around key attractions and shopping areas.
  • Vélib’ Stations: Paris’ extensive bike-sharing system, Vélib’, has numerous stations throughout the district. Biking is a healthy and environmentally friendly way to explore the dense and historically rich area, with dedicated bike lanes and often quicker transit times than motor vehicles during peak hours.

Where to Eat in the 1st Arrondissement

1st arrondissement in paris: The image shows the facade of Stohrer, the oldest cake shop in Paris, founded in 1730, with a blue awning that reads "PATISSIER STOHRER TRAITEUR" and a person browsing inside.
The storefront of Stohrer, the oldest pastry shop in Paris, founded in 1730

The 1st Arrondissement of Paris is not only a feast for the eyes but also a paradise for the palate. It offers a diverse array of dining options, from historic cafes and luxurious restaurants to hidden bistros and exclusive patisseries.

Michelin-Starred Restaurants

  • Le Meurice Alain Ducasse: Located inside the prestigious Le Meurice Hotel, this restaurant offers a dining experience that combines exquisite French culinary art with opulent decor. Chef Alain Ducasse’s menu is a tribute to French gastronomy, focusing on the purity and flavors of high-quality ingredients.
  • Kei: Chef Kei Kobayashi brings a Japanese touch to French cuisine at his restaurant, Kei, which is known for its clean, precise flavors and artistic presentation. The chef’s creativity is on full display in a contemporary setting that mirrors his innovative approach to gastronomy.
  • L’Espadon: Situated in the Ritz Paris, L’Espadon provides a luxurious dining experience that matches the hotel’s grandeur. The menu offers a modern take on classic French dishes, prepared with exceptional skill and presented with the utmost elegance. 1st arrondissement in paris

Cafes and Bistros

  • Angelina: Famous for its rich hot chocolate and Mont-Blanc dessert, Angelina is a historic tea house that has been a favorite among Parisians and tourists for over a century. The Belle Époque interior provides a charming backdrop for enjoying a leisurely breakfast or a sweet treat in the afternoon.
  • Le Nemours: Located near the Palais Royal, Le Nemours is known for its prime location and traditional Parisian café culture. It’s a popular spot for both locals and visitors to enjoy a coffee or a glass of wine, paired with light meals and snacks.
  • Café Ruc: Opposite the Louvre, Café Ruc is a bistro with a modern Parisian vibe, offering a varied menu that includes everything from salads and sandwiches to full-course meals. Its terrace is particularly popular for people-watching and soaking up the vibrant atmosphere of central Paris.

Specialty Foods and Gourmet Shops

  • Stohrer: The oldest patisserie in Paris, founded in 1730, Stohrer is a culinary landmark. Located on Rue Montorgueil, this shop is famous for its pastries, particularly the Baba au Rhum and Puits d’Amour.
  • G. Detou: This store is a treasure trove for both amateur cooks and professional chefs, offering a wide range of baking ingredients, spices, and culinary delights that are hard to find elsewhere.
  • La Maison du Chocolat: This renowned chocolatier offers a sublime selection of chocolates and confections, crafted by master chocolatiers. It’s a must-visit for anyone with a penchant for fine chocolate.

Food Markets and Street Food

  • Rue Montorgueil: A bustling market street that hosts a variety of food shops, bakeries, fish stores, cheese shops, wine shops, produce stands, and flower shops. It’s a vibrant area where locals come to shop and socialize, making it a lively culinary hub.
  • Le Marché des Halles: Located beneath the Canopée in Les Halles, this modern market offers a wide range of fresh produce and gourmet foods. It’s a great place to explore regional French cuisine and international food offerings.

1st Arrondissement Paris Hotels

1st arrondissement in paris
Stay at the Ritz Paris Hotel for an unforgettable experience of timeless elegance, luxurious comfort, and unmatched views

The 1st Arrondissement of Paris offers a variety of accommodation options to suit different budgets and preferences. 1st arrondissement in paris

  • Luxury Hotels: The Ritz Paris and Le Meurice offer opulent accommodations, world-class service, and historical significance, making them popular with celebrities and discerning travelers.
  • Boutique Hotels: Smaller boutique options like the Hôtel Thérèse offer a more intimate experience with uniquely designed rooms reflecting Parisian style.
  • Affordable Stays: For budget-conscious travelers, options like the Hôtel Louvre Bons Enfants provide excellent value with a prime location near major attractions.

Best 1st Arrondissement Tours

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