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Stanley Donen's "Funny Face" is probably, for many reasons, the best movie about how the foreigners see Paris. On her arrival, young intellectual Audrey Hepburn rushes to the 5th-district bookshops and cafés, while Fred Astaire and Kay Thompson start with the 8th district: the former walks and sings along the Champs-Elysées while the latter finds her paradise in the Faubourg Saint-Honoré fashion houses. This district is the capital of French luxury.

               17th                   ____----    |
                              ____----            | 
                      ____----                    |
              ____----####                        |
         .----    ########                   Gare |
        /            ###                    St.Laz|  9th
        |               Av.Messine                |
       /                                          |
      |                                           |     
      /                                           |
    Pl._                                          |
   Etoile--___Av. des                             |
      \       `-.___ Champs   Fbg St              |
      \             `-.___ -Elys    Hon      Mad. |
      \                   `-.___ées    oré        |
       \                 __-'   `-.___            |
       \        Mont.__-'             `-.___     |
        \     Av.__-'         Grand          Pl. |    1st
 16th    \     -'             Palais       Concorde
          Pt.Alma                               |
        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Seine ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Everything in italics is outside the district. The 8th district is the 5th least populated district in Paris with 39,314 inhabitants in 1990. It's the 10th smallest district (3.88 km2).

Art and fashion

In the very center of the 8th district, Avenue Matignon crosses rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré at one of the ugliest crossroads in Paris. Look at the houses: one of them has been damaged by a fire or something, and the others have no architectural unity, which is very uncommon in Paris and especially in this district. And yet, this is the very center of the luxury quarter in Paris. So don't look at the houses, watch the shops.

The richest art galleries in Paris are located on Avenue Matignon. You will find there works by Bernard Buffet, for example. However, for avant-garde, you will need to go somewhere else (3th, 4th or 6th district).

Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré is famous for its fashion shops. You will not buy anything there, so I'll only say a word about the windows. The most interesting one is the Hermès window, which is located at the corner of rue Boissy d'Anglas: it is always ornated with remarkable settings of luxury products.

On the other side of the street, the Palais de l'Elysée is the President's home. Next to it stand the American and British embassies.

Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré becomes rue Saint-Honoré when getting out of the district at rue Royale. Rue Royale leads to the Greek temple imitation of Madeleine to the north, and to Place de la Concorde to the south.

The most famous haute couture designers mark their territory on Avenue Montaigne, where they play the "my shop is bigger than yours" game.


Parallel to the Faubourg Saint-Honoré, the Avenue des Champs-Elysées follows the historical axis of Paris between the obelisk in Place de la Concorde (18th century) and the Arc de Triomphe on Place de l'Etoile (19th century). The quality of the architecture is not outstanding: the buildings are much more beautiful on Andrassy utca in Budapest. What makes the Champs-Elysées special is their atmosphere, the Saturday night crowds, and this feeling I sometimes have that I just need to go to the Champs-Elysées.

The eastern part of the avenue is a park, a pleasant but very noisy one because of the car traffic. The western part of the avenue is one of the centers of Parisian night life: cinemas, bars and a night-clubs, including the Queen and the Lido. Last time I checked, the Queen was one of the most fashionable night clubs in Paris, but the fact that I know it's fashionable probably implies that it's not any more.

South of the Champs-Elysées, three kitsch 19th-century palaces, Grand Palais, Petit Palais and Palais de la Découverte, have exhibitions about art and science.

The rest of the district

You rarely go to see the Seine when you are in the 8th district because a high-speed avenue forbids you from approaching it. This high-speed avenue is named after a queen and a king, but it is mostly famous because of a princess, Diana, whose car ended its run at Pont de l'Alma, on the frontier between the 8th and 16th districts.

The northern part of the district is an interesting place for architectural walks. The Haussmanian architecture reached its peak here, around Avenue de Messine and Parc de Monceau. The great merit of the Haussman period is that it did not produce a few beautiful buildings, but entire avenues and large parts of the town. The buildings share a common, easily recognizable style, and yet every one has its part of freedom. It's a real pleasure for any amateurs of architecture; other visitors will notice nothing extraordinary here.

Parc de Monceau, an English-style park, is invaded by children and their nannies on Wednesday afternoons. Don't be fooled by the Roman ruins: they were built in the 18th century. You may compare them with the paintings of ruins you can see in the Louvre Museum.

That's the end of our visit, unless you want to go to Gare Saint-Lazare, but it's certainly one of the least interesting train stations in Paris.

This is also the end of my Paris District Project. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoy walking in the streets!

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