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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 |
Etoile--___Av. des |
\ `-.___ Champs Fbg St |
\ `-.___ -Elys Hon Mad. |
\ `-.___ées oré |
\ __-' `-.___ |
\ Mont.__-' `-.___ |
\ Av.__-' Grand Pl. | 1st
16th \ -' Palais Concorde
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 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
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
On the other side of the street, the Palais de
l'Elysée is the President's home. Next to it stand the American and
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.
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!