Here the past mingles with the present, history appears on every street corner, with an impish grin. The former village of Ville l’Evêque with its tiny chapel of the Madeleine has grown and spread out without losing any of its village charm. The Élysée garden is a petite vale. Marcel Proust went to the puppet theatre at the Rond-Point. Today, you can buy statement footwear chez Louboutin, or a steak at Boucheries Nivernaises. Enjoy a tipple at the Griffonnier, surrounded by police officers. You can even go for a dip in one of the two most beautiful swimming pools in Paris: at the Cercle interallié or the Automobile club de France. Discover absolute delights in the antique shops of the Faubourg, take your chance at Sotheby’s, stroll into the temple of Hermés. Pick up a snack at Kaspia and Fauchon. Go see a show at the Théâtre de la Madeleine. Praise French luxury at the Crillon or Maxim’s. Paris is one big party!
The most historic quartier in the 8th arrondissement, it offers buildings dating from the 18th to the 20th centuries. Once the promenade leading to Paris’ old city walls, it was divided into plots at the end of the Ancien Régime, whilst losing nothing of its playful air: since the Second Empire, the gardens of the Champs Élysées are home to theatres, sizeable exhibitions, pop-up markets. Extremely well protected, rich in embassies and palaces, it offers a number of architectural gems: the mansion houses bordering avenue Gabriel are the pride of France.
Yet this is also a very Parisian, family-oriented, neighbourhood where dynasties have lived for decades, often much longer. Above the luxury boutiques live notaries, the great bourgeois, proud to still be here amongst the tree lined courtyards and flower-strewn balconies where they grew up. The playground in the Champs-Élysées garden echoes with the voices of the children that live with their parents in the small streets behind the Ministries, and have done for generations. In brief, this is a neighbourhood of pleasure, pomp, and tradition.
On the outskirts of this hive of activity humming with capital’s political life, the quartier contains a number of rest stops: rue de l’Élysée, the only English street in Paris; the secret passage of Village Royal; the chapel on square Louis XVI; or the museum at Maxim’s, on the restaurant’s first floor, that brings back to life the splendour of the Belle Époque.
Not to be missed:
Lose yourself in the gardens of the Rond-Point; go chatter with the philatelists who keep shop on avenue Gabriel and pretend you are Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant in Charade.