Les Parisettes: top 7 in the 7th arrondissement
As a young devotee of Impressionism, obsessed with Toulouse Lautrec, I favoured the 18th. In my undergraduate days studying in the Latin Quarter, I chose the fifth. These days, I’m a lover of the ninth. But there really is nowhere like the charming, leafy boulevards of the seventh arrondissement.
This central Left Bank district is bursting with fabulous restaurants, cafes, museums and shops. It was difficult to narrow down, but here are my top seven highlights of the seventh arrondissement…
1. Le Musée Rodin
Home to the world-class institutions of the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay and the Centre Pompidou, Paris is arguably the finest museum city in the world. Yet contrary to many a tourist’s belief, Paris is not just home to the biggest and most splendid museum gems, but it also houses many tucked-away, smaller treasures.
One of the most unique Paris museums is the Musée Rodin, set in the former home and studio of one of France’s greatest sculptors. The museum’s rooms house many stunning sculptures, including ‘Le Baiser’, but its strongest point is its leafy garden, peppered with Rodin’s most epic pieces, from his portrait of Balzac to the ‘Portes de l’enfer’ and the iconic ‘Penseur’.Le Musée Rodin
49 rue de Varenne, 75007 Paris
Tucked away on the sleepy street of the rue de Babylone in a narrow, minimalist space, you’ll find the small yet scrumptious restaurant Marcel. Specialising in fresh, simple French fare with an American twist, Marcel serves up excellent food and exceptional wine.
Order the cod with gratin dauphinois or the hazelnut crumbed chicken with a glass of red. This little place is perfect for a lazy French lunch or dinner.Marcel
15 rue de Babylone, 75007 Paris
3. Le Bon Marché
Depending on your financial situation in this world, Le Bon Marché will either be the perfect place for you to shop, or – if you’re like me – the perfect place to dream. Its name may playfully mean ‘cheap’, but this glittering, luxury department store is anything but. Prettier than Printemps and with more elbow room than Galeries Lafayette, head here to peruse the current haute couture offerings, then indulge in some sweets and maybe buy yourself a special pair of French socks or something. In all likelihood, they’ll be the finest pair of socks you ever own.
Note: If you visit during the festive season, Le Bon Marché’s Christmas decorations are sublime – and actually affordable.Le Bon Marché
24 rue de Sèvres, 75007 Paris
We’ve written about the glories of Coutume before (and named it one of the best coffees in Paris), but any article on the highlights of the seventh arrondissement would be incomplete without it. One of the first cafes transforming/making way for Paris’ coffee revolution, Coutume’s coffee is a far cry from your standard, bitter brasserie espresso.
The brainchild of a Parisian and a Melburnian, Coutume makes arguably the city’s best coffee in a sleek, semi-industrial space. And if you weren’t already convinced to pay Coutume a visit, the cafe often smells like the coffee beans they roast on-site.Coutume
47 rue de Babylone, 75007 Paris
5. Musée des lettres et manuscrits
The Musée Rodin may be smaller than that other, famous seventh-arrondissement destination, the Musée d’Orsay, but it’s still far larger than the district’s other museum treasure.
Tucked away down a quiet lane off the Boulevard St Germain, this sweet, specialised museum is dedicated to the history, romance and art of the manuscript and letter-writing. Peruse ancient hieroglyphics on papyrus, history-making French political letters and the artistic ramblings of literary greats like Victor Hugo.Musée des lettres et manuscrits
222 Boulevard St Germain, 75007 Paris
Métro: Rue du Bac
6. Brand Bazar
It’d be easy to wander right past this shopfront, just across the road from the Sèvres-Babylone metro station. With its crammed displays and many piles of scarves and knits, it may not be immediately clear how much of a treasure trove it is. But enter this two-storey shop and discover hundreds upon hundreds of gorgeous accessories and pieces of clothing. There’s much to be found, from chic parisienne staple Claudie Pierlot to sleek Maje and iconic ballet flat purveyor, Repetto.Brand Bazar
33 rue de Sèvres, 75007 Paris
The seventh is more of a classic, universally pleasing arrondissement than the 20th or the 18th, yet it is not without its fair share of weirdness. Perhaps the district’s strangest little pocket can be found at the quirky shop-meets-exhibition space, Deyrolle.
Housed in a resplendent, airy building on the beautiful Rue du Bac, Deyrolle specialises in one thing and one thing only: taxidermy. Come to ogle creatures from the tiniest of bugs to the grandest of mammals (yes, they have lions and polar bears). You can purchase from them, but most just come to admire the weird and wonderful collection.Deyrolle
46 rue du Bac, 75007 Paris
Métro: Rue du Bac
What are your seventh arrondissement highlights? Share your favourites with us in the comments below!
1. Vue de la rue de Solférino à Paris, depuis la passerelle Léopold-Sédar-Senghor, by TYC, via Wikipedia.
3. Marcel via the Marcel Homepage.
2 & 4-6 © Gemma King.