First, the facts: The Philippe Auguste Wall was built around 800 years ago to protect Paris. The wall was enormous, solid, and fortified by 77 large towers, which were spaced out every sixty metres or so.
To get a better idea of what the wall looked like with its towers, here are a few pictures and maps.
The entire wall was essentially swallowed up by an ever-growing Paris – and now only chunks of it remain. I recently retraced the Left Bank half of this wall here, and in 2018 I did the same thing on the Right Bank.
In fact, my recent podcast on this was such high-octane fun that several of you guys said it was the best episode ever. Listen below.
Anyway, now that (I think) I’ve seen it all, I can confidently say that I believe there are seven of the 71 towers remaining, all in varying condition.
Here’s how to to find them all, and I’ve named them so you know what you’re in for when you arrive. Addresses are included, and there’s a map at the very end. Happy hunting.
The Office Tower
This is one of my favourites and is located inside a museum for something completely different. The museum is the Tour Jean-sans-Peur. If you look closely to your left upon entering the museum, you’ll see the tower. That little entrance pictured below leads to an office, and if you ask nicely you can look inside. Fancy that: An office inside an 800-year-old tower!
The Walk-In Tower
Our second tower is inside a Marais park called Le jardin des Rosiers – Joseph-Migneret, which is open to the public. And it’s very easy to just walk inside the tower. In fact, many people do it everyday and I’d bet most people don’t even realize! If you’re good at sneaking into nearby courtyards, you can see the exterior of the tower too (pictured below) 😉
The Restaurant Tower
At the Un Dimanche A Paris restaurant, you can literally dine right beside a tower! Imagine! If you’re charming enough, you might be able to convince the manager to let you into the wine cellar for a really good look at the tower’s foundation (also pictured below).
The Car Park Tower
Head inside the underground car park at 27 Rue Mazarine and you’ll find a huge chunk of the wall. To the far right you’ll see clear remnants of a tower. Bonus tip: Go down another level and get an even better view of it all!
Here’s a closer look at the wall inside the carpark I mentioned in the show.
The Basketball Tower
A personal favourite here… this tower is right in the middle of the longest remaining stretch of the wall, which runs alongside an outdoor basketball court. Now don’t be mistaken, the tower is in the middle. To the northern edge of the wall is a mammoth tower-looking vestige – but this was actually a gate into the city. Amazing to consider, but not a tower, so we won’t think too much about it for this list. As far as I know, it’s the only remaining gate in Paris.
The Inner Tower
This is perhaps the least exciting on the list, but the story behind it is cool. Council workers discovered this tower only recently while building an airshaft for the Metro. It stands along the busy rue du Louvre at number 11 and is very easy to miss, so look carefully!
The Facelift Tower
And lastly, is another favourite of mine. Head past the security at the Credit Municipale de Paris and head right into a hidden courtyard. At the end of the courtyard is our seventh tower, but it’s clearly had a facelift! On top someone has added a brick tower to match the nearby buildings. Kinda strange, but facelifts sometimes are 🙂
That’s it! Now, if you know of another tower, please send me an email (and an invite to see it, perhaps?)
Here’s the map with all seven towers:
If you really enjoyed it, and let’s face it, no one else in Paris is doing this kind of thing in English, then become a Patreon member of The Earful Tower to unlock the 1 hour video of my treasure hunt along this wall. I got into five inner courtyards, interviewed locals, and even walked along a hidden rampart. Direct link here.
That’ll do for now. I’m dangerously close to becoming obsessed by this thing. New podcast episode on Monday, every Monday, as always.