The Eiffel Tower is synonymous with Paris. And if it’s your first trip to the city, sure, go ahead and climb the thing. But once you’re done, don’t go rushing away. There’s plenty to do right by the tower, in a beautiful neighbourhood called the Gros Caillou (essentially a few steps to the east).
Look, that’s it above, inside the red line. It’s surrounded by famous monuments like the Eiffel Tower, the Invalides, and the Pont Alexandre III. And you’ll notice the map has a lot of yellow, meaning there are plenty of shops too! But what is actually in this neighborhood?
Well, we visited as part of our exploration of the 7th arrondissement and brought our photographer Augusta Sagnelli, who took all the photos you’re about to see. (You can click them to see them bigger. On your phone? Swipe right)
If you’re going to visit this neighborhood, here’s what to discover, from architectural delights, to market streets, to lovely bakeries. We’ve included all the addresses so you can find it all yourself, but if you want to truly see it all, we cover this neighbourhood as part of our Earful Tours, and can show you in a private guided walk. More info at the bottom of the page. Let’s get on with the list.
1. Find the jaw-dropping facade on Avenue Rapp
This Art Nouveau architectural feast can be found at 29 Avenue Rapp, and was designed by Jules Lavirotte, whose name pops up a few times in the neighbourhood. This building won the annual contest for the most beautiful facade in Paris in 1901, the year construction was completed.
Despite the building’s critical acclaim, Parisians initially found it offensive due to its explicit erotic imagery (which is perhaps not so explicit these days). But, that upside-down phallic symbol on the doorway, the naked Adam & Eve, and all those lizards (common slang at the time for male genitalia) sent those Parisians spinning. Bonus points if you can find the two-headed turtle. Address: 29 Av. Rapp, 75007
2. Stroll the famed market street: Rue Cler
Walk along Rue Cler and see Paris at its best. This is a stunning pedestrianized street full of everything from specialty food shops, sprawling cafe terraces, and some of the best people-watching on earth. There are chocolate and cheese shops, one with just honey, and a busy bakery that makes crepes near the ice cream stand. It’s all wonderful.
There are some who say this street is like a Disneyland version of Paris but I strongly disagree. I live nearby and walk the street almost everyday, and I think it’s an extremely authentic glimpse into Paris life.
3. Explore Rue Saint-Dominique
Be sure to start your stroll at the intersection with Boulevard de la Tour Maubourg, where you’ll find models, brides, and social media wannabes dodging traffic to get that perfect Paris photo with the Eiffel Tower looming in the background.
Then head west and watch the Eiffel get ever bigger. You can find many great bakeries, bars, and bistros along the way. We visited the restaurant Thoumieux as a part of our trip to the 7th arrondissement, and it was excellent. Read more about it and our other district highlights here.
4. Find the lesser-known art nouveau buildings
At 3 Square Rapp you’ll find a private courtyard with another Lavirotte masterpiece. Be very discrete and respectful to the locals, but if you get up close to the building you will see the terrific Eiffel Tower views behind you.
At 33 Rue du Champ de Mars you’ll find the Immeuble Les Arums, part residential/part doctors’ surgery. The residents will tell you the inside is nothing exceptional but the mosaic lobbies are pretty special. Address: 33 Rue du Champ de Mars, 75007
At 151 rue de Grenelle you will find the first building made by Lavirotte, which was influenced by the Rococo style, and completed in 1898. The door itself is a Paris marvel, and if you’re in luck it will be open so you can get a glimpse inside too.
Don’t miss the Instituto Statale Italiano Leonardo Da Vinci, also known as Hôtel Montessuy. It was built in 1899 by Lavirotte (again!) and is now an Italian secondary school. Address: 12 Rue Sedillot, 75007
5. Check out the absurdly picturesque fountain square
When you’re in the area, do not miss the Fontaine du Mars. It’s the 200-year-old fountain in the middle of the square, but also the name of the restaurant beside it (which the waiters say is Robert de Niro’s favourite Paris bistro). The whole square is very Parisian and very pretty.
Don’t hesitate to taste the water flowing from the fountain, it’s great. And be sure to scope out the fountain too, it features the goddess of health, Hygeia, giving presumably some water to Mars, the god of war. (Eagle-eyed passersby will see a marking from the 1910 Paris flood too!) Address: 129 Rue Saint-Dominique, 75007
6. Pop into the most gorgeous bakery in Paris
At Laurent B you’re in for a treat – and we’re not just talking about the baked goods. The bakery is a stunner, inside and out. Pay close attention to the small details, like the mosaic walls and the finishings on the ceiling. The apple tarts and the charcoal baguettes are particularly good. Address: 112 Rue Saint-Dominique, 75007
7. Take a look at the facade of the old pharmacy
This pharmacy at 52 avenue de la Bourdonnais was a visual treat. I went inside and interviewed the owner right before it closed down. Take a look inside here. Now, the facade remains and I recently talked to some guys working on it, they said the new tenants don’t plan to change much. Will it remain a pharmacy? Will it be something else? Who knows, but watch the development when you’re in the area and we can all find out together.
8. Book an Earful Tower walking Tour
If you’re on a budget, you can find all the sites above yourself – we’ve even linked the addresses. Enjoy! But if you really want to get under the skin of the seventh arrondissement, and want to be shown around by an expert member of the Earful team, then get in touch about booking a private Earful Tour. We also do the Marais and Montmartre. Send enquiries here (and let us know when you want a tour and how many people in your group).
That’s it! Happy exploring. If you want more from this district, here’s what we found in podcast and YouTube form.
The Earful Tower podcast episode
This podcast episode on the 7th district of Paris includes an interview with Francine Campa from the Deyrolle taxidermy shop and our final ranking on the district out of 100. Hint: It performed very well.
Video guide to the 7th arrondissement
Here’s our visit in video format, via our YouTube channel. We’ve been making one of these travel vlogs every week, so be sure to subscribe (you can do it in one click via this link).
Thanks to the Patreon members, as always, to Augusta Sagnelli for the wonderful photos, and to Charlotte Pleasants for the additional reporting.
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The Earful Tower 2023 Guide to Paris [PDF]19.99€