Guide to the 1st arrondissement: The heart of Paris

The 1st arrondissement is the very centre of Paris, the heart fo the city. It’s everything you imagine of the French capital, the River Seine lazily flowing under the Pont Neuf, the mighty Louvre museum, the elegant Tuileries Gardens.

Even for Parisians, this is the version of Paris they’ll showcase to their visiting friends and family (before taking them to their own versions of Paris, where other Parisians actually hang out).

But, if you are visiting this city, the 1st is a wonderful place to start. Here’s what we found during our visit, capping off the Paris Countdown season.

The interactive map

First, here’s an interactive map of everything we are about to recommend, to help you find it all easily.

Map created with Wanderlog, a road trip planner app on iOS and Android

The Earful Tower podcast episode

This podcast episode on the 1st district of Paris also includes scenes with guide Amber Minogue inside the Louvre museum, and our final score on the district out of 100.

Video guide to the 1st 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). 

The Earful Tower’s guide to the 1st arrondissement

Visit the world famous Louvre Museum

The Louvre is impossibly incredible. It’s impossibly big too, and can be hard to navigate, meaning you’re very likely to get lost, get tired, and get fed up. It doesn’t need to be that way, though. We had a private guide and we offer “Gist of the Louvre” tours, where you can get in and out in one hour and see all the best things. Get in touch to know more via the contact form at the top of this page. We will share much more about the Louvre in the coming days. @museelouvre Address: Rue de Rivoli, 75001

Stroll through the charming Jardin des Tuileries

Such a lovely park, the Tuileries can’t really be faulted. It even has goats on hand for keeping the grass in check in the hard-to-reach places. This park is an ideal place to while away an afternoon. Address: Pl. de la Concorde, 75001

Find the willow at the end of the island

At the western edge of the Square du Vert-Galant you can pass through a willow tree’s branches to have an unrivalled and unspoiled view of the Seine, all to yourself. Best enjoyed in the early morning, you can forget about having it to yourself at lunchtime or in the evenings 🙂 Address: 15 Pl. du Pont Neuf, 75001

Stroll through Place Dauphine

This charming area is surprisingly well-hidden given that it is located in the very centre of Paris. Feel free to try your luck with the bars and restaurants, but this square is best enjoyed on foot with your camera at the ready.

Café le Nemours

A picturesque cafe with overpriced drinks and croissants, but perfectly Parisian and ideally located. Extra points if you find the Arago marker under one of the terrace tables. @lenemoursparis Address: 2 à 7 Galerie de Nemours, 2 Place Colette, 75001

Explore Paris’s art nouveau department store

The Samaritaine is glorious. Recently reopened after a very long renovation, the store looks marvellous and absolutely worth seeing from on top. Word of warning: The price tags are not for the budget traveller! @samaritaineparis Address: 9 R. de la Monnaie, 75001

Find the oldest bridge in Paris

We discussed the fascinating history of the Pont Neuf on the podcast episode linked above. It truly changed the face of Paris forevermore. Ideal for a stroll, majestic from every angle.

Dine in luxury at Le Meurice

If you want to splash out, the Restaurant Le Dalí is exceptional. We ate here to celebrate the end of the countdown season and had pigeon and octopus. A delight. Chef Amaury Bouhours has been on the podcast before talking about his cooking, and he even showed us into the impressive kitchen downstairs. See more here@lemeuricealainducasse Address: 228 Rue de Rivoli, 75001

Explore Palais-Royal  

Spend some time in the Palais-Royal, a former palace that’s steeped in history, but perfectly enjoyable as a courtyard, garden, and series of stunning arcades. Address: 8 Rue de Montpensier, 75001

Get your caffeine fix at Bonjour

A fairly new coffee shop in the middle of the Palais-Royal (see above), Bonjour provides the perfect accompaniment to a relaxing half-hour on a nearby park bench. @bonjour_palais_royale Address: 30 Gal de Montpensier, 75001

Costes Bar

Lastly, if you don’t have the patience to wait one hour for the nearby Bar Hemingway, head to the Hotel Costes instead. You’ll certainly get a seat, the interior is grand, and the cocktails are great. @hotelcostes Address: 7 Rue de Castiglione, 75001

That brings us to the end of our Paris Countdown series! We now leave you with 20 in-depth guides to help you explore the very best of each arrondissement. Check them all out here!

A big thanks to Augusta Sagnelli for the photos and Charlotte Pleasants for the additional reporting. And thanks to all you readers, listeners, and viewers!

Here’s the podcast episode again in case you missed it. 

Do you want to support this work? Buy one of our books below, or even better, become a Patreon member and unlock loads of Paris bonus content, including regular PDF itinerary guides to the city.

8 thoughts on “Guide to the 1st arrondissement: The heart of Paris

  1. Oliver – You may not want to “recommend” the “other guy’s” guidebook – but – on my first trip to Paris (2013), I did Rick Steve’s top 15 things to see at the Louvre in 90 minutes flat. You did not mention Napoleon’s coronation painting – shame on you. Rick says “enter here, go down this hallway, take the 3rid door on the left, go up two floors and there she is!”. And so on. Very efficient unless the museum has moved things around. Also, his audio guide for cell phones was very good for the Conciergerie. I suspect his other audio guides are good as well. But I am looking forward to an Earful Tower tour in 2023. I want cemeteries. Please advise. I have visited Passey and Montparnasse. I need to do all the others.

    1. Not sure that deserves a “shame on you” to be fair 🙂 But please get in touch closer to 2023 about a tour. You’ll see Napoleon in the youtube video soon 🙂

    2. Hi Lorraine, the Montmartre Cemetery is a must-visit too, and very close to the Terrass Hotel and its rooftop bar with a view to die for, as recommended by Oliver! And don’t forget the granddaddy of them all, Pere Lachaise!

  2. Thank you Oliver and Lina, I am visiting Paris next week by myself without my wee children. I am staying in the 1st and love your recommendations. Thank you both for the joyful conversation in my ears. Sarah

  3. Loved every single minute of your trip around the arrondissements, thank you Oliver & Lina, will be back for sure.

  4. Hi Oliver, I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your 20 Arrondissement series this year! The podcast just keeps getting better and better! I have always felt that you and Lina had the best vibe and were the MOST fun to listen to. I mean, of course, I’ve really enjoyed your guests over the years as well, but my favorite episodes have always been the ones that included you and Lina for your relaxed joking around and astute observations about life in Paris. It really makes listening fun. Also, I loved the music on the podcast this year, but I do hope you’ll bring back Slim & The Beast in the future as well. Anyway, keep up the good work! From: a very happy Patron

  5. The Debbie’s agree. Your series of 20 arrondissements has been a joy. We visited Paris last May and used your guide for some great adventures. Keep up the great work!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: