What to See and Do in the Châtelet/Beaubourg Neighborhood

One of the capital’s lively neighborhoods, Châtelet is rich in its historic as well as cultural heritage. Young and dynamic, it offers its visitors a vast selection of activities during their stay in Paris. Museums, restaurants, boutiques, relaxation outdoors, etc., you won’t miss out on having a good time in the capital.


Crédits © Mohsan

 

1. Place du Châtelet

 

The Place du Châtelet was founded between 1855 and 1858 at the location of Grand Châlet.  The fortress of the same name was found at this spot, built under Louis VI, which served as a morgue, prison, and police headquarters. Considered as the most unsanitary place in the city, it was demolished under Napoleon Bonaparte.

At the center of the square, stands the Fontaine du Palmier in commemoration of the Napoleon Bonaparte’s victories. Since 1925, it has been listed as a historical monument. In addition to its status as a witness to the emperor’s military victories, it served to provide Parisians with free drinking water.

 

(It is worthy of noting that the golden bronze statue that overlooks the column is a copy of the work by Louis-Simon Boizot, which was installed in 1898.The original has been located in the courtyard of the Carnavalet Museum since 1950.)

 

In 1860 the Théâtre Impérial du Châtelet was constructed at 1, Place du Châtelet. Built by Gabriel Davioud at the request of Baron Haussmann, the Théâtre du Châtelet was a place of entertainment, theatrical performances, dance, singing, opera, ballet, etc. Today it welcomes many artists from different domains. There, you can see comedians, ballets, concerts, musicals, attend lectures, or even see films.

 

2. City Theatre and Saint Jacques Tower

 

Located across from it, the Théâtre de la Ville is found on 2, Place du Châtelet. Also built by Gabriel Davioud by Baron Haussmann’s request for his restructuring project for the city of Paris, the Théâtre de la Ville was opened in 1862 at the same time as the Théâtre du Châtelet. However, the Théâtre de la Ville has offered contemporary dance and world music performances since the 1980’s.

Tour Saint Jacques et théâtre de la ville
Tour Saint Jacques et Théâtre de la Ville

Crédits © Mbzt

 

The Saint-Jacques Tower, located on the Square de la Tour Saint Jacques, is the only remaining part of the church of the same name. Surrounded by the rue de Rivoli and the Avenue Victoria (that goes along Place du Châtelet), it was listed as a historical monument and a UNESCO global heritage site. Less than 200 meters from there, you’ll find the Church of Saint-Merri. In a late Gothic style, it is located at 76, rue de la Verrerie in the Saint-Merri neighborhood. It was built between 1515 and 1612, and was listed as a historical monument in 1862. Furthermore, it is often compared to the Notre-Dame Cathedral for its style, from which it gets its nickname “The Little Notre-Dame”. Rue Saint-Martin, which runs along it, is one of the oldest streets in the city. It was constructed in the Middle Ages and leads up to Centre Pompidou.

 

3. Rivoli

 

Rue Rivoli
Crédits © Ardfern

 

Rue de Rivoli, made available in the 19th century by Napoleon III who wanted to be able to get to the Hôtel de Ville easily, stretches over almost 3 kilometers, connecting rue de Sévigné to the Place de la Concorde. Before the 19th century, it had an occidental style that can be associated with the archways that run along the street. They house restaurants, souvenir shops, the hotel Le Meurice, and luxury boutiques. When Baron Haussmann decided to restructure the city, a part of the street was added to connect it to rue Saint-Antoine that leads to the Bastille neighborhood. This part, known as “Oriental”, differentiates itself from the rest of the street, because its buildings all have a Haussmann style to them.

 

4. Board of Trade

 

Bourse de Commerce de Paris
Crédits © Mbzt

 

Going back up rue de Rivoli (in the direction of Concorde), take rue du Louvre on your right. You’ll arrive at rue de Viarmes, surrounding the General Union of the Paris Commodities Exchange. This rounded building topped with a dome was built on the site of the old Hôtel de Soissons (dating back to the 13th century), and was home to the queen, Catherine de Medici, in the 16th century, and the residence of Henri IV’s brother, the Count of Soissons, who gave it its name. The palace was destroyed in 1748, but the Medici Column was saved.Following the destruction, Nicolas Le Camus de Mézières built the Halle aux Blés starting in 1763. Activity stopped little by little and the company closed down in 1873.  It was in 1885 that the Chamber of Commerce recovered the building to put in the Bourse de Paris.

The dome was listed as a historical monument in 1986 and has since had some restoration work in 1989.

 

5. Les Halles

 


Crédits © Mohsan

 

Rue Berger, which runs along the right side of the Bourse, will take you to Les Halles and the Forum neighborhood.

Between 1850 and 1870, by request of Napoleon III, the architect Victor Baltard built 12 marketplaces composed of iron, cast iron, and glass. Les Halles Centrales de Paris were then created and housed a market with fresh as well as wholesale items, located right in the heart of Paris since 1137.

 

In 1960, it was destroyed, because the government decided to move it to the Marché International de Rungis. However, just one of the 12 remains today. Listed as a historical monument since 1982, it was moved to Nogent-sur-Marne (Val-de-Marne, department 94) in 1976. Installed on the site of an old chateau, it is now used as a performance hall called Pavillon Baltard.

 

The old location of Les Halles was free, and it was in 1970 that the Forum des Halles was born. The Forum is an underground shopping center that covers 25 hectares below a glass ceiling that pays homage to the old aesthetics of Les Halles all while making it more modern.

 

Jardin Nelson Mandela

Crédits © RG1033

 

Above the markets, a garden was created and is now called “Jardin Nelson-Mandela” following his death in 2013.

 

Reconstruction work is currently in progress since 2011 and should be done in 2016. The goal being to rekindle the Forum’s image, since it is far from being as rosy as the other neighborhoods in the capital. So be careful if you go out at night. Although the Châtelet neighborhood is really lively, with awesome restaurants and bars, try to stay vigilant and look out for pickpockets.

 

Forum also gives you access to the railway station, Châtelet-Les Halles that happens to be the largest underground train station in the world. With its heavy network, it is home to three RER lines and 5 metro lines. An important transport terminal, it offers unlimited accessibility throughout Paris and services the Ile-de-France very well.

 

Located in the heart of the lively neighborhood of Les Halles, the Square des Innocents is known for its restaurants and many stores that surround it. In its center, you’ll find the Fontaine des Innocents, built under Henri II in 1548 by Jean Goujon with plans from Pierre Lescot with the goal of celebrating the king’s arrival in the neighborhood.

 

600 meters from Les Halles, you can enter Beaubourg and there we recommend visiting the Centre Pompidou. Opened in 1977 and located on the old vacant lot of Plateau Beaubourg, it is home, since its opening, to the Musée National d’Art Moderne. Dedicated to contemporary and modern art from the past two centuries, it regularly plans large exhibitions like the one for Dali in 2012.

 

6. The Pompidou Center

Centre Pompidou

The Centre Pompidou is a building that you can’t miss. Its modern and original architecture consists of a façade covered by multicolored hoses that intertwine with each other. In the 1970’s, the project was the hobbyhorse of the President of the Republic, Georges Pompidou that wanted to make modern art more important.

Book a visit of the Centre Pompidou

At Beaubourg, like in Les Halles, the neighborhood is bustling. You can’t ever miss having a good time, whether it is for visits or fun evenings. Many restaurants, bars, and pubs are available and you’ll always find a little boutique where you can dig up some postcards and other souvenirs.

Furthermore, if you are tattoo or piercing enthusiast, the neighborhood is made for you!  If that is the case, go to rue des Lombards, Boulevard de Sébastopol, rue des Prêcheurs, or rue de Rambuteau.

 

Our recommended hotels in this neighborhood

5 stars:
Grand Hôtel du Palais Royal : the rooms are warm and very stylish , some have a balcony with views of the monuments of the city.
Citadines Suites Louvres Paris : not far from the Louvre and the Jardin des Tuileries, cozy and calm atmosphere, tastfully decorated.
Hôtel Dupond Smith : spacious and design rooms, trendy and refined, very central location.

4 stars:
Hôtel Les Rives de Notre Dame : in the heart of the romantic Paris, exceptional view on Notre-Dame cathedral and La Seine, luxury services.
Hôtel Therese : Discreet and warm, you are invited to discover its chic retro charm where comfort and wellbeing remain the key elements.
Hôtel Malte Astotel : located in the centre of Paris, 650m away from the Louvre, rooms decorated in a classic style.

3 stars:
Hôtel le Relais des Halles : the atmosphere of the Hôtel Le Relais des Halles will seduce you, and the location is ideal for visiting the various monuments of Paris.
Hôtel le Relais du Louvre : situated between the Louvre and Notre-Dame, restful colour schemes and charming period furniture provide the elegant setting for the suites and rooms.
Hôtel Britannique : nestled on a quiet street near the Seine, this charming hotel favours the classical elegance of top of the line comfort and inviting décor.

1 & 2 stars:
Hôtel Paris France : A few minutes from the main Paris monuments it offers the charm of a traditional hotel with all the latest services and amenities.

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