We’ll begin our discussion at the Palais Royal, which was constructed in 1781 by Louis-Phillipe d'Orléans, Duc de Chartres, as the city's first purpose-built shopping and leisure complex. Today a charming oasis of calm, Palais Royal caused a sensation when it opened, revolutionizing shopping in a city whose narrow, congested, medieval streets were a danger to any pedestrian foolish enough to set foot in them. Palais Royal was also the site of the city's first covered passage, or shopping arcade, which we’ll discuss as we wander through some of the surviving ones. (Note: Visitors who would actually like to shop should take a look at our Paris Shopping Tour.)
From here, we'll emerge into modern Paris, stepping out onto one of the wide, straight-as-an-arrow grands boulevards created during the Second Empire (late 1800s) by Napoleon III and Haussmann. We'll discuss how Haussmann's boulevards were modeled on those created by Louis XIV in the 17th century, and how the rise of the bourgeoisie in the 19th century led to Napoleon III's radical rebuilding of Paris. Moving on, we'll find ourselves in front of what is perhaps the most iconic example of Second Empire urbanism, the Opéra Garnier. Completed in 1875, the Opéra is the jewel in the crown of Parisian Beaux Arts architecture. We will explore the exterior of the building in detail, placing it in context of the architectural movements of the day. Depending on time and interest, we may also visit one of the late 19th-century department stores, Printemps or Galeries Lafayette, or even the Société Generale bank building to explore art-nouveau glass domes.
Customize this Tour
We do cover extensive territory on this seminar. Please contact us with any questions; we will be happy to advise if this seminar will be appropriate for you, and can also design a private, customized tour for visitors with mobility concerns.
Will we visit the interior of the Opera Garnier on this walk?
We will not visit the interior of the Opera, though we will certainly spend concerted time outside discussing the importance of the site. We may be able to arrange an interior visit on a private walk; please contact us for more details.
Where do we meet? Where does it end?
Generally speaking, the walk begins near the Palais Royal in the first arrondissement. Your confirmation email will have the exact meeting point details along with a map, and 24/7 phone number. The walk typically ends near the Opéra Garnier and Grands Boulevards.
What if it’s raining?
Tours operate rain or shine, but in the case of inclement weather, your guide will modify the tour so more time is spent indoors. It never hurts to have an umbrella on hand.
The daughter of a sculptor, Marie has been surrounded by art ever since she was born. A native Parisienne, she holds an undergraduate degree in history and art history, with a specialty in iconography and French and Flemish paintings from the 16th to the 18th centuries. She also holds a Master's degree in museology from the Ecole du Louvre and one in Art History from the Sorbonne. She currently works for the French National Art History Institute on special cultural events. Since she loves literature, ballet, theatre, opera, jazz clubs, and classical concerts—she has been playing the piano since she was 9—Paris and its artistic life are a perfect fit.
Nicole is currently a PhD student studying Gothic architecture at Columbia University with a focus on early Gothic structures and applications of new media and technologies. Her interests are in tectonic expression and spatial formation as well as social and cultural history. She received her Master's degree from Columbia University and her Bachelor's degree from Barnard College. Before joining the PhD program at Columbia she worked in media production in both creative and management positions. She also held a curatorial assistant position at the New Orleans Museum of Art for the Raised to the Trade: Creole Building Arts of New Orleans exhibit.
Iveta is Senior Lecturer at the American University of Paris (AUP). She was born in Sofia, Bulgaria to a family of French culture lovers, and always dreamed of living in Paris where she came to study art history in 1999. In 2006 she defended a PhD at the Sorbonne treating the European avant-garde around World War I. She has published many articles and is preparing a book to be published in the Fall 2017, an adapted version of her PhD. A passionate museum goer and city stroller, she likes sharing the more or less known charms and secrets of Parisian museums and neighbourhoods where she has guided many students and visitors.
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