- 3 hours
Disclaimer: The Opéra Garnier is currently undergoing exterior renovations and a large part of the façade is covered with scaffolding. This tour does not visit the interior of the opera.
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 quite the kerfuffle 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 those still in existence.
From here, we'll enter modern Paris, stepping out onto one of the wide, straight-as-an-arrow Grands Boulevards created during the Second Empire 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 the 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.
We do cover extensive territory on this seminar. Please contact us with any questions or 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.
Where do we meet? Where does it end?
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. The walk typically ends near the Opéra Garnier, Grands Boulevards, or Saint Lazare.
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.
Caroline is an adoptive flâneuse and has been wandering Paris' narrow streets and leafy boulevards since 2003. She holds an undergraduate degree in French and Art History with a specialty in 19th-century art and literature, and pursued graduate studies in Art History at Paris IV La Sorbonne, writing a thesis on popular imagery and caricature in Revolutionary and Napoleonic Paris. Her research was published in the journal European Comic Art. She also writes exhibition reviews and features. Her writing has been published in Apollo Magazine, the TLS, Condé Nast Traveler and WSJ Magazine.
Tricia is an architect and architectural historian. She came to Paris in 2001 to spend a year learning French for her research, and has never left! Tricia is an Associate Professor in Urbanism & Urban Design at the École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Normandie; she also teaches courses on the architectural and urban history of Paris in Boston University’s Paris Academic Center. She earned a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Detroit, a Graduate Diploma (History & Theory) from the Architectural Association, a MA (French Cultural Studies) from Columbia University and a PhD (Architecture) from the University of Paris 8. Focused on the 20th century, her research interests include the architectural/urban development of Paris, national public building policy in France and public space policy. A veteran of walking tours of Paris organized for architectural students, she has brought her expertise to a broader audience working with Context Travel since 2013.
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