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. 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.
Tricia is an architect and architectural historian. She came to Paris a little over 12 years ago to spend a year learning French for her research, and has never left! Tricia is an Assistant Professor in Design & Theory at the École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Grenoble; she also teaches in Boston University’s London-Paris Architecture & Urbanism Program. 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 and its region as well as public building policy in France. A veteran of walking tours of Paris organized for architectural students, she now brings her expertise to a broader audience.
Dony holds an MA in Communication and Culture from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil and a Ph.D in Art History from the University of Granada, Spain. He has lived and traveled extensively throughout Greece and the UK, where he researched Ancient Greek and Roman Art, delving deeply into Aesthetics. He has taught at the University of Faesa, in Brazil. There and in Spain he has enjoyed working as a media journalist, as well as for the radio. He is now based between Rome and Paris and leads Context walks in both cities.
Marine comes from Marseille in the South of France but has been living in Paris for 12 years. A licensed tour guide since 2014, she first studied Art History at the Ecole du Louvre and then History at Nanterre University, from which she was awarded a Master's degree. She also spent a semester in Italy, at the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa. In addition to her academic work in history and art history, she has a diploma in enology from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust. Before becoming a tour guide, Marine worked for museums and art foundations. Now, in addition to guiding, she teaches History of Architecture at the Ecole du Louvre. She is passionate about architecture, the history of fashion and street art.
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