2.5-hour tour/10-person maximum.
Prices range from €230—€705. Make your walk exclusive for a €100 fee.
Much of how Paris looks today is due to a vast 19th-century urban renewal project called Haussmannization. Napoleon III wanted Paris to rival the modernity of London, and a planner named Haussmann had the vision to do it. His project was much more than a physical transformation of a medieval city. It also changed how Parisians lived, worked, shopped, and spent their leisure time. Entire neighborhoods were destroyed and their residents moved to make way for the stately boulevards that now define modern Paris. On this walk, you’ll explore the design and architecture of the era, but also understand the economic and political factors behind them.
We begin our walk near the Louvre at the Palais Royal where, 200 years ago, its galleries were a mecca for Parisian society. We then focus on the arcades, the 19th-century forerunners of today’s commercial malls. The sumptuous Empire décor of the Galerie Vivienne makes it one of the most beautiful covered passages in the city. We’ll also visit the Passages Panoramas and Jouffroy. In these glazed and gas-lit emporiums, there emerged a new kind of modern Parisian: the flâneur, or stroller, someone who (in Walter Benjamin’s phrase) “walks the city in order to experience it.”
We will then turn to the Grands Boulevards, lined with the cafés and theaters that made Paris the cultural capital of the world. After the Opera House by the young architect Charles Garnier, stops at neighboring department stores will bring us into the 20th century. The architectural spectacle of these palaces—the glitzy glass dome of the Galeries Lafayette and the Art Nouveau cupola at Printemps—set a standard for the modern shopping experience. We finish on the rooftop of Printemps, where we’ll enjoy a panoramic view of the neighborhood that Haussmann considered the showcase of his New Paris.
If you’d like to reserve this walk in French, please email us with your request.
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Tour Teaser: See Paris before Haussmann’s renovations in Charles Marville’s iconic photographs.
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