Paris: Neighborhoods

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Around the Eiffel Tower

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One of Paris's most upscale neighborhoods, the posh 7e arrondissement (where nearly every block affords a view of La Tour Eiffel) is home to the French bourgeoisie and well-heeled expats. Commanding the southwestern end of Paris, the Eiffel Tower was considered an iron-latticed monstrosity when it opened in 1889. Today it is a beloved icon, especially at night when thousands of twinkling lights sparkle at the top of every hour.

There are other monumental sights here, too, notably Hôtel des Invalides, a sprawling Baroque complex with a towering golden dome under which lies the enormous tomb of the pint-size dictator, Napoléon. Along the river, the Palais Bourbon, seat of the French Parliament, is an 18th-century homage to ancient Greek architecture. Nearby is the modern Musée du Quai Branly, built by star architect Jean Nouvel. Don’t miss the Musée Rodin, where the master's sculptures ooze sensuality both outside in the garden and inside the elegant Hôtel Biron.

From the Eiffel Tower east, the walkway along the Seine will take you past Les Égouts (where you can embark on a subterranean tour of actual working sewers) and the American Church. For one of the best views in Paris, cross Pont Alexandre III, the city's most ornate bridge spanning the Seine from Invalides to the Grand Palais. Named for the Russian czar to celebrate Franco-Russian friendship, it was built between 1896 and 1900, and is bedecked with gilded sculptures, cherubs, and Art Nouveau lamps.

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