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Offbeat Paris Walking Tour

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Why you will love it?

The center of Paris has been referred to as the Belly of Paris by one of France’s most respected authors, Emile Zola. This walking tour will take you through some of the most interesting areas of the Belly, from the vibrant shopping area of Les Halles to the bohemian Montorgueil and Sentier districts … Enjoy! Parisianist.

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About this place

28 Place de la Bourse, 75002 Paris
Line 3 - Bourse

Monday : 9:00 am - 17:00 pm
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Monday : 9:00 am - 17:00 pm Tuesday : 9:00 am - 17:00 pm Wednesday : 9:00 am - 17:00 pm Thursday : 9:00 am - 17:00 pm Friday : 9:00 am - 17:00 pm Saturday : 9:00 am - 17:00 pm Sunday : 9:00 am - 17:00 pm

Our Insiders' Article

Palais Brongniart

Exit metro “Bourse”, and you will find yourself at the foot of Palais Brongniart, formally called the Palais de la Bourse (stock exchange palace), since it was where the Parisian stock exchange was located. The Corinthian style Palais Brongniart was built in 1807 by architect Alexandre-Théodore Brongniart and welcomed brokers until 1987, when computers ran the operations directly within the banks. Today, the building is used as a congress, seminar and conference area.

Parisianist Fun Fact: Paris’ stock exchange was the second oldest stock exchange after London.

Bourse du Commerce

Walk down Rue de la Banque facing the Palais Brongniart to the south, and at the end, turn right on Rue la Feuillade, which will lead you to the Place des Victoires with a 1828 statue of King Louis XIV on his horse. Go straight on Rue Etienne Marcel, and take the second street to the right (Rue du Louvre). Walk down 500m until you see a massive round building on your left: Bourse du Commerce. Before entering the building, take the street alongside the right wall of the Bourse du Commerce. At the backside is a long column (Médicis Column), the only surviving element of the royal palace, Hôtel de Soisson, that once stood here in 1574. As the royal family couldn’t afford the palace anymore, it was destroyed in 1748 and replaced by a round wheat market in 1767. Now walk back to enter the building. Originally, there was no dome, but for the conservation of the wheat, a wooden dome was added in 1782, impressing even Thomas Jefferson (at that time Ambassador of the USA in France). Destroyed in a fire, it was replaced by a metal and glass dome in 1836. Used as a futures exchange building during the 20th century, it is now the home of the Chamber of Commerce.

Parisianist Tip: since it is an office building and trade fair area, access might be refused.

Saint Eustache

Walk back up the Rue du Louvre and take the first right (Rue Coquillère). 50m away lies Saint Eustache Church. Before entering, look up: notice that the southern tower has never been built! Now enter the church. Originally built in 1228, it was gradually enlarged and modified due to the growing population of Paris and the expanding activities in the neighborhood. In 1532, Saint Eustache Church was remodeled completely into a gothic style church, taking 220 years to finish due to political and financial complications.

Parisianist Fun Fact: Many events happened here: Molière, Richelieu, Madame de Pompadour were baptized here, Louis XIV celebrated his first Communion, Mozart’s mother’s funeral took place in Saint Eustache Church. 

Les Halles

On the left (south) of Saint Eustache church is Les Halles, a very popular and dynamic district in Paris, as it has always been a place of markets and trade. Famous French author Emile Zola called it the Belly of Paris, with reference to all the food stalls in the area. The outside markets made way to covered pavilions, the latter dismantled in 1970 to create a park on the surface and shopping center underground. Today, Les Halles is being transformed once again, the surface therefore closed to the public. The underground shopping center is open though, and is worth a look if you are not scared to lose yourself in this maze of crowded walkways and shops.

Parisianist Fun Fact: The metro and RER station below the Halles is the largest underground metro station in the world. 

Rue Montorgueil

On the eastern end of Saint Eustache Church, walk up Rue Montorgueil (second street on the left). Built in the 13th century, Rue Montorgueil always was and still is a very lively street in Paris, a local favorite for its restaurants and bars. The restaurant “Rocher de Cancale”  (78 Rue Montorgueil) is popular, as well as the Italian “Little Italy” (92 Rue Montorgueil).If you are getting hungry for some French pastries, stop at Stohrer (51 Rue Montorgueil), founded in 1720. Rue Montorgueil becomes Rue des Petits Carreaux, so continue walking straight until you reach Rue d’Aboukir.

Parisianist Tip: If you are interested in visiting a XV century tower with an old staircase, remarkable carvings and probably the oldest latrines in Paris, go to 20 Rue Etienne Marcel (from Rue Montorgueil on your right, 100m away: Tour Jean Sans Peur, 5€ / 1:30PM-6PM Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday).


Turn right on Rue d’Aboukir. This street is one of the busiest streets in the Sentier district, a district almost exclusively dedicated to garments and prêt-à-porter. The particularity of Rue d’Aboukir is that it was built on the moats of the Charles V city wall, built in 1383 to protect Paris and survive in case of an enemy siege. 50m ahead is Place du Caire. Look up at the façade on 2 Place du Caire, and witness the unique carved face of Egyptian goddess Hathor and her recognizable cow ears. Enter the Passage du Caire in the same building, a gallery home to dozens of garment wholesalers. Built in 1798 after Napoleon’s victorious Egyptian campaign, it was once the center of the print and lithography industry, before becoming the main selling point for garment shop mannequins. Once inside, take the first path to the right and go all the way to the end.

Parisianist Fun Fact: Just before Place du Caire, on Rue des Forges, is where the most famous Cour des Miracles (Miracle Court) was. From the 16th to the 18th century, the poor would gather here: the beggars with fake limbs and diseases by day would miraculously walk and be healthy upon returning home, thus giving the name to the area.

Porte Saint Denis

The exit of Passage du Caire is on Rue Saint Denis. Turn left and walk up this lively street. This is one of the oldest roads in Paris, built by the Romans in the 1st century, linking Lutetia (Paris’ former name, at that time a small village on the left bank) to the North. It started being inhabited in the early 12th century and was the first paved road in Paris. Because it was surrounded by many religious buildings (now destroyed), Rue Saint Denis was the royal entry point into Paris. Go all the way to the end of Rue Saint Denis, where you will find the Porte de Saint Denis, a monumental arch built in 1672 to honor King Louis XIV. This arch marks the exact area of one of the 6 entry points into Paris when Paris was completely surrounded by a city wall. The metro station Strasbourg Saint Denis is on Boulevard Saint Denis, to your right.  

Parisianist Fun Fact: About 150m to the right of Porte Saint Denis, on Boulevard Saint Denis is the Porte Saint Martin, also a monumental arch, built at the same time and serving the same purpose.

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