16th Arrondissement: Trocadéro & Passy
M° Trocadéro, Passy, Iéna, Alma Marceau, La Muette
Begin your tour of the formal 16th arrondissement at the city’s avant-garde center of contemporary art, the Palais de Tokyo (13 Avenue du President Wilson, 16th M° Alma-Marceau or Iéna Tel 01 47 23 54 01). Originally built for the 1937 World Fair, it served various cultural purposes over the years before reopening in 2002 as the “Site of Contemporary Creation”. Don’t be surprised if you walk into what looks like an industrial artists’ squat under construction. That’s what it’s supposed to look like (the French call it brut). Even if you don’t visit the temporary exhibitions, have a walk around the building. A caged-in shop with art books and magazines, and the boutique Black Block sells the works of the famous Parisian graffiti artist Gilles Dufour, creator of Monsieur André. There’s also a restaurant open until 2am , a bar, and a self-serve café downstairs. Open Tuesday-Sunday noon-midnight. Entry to expositions €6, €4 for students 18-25, free for kids under 18.
The other wing of the Palais Tokyo houses the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (11 Avenue du President Wilson, 16th M° Alma-Marceau or Iéna Tel 01 53 67 40 80). Check out the website for information on their temporary exhibitions held in different venues throughout the city. The terrace connecting the two wings of the Palais Tokyo offers more than decent views overlooking the Seine , the Eiffel Tower , and the local skaters practicing their moves on the smooth pavement below. In the summer the terrace becomes a chic open-air bar and restaurant.
Across the street is the aging Palais Galliera: Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris (10 Avenue Pierre I de Serbie, 16th M° Alma-Marceau or Iéna Tel 01 56 52 86 00), with its collection of over 80,000 articles of clothing and accessories. Because of the fragile nature of the collections, this fashion museum is only open for temporary expositions arranged around a theme or a particular designer. Open during exhibitions Tuesday-Sunday 10am- 6pm. Tickets €7, €3.5 for students 14-25, free for children under 14. Includes free audio-guide in English. Museum Pass accepted.
A large flower and produce market takes place on the central alley along the Avenue du President Wilson just outside the Palais de Tokyo) every Wednesday and Saturday morning, 7am-2:30pm.
Just up the hill one block is the Guimet Musée des Arts Asiatiques (6 Place d’Iéna, 16th M° Iéna Tel 01 56 52 53 00). Created over a century ago by the industrialist Emile Guimet, the museum’s vast collections are dedicated to the arts and civilization throughout the Asian world, including Japan , China , Cambodia , Tibet , India , Nepal , Pakistan and Afghanistan . A restaurant on the lower level of the museum is open to the public (admission to the museum not required). Open daily except Tuesday 10am-6pm , entry to the permanent and temporary collections €7, €5 for students and everyone on Sunday. Free for kids under 18 and everyone the 1st Sunday of the month. Free audio-guide included. Museum Pass accepted. The museum also has a Buddhist Pantheon (entrance at 19 Avenue d’Iéna, 16th Tel 01 40 73 88 11) with galleries representing Chinese and Japanese religious art from the 4th to the 19th centuries, and an amazingly peaceful Japanese garden. Open daily except Tuesday 9:45am-5:45pm , free admission.
Continue up the Avenue d’Iéna to the Place des Etats-Unis, an elegant and peaceful square surrounded by stately townhouses and foreign embassies. Originally called Place de la Bitche (the name of a French town on the Belgian border), it was renamed in 1881 when the US foreign ministry offices moved into #3, both to avoid awkward situations and to honor the friendship between the two republics. At the center of the square is a statue of Generals Lafayette and Washington by Auguste Bartholdi, and a monument to the American volunteers who died for France during World War I.
The square’s most illustrious residence, once home to the aristocratic patron of the arts Marie Laure de Noailles, reopened in October 2003 as the Maison Baccarat (11 Place des Etats-Unis, 16th M° Boissière Tel 01 40 22 11 00). Don’t miss the sexy new interior, completely redesigned by Philippe Starck with a boutique, show-room, and museum dedicated to the history and future of Baccarat crystal. The Cristal Room Restaurant (open 9am-1am ) serves brunch, lunch, tea and dinner in the Countess’ former dining room.
The Countess de Noailles
Marie Laure de Noailles was a huge fan of the arts, and generously supported artists such as Cocteau, Bunuel, and Man Ray. She lived in the Place des Etats-Unis from 1920-1970, and hosted fabulous parties and salons in her mansion, decorated with original paintings by masters such as Van Dyck, Goya, Rembrandt, Picasso, Giacometti, Picabia, Balthus, Matisse, and Dali.
Take the Rue de Lubek back to the Avenue du President Wilson, and continue up the hill to the Place du Trocadéro. Built the same time as the Palais de Tokyo for the 1937 World Fair, the Palais Chaillot features the same neo-classical architecture, split into two immense wings. The terrace in the center overlooks the elaborate gardens and fountains of the Jardins du Trocadéro, with arguably the best view of the Eiffel Tower in town.
Tip: Try and visit at night, when the powerful cannon fountains shooting up towards the Eiffel Tower are brilliantly illuminated.
The Palais de Chaillot currently houses two museums (the Cinema Museum closed in 1997 and is scheduled to reopen in the Bercy quarter in 2006). The Musée de l’Homme (17 Place du Trocadéro, 16th M° Tocadéro Tel 01 44 05 72 72), managed by Natural History Museum, is an anthropology and prehistory museum dedicated to the life and history of humankind in France . This somewhat outdated museum is due for complete renovations (the new director has already worked his magic on the Grande Galerie d’Evolution in the Jardin des Plantes) if it hopes to compete with the new Musée du Quai Branly being built across the river. Open daily except Tuesday, 9:45am-5:15pm , tickets €5, €3 for students, kids under 18 free.
The second museum within the Palais de Chaillot is the Musée Nationale de la Marine (17 Place du Trocadéro, 16th M° Trocadéro Tel 01 53 65 69 53), featuring a collection of naval objects assembled in the 17th-century, including scale models of warships and sailing ships. Large windows offer panoramic views over the city. Open daily except Tuesday 10am-6pm. Entry €7, €5.40 for students, €3.85 for kids 6-18.
Chaillot or Trocadéro?
It’s easy to get confused by the double moniker for this area. The hill’s original name is the Colline de Chaillot. In 1878 the Palais Trocadéro (named after a Spanish fort conquered by the French) was built for the World Fair with vast gardens and a square known as the Place du Trocadéro. It was replaced by the Palais Chaillot in 1937, but the square and gardens held on to the Trocadéro name.
Behind the Place du Trocadéro is the small, yet prestigious Cimetière de Passy (2 Rue du Cmdt-Schloesing, 16th M° Trocadéro Tel 01 47 27 51 42). Opened in the aristocratic Passy neighborhood in 1820, this cemetery is the final resting place for Claude Debussy, Edouard Manet and Marcel Renault. Open weekdays 8am-6pm , from 8:30am Saturdays, and from 9am on Sundays (closes at 5:30pm in winter).
Cross the Square de Yorktown and follow the Rue Vineuse down the hill to the Rue Raynouard. Watch on the left for a tiny passageway called the Rue des Eaux, and follow the stairs down to the bottom. Around the corner to the left is the almost hidden Musée du Vin (Rue des Eaux, 16th M° Passy Tel 01 45 25 63 26), a museum dedicated to the history of winemaking, set in ancient quarry tunnels dating back to the 13th century. Passy used to be covered by vineyards in the 18th century, the largest belonging to the Minimes Monastery, who once used these tunnels to store their wine. This is one of the city’s most original museums. Open Tuesday-Sunday 10am-6pm , entry €6.50 (includes complimentary glass of wine).
Follow the Rue Charles Dickens to the Avenue Marcel Proust. At the end of the street is a narrow, cobblestone passage, the Rue Berton. The back entrance to Balzac’s house is at #24. Hunted by creditors, he often used this passage for a quick getaway. Loop around onto the Rue Raynouard to the front entrance of the Maison de Balzac (47 Rue Raynouard, 16th M° Passy Tel 01 55 74 41 80). This adorable little house where Honoré de Balzac lived and wrote for seven years is the last vestige of what was once Passy village before it became part of the ever-expanding city of Paris in 1860. Even if you’re not familiar with Balzac’s work (such as Human Comedy), it’s definitely worth a stop for the peaceful garden views of the Eiffel Tower . Open Tuesday-Sunday 10am- 6pm. Free entrance to the permanent collection, €1.60-€3.30 for the temporary expositions.
Lady Liberty Clone
If you take the RER C from the Right Bank to the Left Bank, sit on the right side (and upstairs if it’s a bi-level train). When crossing the Seine you’ll be able to see the bronze replica of the Statue of Liberty on the island Allée des Cygnes. It’s 1/5 the size of the original, and was given as a gift to the city by the American community of expats living in Paris. The only difference between this and the original is the inscription on Liberty’s tablet, which includes the dates from both the American and the French revolutions.
Cross the street and follow the Rue de l’Annonciation all the way to the Place de Passy. On the left is the Marché de Passy, an upscale covered food market. Turn left onto the shopping street Rue de Passy, and follow it past the Métro to the Jardins du Ranelagh (Chaussée de la Muette, 16th M° La Muette). This pretty park, opened in 1774, was frequented by Marie-Antoinette. Today it’s a favorite with kids for its playground, merry-go-round, donkey rides and marionette puppet theatre. If you’ve come this far then you’d better not miss the Musée Marmottan Monet (2 Rue Louis-Boilly, 16th M° La Muette Tel 01 44 96 50 33). Known for its important collection of Impressionist art, including Monet’s Water Lilies and Impression: Sunrise , this museum set in a former aristocratic hunting lodge also features paintings and furniture from the First Empire, primitive art and illuminations. Open Tuesday-Sunday 10am -6pm. Entry €6.50, €4 for students under 25, free for kids under 8.