Best Paris Strolls

Stroll 27: Arts Et Metiers To République

Stroll 27 Porte Saint Martin Arch

Quick Description: Museum of inventions, Santa Claus church, varied 17th to 20th century sites.

Where: Right Bank, north of Les Halles and the Marais. 

Duration: 45 min walk, @2-3 hrs with all venue visits.  Early Departure Option.  

Best Days: Tues – Sat 

Best Time to Start: 10am – 11am  

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Connects: by foot to Stroll 28 (Canal Saint Martin), and by quick Metro rides to Stroll 9 (Western & Northern Marais), or Stroll 21 (Opera-Haussmann-Saint Lazare), or the standalone site, Cimetiere Per Lachaise. 

Past and Present: During the Middle Ages and Renaissance, the land here was owned by the priory (monastery) of Saint Martin des Champs.  Today, the priory’s enclosure site is occupied by Musee des Arts et Metiers, a museum of invention and technology founded in 1784.  The Middle Ages and Renaissance also saw construction here of the Church of Saint Nicolas-des-Champs, today open to visitors and boasting numerous artworks. The city wall of the time, part of which ran nearby, was demolished in the late 1600s, but a triumphal arch created in 1674 marks the site of a former gate, Porte Saint Martin.  Developments in the 1800s that remain today include the Gaite-Lyrique theater, Square Emile Chautemps, Marche Saint Martin, Place de la Republique with the “Marianne” statue, and the city’s oldest Asian district.  The area also boasts many restaurants offering French regional and foreign cuisines.

Attractions (in order):  

  • Musee des Arts et Metiers: #60 Rue Reaumur.  Museum of inventions and technology covering a wide variety of fields.  Founded in 1784, the venue now occupies several buildings, including the former Chapel of the Priory of Saint Martin-des-Champs, which houses antique autos and planes and a version of Foucault’s Pendulum, in operation.  Tues-Sun 10am-6pm, €8 (with various discount tickets available).   
  • Paris’s Oldest Asian District: One block each of Rue Au Maire and Rue Volta, south of Rue Reaumur, near Musee des Arts et Metiers.  An optional detour.  Occupied by immigrants from southern China in the late 1800s and early 1900s, the area still boasts many Chinese businesses, including restaurants.  The block of Rue Au Maire is primarily a pedestrian way.  Also here, at #3 Rue Volta, is a building dating from 1644 with a half-timber and mortar façade that replicates buildings of the 1300s.      
  • Church of Saint-Nicolas-des-Champs: #254 Rue Saint Martin, just south of Rue Reaumur and near Musee des Arts et Metiers.  The 15th century Catholic church of “Saint Nicholas of the Fields” is named for the Third Century’s Saint Nicolas of Myra, the model for “Old Saint Nick” aka Santa Claus. It boasts several significant artworks.  Open to visitors: Mon 9:30am-7pm, Tues-Fri 7:45am-7:45pm, Sat 10:45am-1pm and 1:30pm-7:30pm, Sun 9am-12:30pm and 4:30pm-6:30pm, free.
  • Gaite-Lyrique: #3bis Rue Papin, near the museum and the church.  Built in 1862 and called Theatre de la Gaite, it was one of the Second Empire’s major urban renewal projects in this area.  Today, its 19th century façade, entry and foyer are preserved, but the interior has been developed as a multi-purpose venue for concerts, digital art exhibits, radio and TV broadcasts and internet podcasts, video gaming, performance and cultural workshops and private events.  The building can be entered free of charge and the video gaming room, featuring state of the art equipment, is open to the public.  There also are two cafes. Hours: Tues-Fri 2pm-8pm, Sat-Sun Noon-7pm (Thurs 10pm). Entry prices for scheduled programs vary, and it is best to check the website and reserve tickets in advance. Performances tend to start at 5pm or 7pm.
  • Square Emile Chautemps: Entry from Rue Papin, opposite the front of Gaite-Lyrique, as well as from other sides of the square.  This public park was created in the 1860s as a major piece of the urban renewal of this area.  Today, it offers a boules court, a children’s playground, a grass area, stands of chestnut trees, a fountain and sculptures. There also are public toilets. Park open Mon-Fri 8am-8:30am, Sat-Sun 9am-8:30pm, free.
  • Porte Saint Martin ArchRue Saint Martin at Blvd Saint Martin / Blvd Saint Denis.  Triumphal arch with descriptive carvings constructed in 1674 on the site of a gate (porte) in the destroyed medieval city wall of King Charles V.   
  • Boulevard Saint Martin / Boulevard Saint Denis:  Two of the storied “Grand Boulevards” that connect to form an arc across the center of the Right Bank, following the line of the city’s medieval defensive wall.  They emerged in the 1700s as walking paths and evolved into major thoroughfares, eventually becoming the center of Paris’s nightlife and theater scene from the mid-1800s to WWI. 
  • Theatre de la Renaisssance: #20 Blvd Saint Martin.  Important 19th  century theater building in the Italianate style.  Still in operation, it hosts a wide variety of shows.  Only open for performances and special events.   
  • Rue Rene Boulanger:  Running from Blvd Saint Martin to Place de la Republique. This picturesque, curving commercial street, named for a trade union leader and WWII hero, follows the path of a ditch that ran on the outside of the medieval city wall.  
  • Marche Saint Martin: #31-33 Rue Chateau d’Eau, with a side entrance on Rue Bouchardon, an optional detour.  Atmospheric covered food market constructed in 1859, today offering fresh produce and fish shops, a florist, vendors with prepared foods, an oyster bar and a Moroccan restaurant.  Tues-Sat 9am-8pm, Sun 9am-2pm.
  • Promenade Cleews Vellay: Pedestrian walk along Rue Rene Boulanger honoring a 20th century AIDs activist.    
  • Place Johann Strauss: Part of Promenade Cleews Vellay (the pedestrian walk along Rue Rene Boulanger) that is dedicated to the 19th century “Waltz King” and features a bust of him. 
  • #26 Rue Rene Boulanger:  Formerly #26 Rue de Bondy, site of an historic labor hall and the exhibition of a panorama regarding the Paris Commune of 1871.
  • Place de la Republique:  Grand 19th century plaza with a central statue, dubbed “Marianne,” celebrating the first three French Republics.  This is also a major traffic roundabout and the site of the Republique Metro stop, a hub for five lines.   Recent renovations have made it into the city’s largest pedestrian-only plaza, and a popular spot for public demonstrations.

Dining Suggestions (in order):

  • Chez Shen: #39 Rue Au Maire, just south of Musee des Arts et Metiers, in the oldest Asian district of Paris, an optional detour.  Southern Chinese cuisine with dishes offered in cafeteria displays.  Simple modern dining room, outdoor seating.  Mon-Sat 9am-11pm.  Moderate prices.    
  • Mabrouk: #64 Rue Reaumur, at the corner with Rue Saint Martin, just west of Musee des Arts et Metiers.  Tunisian cuisine with various choices for light or substantial meals.  Bright room evoking North African coast, outdoor seating.  Daily 11am-11pm.  Average cost @€18-25.
  • Bon Esprit: #310 Rue Saint Martin at Rue Notre Dame de Nazareth, between Square Emile Chautemps and Porte Saint Martin.  Bar/bistro on casual space offering a large selection of craft beers on tap, plus tapas, charcuterie plates, etc.  Mon-Fri 8am-1:45am, Sat 5pm-1:45am.  Moderate prices. 
  • Le Plomb du Cantal Rive Droit: #4 Blvd Saint Denis, adjacent to the Porte Saint Martin arch.   French cuisine, Auvergne specialties, e.g. “aligot” (potato puree with Cantal cheese and garlic), generous portions.  Rustic dining room, outdoor seating under awning and in a glass enclosure.  Mon-Fri 8:30am-2am, Sat 9am-2am, Sun 9am-1:30am. Average cost @€25-35.
  • L’Alsacien République:  #9 Rue Rene Boulanger, second half of route.  Light French and Alsatian cuisine.  Casual, modern room on two floors. Mon-Fri Noon-2:30pm, 7-11:30pm, Sat 7-11:30pm. Appetizers @€6.5, Assortment Plates (cheese, meat, vegetables) @€6.5-13-16, Flammekueches (Alsatian thin crust pizzas with various topping choices) @€8.9-10.9, side salad @€4, plus desserts, aperitifs, wine, beer, soft drinks.  
  • Chameleon: #70 Rue Rene Boulanger.  Creative French cuisine, changing menu.  Casual dining room, outdoor seating.   Mon-Fri 12:15-2pm, 7-11pm, Sat 7-11pm. Prix fixe lunch @18E, 25E, dinner @€38.  
  • Yi Bowl Noodle: #54 Rue Rene Boulanger.  Chinese cuisine, specializing in noodle and mutton dishes.  Casual modern dining rooms on two floors, outdoor seating.  Daily, Noon-2:30pm, 6:30-10:30pm.  Lunch prix fixe @€12-13, starters @€5E, noodle and mutton dishes @€10.8-12.8.
  • Restaurant Martin Paris: #40 bis Rue Rene Boulanger (part of the Renaissance Paris Hotel).   French and American cuisine.  Stylish modern room, outdoor seating on interior courtyard.  Breakfast Mon-Fri 6:30am-10:30am, Sat-Sun 6:30am-11am, Sun brunch Noon-4pm, Lunch Mon-Fri Noon-3pm, Dinner Mon-Sat 6:30-10:30pm.  Lunch prix fixe @€25-29.

Ready to stroll?
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Stroll Map

Ready to stroll?
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