Best Paris Strolls

Stroll 6: Les Halles-Pompidou-Hotel De Ville

Stroll 6 Tour Saint Jacques

Quick Description: Historic market area now a park, Centre Pompidou modern art museum, lively food market street, Renaissance churches, city hall, many other sites.

Where: Right Bank parallel to Ile de la Cite.

Start at southeast corner of Rue de Rivoli and Rue de l’Amiral Coligny (aka Rue du Louvre going north), outside Metro station Louvre – Rivoli (#1 line).  End on Rue de Rivoli, in front of the Hotel de Ville, outside Metro station Hotel de Ville (#1 line).   

Duration: 1.5 hr walk, @3 hrs with venue visits, plus @1-3 hrs more for Centre Pompidou visit. Two Early Departure Options, one close to the midpoint, before the Centre Pompidou, the other near the end after the Tour Saint Jacques and before the Hotel de Ville.

Best Days: Wed – Sat.  

Best Time to Start: 10:30am – 11:30am 

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Connects: by foot to Stroll 7 (Central Marais), or Stroll 8 (Southern Marais), or Stroll 9 (Western & Northern Marais), or Stroll 10 (Ile Saint Louis & Vicinity), and by quick Metro rides to Stroll 4 (The Louvre & Vicinity), or Stroll 5 (Palais Royal & Vicinity), or Stroll 15 (Concorde-Tuileries-Vendome), or Stroll 16 (Concorde-Madeleine-Expiatoire), or Stroll 17 (Concorde to Place de l’Alma), or Stroll 27 (Arts et Metiers to Republique), or Stroll 28 (Canal Saint Martin), or a standalone site, the Arc de Triomphe. 

Past and Present: As Paris expanded in the Middle Ages and early Renaissance the Right Bank east of the Louvre became its commercial center.  Called “Le Ville” (The Town), it featured the city’s main food market, later dubbed “Les Halles” because of the big halls for vendors.  It also was the site of offices of the Provost of Merchants, and then the Hotel de Ville (city hall).  Today, it is still the commercial and administrative center of the city.  However, it went through a significant transformation in the 1970s.  Traffic concerns resulted in the Les Halles market being moved to a suburb and replaced by a park and a shopping mall.  At the same time, the new Centre Pompidou art museum replaced a chunk of the adjacent neighborhood.  But it wasn’t just bash and build.  To connect the new elements, while preserving the area’s historic character, a broad pedestrian zone was created.  Among the  streets in that zone today are Rue Montorgueil, with its colorful food shops, and Rue Saint Denis and Rue Saint Martin, which date from Roman times and are home to important churches.  The zone also boasts the famous Fontaine des Innocents and Tour Saint Jacques, as well as a museum of the Middle Ages, a museum of illusions, an operating 19th century shopping arcade, unique boutiques, popular jazz clubs, and many good restaurants.  The stately Hotel de Ville anchors the area at the river, and offers building tours, changing exhibitions and special events on its plaza.  

Attractions (in order):

  • Croix du Trahoir: Intersection of Rue Saint Honore and Rue de l’Abre Sec. Historic “Crossroads of the Drawer,” a 17th century market intersection where the “Fronde” rebellion began, now commemorated with a fountain.   
  • Village Saint Honore shops: #93 Rue Saint Honore.  Collection of boutiques and galleries arranged in a picturesque alley, with irregular hours.   (Check for access.)
  • Au Bourdon D’Or:  #91 Rue Saint Honore.  “The Golden Bumblebee” was an apothecary shop where King Henri IV died in 1610, victim of an assassin’s attack on a nearby Les Halles street.  
  • Jardin Nelson Mandela and Forum Des Halles:  The former site of the Les Halles food market is now a public park and playground and an adjacent (mostly underground) modern shopping mall.  The park is open daily 9:30am-8:30pm.  The mall is open Mon-Sat 10am-9pm, Sun 11am-8pm.    
  • Church of Saint Eustache: #2 Impasse Saint Eustache, adjacent to Jardin Nelson Mandela.  Huge 16th century church with eclectic architecture and multiple chapels, also known for organ and other musical performances. Mon-Fri 9.30am-7pm, Saturday 10am-7:15pm, Sunday 9.15am-7:15pm, free.  Organ recitals Sundays 5.30-6pm, free.   
  • Rue Tiquetone: Running between Rue Montmartre and Rue Saint Denis.  A very old street that once traced the city wall, now housing a variety of unique boutiques, most open Mon-Sat from late morning on.
  • Rue Montorgueil Market: Running north from Rue Tiquetone for several blocks.  Colorful food market street, with shops offering a wide range of fresh, prepared and gourmet foods, plus chef’s equipment. There are also many restaurants (see “Dining Suggestions”), and a memorial to gay martyrs.  Most shops are open Mon-Sat, early morning till early evening. 
  • Place Goldini: Rue Dussoubs between Rue Greneta and Rue Marie Stuart and adjacent to the entrance to the Passage du Grand Cerf shopping arcade.  Pedestrian plaza dedicated to 18th century playwright Carlo Goldini, with unusual decorations and artwork. 
  • Passage du Grand Cerf: Running from Rue Dussoubs to Rue Saint Denis.  Operating 19th century shopping arcade featuring artisan boutiques, antiques shops, and a restaurant.  Open Mon-Sat 8:30 am-8:30 pm. 
  • Tour Jean Sans Peur: #20 Rue Etienne Marcel.  Surviving tower of the 14th century palace of “John the Fearless,” Duke of Burgundy, a major player in the 100 Years War, now a museum with permanent and special exhibits relating to the Middle Ages and early Renaissance.  Wed-Sun 1:30-6pm.  Unguided visit €6 adult, €3.5 7-18 years old.  Guided tour (min 5 persons) Sat-Sun 3pm, €10 adult, €7 7-18 years old.  (Note: three stories, stairs, no elevator.)
  • Musee de L’Illusion: #98 Rue Saint Denis.  New, small museum of visual illusions in which visitors take part.  Sun-Wed 10am-9pm, Thurs-Sat 10am-10pm, €18 adult, €12 ages 5-15, under 5 free (Note: tickets are sold online with assigned hours.)  
  • Church of Saint Leu – Saint Gilles: #92 Rue Saint Denis.  13th century church, with crypt containing body relic of Empress Saint Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine and reputedly the discoverer of the True Cross.   Mon-Sat Noon-7:30pm, Sun 9am-Noon, free.  (Note: Ask attendant to view reliquary.)
  • Fontaine des Innocents: Place Joachim du Bellay.  Famous 16th century sculpted fountain of the Church and Cemetery of the Innocents, now centered in a lively pedestrian-only square.  
  • Rue des Lombards and its Jazz Clubs:  Near Place Joachim du Bellay.  Old street associated with Middle Ages money lenders from Lombardy, Italy, and since the 20th century the site of three popular jazz clubs.  
  • Centre Pompidou: Place Georges Pompidou. (Visit @1-3 hrs). Museum of contemporary European art, with an eye catching, multicolored exoskeleton exposing the building’s mechanical parts.  Wed-Mon 11am-9pm (Thurs to 11pm), closed May 1.  Admission €14 (free first Sunday of month).   Admission fee includes access to 6th floor observation deck (which also can be visited for €3 without museum entry).  Building also features Restaurant Georges, an upscale, top floor establishment with broad views, for dining or cocktails, Wed-Mon, Noon-2am, with no museum admission required (see “Dining Suggestions”).  
  • Atelier Brancusi: Place Georges Pompidou (north end).  Paris atelier of 20th century sculptor Constantin Brancusi recreated in a modern space.  Wed-Mon 2-6pm, closed May 1, free. 
  • Fontaine Stravinsky: Adjacent to Centre Pompidou.  Reflecting pond with whimsical modern sculptures by famous artists, celebrating the composer Igor Stravinsky.  Accessible 24×7.  
  • Church of Saint Merri: #76 Rue de la Verrerie, at Rue St Martin.  16th century church dedicated to the patron saint of the Right Bank, now often the site of special exhibits and conferences for progeressive causes.  Daily 2-6pm (Nov.-April), 3-7pm (April-Sept), free. 
  • Tour Saint Jacques: Square de la Tour Saint Jacques, at Rue de Rivoli and Rue St Martin.  Landmark 16th century Gothic church bell tower set in a park. Interior open to official tours only.  Tours, which involve climbing the tower’s 300 stairs and are given in French only, are led Fri-Sun, 8 times per day, and cost €10 (under 18 free, under 10 not admitted).  Reservation  required.
  • Hotel de Ville and Place de l’Hotel de Ville (Paris City Hall and Plaza): Rue de Rivoli, end of route.  The building and plaza date from the 1500s.  The building’s many exterior sculptures were added in the 1880s when the building was refurbished.   The interior is open to the public Mon-Sat 10am-6:30pm for changing exhibitions relating to Paris’s history and culture (some free, some with charge).  Guided tours also are offered.  Access is at the #29 Rue de Rivoli entrance, where there is also a souvenir shop.  Place de l’Hotel de Ville is often the scene of special events, and in winter is transformed into an ice-skating rink. In addition, at the river end of the building there is an equestrian statue of Etienne Marcel, as well as a small park featuring flowers and rabbit hutches.

Dining Suggestions (in order):

  • BO&MIE: #91 Rue de Rivoli, southeast corner of intersection with Rue de l’Amiral Coligny (aka Rue du Louvre going north), next to the entrance to Metro station Louvre-Rivoli.  Bakery and sandwich shop.  Casual modern dining loft.  Mon-Sat 7:30am-8pm, Sun 8am-8pm.  Moderate prices.
  • Au Pied du Cochon: #6 Rue Coquilliere, near Jardin Nelson Mandela and the Church of Saint Eustache.  Famous, classic brasserie offering French / Alsatian cuisine, including signature pig’s feet and onion soup, seafood towers, etc.  Atmospheric 19th  century room.  Open daily 24 hrs.  Average cost @€40-60.  Reservations suggested.  
  • Le Cochon a l’Oreille: #15 Rue Montmartre, near Church of Saint Eustache.  Family-run establishment serving French home-style cuisine in large portions.  Rustic 19th century room with painted wall tiles depicting the old Les Halles market that are listed as an historic monument, some outdoor seating.  Mon-Sat 9am-11:30pm, Lunch 2 course prix fixe @€16, a la carte @€20-30.   
  • Le Comptoir de Gastronomie: #34 Rue Montmartre, near the Church of Saint Eustache.  Gourmet food products store with a restaurant set in an atmospheric 19th  century room with  big windows.  Restaurant hours: Tues-Sat Noon-2:30pm, 7-10:30pm. Average cost @€35-50.  Reservations suggested.    
  • Strohrer: #51 Rue Montorgueil.  Famous patisserie, take-out only.  Daily 7:30am-8:30pm.   Moderate prices.
  • Au Crus de Bourgogne: #3 Rue Bachaumont, just off Rue Montorgueil.  Classic brasserie.  French cuisine.  Atmospheric 19th century room.  Mon-Fri Noon-2:30pm, 7:30-10pm.  Lunch prix fixe @€25-29-31.  Reservations suggested.
  • Le Petit Bouillon Pharamond: #24 Rue de la Grande Truanderie, second half of route. “Bouillon” is the term designating a late 19th century workers café, offering classic French dishes at low prices, but often in elegant surroundings decorated in the Art Nouveau style of the times.  Pharamond opened in 1879 and was lavishly redecorated in 1898.  Its interior is listed as an historic landmark.  There is also outdoor seating.  Daily Noon-Midnight.  Appetizers @€2-8, mains @€8-13.  No reservations – wait in line.
  • Au Pere Tranquille: #16 Rue Pierre Lescot.  French cuisine.  Period 1920s room, lots of outdoor seating under awning, facing the new ground level of the Forum des Halles mall.  Daily 9am-11:30pm.  Average cost @€15-30.
  • Le Bon Pecheur: #14 Rue Pierre Lescot.  French cuisine, fish specialties.  Bright modern décor, lots of outdoor seating under awning, facing the new ground level of the Forum des Halles mall. Daily 8am-Midnight.  Average cost @€20-40.
  • Flams – Lombards: #62 Rue des Lombards. Part of a chain specializing in Alsatian Flammekueche (like very thin crust pizza) with various topping options, plus salads, etc.  Casual room.  Sun-Thurs 11:45am-11:30pm (Sat-Sun to Midnight).  Average cost @€12-20.  
  • Restaurant Georges: Centre Pompidou, rooftop level.  French cuisine.  Modern indoor and outdoor space with broad views across the city.  Daily Noon-2am.  Average cost @€60.  No museum admission required.   Reservations suggested.
  • Le Café Livres: #10 Rue St Martin.  French cuisine, breakfast, coffee.  Dining room with library décor (books free to read), seasonal outdoor or glassed terrace seating with view of Tour Saint Jacques.  Mon-Fri 9am-11pm, Sat 10am-11pm, Sun 10am-7pm.  Average cost @€12-25.

Ready to stroll?
Open this page vertically on your mobile phone and click VIEW DIRECTIONS.


Stroll Map

Ready to stroll?
Open this page vertically on your mobile phone and click VIEW DIRECTIONS.