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It is as true today as it always has been that the area of Paris known as Les Grands Boulevards (between the 9th and 11th arrondisements and including L'Opera) is the place to see and to be seen. Once the epicentre of refined society, where anyone who was anyone would take the air, stroll through the clean, wide streets and encounter friends and acquaintances; today it is considered the new Right Bank in Paris and there is an atmosphere of la bonne vie (the good life) as only the French know how to create; most especially in Paris, still the most alluring city in Europe. Modern 20th century buildings nestle elbow to elbow with some of the most ornately decorated stonework that Paris has to offer with its eclectic and fascinating architecture. Tucked away in narrow streets or overlooking the wide, tree lined boulevards, beautifully presented apartments look down over immaculately clean and well paved pedestrian areas; with their pavement cafes, exclusive stores and cultural venues, such as galleries, museums and opera houses, these are worth visiting for their architectural interest alone.
In the 19th century Les Grands Boulevards were considered by all to be the centre of Paris. Café society dictated the fashion for the world to follow - and follow it did. Entrepreneurs like Tortoni crafted venues to which the rich and famous flocked in their hundreds to mingle amongst the elite of society. The Boulevard des Italiens became the centre for the creative elements of society: writers and artists; congregating in the Cafes Riche and Anglais; the latter was a popular gathering place up until its demise in 1913, when it was demolished to make way for a more modern building, the lease having been bought two years earlier.
It was in Les Grands Boulevards that writers such as Alexandre Dumas, George Sands, Baudelaire, Maupassant, Balzac and other great names of classic literature gathered in their literary enclaves at the pavement cafes which dotted the streets to discuss, debate and argue their ideas. Here were given birth some of the greatest books to have come out of the biblioteques and libraries of France. Artists such as Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec, Picasso, Galien-Laloue and Cortes liked to congregate here to share their thoughts and insights on the techniques they used to create the inspiring works of art which we still flock to appreciate today. You have only to stroll along the streets where these great figures of creative history used to gather, to be able to see them in your minds eye, sharing refreshments; a glass of anis; coffee or a glass of wine. It is no wonder that the very air in Paris still exudes a certain je ne sais quoi even today.
With so much to see and do, it is difficult to know where to start and you certainly won't manage to do everything in one visit to Paris.
In the 9th arrondisement alone, there is the Musee Grevin (the wax museum) with its truly international ensemble of personalities, from Lady Gaga through to Sebastien Loeb; this area of Paris also houses the Printemps Department Store, which first opened in 1865; located in the centre of Paris, it was the first to have electricity. Today it offers the epitome of French chic within its walls, which have themselves been restored to their original grandeur and beauty. Now a historical monument as well as a popular and exclusive shopping destination, you can visit the 9th floor of the store to take in the rooftop view across the city to Montmartre, to the Eiffel Tower. A visit to the Brasserie will give you refreshment for the eye as well as the body, with the breathtakingly spectacular Art Deco cupola.
Lovers of French culture will want to visit the Opera Garnier, housing the National Opera of Paris to take the chance to see one of their world class performances of modern or classic opera. In Rue Richer can be found Les Folies Bergere - perhaps the most well known of Parisian cabaret - with a long history of less refined but none the less celebrated entertainment; with legends such as Charlie Chaplin and Josephine Baker having appeared on its stage.
Perhaps either the Musee de Parfum Fragonard or the Musee Romantique sound enticing. The Musee de Parfum Fragonard opened in 1983 and is located in a building which is a beautiful example of Napoleonic (III) architecture, built in 1863 by Lesoufache. With its high ceilings, wonderfully paneled walls, beautifully preserved parquet floors and ornate wrought iron staircases, this building is a testament to the skill and imagination of French architects.
Moving from the 9th arrondisement you pass into the 11th, where you can find the vibrant and immensely popular nightlife that attracts students and visitors from around the globe. Here the Place de la Bastille shares its footprint with the 4th and 12th arrondisements. The infamous prison in which many of the political and religious prisoners of the day were incarcerated under the aegis of Cardinal Richlieu became the icon of the French Revolution with its storming on July 14 1789.
Edith Piaf, born Giovanna Gassion, is commemorated in this neighbourhood in which she grew up in the small private museum which can be visited by appointment only. It is certain that failing to visit the museum of the singer of "Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien" will leave you disappointed and perhaps even regretful to have missed the chance to see this iconic artiste's exhibition.
Here in this arrondisement, the Cirque d'Hiver still enjoys full house as visitors and residents alike flock to enjoy the entertainment to be found here. Opened in 1852 as a venue for circuses, this architectural creation was the child of Jacques Hittorf, who also designed Cirque de l'Imperatrice at the Champs-Elysees and the Gare du Nord. More than just a circus ring, there have been many different shows here, including: Turkish wrestling; dressage and other equestrian events; classical concerts and fashion shows. Made famous in the Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis film "Trapeze" from 1956, Cirque d'Hiver today is host to diverse events, including Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain, which together with Festival Mondial du Cirque de l'Avenir, which takes place each January.
We currently have 7 Paris apartments for rent around Opéra and Grands Boulevard.
The apartments are listed alphabetically.