Les Grands Boulevards

Les Grands Boulevards (1A)

When we think of Paris our mind is filled with images of the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre... and, naturally, the Grand Boulevards: long, tree-lined avenues full of shops, cafés and restaurants.

In Paris there are eight grand boulevards that form a very important cultural and commercial network: Madeleine, Capucines, Italiens, Montmartre, Poissnnière, Bonne Nouvelle, St-Denis and St-Martin. They begin close to the Madeleine district and go as far as the Place de la Republique and all around this area you will come across large boutiques, galleries, cafeterias and theatres.

It was in the 1670s when Louise XIV decided to transform the old city walls, or bastions, into pretty boulevards. In fact, the word boulevard comes from the Dutch word “bulwerc”, which means “bastion”. They thus knocked down the walls, filled in the moats and built these grand avenues.

When you walk along these Grand Boulevards you will also be able to admire several strategically placed temples: the religious temple of La Madeleine, the temple of music of the Opera Garnier or the economic temple of the Paris Bourse.

And, of course, you will also come across other grand temples of luxury. We recommend you see Rue de la Paix and Place Vendome, quiet bourgeois corners until the late-19th century.

That was when the jewellers and fashion houses began to arrive. The pioneers of haut-couture began here. Then the artists came. The first impressionist exhibition was held in the Boulevard des Capucines. Cinema also saw the light of day for the first time in this street.

Perhaps the most famous Grand Boulevards is the Boulevard des Italiens. It was the most popular because of its commercial outlets. The Café Hardi, the Tortoni ice cream parlour, the Chinese Baths and the Café Riche were here. In the latter premises, the writers Goncourt, Zola, Daudet and Turgueniev organised their “ostracised authors” suppers.

On the Boulevard Montmartre there are still many imprints of its past age of splendour. From this period there is still the Café Madrid and the Théâtre des Varietés, where the great operettas by Offenbach were performed. It is also possible to lose yourself in two picturesque landscapes that this boulevard provides us with.

The route along the Grand Boulevards can be ended in the Place Vendôme, where some of the most important jewellers in the world are.

Without doubt, strolling along these Grand Boulevards is an absolute must if you are in Paris and want to Savour all its glamour.

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