Stroll in the 7th Heaven

Paris’ 7th arrondissement is home to impressive government buildings and embassies, loads of iconic and lesser known monuments, some great museums, really nice architecture, good shopping, and lovely garden spaces. In spite of its hauteur and occasional pretense, the 7th is, in general, a condensed version of all that is wonderful in Paris all in one quarter. If you do all of the following, this will take you an entire day long into a very pleasant evening.

(1) Start your day at Cafe Roussillon, on the corner of rue de Grenelle and rue Cler. Have a coffee and a tartine (bread with some butter and jam) while standing up at the bar, where you’ll pay less than if you sit down. (A rule at all cafes, not just this one.) Sometimes, they’ll have other pastries, depending on what’s available, but a tartine and coffee is a very typical way to start the day.

Next, (2) proceed down the rue de Grenelle toward the gold-domed Invalides, and walk partially around the structure to your left, checking out the buidling’s impressive exterior, passing by the looming cannons, lovely stretches of green grass, and sweet garden areas. Long a military hospital for injured soldiers, Invalides is now better known for one of France’s more famous warriors: Napoleon. 

You can visit the inside of Invalides a bit later after you stop and smell the roses (if they’re in bloom), at the (3) Musee Rodin, 79 rue de Varenne.  The Musee Rodin has one of the most beautiful gardens in Paris, and even features its own rose variety, the Rodin Rose. Of course, in addition to flowers, the Musee Rodin is a showcase for a sculptor who changed the art form, Auguste Rodin. It only takes an hour or two to visit, and you can get tickets online in advance through the helpful Web site:  

You won’t be able to miss the French government buildings on (4) rue de Varenne near the Musee Rodin, such as the Hotel Matignon (the official residence of France’s Prime Minister) and France’s Ministry of Agriculture. Occasionally, security will be a bit of a hassle on the rue de Varenne because of the profusion of government offices and embassies in the area. If there are any protests involving angry farmers from the French countryside, you should definitely try to take in the action that will transpirin front of the Ministry of Agriculture– particularly if you get to see the Ministry entrance blockaded with potatoes or manure.

Walking back toward rue Cler around the side of the Invalides you didn’t see on your way over to the Musee Rodin, take in more vantages of the impressive, gold-domed structure. Even if you’re only mildly interested in the military and/or megalomania, (5) Invalides is worth a look inside for its fascinating military museum, and, of course, Napoleon’s tomb. The military musem has an impressive array of weapons from the Middle Ages and a very robust set of archives relating to the Second World War. Different themed exhibits also appear throughout the year. More info in French (with some in English) is available online at:

After viewing government power, military history, and loveliness for the morning, head back to (6) rue Cler for your lunch. Rue Cler is an amazing market street, with several wonderful shops for buying picnic items. There’s an array of small shops from which to select your perfect picnic lunch: cheeses, fruits and vegetables, breads, sausages, and more are there for the buying. For wine for a picnic (or for any reason), be sure to visit Le Repaire Bacchus, at 29 rue Cler. In addition to a diverse selection of regional French wines, the staff are very helpful, and they give great advice about good wines at every price point. If you don’t travel with a cork screw, they’ll open your picnic bottle for you.

On a picnic weather day, the (7) Champ de Mars is very close by– a perfect grassy spot for a picnic and a nap in the sun between the Eiffel Tower and the Ecole Militaire. “Champ de Mars” means “Field of Mars.” Named for the God of War, military drills were once practiced here. Now, rather than war exercises, you’re now likely to see a free concert put on by Paris’ local government in the summer, or some folks from the neighborhood playing petanque or card games among the gravel alleyways under the trees. (Petanque, or boules, is similar to bocce, except the balls are metal and there are different rules of scoring according to the region in France you’re from.) It’s great fun to watch experienced players play petanque, particularly if they’re older and they’re playing for money– which helps you learn more colorful French phrases than you were probably taught in high school French class. 

Eiffel Tower in Autumn
The “Grotesque” Eiffel Tower

Of course, if you haven’t done it yet (or, if it has been a while since you did), you should go to the top of the (8) Eiffel Tower once you’re finished with your picnic and nap. Though touristy for sure, it’s popular because it’s a beautiful marvel of engineering with stunning views over Paris.

This opinion wasn’t always shared, however, and the Eiffel Tower was often decried as a monstrosity after it was first constructed for the Universal Exposition (a world’s fair of sorts) by Gustave Eiffel in 1889. (In other parts of Paris, you can also admire Gustave Eiffel’s work at the Bon Marche department store and Credit Lyonnais bank, where he built the metal structures. Across the Pond, he was responsible for the internal structure of the Statue of Liberty.) Only built to last 20 years, the Eiffel Tower proved useful as a radio tower during the war years of the early 20th century so the Eiffel Tower was able to defy its critics to become the landmark we all know and love today. The evening lights are a treat to see from other vantage points all over Paris. For history and visitor info in just about every language of the planet (along with some interactive items for children), take a look at:

By now, you should have worked up a bit of a thirst, so stroll back to rue Cler and head to (9) Cafe du Marche  to sit on the terrace  (or stand at the bar for a lower price) and enjoy an “apero,” or “aperitif.” This pre-dinner cocktail time is essential in France, and usually consists of ordering a kir or two, along with some nibbly snacks–typically nuts, some sausage, or small cubes of cheese.  At Cafe du Marche, this wine accompaniment generally takes the guise of some zesty sausage. (If you’d like to split up your apero time at more than one place, the Roussillon, where you started your day, has some really good apero-snacks as well. Last time I visited the Rousillon, there were some very good, reasonably priced cod fritters which at least 3-4 people could share.)

Should you feel like classic, easy cafe food for dinner, then be sure to stay and dine at the Cafe du Marche, especially if it’s a warm evening and there are abundant people-watching opportunities from the terrace. However, there are numerous options for good fare in the 7th, all within very easy walking distance from rue Cler. A few of my favourites are:

  • Restaurant Samo – a Korean restaurant that is one of the best places in Paris, or anywhere, to eat
  • Thoumieux – a traditional French brasserie, at 79 rue St.-Dominique, online at:


Restaurant Samo – Awesome Korean

It seems strange to tell you that, if you are in Paris for more than 2 days, you simply have to go to a Korean restaurant. But Restaurant Samo is just that place.

Order the Korean BBQ beef, and you will be delivered a heavenly meal of marinated beef that cooks at your table, along with a variety of Korean pickles and vegetables. (Start with the potstickers, aka <<ravioli>> if you’re really hungry.) The food is fresh, the seasoning perfection. With a bottle of Bordeaux from the good, reasonable wine  list, you cannot go wrong.

1 rue du Champ de Mars (right off rue Cler)

Cafe du Marche – Classic Cafe

Cafe dy Marche on rue Cler
Our table, before the kirs came

When you want a kir and some free sausage snacks while standing at a typical neighborhood bar, you should head directly to Cafe du Marche in the 7th.

Same goes for a coffee on a small terrace while watching the hustle and bustle of a real working market street.  

Same goes for great, reasonably priced food. From succulent steak frites to interesting salads (try the delicious Caesar, which is actually not an American Caeser at all, but more of an East Indian style Cobb salad), Cafe du Marche offers something for everyone at great prices with great rue Cler ambiance (particularly people-watching opportunities).  The daily specials are traditional French fare. When they have the duck confit, it’s exceptional, and only outshined by the great potatoes that accompany it.

I’ve said “great” way too much about Cafe du Marche, but since I’ve been going here for more than 12 years and sending happy friends in that direction for the same amount of time, overuse of “great” is deserved.

Stop by when you’re in the neighborhood. Cafe du Marche, in the 7th arrondissement at 38 rue Cler.

Grand Hotel Leveque – Value Lodging in 7th

Grand Hotel Leveque, Paris
Cute Vintage Hotel Sign

Everyone always asks where you can stay in Paris without breaking the bank when you’d rather spend all your money shopping and drinking, and also plan to spend every night in club. If you want a reliable, simple place to lay your head when visiting Paris, the Grand Hotel Leveque right on rue Cler is just what you’re looking for.

Very clean and tidy, with helpful friendly staff, AND a location that’s second-to-none in Paris: right on rue Cler, one of Paris’ greatest market streets, just a few blocks from the Eiffel Tower and Invalides.

Rates, even when it’s full-on tourist time in Paris, are amazingly reasonable. Have a look at:

A word of caution to American guests: even if you’re traveling alone, if you get a single at older hotels, you may have a twin bed and have to share a bathroom with people on your floor. So, if you plan to have company or if this bothers you, book an en suite double. True at the Grand Hotel and all other French hotels of a certain age. If this isn’t a problem, book the single, as these rooms are typically a great bargain.

Hotel de Latour Maubourg

One of the many nice rooms at this hotel
One of the many nice rooms at this hotel

The 7th is a great neighborhood to stay in Paris, as it’s centrally located and you can walk nearly everywhere you’d want to visit. Not to mention, there’s a lot to see and do in the 7th itself. The neighborhood manages to be accessible to visitors while not losing its classic Parisian feel.

A fabulous base camp in the 7th is the charming Hotel de Latour Maubourg. In a beautiful older building with nicely appointed, very comfortable rooms, it’s a great home away from home when you’re visiting Paris. The staff are all extremely friendly and very helpful.

Just blocks from rue Cler, right across from a convenient Metro, and within walking distance of just about everywhere, Hotel de Latour Maubourg is a great find. The rooms that look over the little square have great views of Invalides/Ecole Militaire as well.

Take a look and reserve online at: