Part 2 – Updated! The Mega-List of the Oldest Places in Paris

Comite Champs Elysees

It’s a fact that Paris is filled with tons of surprises but these landmarks and buildings, which have stood on the same spot for hundreds of years will leave you with your jaw wide open in amazement.

If you are looking for history, a great story to share with friends and family back home, or perhaps an experience you will never forget, visit the oldest landmarks in Paris. Many of these landmarks are older than you– some are even older than Paris itself!

Oldest Cafe or RestaurantCafé Procope in 13 Rue de l’Ancienne Comédie, 75006

Cafe Procope first opened its doors to patrons in 1686, making it the oldest restaurant in Paris that has never closed*. If you do the math mentally, Cafe Procope is exactly 327 years old.

Le Cafe Procope

The man behind Cafe Procope was the Sicilian chef, Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli. Although Cafe Procope is a fine dining restaurant today, it started out as a coffeehouse serving light meals and coffee made from exotic beans. To add to the exotic ambiance, the waiters of Cafe Procope served esteemed clientele who were mostly nobles and artists in Armenian clothing.

You can find Cafe Procope in along the 6th district, right in front of Comédie-Française, also another interesting landmark to visit.

Oldest Pastry Shop: La Maison Stohrer in 51 Rue Montorgueil, 75002

Now 283 years old, La Maison Stohrer has never moved from its original address in rue Montorgueil. That’s what you call dedication!

Le Maison Stohrer

I’ve written about La Maison Stohrer before, as a pastry shop where tourists can get fine Parisian treats, but if you want to visit a historical landmark, La Maison Stohrer also makes for the perfect candidate. Although La Maison Stohrer no longer serves pastries for the king, you can still find delights fit for royalty when you visit their only shop at the second district.

The variety of dishes at Stohrer have also expanded over the years. They now serve breakfast, double as a bakery and do catering for receptions and parties.

Oldest Wine Shop: Caves Auge in 116, Boulevard Hausmann, 75008

Caves Auge is what many call a mecca for wine enthusiasts. Outside, wine distributors offer free wine tasting, and inside the shop, you can find the widest selection of spirits and brews.

Caves Auge

This wine shop has been serving enthusiasts for about 163 years. It first opened its doors in 1850 and has since been giving free drinks and serving Beaujolais Nouveau every November.  When you get to the shop and its closed, try to check the website for their calendar of activities.

Oldest Candy Shop: A la Mère de Famille in 35, rue du Faubourg-Montmartre, 75009

If you find yourself standing outside of A la Mère de Famille during a stroll around the city, rest assured, your sweet tooth led you to the doors of this 252-year old candy shop, or confectionery.

A la Mère de Famille

A la Mère de Famille has been operating in the same spot, in the same building and street since 1761. If that’s not a clear example of dedication and longevity, I don’t know what is! The shop started out a bit like La Maison Stohrer, a place where you can find pastries and Debauve & Gallais, Paris’ oldest chocolate shop (see below), but it has since evolved from making sweet bread and chocolate into candies, candied sweets, and basically, anything with a hefty sugar content.

Oldest Chocolate Shop: Debauve & Gallais in 30 rue des Sts-Pères, 75007

Like La Maison Stohrer, Debauve & Gallais, founded in 1800, supplied the royal house of France with freshly made, chocolate creations: cakes, cupcakes, candies, bread, filling– you name it, Debauve & Gallais delivered.

Debauve & Gallais

But today, Debauve & Gallais no longer serves royals exclusively. Anyone with a craving for something bittersweet is welcome to their shop at 30 Rue des Saints-Pères. They have built quite a fan base among popular personalities, but anyone who loves chocolate (and who doesn’t!?) has a place here, in Debauve & Gallais.

Oldest Department Store: Le Bon Marché in 24 Rue de Sèvres, 75007

It’s no wonder why Parisians are so fashionable. Their oldest department store has been in business, selling the best and most fashionable effects, since 1838.

Le Bon Marche

It’s hard to miss Le Bon Marche. It is not only a department store today, but also a landmark which tourists frequent to find souvenirs and other trinkets. Le Bon Marche has gained quite a status in Paris– many visit it for its great deals (coincidentally, “Le Bon Marche” translates to “a good deal” in French) and for the historical feel which still emanates from the building, 175 years after it opened.

Le Bon Marche operated from a smaller building in 1838, but Louis Auguste Boileau later commissioned the construction of the 4th storey building we see today in 1867.

Oldest Covered Market: Enfants Rouges Covered Market in 39 rue de Bretagne, 75003

Open since 1615, the Enfants Rouges Covered Market is, and has always been, the best source for exotic food you can eat on the go, fresh vegetables, and simple snacks. The regular vendors include a sandwich stand, small stalls for Thai and Moroccan food, and of course, France’s pride and joy, crepes.

Les Enfants Rouges

It’s not hard to miss the market: it is located between a narrow street, despite being called a “covered market” and the only indicator you’ve reached it is when you see a sign like the one above. There are plenty of food markets in Paris, this just happens to be the oldest, and perhaps, the most popular; no trip to Paris is ever complete without a visit through here. Whether you’re here to taste the food or just to see more of the lively Marais district, include Enfants Rouges Covered Market in your list of places to visit.

Oldest Fresh Market: Marché Maubert in Place Maubert in Saint-Germain, 75006

It is not clear when Marche Maubert exactly opened but loyal patrons say it has been around since the Medieval Ages. You could say Marche Maubert is lucky– one of the many reasons why it has stuck around for so long even after the Hausmann buildings overhauling of the entire city is because of its location.

Marché Maubert

Source: Elizabeth Olson Porter

There are so many things you can find  in Marche Maubert: from fresh flowers, to fresh fruits, to fresh meat and veggies. As the oldest fresh market, the name is a dead giveaway that most of the produce found here come straight from someone’s backyard garden.

Oldest Tea Shop: Mariage Fréres in 13, rue des Grands-Augustins, 75005

The oldest tea shop in Paris first opened its doors to tea lovers as far back as 1854 by brothers Henri and Edouard Mariage. This once cozy tea shop located in Luxembourg has since grown into the popular gourmet tea shop it is today, serving thousands of guests every month with a wide variety of teas and flavored drink concoctions.

mariage freres

Mariage Freres

The selection of teas at Mariage Freres range from common to exotic, to French fusion. Aside from tea, you can also find tea gift sets, tea cups, and tea paraphernalia from Mariage Freres which you can take home as souvenir.  If you’re looking for something truly unique, you can also find tea-based perfumes here.

Oldest Flea Market: Marché aux Puces St-Ouen de Clignancourt in Porte de Clignancourt, 93400

For odd trinkets, household decor, and aluminum ware, nothing beats the (more or less) 100-year old flea market at Porte de Clignancourt. It’s right outside tourist traffic so you will not find Puces St-Ouen de Clignancourt on most tour itineraries, but like Paris, it is easily accessible by bus.

Les Puces de Saint-Ouen

Going through Marché aux Puces St-Ouen de Clignancourt can be a bit confusing for first-time visitors. With around 14 smaller markets in the flea market, you will have a smorgasbord of options before you.

Oldest Church: Eglise Saint-Germain-des-Pres in 3 place St-Germain-des-Pres, 75006

There are plenty of churches and abbeys situated around Paris and many are, to this day, considered landmarks and heritage sites for the French, but the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés is just a little more special. Built under the command of a king and blessed by a Saint, the Abbey of Saint-Germain-de-Prés is the oldest church in Paris.

Eglise Saint-Germain-des-Pres

This structure is literally older than the country. Built in 990 and accomplished in the 16th century, Eglise Saint-Germain-des-Pres is one of the most popular landmarks in the city that has withstood the tests of time and history. It has served its role as a church, prison, infirmary, and even, as a weapons stockroom.

If you are a lover of all things related to science, math, and philosophy, you can pay your respects to Rene Descartes who is interred here.

Oldest Garden: Jardin des Tuileries in Louvre Museum, 75001

The heart of Paris is literally a garden. Located in the 1st arrondissement, Jardin des Tuileries is one of Paris’ most loved tourist attractions and most iconic parks in the city. It is situated between Musee du Louvre and Place de la Concorde, both of which are also historical destinations you have to visit on your first day in Paris.

Jardin des Tuileries

The Tuileries Garden was not always just your average park. In the past, it served as a personal zoo to one of France’s monarchs and was also a location for a public circus. Things have clearly changed though and while the Tuileries Gardens no longer host animals or ferris wheels, it is still a beautiful landmark you should not miss seeing!

Oldest Zoo: Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes in Jardin des Plantes, 57 Rue Cuvier, 75005

What started out as a herb garden is now one of the largest, most visited zoos in Paris– and not to mention, the oldest. Originally designed as a royal herb garden, the garden became a zoo when Parisian scientists decided to house animals here, originally for research purposes. The herb garden was eventually “re-purposed” and it is now home to different birds, reptiles, and average-sized animals.

Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes

 

Oldest Pet Cemetery: Le Cimetiere des chiens et Autres Animaux Domestiques in Asnières-sur-Seine, France

Le Cimetiere des chiens et Autres Animaux Domestiques

Oldest Square: Place des Vosges in 14 Place des Vosges, 75004

Place des Vosges

Oldest Tree: Locust Tree in Square René-Viviani, North of Saint-Julien-le-Pauv, 75005

Locust Tree in Square René-Viviani

Oldest Fountain: Fontaine des Innocents in Place Joachim-du-Bellay, 75001

Fontaine des Innocents

Oldest Clock: Charles V Clock on the side of La ConciergerieQuai de l’Horloge

A public clock should be hard to miss, but you can’t say the same for the clock found on the wall of La Concierge. Many people have missed it while many others have mistaken it for a modern addition because of the vibrant paint job.

Charles V Clock

But what many do not know is, that the clock on La Conciergerie is actually Paris’ oldest, functional time teller. Think of London’s “Big Ben” but French.

Oldest Stone House: Auberge Nicolas Flamel in 51 rue de Montmorency, 75003

You might have heard of Nicolas Flamel before, but you

Auberge Nicolas Flamel

Oldest Bridge: Pont Neuf in Ile de la Cite

Today, it sounds ironic when someone sets a rendezvous with you on Pont Neuf and la

Pont Neuf

Oldest School: Ecole Des Mines in 60 Boulevard Saint-Michel, 75006

 

Ecole Des Mines

Oldest Ballet School: Ballet de l’Opéra de Paris

Ballet de l'Opéra de Paris

Oldest Passage: Passage des Panoramas in 10 rue Saint-Marc, 75009

The modern equivalent of a passage is an arcade. Stores and

Passage des Panoramas

Source: Remi Jouan

Oldest (Private or Public) Museum: Musée du Luxembourg in 19 Rue de Vaugirard, 75006

Musee du Luxembourg

Oldest Bank: Crédit Municipal de Paris in 55 rue des Francs-Bourgeois, 75004

Crédit Municipal de Paris

Oldest Library: Bibliothéque Mazarine in 23 Quai de Conti, 75006

Bibliothéque Mazarine

Oldest Bookshop: Librairie Galignani in 224 Rue de Rivoli, 75001

Librairie Galignani

Oldest Piano Shop: Fournitures Generales Pour Le Piano in 85 rue Pascal Paris, 75013

Fournitures Generales Pour Le Piano

Source: Linus Magnusson

Oldest Fashion House: Lanvin in 22 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, 75008

Many of Paris’ fashion houses started out as small stores which w

Lanvin

Oldest Kitchen Appliances Store: E. Dehillerin in 18-20 Rue Coquillière, 75001

E. Dehillerin

Oldest Art Store: Magasin Sennelier in 3 Quai Voltaire 75007

Magasin Sennelier

Oldest Candle Shop: Cire Trudon in 78 Rue de Seine, 75006

Candles, candles everywhere!

Cire Trudon

Oldest Cinema: Studio 28 in 10 Rue Tholoze, 75018

If Studio 28’s facade looks familiar although you’ve never seen it in person, chances are, you’ve seen Amelie a couple of times in a row.

Studio 28

Oldest Committee: Comité Champs-Élysées

Comite Champs Elysees

Source: Autoplus.fr

Castles in Paris: A Walk Down Post-Renaissance France

Château de Pierrefonds

Although today’s title suggests that there are enchanting fortresses and castles in Paris, truth is, there are none. What Paris has, however, are mansions, palaces, and chateaus which were built during the post-renaissance years. While they do not look like medieval castles which we often associate former kingdoms like France with, they do give visitors and tourists a peek into the French aristocratic way of life.

The more popular chateaus near Paris include the famed Chateau de Versailles, home to Louis XIV and his wife, Marie-Antoinette, and Château de Vincennes, which served as a prison and execution site during the Great World War and the second World War that followed. If you are visiting Paris for the first time, it may be wise to schedule a trip down to these more popular destinations, but if you’re not interested in shuffling past throngs of tourists, try the smaller chateaus, instead.

Château de Pierrefonds

Château de Pierrefonds

When we think of a castle, we immediately picture tall towers and a well-fortified estate with a nearby moat. Château de Pierrefonds in Compiègne and just north-east of Paris matches this image very well. The exterior of Pierrefonds closely resemble a military fortress because it actually served as a defense military base from the 5th to 15th centuries. AlthoughChâteau de Pierrefonds had been badly damaged by war, it was renovated in the 19th century and now looks like a medieval castle with post-renaissance features.

Château de Pierrefonds

You might have also seen Château de Pierrefonds on the silver screen. This structure was used in Merlin (BBC) and The Man in the Iron Mask (1998).

Château de Compiegne

Château de Compiegne

Another grand destination to visit is Chateau de Compiegne, a real castle turned royal residence in Compiègne, France. The exterior of this chateau was designed with Louis XIV’s preferences in mind making it one of the most elegant and most beautiful homes in France today. Beautiful gardens and unlimited greenery from all sides give this chateau a very magical feel.

Château de Compiegne

Although Château de Compiegne may not be as popular as Versailles, it still commands a healthy amount of visitors daily so make sure to schedule your trip to this chateau properly.

Château de Rambouillet

Château de Rambouillet

It’s impossible to not fall in love with Château de Rambouillet. Although it is much smaller than the royal chateaus in Vincennes, Versailles, and Fontainebleau, what Château de Rambouillet lacks in size, it makes up for through its surroundings. The beautiful garden and small pond located near the structure makes it look like a mansion from afar, but the details on the exterior of the chateau do suggest otherwise.

Château de Rambouillet

It may be difficult to schedule a visit to the chateau since it serves as the summer vacation home for France’s presidents, but it is often open on the months of April, September, and October.

Château de Langeais

Château de Langeais

Aside from Château de Pierrefonds, another palace that matches our usual description of a medieval castle is Château de Langeais. This medieval fortress has withstood so many invasions and has served as a temporary military base during the world wars that occurred in our century, but it still stands proudly today as a tourist destination. If you want to see a medieval-era structure, Château de Langeais may be a good choice. To make your trip more exciting, join the Anne of Brittany Tour where you get to dress as a lady-in-waiting or a page-boy and have your tour guide dress up in medieval garb.

Château de Langeais

For parents or more sophisticated visitors, you might want to taste the wines and spirits brewed here by experienced hands. The nearest vineyard, La Herpinière, has been the source of most Château de Langeais wines and the mastermind behind it is professional wine-maker, Christophe Verronneau.