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An architectural walk in the 16th arrondissement

OK, we admit it – you don’t often see us in the 16th arrondissement, perhaps because it’s very residential and rather sleepy. For our money, Saint Germain (the area our hotels are in) is just as chic and ten times as hip.

But you know us, we just love exploring Paris, and ‘the 16th’ turns out to have more than its fair share of high-class charm. For example, if you like classic Parisian architecture, perfectly preserved streets straight out of a period movie, art nouveau flourishes, leafy private roads and a sweet little cemetery with a view of the EIffel Tower, this is where you should go.

So follow us, and expect a few surprises…

photos: JasonW

It’s a part of town we generally only cross without stopping, when on our way to the fountains at Saint Cloud, the Albert Kahn gardens or the ceramics museum at Sèvres, but not necessarily the first place that comes to mind when you’re looking for an area for a Sunday walk.

Well it should! A trip to the 16th will bring you calm and serve up architectural marvels on almost every street. Big stone buildings – typically Parisian and often extremely ornate – are everywhere, often whole streets of them…Many of these buildings have impressive entrances, sometimes sculpted in an art nouveau style, and there are still many servant entrances…Grandeur is omnipresent, but this doesn’t mean that all the buildings look the same. There are some art déco influences, and quite a few unusual and individual buildings that stand out from the crowd.And it’s incredible how many private streets – or ‘villas’ – there are, secure behind large gates. Such luxury! This is not the Paris we’re used to seeing…And a few forlorn examples of genteel yet rampant urbanism are still there to remind us that buildings weren’t always so high…If you’re wondering where to start, here’s a quick map of most of our walk.

Click here to see a larger map

Below, you can check out all our photos of our architectural walk.

Right at the end of our afternoon, we came across a hidden beauty, the Passy Cemetery, which is not very well known, despite being the final resting place of quite a few artistic types, such as Claude Debussy, Gabriel Fauré, Edouard Manet and Berthe Morisot.

It’s quite a small cemetery (2,600 tombs), and you can download the maps here. We loved having the Eiffel Tower and Trocadéro as a backdrop, and some of the tombs are really beautiful.As is often the case in cemeteries, it’s calm with lots of greenery, and some memorable flower arrangements…And of course, there are some great stained glass windows and mosaic work…As we’re inquisitive by nature, we wanted to know a little more about certain names that caught our attention. Like this one…‘Emperor of hairdos’ no less!

A little research reveals that this is the tomb of Antoni Cierplikowski, otherwise known as Antoine de Paris, a famous Parisian hairdresser who arrived in the city in from Poland in 1901. These flowers seem to prove that he is still loved, over 40 years after his death. A French book about his life is available (here) if you want to be his biggest fan. 😉

Stranger still, his tomb contains only his right hand, brought back from Poland in 1992 by his most successful disciple Alexandre de Paris, ‘le prince de la coiffure’, who died in 2008.

Elsewhere in the cemetery, you’ll also find an air hostess who perished in the final Concorde crash, one of the architects of the Louvre, and the rather grand tomb of Howard de Talleyrand-Périgord, Prince de Sagan and half brother of Count Georges Gustave Marie Antoine Boniface Charles de Castellane.

Howard commited suicide by shooting himself age 19 because his parents wouldn’t let him marry before he was 21. He shares his tomb with Gaston Palewski, a diplomat, politician and compagnon de la libération.For more info about the Passy Cemetery (in French), click here. You can check out all our photos below.