“Trying to make my way to the Opera a hundred cars came charging around a blind curve-corner and like all the other pedestrians I waited to let them pass and then they all started across but I waited a few seconds looking the other charging cars over, all coming from six directions.”
— Jack Kerouac, Satori in Paris
From the Opéra (Palais Garnier) to the Moulin Rouge, the 9th arrondissement is a district of distinct diversions. Originally part of the old village of Montmartre, this butterflyish-shaped neighborhood offers song, shopping, and sex. The Opéra—a spectacular Neo-Baroque confection sometimes referred to as the Palais Garnier to distinguish it from the official opera house at the Bastille—provides entertainment almost daily. Along Boulevard Haussmann, not far from the Opéra, are the “Grand Magasins,” Printemps and Galleries Lafayette—19th century department stores that are worth a visit even if you are not shopping. The area around the stores is one of high finance that many banks and insurance companies call home. But a little fun can be had at the nearby Musée Grévin, a campy wax museum “experience.”
In the north the bourgeois lifestyle of opera, shopping and banking gives way to Paris’s red light district centered along the Boulevard Clichy and Place Pigalle (nicknamed Pig Alley by American GIs after World War II). Here you can find everything from seedy peep shows to the upscale feather-and-rhinestone revues of the Moulin Rouge (technically in the 18th arrondissement). Just down the street (also technically in the 18th arrondissement) is the Musée de L’érotisme (the Erotic Museum) where peeping is elevated to an art.
A bit less explicit is the Musée de la Vie Romantique (Museum of the Romantic Life) an homage to the Parisian Romantic movement featuring memorabilia of George Sand located in the Nouvelle Athènes (new Athens) area.
These days the branché (way hip) place to be seen is the odd-ball, faux-bohemian restaurant at the Hôtel Amour (8 rue Navarin), a (reportedly) rooms-by-the-hour operation—très cool.
Christopher Measom combines his love of history, art, and travel to create books like “Paris, Wish You Were Here!” and “The Little Big Book of Ireland.” He spends most of his time in New York (an artsy historic place) working on all kinds of books for Night & Day Design.