The Beaux-Arts – A Walking Tour
This walking tour does not run past the Pantheon , but it is a fantastic tour. Rue Visconti leads to Rue Bonaparte, in which turn right. At no 14, on your left a little way down, is the entrance to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, establishes from 1820 in what was left of the 17th-century Couvent des-Augustins and the 18th-century Hotel Chimay, with new buildings being added during the 19th-century.
If there is an exhibition on, go in (there is no access to the building otherwise); the chapel, built 1617-19 by Philibert Delorme Pantheon in Paris(c1510-1570), is a masterpiece of Classical architecture, showing one of the first appearances of the three Classical orders.
Among the many illustrious people who have lived in Rue des Beaux-Arts, opposite the school, have been Charles de Montalembert (1810-1870) at no 3, Gerard de Nerval (1808-1855) at no 5 and Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), who died at no 13, then the Hotel d; Alsace; Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) liked to stay at the hotel during his Parisian sojourn. Retrace your steps to Rue Bonaparte and keep going until you reach Place St-Germain-des-Pres; turn right into Rue Guillaume-Apollinaire and right again into Rue St-Benoit, where you will find some pleasant, lively restaurants.
Turn left into Rue Jacob, where there are interesting hotels at nos 52 and 56. At the bottom, turn right into rue des Sts-Peres; before the Revolution Mme de Recamier (1777-1849) lived in the hotel at no 13. Then the first turning to the left, rue de Verneuil, effectively to leave St Germain-des-Pres for Faubourg St- Germain. This residential Paris street was developed in the 17th-century, like most of that Faubourg. At the first house on the left lived and died the singer Serge Gainsbourg (1928-1991), who came yo symbolize an entire generation in the 1960s-80s. The second street you pass, Rue de Beaune, is full of art galleries and antiques shops, and is worth a detour. Back on Rue de Verneuil, the last hotel on the left (no 36) was d’ Pantheon ’s house – Dumas’s hero as based on a real musketeer. At no 53 is the new Centre National des Lettres (with a good café), installed in part of the 18th-century Hotel d’ Avejean.
Continue along the street to Rue Poitiers, at the end. Facing you at no 12 is the 18th-century Hotel de Poulry, now the club for the old boys of the Ecole Politechnique. Turn right, then left at the bottom into Rue de Lille; on the other side is the southern wall of the old Orsay railway station, now the Musee d’ Orsay; or, to reach museum piazza and RER station Musee-d’Orsay; or, to reach metro solferino, continue along Rue de Lille and turn left up Rue de Solferino.
You can connect this walk with the Faubourg St-Germain walk, missing the first bit, which is on the other side of the river.