Located on the Left-Bank of Paris, the 7th Arrondissement, known to the world as the Quartier du Palais Bourbon, and sometimes referred to as Le Faubourg; is rich with history, monuments, and filled with picturesque Parisian neighborhoods that remind us of the grandeur and elegance of that which is France. Wandering through this quintessential district located in the heart of the City of Lights, you will find the infamous Eiffel Tower, the Champ de Mars, the Hôtel des Invalides, as well as the powerhouse of the French government. The District is made up of several different quarters, sectioned off into different sub-quarters whom are named according to their descriptions. These quarters are: Quartier du Gros-Caillou, Quartier de l’Ecole Militaire, Quartier de Saint-Thomas d’Aquin, and Quartier des Invalides.
For several centuries, the 7th Arrondissement was a void, sandy, deserted plain, referred to as Garanella, a Low Latin word meaning small warren. The area was nothing like it is today; the Sainte Geneviève Abbey eventually built a mansion and cultivated crops in the plain. The mansion and farm-lands were eventually destroyed to make way for the Invalides and Ecole Militaire. The rest of the area was property of the Saint-Germain-des-Près Abbey.
The Western area of the Saint-Germain-des-Près Abbey and the Faubourg-Saint-Germain village which had developed over the years outside of King Phillip II’s perimeter wall, had begun to develop in the 17th century to the tastes of affluent families based in Paris. When King Louis XIV made his permanent residence the Palace of Versailles, elegant mansions and religious establishments were built and developed that made Le Faubourg a sort of highway to the throne. The area, which had been once a vast, void, sandy plain was now the home to the elite; hosting the French Aristocracy and Nobility and sharing the prestige of the Marais, both Districts boasting the highest concentration of hôtels particuliers (princely estates) in the city. This became the cornerstone in giving the 7th Arrondissement the elegance and prestige which has made it so well known today. During this time, the Church of St. Thomas d’Aquin was redeveloped and became a church for the elite, the affluent parish known as Faubourg-St. Germain. The second half of the 17th Century saw the Bourg de Gros-Caillou also undergo development, and make way for the infamous Hôtel Royal des Invalides, Palais Bourbon, and Ecole Militaire.
Thankfully, the 7th Arrondissement, with its affluent neighborhoods, mostly escaped the massive destruction caused by the French Revolution in 1789. However, during the 19th century, the Hausmann renovations (a mid-19th Century Urban Development Project) caused the destruction of many of the
grand estates to make way for the Boulevard Saint-Germain. In 1889, the 7th Arrondissement once again made headlines, as Gustave Eiffel built his Tower (Eiffel Tower) to captivate visitors as they passed through the structure which served as the entrance to the 1889 Exposition Universelle – World’s Fair. The Champs de Mars would display over 80 other structures that housed the world’s most innovative inventions; including, the phonograph by American Inventor, Thomas Edison, as well as a German manufactured, gas-powered motorcar. The Eiffel Tower and its elevator greeted more than two million guests during the exhibition, from the Prince of Wales, Sarah Bernhardt, and W.F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody, to the common man; all of whom marveled at the tallest man-made structure on Earth. The Tower remained the the World’s Tallest for 41 years, until the construction of New York City’s Chrysler Building in 1930.
Today, walking through the 7th Arrondissement, there is always a reminder of
the elegance and nobility. After more than 225 years since the end of the French Monarchy, the area is still referred to as Le Faubourg, for its affluence, and is still home to the symbolic French grandeur and power; being home to one of the best known monuments in the world, the Eiffel Tower, but also the majestic the Hôtel des Invalides, containing the tomb of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. The Assemblée Nationale, foreign embassies, and French Ministries have placed their strongholds and offices in the once private, princely estates.
Showcasing its progressive history, as well as breath-taking architecture and monuments; the 7th Arrondissement will always be a place of beauty and
prestige, right in the heart of the bustling city of Paris.