Despite the terrible terrorist acts in France, Paris still is the most visited city in world. The city of love, art and gourmet. The Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois district is the heart of the French capital. It spreads from the western tip of Île de la Cité to the Jardin des Tuileries, the biggest, oldest garden in Paris. Fluctuat nec mergitur. (“She is battered by the waves, but does not sink”) was the motto of the boatmen’s guild which had its headquarters here during the reign of Hugh Capet, and the phrase subsequently became the city’s own motto.
Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois surrounds the Louvre, whose buildings house a significant portion of French history. Originally built around 1190 by Philip II, ‘Augustus’, as a fortress to contain royal treasure before the monarch left to join the Crusades, the Louvre is now devoted entirely to culture, displaying Western art from the Middle Ages to 1848, treasures of Antiquity and, since 2005, Islamic art. The Church of Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois, after which the district is named, adjoins the Louvre and can be visited outside service times. The grounds of the Jardin des Tuileries host three major Paris museums: the Musée de l’Orangerie, devoted to Monet’s Nymphéas and the Jean Walter and Paul Guillaume collections, the Musée du Jeu de Paume, which exhibits contemporary art and photography, and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs with its significant fashion and textiles collection as well as a more recent section devoted to advertising.
Île de la Cité in the eastern part of the district also has some emblematic historical buildings such as the Conciergerie, the first royal residence in the city and later a forbidding prison under the Terror. It is a stone’s throw from Sainte-Chapelle, a masterpiece of the Gothic style with richly hued stained glass windows built by St Louis within the Palais de la Cité, now the Palais de Justice law courts.
The Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois district is well supplied with hotels. One of the most symbolic ones, the Meurice*****, beautifully evokes the refinement of the 18th-century French art of living and is ideally located facing the Jardin des Tuileries, sheltered from the bustle of Rue de Rivoli. Other accommodation landmarks are the Saint James & Albany**** a few metres away near the Louvre and the Brighton****, the early 19th-century hotel built by Lord Egerton where the rooms offer splendid views of the Tuileries, the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower.
At the eastern end of the district a short walk from Île de la Cité, the Best Western Ducs de Bourgogne**** has classic decor and an excellent location between this central area and the teeming Les Halles district. For visitors wishing to remain within range of some of most beautiful monuments in Paris at lunchtime, the Café Marly provides a stylish setting to enjoy a meal sitting under the arches and looking out at the Louvre and the pyramid. The Grand Louvre has modern decor and serves sophisticated, inventive cooking. It is the perfect place to meet up after a visit to the museum or a shopping spree in the Carrousel du Louvre, open from Wednesday to Monday, with 60 shops and 12 restaurants.