A bit of history: the Village of Passy
The area of Passy is located in the heart of the 16th arrondissement of Paris along the Seine River between the Trocadéro Gardens and the ‘Maison de la Radio’. It is a peaceful and smart area made charming thanks to its luxurious buildings Belle Epoque or Art Nouveau style, its cobbled alleys, high stairs and great views on the Eiffel Tower.
The Village of Passy was born when a community of monks attracted by the vineyards and the beautiful views on the Seine River settled there in 1493. The famous French writer Honoré de Balzac moved there in 1840 and one can still visit the house where he put the finishing touches to ‘La Comédie Humaine’. In 1860 the Village of Passy was annexed to the City of Paris and it has then been gradually modernized. Most of the beautiful buildings and houses one can see today were built in the early nineties and Passy is now a very chic and sought-after residential area thanks to its luxurious houses with magnificent views on the Eiffel Tower.
Departure of the walk: metro station Passy
I invite you to discover this picturesque and beautiful area through a peaceful walk and to start it at the metro station Passy (line 6). In this place the railway is elevated and offers nice views on the surrounding buildings… And if one has arrived from the south one has just crossed the Seine on the Bir Hakeim bridge and be able to admire the Eiffel Tower on the right side of the bridge.
After leaving the platform you have to choose between two stairs, one downward leading to the banks of the Seine and to the ‘Maison de la Radio’ and the other one upward leading to the rue Raynouard and to the ‘Maison de Balzac’. Get downstairs and reach the Square de l’Alboni. Before taking the rue des Eaux on your right I suggest that you walk straight ahead in the rue de l’Alboni under the elevated railway. At the end of it wooden stairs lead to a small platform from which the views on the Seine River and on the underside of the Bir Hakeim bridge are amazing!
1st stop: the rue des eaux and the Musée du vin
Then retrace your steps to the Square de l’Alboni and turn into the rue des Eaux (Waters street). You will see in the background the entrance of the Musée du Vin (Wine Museum) located on a small square, the Square Charles Dickens. I have not visited it but I have been told that it is worth seeing especially for its environment and atmosphere. Indeed the museum is located in underground galleries which were former limestone quarries and that the monks of the Couvent de Passy used as cellars in 15th century. A glass of wine can be added to the visit (at the extra cost of 5€) and the museum also offers a restaurant. What I find the most amusing is the location of this museum, so close to the ‘rue des Eaux’, whose name comes from the mineral springs which were discovered in this area in 17th and 18th centuries!
2nd stop: the Parc de Passy
Retrace your steps in the rue des Eaux and turn right towards the Parc de Passy. The buildings in the Avenue Fremiet on your left and in the surroundings streets are really beautiful! These Belle Epoque houses were built in 1913 and designed by the French architect Albert Veque. I love their elegant fronts and balconies!
The Parc de Passy is a haven of peace for the local people and one can meet there after school many families or nurses with children. It offers a playground for kids, many benches and lawns where to have a rest but also a free wifi hotspot… and contrary to appearances it is not a private garden but a public park. It is surrounded by elegant recent buildings behind which appears the top of the Eiffel Tower.
3rd stop: the rue Berton and the turkish Embassy
Get out of the park in the Avenue Marcel Proust and admire in front of you the big stairs which lead to the rue Raynouard. Do not climb them and turn left in the avenue. At the end of it one can see the only Hotel Particulier remaining in Passy, the Hôtel de Lamballe, which has been occupied by the Turkish Embassy since 1954. The country has also given the name of its capital to the nearby street, the rue d’Ankara.
At the corner of the rue d’Ankara starts one of the most charming and unsual streets of Paris: the rue Berton. This very narrow cobbled path runs between two high walls. I like to walk in this street which widens in its second part and leads to the very smart rue Raynouard! You can either walk to the end of the rue Berton or climb the stairs in its middle to reach the rue Raynouard.
4th stop: the Maison de Balzac
From the rue Raynouard one can take advantage of beautiful views on the surrounding buildings and monuments… including the Eiffel Tower! At number 47 of the street one cannot miss a lovely white house with green shutters surrounded by a charming garden and offering amazing views. This is the Maison de Balzac, where the famous French writer moved in 1840 under an assumed name so as to escape his creditors. He lived there seven years during which he completed his major work: ‘La Comédie Humaine’. The Maison de Balzac is really worth the visit: The entrance is free of charge and one can see there the study where Balzac used to write, a small intimate wooden room, and also a very interesting genealogy with all the characters of ‘La Comédie Humaine’. Guess how many characters Balzac created… 2500! Really impressive! And do not miss the garden around the house: so peaceful and inspirational! THE place where to read or write…
5th stop: the rue de l’annonciation
After visiting the Maison de Balazc I suggest that you take the rue de l’Annonciation which is immediately there on the opposite side of the rue Raynouard. The first part of this street is peaceful and quiet with smart shops and leads to a lovely square where the Church Notre Dame de la Grâce de Passy is located. I invite you to enter the Church, rather modern inside, and above all to walk around it in the rue Jean-Bologne. In the back of the Church one can enjoy another pleasant square where to have a gourmet break. I love the tearoom Thé Cool for a salad or a cup of tea with a piece of cake: Everything is good, the atmosphere is very relaxed and the decor whether sitting inside or on the terrace, is really pleasant!
Then retrace your steps to the rue de l’Annonciation. The second part of this street, between the rue Jean-Bologne and the rue de Passy is pedestrian, much busier and more shopping, with restaurants, bakeries, greengrocers, wine or cheese merchants, … Do not miss the cake shop: Les Merveilleux: so beautiful, so appetizing… and so good! I have the same shop nearby my home and love their cakes, especially the assorted mini-cakes!
6th stop: impasse des carrières
The rue de l’Annonciation ends Place de Passy, a very busy circle. One will regret the peace and quiet of the beginning of the walk! Turn right in the rue de Passy. It is time for shopping if you wish as the rue de Passy is the main road of the area and offers a lot of fashion shops: All the fashion brands are present. But if you wish to enjoy some peace and quiet again I recommend you to turn in the third street on your left: Impasse des Carrières. The contrast with the rue de Passy is striking! No more traffic noise; one can hear the birds singing! The place is charming, looks a bit like countryside and houses a junk shop and a sake bar with a hushed atmosphere. It is in fact the head office of Foodex, a company specialized in the importation and distribution of Japanese products.
End of the walk: Back to the metro
In the rue Claude Chahu, which is the next street after the Impasse des Carrières, one can admire a beautiful Art Nouveau building which was designed in 1903 by the architect Charles Klein and the ceramist Emile Muller. The front side and the ceramics inside the hall are both worth seeing. This is our last stop. To go back to the metro Passy retrace your steps in the rue de Passy, turn left in the rue Chernovitz and left again in the rue Raynouard. At the level of 9 rue Raynouard do not miss the entrance of the Rue des eaux, long stairs going down to the departure of our walk!
Practical information : Musée du Vin – 5 square Charles Dickens 75016 Paris
Maison de Balzac – 47 rue Raynouard 75016 Paris
Christine Bokobza – Good Morning Paris B&B – www.goodmorningparis.fr