Rue de Rivoli is one of the most iconic streets in Paris: heaven on earth for shopaholics as well art and history lovers!
Follow the guide!
💡 The Captain’s tip 💡
Want to find out more about the history of Paris? Captain Ulysses highly recommends this free guided tour of the capital. It’s up to you to choose how much you wish to tip the tour guide!
Brief history of the Rue de Rivoli
Connecting the east and west of Paris, the Rue de Rivoli was built in several stages during the 19th century.
1800’s – Under the Ancien Régime, there had already been talk of linking the east and west of the capital by a large avenue, but it was not until 1801 – that Napoleon Bonaparte ordered the construction of a large thoroughfare between the Tuileries Garden and the rue Saint-Florentin. This part of the street, which faces the Tuileries, houses luxurious boutiques under arcades designed by the architects Percier and Fontaine.
1840s and 1850s – to the great displeasure of Victor Hugo, the Rue de Rivoli was extended to the Rue de Marengo, then to the Hôtel de Ville and finally to the Place Saint-Paul by Baron Hausmann. Hugo wrote: “The old Paris is no more than an eternal street / Which stretches elegantly and straight as an I / Saying: Rivoli, Rivoli, Rivoli”.
🤔 To what does the Rue de Rivoli owe its name? 🤔
The Rue de Rivoli owes its name to the most famous battle of the First Italian Campaign led by Napoleon Bonaparte: the battle of Rivoli Veronese, a small town located in the Province of Verona in Veneto.
Visiting the Rue de Rivoli
Put on good shoes! The Rue de Rivoli is one of the longest avenues in the capital… That said, if you don’t like walking, you can always take the bus or the metro to follow the famous Parisian avenue!
A few figures – the Rue de Rivoli is:
- 3 kilometers long (3070 meters to be precise)
- 20.7 to 22 meters wide
- cut by 54 streets
- straddling the 4th and1st arrondissements of Paris
The main monuments of the Rue de Rivoli
The Hôtel de Ville (City Hall)
Originally built in 1357, the Hôtel de Ville de Paris undewent several expansions over the centuries, notably in 1533, 1837-48 and 1874-82.
With its imposing 143-meter long façade, the Hôtel de Ville is definitely worth a visit. Its current neo-Renaissance appearance is the result of the work of 19th century architects Théodore Ballu and Édouard Deperthes.
It regularly houses free temporary exhibitions retracing the history of the city of Paris.
The BHV (Bazar de l’Hôtel de Ville)
Located in front of the Hôtel de Ville, the Bazar de l’Hôtel de Ville was founded in 1856 by the Lyon merchant François-Xavier Ruel. The store aimed to be “the best market in the city of Paris” and gradually took over neighboring buildings. When its founder died in 1900, the Bazar de l’Hôtel de Ville counted no less than 800 employees!
The famous rotunda of the department store was built in 1912 by the architect Auguste Roy on the initiative of the grandson of François-Xavier Ruel.
The BHV is now part of the Galerie Lafayette group. It was completely renovated in 2013.
The Tour Saint-Jacques
The 54 meter-high Tour Saint-Jacques dominates the Rue de Rivoli and the Châtelet district. The 16th century tower, which stands alone today, was originally built as the flamboyant Gothic bell tower of the Saint-Jacques-la-Boucherie church, which was destroyed during the Revolution.
A statue of Blaise Pascal, who conducted scientific experiments in the Tour Saint-Jacques, stands at the base of the tower.
The Tour Saint-Jacques offers guided tours (booking required). Find out more here.
59 Rivoli is a former artist’s squat – now legalized – housing since 1999 a contemporary art gallery and hosting various concerts and events. The site also welcomes French and foreign artists in residence.
Find out more here.
Entirely renovated between 2005 and 2021 (for no less than 750 million euros!), the Samaritaine is an art nouveau and art deco department store which was founded by the Parisian merchant Ernest Cognacq in 1870.
The store was originally 48 square meters and grew dramatically over the years: it covered up to 30,000 square meters in its heyday! Its current surface is now “only” 10,000 square meters.
You’ll find fashion, perfume, make-up and jewelry departments, as well as restaurant areas and a beauty area with a spa, treatment rooms and a hammam.
The Louvre Palace / The Louvre Museum
Located between the Tuileries Garden and the church of Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois, the Louvre Palace is home to the most famous museum in the capital (and in the world?): the Louvre Museum, of course!
This immense palace (the largest in Europe) exhibits vast artistic and historical collections ranging from antiquity to 1848 (head for the Musée d’Orsay and the Musée Pompidou to discover collections of art after 1848).
Among the most famous works on display in the Louvre Museum are the Mona Lisa, of course, but also the Venus de Milo, Géricault’s Raft of the Medusa and Eugène Delacroix’s Liberty Guiding the People.
⚠️: the Louvre Museum is a victim of its own success! So Captain Ulysses really recommends that you opt for a skip-the-line ticket in order to avoid the endless lines at the entrance to the museum.
And to make sure you don’t miss out on any of the Louvre’s treasures, the Captain recommends opting either for an audioguideor a guided tour.
The Musée des Arts décoratifs de Paris (Museum of Decorative Arts)
Nestled in a wing of the Louvre Palace, the Musée des arts décoratifs houses one of the largest collections of decorative arts in the world. These are distributed in the museum chronologically: Middle Ages / Renaissance / 17th and 18th centuries / 19th century / Art Nouveau – Art Deco / Modern – Contemporary).
Find out more here.
The Oratoire du Louvre (Oratory)
Founded in 1616 and enlarged between 1740 and 1745, the Oratoire du Louvre is a former Catholic church in the Baroque style, disused during the Revolution and converted into a Protestant temple in 1811.
The Oratory of the Louvre is open to visitors. Be sure to check out the statue of Coligny outside the temple and the beautiful organ inside the building.
The Hôtel du Louvre
Founded in 1855 on the initiative of Napoleon III, the Hôtel du Louvre was moved to its present location in 1887. This 5* Haussmannian hotel is still in activity today.
Over the years, the hotel has welcomed famous personalities such as Camille Pissarro, Sigmund Freud and Arthur Conan Doyle.
Would you like to treat yourself to a stay in this historic gem? You can check rates and availability here: Hotel du Louvre.
Founded in 1835 by Charles-Augustin Meurice and nestled in an elegant neo-classical building, Le Meurice is undoubtedly one of the most iconic palaces in the capital.
Iconic chef Alain Ducasse has been officiating in the the kitchens of this legendary hotel since 2013. Gourmets will also be able to taste the trompe-l’oeil sweets concocted by pastry chef Cédric Grolet in the Pâtisserie du Meurice.
Would you like to treat yourself to an exceptional stay in this mythical Parisian palace? Click here to check rates and availability: Le Meurice.
The Tuileries Garden
Located west of the Rue de Rivoli, the Tuileries Garden is the largest and oldest French garden in the capital. Classified as a historical monument, it also belongs to the site of the banks of the Seine listed as World Heritage by UNESCO.
Among the garden’s mighty the guide trees and delightful water features, you’ll find the stunning Musée de l’Orangerie, as well as the Jeu de Paume Arts Center (two favorites of Captain Ulysse in Paris).
⚠️ Reservation required ⚠️
From now on, visitors must book their tickets to the Musée de l’Orangerie online.
To book your ticket, click here: tickets to the Musée de l’Orangerie OR combined tickets Musée de l’Orangerie + Musée d’Orsay.
The Place de la Concorde
With its 8.64 hectares of surface (360 meters long and 210 meters wide), the Place de la Concorde, which marks the end of the Rue de Rivoli, is the largest square in the capital.
Designed in the 18th century in a neo-classical style, the square is the work of the architect Ange-Jacques Gabriel.
Do not miss the 3300-year-old obelisk erected in the center of the square: it originally comes from the temple of Amon in Luxor, Egypt. The Egyptians gave it to France as a thank you gift for the work of the Egyptologist Jean-François Champollion who was the first to translate hieroglyphs.
🏠 The famous residents of the Rue de Rivoli 🏠
Unsurprisingly, the Rue de Rivoli has hosted its share of famous personalities over the centuries. These include:
– Eugène Ionesco (#14)
– Joseph Kessel (#28)
– François-René de Chateaubriand (#194)
– Camille Pissarro (#204)
– Leo Tolstoy (#206)
Shopping on the Rue de Rivoli
The luxury stores of the Rue de Rivoli are concentrated to the west, in the oldest part of the street, under the arcades facing the Jardin des Tuileries, between the Place de la Concorde and the Louvre Palace.
The Place Vendôme and Rue Saint-Honoré – famous worldwide for their very high-end boutiques – are right around the corner.
And for a trip back in time to discover the 19th century Parisian department stores, head for the BHV and La Samaritaine. You will also find on the Rue de Rivoli a large shopping center: the Carrousel du Louvre.
If your bank account cannot take shopping in the luxurious boutiques of the Rue de Rivoli, no worries: you’ll find much more affordable boutiques
to the east, near Châtelet and the Hôtel de Ville. These include, for example:
- San Marina (#16)
- The Body Shop (#68)
- Bershka (#65)
- Oysho (#74)
- Stradivarius (#74)
- Sephora (#75)
- Mango (#82)
- L’Occitane en Provence (#84)
- Zara (#88)
- Calzedonia (#96)
- Minelli (#96)
- Monki (#128)
- Ikea Decoration (#144 )
Attention, foodies and gourmet lovers! For a sweet stop on the rue de Rivoli, Capitaine Ulysse recommends two spots in particular:
La Pâtisserie du Meurice by Cédric Grolet (#228 ) – you’ll find iconic trompe-l’oeil sweets concoted by famous pastry chef Cédric Grolet, who was voted Best Pastry Chef in the World several times!
Angelina (n°226 ) – in an incredible Bel Époque décor, this incredible pastry shop pastry shop has been delighting food lovers since its foundation in 1903. If you want to follow in the footsteps of Coco Chanel, ask for table 45!
Bookshops of the Rue de Rivoli
Head under the arcades of the Rue de Rivoli! You’ll find two emblematic bookstores, well known to Parisian book lovers:
Smith & Son Paris (n°248) – an incredible English-speaking bookstore ( if you’re in the market for books in English, the Captain also highly recommends Shakespeare & Co, which is quite the institution in Paris)
Librairie Galignani (n°224 ) – the large wooden bookcases of this beautiful bookshop are filled with beautiful books in French and English.
💡 Tourist area 💡
The sections of Rue de Rivoli located between numbers 91 to 155 and 156 to 258 are located in the tourist area. This means that the stores located on this part o the street are open on Sundays.
You’ll ffind no less than
7 metro stations along the street: Saint Paul (line 1), Hôtel de Ville (lines 1 and 11), Châtelet (lines 1, 4, 7, 11 and 14 / RER A, B and D), Louvre – Rivoli (line 1), Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre (lines 1 and 7), Tuileries (line 1) and Concorde (lines 1, 8 and 12).
👉 Skip the lines in Paris: book your tickets and tours in advance!
👉 Looking for advice and recommendations? Here are all of Captain Ulysses’ suggestions!
🛏️ Accommodation: Looking for an accommodation in Paris? Good news: there are plenty of options in the French capital. To book your hotel in Paris, Captain Ulysses highly recommends the website Booking.com. From cheap hostels to luxury palaces, you’ll have plenty of options to chose from. As for the localisation, it depends both on your budget and on what you’re looking for. If you can’t afford staying in the most expensive areas of the capital, the Captain recommends that you look for a hotel in the 12th or 13th arrondissements: they’re not as central, but are very well connected to the centre of Paris. The Buttes au Cailles, which looks just like a small village, is one of the Captain’s favourite neighbourhoods in Paris. If you’d rather stay in a chic and sophisticated hotel, here are the best 3 options according to the Captain: the St. James , the Dokhan’s and the Metropolitan .
🎟️ Activities : in order to book skip-the-line tickets, tours and activities in Paris, Captain Ulysses highly recommends GetYourGuide and Civitatis. Guided tours, entrance tickets, cruises, unusual activities: there’s plenty to chose from. If you want to avoid queuing to get into museums and monuments, the Captain suggests opting for skip-the-line tickets.
⛵ City cruises: Can you really visit Paris without going on a cruise on the Seine? The Captain loves sailing on the river and admiring the emblematic monuments of the French capital, especially at nightfall. You will find a large selection of cruises in Paris here.
🎫 City cards : If you’re planning on staying in Paris for a few days, you should definitely consider investing in a city card giving access to the capital’s top museums and landmarks. which includes access to the most famous monuments in Paris.
🚐 Transfers: the parisian airports are located outside the city and getting to the city centre can be quite expensive.
If your budget is tight, the Captain recommends the RATP shuttles that will drop you off at Opera if you’re coming from Roissy airport and at Denfert-Rochereau if you’re coming from Orly airport.
But for a few extra euros, you can book a transfer that will take you directly to your hotel.
If you are traveling in a group, this option is all the more interesting. Find out more here.
🚌 Transports: While you’ll be able to explore part of the city on foot, you will have to use the parisian public transports to explore some of the capital’s landmarks. In order to avoid accumulating (and losing) metro tickets, the Captain recommends opting for an unlimited transport pass. You can buy it directly at in any metro station.
Open tour buses (audioguides included) are also a good option.
If you’d rather explore Paris on a boat, you will love the batobus, a river shuttle on the Seine !
✈️ Flights, trains & buses : Good news: getting to Paris is quite easy! If you’re planning on flying to the capital, the Captain recommends Skyscanner, an online comparator which is perfect for finding the best deals. If your dates are flexible, you can even compare prices over several weeks. Paris is also easily accessible by train and bus. To book your tickets, the Captain highly recommends Omio, which integrates the offer of 207 train and bus companies in 44 countries.