Places to visit in Paris

An Hour in Paris, Reversed: Walking Back Through Time in a Franco-Russian Landscape


Start your hour-long exploration at Port Debilly. This port is positioned near Avenue de New York along the Seine and offers a splendid view of the Eiffel Tower. As you gaze at this iconic landmark, ponder some of its lesser-known facts, appreciating the complex history that adds depth to its towering silhouette.

From Port Debilly, approach Rue Coqnacq Jay in the 7th arrondissement. Take a leisurely walk along this architectural blend of old and new. Look out for the building inscribed with "Dubinsky and Fidler Architects, 1950," paying homage to the contributions of the Russian community to the cultural tapestry of Paris.

Crossing the Seine, you'll reach Pont Alexandre III. Stand in the middle of this bejewelled bridge and take in the elaborate decorations that capture Franco-Russian friendship. Notice the Grand Palais and Petit Palais in the distance, symbols of Paris's artistic heritage.

Conclude your journey at Les Invalides on Avenue Maréchal Gallieni. Looking back, you'll appreciate the panoramic view of Pont Alexandre III, and perhaps you'll feel the deeper historical and cultural connections that make Paris a city like no other.

Languages: EN
Author & Co-authors
Nina Karelina (author)
2.62 km
1h 43 m
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Uploaded by Nina Karelina

The intersection of Avenue du Président Wilson and Rue de la Manutention is situated in the 16th arrondissement of Paris. The Avenue du Président Wilson was named to honour Woodrow Wilson, the 28th U.S. President, to commemorate his contributions to ending World War I. The naming occurred in 1918, right after the war. Rue de la Manutention, on the other hand, gets its name from the French word for "handling," referring to its historical role related to handling goods near the Seine River.

Before the French Revolution, the area was not as developed as it is today; it was mainly composed of farmlands and some estates. It wasn't the bustling hub that it has become. The district underwent significant changes throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, becoming a prestigious residential area. Numerous writers, artists, and politicians have lived in the 16th arrondissement, adding layers of history and culture.

As for notable events, the area has been a focal point during various periods, especially the late 19th and early 20th centuries when Paris evolved into a global cultural and intellectual hub. Given its proximity to several museums like the Palais de Tokyo and important landmarks, it remains a significant point of interest for those exploring the depth of Parisian culture.

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Port Debilly is located in the 16th arrondissement of Paris, near Avenue de New York and the banks of the Seine River. Named after a French general, Gabriel-Auguste Debilly, who died during the Napoleonic Wars, this area serves as a docking point for boats. It offers a fantastic vantage point for viewing the Eiffel Tower. The name "Port Debilly" was officially given in 1864, commemorating the general's contributions.

The view of the Eiffel Tower from Port Debilly is quite spectacular, especially during sunset when the Tower is backlit, creating a mesmerizing silhouette. It's a perfect spot for photography or enjoying the iconic structure's beauty.

As for lesser-known facts about the Eiffel Tower: 1) The Eiffel Tower was initially intended to be a temporary structure, lasting just 20 years, as part of the 1889 Exposition Universelle. 2) Gustave Eiffel, the engineer behind the Tower, had a private apartment at the top, where he hosted esteemed guests like Thomas Edison. 3) The Tower serves as a giant lightning rod, offering a pathway for lightning to pass safely to the ground, protecting the surrounding area.

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The pedestrian bridge connecting Port Debilly to Avenue David Ben Gurion is the Passerelle Debilly. This elegant iron footbridge was built for the Exposition Universelle in 1900 by architects Jean Résal and Amédée Alby. It is a functional bridge and an architectural landmark visited by tourists and locals alike.

On any given day, you'll find people taking strolls, capturing photographs, or simply enjoying the view of the Eiffel Tower and the Seine River. The bridge is often a venue for festivals and city events, becoming a dynamic part of Paris's urban life.

As for Avenue David Ben Gurion, it is named after Israel's first Prime Minister. Although Ben Gurion didn't have a direct connection to Paris like other figures commemorated in the city's street names might have, the naming honours the broader Franco-Israeli relationship and the role Ben Gurion played in the founding of Israel.

The bridge and the avenue serve as symbols of Paris's multifaceted history and connection to global events and figures, making it a microcosm of the city's rich cultural tapestry.

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The Cathedral of the Holy Trinity is an Orthodox church near the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The church serves as a cultural and spiritual centre for the Russian community in Paris and is closely linked to the Russian Orthodox Spiritual and Cultural Center nearby. The cathedral was consecrated in 2016, although Russian Orthodox churches have existed in Paris since the 19th century.

The Russian-speaking community in Paris is significant, numbering in the tens of thousands. Their influence in the city dates back to the early 20th century, following the Russian Revolution when many intellectuals and artists fled to Paris. The community experienced a renaissance during the latter half of the 20th century, bolstered by immigration waves in the 1990s and 2000s.

Currently, the Russian community continues to thrive, contributing to the rich cultural mosaic of Paris. Various Russian-owned businesses, schools, and organizations are found throughout the city.

Notable figures from this community include painter Marc Chagall and writer Vladimir Nabokov. Their work has significantly impacted French culture, integrating Russian art and literature elements into the local cultural landscape. Both figures embody the enduring and multifaceted relationship between Russia and France, reflected through their contributions to art and literature.

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Rue Coqnacq Jay, located in the 7th arrondissement of Paris, has a name that doesn't immediately reveal its history. The street is named after François Coqnacq and Dominique Jay, municipal officials in the early 19th century. They were primarily involved in the urban development of the area.

Architecturally, the street features a mix of 19th-century buildings and more modern structures. However, one of the most intriguing aspects is the building with the inscription "Dubinsky and Fidler Architects, 1950." This refers to architects Igor Dubinsky and Anatole Fidler, who were part of the Russian émigré community in Paris. 1950 was a time of reconstruction and revival in post-war Paris, and this building symbolizes that phase.

The street doesn't just have French history but also hints at the diverse influences that have shaped Paris. Russian architects like Dubinsky and Fidler were part of a wave of Russian influence that began in the early 20th century, especially after the Russian Revolution, which brought many intellectuals, artists, and professionals to Paris. Their contributions are a lasting part of the city's multicultural fabric.

So, Rue Coqnacq Jay serves as an architectural and historical mosaic, showcasing both French urban development and the indelible mark left by the Russian community in Paris.

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Standing in the shadow of Les Invalides along Avenue Maréchal Gallieni, the view of Pont Alexandre III is genuinely captivating. Named after Tsar Alexander III, who ratified the Franco-Russian Alliance, this bridge symbolizes the deep-rooted friendship between France and Russia. During the Exposition Universelle, it was inaugurated in 1900 in a ceremony attended by Tsar Nicholas II, Alexander's son.

From here, you can see how the bridge connects Les Invalides and the Champs-Élysées, spanned by arches adorned with ornate lampposts and cherubs. It's a backdrop for various events, including Paris's iconic Bastille Day celebrations and fashion shoots.

Nearby, the Grand Palais and Petit Palais add artistic and cultural flair to the area. Often, you'll find boats sailing under the bridge, tourists taking photos, and newlyweds capturing their blissful moments. It's not just a bridge; it's a testament to enduring relationships, a piece of art that has been part of many historical events, both joyful and sorrowful.

So, standing here on Avenue Maréchal Gallieni, Pont Alexandre III feels like more than stone and metal. It feels like a living narrative that intertwines two nations through diplomacy, beauty, and shared moments in time.

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