A Monumental View: The Trocadéro Plaza
Though it has been modified and restored in structure, today’s Trocadéro Plaza remains firmly rooted in its purpose. Built in 1878 for use and display in the 1937 World’s Fair, the Trocadéro Palace is the only original building to have survived that event (Musée de L’Homme). As for the palace itself, the elaborate and ornate center section was removed in 1935 and transformed into the esplanade that is now the Trocadéro Plaza (Musée de L’Homme). A wide expanse of perfect symmetry and splendor, the Plaza is an extremely popular tourist site in that it boasts one of the best views of the Eiffel Tower that Paris has to offer.
While I expected to be surrounded by nothing but tourists at this particular site, I was only partially right. The Plaza’s placement in the 16th arrondissement makes it very attractive to locals and tourists, and both halves of the Trocadéro palace are full of things to see and do. The left wing houses the Musée de L’Homme (translated: “The Museum of Man”), an archaeology and anthropology museum—one that has the palace’ original glass ceiling from 1878 (Musée de L’Homme). The right wing is now the location of the Cité de l'Architecture et du Patrimoine, a museum dedicated to Parisian architecture and monuments. Seeing as how both massive museums are still in the design of the former palace, I imagine that each would take a day or two to fully experience.
As for the plaza’s monumental view of the Eiffel Tower, the entire area is usually very crowded with visitors and vendors at any given time. Having visited the site on several occasions, I quickly realized that the space itself has countless uses, for countless motives. I witnessed several types of photo shoots: impromptu, planned, amateur, and professional. Street vendors sell everything from hats to water bottles to miniature Parisian monuments. On pleasant days, couples cuddle together by the fountain while families roller-skate and scooter nearby on the open asphalt behind them. On chilly, windy, or even over-cast days, the view of the photogenic Eiffel tower and its placement in the Champ du Mars is still spectacular. When the sun goes down, the hats for-sale disappear, and vendors silently switch to selling blankets and bottles of champagne. There is lots of room for picnicking, a quick photo, even a street performance. Whether you’re alone or with company, the plaza’s lively ambiance can reel any visitor in, tourist or local, and the fantastic view of Paris might even convince you to stay awhile.