France in St Petersburg Walking Tour
France in St Petersburg Walking Tour
Start time: 11.00
Duration: 3 hours
Group size: max 5 PAX
The tour is available evert day. It is run in English, French and Russian.
Meet your guide at the Spit of St Basil Island.
Join one of our walking tours in St Petersburg-France in St Petersburg Walking Tour to learn about French influence in the Russian Imperial capital.
For several centuries, France had a strong cultural influence on St Petersburg, the former capital of the Russian Empire. French architects and sculptors worked on creating the unique character of the Northern capital, French governesses taught the children of St Petersburg nobility, tailors from Paris designed elegant dresses and French chefs from all corners of the country were delivering culinary masterpieces. And, of course, the language of Moliere was the lingua franca of St Petersburg high society.
- We will start our walking tour in the heart of the city — at the Spit of Vasilyevsky Island — where we will learn how the city was planned by Emperor Peter the Great together with French architect Jean-Baptiste Le Blond. We will speak in more detail about the buildings comprising the Spit ensemble — a project of neoclassical architect Jean-Francois Thomas de Thomon — and the Troitsky (Trinity) Bridge, built by the company of the brothers Batignolles.
- As we cross the Neva River via the Palace Bridge, we will see along the embankment the Kuntskamera building, the first museum in Russia, where astronomer Joseph Delisle worked in his observatory.
- Now we arrive at the Bronze Horsemen, a symbolic sculpture of St Petersburg located on the banks of the Neva. We owe its design to sculptor Etienne Falconet and his pupil Marie-Anne Collot. Behind us is St Isaac’s Cathedral, once the largest cathedral in the country. The project involved many French artists — its design was carried out by architect Auguste de Montferrand and engineer Agustin de Betancourt. Located nearby are the Myatlevykh House, a stately home which welcomed as its guest French philosopher Denis Diderot, invited to Russia by Empress Catherine the Great, and the Lobanov-Rostovsky Palace, designed by Auguste de Montferrand.
- Let’s head over to Palace Square, at the centre of which we will see another creation of Montferrand — the Alexander Column. Here we will find the majestic Winter Palace better known as the Hermitage. Housed inside is one of the museum’s prized possessions — Da Vinci’s Madonna and Child with Flowers — once in the collection of the Benois family, descending from France. Meanwhile, one of the buildings of the complex, known as the Small Hermitage, we owe to French architect Jean-Baptiste Vallin de la Mothe.
- Walking towards the Moika River embankment, will we pass by the building of the former Wolff & Beranget confectionary – a cafe once frequented by many famous writers, including poet Alexander Pushkin. On the opposite side of Nevsky Prospekt, the city’s main artery, we will see the building, which once housed a restaurant of famous French chef Pierre Talon.
Continuing down Nevsky we will see the Singer company building, constructed by Pavel Suzor. The nearby Kazan Cathedral also has a French connection: it is the final resting place of Field Marshall Mikhail Kutuzov who led Russian troops during the French invasion of 1812 Inside the cathedral, military banners and keys to French fortresses have been placed on its walls. On the other side, we will see the Church of Saint Catherine known as the wedding place of Yekaterina Goncharova and Georges d’Anthes, a French military officer who fatally wounded poet Alexandr Pushkin in a duel.
Continuing down Nevsky Prospekt, we will pass the Gostiny Dvor merchant court, also designed by Vallin de la Mothe. We’ll end our journey at the Anichkov Bridge, a city landmark decorated by four sculptures called the Horse Tamers. Those who wish to continue exploring can take a short walk down the Fontanka River and visit the museum dedicated to the works of renowned jeweller Karl Faberge.
- Professional licensed guide
- Food and drinks
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