The best way to see Paris is undoubtedly on foot. A very walk-able city, it’s just the right size to explore a pied. Take your time and wander from A to B to take in the sights, sounds, and smells of the French capital while catching all the details.
The Seine Riverbanks
Strolling along the Seine is a no brainer. Starting at the famous Louvre pyramid, taking in the museum’s famous Cour Carree, you can pop over to the Seine banks and head to the Pont Neuf via the the Jardin de l’Infante (which Monet painted in 1867). Cross over to the Ile de la Cite and stop at the Square du Vert Galant for a beautiful panorama and vantage point for the Pont des Arts. Cross over place Dauphine, past the beautiful Conciergerie (or the famous Quai des Orfevres Police HQ) and don’t miss the Marche aux Fleurs before ending up at the un-missable Notre Dame Cathedral. Pop along the Pont St Louis onto the Ile St Louis for a welcome break at Berthillon, the legendary ice cream maker before crossing over to the Left Bank for the Jardin des Plantes or heading to the Right Bank into the Marais.
The Champs Elysees to the Palais Royal
It might seem obvious, but no visit to Paris is complete without a walk down the famous Champs Elysees. It’s even possible with kids thanks to the vast pavements and green areas that line the road from the Franklin D Roosevelt metro stop. Walk down the Champs taking in the sights from the Arc de Triomphe behind you, to the Grand Palais and the Concorde ahead. Even better, once you’ve negotiated the Concorde crossing, you’ll end up in the beautiful Tuileries Gardens that in turn lead into the Louvre’s famous carousel.
For something different, head out of the Louvre, across Rue de Rivoli (stopping at Angelina’s for a refuel) and into the Palais Royal’s garden. A hidden gem on Rue de Montpensier, the Palais Royal dates back to Richelieu’s days in 1628. Today the place combines beautiful galleries, a relaxing garden where locals play boules and Daniel Buren’s controversial black and white columns ‘art concept’ where kids can roam free or watch skaters at play.
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St Germain des Pres
Another classic, St Germain des Pres, is a must on the Paris walking tour list. Starting out from the St Michel metro, stroll away from the Seine onto Rue St Andre des Arts, delving deeper into the neighbourhood that became synonymous with the post war intellectual Parisian glitterati. Past the charming Rue de Buci and its buzzing market, boulangeries and flower stalls, meander down Rue Mazarine, where the Bistrot Mazarine is a great choice for a quick brasserie bite.
Heading in the other direction towards Odeon, you’ll come across famous addresses like Le Procope and a few minutes away, heading up Boulevard St Germain, les Deux Magots, le Café de Flore and the Brasserie Lipp, as well as plenty of shopping opportunities. It’s the ideal area to get lost in. Take Rue Mabillon for the Marche St Germain, or Rue des Canettes with its many restaurants to get to the beautiful St Sulpice Church, of Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code fame.
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This classic Parisian tour is best undertaken in comfortable footwear! Be warned, it’s packed with steps and a steep climb. Arriving at Metro Lamarck Caulaincourt take the steps up to Place Constantin Pecqueur and onto Place Dalida, named after the famous blonde bombshell chanteuse. Past Chateau des Brouillards, up Rue de l'Aubrevoir to get to the famous Maison Rose painted by Utrillo, (now a little restaurant) just next to the Musee de Montmartre.
A surprise awaits on Rue des Saules, Montmartre’s very own (tiny yet functioning) vineyard, though it’s sadly closed to the public. A few steps away on Rue St Vincent, you’ll find the famous Lapin Agile cabaret, the oldest bar in Paris, dating back to 1860, with famous past patrons including Picasso and Modigliani. At Rue du Mont Cenis you can start the ascension to the Sacre Coeur or continue onto the Parc Marcel Bleustein Blanchet before taking the right hand exit which leads to the famously picturesque Romano-Byzantine Basilica. The views are worth the climb. For a more low key religious visit, try the Eglise St Pierre de Montmartre along Rue Azais, one of the capital’s eldest dating back to 1147 and set just off the famous Place du Tertre, where tourists congregate to watch the local artists touting their paintings and caricatures. True art lovers should stop at the Espace Dalí Montmartre on Rue Polbiot home to 300 of his works.
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The Pere Lachaise
It might seem like an odd choice, but the Pere Lachaise cemetery is actually one of Paris’ most relaxing spaces. Quiet, as it should be, it’s just the place for a relaxing stroll and the perfect place to pay your respects to some legendary figures. Sacred ground, its atmosphere is quite unique. Although most know it as Jim Morrison’s final resting place, it’s also where Moliere and Marcel Marceau rest for eternity.
By starting your tour at the rue de la Reunion entrance you can join the Avenue Circulaire, following the outside wall, to the Mur des Fédérés where in May 1871, the last communards were executed. Just nearby you’ll also see the memorial to victims of Nazism. At the Avenue Carette, on the right, resides Oscar Wilde, who died in Paris in 1900 and in division 86, you’ll find Marcel Proust’s marble tomb. Along the Avenue Transversale No.2, turn at Avenue des Thuryas to Chemin Casimir Delavigne to visit Honoré de Balzac. Other residents include Rossini, Piaf and Maria Callas amongst others.