Disclaimer: This walking tour is only scratches the surface of Paris. In no way should the reader consider this tour to be comprehensive.
The Bastille monument, right between the 11th and 12th arrondisements, is the perfect place to begin a walking tour of Paris. The history of the monument and its accessibility have made this area the center of one of Paris’ most up and coming districts. From the monument, head north on Blvd. Beaumarchais, and then left on Rue des Francs Bourgeois to reach Place des Vosges. This open and sunny park is a great place to relax, and get a breath of fresh air from the bustle of the city. From Place des Vosges keep strolling west on Rue des Francs Bourgeois. The Marais district is a wealth of boutique shops and restaurants, and has a great selection of places to stop and grab a coffee.
After a few blocks take a left on rue Vieille du Temple until you reach Rue de Rivoli, one of Paris’ busiest streets and main shopping drags. Head West on Rue de Rivoli until you reach Hôtel de Ville, the political center of Paris and a truly beautiful work of architecture. In the winter months, there’s a large ice-skating rink in front of the building, making the large courtyard a picturesque place to sit and sip on a cup of ‘vin chaud’ (warm wine). From here head south across Pont d’Arcole, onto the Île de la Cité, until you reach Notre Dame. Walking through the Cathedral is quick, free, and completely worth it: the stained glass is beautiful and the sheer dimensions of the structure are amazing.
After Notre Dame, go across the river to the Left Bank and move west again, taking the time to briefly wander in the Latin Quarter and stopping at fabled stores like Shakespeare and Co. The Saint Michel area is great for grabbing lunch and is very student oriented (being near the Sorbonne), resulting in throngs of college-aged students grabbing crepes and paninis at all hours of the day. As you stroll along the Left Bank of Seine, stop to check out a few of the small stands that offer everything from picturesque artwork to touristy souvenirs to great works of literature. The Pont Neuf, and the small park on the edge of the Île de la Cité are great places to take in the views and enjoy being in the physical center of the city.
Finally, go across the Pont du Carrousel to the right bank to discover the grand courtyard of the Louvre, complete with large glass pyramid. At night, the entire courtyard and the buildings are bathed in a soft golden light, giving off an almost magical feel. From the Louvre, it’s a straight line through the refreshingly green Tuileries Garden to Place de la Concorde, with the beautiful obelisk and views of the Eiffel Tower in the distance.
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