Pedestrian Paris: Walking through the City of Lights

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You’d need weeks, months, years – or perhaps a lifetime – to fully explore and experience all of what Paris is about. Here are some classic walking tours and walking areas in ‘The City of Lights’ that will make for a good start.

Walking along its café-lined streets, past its famous landmarks and monuments, and through its many fascinating museums and galleries? Going for a romantic stroll with your loved one over the River Seine bridges, or visiting Paris’s much-loved food markets? Or making your way on foot around the city with your camera in hand – reveling in the photo opportunities?

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Experienced travellers will agree that by far the best way to get up close and personal with the real, authentic Paris is on foot – by walking. ‘Walking: that’s the secret,’ says the renowned Time Out travel guide, about walking around Paris. ‘Your best chance of hearing this city’s heartbeat lies in putting one foot in front of the other, above ground, among the people who live and work here; only then will you be able to see the ‘museum city’ clichés for what they are.’ Here are a few ideas…

Do a River Seine stroll:

A walk along the famous River Seine – and it’s quaysides, islands, left bank, right bank, and over its bridges, is a Paris travel tradition not to be missed. You can do it on your own, or join one of the several guided tours that will take you through the area’s history.

Go on a fashion walk:

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Several fashion walks are on offer in Paris – many of them led by guides who have worked in the industry – and who will lead you to the studios of world famous brands like Dior, Chanel, and Yves St Laurent. These walks are where you can experience first-hand the long and rich association Paris has had with fashion. Indulge in a guided shopping tour: A handful of fashion and shopping experts will guide you through the myriad brands available in Paris.

Savour a food walk:

Various food walking tours are on offer where, with help from expert guides and sometimes even chefs, you have the opportunity to visit a select number of local specialty food suppliers, and to taste what’s on offer.

Do a free walking tour:

One of the best ways to see a city is to let a local show you around. With this in mind, a brilliant opportunity to get to know Paris is to let the guides of the Discover Walks group show you around for free – although tips are welcome, of course. These guided walks (in English), take place every day in Paris except for the 24 and 25 December.

Walk up the Arc de Triomphe:

Climb the 284 steps to the top of Paris’s Arc de Triomphe – the city’s second most iconic monument after the Eiffel Tower.

Get spooked walking the Catacombs:

The Catacombs consist of kilometres of tunnels lined with the remains (including bones and skulls) of long-dead Parisians. They were created in the late 18th century to stop disease from spreading, and they now make for a somewhat spooky but interesting walking tour experience.

Stroll through the Jardin des Plantes gardens:

Paris’s botanical gardens contain more than 10 000 species and the exquisitely curated landscapes here are not only a memorable place to take a stroll, but offer an escape away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Do a Middle Ages history walk:

This self-guided walking tour, run by the History Walks Paris tour operator, focuses purely on Middle Ages Paris. It begins in the place where Paris originated on the Ile de la Cité and winds through a selection of what were once Paris’s narrow, medieval streets. It also includes Notre-Dame, the Conciergerie and Sainte-Chapelle – which are three of the city’s most famous Gothic buildings.

Walk the Batignolles district:

At this fashionable inner-Paris enclave, it’s perfectly possible to spend the entire afternoon or morning exploring its cafe culture, open air markets, resplendent gardens, bookshops and all-round true Parisian village spirit.

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