Walking in Paris
Walking in Paris is what I love to do.
Paris is a walkable city. You can stay in the centre of Paris and walk to all the major sights and venues, or when your feet give up, combine walking with trips on the métro, bus, or Batobus along the Seine.
The only equipment you need to walk Paris is sturdy shoes that will cope with cobblestones, and a good map (un plan). Most hotels will supply you with a free map, particularly that from the Galeries Lafayette (which also offers tourist discounts on purchases).
If I arrive in daylight hours and don’t know the area, I leave my hotel or apartment and wander in the immediate location. You will find restaurants and cafes, a boulangerie (bakers), bureau de poste (post office), an épicerie (grocers), a librairie (shop selling books, stationery and postcards).
A good idea if you want to learn about what you are seeing is to take a walking tour. There are a myriad of tour companies providing guided tours. I have used Paris Walks for four walks over various holidays, and enjoyed some walks more than others (more to do with my fellow walkers than the quality of the tour leaders). The website has downloadable general programs for the winter season and the months March to November, as well as more detailed monthly programs available a month or so before the month in question.
Other companies include Paris Classic Walks (their brochure is here). There are plenty more walking tour companies available. It pays to look at the various websites and check prices, the antecedents of the guides, and the focus of the tours. Most companies have tours of Montmartre and the Marais, for example. If you are new to Paris a tour that gives you an overview of an area or an era probably suffices. If you want something different, that is possible too.
Self-Guided Walking Tours
If the idea of a guided walking tour fills you with horror, it’s possible to download walking itineraries from the internet. Some examples follow.
Their Monumental Paris walk looks good. It is one of 12 themed walks in the city itself, and there are also district walks including areas of Paris you might never know existed (like this walk in Clichy, Batignolles and Epinettes in the north-west of Paris).
History Walks Paris
Ann Branston prepares walks for History Walks Paris. She organises her six walks by era, like this one for 17th century Paris. A pdf of the walk and map can be downloaded free of charge. This guide is 10 pages and includes history, architecture, photos and descriptions of the buildings covered by the guide, a map and a discussion of the walks logistics.
This website too offers free self-guided tours (10), like the Path of the Swans, which sounds delightful.