Last Updated on September 15, 2023
The French capital is made for walking… here are 8 wonderful walks in Paris to help you enjoy the city
Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
By Jim Ferri
Walks in Paris, one of France’s best places to visit, are like walks in no other city in the world. You see, Paris is a city that’s excellent for walking. And to feel its heartbeat, you must take to its streets and boulevards on foot.
Walks in Paris are the only way to enjoy the city’s culture, charm, and beauty and see how Parisians live, work and relax. When you walk about Paris, you follow in the footsteps of countless writers, artists, philosophers, and intellectuals who once made the city, and France, their home.
Wander Aimlessly About Paris
Walk along the Seine, visit the city’s beautiful parks, and join the crowds on some of the grandest boulevards in the world. But also leave yourself time to wander about aimlessly. Strolling down little alleyways and visiting cafés where there are no other travelers. That’s how I’ve unearthed countless surprises and little treasures all over Paris that you’ll likely enjoy.
To help you unearth your own, here are eight wonderful Paris walks I’ve taken over the last few years. I didn’t plan any of them and found it’s the best way to see any city. They are among the best areas to walk around in Paris.
An added bonus is that during these walks, you’ll see many of the best places of interest in the city to travelers. If you’re in London, you might even take a day trip by train to Paris just to take one of these walks.
A Paris Walk Like No Other: Île de la Cité
The famous island in the center of the Seine, Île de la Cité, is the cradle of Paris. It’s the place where the Romans first set up camp in 52 BC. Today it’s the city’s religious and judicial center, with such jewels as Notre Dame, Sainte-Chapelle, and the Conciergerie.
Despite the millions of travelers who visit Île de la Cité every year, most come to see only Notre Dame – scheduled to reopen in 2024 after its devastating fire – and, possibly, Sainte-Chapelle. But the rest of the small island is a beautiful place to wander about to admire its historic grandeur and old mansions.
Many travelers visit Notre Dame and then head off for another area of the city without realizing there’s another treasure nearby. It’s another island adjacent to Île de la Cité, connected by a small bridge behind the cathedral.
It’s a beautiful place that relatively few travelers visit. Which is why it remains such a quiet neighborhood right in the center of the city.
Île Saint-Louis, one of Paris’s most expensive neighborhoods, is an oasis with no Metro station. In fact, it only has two bus stops, which keeps it very peaceful and serene. Wander its little lanes, and you’ll find artsy boutiques, good restaurants, gourmet food shops, and wonderful patisseries.
Jardin des Tuileries
Named after the tile factories that initially stood on the site, Jardin des Tuileries originally formed the front grounds of the old Tuileries Palace (destroyed in 1871) that was built by Queen Catherine de Medici. They were landscaped by André Le Nôtre, who also created the gardens at Versailles.
The Left Bank, One of the Most Famous Walks in Paris
You’ll find Parisians walking along the Seine’s Left Bank many Sundays. Here the sidewalk along the quay is still lined, as it has been for centuries, with second-hand bookstalls.
Most of the books you’ll find here are in French, but there are also stalls selling postcards and other tourist items.
But it’s not postcards people come here for, but the beautiful city views all along the river’s edge. It’s one of the most romantic and beautiful walks you’ll find anywhere.
The Loftiest of the Paris Walks: Montmartre
Set high on a hill looking out over Paris, the Basilica of Sacré Coeur dominates Montmartre. Yet, it still retains its small-village atmosphere, which makes it feel quite different from the hustle of Paris below. Here you’ll find one of the best views across the city.
Place du Tertre, the small square at the city’s high point, is rife with artists selling their canvases. All about them, restaurants and tourist shops line the sidewalk.
But go beyond the square and visit the Montmartre Museum, the oldest building in the village. Several famous artists lived at different times in their lives. Here, Auguste Renoir painted his Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette and The Swing.
Boulevard St-Germain: One of the Liveliest Paris Walks
The Boulevard St-Germain stretches through one of Paris’s most picturesque and famous areas. It extends roughly from near Notre Dame to near the Musée d’Orsay on the Left Bank. So if you’re walking between the two, it’s the perfect alternative if you’d rather not walk along the Seine.
Once, it was known as a bohemian area filled with artists and intellectuals. Today though, it’s one of Paris’s most expensive and stylish areas. As you might expect, the street is home to high-end boutiques such as Louis Vuitton and Armani. But it is also home to famous and historic cafes like Brasserie Lipp, Les Deux Magots, and Cafe Flore.
Jardin du Luxembourg: One of the Most Beautiful Walks in Paris
While the Luxembourg Gardens are worth a tour by themselves, you can easily combine it with a stroll along the Boulevard Saint-Germain. It’s located on the border between Saint-Germain-des-Prés and the Latin Quarter.
The stunning 60+ acre park is reminiscent of the Boboli Gardens in Florence. It is split into French and English gardens with over 100 statues.
Many chairs line the paths to allow people to relax or read a book. There are also many activities for adults and children, including sailing boats in the pool in front of Luxembourg Palace.
A Paris Walk Through The Passages
Around Paris, several hidden arcades or passages are 18th-century predecessors of today’s shopping malls. They are tiny towns within the larger city, private streets lined with boutiques and bistros with glass ceilings to let the light in. They were initially built to provide Parisians respite from the weather and the unsanitary conditions that plagued the city streets.
Although there were about 150 or so of them initially, only 20 or so remain today. And each provides a glimpse into a Paris of centuries ago to those who seek them out.