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PARIS WALKS

These walks are designed to last half a day each. They are not comprehensive (they don't include Montmartre, for example, but if you have a limited amount of time they will allow you to experience what I think are the best bits of Paris. Of course, allow extra time for stopping off at attractions etc.

the marais

Start off at Place des Vosges (Métro Bastille, lines 1, 5 & 8 ), Here you can have a wander round the square, sit in the garden or visit the Maison de Victor Hugo. Head out of the square along the rue des Francs Bourgeois. Along this street is the Musée Carnavalet which I highly recommend as well as some good shopping. At the rue Pavée cut a left and then a right onto rue des Rosiers. At the end of the street turn left onto rue Vieille du Temple and go into Au Petit Fer à Cheval for a drink . And/or get a delicious takeaway pastéis (a creamy, flaky-pastry tart) from Comme a Lisbonne at 37 rue du Roi de Sicile . It’s also worth walking up the rue Vielle du Temple in the other direction and exploring some of the side streets in the Marais. Stop off for lunch at one of the many bistrots in order to recharge for the next walk.

NOT FAR FROM HERE

The Pompidou Centre; it’s just a 5/10 minute walk further west along the rue des Francs Bourgeois which then leads into the rue Rambuteau. At the end of here you’ll reach the Pompidou.

Île de la Cité and Île St Louis

If you’re coming straight from the Marais consult your map and head down the rue des Nonnains d’Hyères. When you reach the Quai des Célestins cross the pont Marie which takes you to the île St Louis. If you’re starting afresh, make your way to Métro Pont-Marie (line 7) then cross the bridge to the island . This is one of two natural islands (the other is île de la Cité) on the Seine, characterised by narrow streets and elegant buildings. It doesn’t take long to circumnavigate the entire island on foot. Interspersed with the local boulangeries and fromageries are lots of touristy shops and cafés, some of which are worth the money and time, some of which aren't. I can highly recommend two good places to eat and/or drink: the St Regis and, on the opposite side of the street, the Brasserie ile St Louis (rue Jean du Bellay) . And if you’ve heard about the world-famous ice cream Berthillon, this is where you come to get it. Berthillon has its own tea room at 29 rue St Louis en l’île but is also sold at just about every café on the island.

Once you’ve finished here, consult your map and take the connecting bridge to the île de la Cité which is situated at the intersection of rue Jean du Bellay and the quai d’Orléans. As soon as you are on the other side you will be right by the Cathedral of Notre-Dame. As you’ve come all this way it would be rude not to go in but please remember that it functions as a place of worship as well as a tourist attraction. Outside of the main entrance is the Parvis Notre-Dame (which is an open space), situated on the far side of the Parvis is the Archaeological Crypt which displays ancient remains found under the Cathedral during renovation. It won’t take long to get around and makes a rather wonderful addition to your sightseeing (imho).

Also on this island is the Sainte-Chapelle (4 boulevard du Palais, 75001) which is a must-see. A royal medieval Gothic chapel which was consecreated in 1248, it was commissioned by King Louis IX (Saint Louis) and is one of the earliest surviving buildings of the Capetian royal palace. And your final stop for the day is the Place Dauphine . At the western tip the island, it is a beautiful place to sit and watch the world go by, either from a bench or from the terrace of a bistrot. Either way, it’s time to stop, have a refreshment and think about dinner. You might be tempted to try one the restaurants which mostly have so-so reviews on Tripadvisor. However, I can happily say that the food and staff at the Rose de France are worth a visit.

st germain & the luxembourg gardens

Start at Métro Cluny-La Sorbonne (line 10 ). For a short distance go east on boulevard St Germain and turn right into rue de Cluny. At the end take a right onto the rue des Écoles, cross over the boulevard St-Michel and head down the rue Racine. At the end of here is the Odéon Theatre which is gorgeous. On the south side of the Theatre is the Jardin du Luxembourg. Even on a bad weather day it is magical and worth a stroll. If it’s a good weather day, get yourself an ice-cream and a vacant chair and watch the world go by. When you’re done, make your way to the north-west corner and take rue Bonaparte as far as the place St-Sulpice. Here is the Église Saint-Sulpice, a Roman-Catholic church built in the 17th Century. There is some shopping to be done on the rue Saint-Sulpice which flanks its northern side (see Liwan on the shopping page). When you have finished here, make your way back to the rue Bonaparte and follow it to the boulevard St-Germain where you might care to stop at the Café de Flore, the Café Deux Magots or the medieval Église Germain des Prés . Whatever you choose, your next setting-off point is from the Église. Head down the place St-Germain des Prés, away from boulevard St-Germain and turn right on rue de l’Abbaye and after a short distance turn left into the rue de Furstenberg . It is a charming little square where there isn’t much to see but always enjoyable to walk through. (N.B. it was where they filmed the exterior of Gigi’s apartment). At the end of the street, turn right into the rue Jacob and then left on the rue de Seine. If you need refreshment, stop off at La Palette at number 43 before finishing the walk where the street winds off and out to the Seine.

tuileries, louvre, palais royale and a bit beyond

Start at Métro Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre (lines 1 & 7 ). The Palais Royal and Louvre are both nearby (although located on different sides of the rue de Rivoli) so you should be able to find them easily. This is tourist central so there is plenty of signage. I would start with a sedate wander through the Palais Royal which won’t be very taxing. If you are in need of refreshment, park your bones for a café au lait at Le Nemours which is adjacent to the Palais on the place Colette.Then cross rue de Rivoli and do your worst at the Louvre. It is vast so take a look at the website first and plan your trip. You could spend days here and still not see everything. When you have reached the stage when your eyes can’t take in any more art, it’s time for some fresh air and the loveliness of the Jardin des Tuileries which is situated just to the West of the Louvre (think of it as the Louvre’s backyard). Walk the entire length of the Tuileries and when you reach the place de la Concorde take a left and head for the pont de la Concorde (this is a bridge which will take you to the Left-Bank). Once on the other side, turn right and make your way along the quai d’Orsay. You will pass the elegant grandeur of the Assemblée Nationale and then come to the refined and stately Invalides. That’s it for this half day but, if you’re not too worn out and have the time, head a little further west and you will reach perhaps the greatest modern-day symbol of Paris, the Eiffel Tower.

NOT FAR FROM HERE

To the east (right) of the Assemblée Nationale is the Musée d’Orsay. Behind the Invalides on the rue de Varenne is the Musée Rodin.

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