In the three months I’ve been in Paris, I have really enjoyed exploring the city with friends and by myself. I’ve found myself gravitating towards the same areas in Paris, which made me realize they are my favorite places to go when I can get away from classes and work. Below is a walk that I’ve done dozens of times in the past three months. Along the way, I found some delicious cappuccinos, and had some meaningful conversations with my friends. When my mother visited me in mid-March, I took her on this walk throughout the week. The buildings, greenery, and people are what make walking around Paris so magical.
So, here’s my one-day walking tour exploring Paris, including the Palais Garnier (the opera), the Tuileries, Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, Luxembourg Garden, Notre Dame, and Le Marais. The walk is about three hours long, however you can always take the metro. I suggest using CityMapper and Google Maps to navigate the city on foot.
Palais Garnier Opera:
Starting at the opera, which is in the 9th arrondissement and available on the 1,3,7, and 8 metro lines. The opera was built by Charles Garnier (where the name comes from) under Napoleon III. Located on the right side of the main facade is the La Danse statue built by Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux in 1869. The Opera’s left facade was amended after an assassination attempt on Napoleon III while he was exiting his carriage. The amendment creates a drive-through covered area so that Napoleon III could exit his carriage within the safety of the building. Like many areas within Paris, if you have the time, I suggest you explore the surrounding street and shop at Galeries Lafayette.
The Louvre and the Tuileries:
From there, you can start walking south towards the Louvre. It’s about a 15-minute walk down a straight avenue. Once you’ve crossed Rue de Rivoli, you will find yourself in the Tuileries Garden. The Tuileries were built by Catherine de Médicis in 1564, the widow of King Henri II. Before the widowed queen decided she wanted the garden, a tile factory was located there—which is how the garden got its name. About halfway through the garden, there is a bridge that leads you to the Musée D’Orsay (one of my favorite museums). The Tuileries ends with the Bassin Octogonal fountain. To the left of the fountain is the Musée de l’Orangerie (where you can admire Monet’s Water Lilies), and to the right is the Jeu de Paume museum. During spring and summer, the garden is filled with colorful flowers, full trees, and famous statues. Once you exit the Tuileries, you enter the Place de la Concorde. Originally, the square was founded as the location of a statue paying tribute to King Louis XV in 1748. During the revolution, the square was renamed the Place de la Révolution and a guillotine was placed where the statue of the king once stood. Today, the Egyptian Obelisk, a gift from Muhammad Ali Pasha in 1831, stands in the middle of the square. It was a gift from Egypt for the work of translating hieroglyphics. Currently, the Obelisk is undergoing a restoration for the upcoming olympics being held in France.
Champs-Élysées and Arc de Triomphe:
Once you’ve crossed the palace, you will be on the famous Avenue des Champs-Élysées. While on the Champs-Élysées, you have the option to stay on the street and peruse the various store fronts, or enter the Jardin de Champs-Élysées. Both options are fun and beautiful. If you walk northwest on the Champs-Élysées, you will pass many iconic stores such as Dior, Louis Vuitton, and Lacoste. Once you reach the Arc de Triomphe, you can enter the arc via an entrance below ground, and then climb the winding staircase to the top. I cannot encourage you enough to make the trip to the top. The walk is a bit exhaustive, but the view is worth it. While you’re up there, you will notice that all roads lead to the Arc de Triomphe. If you are curious about this, consider researching Georges-Eugène Haussmann. Haussmann was a political architect under Napoleon III. In brief, Haussmann is responsible for the Paris we have today. He created the iconic boulevards and avenues by demolishing old buildings in their path.
Eiffel Tower and Seine:
From the arc, you walk south towards the Eiffel Tower. While you walk, you will cross the Seine river at the bridge Pont de L’Alma. Take a second to appreciate the tranquility of the Seine and snap a few pictures. The tower was built for the World’s Fair of 1889. It was built and named after Gustave Eiffel, the same architect of the Statue of Liberty. In order to save the tower from demolition, scientists added weather monitoring and radio services to it. While I have not been to the top of the tower yet, I have been assured by many that the trip is worth it. It will be much easier than the Arc de Triomphe since there is an elevator, just keep an eye out for pickpockets.
On the southeast walk towards the Luxembourg Garden, you will pass through the 6th and 7th arrondissements. Once at the Luxembourg Garden you can relax in the sun and people-watch. Marie de Médicis had the Palais du Luxembourg built in the image of her childhood home in Italy after the assassination of her husband King Henri IV. The garden is much more than just the iconic fountain, there are many beautiful art pieces and small cafes as well.
From Luxembourg Gardens, you walk northeast through the Latin Quarter to the Notre-Dame cathedral. The Latin Quarter is named after the La Sorbonne college, in which most scholars spoke Latin. Currently, the cathedral is not open due to the 2019 fires, however you can still admire it from afar. While here, I’ve learned that the French refer the fires as when “the old lady lost her hat” (Quand la vielle femme a perdu son chapeau) since the top parts of the towers were burned. Next to the cathedral across the water is “Shakespeare and Co.,” the famous bookstore. I suggest you pop in, snap a picture, and buy a new book.
The final leg of the day can be spent in the neighborhood of Le Marais, my favorite part of Paris. Before World War II, Le Marais was the Jewish Quarter. Now, it is home to many kosher restaurants and a small Jewish community. No matter the time of day, you can find the best falafel and Parisian cafes. My favorite falafel restaurant is called Pitzman because they sell exclusively gluten-free food, but my friends really enjoy L’As du Fallafel and Miznon Marais. Once you’ve eaten your weight in yummy falafel, you can get a drink at my favorite bar, L’Ardoise 86. Across from L’Ardoise 86 is one of my favorite churches, the Saint-Paul church. Inside, there is writing on the walls from the revolution in the late 18th century. Le Marais is the perfect place to sit and watch the people go by. If—after this exhaustive walk—you are up for it, just one stop away on the 1 is Bastille, which is home to some of the best clubs in Paris.
If this itinerary is too much for one day, split it into as many parts as you need. But don’t forget to stop for crêpes and at boulangeries along the way!
Ava Gupta, Staff Writer
Ava Gupta is a junior in the College of Communication studying public relations. Raised in Somerville, Massachusetts, Ava has always enjoyed city life. She is currently studying abroad with BU’s Paris Internship Program! Ava is passionate about women’s rights, traveling, and now learning french. She is overjoyed to be part of the COMmunicator team in Paris!
Lily Roeller, Senior Editor
Lily Roeller is a second-semester graduate student earning her Master of Science in public relations here at BU. Prior to BU, Lily graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2020 with a bachelor’s in communication and sociology. She currently is an account supervisor at PRLab, managing two client teams. In her free time, Lily loves hiking with her dog and watching bad movies.