The best way to experience Paris is by walking through it. The quiet, quaint streets, lights and cafés filled with people offer up some of the city’s best cultural experiences and people watching, all by just wandering around.
Last night, I walked for hours through the city with a new friend of mine that was born and raised in Paris. Since he knows Paris like the back of his hand, he took us on the most beautiful path through the city. I’m going to try and recreate it for you here, so put your walking shoes on and get ready to take a stroll through Paris!
So, first thing’s first: you need to know that Paris is made up of little numbered neighborhoods called “arrondissements”. Each neighborhood has its own claim-to-fame and atmosphere, but there’s nothing separating one quarter from the other. You can walk effortlessly through them, sometimes without even knowing you’ve changed neighborhoods.
We began in the southwest part of Paris, where it’s the most residential. We walked through Montparnasse (where famous authors and artists used to live and work, like Hemingway), up through the Latin Quarter (the 5th arrondissement with the Sorbonne University and other scholarly happenings), and over the bridge to Le Marais (a socially progressive community filled with one-of-a-kind boutiques, great thrifting, and vegetarian restaurants).
After a break with tea and coffee in Le Marais, the sun had set. However, walking through Paris at night is one of the most tranquil experiences you can have in the city–right next to reading a book in a large park. We began our walk again but this time stayed close to the Seine, the river that runs through Paris, and walked to the Louvre from Le Marais. At night, the museum’s famous pyramid lights up and is truly spectacular.
Also located at the Louvre is part of the Champs d’Elyse, the “main road” that offers up a straight shot view of Paris’ most iconic landmarks. We left the Louvre and headed to Concorde, another gorgeous square in Paris, and finally to the Eiffel Tower, which sparkles on the hour at night.
Though we spent hours walking, we only covered one path through the city. Every corner of Paris offers up its own magic, history and stories. The best way to find the best of Paris is to go for a walk, and get lost in it.