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What is there to say about Paris that hasn’t been said already? Still, there is always something more to explore: new things to do in Paris, new restaurants to enjoy and old neighborhoods to rediscover. This self-guided walking tour of Paris will take you to both the left bank and the right bank in one day. It’s great if you only have one day in Paris, If you have the time, take it more slowly and break it into daily walks! Feel free to verge off of to take in a museum or two. We can recommend it for the first-timer or the one hundredth!
Along the way we will point out a few of the best Paris restaurants in each area and some the best Paris shopping.
Self Guided Walking Tour of Paris
Our self guided walking tour of Paris begins at the Intercontinental Paris Le Grand near the Opera in the 9th Arrondissement with its incredible ballroom. Step inside this Beaux Art building and ask the front desk if you can see the ballroom. It’s just off the bar and usually someone will open the door for you!
Place de La Madeleine to Rue Saint-Honoré
Head down the Boulevard des Capucines toward Place de La Madeleine.
You can’t miss the La Madeleine Church – it’s huge! This neoclassical wonder was built as a monument to celebrate Napoleon’s triumphs. After he was triumphant no longer, the building was converted into a church dedicated to Mary Magdalene (Madeleine). Pop in and see it in all its splendor.
Some of the most iconic French brands have shops around the Place de la Madeleine. Look into the windows of Ladurée (16-18 Rue Royale) where the most beautiful of all macarons are sold and tea is served. The chic, underwear and bathing suit shop, Eres (2 Rue Tronchet), sits behind the church next to Fauchon (30 Place de la Madeleine), the ultra-luxurious food market. Take a turn around the church and you’ll also find Mariage Frères (17 Place de la Madeleine), the fabulous tea shop.
As you head down Rue Royale, Chanel is there and you can find it a little easier to manage than the Rue Gambon store.
If you slightly peckish, the baked potato topped with caviar at Caviar Kaspia (17 Place de la Madeleine) is the most luxurious lunch in Paris!
Turn left onto Rue Saint-Honoré, and you are on one of the most famous shopping streets in the world.
Rue Saint-Honoré & Place Vendome to Tuileries & Louvre
You’ll be walking down the Rue Saint-Honoré from the Rue Royale to Rue des Pyramides.
This one street could take a fortnight, but if you’re only in Paris for one day, window shopping it is. Up and down this street are the most famous international brands in the world: Versace, Prada, Hermès, etc
Pass the celebrity-favorite Hotel Costes on one side and Dary’s, the renowned antique jewelry shop, on the other. Make sure to step into the glorious Place Vendome, considered by some the most beautiful square in the world, and home to the most luxurious jewelry stores in the world as well as the fabled Ritz Hotel.
Grab a cocktail at the Hemingway Bar inside the Ritz Hotel if you have a chance, then head back to Rue Saint-Honoré and giggle at the lines outside of Goyard before turning into the Tuileries at Rue des Pyramides.
Tuileries & Louvre to Pont Royal & the Rive Gauche
Walk to the center of the Tuileries and just stand and turn slowly around to take in 18th C gardens designer Andre Le Notre’s masterpiece.
Turn around and gaze at the wonder of Louis Le Vau and I.M. Pei, the architects of the Louvre as it is in the 21st century. You could stop here and easily take a tour of the Louvre spending the whole day here or grab a seat in the garden and watch the world go by.
Stop to have a bite to eat at Café Marly – literally overlooking the Louvre!
Pont Royal & the Rive Gauche to Rue du Bac & Le Bon Marché
Keep walking through the Tuileries and you will come to the Pont Royal.
Crossing the lovely Pont Royal, you’ll see the Musee D’Orsay in front of you. This former train station now houses the most important collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art in the world, including works by Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, and so many others.
You have now crossed the river Seine and are now on the Rive Gauche or Left Bank. Historically, this area was known as the home to creativity and bohemianism, due to the large amount of artiest that called it home. Colette, Henry Miller, Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso, Jean-Paul Sartre, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Baldwin, and so many others gave this area the reputation it has today!
Wander down the Quai Voltaire and through the antique shops – harkening back to times gone past. Decide if you want to eat at Le Voltaire right there on the Quai or Le Bistro de Paris, up the street on Rue de Lille – two wonderfully classic French bistros.
Rue du Bac & Le Bon Marché to Hermès & Saint-Sulpice
Merge from Rue de Beaume onto Rue du Bac heading straight until you arrive at Le Bon Marché.
Walk up the slight hill of the Rue du Bac with Laurence Tavernier for lush nightwear and Le Prince Jardinier for quirky gardening items. Pop into e Prince Jardinier and walk the upstairs to Deyrolle, a museum – like shop with stuffed animals, insects encased in glass and natural history books piled up to the walls. So much for the science geek in us all!
Cross the Boulevard Saint Germain and along keep along the Rue du Bac window-shopping as you go. Some of the great Paris patisseries and chocolate shops are located in this area: Chocolate Chapon, La Pâtisserie des Rêves ,and Angelina, which some say has the best hot chocolate in the world.
When you cross the Rue de Babylone on Rue Du Bac, slip into Le Bon Marché department store.
Revamped in 1852 by master marketer Aristide Boucicaut, Le Bon Marché was one of the first modern department stores in the world and still one of the prettiest. He was savvy enough to create a waiting room for husbands to sit in while their wives shopped! Tourists usually visit it to see its super-chic escalator designed by Andrée Putnam!
Don’t miss the Food Market as well. It’s filled with food and treats that you might not find otherwise anywhere else – French or otherwise!
Hermès & Saint-Sulpice to St. Germain du Pre & Pont des Arts
Leave Le Bon Marché on the Rue de Sèvres exit. Cross the Boulevard Raspail where it becomes Rue Du Four and enter Hermès, the famed leather goods store.
This chic boutique was once the former swimming pool of the Lutetia Hotel, a magnet for the elite at the time. When re-designing the listed property, Denis Montel and the RDAI agency paid homage to the history os the pool. “The old pool is lined with a mosaic of stoneware and glass paste in a dozen shades of grey, white, light green, white gold, silver, etc. The idea is to use these colours to recreate the sensation of a pool with a shimmering, sparkling surface. The presence of the water is also evoked on the ceilings by projections that are made by the lighting system.”
For those who might want to buy something, you also can get items here that aren’t sold in any other store.
Leave the store and follow down Rue de Four and turn right on Rue des Vieux Colombier. Walk straight and you can’t miss Saint-Suplice Church in front of you.
Not the prettiest of churches, nor the most monumental, but I adore its ugliness. Although it may not look it, it’s the second largest church in Paris after Notre Dame and was inspired by the Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London.
St. Germain du Pre & Pont des Arts to Palais Royal
Head down Rue Bonaparte toward Église de Saint Germain des Prés.
Whether you are hungry or not, amaze at the famed Pierre Hermé cakes and I would suggest buying and eating one! They even have incredible ice cream sandwiches. Once you cross Boulevard Saint-Germain, you see in front of you the Église de Saint-Germain-des-Prés, one of the oldest churches in Paris with construction beginning in the 6th Century.
Across the street from the church is one of the most famous cafes in Paris, Les Deux Magots. Hemingway hung out here when he was in town, as did James Joyce and Bertolt Brecht. Brasserie Lipp and Café de Flore were popular with that illustrious crowd as well. It maybe super touristy but it’s fun to sit and have a coffee where the greats of literature once drank.
Do a quick right on Rue Jacob. Stop into Gab & Jo (28 Rue Jacob,) a great store carrying only accessories made in Paris.
Take a look at all the art galleries from Rue Jacob to Rue de L’Echaudé and Rue de Seine, down to the Quai. Cross the pedestrian bridge the Pont des Arts and through the Louvre.
Palais Royal back the Opera & the hotel
Cross the Pont des Arts, go through the Louvre and to the Palais Royal.
After crossing the bridge, make your way to the front of the Louvre again to wonder at its glory. Then out the Rue de Rohan and then sneak into the Palais Royale, one of my fav spots in all the world. Palais Royal has been home to many historical figures, like Cardinal Richelieu and the Duchess of Orleans.
In the 18th C, part of the ground floor was opened as shops and the elite of Parisian society made it their place to be. There are still the chicest of stores – Didier Ludot, a resale store that specializes in the Little Black Dress, and Maison Fabre, the luxury glove store.
Sneak a peek inside or dine at Le Grand Vefour, one of the oldest restaurants in the world. Opened in 1784, Napoleon and Josephine were just two of its famous guests. To think they might have been the first ever to try Sauce Mornay, which was first invented there.
Walk out of the Palais Royal, down the Rue des Petits Champs & up the Avenue de l‘Opéra.
Walk right last Le Grand Vefour and out the back way from the Palais Royal. You’ll arrive on one of the more impressive streets in Paris – the Avenue de l‘Opéra. You can’t miss the Palais Garner (the Opera), right in front of you. Maker sure to reserve a tour of the Opera’s magnificent 19th C interior if you are not seeing an opera. Beware, you may be so tired from your walk that you see might think you see the Phantom peeping out from one of the windows.
When back at the hotel, have a cocktail at Café de la Paix, another neoclassical wonder.
Best Bits to leave you with
This self guided walking tour of Paris may take you a few days if you don’t want to power through it all in one. You can explore each walk in one day if you want to! If you have time see the other wonderful parts of this fair city, like Montmartre or the Bois de Bologne.
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