Not packed in a bus. Not herded with a group. Self guided walk is the SAFEST way to sightsee while observing SOCIAL DISTANCING!

Paris Introduction Walk I (Self Guided), Paris

The capital of France takes its name from the Celtic tribe of Parisii who, back in the Iron Age, around the 3rd century BC, settled near the river Seine. The Romans conquered the Parisii and established on their land a garrison town which, towards the end of the 5th century AD, fell to the Franks and flourished under their rule. Despite wars, revolutions and numerous social cataclysms, Paris had prospered over centuries, enjoying particularly great expansion during the 16th-17th centuries. As the matter of fact, the architectural plan and style of classical Paris, as we know it today, was established back then.

The combined effort of the French royals, clergy and aristocracy materialized in an array of architectural marvels fit to rival even those of Rome, and included the magnificent Les Invalides complex, remarkable Tuileries Garden, monumental Place de la Concorde, to mention but a few.

Later, in the early 19th century, the new emperor of France, Napoleon, added to the Paris landscape the ostentatious Arch of Triumph and opulent La Madeleine temple, symbols of the imperial ego which, towards the end of the same 19th century, were joined by another symbol – this time of France's industrial might – the Eiffel Tower.

Nicknamed "the City of Lights", Paris lives up to its title with almost 300 illuminated sights, of which 33 are bridges.

A large part of the city, including the River Seine, is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Amid the wealth of cultural and historic gems that Paris has to offer, we have compiled two self-guided walks to showcase the city's most unique landmarks. This Part I Orientation Walk features iconic sights, such as the Eiffel Tower, the Arch of Triumph, Tuileries Garden, Place de la Concorde, Les Invalides, and others. To obtain directions to the sights in question, tap the sight's name below this introduction and then tap it on the map at the bottom of the sight's information screen. The GPS navigation function will guide you to the chosen destination.
How it works: Download the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play to your mobile phone or tablet. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and its built-in GPS navigation functions guide you from one tour stop to next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Paris Introduction Walk I Map

Guide Name: Paris Introduction Walk I
Guide Location: France » Paris (See other walking tours in Paris)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 11
Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 6.5 Km or 4 Miles
Author: karen
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Eiffel Tower (Tour Eiffel)
  • Champ de Mars (Field of Mars)
  • Alexandre III Bridge
  • Orangerie Museum
  • Tuileries Garden
  • Place de la Concorde
  • La Madeleine
  • Élysée Palace
  • Grand Palais
  • Champs-Élysées Avenue
  • Arc de Triomphe (Arch of Triumph)
Eiffel Tower (Tour Eiffel)

1) Eiffel Tower (Tour Eiffel) (must see)

Equally grand from whatever angle you look at it, whether just walking past or watching it from a distance, day or night, the Eiffel Tower lives up to its iconic status with ease. No wonder it is the no. 1 attraction everyone wants to see on their trip to Paris. In fact, it has become so much a symbol of Paris and France, that it is hard to imagine the time when it did not exist.

Completed by French architect Gustave Eiffel in 1889, right from the outset, the tower was an enormous success, although not to everyone's taste. Before the construction even started, a group of prominent French artists and members of academia disparaged the idea as utterly useless and even monstrous. Despite that, in 2015 the tower proved to be the most visited paid landmark in the world, seeing that year alone almost 7 million visitors.

There are several reasons the tower is so popular. For starters, the entire wrought-iron structure is totally see-through, so you can literally see all of it from one end to the other. Secondly, unlike some other high-rises, the tower is there for visitors only and nothing else. And finally, in Paris where tall buildings are still in rather short supply, the bird's eye view opening from the top of the tower is truly unique and indeed breathtaking. Standing up there, you won't have difficulty spotting all of Paris's top attractions such as the Louvre, the Grand Palace, Montmartre, or the Arch of Triumph.

Moreover, the complete Eiffel experience is not limited to just climbing the tower itself, but may also include a picnic nearby or visiting the Field of Mars not far away. The abundance of benches, grassy lawn and vendors in the vicinity, selling all sorts of snacks, drinks and ice cream, make it a totally comfortable experience. Also adding to the charm is the near presence of the river Seine rolling its waters quietly and majestically.

Remember to bring along some warm clothes, because it can get much colder at the top, especially when it's windy.
During the day, if it is hot, bring an umbrella to offer you some shade, and lots of water.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9:30am-11:45pm (Sep-Jun 14); 9am-12:45am (Jun 14-Aug 31)
Last entry: 45mins before closing time
Champ de Mars (Field of Mars)

2) Champ de Mars (Field of Mars) (must see)

In sunny weather, there is nothing better in Paris than stretching out somewhere on a grassy lawn. The “Field of Mars”, one of the largest parks in Paris, generously offers such an opportunity to those lucky with plenty of time under their belt. This popular outdoor space takes its name from the ancient Campus Martius in Rome, once the drilling ground for the Roman armies preparing for war. Back in the day, the French used this field pretty much for the same purpose as well, although prior to that, in the 16th century, this was just a vegetable plantation.

Nowadays, Champ de Mars is a popular venue for celebrations, cultural events and military parades. The live music concerts here, especially in summer, held under the starry Paris sky, give listeners a truly unforgettable experience.

Most of the time, though, the park is just a charming green oasis amid the sprawling metropolis, offering, among other delights, some of the greatest views of the nearby Eiffel Tower, especially at night when its illumination goes on every hour.

A favorite spot for many, just as any other major public park, Champ de Mars may get rather busy on sunny days. This, however, doesn't seriously reduce chances of finding some quiet nook further afield. Those coming with kids will find comfort here, too, in the form of at least two playgrounds available at their disposal.

Why You Should Visit:
Best place to get photos of the Eiffel Tower and to see it sparkle every hour in the evenings.

Consider bringing a mat/cover for lying about.
Alexandre III Bridge

3) Alexandre III Bridge (must see)

While Paris abounds in beautiful bridges, the bridge of Alexandre III beats them all hands down. This deck arch bridge, spanning the river Seine between the Champs-Élysées and Les Invalides quarter, is widely regarded to be the most ornate and extravagant bridge in the French capital, a truly historic attraction in its own right!

It was built at the end of the 19th century, in time for the 1900 World Exhibition in Paris, under the supervision of Russian Tsar Alexander III upon the conclusion of the Franco-Russian Alliance. The bridge proved to be a genuine feat of engineering of the time, not only because of its single arch but also because it needed to sit low, so as not to obstruct the view from the Les Invalides over to the Champs-Élysées Avenue. The design and construction of the bridge was done by numerous artists who added just as many intricate elements to its ornamentation, including the lovely bas-relief ironwork, gilded and ornate street lamps, as well as four golden statues representing the Art, the Commerce, the Industry and the Science. The lower part of the bridge – the piers and the groynes supporting it – are just as impressive, especially for those who sail underneath it.

Why You Should Visit:
Just about every bridge in Paris is beautiful but this one probably tops them all – a museum by itself!

If you happen to be at the bridge at night, make sure to walk down the stairs and check out its underbelly for some truly amazing photos.
Also, look out for a small antiques market down there, along the riverfront, for some vintage fashion, excellent silver flatware, and knick-knacks of various sort.
Orangerie Museum

4) Orangerie Museum (must see)

The Musée de l'Orangerie in Place de la Concorde is an art gallery of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings displayed in a former greenhouse for orange trees; hence the name.

The greenhouse was built in 1852 but the actual museum that emerged here only in 1927 started off with the display of the series of Monet's decorative canvas-painted waterlily panels, called the “Nympheas”. The panels are essentially giant murals covering walls in the oval rooms on the ground floor. Their general idea is to create a tranquil, relaxed setting in which the outdoor stress is literally “colored” away. Combined with the diffused sunlight pouring in through the ceiling, the painted waterlily garden puts visitors into an alternate, unique mood, just as Monet had intended. This gets particularly captivating in mid-morning on a sunny day. Visitors are encouraged to start viewing the panels from the center of the room, gradually getting closer till they're able to make out the brush strokes on the canvas.

Apart from Monet's waterlilies, the museum also exhibits the Walter-Guillaume collection featuring first-rate artworks by Renoir, Picasso, Cezanne, Derain, Mattise, Rousseau, Sisley, and others.

There's is a small, well-stocked gift shop on the premises, plus a tiny self-service café, in case you want a quick snack or coffee.

You may consider getting a combined ticket for the Orangerie and Orsay Museum. The price is fair and will allow you to skip line to the Orsay.

Opening Hours:
Wed-Mon: 9am-6pm; closed on Tuesdays
Last admission: 5:15pm; Museum cleared from 5:45pm
Tuileries Garden

5) Tuileries Garden (must see)

Nowadays a lovely park, the Tuileries Garden has been a witness to some of the most turbulent events in French history. Centermost of all the Paris city parks, it forms part of the triumphal axis (the so-called “Grand Axe”) stretching from La Défense plaza all the way to the Louvre. The garden is almost totally flat and has a circular fountain in the middle, which is most popular in summer.

Originally, this Italian Renaissance-style garden was created for Queen Catherine de Médici who, in the 16th century, began construction of a palace just outside the western walls of the capital, which took the name of the tile factories (called “tuileries”) that it replaced.

In 1789, following the fall of the Bastille, King Louis XVI and his wife, Marie Antoinette, moved into the palace in a publicity stunt to get “closer to the people.” Sadly, this stunt eventually produced the undesired effect and resulted in the royal family being locked up in the palace under house arrest. Three years later, the Tuileries Palace came under attack in what proved to be the defining moment of the French Revolution. The French monarchy was abolished as a result, and quite radically so, with the help of the then newly-invented guillotine installed in Place de la Concorde. The last king of France, as he rose to the scaffold, turned to his captors and said: "Gentlemen, I am innocent of everything of which I am accused. I hope that my blood may cement the good fortune of the French."

In the 19th century, Napoleon merged the Tuileries with the Louvre in a bid to create one huge super-palace complex. The project was barely completed when, during the bloody revolutionary uprising of 1871, the former royal Tuileries Palace was set on fire and completely destroyed. But the palace garden survived and still retains the general outline of the original master-plan.

In the 1990s, the landscape was renewed as part of the Grand Louvre project. Now free to access, the park is an oasis of calm amid the bustle of Paris. At visitors disposal here are a good number of green chairs to sit on and enjoy ice cream or drinks, plus a pond with small rented boats from which one can enjoy a marvelous view of the Eiffel Tower or simply unwind to the chirp of the local birds.

Don't just stay in just one place – explore a variety of views and spots, as each provides a different perspective!

Gated Area Opening Hours:
7am-9pm (Apr-May, Sep); 7am-11pm (Jun-Aug); 7:30am-7:30pm (Oct-Mar)
Place de la Concorde

6) Place de la Concorde (must see)

Place de la Concorde is a major public square in Paris; in fact, the largest and the most monumental of all squares in the city. It is best known for its 230-ton Egyptian obelisk, aged over 3,000 years, which makes it by far the most ancient monument in Paris. The obelisk is flanked on the sides with two magnificent fountains – the “Maritime Fountain” and the “Fountain of the Rivers” – built in 1836 and recently restored to their original exuberance. Respectively, they symbolize French seagoing spirit and passion for inland navigation. In continuation of the nautical theme, there are 20 rostral columns throughout the square adorned with a ship prow which is part of the official Paris emblem.

Designed initially to glorify the absolute power of monarchs, at some point the square became the theater of its downfall. The equestrian statue of King Louis XVI, that once stood in its center, was torn down during the French Revolution, upon which the square was renamed "Place de la Révolution." Instead of the monument, the new revolutionary government installed there a guillotine, the first “client” of which became none other than the King himself. Among other notables who shared his fate there later on, in front of the cheering crowd, were Queen Marie Antoinette, Princess Élisabeth of France, and Maximilien Robespierre.

The guillotine remained quite busy throughout the "Reign of Terror" in the summer of 1794, when in a single month more than 1,300 people were executed. A year later, when the revolution took a more moderate course, it was removed.

Today, major avenues converge and pass through Place de la Concorde so vehicle traffic can always be expected; however, the roundabout with the three important monuments – obelisk and fountains – is well worth viewing. The square is sometimes used for large scale events and festivals like Christmas markets and other festival activities.

Today, Concorde Square is a popular tourist spot, ideal for photos; conveniently located to fan out from to just about any major attraction in Paris. All the main avenues of the French capital either converge at or pass through this square, making it a somewhat traffic-dense roundabout at times. The square regularly hosts public events, Christmas fairs, and festivals.

In the square, there is a big Ferris wheel for those keen on getting a bird's eye view over the nearby river Seine, Louvre, Tuileries Garden, Champs-Élysées, Triumphal Arch, and the Eiffel Tower. This wheel turns three times faster than the London Eye, actually, and is much cheaper too!
La Madeleine

7) La Madeleine (must see)

La Madeleine is a Roman Catholic church affiliated with the Benedictine abbey in Paris.

Its construction, started during the reign of King Louis XV, suffered several stoppages including a major one during the French Revolution. Eventually, in 1806, Napoleon announced the decision to make it a temple to glorify his Great Army and commissioned to the job the architect Pierre Vignon. Evidently aware of the emperor's taste for opulent imperial Roman-style architecture, Vignon came up with the idea of an enormous Corinthian temple. He was still working on the project when Napoleon was demoted. The replacing him King Louis XVIII kept Vignon on, but ordered that the temple be made into a church.

The most striking feature of La Madeleine is its enormous size, in part prompted by the surrounding monumentality of Place de la Concorde, but also, no doubt, due to the inflated ego of Napoleon Bonaparte himself. Devoid of windows, so as not to disturb the severity of the temple, the light is let in from above, via three domes open at the top, in the manner of the Roman Pantheon. Each dome is supported by four Corinthian arches with pendentives, featuring a grand imperial Roman style.

In the basement of the church is the Foyer de la Madeleine which today plays host to some of the most fashionable concerts and wedding parties in Paris. The concerts take place several times a month on Sunday afternoon and include baroque and chamber music, as well as organ recitals and symphonic orchestral performances.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9:30am-7pm
Élysée Palace

8) Élysée Palace (must see)

The Élysée Palace is undoubtedly one of the most emblematic properties of the French capital, situated just a few steps away from the Madeleine church, not far from Champs Elysées. Situated on Rue Saint-Honoré, one of the most prominent streets of Paris, it was constructed in the early 18th century and was initially owned by the Count of Evreux.

Lavishly enlarged and repainted during the Second Empire in the fashionable style of that period, the palace has retained much of its original appearance dating back to the days of its first owner. The distinguishable, vast grounds allowed the architect Armand-Claude Mollet to give it something of an air of a small castle. Later, one of the most influential French architectural theorists Jacques-Francois Blondel described the palace as having the “air of magnificence” and being “the most beautiful mansion in the Paris region”.

Having changed hands several times, the palace finally became residence of a French President in 1873. The actual office of the head of state, the Gold Room, has changed very little since. The terrestrial globe, a significant element of the interior, was brought in by Charles de Gaulle. Today, the French Government holds regular meetings at the palace. In the underground section, there is a room with the red button pushing which the President of France can activate the country's nuclear arsenal. The room is also fitted with large screens and communication module linking the President directly to the Minister of Defense and strategic air force commander.

It so happens that presently, with the exception of the European Heritage Days, it is almost impossible for ordinary people to get into the palace. Still, it is well worth the while to view it from the outside. So, whenever you're in Paris, just make sure to walk by.
Grand Palais

9) Grand Palais (must see)

The Grand Palace and its sister, the Small Palace, just across the street, were conceived simultaneously as centerpieces for the 1900 World Fair in Paris. In that, the former palace was to accommodate fine arts, comprising various “salons” showcasing the artistic life of the French capital. Masterminded by four different architects, the palace took the form of an enormous glass-iron pavilion quite suitable for exhibiting sculpture and paintings. Curiously enough, the facility also suits for and, in fact, regularly hosts... horse shows!

Its façade is a typical example of Beaux-Arts architecture and is dominated by an enormous 8-tonne Art Nouveau glass roof, the largest in Europe. Reportedly, its construction took more steel than the entire Eiffel Tower. When the night falls and the lights go up, the play of light on the pillars, columns, scrolls and roof glazing produces a magical sight that leaves no one indifferent.

There are multiple entrances to numerous outstanding exhibitions and art fairs, as well as to a cinema, a restaurant, and even a skate ring sometimes.

Inside, there are three major sections, namely: the Main Hall, the National Galleries, and the Palace of Discovery, which is the museum and cultural center dedicated to science. The Main Hall is undeniably festive and, although heavily criticized by its contemporaries initially, it is now widely admired. Quite spacious, the Main Hall is usually partially closed and gets fully open for special events only. But the museum and the exhibition section are open all the time and are very well laid out and interesting on their own. There are several exhibitions and art fairs underway there perpetually, each of which has its own separate entrance. Also, on the premises, there is a cinema theater, a restaurant and, seasonally, even a skate rink.

Should you decide to visit, don’t miss the Petit Palais just across the street while you're there, too!

Opening Hours:
Mon, Thu-Sun: 10am-8pm; Wed: 10am-10pm; closed on Tuesdays
Last admission 7:15pm (9:15pm on Wednesdays)
Champs-Élysées Avenue

10) Champs-Élysées Avenue (must see)

By far the most popular avenue of France, Les Champs-Élysées, or the "Elysian Fields", is a household name deeply rooted in the Greek mythology as a resting place for the blessed souls. Stretching for about 2 km, this major Paris thoroughfare extends from Place de la Concorde to Place Charles de Gaulle, boasting, apart from the exuberant shopping, luxurious dining and world-class entertainment, some of the top photographic panoramas of the French capital, particularly that opening from the top of the Arch of Triumph.

At one end, Champs-Élysées is straddled by a patch of greenery, surrounded by landmark attractions such as the Grand Palace and the Small Palace, housing a bunch of art galleries. Once a year, on the Bastille Day, the avenue hosts a military parade, as well as sees the finish of the annual Tour de France cycling race.

As a staple destination for foodies, it offers a choice of gourmet eateries fit to spoil even the most discerning gluttons. Among the places particularly worth checking out here are: bistro “Atelier Renault”; Flora Danica – renowned for its caviar; Fouquet’s restaurant aged over 100 years; the famous Laduree tea room; as well as L’Alsace Bistro specializing, just as the name suggests, in the cuisine from the Alsace region of France, open 24 hours a day.

Those craving entertainment will find it here in equally rich supply. Cinema Gaumont, France's #1 screen for movie premiers, the world famous cabaret Lido, the bar and club Montecristo, Le Queen nightclub with some of the top DJs in town, plus the Marigny Theatre are just some of the options to consider.

Why You Should Visit:
Whatever the season, day or night, Champs-Élysées never fails to impress.
Still, if you come here around Christmas, you'll be in for a special treat!
Arc de Triomphe (Arch of Triumph)

11) Arc de Triomphe (Arch of Triumph) (must see)

The spot at the termination of the Champs Elysées Avenue was always the subject of numerous plans for some kind of landmark monument. It was not until 1806, however, that Emperor Napoleon finally decreed that a triumphal arch, dedicated to the glory of his Great Army, should be built on the site. Napoleon’s architectural projects all made clear his desire to identify his regime with the glory of imperial Rome, and the design was inspired by the Roman Arch of Titus. The measure of Napoleon’s audacious ambitions can be got from the size of the Arc de Triomphe: a colossal 45 meters wide by 50 meters high, making it almost certainly the biggest triumphal arch in the world. Because of the presence today of the towers of La Défense on Paris's western horizon, it is hard to appreciate the Arc's original impact on the cityscape, when it was the most prominent and massive object for miles around, a hegemony it retained until the building of the Eiffel Tower in the 1880s.

Inevitably, the arch quickly became an object of the national pride and subsequently the world-famous symbol of French patriotism. Built in the era when a war was undoubtedly the “overriding argument of kings”, the arch was intended primarily for triumphal entrances into Paris by victorious French troops. Napoleon himself had a chance to pass beneath this arch mock-up replica only once, together with his bride Marie-Louise, the Archduchess of Austria, in 1810. The other Napoleon – Napoleon III – was more fortunate in this respect, and was able to ride underneath the completed arch upon his ascending to the throne in 1852. As to the proper victory march, the Arch of Triumph saw it for the first time only in 1919. The aftermath of World War I, though, shifted the French public interest away from war and, as of 1921, the arch has been solely the place of commemoration of the fallen soldiers, for which purpose there's a tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Flame of Remembrance.

Why You Should Visit:
If you're a history buff or just keen on spectacular views, you should definitely pay a visit to the arch and take a spiral staircase to the top of it or, if you're not fit for a climb, just take an elevator, to observe the intricate tapestry of Parisian streets from up there. Within the arch itself there's also a gift shop, in case you want a miniature replica thereof to take home.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-11pm (Apr-Sep); 10am-10:30pm (Oct-Mar)
Last admission 45 min before closing
For safety reasons, the ticket desks may close early during peak times

Walking Tours in Paris, France

Create Your Own Walk in Paris

Create Your Own Walk in Paris

Creating your own self-guided walk in Paris is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Historical Religious Sights Walking Tour

Historical Religious Sights Walking Tour

Paris is one of the cities that can fairly be considered a religious destination because of the number of churches that one is able to visit here. Reports show that, for instance, Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, recorded 13.65 million visits in 2006, and the number is increasing every year. This is a self guided walk that includes some of the most beautiful Christian relics located in the center...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.9 Km or 1.8 Miles
Le Marais Walking Tour

Le Marais Walking Tour

The district known to locals as "Le Marais" used to be a bourgeois area in the past and a major center of the Paris Jewish community that still exists today. Here, you will find different bookshops specializing in Jewish books, restaurants with traditional Jewish food and a synagogue. As one of the hippest neighborhoods in the city, it also has no shortage of narrow medieval streets,...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.3 Km or 1.4 Miles
The French Revolution Landmarks Walking Tour

The French Revolution Landmarks Walking Tour

The French Revolution had a huge impact on France's history as it gave rise to a radical democratic republic and resulted in violence during the infamous "Reign of Terror". Even though many of Paris' buildings were damaged in the course of the Revolution, the sites they occupied – which you can find on this self-guided walk – are of a great historical value today. Take your...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 7.3 Km or 4.5 Miles
Champs-Elysees Nightlife

Champs-Elysees Nightlife

A haven for the arts in Europe, with its influence felt worldwide, Paris boasts a steady stream of visitors to its fine city. After dark, guests to the City of Light can enjoy a multitude of great nightlife establishments that is sure to appeal to anyone looking for a hot night on the town. Whether its live DJs spinning intense electronic beats or a live acoustic jazz band you’re looking for...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.1 Km or 1.3 Miles
City Center Nightlife

City Center Nightlife

A haven for the arts in Europe, with its influence felt worldwide, Paris boasts a steady stream of visitors to its fine city. After dark, guests to the City of Light can enjoy a multitude of great nightlife establishments that is sure to appeal to anyone looking for a hot night on the town. Whether its live DJs spinning intense electronic beats or a live acoustic jazz band you’re looking for...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.3 Km or 3.3 Miles
Paris Introduction Walk II

Paris Introduction Walk II

From the Louvre to the Notre-Dame Cathedral to Place de la Bastille, the evolution of Paris and its history is literally visible on the banks of the river Seine, the linking thread winding its way through the city, as if keeping a watchful eye on its architectural marvels. This walk is centered around Île de la Cité and Le Marais, which together form the historical core of power in Paris. Along...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 6.4 Km or 4 Miles

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

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