Paris Introduction Walking Tour I, Paris

Paris Introduction Walking Tour 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 that 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 Paris Introduction Walk features iconic sights, such as the Eiffel Tower, the Arch of Triumph, Champs-Élysées Avenue, Tuileries Garden, and others. So put on your walking shoes and explore!
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Paris Introduction Walking Tour I Map

Guide Name: Paris Introduction Walking Tour I
Guide Location: France » Paris (See other walking tours in Paris)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.1 Km or 3.2 Miles
Author: greghasleft
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Tour Eiffel (Eiffel Tower)
  • Champ de Mars (Field of Mars)
  • Arc de Triomphe (Triumphal Arch)
  • Avenue des Champs-Elysees (Champs-Elysees Avenue)
  • Grand Palais (Grand Palace)
  • Place de la Concorde (Concorde Square)
  • Jardin des Tuileries (Tuileries Garden)
Tour Eiffel (Eiffel Tower)

1) Tour Eiffel (Eiffel Tower) (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.
Champ de Mars (Field of Mars)

2) Champ de Mars (Field of Mars)

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.
Arc de Triomphe (Triumphal Arch)

3) Arc de Triomphe (Triumphal Arch) (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 seen 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 Triumphal Arch 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.

The roundabout encircling the Arc de Triomphe is referred to by Parisians as L'Étoile, or "the Star," due to the 12 avenues that emanate from it. By climbing the stairs to the top of the arch, you can witness the star-shaped pattern of the radiating streets and enjoy a panoramic view of the Champs-Élysées leading towards Place de la Concorde and the Musée du Louvre in the distance.
Avenue des Champs-Elysees (Champs-Elysees Avenue)

4) Avenue des Champs-Elysees (Champs-Elysees Avenue) (must see)

By far the most popular avenue of France, Champs-Élysées 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 and 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 Ladurée 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!
Grand Palais (Grand Palace)

5) Grand Palais (Grand Palace)

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.

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!
Place de la Concorde (Concorde Square)

6) Place de la Concorde (Concorde Square)

Place de la Concorde is the largest and the most monumental of all Parisian squares, 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.

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 it, 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!
Jardin des Tuileries (Tuileries Garden)

7) Jardin des Tuileries (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. First opened to the public in 1667, it became fully accessible after the French Revolution.

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 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

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.
St-Germain-des-Pres Walking Tour

St-Germain-des-Pres Walking Tour

This self-guided walk takes you to explore the 6th arrondissement, covering the quarter of St-Germain-des-Prés, the riverside districts and the areas nearby the Luxembourg Garden. It is one of the most expensive districts of Paris, home to posh boutiques, eateries and iconic cafes once favored by philosophers and legendary writers, the likes of Hemingway and Camus. The area is likewise renowned...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
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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: 2.4 Km or 1.5 Miles
Montmartre Walking Tour

Montmartre Walking Tour

Originally named “Mons Martis”, meaning the “Mount of Mars”, Montmartre is one of the most famous and visited neighborhoods in Paris. Beyond the Sacré-Coeur, the Moulin Rouge and notable landmarks, the district is also about the atmosphere, the narrow streets, and the artsy culture that has made Paris famous. Once home to artists such as Monet, Picasso and Van Gogh, Montmartre continues...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 Km or 1.7 Miles
Souvenirs Shopping Walk

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Being one of the world's premier shopping destinations, the French capital attracts thousands of shopaholics every year. Even those who hate shopping, enjoy doing it here. Renowned for its luxury and sophistication, Paris is a great place for finding unique and elegant souvenirs to cherish. Here are some must-visit places for souvenir shopping in the City of Light.

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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.0 Km or 3.1 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 quite a bit of violence during the infamous "Reign of Terror". Even though many of Paris’ buildings were damaged in the course of the bloody conflicts, the sites they occupied – which you can find on this self-guided tour – are of a great historical...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 7.3 Km or 4.5 Miles
Eiffel Tower Walking Tour

Eiffel Tower Walking Tour

The 7th arrondissement of Paris is the most affluent and prestigious residential area in France, home to world-famous Eiffel Tower and the French upper class alongside a number of French national institutions, government offices and diplomatic missions. This historical neighborhood boasts typically Parisian architecture complete with vibrant cafés, restaurants and gourmet shops which draw foodies...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.6 Km or 2.9 Miles

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