Royal Paris Walk, Paris (Self Guided)

The capital of France is made up of 20 administrative districts, commonly referred to as “arrondissements”. The 1st arrondissement of Paris sits mainly on the right bank of the River Seine and is the home of royal palaces and lush gardens. This self guided walk explores Jardin des Tuileries, Palais-Royal, La Conciergerie and many other prominent sights.
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Royal Paris Walk Map

Guide Name: Royal Paris Walk
Guide Location: France » Paris (See other walking tours in Paris)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.3 km
Author: karen
1
Tuileries Garden

1) 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.

Tip:
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)
Sight description based on wikipedia
2
Hotel Ritz

2) Hotel Ritz

The Hôtel Ritz is a grand palatial hotel in the heart of Paris, the 1st arrondissement. The hotel, which today has 159 rooms, was founded by the Swiss hotelier, César Ritz, in collaboration with the chef Auguste Escoffier in 1898. The new hotel was constructed behind the facade of an 18th-century town house, overlooking one of Paris's central squares. It was reportedly the first hotel in Europe to provide a bathroom en suite, a telephone and electricity for each room. It quickly established a reputation for luxury, with clients including royalty, politicians, writers, film stars and singers. Several of its suites are named in honor of famous guests of the hotel, including Coco Chanel and Ernest Hemingway who lived at the hotel for years. The palace and the square are masterpieces of classical architecture from the end of the reign of Louis XIV. The facade was designed by the royal architect Mansart in the late 17th century before the plot was bought and construction began in 1705. The Hôtel Ritz comprises the Vendôme and the Cambon buildings with rooms overlooking the Place Vendôme, and, on the opposite side, the hotel's famous garden.
Sight description based on wikipedia
3
Colonne de Vendome

3) Colonne de Vendome

The original column was started in 1806 at Napoleon's direction and completed in 1810. It was modeled after Trajan's Column, to celebrate the victory of Austerlitz; its veneer of 425 spiraling bas-relief bronze plates was made out of cannon taken from the combined armies of Europe. These plates were designed by the sculptor Pierre-Nolasque Bergeret and executed by a team of sculptors. A statue of Napoleon, bare-headed, crowned with laurels and holding a sword in his right hand and a globe surmounted with a statue of Victory in his left hand, was placed atop the column.
Sight description based on wikipedia
4
Place Vendome

4) Place Vendome

Place Vendôme was built on the orders of Louis XIV, as a grandiose setting that would embody absolute power in the very heart of Paris. Its regular architecture by Jules Hardouin-Mansart and pedimented screens canted across the corners give the rectangular Place Vendôme the aspect of an octagon. The original Vendôme Column at the centre of the square was erected by Napoleon I to commemorate the Battle of Austerlitz; it was torn down on 16 May 1871, by decree of the Paris Commune, but subsequently re-erected and remains a prominent feature on the square today.
Sight description based on wikipedia
5
Le Grand Vefour

5) Le Grand Vefour

Le Grand Véfour, the first grand restaurant in Paris, France, was opened in the arcades of the Palais-Royal in 1784 by Antoine Aubertot, as the Café de Chartres, and was purchased in 1820 by Jean Véfour, who was able to retire within three years, selling the restaurant to Jean Boissier. A list of regular customers over the last two centuries includes most of the immortal heavyweights of French culture and politics, along with the tout-Paris. Sauce Mornay was one of the preparations introduced at the Grand Véfour. Closed from 1905 to 1947, a revived Grand Véfour opened with the celebrated chef Raymond Oliver in charge in the autumn of 1948. Jean Cocteau designed his menu. The restaurant, with its early nineteenth-century neoclassical décor of large mirrors in gilded frames and painted supraportes, continues its tradition of gastronomy at the same location, "a history-infused citadel of classic French cuisine."
Sight description based on wikipedia
6
Palais-Royal

6) Palais-Royal (must see)

The Palais-Royal, originally called the Palais-Cardinal, was the residence of the royal family until the Palace of Versailles was built. The Palais Royal was built by Richelieu in 1628 and then inherited by King Louis XIII upon his death. Louis XIV spent part of his childhood there. The palace features a charming garden that opens to public. The garden is a fun place for kids and a great place to relax in the busy city center.

On 12 July of 1789, Camille Desmoulins, a journalist and politician of the time, gave a speech on a table in the garden of Palais Royal. Fearing that King Louis would crack down on the Third Estate after the having dismissed finance minister Jacques Necker, Desmoulins called the people to uprise. This led to the storming of the Bastille two days later.

Why You Should Visit:
A little seclusion in a busy part of town that really transports you to a different place and time – imagining what court life must have been like.
Ideal for a day/night walk (much more beautiful by night).

Tip:
On the other side of the garden is the trendy Rue des Petits-Champs with nice wine bars, and the beautiful Place des Victoires.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 7am-11pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
7
Sainte-Chapelle

7) Sainte-Chapelle (must see)

The crown jewel of Gothic architecture in Paris, the Holy Chapel, is located not far from the Notre-Dame Cathedral. Aged almost 800 years, the chapel is renowned for its stained glass and most notably the 15th century rose windows in the upper part, widely regarded to be the best of its kind in the world. These and other things make this church outstanding even among the most extraordinary medieval monuments of Paris.

The chapel was built for an exceptional man, King Louis IX, who led the 7th and 8th Crusades to the Holy Land and brought home, among other treasures, what was believed to be the Crown of Thorns worn by Jesus himself! Naturally, a precious relic such as this required a depository, but besides that, the Holy Chapel was conceived also as the palace chapel for the king and the royal family.

Over the centuries, the chapel had sustained multiple damages. A repeated victim of floods and fires, it suffered particularly badly during the French Revolution when its sculptures were deliberately destroyed and furnishings looted. Eventually, to mend the damage, in the 19th century a great deal of renovation became necessary involving skilled craftsmanship and meticulous attention to detail. The result of that work deserves commendation, and the chapel we see today is as much a 19th century monument as it is a medieval one. Miraculously, about two-thirds of the original stained glass has survived. It looks particularly impressive in sunny weather, but even when it's cloudy, the glass is absolutely fabulous.

Just like many other religious sites of the period, the Holy Chapel was a symbol of Jerusalem meant to evoke paradise on Earth for those saved at the Last Judgment. To this end, the building had a cedar wood spire placed on top, which at that time was considered a technical feat. It proved to be just as great from an artistic standpoint either, magnificently capturing the spiky spirit of the Gothic forms. The Holy Chapel is impressively simple and coherent, compared to other cathedrals and churches of that period, and represents medieval Gothic architecture in its purest form. In contrast to its apparent architectural simplicity, on the inside, the chapel boasts rich decoration in the upper part which is truly remarkable and dazzling in its gilding and color.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am-5pm (Oct-Mar); 9am-7pm (Apr-Sep)
Sight description based on wikipedia
8
La Conciergerie

8) La Conciergerie (must see)

The City Island (Île de la Cité) in Paris, situated amid the river Seine, is a home to the 14th-century palace that went down in history as the seat of the French parliament prior to the French Revolution. It is also known as the home of France's first public clock, installed around 1370. Build on orders of King Philippe IV, the palace was recurrently added to and rebuilt up until the early 20th century, thus gradually becoming a fascinating conglomeration of buildings.

Nowadays, it is particularly famous for its Conciergerie section which owes its name to a “concierge”, the official nominated by king to maintain law and order in Paris. In 1391, the building was partially transformed into jail to hold both regular criminals and political prisoners. The treatment of inmates depended totally on their wealth, social status and personal connections. The most affluent were usually allowed separate cells with a bed, desk and reading/writing materials. Those less rich settled for more modest cells, called “pistols”, furnished with a rough bed and a table, whereas the poorest ones were kept in the dark, damp and vermin-infested cubicles, known as “oubliettes” (or “dungeons”). Most prisoners wouldn't stay there for long though, as the carts carrying the condemned to the nearby guillotine, in Place de la Concorde, kept running on a regular basis.

During the French Revolution, hundreds of people were killed. At some point, the Conciergerie became a VIP prison seeing among its inmates the likes of Queen Marie Antoinette and Napoleon III. Later, Marie Antoinette's cell was made into a chapel and is currently open for public viewing, featuring, among other relics, several of her portraits made during the final days before the execution.

Those eager to learn more about the French Revolution and the history of France in general are free to explore this fascinating Gothic site with its halls and dungeons. For more information and better understanding of what this place was like back in the day, consider spending a few euros on the little 'Histopad' gadget, combining both audio & visual function, offered on the site. It is quite handy!

Why You Should Visit:
An absolutely fascinating Gothic landmark where you can learn about the French Revolution and other historic moments.

Tip:
Visiting the Conciergerie is possible on a combined ticket granting access to the neighboring Holy Chapel as well.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9:30am-6pm
Sight description based on wikipedia

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.
Latin Quarter Walking Tour

Latin Quarter Walking Tour

The 5th arrondissement of Paris, also known as the Latin Quarter, is the city's oldest neighborhood. Its name came from the Middle Ages due to the presence of universities where Latin was commonly spoken by students and members of the clergy. Aside from several beautiful Medieval churches that are well worth a visit, the presence of said universities and students also brought some lively...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.3 km
Champs Elysee Walk

Champs Elysee Walk

On this self guided walk you will witness the grandeur of the 8th arrondissement of the French capital, one of its busiest and chic neighborhoods, thanks to the presence of Avenue des Champs Elysées, Arc de Triomphe and Place de la Concorde. If shine and glamour are up to your liking, we invite you to take this walk in a mixed crowd of fashionistas, tourists and local workers, and see some of...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.1 km
St-Germain-des-Pres Walking Tour

St-Germain-des-Pres Walking Tour

This self guided walk takes you to explore the 6th arrondissement, covering St-Germain-des-Prés quarter, the River side 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 legendary writers, the likes of Hemingway and Camus. The area is particularly renowned for its unique...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.3 km
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, Montmarte continues...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 km
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
City Orientation Walk II

City Orientation 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

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip


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Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Paris for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Paris has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Saving Money with City Passes


To save yourself time and money visiting Paris's multiple sights, you may want to resort to the so-called city passes, such as the Paris Pass, Paris Explorer Pass, Paris Museum Pass, or Paris Night Pass.

A city pass combines all or multiple Paris' top highlights, tours and experiences in one prepaid attractions pass, using which you can save incredible amounts on general admission fees as compared to purchasing tickets separately. Often, a city pass also allows you to skip the lines at major attractions, thus saving you precious time.

Staying at Walk-Friendly Hotels


Since you're keen on exploring cities on foot (we assume that you are, and this is why you're here), it is important that you stay at a hotel close to the city's major attractions. It saves you time and energy. Here are a few of Paris hotels that are conveniently located, but at the same time, also not so ridiculously expensive: Novotel Paris Les Halles, Les Rives de Notre-Dame, 9Confidentiel.

Taking Care of Your Feet


To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Paris, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device


Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.

Exploring City on Guided Tours


We have a strong bias towards exploring a city on foot, at your own pace, because this is how you get to see things up close with a maximum freedom. You decide how much time you wish to spend at each attraction and don't have to worry about following a crowd. That said, however, we also understand that some of you may want to go with a guided tour. If that is your case, here are some guided tours to consider. Be ready to fork out a bit of money, though, as a guided tour of Paris typically costs from around US$20 up to US$200 or more per person:

- Board a hop-on hop-off double-decker to enjoy sightseeing of Paris from the open top of the bus, listening in the headsets to the commentary provided in a variety of languages, and be able get off at any of the stops along the two interconnecting routes (your ticket is valid for both).

- Alternatively, you can cruise along the river Seine on a similar hop-on hop-off sightseeing boat viewing Paris's top attractions from a different angle, able to get on and off as often as you want at any of the eight stops along the Seine riverbanks. The ticket is valid for one day (24 hrs) and may be upgraded to two days (48 hrs).

- Embark on a self-balancing Segway tour – this usually lasts about 3 hours and allows you to get a real sense of the city. Most people (even those aged 70+) find it quite fun and convenient, enabling to cover much more ground than you otherwise would have done by walking.

- Pedal your way around Paris on a bike tour. In the course of 4 hours you will visit the city's most spectacular sights stopping at each of them for a bit of rest, watching the surroundings, and learning much about the city from an informative group leader.

- Take a walk around Paris with a knowledgeable guide for an alternative view of the French capital. Over the course of this 2-hour walking tour you will get insights and hear stories about every major classic sight of this fascinating city. A complete overview of Paris from the ground up!

- Come see the best of the French capital in just one day in a combo of a Seine river cruise and historical walk of Paris. You may start either with the Eiffel Tower or the Notre-Dame Cathedral making your way around the iconic sights of the city: the Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, Grand Palais, Alexandre III bridge, Invalides, Concorde Square, Orsay Museum, etc.

- Missing out on the French food, whilst in Paris, would be worse than a crime – it would be a mistake! If you don't want to make such a mistake, consider a private 3-hour food tour of Paris complete with a set of 10 unforgettable tastings the memories of which will last you a lifetime. Just make sure to bring along your appetite to make the most of the savory treats awaiting!

- Live a chocoholic’s dream right at the heart of Paris! Follow your sweet tooth sense on this 2-hour guided “chocolate walk” in central Paris visiting some of the best chocolate boutiques of the French capital, learning about peculiar chapters in the history of the city and the place delectable chocolate played in it. Adding to the excitement is a round of free tastings.

Day Trips


If you have a full or half day to spare whilst in Paris, why not use it to explore some of the out-of-town destinations, like Versailles, Fontainebleau, Champagne region, Loire valley, Normandy, or a combo of Honfleur and Giverny. For as little as US$90+ to US$200+ per person you will get a chance to discover highlights of the UNESCO World Heritage sites, see the favorite residence of the French royalty, world-famous vineyards, charming castles, and historic battlefields of World War II. For any of these tours you may be picked up either straight from your hotel or any other place in Paris, and transported by a comfortable air-conditioned minivan or train (whenever applicable) to the destination of your choice and back again.