View of the Eiffel Tower from the Pont Alexandre III, where you feel like you're in an Opera
We had a wonderful week full of activity and fun. We experienced our first shirt-sleeve weather since last fall. Oh spring, how we love you! Farid left for home mid-week, but not before we took him to Paris and introduced him to some of our favorite corners by way of a half-day walk around the city. I thought I would take you along with us. One of the best ways to discover the city of light is simply to start walking. The following itinerary takes you in a wide circle around the center and past lots of beautiful landmarks.
Starting at the Place St. Michel, turn towards the river and descend onto the quai.
A blimp over the river at the Place St Michel
Down by the river you walk towards the Louvre, passing under the Pont Neuf. And no, Pont Neuf doesn't mean bridge #9, it means new bridge. It's actually the oldest standing bridge over the river.
The Pont Neuf
You can walk back up to street level before you get to Pont des Arts, which spans from the Academie Française to the Louvre. Cross the river from the left to the right bank.
Enjoy the views left and right. You will see the Ile de la Cité on your right with its charming park at the very tip. Great place for a picnic.
View from the Pont des Arts towards the Ile de la Cité
Pass through the courtyard of the Louvre Palace and into the courtyard of the Pyramid. This is a perfect place to sit and enjoy the sun, the water, the people, the view. You can experience the grand axis of Paris here.
The Pyramid of the Louvre
Pass under the Louvre through a passage that leads to the Rue de Rivoli. You'll be able to enjoy an expansive view of the interior of the museums' statue gallery.
The statue gallery of the Louvre
Cross Rue de Rivoli, heading towards the Palais Royal. There is a busy café just there, next to the Comédie Française (the national theater) where it is quite pleasant to take a quick cup of coffee and enjoy some people-watching.
Enjoying a cup of coffee in a popular Paris café
Pass through the sculpture garden where children and skaters love to play. Here is one of the many examples in the city of modern and ancient living together in harmony.
Sculpture garden of the Palais Royal
The gallery of the Palais Royal houses some of the most exclusive and expensive stores and restaurants in Paris. It's fun to peek in the windows.
Galleries at the Palais Royal
The garden of the Palais Royal is a glorious place to sit and enjoy the sun, the birds, the fountains and the pretty people.
Palais Royal Garden
At the back end of the garden, exit through the gallery onto a little street, mount some stairs and find yourself just across the street from the Passage Vivienne, one of the most beautiful in Paris. It's well worth a detour into the covered passage to discover the shops, restaurants and light-filled space.
Exit at one of the side doors or out the front and turn towards the statue of Louis XIV on horse back. You're at Place des Victoires, with its beautiful curved buildings and elegant facades. The Bourse (the French stock market) and the National Library are just down the street.
Place des Victoires
At this point you turn back towards the river and follow small streets towards the church of St. Eustache, built in the 16th century and recently restored. This is another spot to stop, sunbathe, frolic and generally enjoy life.
Church of St Eustache
Pass Les Halles and Beaubourg (Pompidou Center), which are currently undergoing renovations. Continue into the Marais and enjoy exploring this popular neighborhood, with some of the oldest buildings in Paris.
Street in the Marais
The Marais is a perfect place to have lunch. There are lots of great restaurants both cheap and expensive.
lunching at a falafal restaurant in the Marais
Turn towards the river again and be sure to pass by the Hôtel de Sens, former royal residence and one of the very oldest buildings left in Paris. It is now a museum, library and very nice book shop.
Hôtel de Sens
Walk through the Village St. Paul, with many interesting shops and cross over one of the bridges onto the Ile St Louis.
Walk the length of the Island towards the Ile de la Cité and enjoy the many galleries and shops along the way.
Rue St. Louis
Now you simply must stop, no matter the season, weather or time of day and purchase an ice cream cone from Berthillon. This is some of the best ice cream you will ever taste. You can choose between many flavors. Enjoy your cone by the river and catch a few rays of sunshine, or watch the street theater on the bridge.
Standing on the tip of Ile St Louis
The boats go by. If the day is fine, you will feel like you're at the center of the world. You probably are.
View from Pont St Louis
Cross the bridge back to the Ile de la Cité and enter the back garden of Notre Dame Cathedral. If it's summer you might have a free concert here.
The park behind Notre Dame, a very pleasant place to rest
Why not enter Notre Dame and enjoy the stained glass windows, especially if it's a bright sunny day.
Rose window, Notre Dame Cathedral
Cross back to the left bank right in front of Notre Dame to see the oldest tree in Paris at the garden of St. Julien le Pauvre, one of the oldest churches in Paris, built in the 13th century.
The garden at St Julien le Pauvre
The historic Shakespeare and Company is on the quai, just down the street. They were shooting a movie in front when we passed so we couldn't enter, but normally it's a wonderful bookstore (English language) to browse and enjoy. Sitting and reading in a corner is encouraged.
Shakespeare and Company bookstore
You will have a lovely view of Notre Dame from across the river.
Finish the walk by enjoying the many streets in Saint Germain des Prés. You'll hear as much English being spoken here as French, as it is one of the favorite spots for the 50,000 Americans who live here and the many, many more who visit.
Saint Germain des Prés
If you're lucky, you could end your day with a cultural event as we did. We enjoyed Jos' opening night at the Theatre du Rond-Point on the Champs Elysees. I had another lovely sunset walk through the Jardins des Tuileries to get to the theater. But that is another story.
Quinn came to the theater too and enjoyed sharing the limelight with his father.
After the show, a reception for Jos and Quinn takes center stage
Our week ended with a concert in Alençon with our friends Jonathan, Renata, Anne and Christine. We saw Marianne Faithfull on her first stop in Europe to promote her new album Horses and High Heels. Recommended!
If you'd like a map of the walk described in this post please send me an email and I'll return a .pdf file to you. If you simply leave me a comment requesting the map, I may not be able to find your email address, so an actual email is much more efficient.