Walking the Left Bank of Paris

Notre Dame de Paris
Notre Dame de Paris

Wonderful, Walkable Paris

Wherever you go in the City of Light, go on foot if you can. Paris is one of the worlds most walkable cities. One comes upon delightful architectural and cultural surprises at every turn. And then there are wonderful, uniquely Parisian sights and smells to be savored like a fine wine as you move through the city on foot.

Just walking around town, is one of the greatest joys of visiting this most elegant and beautiful of European capitals. There are uniquely Parisian pleasures to be found around every corner that will bring you closer to the city’s essence than anything else. Whether strolling the wide Boulevards laid out by Baron Haussmann in the 19th century or exploring the medieval nooks and crannies of the left bank,you will come away with a new appreciation for the soul of this magnificent world capital. Here is one of my favorite Paris walks. Start at the Île de La Cité then cross over to the left bank and just wander. You won’t regret it.

Île de La Cité

This is the heart of Paris,the original Roman city, founded in 52 B.C.,where it all began. This is where the rest of Paris spread out from, and where all paths(and several bridges over the Seine) lead back to. It is dominated by the magnificent 12th century gothic cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris, which is definitely worth walking around both inside and out.

The various side chapels, the stained glass windows(including the famous grande rosace), the carvings and comings and goings of tourists and worshipers alike offer a feast for all the senses. The warren of tiny streets adjacent to the cathedral and the large square in front of the church are a people watcher’s paradise. There are shops and restaurants worth exploring all around.

There are guided tours of Notre Dame, which you can sign up for on the spot and which, if you have the time, are well worth taking. Under supervision you can go up to the roof where you get fabulous views and a look at the gargoyles up close and personal, not to mention a history lesson on the MIddle Ages that brings new meaning to the words show and tell.

Plan to spend plenty of time here just to soak up the vibes and don't forget your camera. When you have had enough, cross the bridge to the left bank and enjoy a wonderful walk through the ancient streets. You can follow the route I suggest, or make your own. You really can't get lost and there are serendipitous treasures all around you..... many complete with historical markers in a variety of languages.

A Video Tour of Notre Dame in English

Walking the Latin Quarter

On the Left Bankof the Seine, not far from the Île de La Cité is the Latin Quarter, home from medieval times to the University of Paris and, by extension, to students, intellectuals, artists and radicals of all stripes. It also contains a treasure trove of Roman ruins, medieval structures, museums, churches and offbeat shops and restaurants. Walk up the Boulevard St. Michel and you will encounter a cross section of the world. As you pass the rue Soufflot,go have a look at the Pantheon. It is an amazing building Many famous people are buried there including Rousseau, Voltaire and Madame Curie—a fitting resting place for the intellectual giants of France. If you keep going up the “ Boul Mich” you will eventually come to the Jardin du Luxembourg, a huge park that includes beautiful gardens, a puppet theater, carosel, outdoor cafe, sculpture, and a number of walking paths and seating areas. It's a great place to stop, rest, and smell the flowers.You can vary this Left Bank walk depending on time and mood. Instead of going all the way up the Boulevard St Michel, you can explore the winding streets behind the Pantheon or stroll down the Boulevard St Germain, walking in the footsteps of Jean-Paul Sartre.

Left  Bank  Street scene in the heart of the Latin Quarter
Left Bank Street scene in the heart of the Latin Quarter | Source

Tips for Paris Walking

There are wonderful hidden squares and pocket parks as well as broad esplanades all over Paris where pedestrians are welcome. At every season of the year, except high summer, it is wise to take an umbrella with you as showers spring up out of nowhere. Take a map or guide book with you as well and don't forget your camera. You are bound to find interesting side alleys or parks and squares. Paris is full of them. Forget walking briskly, Paris is for strolling. You might even want to stop and sit down on a park bench or savor a snack at a sidewalk cafe before going on. Don't be too destination directed. Let Paris lead you. Don't try to lead it. Wherever you walk you will find surprising and wonderful sights, smells and tastes and you will perhaps, begin to understand why so many people, all over the world, claim Paris as the capital of their hearts.

Left Bank Walking Tour

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Comments 33 comments

dinamars profile image

dinamars 9 years ago from France

Paris... dreaming to go there again someday. I like Versailles Palace the most.

robie2 profile image

robie2 9 years ago from Central New Jersey Author

Hi Dinamars--thanks for stopping by:-)

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pgrundy 9 years ago

Paris...sigh. It sounds perfectly dreamy. Thanks for another great hub robie2.

vreccc profile image

vreccc 9 years ago from Concord, NH


You have definitely been there by the way you write about this. Or, if you haven't, you've done good research. I've been many places, but I've never been Europe. Someday!

robie2 profile image

robie2 8 years ago from Central New Jersey Author

Ahhhhbut you have lived in China which is a "someday" for me--although it's unlikely I'll ever get there:-) Was a student in Paris many years ago and it will always be one of my favorite places so when I saw all the Paris hubs, I decided to write one too just for fun--no research on my part--just fond memories aided by a google search or two.

Cindy King profile image

Cindy King 8 years ago from Just South of Paris France

Good fun. I moved to France (wow) about 20 years ago and you make me want to visit here.

robie2 profile image

robie2 8 years ago from Central New Jersey Author

Wow !20 years of fresh baguettes and good coffee-- I envy you, Cindy:-) Thanks for reading an commenting--Vive la France

robie2 profile image

robie2 8 years ago from Central New Jersey Author

ooops, pg-- how did I miss your comment up there? Must be going blind--good to see you and thanks for reading:-)

VioletSun profile image

VioletSun 8 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

Robie2: France sounds like such a romantic city to live in and visit. I l enjoy fine dining now and then, and probably would enjoy this the most.  

By the way, I love that picture of you,  its funky, and it reminds me of another era, a more romantic one. :)

robie2 profile image

robie2 8 years ago from Central New Jersey Author

Thanks for commenting VS. Glad you like the avatar--she's younger and far more elegant looking than the real me but I like to think we are equally pensive and creativeLOL.

barranca profile image

barranca 8 years ago

Enjoyed the tour. I've been to Rome several times but not to Paris...when I do, I will walk your tour.

robie2 profile image

robie2 8 years ago from Central New Jersey Author

You won't regret it-- thanks for reading:-)

SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 8 years ago from Southern California, USA

One thing I like about Paris is everyone walks everywhere, which is a big reason why Parisians have a very healthy lifestyle compared to other modern cities. Very nice hub.

robie2 profile image

robie2 8 years ago from Central New Jersey Author

Thanks for reading, Sweetie Pie. I guess Parisians have to do something healthy to offset all that smoking they do:-) They certainly do know how to enjoy life, that's for sure.

happyexplorer profile image

happyexplorer 8 years ago from Mostly USA, sometimes elsewhere

Wonderful! I totally agree about walking Paris -- it's definitely the best way to go! Thanks for the great info, - Deanna.

robie2 profile image

robie2 8 years ago from Central New Jersey Author

Thanks for dropping by happy explorer--yup Paris is a walker's city for sure!

Uninvited Writer profile image

Uninvited Writer 8 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

Wonderful hub. I was in Paris once and I long to go back.

I found that London, England is also a very good city to walk around in.

robie2 profile image

robie2 8 years ago from Central New Jersey Author

I bet London is wonderfully walkable too. I just don't know it as well as Paris--thanks for stopping by--you are an "invited" writer here anytime:-)

robie2 profile image

robie2 8 years ago from Central New Jersey Author

Ahhh Decrescendo-- your trenchent observations always amaze me.....and I love your avatar. Took me awhile to figure out what that bear was doing :-)

abubacker profile image

abubacker 8 years ago from India

Plesa visit Kerala

robie2 profile image

robie2 8 years ago from Central New Jersey Author

I wish I could, abubacker:-) Thanks for your comment.

desert blondie profile image

desert blondie 8 years ago from Palm trees, swimming pools, lots of sand, lots of sunscreen

Can't imagine that I've just now found this hub...and it's about my fav city by one of my fav hubbers! This hub re: Paris so much better than the one I wrote in response to a request...that "requester" should have found your hub! c'est la vie!

robie2 profile image

robie2 8 years ago from Central New Jersey Author

Awwww Desert Blondie, you flatter me:-) but thanks for your kind words. I love paris too. Yeah-- I'm always stumbling across hubs and thinking "how did I miss this one" I guess there are just so many hubs and so little time eh?Now I'm gonna go find your Paris hub because I don't know how I missed it LOL

RGraf profile image

RGraf 8 years ago from Wisconsin

One day I'll go. My husband's grandparents met there during WWII. He would like to see it, too.

Lgali profile image

Lgali 8 years ago

one day I will go there

robie2 profile image

robie2 8 years ago from Central New Jersey Author

Hi RGraf and Lgali-- hope you both get to Paris -- it is a wonderful city. Thanks for reading and commenting.

dineane profile image

dineane 8 years ago from North Carolina

cool - I'm sending this link to my daughter. She is going to France next summer with her high school French club - heck, I'll send it to her teacher, too :-)

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Iphigenia 7 years ago

Great hub about a city that I know well. These walks are the best way for first, sceond even tid time and more vists. A good way to capture the mood of this city is also simply by sitting at a pavement cafe.

robie2 profile image

robie2 7 years ago from Central New Jersey Author

There is something about the smell of Paris-- coffee,baguettes, black tobacco-- it is so special and soooooo sensual. I love walking in Paris but sitting and sipping and watching the world go by is my second favorite activity there. Thanks for the visit, Iphigenia.

rebekahELLE profile image

rebekahELLE 7 years ago from Tampa Bay

found you today looking through hubbers category, so nice to read your Paris hub. the city does forever linger in ones heart after walking upon her cobblestone streets. I'm pretty sure I still think about Paris at least once during my day!

wonderful~~ thanks for sharing.

robie2 profile image

robie2 7 years ago from Central New Jersey Author

Thanks for finding me rebekah-- and glad you liked this. Paris is my alltime personal favorite city. You are right, she is unforgettable:-)

ali 5 years ago

Well france is really a place to visit. Love spending time there.

robie2 profile image

robie2 5 years ago from Central New Jersey Author

me too, Ali-- me too:-)

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