The Big Walk in Paris

posted November 7, 2012 by Holly Hayes part of trip: The Great European Road Trip
Arc de Triomphe with Red Mini, Paris, France
East face of the Arc de Triomphe, with a bright red Mini Cooper in the roundabout. Paris, France.

I had a good and very productive week in Paris. I took several thousand photos, at least some of them good, and that's the main thing. My French, such as it is, ground back to life and got some good practice. I got to know my way around the city again, saw many parts of it I never have before, and became comfortable with the Metro, which is just as efficient but not as intuitive as London's Tube.

My first full day, Sunday, was very sunny (one of the few sunny days, it turns out) and I did what I shall call "The Big Walk," which I think I have done on previous visits as well. It takes in most of the big sights, from the Notre-Dame Cathedral to the Louvre to the Champs-Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe to the Eiffel Tower, and back again. Here are some highlights.


Above is a rough sketch of the walk, with purple extension for twilight photography on the Ile-St-Louis. The Notre-Dame is by the blue line at the far right; the Eiffel Tower on the far left. As best I can calculate, I walked around 10 miles. Holy moly, it felt like it.

Centre Pompidou, Paris, France
Exterior of the Centre Pompidou (1977), Paris, France.

My first stop was virtually around the corner from my hotel. This is the Centre Pompidou, built in the 1970s as a modern art museum, which it still is. It wears all of its functional innards on the outside, leaving lots of space for the galleries inside. It is very different, and certainly stands out from its surroundings!


Then I headed in the other direction, passing along the Hotel de Ville (city hall). I saw this impressive building everyday, as it's only one block from my hotel and is on the way to everything else.

Fountain and Notre-Dame
View from the other side of the fountains, from the Hotel de Ville square, looking towards Notre Dame.

I've crossed two bridges by the time I'm on the other side of the Notre-Dame Cathedral, as seen here - because it's on a small island in the middle of the Seine River. Ancient Celtic and Roman cities were centered on this island, as it was easy to defend.

Those buttresses are really flying.

The line to enter the cathedral - actually just the back half of it! Ugh. Admission is free, wonderfully, so that's not the holdup - it's just a natural bottleneck of so many people wanting to enter through two small doors. There was always a significant line when I passed by, so I never went inside on this trip.

Antique Books by the Seine, Paris, France
Antique Books by the Seine, Paris, France

One of many iconic sights of Paris are these wonderful stalls that line the river on both sides. A few sell tourist stuff, but most are really cool, with wonderful antique books, magazines, and prints. I really wish I had more time and luggage space to stock up on wonderful things to decorate my house with.


Antique Books by the Seine, Paris, France
Antique Books by the Seine, Paris, France


Another Paris tradition is for couples to declare their everlasting love by attaching padlocks to a bridge. This is the Pont de l'Archeveché, near the back of the cathedral.

It seems that an awful lot of romantic couples come to Paris - who knew?

I stopped for a brief breakfast/lunch with a view, in the form of a ham and cheese panini and a fashionable Coca Cola Light. It was quite good.

Art Nouveau Metro Sign
Nearby, I discovered one of the few remaining Art Nouveau entrances to the Metro (the Cit

next: Homeward Bound

previous: Antwerp from the Window

Article Info

Page Title
The Big Walk in Paris
Added By
Holly Hayes
Date Published
November 7, 2012
Last Updated
April 15, 2024