Great Paris walks

Strolls and adventures through little-known corners of the capital



You can get a good feel for Paris even just on a day's sightseeing trip, something you can't say of many capital cities; and while its famed beauty certainly doesn't extend to every last nook and cranny, there are few streets here that are not worth walking along.

Walking: that's the secret. Your best chance of hearing this city's heartbeat lies in putting one foot in front of the other, above ground, among the people who live and work here; only then will you be able to see the 'museum city' clichés for what they are. Paris is alive, thriving: joyous proof that a city can love the trappings of the contemporary world without forgetting – or fossilising – its past.

In celebration of this fact, we've put together five step-by-step walking itineraries, complete with maps, that will introduce you to some of the more obscure corners of popular areas of Paris, allowing you to follow in the footsteps of some of the city's innumerable famous writers, architects and revolutionaries. There's also a list of themed guided walks that will take the pressure off reluctant map-readers.

Just remember to remain vigilant at all times. Crossing Paris streets can be perilous, as the 3,000 or so pedestrians who end up in hospital – or worse – each year can tell you. Brits must realise that traffic will be coming from the 'wrong' direction and that zebra crossings mean little. By law, drivers are only required to stop at a red traffic light – and even then, many will take a calculated risk.

Five great walks around Paris

Literary lions

Nowhere on earth are there so many literary associations in so small an area as St-Germain-des-Prés. The myth of the struggling writer in a garret might have died now that the likes of Louis Vuitton has opened next to Les Deux Magots, but the ghosts, along with a dense concentration of bookshops,

The path to purgatory

If you can keep your head while all those around you are losing theirs, get on the blocks for our Revolutionary Walk, a unique promenade through the goriest spots of regicidal fever. You'll need: stout shoes, water and a fervent imagination.

Dead famous

Paris has some of history's most influential characters buried on its soil; the Père-Lachaise cemetery alone shelters hundreds of writers, artists and politicians. But these are the lucky ones. Other famous figures did not always get to their final resting place in one piece. This itinerary

The path to modernism

In stark contrast with its current rather snooty image, in the early 1900s the 16th arrondissement was a hotbed of avant-garde architecture and experimentation. This walk explores artists' studios, apartment blocks and luxury villas that sprung up in a district that had only recently been

Père-Lachaise

The Cimetière du Père-Lachaise, Paris's largest cemetery, is probably still best known to foreign visitors as the final resting place of one James Douglas Morrison, lead singer of the Doors. But ask a local what this 48-hectare site in the 20th arrondissement means to them, and


Guided walks around Paris

Space invaders walking tour

The Space Invaders Tour from Localers is a fun walk that keeps both adults and kids entertained. Family tour veteran

Montmartre fashion tour

The fashionable Parisian is a hard act to follow. How to achieve their inimitable style? You could of course try to grapple with the boutiques and department stores alone, but put a foot wrong and

Eiffel Tower food tour

With help from an expert guide and chef, you will visit a select number of local artisanal food suppliers with an opportunity to taste what’s on offer, ranging from an exquisite foie gras tasting

A walk through Arab Paris

Though this fascinating and unusual tour might not be first on everybody's list of things to do in Paris, it should be. Culture from the Arab world has been a key element of Parisian life for

Free guided walks

One of the best ways to see a city is on foot; even better, let a local show you around. The guides at Discover Walks will show you Paris for nothing more than tips, a brilliant opportunity to get

Gastronomic tours

With glistening fruit tarts down one cobbled street and artisanal cheeses down another, Paris presents a particularly toothsome panorama. These guided tours with resident food experts will add sugar,