A walking tour of Paris
With Paris leading the way in the ‘15-minute city’ revolution*, it’s the perfect time to re-explore France’s enchanting capital on foot. Prepare to lose yourself in the city’s tangle of cobbled streets, where history, fashion and art welcome you at every storied corner
*The idea that essential amenities should be within a 15-minute walk or bike ride from residents
Markets à la mode
Approximately 450 steps: Let’s begin at Paris’s oldest covered market in the heart of the Haut Marais. Le Marché des Enfants Rouges dating back to 1615, was named after the red uniforms worn by children in the nearby orphanage. These days, an array of international food stalls, including Italian, African, Lebanese and Japanese, entice alongside fruit, fish and flower stands. Exit on Rue Charlot and turn left at Rue de Poitou where you’ll find bijou boutique Koshka Paris, in an à la mode neighbourhood where ethically minded designers create chic womenswear with a modern twist. Further along this fashionable street sits concept shop Matières à réflexion, known for upcycling vintage leather jackets into stylish bags. Peek into its next-door workshop to see the designers in action.
Approximately: 1,250 steps: Around the corner on Rue Vieille du Temple, set your sights on an extravagant 17th-century mansion whose rose-filled garden provides an ideal respite along this bustling artery leading to the Marais. An introduction to classicism in Baroque architecture, Hôtel Salé now houses the Picasso Museum, with its entrance around the corner on Rue de Thorigny. Turn left on Rue de la Perle and travel back in time when you enter chocolate shop Méert. Ask to taste its famous waffles, originating in Lille circa 1849. Return to the present day at fashion-forward shoe store Zoe Lee, next door on Rue du Parc Royal.
Approximately 3,150 steps: Turn right and head along Rue Payenne, where Square Georges Cain invites daydreamers to while away the hours in a serene setting. This garden is named after the painter and writer who devoted years to curating nearby Musée Carnavalet, a noteworthy space dedicated to the history of the French capital. Across the street the fragrant oasis Jardin Lazare-Rachline is shaded by Musée Cognacq-Jay, which exhibits a private collection of exceptional 18th-century artworks. Turn left on to Rue des Francs-Bourgeois, one of the Marais’s longest and liveliest streets, and continue until you reach Place des Vosges. Originally called Place Royale and residence of the French aristocracy, this perfectly symmetrical square, composed of 36 brick buildings dating back to the early 17th century, is the oldest in Paris. Pay a visit to Victor Hugo at his former home at number 6 in between gallery hopping beneath the regal arcades. Exit through a door in the southwest corner to discover yet another clandestine garden, this one belonging to the Hôtel de Sully. Once a private residence where Voltaire spent the night, the mansion is now the Centre des Monuments Nationaux.
Art and the apéro
Approximately 4,750 steps: Turn right on Rue Saint-Antoine followed by a left on to Rue Saint-Paul, named after the neighbouring 17th-century Roman Catholic Church Saint-Paul Saint-Louis. Continue until you reach the entrance to Village Saint-Paul, a cloistered treasure trove filled with antique shops, art galleries, and intimate eateries. After in-depth explorations of this enchanting enclave, return to Rue Saint Paul and turn right towards the River Seine where restaurant-cum-bar Les Nautes sets a lively scene along the pedestrianised quai. Take the steps down to the riverbank and follow the afternoon sun westwards towards Pont Marie, where convivial péniches bar barges Marcounet and Les Maquereaux line the Seine. Live jazz fills the summer air on Sunday afternoons.
Approximately 7,725-10,000 steps: Cross Pont Louis-Philippe for a taste of idyllic island life on Île Saint-Louis. It’s the home of famed ice-cream maker Berthillon, not to mention Paris’s most scenic picnic venue. Continue along Pont Saint-Louis towards Cathedral Notre-Dame de Paris, and you’ll reach the second river island, Île de la Cité – the very centre of the city. Walk along Quai aux Fleurs on the north side of the island while admiring Hôtel de Ville, Paris’s city hall, to your right. Continuing along the quai, birdsong mingling with floral fragrances emanating from the historic bird and flower market will guide you to the Conciergerie. This stately gothic palace was used as a prison during the French Revolution, detaining prominent figures including Marie-Antoinette. Next door, Sainte Chappelle dazzles with a remarkable 1,113-stained glass windows. From Quai de l’Horloge, turn left on to Rue de Harlay, where leafy café-lined Place Dauphine sets a uniquely Parisian scene. At its most narrow end, find a statue of Henri IV, the man responsible for constructing this public square. From here, stroll along Pont Neuf, the oldest and most romantic stone bridge in Paris. Linger for a moment or two while inhaling the views from this scenic spot, the Louvre looming grandly just ahead. Maybe you’ll even be lucky enough to catch the sunset as the Eiffel Tower sparkles in the distance.