One of our favorite French words is flâner. It means “to stroll,” but has a much more idle connotation, evoking the idea of wandering without an end point in mind. From time-to-time, it does the soul good to simply head out to see just what the day, and the city, has to offer. To help you get started, we've put together seven summer walks in Paris, from the Bois de Boulogne to the Promenade Plantée, which will take you past some beautifully iconic Parisian spots. After that, where your feet take you is the responsibility of your inner flâneur.
7 Summer Walks in Paris
Bastille to the Promenade Plantée
This is the perfect stroll to take on a Thursday or Sunday morning, so you can take a tour around the Marché Bastille. If you're feeling so inclined, pick up some delicious seasonal fruit, fresh bread and perhaps a koign amman or two from the Breton crepe-making stand (just get them and thank me later).
Head from the market to the left, past the front of the Opéra Bastille, and take a left on rue de Lyon. It's only about a five minute walk to the fork in the road with avenue Daumesnil, and you'll find the entrance to the Coulée verte, the former railway-turned-elevated-park, on the left. Take the stairs up and enjoy the greenery as you stroll along.
The Jardin de Reuilly is roughly a 20-minute walk away and is where the park returns to street level. You can stop here to enjoy the picnic you picked up at the market, or continue another 10 minutes to the Promenade plantée to settle on the grass there.
Rue de Seine to the Eiffel Tower
This scenic walk will take you through the 6th and 7th arrondissements of Paris, two of the prettiest in the city (partly the reason why so many of our Paris Perfect apartments are located here). Start at the top of rue de Seine, just behind the Institut de France, at the Square Gabriel Pierné. If you're there in the springtime, you'll see the trees in the square covered with beautiful pink cherry blossoms, but if not, the stone book benches are worth checking out, and you can fill your water bottle at the drinking fountain. Staying hydrated on these walks is so important!
Head south down rue de Seine. There are lots of galleries in this neighborhood, so take time to peruse the art through the windows as you stroll. Next, you have two options: you can either take a right on rue Jacob, or you can continue down and take a right on boulevard Saint Germain.
The first option will lead you down rue Jacob, which turns into rue de l'Université, a straight walk to the Eiffel Tower. Along the way, you'll pass many old hôtels particuliers, mansions once inhabited by the French nobility, and past the back of the Assemblée Nationale (National Assembly, or parliament building), before crossing the Esplanade des Invalides. Continue along rue de l'Université, until you reach the Eiffel Tower. You'll find yourself at one of the best viewpoints of the Iron Lady from the ground, framed by Haussmannian style buildings. This walk will take you about 45 minutes total.
The second option will lead you past the classic cafés made most popular by the American literary set of the early 1900s, such as Les Deux Magots, Café de Flore and Brasserie Lipp. Keep walking to the west until you reach the fork in the road by the Solferino metro station. Take the left fork onto rue Saint Dominique. You'll stay on this street until you reach the Champ de Mars, but it will first take you over the Esplanade des Invalides and past the Le Recrutement Café, which is now one of the most Instagrammable views of the Eiffel Tower (are you following us on Instagram yet?). If you're not in a hurry, there is plenty of shopping on rue Saint Dominique. This walk is a bit longer and will probably take around an hour.
Arc de Triomphe to Fondation Louis Vuitton
If you enjoy bookending your walks in Paris with French cultural institutions, this walk is for you! Start at the Place de l'Étoile, where the Arc de Triomph sits, and head down Avenue Foch. As you walk, admire the beautiful Haussmannian buildings of the 16th arrondissement on either side.
It's a roughly 20-minute walk to Porte Dauphine, where you'll take the third exit off the traffic circle to cross over the périphérique (ring road) and into the Bois de Boulogne. While you can stay on the road the rest of the way, we recommend you take the first left onto the Route de l'Étoile path and enjoy a more tranquil walk surrounded by greenery.
Once you've crossed the Allée de Longchamp, veer to the right onto Route Sablonneuse, which will take you straight to the Fondation Louis Vuitton. As beautiful as it is from the outside, we recommend heading inside to check out whatever exhibitions they have on at the time or head to an open spot on the grass to enjoy a picnic should you choose to bring food.
Alternatively, this walk could be done in reverse, if you prefer to take the shuttle out to the free Fondation Louis Vuitton and then make your way back to the Arc de Triomphe to climb it and watch the sun set over the city; it's the best Eiffel Tower view in town!
Lamarck-Caulaincourt to Abbesses
Although these metro stops are next to each other on the line 12, you miss so much of the gorgeous neighborhood of Montmartre by staying underground! This walk does require some upstairs treks at the beginning, so it's perhaps not one to do on a day when you're tired, but consider it a free pass to reward yourself with a treat later.
Start at the metro station Lamarck-Caulaincourt. Once you've exited, turn around and walk up the stairs that come around the entrance to the metro. Pause at the top and turn around for one of the most iconic views over that part of the city. Cross the street and walk up next to the little square (Square Joel Le Tac), until you reach the stairs on rue Girandon. Take the stairs to the top, and you'll find yourself on a corner. To the left, you'll see the top of the Sacré-Cœur. Head in this direction. You'll pass the now Instagram-famous La Maison Rose.
Take a left after passing La Maison Rose, and go downhill for two more iconic Parisian sites: the Clos Montmartre, the only vineyard left in the neighborhood, and Le Lapin Agile, one of Montmartre's first cabarets. Go right after the vineyard on rue Saint Vincent, back up the hill, until you reach Square Marcel Bleustein Blanchet, a lovely little garden with the most beautiful view over the back of Sacré-Cœur. It's the perfect place to stop for a rest, a picnic, or just to fill up your water bottle and admire the basilica.
Once you're ready to move on, take the road that loops around the back of the basilica, and then a right onto rue du Chevalier de la Barre, heading into the heart of Montmartre's bustling artsy/shopping district. At the end of that street, another left and a right will land you on the famed Place du Tertre, where you can watch the artists at work and perhaps even buy a piece for yourself. If you walk around to the far (southwest) corner of the square, you'll find a long staircase at the end of that street. Head down (but not before taking in the view) and continue (nearly) straight on rue Drevet, which will curve down to the right and take you straight to the Place des Abbesses. In the park on the right, you'll find the Mur de Je t'aime, with “I Love You” written 311 times in 250 languages.
If you'd like to head to another part of the city, you can hop on the metro, but we recommend strolling down the rue des Abbesses and finding an open spot on a terrasse, to sip a cold drink and people watch- as the Parisians do.
Square du Temple to Place des Vosges
The historic Marais neighborhood is one of the most popular in Paris with locals and tourists alike, and for good reason. There are so many hidden gems tucked into its little nooks and crannies. We'll start this walk up at the beautiful Square du Temple, which has a great neighborhood feel thanks to an open-grassy area for picnickers and a play structure for children (if you're staying in one of our Marais apartments, you'll be right next door!). If you need a pick-me-up pre-walk, grab a coffee at The Broken Arm on the north side of the square.
Head next to the south side of the square and take a left onto rue de Bretagne; our first stop is at the Marché des Enfants Rouges, the capital's oldest market. Stroll between the stalls. Here you'll find everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to Moroccan and Japanese cuisine to fresh Italian cannoli. If you're a bit peckish, we recommend grabbing a sandwich from the legendary Chez Alain Miam Miam, or grab some picnicking materials if you plan to sit out on Place des Vosges at the end of the walk.
Head out the other side of the market, stopping to peruse the photos from the vintage shop on the right and to smell the flowers of the florist on the left as you leave. Take a right back onto rue de Bretagne, continuing down to take a right on rue Vieille du Temple. There are lots of shops on this street, and many of them French brands, warranting a pause at their windows. Continue down this street, and you'll pass the famed crêperie Breizh Café on your right, before seeing a park full of rosebushes on your left, perfectly framing the back of the Musée Picasso behind it. Two more blocks and you'll take a left hand turn onto rue des Francs Bourgeois.
If you opted not to get a coffee earlier, you may want to make a pit stop at Le Voltigeur. The staff enjoys writing little notes on the tops of their cappuccinos in chocolate syrup. Keep heading straight down rue des Francs Bourgeois and it will take you straight to Place des Vosges. Settle onto a bench in the park to people watch, plop on the grass for a picnic and to soak up some sun or walk around the the square, peeking into the art galleries and ogling the delicious pastries at Carette.
Shakespeare & Company to Port Royal
We love this iconic Left Bank bookstore, from its history to its charmingly stuffed bookshelves to the killer view of Notre Dame, so it's the perfect place to start this walk. Head into the store and pick up a book; you may want it later, and there are a number of great books based in Paris that the store keeps right at the front- and then stop next door for a quick coffee at the Shakespeare & Co Café. Don't grab a pastry though- we're saving that for our next stop!
Take a right after the cafe and go down rue Saint-Julien le Pauvre, then take a left on rue Galande. Your next destination is a nondescript brown façade hiding the most delicious Swedish-style cinnamon rolls in Paris- Circus Bakery. Grab one to go, then continue on rue Galande, until you take a right on rue Lagrange, which will put you directly by the Marché Maubert at the Maubert-Mutualité metro station. Take a stroll through the market; whether or not you actually buy anything is irrelevant to the French market experience, unless you're stocking up for a picnic.
To the west of the market, on the right hand side, hop on rue de Carmes and head straight for the Pantheon. This stunning building in the Latin Quarter was a former church dedicated to and housing the reliquary of Saint Geneviève, the patron saint of Paris, and is now a mausoleum housing the remains of France's most important citizens. If you look to your left when standing in front of the Pantheon at the end of the street, you'll see the church now bearing her name and the steps made famous when Owen Wilson caught a car to the past in the film Midnight in Paris.
Walk around the front of the Pantheon and you'll see the street that leads directly down into the Jardin du Luxembourg, our main destination for this walk. Stroll through the gardens and find a classic green garden chair to sit. You have a cinnamon roll to eat and a book to read, after all. It's one of the most ideal places to while away a day, with excellent people watching and a diversity of scenery not found in every park in Paris.
You can end the walk as you wish, but we recommend walking down the Jardin des Grands Explorateurs towards Port Royal and stopping for a drink on the terrasse at La Closerie des Lilas. If you're lucky, you'll enjoy the live music the restaurant often has!
Berges de Seine to Pont Marie
What could be more idyllic than a summer stroll along the Seine? This is perhaps the simplest walk on our list, but one of the most scenic and diverse at the same time; you'll see most of Paris' most celebrated landmarks along your way. Depending where you're coming from, you can either start at Pont de l'Alma or Pont Alexandre III, but in either case, we recommend starting on the Rive Gauche, or the south side of the river. Most of this walk used to be highways that ran along the river, but starting with the Berges de Seine in 2013, have slowly been transformed into green spaces for Parisians to enjoy. These parks all along the river now bear the name Parc des Rives de Seine.
Walking along the quai, you'll pass the Pont Alexandre III and Les Invalides on your right, with Concorde and the Tuileries across the river to your right. On either side of the Pont Alexandre, you'll find outdoor restaurants and bars where you can stop and have a drink or a snack along the way. We recommend crossing the river at the Passage Leopold-Sedar-Senghor, a wooden pedestrian bridge in front of the Musée d'Orsay which has stairs that lead down to the quai, as well as a connection to the street level. From there, you can admire the Musée d'Orsay on your right and the Tuileries and Musée du Louvre on your left.
Continue down the quais on the Rive Droite, or north side of the river, passing under the Pont Royal, Pont des Arts (former love lock bridge), and the Pont Neuf (Paris' oldest bridge). You'll see where the cobblestones turn to pavement, where the former highway connects with pedestrian walkway. On summer days, it's easy to observe how much the people of Paris have embraced these spaces to bike, run, or just hang out, and a number of pop-up restaurants have become available for this exact purpose, as well as Velib stations underneath some of the bridges. Be sure to turn around at some point to catch a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower peeking out over the skyline.
After passing Île de la Cité on your right, once you find yourself level with the Île Saint Louis, you're reaching the end of the Parc des Rives de Seine, and the newest portion, opened only in 2017. Grassy areas and little terrasses built on boats offer a spot to relax after your long stroll. This is easily one of the most popular walks in Paris.
One of the best things about this walk is that it doesn't have to be a walk! You can also ride a bike, a scooter, or even rollerblade along the quais, enjoying being by the water and all the Rives de Seine have to offer.
Have you taken any of these walks in Paris? What neighborhood is your favorite to stroll around?