Paris is a city with more than 2,000 years of history. The ancient city of Lutetia was founded in the era of the 1st to the 6th century. Although Paris is huge the compact city center is easy to get around, and the ideal place to explore on foot. Paris is France, and yet it is a culture unto itself. It was an important city of the ancient Roman Empire and its legacy of monuments can be admired in the streets to this day. When you feel you know the center well enough, be sure to take a walk around the 10th Arrondisement’s and be introduced to a lesser known Parisan neighborhood that manages to be both tranquil and bustling. Time to explore it!
We can honestly state that the best way to explore Paris is by metro and foot and the second best way is also by metro and foot! Besides giving you the opportunity to roam the narrow streets and the cozy squares, it is the quickest way too. If you really want to, you can cross the city in approximately 60 minutes. Remember that sometimes it might be quicker (and nicer!) to take a few short-cuts into picturesque alleys instead of following the masses of tourists. Maybe this is easy for us to say as we stayed for a longer period of time and not like most of the tourists only for one day. But even when your stay is rather short, do try to get away from the crowds and just have a 'look around'. Paris is simply a perfect place to walk for an entire day and pretending to know where you are.
Most people try to rush Paris on a budget so they end up missing some of the highlights in a whirlwind. The key to seeing Paris properly is a game plan, you must know what you want to see before setting out. Before we visited Paris we saw on a city map that the huge city of Paris roughly is divided into three areas - the historical old town on both sides of the river Seine, the area between the Seine area and the Via de Périphérique and the more residential areas in the new parts of the town. We visited the city multiple times, and during those visits we hiked our way through the areas.
Our hikes were in the “River Seine area” where the city is one huge ancient site in which we could walk for several hours. It was quite strenuous sometimes, but definitely worth while! For example we started at the western part of the river Seine where we parked the car, made our way to Voie Georges Pompidou where we had a view at the Statue of Liberty and just followed the banks of the river and saw the Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysées, Jardin des Tuilenies, Louvre and finally hiked way to the amazing Notre Dame at the other (eastern) side of river Seine in the city centre. While most tour guides don't recommend getting lost in the alley's, this part of Paris is the place to get hopelessly lost for an entire day. We wondered off through mysterious and steep alleyways leading us away from the crowds. We ended up at the Rue Saint Dominique with its beautiful chathedral, Musée du Compagnonnage (old museum in a beautiful building), mazes of hilly backstreets and deserted gardens. The real Paris?
Take time to meander - losing yourself in the maze of alleys, streets and lanes is one of Paris old town's principal pleasures. The streets wind and wander with no discernible order or object. After our strawl we rewarded ourselves with a cool glass of beer or wine for our effort! We learned that you won't do justice to the entire city of Paris whenever you won't visit other parts than just the main sights. So ... do meander, because the cluster of sights around the main river Seine are truly beautiful, but the more secret pleasures of the hushed backstreets are just entrancing.
There are truly more than enough vibrant cultural scenes to see, like the off the beaten path Literary Paris one of the more pleasant little squares in the Latin Quarter, 5th arrondissement. And for example the Paris’ less well-known neighborhoods like the area around Batignolles and the Brochant market has some great shops to explore. Finally if you’re interested in seeing more Roman ruins, the border between the 5th and the 13th arrondissement has the Arènes de Lutèce, near métro Monge. All this may seem very though as finding your way in Paris might be difficult, but in really distances are short and the signs will help you in getting around. Enjoy!