The Paris Skyline
Depending on group size and how much you have seen of Paris before, we can put together a programme that includes a mixture of city walks, museum visits, and explorations of the lesser-visited quarters.
Take a walk from the Bastille through the Marais district with fine 17th century mansions, the bustling Jewish quarter, and remains of the 13th century city wall leading down to the Seine. Explore the 19th century Nouvelle Athenes quarter between Pigalle and the Gare St Lazare, including the Museum of the Romantics, heading on to the Park Monceau. Consider a minibus tour of Paris by night to see the lights of the Champs Elysées, the Eiffel Tower, and major landmarks such as the Invalides.
Here are, for illustration, is a 3-day / 2-night itinerary for those who have ‘done’ the big sites already - do get in touch to discuss a tailor-made programme for your group:
Canal St Martin, La Villette, Parc Buttes Chaumont, Belleville
Using a minibus to transport our small group between sites, we’ll start with a walk along the Canal St Denis from near the Place de la République.
After a mile - and a pause for coffee - we’ll transfer to nearby La Villette. This is a huge development from the 1980s to 2000s in an area previously filled with canal wharves and abatoirs. We could take in a film in the Géode dome, or sample the science exhibits of the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie. We cross the park that spans the canal to the newest development, the Cité de la Musique; possibility of a tour of the adjacent Conservatoire de Musique. Lunch nearby.
Transfer to the Parc Buttes Chaumont, a 19th-century creation around old quarries; god views west towards Montmartre. Then to nearby Belleville, the poor part of the city where Edith Piaf grew up: walk past her birthplace, into hillside park with great views over Paris. Possibility of a visit to nearby Pere Lachaise cemetery.
Following the medieval walls of Paris - a taste of Left & Right Bank
Starting on the banks of the Seine we’ll follow, with a mix of walks and minibus rides, the semi-circular route of the late-1100s walls built in the reign of Philippe Auguste. We’ll see surviving traces of this in an underground car park, in a courtyard (where we can take coffee in a caé frequented by Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin!) and alongside a school. We’ll call into the Panthéon at the top of the hill overlooking the Left Bank.
Then it’s over to the Right Bank to see the largest remnant of this early wall - a section 100 metres long just back from the Seine, giving us a walk through the Marais district across the Place des Vosges as we span the gap between that first wall and the stronger one built further out in the 1360s by Charles V. The most famous part of this was the Bastille - we’ll see its trace on the busy roads, and go down into the métro to see part of the lower walls. Then we go inthe direction of the Gare du Nord to see the Porte St Denis, built in the 1670s to celebrate Louis XIV’s victories. This was part of a third wall - which was taken down within 50 years of being built, to create the Grands Boulevards. Finish in the Tuileries Gardens where, underground in the Louvre shopping mall, a huge section of Charles V’s 1360’s wall has been revealed - along with the width of the moat.
The Canal St Martin
Cocktail view of the Paris skyline from Porte Maillot
Start at the Trocadéro, the famous viewpoint looking out over towards the Eiffel Tower, to explore the village of Passy that spreads west of that hill, absorbed into Paris in the mid-19th-century. We’ll take in two homes on the way - that of Clémanceau, leader in World War I, and Balzac, one of the major authors of the 19th century. We’ll move up to the Jardin du Renelagh and its Musée Marmottan - a collection of paintings from Monet’s legacy, including his “Impression, Sunrise”.
After lunch we cross the river to the Montparnasse district, which took over from Montmartre as the major part of the city for artists in the early-20th-century. We’ll do a walk that takes in the General Leclerc & Jean Moulin Museum (Leclerc headed the French Armored Division that entered Paris in August 1944; Moulin was a famous Resistance leader), Montparnasse cemetery, and either the photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson’s studio (now a small museum), or the Fondation Cartier in a smart new building near the old Observatory.
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Website design by Joseph Thomson
Last updated March 2019
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Dr Thomson’s Tours