French Travel Tips
Tips for France

Walking in Paris

The best way to get around Paris is on foot.  Walking allows you to stop at a café, walk into small shops, and experience the vibrancy of the city.  Before you start out, a little orientation is helpful.

The River Seine runs through Paris, bisecting it in two. The Rive Droite (or Right Bank) lies generally to the north, and the Rive Gauche (or Left Bank) to the south. The "left" and "right" refers to the direction as you are looking downstream at the river.

Street numbers on streets that run north and south increase as you get farther from the river.  For streets that run east and west, street numbers increase as the river flows downstream, that is from east to west.

Paris is also divided into 20 Arrondissements or districts which are named by their number.  Street signs (which are attached to the walls of buildings) usually indicate not only the name of the street but the arrondissement you are in.

The arrondissements start with the first (the 1er), which is in the center of Paris, and rotate in a clockwise direction in concentric circles outward.

The 1er is the geographical center of the city and the home of the Louvre and the Palais Royal.

The Marais is found in the 4ème, along with the peaceful Place des Vosges and the bustling Rue des Rosiers.

The 5ème, 6ème and 7ème arrondissements lie south of the Seine on the Rive Gauche.  The Latin Quarter lies in the 5ème, the Eiffel Tower and the Musée d'Orsay in the 7ème.

The new Paris Opera and the Place de la Bastille are found in the 11 ème

The Champs Élysées is a major east-west axes running through the Rive Droite, beginning at Charles de Gaulle Étoile (the Arc de Triomphe) at the west and continuing to the Place de la Concorde to the east.  Les Jardins des Tuileries begin at the Place de la Concorde. The rue du Rivoli lies north of the Tuileries and continues the east-west axes all the way to St. Paul on the east.  At St. Paul the rue du Rivoli becomes the rue St. Antoine which continues eastward to the Place de la Bastille.

The Boulevard St. Germain is a major axes running more or less east and west through the Rive Gauche.  The Boulevard St. Germain begins at the Seine near the Assemblée Nationale on the east and proceeds west until it swings back to the river near the Pont de Sully on the east.

Plan de ParisIf you become disoriented, look at a street sign to determine which arrondisement you are in.  Then using the street numbers head for the Seine.  When you reach the river, you can usually determine your location relative to Notre Dame.

Finally, you will never get lost if you buy a copy of the Plan de Paris par Arrondissement.  Free maps are worth little because they omit many streets and are not well indexed.  This invaluable and timeless map is available at most news kiosks and bookstores in Paris and at many travel booksotres in the United States. It contains a detailed map of each arrondissement, the Métro stops and much other useful information.  It is pocket size and every Parisian has one: you should, too, if you will be in Paris for more than forty-eight hours.

Paris Market Paris Market Paris Market Paris Market