The métro is probably the most popular and the fastest way to get around Paris, but why not slow down a bit, get lost seeing the city above ground? My favorite ways to get around the city offer fresh air and never-ending details for the photographer’s eye…
Velo- By bike!
Get on a Bike! You’ll find little Vélib’ stations throughout the city offering the opportunity to get around Paris on two wheels. Getting on a bike not only has the advantage of seeing the city all day (instead of riding under it via metro) and the added bonus of burning off that pain au chocolate you had for breakfast while you make your way to the next macaron shop! Bike lanes around the city make it easy to get around, there is no need to fear pick pockets lurking behind you, you can snake your way through traffic jams, and compared to walking you’ll explore more of the city in less time. You also get an adorable basket to fill with baguettes and flowers… or whatever your heart desires 😉
Pick up a bike for an hour or a day with the pay as you go system at any of the bike stations. Plan ahead and map out your stops with the Vélib’ station map so you can leave the bike at the next bike park – be sure to park it in a station where it will be safe and sound as you will be responsible for any damage done to the bike.
Ecological, health conscious, and sightseeing friendly, the only possible negative to riding bike could be the weather; so check the forecast and pack a hood before you velo!
Bateau Mouche- By boat!
Fluctuat nec mergitur- She floats but never sinks is a fitting motto for Paris a city built on a tiny island and who grew around its lifeline, the Seine river. The banks of the Seine, as much a must-see sight as the Eiffel tower, are filled with life and beauty that make the city unique. Get beyond the quays and take a ride on a Bateau Mouche, one of the long and low boats that float up and down the river rain or shine with touch of romance and spectacular views of the city.
There are lots of boat options to choose from. If you want the classic ride, choose a boat tour with a guide who will describe the history of the city as you sail for about 12 euros for an hour. A more romantic choice but a little out of the budget is lunch or dinner cruise with live music starting at around 60 euros. My bestie say the hour tour at dusk was fantastic, and if the tour guide is too much you can just step onto the deck.
A more practical, budget friendly and flexible choice is the Batobus. For 15 euros you’ll get a day pass that you can to hop on and off the boat with at different stops around the city. There isn’t a guide telling you about the city so take your guidebook and read as you cruise along. Be sure to see Notre Dame from the river and hop back on for an evening ride back to the Eiffel tower at dusk to see the city light up at night. My mom and I choose to use the Batobus for a day and were so happy we did. Easy and convenient, it’s also a great alternative for tired feet and legs.
À pied- On foot!
Of course, there is nothing like seeing the city on foot, taking your time to get lost in the old quartiers, enjoying the details on the buildings and the shop windows. But walking from one point to another is a little bit loco, and a walk around Paris limits your footwear options (think comfortable!). I suggest planning walks around the city between metro stops or near parks or cafes you want to check out so you can take a pause, find a toilet, and enjoy a coffee or ice cream. You won’t see as much of the city as by metro or bike, but you’ll get a sense of the personality of the neighborhoods and really see Paris. Another options are …, free walking tours that will take you on a local’s tour of the neighborhood.
Here are my walking recommendations:
- From Le Marais to Isle St.Louis: Stop for world-famous falafel and Ice cream, buy a fouta and see the gorgeous back view of Notre dame from across the river.
- Rue Bonaparte to Luxembourg Gardens: Visit Laduree for lunch or a few sweets, stop at Pierre Herme, step into the Panteon to visit the tomb of Victor Hugo, and finally sail a boat or watch a game of petanque in the gardens.
- Pigalle up the hill to Sacre couer to enjoy Bohemian Paris at sunset.
- Opera Garnier to Rue St.Honore: Grandeur and luxury starting at Palais Garnier and Galleries Lafayette, a stop in Place Vendome for a drink at the Ritz and some incredible jewels, and finally shopping central on Rue St. Honore.
- From Pont des Arts to Palais Royale. Cross the Pont des arts to the Louvre and stroll through the Tuilleries before crossing Rue de Rivoli for a photo opp in the Cour de Honneur in the Palais Royale.
How ever you get around, getting lost can be the best part of your vacation, so drop the itinerary and explore! You’ll find a city all your own, off the beaten track, filled with personality, and of course, beauty…but remember to wear comfortable shoes and carry a comfortable bag!
What’s your favorite way to get around Paris?