Strolling along the River Seine is one of the most romantic things to do while visiting Paris. Take your time. Visit some, or all of the sites along the way. And be sure to wear comfortable shoes. This may be a leisurely walk, but it is not a short walk. To truly enjoy the many attractions, food, and atmosphere can, and probably will, take hours.
Our stroll along the River Seine started at Trocadéro. I recommend getting there early in the morning before the sunrise to capture amazing pictures of the sun coming up behind the Eiffel Tower. Standing on the terrace of the Palais de Chaillot overlooking Trocadéro Gardens provides one of the best views of the tower.
Palais de Chaillot
The Palais de Chaillot is a plaza and building at the top of the Chaillot hill in the Trocadéro area of Paris, France. In 1937, the old 1878 Palais du Trocadéro was partly demolished and rebuilt to create the Palais de Chaillot. The buildings now house the Musée National de la Marine and the Musée de l'Homme in the South wing, and the Cité de l'Architecture et du Patrimoine in the eastern wing. Though not currently, the Palais de Chaillot was initially the headquarters of NATO.
Stroll through the Trocadéro Gardens toward the Eiffel Tower and cross the Pont De Léna (bridge). Here you will find the Carousel de Paris for the kids and a concession stand selling hot dogs and drinks.
Cross the street and you will come upon the fence surrounding the Eiffel Tower. Just follow the signs to get to the entrance. As with other major attractions in Paris, you will have to go through security, before gaining access to the grounds around the tower. It took us about 20 minutes to get through.
Access the the grounds around the Eiffel Tower is free. If you want access to the tower itself, prices range from €10.20 to €25.50 for an adult and depending on whether you want to go to the second floor or to the top, and whether you want to take the stairs or the lift. Waiting times for the lift during busy season can be up to 3 hours.
Surrounding the Eiffel Tower are a number of big lawns and parks for wandering or simply sitting and contemplating this fantastic piece of iron art. If you plan ahead, have a French picnic under the tower with cheese, wine and a baguette, and take in the wonderful atmosphere of this place.
We explored the grounds, lakes and La Grotte du Champ de Mars under the tower for a couple of hours before heading off. This charming green space near to one of the Eiffel Towers’ legs features a beautifully landscaped rock ‘cave’ and pond. Great spot for taking pictures of your loved ones against a backdrop of rock, waterfalls and the tower.
Put a Lock on It
After leaving the Eiffel Tower grounds, we started our stroll along the Seine and crossed to the north side of the river at Debilly Footbridge. This is the closest foot bridge to the Eiffel Tower. Perfect location for some great pics of the Tower. The north side, or right bank as it is sometimes called, is the preferred side of the river to walk. It is far more scenic. The walking paths and bike lanes along the river are not crowded at all.
As with other bridges in Paris, lovers have started putting "love locks" on the bridge's railings. If you don't bring your own lock (who would even think of it), there are many vendors along the bridge who will sell you a lock and even supply the marker to put your initials on it before attaching it to the bridge and throwing the key into the river. Very romantic. But it can cause problems, as with the Pont des Arts which partially collapsed in 2014.
Flame of Liberty
Continue walking east along the river and you will come upon the Flame of Liberty just before reaching the Pont de l'Alma (bridge). The monument is a full-sized, gold-leaf-covered replica of the flame of the torch from the Statue of Liberty in New York. Though not created as a tribute to Lady Diana, the monument has become a memorial to her, and marking the spot in the tunnel beneath where she died. The gilded sculpture is actually symbolic of the friendship between France and America and has been standing in this spot since May 1989, eight years before Diana died. Like us, if you happen to be passing by from one place to another, take a minute to cross the street and check it out.
As you pass the Pont de l'Alma, you will discover a superb art-deco building, built in 1905 by architect Théo Petit. On the first floor and directly under the large balcony of the second, you can admire three magnificent sculptures created by Emile Derré.
French Crêpes – A Tradition
If you are getting a bit peckish, there are street vendors along the walkway selling fresh crêpes. They offer a select choice of toppings with bananas and hazelnut-chocolate (Nutella) spread being the choice of many pedestrians. I had a strawberry crêpe, and Carole had a simple lemon crêpe with a filling of sugar and freshly squeezed lemon juice. Make sure you buy from a vendor whose fillings look fresh, and that they make the crêpe right there. Some vendors use pre-made crêpes. Our vendor made the crêpes for us and they were delicious, though he did have some minor trouble with the flame going out on his griddle.
We sat and ate our crêpes on the steps of the Grand Palais museum. The exterior of this massive building combines an imposing stone façade combined with Art Nouveau ironwork and a glass roof. Directly across the street is the Petit Palais, an art museum built in 1900, the same year the Grand Palais was built.
Most Ornate, Extravagant Bridge In Paris
The Pont Alexandre III is a glorious, deck arch bridge that connects the Champs-Élysées quarter with those of the Invalides and Eiffel Tower. The bridge is widely regarded as the most ornate, extravagant bridge in Paris. With its beautifully embellished gold, bronze and copper statues, and vintage lamps along the parapet of the bridge, you are instantly brought back in time to Russia in the late 19th century. The bridge in fact is named after Alexander III, Emperor of Russia, to honour the 1894 Franco-Russian alliance. The sculptures that adorn the bridge are both haunting, fascinating and beautiful all at the same time.
Place de la Concorde – Steeped in History
A few minutes down the street, we came upon Place de la Concorde, formerly Place de la Revolution. Really just a giant plaza or square now. But steeped in history. Lots of tourist buses stopping here. Worth crossing the road to check out the twin fountains and the Luxor Obelisk, a gold-topped Ancient Egyptian landmark. At the base of the obelisk there are inscriptions detailing how it was brought over from Luxor Temple in Egypt by King Louis-Phillipe in 1833. The obelisk is over 3,000 years old. Next to the obelisk is a plaque noting the spot where Marie Antoinette and her husband, King Louis the 16th (XVI) were executed in Place de la Revolution in 1793.
A Walk In The Park
Next to Place de la Concorde is Jardin des Tuileries, an expansive, 17th-century formal garden dotted with statues and lined with trees. This garden was created by Catherine de' Medici in 1564 as the garden of the Tuileries Palace after her husband, Henry II, died accidentally. The garden opened to the public a century later after the French Revolution.
There is a long and varied history of the gardens throughout the centuries. In 1588 when King Henry III was forced to flee Paris, the gardens fell into disrepair. His successor, Henry IV (1589–1610), and his gardener, Claude Mollet, restored the gardens. However, Henry IV never actually lived in the Tuileries Palace. In 1610, upon the death of Henry IV, his son, Louis XIII, became the new owner of the Tuileries Gardens at the age of nine. Of course, Louis XIII used the gardens as a grand, personal playground.
By mid-afternoon we were getting a little tired. We took our time going through the gardens, relaxing for awhile in the chairs beside the two ponds and fountains. No one in the gardens seemed to be in a hurry.
For the kids, there is a playground on the north side of the garden featuring a giant Ferris wheel and sling-shot ride. Though we didn't try the Ferris wheel, it is said that it offers some of the best views of Paris.
The Other Arc de Triomphe
The entrance to the Louvre is located at the east end of the Jardin des Tuileries. Before reaching the Louvre, you will pass the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel. Though not as well known, or as grand, as the other Arc de Triomphe, it is still worth a look. Both arches were built by Napoleon I to commemorate his victories. The Arc is topped by a group of men on horses under which one finds the names of Napoleon's battles and treaties.
When we arrived, there were two young girls playing flute and violin under the Arc, and it sounded amazing.
World's Most Visited Art Museum
The Louvre is an amazing mixture of old and new architecture, plus beautiful landscaping. The entrance to the Louvre is through the main glass pyramid at the centre of the courtyard. The Louvre Palace, which houses the museum, began as a fortress by Philip II in the 12th century to protect the city from English soldiers already in Normandy. Remnants of the medieval castle are still visible in the crypt.
The Louvre Museum is the world's largest art museum, and a historic monument in Paris. It houses about 38,000 objects dating from prehistory to the 21st century, including the Mona Lisa. In 2018, the Louvre was the world's most visited art museum, with 10.2 million visitors.
If you plan to visit inside, consider pre-buying your tickets online. As with many of the main attractions in Paris, be careful of pickpockets and dodgy chaps trying to sell you "tickets" to the museum. We arrived here late afternoon and were too tired to tackle all that was the Louvre. We will keep that for another visit, another day.
Exquisite (Read Expensive) Cafés at The Louvre
If you get hungry while visiting the Louvre, there are 3 cafés onsite. We checked the prices at the door of Angelina Paris café and decided we were not that hungry. The café is definitely not for those on a budget. Salads start at €21. That's $30.70CAD. The location of the café is perfect for those who want to pause amidst the bustle of the Louvre, and can, of course, afford to enjoy an excellent meal.
After finishing at the Louvre, we made our way down to the water's edge and quietly strolled along the River Seine. There is a different feel down here, away from the hustle and bustle of the city above. People are sitting along the dock edge, feet handing down, talking and watching the boats as they sail by. There are a few cafés, and various areas with lounge chairs to relax. No cars. Just people walking and biking.
Masterpiece Of Gothic Art
We followed this walkway all the way to Pont Notre-Dame, where we crossed over to Île de la Cité and found our way to Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris. The Cathédrale is a masterpiece of Gothic art and one of the most visited monuments in the world.
As expected, the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris was closed due to fire damaged on April 15, 2019. Although their website says the Cathedral is open everyday, the building was fenced off and it didn't appear that anyone could get close.
We walked around the fenced enclosure, and took pictures of the cathedral from Pont des Coeurs (bridge). This is one of the bridges that links Notre-Dame Cathedral, to the rest of Paris. The bridge is very short, and gives you the clearest view of the Cathedral.
After a long day of discovery, we found the nearest Metro and made our way back to the flat. Great day exploring. Whenever we visit again, we will definitely need to target certain attractions, like The Louvre and Cathédrale Notre-Dame, and plan to spend the entire day at each one.