Themed Urban Walks in Paris

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Urban Walking in Paris

Let’s do Some Themed Urban Walks in Paris

There are times and occasions when it becomes simply impossible to have a civilized encounter with nature. When temperatures hover just above freezing, the wind is howling and the wet cold seeps under your skin, you would not dream of going on a “pleasure hike” any more than you would want to go fishing in a hurricane.

This is the time of year when the small outdoors shrinks even further, and urban walks appear to provide a sound, attractive alternative. On top of that, winter is the perfect season for city trips: there are few other tourists around (no long queues at museums and taxi stands), even the natives are short of money so soon after Christmas (no long queues at restaurants either, and perhaps you can even get a couple of hot tickets for a theatre show), plus you can extend your urban walks into the late afternoon or evening. Try this in January on a proper hiking trail.

The only problem with such an urban walk is that you must know what you are looking for – and where you can find it. Otherwise, you may find yourself walking up and down the same two or three shopping streets, looking in vain for the “unique atmosphere” that your guide book or magazine article had promised you.

This is less of a risk when you are travelling to a smaller city. It is nearly impossible to walk through Venice, for example, without stumbling upon some scenic view featuring gondolas and a bridge with a distant Renaissance church in the background: everything looks exactly as it does in that movie where Dirk Bogarde stalks Death-in-the-disguise-of-a-blue-eyed-boy.

In other, larger cities, finding the perfect walk is often not so easy. Visitors to London frequently leave disappointed because they have failed to find “London” between the shopping hysteria of Oxford Circus, the Elgin Marbles and a West End theatre performance of Mamma Mia.

"The Gherkin in London"

The “London” they had been looking forward to was a different place: Big Ben in the fog, ale houses and loveable Cockney rogues, snow settling quietly on Victorian residences on Christmas Day, that sort of thing. This is the London of A Christmas Carol, Sherlock Holmes and Jack the Ripper – partly myth and partly history. Traces of this London exist almost everywhere, but they generally fail to cohere into a single “Victorian tableau”.

Only a very few places can still deliver this and make you “travel in time”, but they are not easy to find, and you should not expect to bump into them by chance coming out of Harrods.

Paris, conversely, provides much richer pickings for urban walkers. For one, because modernity is far less intrusive here, and Paris has more carefully preserved its historical image – not as a conscious bow to the importance of the tourism industry, of course, Paris would never stoop so low. Rather as a consequence of historical accidents.

"Montmartre holds a promise of some themed urban walks in Paris for you"

And for another, because Paris is much smaller than London –built, as it were, to cross on foot. The famous flaneurs on the 19th century Parisian boulevards were, up to a point, the “easy hikers” of their time.

To help you get the most out of your Paris trip, I have prepared three walks with historical themes. One about the Paris of the “Moveable Feast”, Hemingway’s city of the 1920s, one about the artists’ Montmartre of the Belle Epoque, and one about the working-class Paris of the inter-war years that was immortalized by the cinema of “poetic realism”.

We will start our journey in search of themed urban walks in Paris in Montmartre. Hope you will join us and come along!

Don’t miss the other Paris urban walk in Belleville and in the Latin QuarterFollow us on Facebook or register to receive our free updates direct in your email box.

14 comments to Themed Urban Walks in Paris

  • I will definitely stay close to discover your recommendations for Paris as, as you already know, I want to go back and discover the city more that I did the first time. Maybe even see its romantic side :)

  • Hello Toni, thanks for dropping by. It’s true most times that when you visit a city, unless you know where to go, you’d miss quite a bit of what you you thought you would see as soon as you get off the plane. I hope this series will help you find some interesting parts of Paris and its background or a bit of its history.

  • toni thai

    i had been to Amelia’s neighbor a few times after reading your walk in Urban Monmartre i found out that so much I had missed. thanks i know what to look for and walk next time in the area.

  • i have always wanted to go to Paris. Luckily we have the internet and can dream of being there through someone elses eyes. Looking forward to the walks

  • Jeremy Branham

    City walking is great for exploring neighborhoods and getting to the heart of a place. I love the exercise I get walking in cities. For me, a city walk can be just as good as a hike (sometimes) especially when there are some great parks.

  • Joe

    Hiya Michael

    Nice to hear that you’re doing an Urban Walk in Paris. I’ll be looking forward to hear how it went.

    Your Paris Movie Walks book is amazing.

  • A local walk sounds like a great way to get out in winter. I’m curious about where you’ll take us.

  • I also preferred Paris so I’m looking forward to your urban walks.

  • I don’t know if I confessed to you that I’ve only been to Paris once, and despite that I had a very enjoyable time …. even though it was a wet and grey February ….I’ve never felt the pull to go back. I shall read with interest to see if you can change my mind :=)

  • As a fan of your book “Paris Movie Walks” I know that I would enjoy one of your urban walk in Paris. They all sound very interesting.

  • Hi Don, if you go to the site, on the right hand side is where you can register for email updates. Cheers!

  • Don Driscoll

    I found this article and will be traveling to Paris in early April so would enjoy receiving your themed walk posts. Please add me to your email list. Thank you.

  • Loved walking in Paris over London for some of the reasons you described. Can’t wait to read these themed urban walks soon.

  • Maribel

    Looking forward to your Paris urban walks. Wilson and I are “lazy walkers”, so an urban promenade, rich with historical anecdotes, is perfect for us.

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