It’s no secret that I love Paris almost as much as I love cake. But, if you’re visiting Paris for the first (or tenth) time, you may be wondering how to create some, free self guided walking tours of Paris; Paris self guided walking tours where you can see some Paris top attractions while enjoying the quaint beauty of this city’s many quaint and narrow, cobbled streets.
Well, You’re in Luck:
Not only do I love Paris, but I also love walking tours since they help me burn calories so that I can justify eating more of the aforementioned cake (woo-who)!
And since I’m an introverted, antisocial hermit:
The less guided tours of Paris I take, the better. Sorry but I really hate awkward small talk with people I don’t know and that I’ll probably never meet again (it’s me, not you).
So take a minute to stroll with me through this Paris Tour.
Throughout our one day in Paris, we’ll explore some top Paris tourist attractions, as well as some super cool, super secret spots too! We’ll also use some of my favorite Paris travel tips and tricks to try and make this one of the best walking tours in Paris!
***If you like free Paris walking tours then definitely check out this charming walking tour of Montmartre; one of my favorites walks in Paris. ***
How excited I am about Paris and this self guided walking tour of Paris.
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STOP 1 of Free Self Guided Walking Tours Paris: The Best Place to View the Eiffel Tower
Let’s start our tour of Paris with the most quintessential Paris attraction of them all, the Eiffel Tower.
This wrought iron, architectural masterpiece was completed in ye olde 1889 and created as a magnificent showpiece for the 1889 World’s Fair.
And while the grandeur of the World’s Fair has faded away, the enduring beauty of the Eiffel Tower has not.
But what everyone really wants to know is:
Where is the best view of the Eiffel Tower and what is the best time to visit the Eiffel Tower?
And while my opinion may not be a popular one, since everyone goes all goo goo gaga for the glitz and glam of the Eiffel Tower at night. I still maintain that the BEST time to visit the Eiffel Tower is early in the morning like 6 am early.
You can’t go to the top but honestly, the tickets to the top are expensive, the lines are as long as the Great Wall of China and the view was meh, which is a highly technical term.
I’d much rather take the metro to Place du Trocadéro (one of the best Eiffel Tower views) and enjoy the enchanting beauty of the Eiffel Tower all by myself. Or with a few locals who are still wasted from the night before.
If you arrive via subway, you’ll find the Eiffel Tower directly across the street from the Trocadero metro station, near the Musée national de la Marine.
***I don’t know about you but when I get up early, I get super hungry and need to feed the beast within. Therefore, breakfast is an absolute must when you wake up this early. Therefore, I highly recommend dining at Carette Tea House. A nice, albeit pricey, little spot for crepes, coffee, and great service. And if you’re a huge fan of food like me, definitely check out some of the best Paris food tours.***
STOP 2: One of the Hidden Gems in Paris, Palais de Tokyo
***This museum doesn’t open until 12 pm but closes at 12 am. So if you arrive before it opens, you can come back later or check out the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris right next door.***
Typically, I’m not a HUGE modern art person. I appreciate the idea that anything can be art but sometimes, I just can’t muster up the energy to get excited about a piece of rope, lying on the floor, that represents the represents the frayed nerves and pain of political refugees.
So when I decided to visit the Palais de Tokyo, I didn’t expect to enjoy this Paris hidden gem.
But Guess What?
I was gobsmacked (thanks thesaurus) by one of the most unique places in Paris! Seriously, probably the best modern art museum that I have ever been to.
These exhibitions transport you into a beautifully quirky, dystopian reality in which you contemplate your existence in ways you never thought possible.
There is a lovely outdoor restaurant and club area that is poppin’ at night. Is that what the hipsters say? I’m old and crotchety and have no idea.
Explore the exterior of the museum, behind the main entrance because from here, you’ll get one of the best views of the Eiffel Tower, with the beautiful Seine River in the foreground.
Avoid the hordes of tourists and check out one of the best unique places in Paris.
***Not feeling the independence of a self-guided Paris walking tour? That’s okay. There are a ton of amazing guided tours throughout Paris, like this Medieval Paris private walking tour.***
STOP 3: Arc de Triomphe: A Must-See when traveling to Paris
You should feel triumphant because you’ve made it this far! Okay, bad pun but I had to do it.
This is the first attraction I saw in Paris because, well, during my first time in Paris, I stayed at the Hotel Mercure Paris Arc de Triomphe (a great hotel at a decent price point) and the Arc de Triomphe was basically the closest attraction to me.
I practically fell out of bed and onto the Arc de Triomphe so yes, clearly I visited this top Paris tourist attraction first.
Located at the top of Champs-Elysées:
The majestic Arc de Triomphe is the biggest arch in the entire world, which makes sense when you learn that Napolean commissioned this architectural wonder (talk about overcompensation for something).
Besides a nice photo op:
The Arc de Triomphe also offers visitors a chance to explore the accompanying museum and the viewing platform at the top. Just make sure to purchase your Arc de Triomphe tickets in advance to avoid waiting on the neverending queue.
Once at the Top:
Savor one of the most exquisite views in all of Paris, especially during the autumn season. Not only do you get a fantastic, panoramic shot of the Eiffel Tower, but you can also enjoy a bird’s eye view of the legendary Champs-Elysées; truly one of the best photo spots in Paris.
STOP 4: Champs-Élysées: A Street Unlike Any Other
Probably the single most famous street in all of Paris:
The Champs-Élysées and Grand Boulevards are a must-see Paris attraction for anyone visiting Paris for the first time. After that? Ehh, I feel like you can skip it.
I mean sure:
Walking down this historic Paris avenue is a surreal experience. Not only do you see opulent, historic architecture everywhere you turn, but you are constantly bombarded with the shops of some of the most famous designers in the world. Cough, Louis Vuitton.
So yeah, sashaying down this street, you do feel kind of badass and like Julia Roberts AFTER she got her makeover in Pretty Woman.
Which makes sense since there’s a guy from Ferrari here, letting people take one of his cars for a spin!
But strip away all the wealth and privilege and what you’ve got is a really wide street, where you have a ton of people milling around, buying souvenirs or ridiculously expensive designer clothes, and being bombarded by restaurant hawkers who proclaim that you absolutely must, “try the best food in Paris”.
Yea okay buddy, like I haven’t heard that one before.
Anyway, definitely stroll along the avenue, take in the exquisite views of the Ferris wheel and the Arc de Triomphe, and then stop to grab a snack at one of the most iconic dessert shops in all of Paris…Laduree!
***Because I like to be a wealth of useless information, did you know that Baron Haussmann basically redesigned all of Paris so that 12 avenues radiate out of the Arc de Triomphe, including the infamous Champs-Élysées? I thought that was pretty neat. Hey, I might even use that fun little factoid to win Who Wants to be a Millionaire, if that show is even still on.***
5. Laduree: Home to Some of the Best Paris Desserts!
I love Laduree. I know it’s cliched AF but I can’t help it (I also love French berets. JK). Somehow, words cannot express the glorious deliciousness of a rose petal macaron.
Sigh, it tastes how love feels.
Plus, macarons always taste better in France. So consider it your civic duty to try one and not deprive yourself of this French national treasure.
This store is actually the Laduree flagship location (there are now eight locations in Paris) and first opened in 1862. Geez, we’re fighting a civil war and the Franch are dining on macarons. I’ll stick with the French.
This store still has an opulent, upstairs tea room where you can sit, relax, and enjoy full table service amidst the charming, pale green, old-world decor; furnishings that make you wonder if you left your horse and buggy outside.
But if you’re late, late, for a very important date:
Not to worry. Laduree has a beautiful assortment of macarons and pastries that you can wrap up, for later, at the to go counter.
6. Place de La Concorde: The Plaza with a Bad Reputation
Not only is this square the biggest in Paris but the Place de la Concorde is also home to a 3300-year-old pink granite obelisk. So random right? Apparently, it was one of those awesome gifts from Egypt.
The Bad News Though?
This square was originally named for King Louis XV, so yeah, this became the site where the guillotine, during the French Revolution, literally made heads roll, 1343 heads to be exact.
But those were the not so good old days.
Today, this plaza is a great place for you to marvel at some lovely views of Paris, or to check out the statues at each corner of the plaza, all of which represent different French cities.
7. Tuileries Garden: Oh La La (said with a French accent)
Between the Ferris Wheel, Historic Statues, regal fountains, and pristine gardens, Tuileries Garden has it all.
This green space does get a bit touristy and crowded, especially with rando people trying to sell you a selfie stick, but that’s to be expected since this garden lies smack dab in the middle of the Champs-Élysées and the Louvre, two of the top tourist attractions in Paris.
You can always find a nice green, metal chair to relax on as you casually drink in the Louvre pyramid and watch the Ferris Wheel whirl through the air.
8. The Louvre: One of the Best Museums in Paris
So clearly the Louvre is a big deal since it was the backdrop of a Tom Hanks film, the Da Vinci Code.
Am I right?
Kidding, I’m not that much of a cultural heathen!
Clearly, the Louvre is famous for housing some of the most important art masterpieces in the entire world. You know, artistic treasures like the Mona Lisa, Venus de Millo, and more.
Which is why the Louvre is one of the most visited museums in the world.
(psst…you might want to get skip the line, timed admission tickets to the Louvre since the queues get about as Lindsey Lohan’s arrest record. One of my essential Paris travel tips)
If you’re doing this one day in Paris walking tour, then you probably won’t have time to go inside.
You can check out the Louvre another day. I HIGHLY recommend avoiding the crowds by visiting late at night, on either Wednesday or Friday, when the museum is open until 10 pm.
The Louvre is much more enjoyable without the ridiculous crowds and the feeling of claustrophobia kicking in.
So for now:
Admire the exquisite architecture of the Louvre Palace, the lovely Napolean Courtyard, and the iconic glass pyramid that forms the entrance to this museum.
9. Palais Garnier: One of my Favorite Architectural Treasures in Paris
Paris is known for having some of the most exquisite buildings in the world.
And the Palais de Garnier?
Yeah, this neo-Baroque style Opera House is no exception. Designed by Charles Garnier and completed in 1875, the decadent decor of this radiant building is reflected in the beautiful stage, stunning balconies, divine salon, and exquisite library.
You might use an entire memory card while taking pictures here. I think I did since visiting this building is one of my favorite things to do in Paris.
Palais de Garnier showcases some of the unique costumes used in past performances and hosts some fabulous temporary exhibits.
The Palais Garnier is worth a visit, just to walk through these hallways and experience the decadence that embodies Paris’ historic past.
10. Galeries Lafayette: The Only Mall I Happily Walk Into
I’m not a mall person since I hate crowds and shopping.
Galleries Lafayette is totally different. Not only does this famous Pairs shopping center have a rooftop bar with an amazing view of the Eiffel Tower, but they also have an amazing ground level food court where you can devour some of the finest pastries in all of Paris.
This food court offers up decadent delights from such iconic pastry chefs as Jean-Paul Hevin, Jacques Genin, Sadaharu Aoki, and more.
Not only can you catch a killer panoramic view of Paris for free (we did it all for the gram, come on the gram…), but you can also do a mini Paris foodie tour of some of the best desserts in Paris
Yeah, I’m drooling just thinking about it.
I guess Galleries Lafayette has some of the best shopping in Paris too.
Well, travel fans, you now have your very own self guided Paris walking tour, as well as a super free and super awesome map of Paris!
By now, this Paris travel guide has introduced you to some of the top attractions in Paris, making it a bit easier to plan a 1 day Paris Itinerary.
So if you’re ready to start planning your self guided walking tour of Paris then pin this now and read it again later!
Monday 30th of December 2019
Heading to Paris next September and found this very helpful (and entertaining!). Thanks very much.
Tuesday 31st of December 2019
Thank you so much for reading and enjoy your time in that beyond magical city!
Monday 16th of December 2019
This was great info and we will definitely follow it!
Wednesday 18th of December 2019
Oh good! I'm so happy to hear that! And thanks for reading!