On Walking in Paris

Compared to New York, the métros in Paris work like a charm. They’re quick, reliable, generally clean, and wonderful tools for getting around the city in a hurry. However, despite all of the Parisian metro’s benefits, I traded my Navigo card for walking shoes this semester and I haven’t looked back.

I walk everywhere in Paris. I walk to school every morning for classes, I walk to the farmer’s market on the Boulevard Raspail on Sunday mornings, and I walk through the Luxembourg Gardens when I need a break from city living. Walking around Paris has helped me get to know the city very well. Each arrondissement offers a wide array of cultures, small side streets, and ambiances. Walking down the historic cobblestone streets on a sunny afternoon, you can easily visit Voltaire’s birthplace, a French king’s old residence, and the apartment building where an aging Picasso painted Guernica all in one fell swoop. Walking in Paris is like walking through a beautiful history book!

My favorite days in Paris are spent walking. As Victor Hugo once said, “Respire Paris, cela conserve l’âme.” And I couldn’t agree more with France’s favorite author (buried in the Pantheon in the 5th arrondissement, not too far of a walk from Reid Hall in Montparnasse). The only way to breathe in this beautiful city, in my opinion, is to walk it. Be it rainy and cold or sunny and warm, Paris offers a beauty unparalleled to the world’s other great cities. So when you find yourself reaching for a metro ticket, choose instead to preserve your soul and take a walk—I promise you it’ll be worth every step.

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Texte et photo, Antonia Bentel Barnard