The soles of our shoes touched 51 miles worth of Parisian street.
Guil and I walked an average of 7 1⁄4 miles per day during our weeklong stay in Paris. Our footsteps painted the city’s tourist sites as well as its secluded alleyways — especially ones that led to street-side cafes or bars.
One of our longest journeys began on our first day in the city. We chose our feet as our primary means of transportation simply because we were intimidated by a foreign public transportation system.
We embarked on a 3-mile journey from our apartment in Neuilly-sur-Seine, a suburb just west of Paris, to the center of the city. The path included a stop at the Arc de Triomphe.
This was my first time in Paris. I could hardly contain myself when my eyes caught sight of the impressive, triangular metal structure peeping through the cream-colored apartment buildings in the distance! We made our way toward the Seine River and crossed it. Our feet eventually found their way to the Eiffel Tower, the most visited monument in the world.
And we didn’t stop there!
Another 3 miles east along the Seine took us to the Pont des Arts, where thousands of metal locks hung from the bridge’s railing. Each carried its own love story marked by a black scribble.
By the end of the day, one of those locks read, “Carla + Guil 9.17.17.”
We could hear children singing from a half-mile away, their chorused voices streaming from our next destination. A crowd of camera-slugging tourists swarmed the Notre Dame, its gothic structure hovering over them. “Try to get the perfect photo,” it taunted — if only buildings could speak.
Our feet grew heavy at this point. Sharp aches threatened to slow us down, but the Latin Quarter stood nearby. We dragged our exhausted limbs over to the lively district made up of compact alleyways offering everything from Nutella crepes to Greek gyros to Spanish paella.
What a reward after the miles we clocked in that day.
We woke up before the sun on Sept. 18, my birthday, and quickly made our way to Sacre Coeur to catch the beautiful basilica without its usual crowd. This time, we took the metro. We were the only tourists in sight when we walked up the steps leading to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, a breathtaking Roman Catholic church perched on top of a hill.
Climbing to the top of the church’s dome was a must. It only cost us €6.
From there we could truly take in the expansiveness of this incredible city we called home for seven days. The Eiffel Tower rose above the maze of alleyways, apartments and cafe-lined streets. We were determined to explore as much as we could.
Boy, did we cover a lot of ground.
We walked through the Latin Quarter’s lively bars and restaurants teeming with young people; through Tuileries Garden, where locals lounged on chairs surrounding a fountain on a warm autumn day, and then through Jardin des Plantes, where we were accosted by a man begging for money; and through the iconic Avenue des Champs-Élysées, Paris’ famed shopping street.
We walked all the way to a Mexican speakeasy bar in La Marais, only to find it closed. We spent three hours walking through the Louvre Museum.
We stopped every now and then.
We paused at the Seine for a chocolate crepe. We laid out a blanket on the lawn behind the Eiffel Tower and popped a bottle of champagne. We then watched the sunset from the top of the tower. We lounged at the Tulieres Garden alongside the locals, and continued lounging at numerous cafes with a café au lait and croissant in hand.
Paris’ public transportation system is fantastic, and we definitely used it to our advantage. But there’s something about wandering unfamiliar streets that livens the soul of a traveler. This is why we walked all over Paris, from the hilly neighborhood of Montmarte to the seedy street that led to the Porte Saint-Denis, Paris’ lesser known archway.
Here’s to many more miles, and let’s hope our shoes can handle them.