Not only is walking our preferred method of transport in daily life, but it’s also our favorite way to see and experience cities when we travel. When we were in Paris in early April 2014, spring was just hitting and it was glorious. We took the Metro as little as possible and walked as much as possible, to as many places as our feet would carry us.
“To see the sights” is the main reason people visit Paris. The city has so many of them, how could you not? Most of us want to see the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Louvre, and any other number of famous landmarks, marketed and maintained these days to draw tourist income. However, none of these famous places are why Paris is a world renowned city. They’re just the things that exist to keep tourists occupied. Below is our shot of the Eiffel Tower from up in Montmartre, which is the closest we got to the tower. But what an amazing view we were able to capture. We found this walking.
Walking allowed us to see very special parts of Paris. We were able to get a bit off the beaten path and see parts of the city that we wouldn’t have if we’d just stuck to tour buses (or boats), the Metro, or cabs. By being willing to walk extensively, we had a fuller and richer experience than we would have otherwise.
Our favorite part of local life are the parks, where it’s easy to eat and drink and relax with locals, and yes tourists, but they are not in a touristic element. The environment of Parisian park, the quays, the back roads and such is much different because it exists for the residents of the city and not the visitors. They exist year round, they change through the seasons in the background, and people visit at their leisure. No lines, no crowds, and ample shade and seating. The Parisian park is a thing of beauty.
Walking gives a more hands-on experience in a city. We’ve seen in our hometown of New Orleans that tour buses, tourist sights, etc strip away the unique qualities of a city as they attempt to cater to visitor expectations. After all tourists are more likely to buy what they came to buy. But do yourself a big favor and stop visiting the tourist sites because they are set up FOR you. You won’t find anything new, and you wont take any pictures you can’t get on the internet. Instead, do as we did: walk the streets and attempt to absorb the local life. You’ll get a better idea of your destination, and have a better overall experience as a result.