For the flâneur—Baudelaire’s wandering wanderer, an urban explorer content to stroll wherever the streets take them—Paris is the ideal playground. The streets of the city can be dirty, lovely, or even cinematic, but some of them demand your attention more than others. On your next trip, you should take a stroll down one of these streets, whether they provide vistas of the Eiffel Tower or a riot of pastel-coloured homes.
1. Rue de l’Abreuvoir
The sloping section of rue de l’Abreuvoir is the best route to take if you want to reach Montmartre and Sacré-Coeur. If you can look past the bus stop at the bottom and the swarms of people taking selfies, this cobbled hill is a nostalgic journey to Paris’s past, entirely isolated from time. It is lined with houses that are covered in ivy and bloom with wisteria in the summer.
Start in Place Dalida to take in the breathtaking vista of the Sacré-Coeur basilica and the bust honouring the late singer-songwriter (you know, the one — of “Paroles Paroles” fame). The Instagram-famous La Maison Rose, a classic French restaurant that provides a wonderfully pink backdrop for photographs, is located farther up the street. Le Clos Montmartre, which is privately owned by the City of Paris, is located just up ahead and to the left.
2. Rue Crémieux
To the dismay of the locals, this adorable street in the 12th is covered in more pastel hues than a Crayola box and attracts hordes of social media photographers. But despite its image as a tourist trap, the area is quite worthwhile for a stroll. In contrast to Paris’ broad, white Haussmannian boulevards, it is a lighthearted change.
After taking some pictures, proceed to the close-by Coulée verte René-Dumont for a stroll along the verdant, plant-lined promenade, which stretches approximately 5 kilometres along a section of abandoned railway and provides breathtaking views of Paris.
3. Rue des Volubilis
Close to Parc Montsouris, in the 13th, is the appropriately called Cité Florale. This charming area of Paris is made up of a maze of picturesque backstreets, including rue des Glycines, rue des Orchidées, rue des Iris, rue des Liserons, and rue des Volubilis.
Crab apple trees surround the street here, and ivy-covered or wisteria-blooming townhouses contrast with the pastel-coloured buildings. It’s all in the details here, with tiled entryways and Art Nouveau awnings made of glass and wrought iron giving the little streets a village-like feel. This is a fascinating place to roam.
4. Rue des Martyrs
With market stalls overflowing with fresh vegetables, pâtisseries filling the air with the aroma of freshly baked treats, and jewel-like épiceries selling pricey olive oils, jams, and endless picnic essentials, this historic street is a gourmand’s dream.
This popular South Pigalle neighbourhood, which stretches from Notre-Dame-de-Lorette up to Montmartre, is home to a variety of cafés, eateries, and bakeries, including the renowned Neapolitan pizza destination Pink Mamma (and their speakeasy, No Entry), the award-winning pâtisserie Sébastien Gaudard, KB CaféShop, Rose Bakery, and more. Make sure to take a trip to explore the neighbouring Musée de la Vie Romantique, a modest museum with one of the city’s most beautiful courtyards.
5. Rue de Belleville
Visit rue de Belleville in the 20th for a slightly more genuine experience of contemporary Paris. The area between the Belleville and Pyrénées metro stations is bustling with great Chinese food, craft cocktail bars (Combat is worth a drink or two), cultural institutions (like Culture Rapide, a cabaret that hosts spoken word and slam poetry nights), and historic locations like Édith Piaf’s childhood home.
It also offers a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower. Your one-stop shop for wine, cheese, bread, and other necessities to set up a pique-nique in the nearby Parc des Butes Chaumont is La Cave de Belleville.
One of the most famous coffee shops in the city, Aux Folies, is located right outside the Belleville metro stop. All ages congregate here to fight for seats at this perpetually busy, smoke-filled terrace, which overflows into the graffiti-covered alleyway next door.
6. Rue de Seine & Rue de Buci
Saint-Germain-des-Prés, one of the chicest and most historic areas in the capital is a must-see on any trip to Paris. The activity in this neighbourhood peaks at the intersection of rue de Seine and rue de Buci, a busy pedestrian path lined with cafés and famous for its “Golden Triangle” of eateries cherished by Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Stein.
Before heading down rue de Seine to, you guessed it, the Seine River, stop at Bar du Marché for a glass of rosé. It’s a local favourite with a traditional red-and-white striped awning and a buzzing terrace. Just beyond is Freddy’s, a small wine bar that offers mouthwatering small foods in an open kitchen and is open every day of the week (yes, even on Sundays!).
7. Rue des Barres
Nuns may be seen strolling through this square in the sun, off the Seine, that resembles a vintage postcard of Paris if you’re lucky. This modest 450-foot section in the Marais is one of the city’s oldest streets and may be seen on maps from as early as 1550. The centuries-old Église Saint-Gervais-et-Saint-Protais, which dates back to the 16th century and has been under construction for years, contrasts with the vibrant blue and red façade that offers a burst of primary colour.
The ivy-covered limestone building at the end of the street makes for an especially lovely backdrop. Café Louis Philippe and Chez Julien, which serve traditional French cuisine in wonderfully retro settings at tourist-heavy rates, are located at the foot of the street.