Tips for Walking in Paris?
November 27, 2012 7:21 AM   Subscribe

Visiting Paris for a one-day workshop, a few questions.

I arrive in the late morning at Beauvais (RyanAir), there's a shuttle into the city.

1) Am I crazy to plan on walking from the shuttle bus stop at Palais des Congrès to Rue Caroline? Google says it's 48 minutes, which is fine since I am used to walking and will be bringing only a light backpack. I'm used to living in NYC so big cities are not a problem, but I'm worried about standing out in an unfamiliar city, since I'll probably be wearing a suit and I'll have my backpack. I've traveled a bit in China and Vietnam so I know not to stand in the middle of the sidewalk with a map in my hand. Should I just grab a taxi?

2) The next day I need to head to the workshop location near Pont-Cardinet. Again, should I be alright walking around early on a weekday morning in this area in a suit with a backpack on?

Otherwise I won't have any time for sightseeing, but any suggestions for cafes in this neighbourhood would be great!
posted by sudasana to Travel & Transportation around Paris, France (6 answers total)
The walk #1 should be a pleasant walk and you'll get to see a Paris a bit more authentic than the tourists hovering around Notre Dame. Make sure your walk takes you down Rue Poncelet.
posted by vacapinta at 7:33 AM on November 27, 2012

Having been in that area this fall, it was lovely, and you should entirely safe.
posted by ldthomps at 7:34 AM on November 27, 2012

Thanks! I love walking in cities but having never been I thought it best to ask the hivemind first.
posted by sudasana at 7:41 AM on November 27, 2012

1) Nah, that's not an obscene distance to walk, and the area is fine for walking. The minute you head north, you'll be avoiding the Tourist Zone of Doom, and you'll get to see some super cute neighborhoods. I spent an afternoon in Parc Monceau this summer, and it is fairly adorable (if not particularly notable). If you're in no rush when you arrive, then wander happily and enjoy the city. As for standing out, I'm not sure what your concern is. Your route wont take you directly along the Champs-Élysée, which is where I'd be more concerned about things like pick pockets. Ultimately, in a suit, you're more likely to blend in than stick out, especially on a weekday. What time are you arriving? If you're planning to do this walk in the middle of the night, or in the wee hours of the morning (see below), you might feel more comfortable just grabbing a cab. (If you do grab a cab, have cash. They wont necessarily take credit cards and it can be very frustrating for those of us accustomed to living in places where they're required by law to do so.)

2) How early, exactly? I'm very comfortable in big cities and I'm very comfortable wandering around big cities alone, but when I've been flying out of Paris that has usually required that I get up at about 4 and wander over to Chatelet-Les Halles to catch the RER to Charles de Gaulle. While I am not normally spooked by wandering in cities alone at night, early morning (5am-ish) can be kind of unnerving because if you run into another person, it may be just the two of you out on the street together. That has always struck me as a potentially more dangerous situation than general city crowdedness. If you're getting up to wander with morning commuters, I think you'll be fine because there will be plenty of people around. If you're getting up pre-dawn and pre-commuters (generally pre-metro opening time, pre-5:30am-ish) then I'd suggest taking a cab.

3) If you do walk, know where you're going. The streets of Paris can be tricky. I've got a really good sense of direction, and I still manage to get turned around because of the diagonal streets. The route to Rue Caroline looks pretty straightforward, but I'd still probably write down the streets you're looking for. It is just easier than trying to remember "Was it Rue du Commandant Rivière or Rue de Courcelles?"
posted by jph at 7:47 AM on November 27, 2012


I'm arriving at Beauvais at 10:35am, so I would be walking around midday. Coming back my flight is at 14:55 so likely no problem there either.

And ditto on the streets; I will be writing down my route and will have a print-out to check subtly in case I need it.
posted by sudasana at 7:53 AM on November 27, 2012

You're not going to the CNRS building on rue Pouchet, are you?

Anyway, let's see if this works. Rue Caroline to Pont-Cardinet is no distance. Nipping up rue Cardinet to stroll around the quite newly-created Parc Clichy–Batignolles would be a good idea and could easily be done in a twenty-minute coffee break. From there it's only a little bit further to cross avenue de Clichy and walk through the pedestrian gate into the Cité des Fleurs. Heading back to avenue de Clichy, the Libre Echange on the crossroads by Brochant metro is a decent bet for a café, though there are cafés on all fours corners if I remember rightly. Later on you could walk down for a beer at the Cyrano on rue Biot, and if you're looking for dinner, Wepler on place de Clichy is a classic old-style brasserie. There are lots of interesting-looking smaller places down rue Lemercier and rue Biot in Batignolles too.

You may not need/want any of those things, but even if you walked to all of them in a circuit you'd be doing only a couple of miles in under three quarters of an hour. The point being that even a slight detour or two as you walk to and from the workshop, or a break for air after lunch, could take you to several places that are worth seeing, most of which would be completely off the radar for most visitors to the city. Enjoy!
posted by lapsangsouchong at 3:13 PM on November 27, 2012

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