On a first visit to Paris, the Eiffel Tower will be high on your list of must-sees.
However, it’s located in a largely residential area — so what does one do afterwards other than jump back on the metro to livelier parts of Paris? Well, I’ve designed a Paris self guided walking tour from the Eiffel Tower to Les Invalides. You’ll start at Passy Cemetery, cross the bridge featured in the feature film Inception, discover one of the best places in town for pizza or couscous, pop into the Rodin Museum and finally throw yourself down on the grass of the stunning Esplanade des Invalides.
The walk will take a leisurely 90 minutes, but could stretch out to three or four hours with extended stops along the way (if you plan to go up the tower you could be waiting up to an hour, so buy tickets online for quicker access).
Follow the Google map provided below. Remember to print the map beforehand (or keep this page open!) if you don’t have Wi-Fi. Bonne balade!
This walk starts at Metro Trocadero. Exit the station by the large terrace cafés and make your way clockwise around the roundabout to Avenue Paul Doumer. Then take the first right onto Rue du Commandant Schloesing.
Head inside Passy Cemetery via the impressive art deco-style entrance. Opened in 1820 as part of Napoleon’s push to move overcrowded cemeteries outside the city centre, Passy is not quite as famous as Père Laichers or Montmartre Cemetery, but it does have an impressive list of artists and historic figures to pay tribute to, including Debussy, Monet, French comedic actor Fernandel and Bảo Đại – the last emperor of Vietnam.
Next, take Avenue Paul Doumer back to Trocadero — passing the neo classical Palais de Chaillot, which houses a number of cultural institutions including the Théâtre National de Chaillot and Musée National de la Marine. Enjoy the incredible view over the Trocadero Gardens to the Eiffel Tower.
Mosey downhill towards the tower, but instead of following the hordes of tourists crossing Pont d’Iéna, take a right onto Avenue de New York along the Seine, looking down at the colourful barges and river boats.
Cross the river on Pont de Bir-Hakeim. In the middle of the stylish steel bridge you can get a great tower selfie sans tourists! Make sure you’ve seen Inception — the science-fiction action thriller written and directed by Christopher Nolan, so you can imagine yourself in the warped dreamscape of Leonardo di Caprio and Marion Cotillard!
Look to the right to spy the mini Statue of Liberty near the Pont de Grenelle on the Île aux Cygnes. Take a left after the bridge and walk along Promenade d’Australie past the Maison de la Culture de Japon. Smile at the huge koala poster on the facade of the Australian Embassy.
From here you can literally walk right under the Eiffel Tower. You’ll be offered all types of touristy trinkets on the way. Duck and dive or give in and buy a mini golden tower from the hawkers. Don’t worry, almost every visitor to Paris departs with at least one!
Stop and marvel at the massive wrought iron lattice structure that was only intended as a temporary installation to welcome visitors to Exposition Universelle, the world’s fair of 1889. Named after Gustave Eiffel — the engineer who designed and built the tower — the Eiffel Tower remains the tallest structure in Paris.
Stroll across Avenue Gustave Eiffel and into the beautiful green Parc du Champs de Mars. About half way along turn left onto Avenue Joseph Bouvard to arrive in the leafy, posh residential area of the 7th. Cross Avenue de la Bourbonnais and head down the charming Rue Saint Dominique.
With any luck you’ve built up quite an appetite, as the restaurants and delis (épicerie fine) along this strip have a wonderful village feel and offer a really tasty break. Take your time and find somewhere you love the look of. A pizza and vin rouge may be in order. You’ll also find a good couscous.
When you’re done, turn right onto Rue Cler with its terrace cafés and lively street markets. At the end turn right onto Avenue de la Motte-Picquet. Head towards École Militaire — the famous military academy established in 1750. Napoleon was a graduate.
Pass the Ecole Militaire metro station and turn left, and then left again onto Avenue de Tourville.
When you arrive at Place Vauban, stop to admire the palatial Dome des Invalides. It houses the tomb of Napoleon.
Turn left onto the wide tree-lined Boulevard des Invalides and pop into the lovely Musée Rodin — the museum dedicated to the works of the great French sculptor Auguste Rodin. The museum has a delightful garden. It’s the perfect spot to contemplate Paris and life.
Continue down Boulevard des Invalides past Metro Vavenne and turn left onto Rue de Grenelle. You’ll arrive at the main entrance to Les Invalides. The complex is home to the Musée de l’Armée, which is dedicated to French military history.
Originally constructed in the late 1600s as a home for retired soldiers, Les Invalides has played many roles in French history over the centuries.
Stroll down the Esplanade des Invalides and find a shady spot to relax on the grass, or continue straight on to the banks of the Seine. You’ve completed this Paris self guided walk and seen some of the loveliest parts of the city. Time for a well-earned apéro!
Have you travelled to Paris? We would love to hear your tips for a Paris self guided walking tour from the Eiffel Tower to Les Invalides. Please leave a comment below.
Additional images: Bigstock
Ruby Boukabou is a travel, culture and food writer based between Europe and Australia. Ruby has written for The Age, The Australian, Qantas, Issimo, The Diplomat, Paris Voice and Inside Film. She has also produced culture and travel stories for the ABC, SBS and Screen Australia. When Ruby’s not writing, she’s probably tap dancing — and is a founding member of the Paris Tap Crew. She’s also a member of jazz/world music group Le Shuffle Project, which records and performs in Paris and beyond.