An excellent Paris City Walk – Take Walks tour review

I love walking in Paris. Like many visitors to Paris, a Paris city walk on my list of favorite Paris things to do. So, when the great team at Take Walks suggested Mr FranceTravelPlanning and I join their Skip-the-Line Sainte-Chapelle, Seine Cruise & Medieval Quarter Tour walk, we both immediately said “sign us up!”

Eiffel Tower lit up at dusk taken from the river Seine An excellent Paris City Walk - Take Walks tour review

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Our Paris City Walk

As always, Take Walks were very professional and gave us detailed instructions for joining the tour, complete with a photo of the location we needed to look for. Our Skip-the-Line Sainte-Chapelle, Seine Cruise & Medieval Quarter Tour started at 3pm, so if you are looking for somewhere to have lunch or a drink before the start of the tour, I recommend Le Louis Philippe, a traditional brasserie.

After a quick sign off and audio check we headed off with Avi, our American guide.

First up we headed towards Notre Dame while Avi told us about the early history of Paris. Where we were touring on this walk is the oldest part of the city, and while tribes lived on the the Ile St Louis, it was the Romans who established the island as their administrative centre.

View of restoration works at Notre Dame An excellent Paris City Walk - Take Walks tour review
Restoring the spire at Notre Dame

At Notre Dame we had time to learn about the cathedral and see the restoration progress. We learned about gargoyles and how at Notre Dame most of them were nineteenth century additions (at the same time the spire was built). There was also time to ponder that 150 years of construction to build the original was decimated in just a few hours in April 2019. (The French government has recently announced the Cathedral should reopen, largely as planned, in late 2024.)

Front facade of Notre Dame Cathedral Paris Sept 2023 An excellent Paris City Walk - Take Walks tour review

Next we headed across the charming Place Dauphin where locals picnicked and the boules players were engrossed in their games.

Place Dauphin central Paris with boules players An excellent Paris City Walk - Take Walks tour review
Local vibe in the Place Dauphin

We were getting closer to what I hoped to be the highlight of our walk – Ste Chapelle, but first, it was the austere and quite poignant Conciergerie…….

Interior Conciergerie Paris An excellent Paris City Walk - Take Walks tour review
The never crowded interior of the Conciergerie

The Conciergerie is famous for being where Marie-Antoinette was imprisoned during the Revolution. While most visitors to Paris will pass the Conciergerie and even look up on their map or guidebook to work out what it is, I’m always surprised that it is never particularly crowded.

On our tour of the Conciergerie learned about the history of the building and its various uses over the years, before passing through the museum section and its recreation of the prison cells. The museum section is quite small, but contains some interesting artifacts from the Revolution.

Despite having timed entry tickets, and it being late in the afternoon, there was a lengthy queue at Ste Chapelle for security. Avi was able to negotiate with the security guards to have us admitted quickly. After a quick comfort stop we were able to enter Ste Chapelle without queuing again for tickets.

Ste Chapelle is two storeys high – the lower level is still beautiful, but somewhat plainer than the stunning upper level. There is a gift shop on the lower level. Access to the upper level is via a steep spiral staircase.

Interior of the lower level of Ste Chapelle featuring statue of Louis IX king of France An excellent Paris City Walk - Take Walks tour review
The much “plainer” lower level of Ste Chapelle

Avi skillfully brought us to a quiet spot to tell us about the history and origins of Ste Chapelle. Originally built as a repository for religious relics, it is now used for music concerts. As the tour came to an end, Avi handed out our tickets for our cruise, so we could stay for as long as we liked, he left us with the thought that we were literally surrounded by the DNA of the craftsmen who created the gorgeous stained glass – the colours of the glass were made with their urine. Thanks for that thought Avi!

Stained glass windows and chandeliers upper floor of Ste Chapelle Paris An excellent Paris City Walk - Take Walks tour review

What I thought of our Skip-the-Line Sainte-Chapelle, Seine Cruise & Medieval Quarter Tour

This tour is a fun way to spend an afternoon in Paris. Even if you think you know Paris well, I am sure you will learn something new and learn to appreciate some very well known Paris landmarks in a different way.

Ceiling and stained glass windows lower level Ste Chapelle Paris An excellent Paris City Walk - Take Walks tour review

While there is a bit of walking – and stairs at the Conciergerie and Ste Chapelle – the walking is quite easy going and at a leisurely pace.

We both enjoyed Avi’s guiding and found him to be knowledgeable and engaging. He was an excellent storyteller whose stories of the people – both famous and not so famous – really brought these buildings to life. Leaving us to enjoy Ste Chapelle at the end of the tour before allowing us to join our cruise at our leisure ensured we were able to take our time and linger just that bit longer in what is one the most breathtaking buildings in Europe – it really is a stunning jewel.

Stained glass windows and chandeliers Ste Chapelle Paris An excellent Paris City Walk - Take Walks tour review

After the tour, rather than head off to our cruise immediately, we decided to have an early dinner on the Ile St-Louis at La Brasserie de L’Isle Saint Louis before our cruise.

You can find out more about this tour here >>

Author’s note: we were guests of Take Walks for this tour. We enjoyed this tour in September 2023 – the current version of this tour is slightly different so your exact experience may vary. As always, the opinions expressed in this Take Walks tour review are our own.

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