A few weeks ago, it snowed in Paris and I went for a walk to see how my favourite places in Paris looked like under the snow. More than a walk in snowy Paris, the itinerary I am sharing with you today can be a nice discovery of Paris historical center. Let’s go !
It’s snowing, so what ?
A few weeks ago, one of my favorite things happened in Paris – it snowed! While some are indifferent to it and even unhappy with the inconvenience it brings with it, snow has an exciting power over me. From the first snowflake at 10:37 am on Saturday morning, I was ready to put on my shoes and head for a walk.
After putting on my coat, covering my ears and neck, I said “I will stay outside for as long as it snows”. And I went out.
Because I decided to see how my favourite places looked like under the snow, my itinerary took me to places that I know very well, some touristy some more off the beaten path. I hope you will like this walk with me !
The Sentier Neighborhood
My walk through Paris in the snow started in the rue des Petits Carreaux, where I was able to admire the Oasis of Aboukir in the small pedestrian area of the street.
The Oasis of Aboukir is this green wall, inaugurated in 2013 which is 25 meters high is composed of more than 250 species of plants. The pedestrian area on the Rue des Petits Carreaux is one of my favorite places of the itinerary because of the green wall, but also because of the mural, done by the street artist Combo, which shows two iconic characters, Tintin and the Capitaine Haddock, kissing ! Under the Tintin artwork, we can also spot a man meditating under the trees, painted by Raphael Federici, who is a street artist living and working in the 2d arrondissement. He also painted many metallic curtains for stores in the neighborhood. One of the examples is the restaurant Cantine des Mamas, across the street from the pedestrian area.
After this short nostalgic stop (I lived next door for more than 5 years), I headed for the Square Emile Chautemps and the Arts et Métiers neighborhood.
On the way, we took the rue d’Aboukir street, which follows the route of a medieval defensive wall built by Charles V in the 14th century!
Square Emile Chautemps and Arts et Métiers
Arrived at Square Emile Chautemps, I found myself in a magical world! If the streets of Paris were still gray, the park was all white! I walked in the snow, took countless photos and watched the Gaîté Lyrique get whiter every minute.
The Square Emile Chautemps is located in front of the former Gaîté Lyrique theater, which was transformed in the 2010s into a space dedicated to digital arts and which organizes numerous music festivals.
On the other side of the park, there is the National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts which is housed in a former convent. The “Arts et Métiers” now houses a museum which retraces the various technical inventions throughout history.
Les Halles and the Commodities Exchange
After walking around the Arts et Métiers, it was time for me to define the rest of my itinerary therefore I decided to take the street Turbigo which leads to the Halles neighborhood. At least, that was my initial idea. Instead of continuing all the way to the Church Saint Eustache, I turned into rue Etienne Marcel because I was super curious to see what the Jean Sans Peur Tower looked like in the snow!
After passing in front of the Tower Jean Sans Peur, I turned right on the rue Française. I followed it to the rue Tiquetonne and went back to the rue Saint Denis, making some kind of a loop. You can see it on the map !
It’s only after that I headed to Les Halles. I walked along the side of the Canopy building while admiring the Saint Eustache Church which was covered in snow. After that, I went to see the Commodities Exchange or “Bourse de Commerce” in French. It’s renovation is now finished, and it appears that the Pinault Foundation is just waiting for the museums to reopen for it’s inauguration.
For now, there are not a lot of people near the building so I would recommend for you to check it out !
👉 If you are interested in the neighborhood of Les Halles, I have a great news for you ! I am currently writing a guided tour about this neighborhood 🎉🎉. You can sign up to the newsletter below to be informed as soon as it’s live !
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Pont Neuf and Place Dauphine
After walking around the Halles neighborhood, I decided to go towards my favorite Paris bridge – the Pont Neuf!
Contrary to what the name might suggest, this is not the Ninth Bridge, or even the New Bridge ! FYI in French, “neuf” means “nine” and “new”.
The Pont Neuf is in fact the oldest existing bridge in Paris and it dates from 1607 ! It has the name “neuf” because at the time it was built, it was the first brigde of the new generation built to last for centuries.
I see this bridge very often, and each time it takes my breath away.
The particularity of this bridge is that it links the Right Bank to the Left Bank while resting on the tip of the island Île de la la Cité. I walked on the bridge all the way to the island and turned to the Dauphine square.
The Dauphine Square (🇫🇷 Place Dauphine) has a triangular shape, and was built following the desires of the king Henri IV, who’s statue we can see on the bridge. As a little anecdote, know that the floor of this square was listed as a historical monument in 1950! It is also a place where there are many pétanque players, who play who play whether it rains… or snows !
I left the Dauphine square in front of the Palace of Justice (🇫🇷 Palais de Justice), which I followed along the quays of the Seine. I soon reached the star of the itinerary – the Cathedral of Notre Dame.
Notre Dame and the Saint Jacques Street
Despite its closure after the fire, the Cathedral of Notre Dame still remains the main point of interest for visitors in Paris. Even if it cannot be approached, there is still a lot of people on the square in front of it !
If you decide to follow my itinerary at a time when the museums have reopened for good, check out the Archaeological Crypt. It’s entrance is in front of Notre Dame and it holds the remains of the first defensive wall of Paris, built in the IV century!
After leaving Notre Dame square, I walked to the Left Bank through the bridge Petit Pont (🇬🇧 Little Bridge) and started to walk up the Saint Jacques street. This street is exceptional for its straight shape which gives us a clue about its past. The Saint Jacques street was the cardo, one of the two main axes around which the Roman cities were built, at the time when Paris was under the Roman Empire’s ruling. That’s why it’s so long and straight!
Quite quickly, I stopped by rue Galande, a small medieval street and formerly known as the high place for shady people and business. But now, it attracts tourists from all over the world. That day, it was empty, like many touristy sites throughout Paris. I took this street and shot a picture of the beautiful Notre Dame from a original angle.
After a few hundred meters, I arrived at the crossroads between rue Galande and rue Dante, where I was headed. The snow had started to turn into rain and I had a 45′ walk to get home.
On the way to rue Saint Jacques, which I was going to take to get back home, I came across a curious store. It was a store entirely dedicated to Tintin, the famous comic book character. There were comics, collectibles, maps… Everything for the biggest Tintin fans!
Getting back home through Saint Martin street
The way back was very simple, because it was a straight for a few kilometers. Indeed, the rue Saint Jacques turns into the rue De la Cité after the crossing the Seine. It chaged it’s name again on the right bank and becomes the rue Saint Martin.
I arrived very quickly at the Seine, which I crossed to return to the Ile de la Cité. Once on the other side I took one last look at Notre Dame and walked towards the heart of the island.
On my way, I stumbled upon the flower market. It has was renamed “Queen Elizabeth II Flower Market” in 2014, when the Queen of the United Kingdom last visited France. The flower market has been in this location since the beginning of the 19th century. However, it currently takes up a small part of the original market, as it was rebuilt in 1873. As I walked past the market, I looked at the flowers for a moment. They looked so sad under the snow !
In order to reach the right bank, I crossed the Pont Notre Dame from which we have a very nice view of the square and the Chatelet theater! Did you know that the Châtelet used to be a terrible prison? It’s hard to tell when we look at it today !
Going up the Saint Martin street, I passed by the Park Saint Jacques, which is very pretty, especially in spring when all the trees are in bloom. Although it is not spring yet, the snow-covered park was very beautiful and the Tower Saint Jacques, which is the last remain of an old church, looked very impressive in the snow.
As I left the park, I walked through the narrowest part of rue Saint Martin and entered the Marais, one of the oldest districts in Paris. I came across the Church of Saint Merry and the very curious colorfull installation called “Le Socle” standing next to the church. This artwork was installed there by the 6M3 association for one year, from October 2020 to September 2021. It’s named “A new now” which seems to reflect our current situation very well. The whole artwork is built of parquet wood!
After the narrowness of Rue Saint Martin, the square Georges Pompidou is very surprising! On my way up the Saint Martin street, I saw the Museum Pompidou which is being renovated. And it seems that only the seagulls seem to benefit from the explanations on the panels which mark the limit of the renovation site.
I was almost at the end of my walk, when I continued straight on rue Saint Martin. The rain was pouring and I was really hurrying home.
On the way, I also crossed the Church of Saint Nicolas des Champs from where I was already seeing the ending point of the walk, in front of the National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts.
After a quick selfie, it was time to get home. As you can see, on the photo I was not spared by the rain. But I kept my promise and stayed out for as long as their was snow in Paris !
Before we go
I hope you enjoyed this walk and that you will see it not only as a story of my adventures when it snowed in Paris, but also as a historical itinerary connecting the most significant places of the city’s past.
If you would like to discover another itinerary with me, check out the walk from Auteuil to Beaugrenelle via the Bois de Boulogne and the 16th arrondissement!
See you soon for another walk and thank you to all of you who read everything until the end! 👏
Paris Guide and creator of The Morning Walk
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