Before GPS became accessible on cellphones, chances are that visitors asking for directions from the Pont des Arts (Arts Bridge to us Anglo minions) would get a typical answer like "Just head west on that street running alongside the Seine River and turn left when you see the park entrance where the tower is located."
Even though the street names change a few times on the way, there's little chance of getting lost. Much of the time, the Eiffel Tower—a fact-finding hub of an attraction all its own—is visible during what is less than a 10-minute walk. Seriously, you can't miss it.
But it's more likely that travel via foot will take considerably longer than 10 minutes as there's no shortage of distractions along the way, from interesting landmarks to scores of cafes on the street.
It might take a while to leave your starting point, with the Louvre (home of the famous Mona Lisa) just north of the bridge and the Institute de France (which hosts an impressive lot of exhibits) immediately south. If time isn't of the essence, there's a lot to check out during your stroll.
Musée d'Orsay Used To Be An Old Railway Station
What helps make Paris one of the world's most attractive cities is its art and the Musée d'Orsay is a sterling example of that appeal. Created from what was originally a railroad terminal constructed in time for the Universal Exposition in 1900, this is one artsy stop. And don't expect tried-and-true portraits and landscapes. Nope, what's on display is pretty experimental stuff.
This gallery/museum is all about Impressionism. It's here where you can catch works by such masters as Degas, Manet, Monet, and Renoir who made their mark during this artistic era from 1848 to 1914.
You can also find more recent works here and once you've finished taking it all in, relax with a java in the aquatic-looking Café des Hauteurs.
Hey, What's Thomas Jefferson Doing Here?
One of many free things you can do in Paris is gaze upon an oddity, namely a statue of U.S. President Thomas Jefferson overlooking the Seine. Sure the optics on that are weird, but there's a significant connection between one of America's founding fathers and Paris.
The statue commemorates the strong bonds initially forged between the U.S. and France when Jefferson lived in Paris from 1785 to 1789 as an American ambassador. That was a few years after he helped engineer American independence from the British Empire, something to which Parisians—whose own nationhood roots began with The French Revolution—can relate. The monument is where Americans and locals alike assemble every July 4 to celebrate Independence Day.
Politics As Usual At Palais Bourbon
You can find no shortage of spots in Paris that dominate Instagram like Champs-Elysées and yep, that tower, but here's a stop that deserves more posted images, much of it due to its architecture.
The Palais Bourbon is ground zero for the federal government, where members of the French National Assembly gather to debate matters of importance to the country. But the building used to be a palace built in 1728 for the Duchess of Bourbon when that family dynasty had a total grip on France.
The Roman-like design shouts pure opulence and, ironically, the building now houses a democratic government. Tours are conducted every Saturday, but you must adhere to a strict dress code. For instance, long-sleeved garments are mandatory.
Hold Your Nose Before Entering The Sewers Museum
Because of the uppity and romantic appeal of Paris, chances are good you'll spot quite a few celebrities in the city. But there's one place where you're not likely to catch any of the jet set's finest. That would be the Paris Sewers Museum, commemorating what some hardcore engineers is an architectural marvel, although others are curious about an underground waste removal system that inspired Victor Hugo's classic Les Miserables.
A one-hour tour offers spectators an opportunity to check out maintenance equipment past and present, a giant basin that filters grit from the water and even mannequins of staff doing what was necessary to ensure sanitation measures were top-notch.
Tours take place daily except on Thursday and Friday. The jury's out on whether days off are spent cleaning the facility.
A Million Artefacts In The Musée Du Quai Branly - Jacques Chirac
As any local will tell you, the Eiffel Tower isn't the only attraction in town. But since many visitors plan to visit the structure anyway, it's worth it to catch what's going on inside a museum just around the corner.
The Musée Du Quai Branly - Jacques Chirac is about as worldly as a Parisian point of interest can get. The facility houses up to a million artifacts from all four corners of the world. That includes 3,500 artistic works collected from Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe, and many points in between.
There's enough culture stuffed into one complex to overwhelm you. This is why fans who enjoy exotic things recommend winding down with a meal and refreshments at Les Ombres restaurant or Café Jacques.