France and Paris were changed dramatically by the Enlightenment and ensuing French Revolution. Likewise, many of the monuments and buildings you’ll see on this walk were “reinvented” during the 18th century. The Panthéon, where this walk starts, began as a church sponsored by an absolute monarch and ended the century as a monument to the country’s most famous Enlightenment figures. The place de la Concorde, where the walk ends, saw one monarch celebrated with a statue and another executed on the same site. Saint-Sulpice and Saint-Thomas-d’Aquin were transformed from churches to secular “temples” and back to churches again. And the Palais du Luxembourg, Hôtel de Salm, and Palais Bourbon, homes at the beginning of the century to royalty and aristocrats, ended the century as homes to the country’s newly created democratic institutions. In addition to showcasing neoclassical buildings and monuments, the walk also provides an opportunity to wander through part of the Saint-Germain des Prés quarter, one of the city’s most lively and interesting neighborhoods.
Start: Panthéon (Métro: Maubert Mutualité)
Finish: Place de la Concorde (Métro: Concorde)
Distance: 3 miles
Time: 3-4 hours
Best Days: Any day