France’s 20th-century history splits rather neatly into two halves, before and after the Second World War. Like the century, this walking tour is also divided into two parts — one on the west side of the city, focusing on the first half of the century, and one on the east side focusing on the second half.
This part of the walk extends from the Grand Palais and Petit Palais, built for the 1900 Universal Exposition, to the Palais de Tokyo and Palais de Chaillot, built for the 1937 International Exposition just before World War II. Stops include a wild-looking art nouveau mansion and the almost modern-looking Théâtre Champs Elysées. This walk is set in the elegant 8th and 16th arrondissements, home to the avenue de Champs Elysées and the fashionable avenue Montaigne.
Start: Champs Elysées/Clémenceau (Métro: Champs Elysées/Clémenceau)
Finish: Palais de Chaillot (Métro: Trocadéro)
Distance: 3 miles
Time: 2.5-4 hours
Best Days: Wednesday-Sunday
This section of the walk runs between the Tour Montparnasse and the Bibliothèque Nationale-François Mitterrand. Many of the modern and post-modern buildings you’ll see on this walk, such as the Tour Montparnasse itself and the Opéra Bastille, were quite controversial when they were constructed. You’ll get a chance to judge them for yourself. You’ll also see parts of two late 20th-century redevelopment projects, Bercy and Paris Rive Gauche.
Start: Tour Montparnasse (Métro: Montparnasse-Bienvenüe)
Finish: Bibliothèque Nationale-Mitterrand (Métro: Quai de la Gare)
Distance: 3.5 miles plus a Métro ride
Time: 3-4 hours
Best Days: Tuesday-Sunday