Bonjour! I'll be spending two days in Paris next month and I really want to make the most of my time since I haven't been there since high school. I really don't want to be indoors much so I'd love some great walking tours. I know a lot is closed in August so I'm really just going to aim to see the city. I'm staying in the St. Germain area if that's of any importance. Merci!!!
Ordinarily I would tell you just to walk around the St. Germain area (which is one of my favorite parts of Paris), but since you have so little time, here’s a tour that will get you through a lot of the best parts of the city. By the way, you are right about August--most restaurants and store close for at least two weeks (although many re-open the last week), so I’ve tried to guide you through monuments, parks, cultural landmarks, etc. which will all be open.
Here’s one of my favorites and one I take every time I go:
Start out at the Musée du Louvre. Personally, with only two days, I would not bother to go in--lines are long and unless there's something you really want to see, I'd forget it. Walking through the courtyard to see the Louvre Pyramid is fun, though. Exit on the north side on Place du Palais Royal. Go into the Palais Royal. This is where the Comédie-Française/Salle Richelieu has its headquarters and they have one of the best gift shops you've ever seen--great place to pick up a really unique gift. Keep heading north until you get into the actual Palais Royal gardens. I would do two laps--one around the actual gardens which are absolutely stunning, and one around the arcade of stores. Don't miss Didier Ludot which is a legendary vintage clothing store. Le Grand Véfour is also here but you'll need to be in formal dress and you'll need to have made reservations ahead of time.
When you're finished, head back towards the museum (south), and go back into the Louvre courtyard. Start heading west until you hit the Place du Carrousel. Once you go through the arch, you'll be in the Jardin des Tuileries which in my opinion is one of the most stunning parts of the city. Just so you know, your shoes will get covered in white dust here because the gardens are covered in white gravel, the crunch of which always reminds me of the city. If you're a gardener, you must also stop by the Librairie Des Jardins which is a lovely if small, bookstore about gardening.
At the westernmost side of the city is the Musee de l'Orangerie which is famous for being the home of many of Monet's waterlilly paintings, or as they're known here, "Les Nympheas", and is a wonderful museum in general and much less chaotic than the Louvre. Also, the Jeu de Paume museum is also here but unless there's something showing that you really want to see, I wouldn't bother.
If you keep going west, you'll hit the Place de la Concorde and its fountain which was the fountain used in the film, "An American in Paris" and is at its best at night. Keep walking west and you'll find yourself on the Champs-Élysées. Keep going at you'll hit the Le Grand Palais and the Le Petit Palais, both of which usually have great exhibits and are breathtaking buildings.
At this point you could keep going in the same direction until you hit the Arc de Triomphe, although in my opinion, once you're past the Avenue Montaigne, the Champs gets really tacky and commercial (so sad--it wasn't always like that).
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You can check the free walking tours in Paris there: http://www.newparistours.com
I've never done it in Paris but I did it in Amsterdam and it was really good.