An excellent way of conserving shoe leather, whilst seeing Paris, is to ride L'autobus 38 from south to north through the centre of this romantic capital city. As the delightful journey unfolds, the traveller will not only see famous sights but also the hustle and bustle of everyday Paris. The ancient southeastern gate of Paris, porte d'Orléans, is the starting point of Route 38's green single-deckers. From there, they pass the Church of St Peter of Montrouge and the superb Metro entrance at Mouton Duvernet. Observatoire de Paris, with its lovely gardens, was created at the behest of Sun King Louis XIV, and appropriately the first map of the moon was made there. Note the chic La Closerie des Lilas in passing - a restaurant once frequented by the likes of Verlaine, Lenin and Ernest Hemingway.
Route 38 passes the 17th-century Luxembourg Palace and Gardens, built for a homesick Italian Queen. A short distance away is the Pantheon, where many of France's greatest citizens are interred and the Sorbonne, where most were educated. Break the journey at Saint-Michel - the square and boulevard are famous meeting-points - then wander over the River Seine to the He de la Cite, enjoying a wonderful close-up of Notre Dame Cathedral before catching a Route 38 bus in front of the historic Palais de Justice, passing the grand Hotel de Ville and reaching the terminal at rue de Victoria.
Half the buses stop here. Those that continue go through what Emile Zola described as 'The stomach of Paris' - Les Halles market area (now the Forum shopping - centre). Then it's the George Pompidou Centre and the triumphal arch of Porte Saint-Martin before Route 38 nears journey's end, reaching the magnificent Gare de l’Est and terminating at another piece of splendid Victorian railway architecture - the Gare du Nord.
WHEN TO GO
TIME IT TAKES
This is not a bus journey to take in one go - allow at least half a day to get off and explore along the way ... or better still make it a day.
The unostentatious monastery shop at avenue Denfert Rocherau, opposite rue Cassini, for a wide range of hand-made goods produced ; throughout France by monks.
The Musée de Cluny in its 15th-century bUilding at Boulevards Saint-Michel and Saint-Germain - a fabulous collection of medieval artefacts and pictures.
The 136 statues of the great and the good from French history on the façade of the Victorian Hotel de Ville.
Interesting passages (small covered streets) between Boulevard de Strasbourg, rue du faubourg St-Denis and rue du Faubourg St -Martin.
YOU SHOULD KNOW
Route 38 follows in famous footsteps - Porte d'Orléans is where General LeClerc, greeted by ecstatic flag - waving crowds, entered Paris to liberate the city from German occupation in 1944.