Tours of Montmartre in Paris

Posted by & filed under Paris.

This is a comparison of the various tours of Montmartre. Whether you prefer a traditional walking tour, a specialty tour, a food tour, or even a bus tour, all are available in the district of Montmartre. The neighborhood is a popular destination for visitors from around the world who are eager to follow in the footsteps of artistic legends such as Dali, Degas, and Hemingway, among several others. The Moulin Rouge and Sacre Coeur Cathedral are especially famous attractions frequented by many different tour groups. However, with so many tour companies operating in the area, it can be difficult to decide which company is best. So that’s where we come in! We’ve broken down all of the different types of tours by category and then compared them by quality and price, so that you can find what’s right for you! 

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Paris bus tours

Pariser Bustouren im Vergleich: Welche ist die beste?

Posted by & filed under Paris.

Eiffelturm, Louvre, Notre Dame – die Hauptstadt Frankreichs hat eine Menge eindrücklicher Sehenswürdigkeiten zu bieten. Als Besucher hat man die Qual der Wahl und fragt sich wahrscheinlich: wie, was, wann, wo? Plant man eine Reihe an Attraktionen zu besichtigen, dann bietet sich eine Bustour dafür an. Ob man auf der Suche nach einer Rundfahrt mit Reiseführer ist, oder lieber an verschiedenen Haltestellen ein- und aussteigt, es gibt für jeden das richtige Angebot. Wir haben daher für Sie die wichtigsten Anbieter und Optionen zusammengestellt. Im Folgenden finden Sie mehr Informationen zu den verschiedenen Arten von Bustouren und wichtige Details zu Angebot und Preis.

Hop-On, Hop-Off Bustouren

Nachtbustouren

Touristenpässe mit Free Bus Tours

 


HOP-ON, HOP OFF BUSTOUREN IN PARIS

Nachdem man die Straßen und Gassen von Paris zu Fuß erkundigt hat, kann man sein weiteres Sightseeing bequem mit einer hop-on, hop-off Bustour weiterführen. Dabei bekommt man viel zu sehen, darf die Füße hochlegen und hat Spaß mit der ganzen Familie. Bei den meisten Anbietern wird einem dabei über Audioführungen in verschiedenen Sprachen etwas über die Stadt erzählt und es gibt zusätzliche Angebote wie Bootstouren oder geführte Touren zu Fuß. Read more »

Best Paris Segway Tours

Posted by & filed under Paris.

This post compares the best Segway tours in Paris. The City of Light is one of the most walkable, pedestrian-friendly cities in the world. Yet touring all of Paris by foot can be a challenge. You can cover more sites by Segway than you can on foot, and you can experience more sights, smells, and sounds of Paris than you could by busy. We’ve scoured the reviews of Paris’s top Segway companies on TripAdvisor to find out which tours are most popular with riders. Most riders ranked their tours in regards to customer service, safety, guide knowledge, guide enthusiasm, tour value, and group size.

Why Should You Take a Segway Tour?

  • Most tours are reasonably priced
  • You can cover more ground on a Segway
  • Segways are very safe and easy to ride
  • Segways are a hit with kids and teens

Want to see more of Paris in less time but don’t want to ride a Segway? Check out our reviews of Paris bus tours here and Paris bike tours here.


Paris Original Tours

Paris Original Tours offer both Segway and bike tours of the city. If your looking for a more intimate tour experience, then pay an extra €5 to join a group of 1-5 people. Those who don’t mind a larger group can save €5 by opting for their 6-18 person group. The price for both includes Segway, helmet, and training. Raincoats are not included but can be purchased for €1. The minimum age to ride is 13 years old. Minors under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Paris Originals does not recommend pregnant women ride.

Availability: 10:30 AM, Daily

Cost: €50-€55 per person

Reviews: Reviewers described guides as, “really patient, active, and informed.” Many reviewers also mentioned that the guides consider the guests’ safety and took extra efforts to help Segway newbies. Guests also used the words, “good value,” to describe the tour. A few people mentioned they even offered guests gloves on a particularly cold day. This company has not received enough negative reviews to make a concise critique. In fact, they’ve only received one “negative” review ever! TripAdvisor Rating: 5 stars


Go Go Tours

Go Go Tours is a popular company that specializes in Segway tours around Paris. They offer a range of private tour options, as well as 2 daily group tours and 1 nightly group tour. The daily group tours depart at 11am and 3pm, as well as 8:30pm. Their group tour routes features all the major sites such as The National Residence of the Invalides, Mussée d’Orsay, the Louvre, Eiffel Tower, and many more. 

Availability: 

  • Private Silver Tour (45 minutes) – Open availability; minimum 2 guests to book
  • Private Golden Tour (90 minutes) – Open availability; minimum 2 guests to book
  • Private Diamond Tour (180 minutes) – Open availability; minimum 2 guests to book
  • Group Tour (180 minutes) – Daily, 11:00 and 15:00
  • Private Night Tour (90 minutes) – Nightly, 20:30 – 22:00
  • Group Night Tour (90 minutes) – Nightly, 20:30 – 22:00

Cost: 

  • Private Silver Tour (45 minutes) – €40
  • Private Golden Tour (90 minutes) – €75
  • Private Diamond Tour (180 minutes) – €80
  • Group Tour (180 minutes) – €49
  • Private Night Tour (90 minutes) – €80
  • Group Night Tour (90 minutes) – €49

Reviews: One reviewer mentioned she loved that she could whiz around Paris while taking in all the sights and smells she wouldn’t have noticed from a bus. Several guests mentioned the route specifically and that it was very rider friendly; traffic and other obstacles were never a problem. Many guests lauded their guides, stating that they were very knowledgeable and clearly love their jobs. Guides often went above and beyond for guests, assisting with currency exchange and offering great photo ops. This tour was especially popular with teens and kids. The one common critique was that the guides are not all locals of Paris–which is common for many Europe sightseeing companies. If you want a guaranteed local, check out one of the other companies on the list. TripAdvisor Rating: 5 stars


The Green Way

Established in 2013, The Green Way leads Segway tours in both English and French. This company offers a variety of different tours, all of which tend to be in the mid-price range. The biggest difference with this company is that the tours are customizable, allowing you to determine exactly where and when the tour starts. This tends to be a popular choice with small groups or families who are looking for a more intimate tour experience. 

Availability: All tours run daily. Customers can customize start times of each tour.

Cost: 

  • Discovery: Vincennes or Saint-Maur – 25 €
  • Monuments of Paris (Long version) – 40 €
  • Paris by Night – 50 €
  • Bois de Vincennes – 38 €
  • The Tour of the Lakes (Vincennes Long Version) – 50 €
  • The banks of Marne (Guinguettes or Saint-Maur) – 38 €

Reviews: The Green Way offers private and small-group tours at the price most companies charge for large group tours. Tours run daily, and you can choose the start time of your tour depending on your schedule. Riders loved the freedom the Segways offered and mentioned that it made them feel as though they had superpowers, able to see the entire city in less time. They loved seeing all the iconic sites as well as getting off the beaten path. One reviewer even mentioned that spending three hours with her guide was more like spending three hours with a friend. Reviewers also mentioned that guides made them feel safe, were very professional, and spoke impeccable English. This company has never received a negative TripAdvisor review! TripAdvisor Rating: 5 stars


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Logic Way Segway Tours

Logic Way Segway Tours offer 3 different types of daily Segway tours, as well as private tours available for booking. The 2 daytime tours are 1.5 hour and 2.5 hours, respectively. The latter tour sees all the sites featured in the 1.5 hour tour, in addition to Invalides, Napoleon’s Tomb, Ecole Militaire, and others. They also have a 2.5 hour nighttime tour, which covers the same sites as their 2.5 hour day tour. And don’t worry if you’ve never been on a Segway before! All their tours begin with a 30 minute lesson on how to ride a Segway. 

Availability: 

  • 1.5 Hour Paris Tour – 11:00 AM and 2:30 PM, Daily November 1st to March 31
  • 2.5 Hour Paris Tour – 11:00 AM and 2:30 PM, Daily
  • 2.5 Hour Paris Night Tour – 6:30 PM, Daily

Cost: 

  • 1.5 Hour Paris Tour – €35 – €38
  • 2.5 Hour Paris Tour – €45 – €50
  • 2.5 Hour Paris Night Tour – €50 – €55

 

Reviews: Guests spoke very passionately about their experiences with Logic Way Segway Tours. Several TA reviewers mentioned that the guides were excellent at teaching Segway riders of all levels. They also noted that they felt the tours ran at a very reasonable price. One reviewer mentioned that they felt the company was sympathetic to their change in travel plans and loved that the smaller company treated them better than the larger companies had. Many reviewers also mentioned these tours were great for both teens and kids. This company has not received enough negative reviews to make a concise critique. Logic Way does not ask for payment in advance. Customers can pay the day of the tour by Visa, MasterCard, AMEX card and cash. TripAdvisor Rating: 5 stars


Experience Paris – Segway Tours

Experience Paris offer 2 different Segway tours, in addition to their several other tours of the City of Light. At €69 per person, these tours are slightly more expensive than some of the others run by different companies. Regardless, customers seem very satisfied with their experience. 

Availability: 

  • Great Monuments Day Tour – 11:00 AM and 2:30 PM, Daily
  • River Route Night Tour – 7:30 PM, Nightly except Sunday, 1 Mar – 30 Oct; 6:00 PM, Nightly except Sunday, 1 Nov- 28 February

Cost: 

  • Great Monuments Day Tour – 69€
  • River Route Night Tour – 69€

Reviews: Experience Paris has been around for five years but doesn’t have a huge presence on TripAdvisor; yet, they still made the top-10 list. Guests loved the sites they toured and the friendly demeanor of the guides. They also found the Segways easy to ride and very safe. This company has not received enough negative reviews to make a concise critique. TripAdvisor Rating: 5 stars

 


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Best Paris Bike Tours

Posted by & filed under Paris.

This post compares the various bike tours available in Paris. Touring the City of Light by bike is a magical way to see the city. You can explore more of the French capital by bike than by foot and check off your must-see list faster! The land here is also extremely flat, so even novice bikers can sit back and enjoy the scenery without too much trouble.

There are so many different options that it can be difficult to pick the right tour for you. With that in mind, we’ve decided to make the research a lot easier by providing all the information you’ll need in just one spot. After all, your experience on a Paris bike tour will depend upon not only the quality of the company you choose, but also the type of tour you will take.

Paris Overview Tours

Versailles Tours

Champagne Tour

 


 
Most of these bike tours will cost between 30€-40€ each. A bike rental is included with pretty much every service, so you won’t need to provide your own set of wheels. Expect to spend at least 3-4 hours seeing the most significant sites in Paris on any one ride. Most excursions are offered daily, but others have somewhat limited availability. Make sure to purchase your tickets ahead of time in order to avoid scheduling conflicts.


 

INTRODUCTION TO PARIS TOURS

This is the perfect option for anyone who wants to see all of the most important landmarks in Paris. Over the course of 3-4 hours, you’ll discover a wide variety of historically significant locations in the City of Light. The cost of a ticket for these tours are fairly reasonable, with most hovering around the 30€ price range. Each bike tour company is very well rated, indicating that their service is quite reliable.


Blue Fox Travel Tours

Blue Fox Travel Tours is a family-run bike tour company which accommodates guests all over Paris. During this 4 hour bike ride, you’ll see sites such as the Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame, The Louvre, Champs-Elysées and more. A professional tour guide will point out important details and provide a plethora of information about each location on your journey. Bike and helmet are provided for each trip. They promise small groups and excellent customer service, as well as local tour guides.   See their full selection of Paris tours.

Best of Paris Tour

  • Ticket Prices: 35€ for Adults | 30€ for Children/Students
  • Availability: Daily at 10:30 AM | May–Oct at 10:30 AM and 3:00 PM
  • Duration: 4 hours
  • Lunch break included
  • Bike and helmet included

Reviewers enjoyed the pace of these tours and felt they were appropriate for both novice and seasoned riders. Guests suggested that their guides made the tours fun and full of life even in the rain, noting that they provided free ponchos. Many visitors commented that the bikes were comfortable and in good condition, ensuring a safe and entertaining ride. Couples and families were the most likely audience to leave a positive review.  This tour averages a 5 out of 5 stars on both TripAdvisor as well as Get Your Guide (see some of the reviews).

 


Bike About Tours

This company prides themselves on covering some of the less touristy places in Paris. That being said, you’ll also have the opportunity to visit popular landmarks while on this bike ride. Clocking in at a total of 3 ½ hours, this trip provides a fairly unique experience at least once a day. The pricing is comparable to similar services, and each tour includes a bike rental and helmet for safety purposes. Lunch breaks are taken at a wonderful local bakery in the Latin Quarter.  See their full selection of Paris tours.

The Parisian Day Bike Tour

  • Ticket Prices: 35€ for Adults | 30€ for Children/Students | €15 for Children under 4
  • Availability: Daily at 10 AM Mar–Nov | Daily at 10 AM and 3:00 PM May–Oct
  • Also Available Mon/Wed/Fri/Sat in February
  • Duration: 3 ½ hours
  • Lunch break included
  • Bike and helmet included

Reviewers mentioned that the guides provided plenty of historical analysis on the tour along with modern-day information about Paris. Guests also noted that the trip was good for both those who don’t ride all the time and more seasoned riders. A few customers were pleased that Bike About was even able to accept late comers. Some reviews indicated that group sizes were kept relatively low (15 and under) compared to other bike companies in the area. Most of the company’s negative reviews revolved around late starts or confusion with the office, but guests who left these comments still gave praise to their excellent tour guides. Couples and families were the most likely to appreciate this bike ride.  This tour also averages a 5 out of 5 stars on both TripAdvisor as well as Get Your Guide (see some of the reviews).

 


Fat Tire Tours Paris

Fat Tire Tours is another popular bike tour company that offers tours in a variety of European cities, including Paris. Much like their competitors, they also provide a 3 ½ hour tour of the city, taking you to several significant sites along the way. Ticket prices are very reasonable and similar to what you’ll find from other bike tours in the area. Bike and helmet rental are included for free, and you will have the opportunity to stop for lunch. Operating in 3 other cities as well, Fat Tire Tours have a global reputation for offering fun and informative cycle tours.   See their full selection of Paris tours.

Paris Day Bike Tour

  • Ticket Prices: 34€ for Adults | 32€ for Children/Students | Children 3 and under ride FREE
  • Availability: Daily at 10:30 AM and 2:30 PM
  • Duration: 3 ½ hours
  • Lunch break included
  • Bike and helmet included

Guests loved the broad overviews of history on this tour, coupled with plenty of specific and informative facts that didn’t make them feel overwhelmed. Many customers mentioned that they felt very safe with their informative and helpful tour guides. Reviewers also noted that guides gave plenty of attention to each individual guest. One visitor even noted that their guide offered his jacket to a cold customer and encouraged him to keep it as a remainder of their experience. Most of the negative reviews revolved around the traffic in Paris; some guests were uncomfortable riding bikes during rush hour, even though a majority of reviewers were impressed with the high safety standards of the company. Just like their competition, these tours were most popular among couples and families.  This tour also averages a 5 out of 5 stars on both TripAdvisor as well as Get Your Guide (see some of the reviews).

 


Paris Bike Tour

Although their Paris overview tour isn’t the main attraction they offer, it is a highly rated experience. For a total of 3 hours, you’ll ride around the city and learn all about its most wonderful sites and landmarks. This trip includes stops at locations such as the Victor Hugo house, The Royal Palace and The Louvre. Although the price of food and drink are not included, there will be scheduled stops for snack breaks. Ticket costs are quite affordable, and bike rental/helmet are provided with every bike tour.

Paris Eternal Tour

  • Ticket Prices: 34€ for Adults | 29€ for Youth
  • Availability: Tue/Thur/Fri/Sat at 2:30 PM from Apr-Oct | Fri/Sat at 2:30 PM from Nov – Mar
  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Snack break included
  • Bike and helmet included

Reviewers loved that the Paris Bike Tour guides were especially skilled in keeping everyone’s attention while entertaining them with facts about Paris history. Guests mentioned that they were able to see parts of Paris they wouldn’t be able to see on their own. Many visitors also noted that they appreciated being able to see the major sites while discovering hidden secrets as well. Many guests were pleased to find that the bikes were in great condition much nicer than they had expected to see on a bike tour. This company hasn’t received enough negative reviews to make a concise critique. This excursion was especially well rated by couples and guests who brought a friend along for the ride.  Paris Bike Tour has an over rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars on both TripAdvisor and Viator (see some of the reviews), a slightly worse review profile compared to the competitors, but still excellent.

 


Holland Bikes

Much like their competitors, this company offers a fairly good overview of all the highlights you will find in Paris. With a total duration of 3 hours, you’ll have plenty of time to see sites such as the Arc de Triomphe, Champs de Mars, and of course the Eiffel Tower. The cost of this bike tour is on par with all of the other services mentioned above. Food and drink are not included, so you might want to bring a snack along for the ride. Tour guides offer commentary in Dutch, English, French and German. See their full selection of Paris tours.

Paris Highlights Tour

  • Ticket Prices: 29€ for Adults | 22€ for Youth
  • 27€ per person for groups of more than 15 guests
  • Availability: Tue-Sun at 10:15 AM and 3 PM
  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Snack break included
  • Bike and helmet included

Holland Bikes has received mostly positive reviews for their tours. Several customers were very happy with their tour guides, taking the time to thank them for the information they provided. Some guests felt that this was a great way to learn about the history of Paris while becoming accustomed to the streets with a more hands on experience in the city. The few negative comments offered by visitors indicated scheduling conflicts which were not a common experience. That being said, we recommend purchasing your tickets ahead of time to avoid these types of problems. Families, couples and friends were the most likely groups to appreciate this trip. Holland Bikes averages 4.5 out of 5 stars on both TripAdvisor as well as Get Your Guide (read some of the reviews). 

 


Like a Local in Paris

This is a small company that specializes in connecting local Parisians with tourists who want to learn more about French culture. Tickets are a bit more pricey than other services, but you’ll also be experiencing a different side of the city in much smaller group sizes. During this 3 hour bike tour, you’ll see the most substantial sites in Paris. At the end of this journey, your tour guide will provide a round of free drinks! Although bike rental is not included, it is fairly affordable and lasts for a full 24 hours.

Paris Highlights Tour

  • Ticket Prices: 53€ per person
  • Availability: Daily
  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Max Group Size: 6
  • Bike and helmet require $2 rental fee
  • Free drink at the end of your tour

Guests mentioned that this company offered tours that were catered to each guest’s needs and provided a personalized touch. Several customers were very impressed with the attention to safety that each guide presented. Many reviewers loved the practical tips that each guide provided regarding the city. They especially appreciated the advice on how to avoid tourist traps and where to charge their cell phones in a pinch. Couples and solo riders overwhelmingly gave Like a Local great reviews, while families were a close third. TripAdvisor Rating: 5 stars.

 


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NIGHT PARIS BIKE TOURS

Seeing Paris during the day can be a wonderful experience, but they don’t call it the City of Light for nothing! When the sun goes down, several of the most beautiful landmarks in this city begin to light up. Although ticket prices are typically a little more expensive for these bike tours, some services are also coupled with a cruise along the Seine. Each tour typically runs for at least 4 hours, giving you plenty of time to see the sights as the lights turn on at night. These options are offered almost every day from spring–fall.
 


 


Blue Fox Travel 

In addition to their standard overview tour, this company also provides an evening trip through Paris. Over the course of 4 hours, you’ll see a variety of significant sites as the sun sets. All night tours include a reflector vest for safety and optional gloves/scarves for cold weather. Once the bike ride is through, you’ll finish the night off with a cruise on the Seine.  See their full selection of Paris tours.

  • Ticket Prices: 39€ for Adults | 35€ for Children/Students
  • Availability: Nightly at 7:30 PM from Apr–Oct
  • Duration: 4 hours
  • Seine cruise included
  • Bike/Helmet/Safety Vest included

Read some of the reviews or to order.

 


Fat Tire Tours 

Just like their competition, this company also offers a trip through the streets of Paris at night. This excursion clocks in at 4 ½ hours, giving you plenty of time to see most of the important and historically significant landmarks in the city. After the bike ride, enjoy a complementary glass of wine as you drift along the Seine. While on your bike tour, you’ll also make a stop at a classic ice cream parlor for a sweet treat! See their full selection of Paris tours.

  • Ticket Prices: 44€ for Adults | 42€ for Children/Students
  • Availability: Nightly at 6:30 PM from Apr-Oct
  • Duration: 4 ½ hours
  • Seine Cruise included
  • Bike and helmet included
  • Complementary wine included
  • Ice Cream not included in ticket price

Read some of the reviews or to order.

 


Holland Bikes 

If you’re not interested in an additional cruise, this will probably be your best bet for an evening bike tour in Paris. During this 3 hour bike ride, you’ll experience incredible sights such as the Opera, the Champs-Elysées and the Eiffel Tower. Tour guides will provide commentary in Dutch, English, French or German. Discover how this city changes after dark on this memorable bike ride. See their full selection of Paris tours.

  • Ticket Prices: 35€ per person
  • Availability: Tue-Sun at 8:30 PM
  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Bike and helmet included
  • Snacks and cruise not included

Read some of the reviews or to order.

 


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VERSAILLES BIKE TOURS

Paris isn’t the only beautiful location in France. About an hour outside of the city, you’ll find Versailles tucked away in a gorgeous location. Surrounded by sites such as the Marie Antoinette’s private farm and village, the farmer’s market, and the incredible grounds of the Palace of Versailles. Bike tours to this area typically last all day, giving you plenty of time to explore and see all of the important landmarks. Ticket costs are definitely more expensive, but considering the length of the trip, they are quite reasonable. Availability for these excursions is typically a bit more limited, so you might want to consider making reservations ahead of time.

 


 


Blue Fox Travel 

Over the course of 8 hours, you’ll get the chance to see a variety of wonderful locations in and around Versailles. After you start the day by getting a bite to eat at the farmer’s market, your tour guide will take you around the area and explain the historical significance behind a variety of notable sites. This bike tour includes skip-the-line entrance to the Palace of Versailles.  See their full selection of Paris tours.

  • Ticket Prices: 95€ for Adults | 79€ for Youth/Museum Pass holders
  • Availability: Daily at 9 AM from Mar-Nov
  • Duration: 8 hours
  • Bike and helmet included
  • Train ticket to Versailles included
  • Palace tickets, Trianon tickets and Marie Antoinette tickets included

Read some of the reviews or to order.

 


Bike About Tours 

Much like their competitors, this company also offers an 8 hour excursion to Versailles. This trip includes access to the Palace of Versailles, the Hall of Mirrors, the Royal Apartments and the Royal Chapel. While on your journey, you’ll stop off at the farmer’s market so you can grab a bite to eat. A professional tour guide will provide plenty of information about the area, explaining why this location is so important to the history of France.  See their full selection of Paris tours.

  • Ticket Prices: 90€ for Adults | 70€ for Youth/Museum Pass holders
  • Availability: Tue-Sun at 9 AM from Apr-Oct
  • Duration: 8 hours
  • Bike and helmet included
  • Round trip train ticket to Versailles included
  • Tickets to Palace/Trianons included

Read some of the reviews or to order.

 


Fat Tire Tours 

When it comes to bike tours in Paris, you should expect to see this name quite frequently. In addition to their other services, they also provide this lovely trip to Versailles. Much like their competitors, they offer an 8 hour day trip which covers most of the same ground you’ll encounter on other tours. This excursion includes round trip tickets to the area and skip-the-line access at the Palace of Versailles. Tickets are a bit more expensive, but reviews for this bike ride are excellent. See their full selection of Paris tours.

  • Ticket Prices: 99€ per person
  • Availability: Tue-Sun at 9 AM from spring-fall
  • Duration: 8 hours
  • Bike and helmet included
  • Round trip train ticket included
  • Skip-the-line tickets included

Read some of the reviews or to order.

 


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ALTERNATIVE PARIS BIKE TOURS

Needless to say, there far more to see in the City of Lights than what you’ll find on a typical overview tour. Discover the hidden areas of Paris with the help of a local guide who knows about all of the best secret spots. Go off the beaten path and uncover the sites that most tourists never get to see! These bike tours usually run for about 3-4 hours, giving you a lot of time to experience the city like a Parisian. Ticket prices are fairly reasonable, falling in line with most of the overview tours.
 


 


Blue Fox Travel 

On this bike ride, you’ll experience Paris the way a local would see it as a guide points out a lot of details you might otherwise miss on a typical overview tour. Group sizes are limited to just 12 guests, which allows you to receive more personalized attention from your tour guide. Discover neighborhoods like St. Germain, Le Marais, and Mouffetard on this 4 hour journey through the city. Rain gear and warm clothing is available for inclement weather.  See their full selection of Paris tours.

  • Ticket Prices: 35€ for Adults | 30€ for Children/Students
  • Availability: Daily at 10 AM
  • Duration: 4 hours
  • Max Group Size: 12
  • Bike and helmet included
  • Rain gear and warm clothing available

Read some of the reviews or to order.

 


Holland Bikes 

Take a trip off the beaten path and discover a side of Paris that most visitors never get to experience. Avoid the typical tourist hot spots and see some of the sites that you might miss on other bike tours. The locations you will visit are kept secret, making the journey even more exciting. This bike ride clocks in at 3 hours in length, giving you plenty of time to explore the back streets of the city. Although refreshments are not provided, you will have the opportunity to stop for a break and get a bite to eat.  See their full selection of Paris tours.

  • Ticket Prices: 32€ for Adults | 24€ for Youth
  • 30€ per person in groups of 15 people or more
  • Availability: Tue-Sun at 10:15 AM and 3 PM
  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Bike and helmet included
  • Snack break included

Read some of the reviews or to order.

 


Fat Tire Tours 

If you want to see more than just Paris or Versailles, this company offers an excellent alternative. One of the most beautiful locations in all of France is Claude Monet’s Garden, and Fat Tire provides a full day trip to the grounds. While there, you will explore the gardens and see other notable sites around Giverny. Learn all about the history of this area as you experience a less traveled side of the French countryside. See their full selection of Paris tours.

  • Ticket Prices: 99€ per person
  • Availability: Wednesday and Saturday at 10 AM from Apr-May/Aug-Oct
  • Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday at 10 AM from Jun-Jul
  • Duration: 8 hours
  • Bike and helmet included
  • Round trip ticket to Giverny included
  • Entrance to Monet’s Garden/House included
  • Food and drink not included

Read some of the reviews or to order.

 


Bike About Tours 

This company offers yet another alternative to the typical tour of Paris. Their day trip to the Champagne region is definitely an interesting experience. While in the area, you’ll have the opportunity to ride around the vineyards and villages of Champagne on an e-Bike. Needless to say, you will have the chance to taste some of the fine wines crafted in this location. Tickets are a little more expensive than usual, but considering you’ll enjoy an e-bike rental and wine tastings, it’s definitely worth the added cost.  See their full selection of Paris tours.

  • Ticket Prices: 150€ per person
  • Availability: Monday Wednesday and Friday at 8:15 AM from Apr-May/Aug-Oct
  • Also offered on Saturdays from Jun-Jul
  • Duration: 8 hours
  • E-bike and helmet included
  • Round trip tickets to Champagne included
  • Wine tasting and tours included
  • Cost of lunch not included

Read some of the reviews or to order.

 


Like a Local in Paris

In addition to their overview of Paris, this company also offers both an alternative biking tour and a food tour on bike. On the bike and bite ride, you’ll discover some of the finest eating establishments in the city while learning some of the delicious history of authentic French food. Their hidden charms tour will take you down some of the less traveled roads, giving you a look at some of the oft forgotten sites and landmarks in the area. Each adventure requires a small fee for bike rentals.

 


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COMBO PACKAGES AND DEALS

Some of the bike tour companies we have listed above actually offer discounts on their services. In most cases, the discount is applied when and if you choose to purchase tickets for more than one tour. That being said, you may also be able to find some pretty good deals with one of the many discount passes available. For more information on those services, make sure to visit our comparison of Paris tourist passes.

 


Fat Tire Tours – If you want to take both their day and night bike tours, you can actually save €12 on both trips by purchasing your tickets at the same time. Use promo code DAYNIGHTCOMBO at checkout in order to take advantage of this discount.

Blue Fox Travel – This combo package allows you to pick and choose the tours you want to take. All you have to do is purchase at least 2 tickets in order to get a discount on both. Your discount will increase depending upon how many bike tours you decide to join.

  • Save 10% on 2 tours
  • Save 12% on 3 tours
  • Save 14% on 4 tours
  • Save 16% on 5 tours

 


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Paris Boat Collage

Paris Boat Tours and Cruises

Posted by & filed under Paris.

This posts reviews and compares the best Paris boat tours and Seine River cruises, including architecture cruises, sightseeing tours, speed boats and water taxis.  There are many ways to see all that Paris has to offer, but some sights are best viewed on the water! We’ve compiled a detailed list of the best ways to see Paris by boat, including guided boat tours, water taxis, rental kayaks, and even sailboats with your own Captain! With so many options, there is something to fit everyone’s budget and taste.


Sightseeing Cruises

Lunch and Dinner Cruises

Night/Firework Cruises

 

 


SEINE RIVER SIGHTSEEING CRUISES

Sightseeing Cruises along the Seine are all approximately 1 hour and travel past several popular sites such as the Eiffel Tower, Invalides, Parliament, Musée d’Orsay, and Notre Dame Cathedral, amongst many others. Each features recorded audio commentary that is played on board the cruise and usually comes in several different languages. 

Each of the tours listed below are relatively similar in price, reputation, and cruise itinerary. In fact, the biggest difference between them is their departure point. Bateaux Parisiens has 2 different departure points (Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower), each of which is priced slightly differently. Bateaux Mouches, on the other hand, departs exclusively from Pont de L’Alma, which is near Champs-Elysees. Finally, Vedettes de Paris starts exclusively at the Eiffel Tower. 

Keep in mind that most of these tours run up until 9pm or pm (21:00 or 22:00) at night, making them both daytime and nighttime sightseeing tours. If you would prefer a nighttime dinner cruise, check out our Lunch & Dinner Cruises section. Alternatively, if you are interested in taking a night cruise on a special occasion, see our Night/Firework Cruises section.


Bateaux Parisiens 

Bateaux Parisiens offers 2 different types of sightseeing cruises, each with multiple departure times and/or locations. The first is a standard 1 hour cruise with commentary, departing from both the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame. In addition to an individual audio guide that comes in 14 different languages, there is also an on-board hostess guide to answer any of your questions. Featured sites include the Eiffel Tower, Invalides, the Parliament, Musée d’Orsay, Institut de France, Notre Dame Cathedral, City Hall, the Conciergerie, the Louvre, the Obelisk, the Grand Palais, and more. If you want to combine this 1 hour sightseeing cruise with lunch at a nearby restaurant, you should check out our boat tour combination section. The other available option is the Enchanted Cruise with Entertainment, a 1 hour sightseeing and entertainment cruise that is hosted by 2 actors and targeted primarily towards families with young children. However, unfortunately, this tour is only available in French. 

Tickets:

Cruise with Commentary: 10:30 AM – 9:30 PM (10:30 – 21:30)  (click here for the night version)

  • Eiffel Tower Departure: Adults – €15; Children – €7 
  • Notre Dame Departure: Adults – €16; Children – €7.50
  • More information and to book.

Before you pay full price, please note that this tour is free with several Paris tourist discount passes as well as bus tour combinations.

Reviews

Bateaux Parisiens is one of the most popular cruise companies in Paris, as is made evident by their excellent rating on TripAdvisor, 4 out of 5 stars. Most guests seem to comment on the incredible value of the experience as just €15 gets you a 1 hour sightseeing cruise down the Seine. Though some were disappointed by the quality of the commentary, this can be easily improved by talking with the on-board hostess guides. And at just €15 per person, it’s hard to complain! 

 


Vedettes de Paris

Vedettes de Paris offers a wide range of boat cruises that run both in the daytime and evenings. They also have exclusive sightseeing tours, as well as lunch and dinner cruises. In this section, we discuss their Daytime Sighseeing Cruise, which can be supplemented with a add-ons such as a crepe or a glass of Champagne. Like most of the other companies listed, their sightseeing tour is approximately 1 hour and passes by major sites such as the Eiffel Tower, Invalides, Musée d’Orsay, and Notre Dame Cathedral, among many others. Your ticket is valid for the entire day, so you can choose which time you would like to take the cruise as long as the boat isn’t completely full. To learn more about their Night Cruise and/or Lunch and Dinner Cruises, check out the appropriate section. 

Availability: Multiple departure times each day. Changes by season. Check website for most up-to-date schedule.

Cost: 

  • Daytime Sightseeing Cruise: Adults – €14; Children – €6 (more info)
  • Daytime Sightseeing Cruise with a French crepe: Adults – €19; Children – €11 (more info)
  • Daytime Sightseeing Cruise with glass of Champagne: Adults – €19; Children – €11 (more info)
  • Daytime Sightseeing Cruise with a glass of wine: Adults – €19; Children – €11 (more info)

Reviews

Vendettes de Paris has an excellent reputation on TripAdvisor, averaging 4 out of 5 stars, with some guests referring to it as the best sightseeing cruise in Paris. Some guests were disappointed that the audio commentary did not play in the open-air top deck. However, many others seemed to appreciate that guests had the option to either listen to the commentary down below or enjoy the peaceful view from the river without ongoing commentary. 

 


Bateaux Mouches

Bateaux Mouches is another very popular boat tour company that runs daily sightseeing cruises along the Seine. At just €13.50 per adult, this is the most affordable sightseeing cruise featured on this list. As with the others, it is also approximately 1 hour and passes by all the major sites along the river. There is both an open top-deck, as well as a glass bottom deck so that you can enjoy the beautiful views wherever you are. Additionally, they also offer lunch and dinner cruises, among a few others, which are featured in the appropriate sections. 

Availability: Multiple departure times each day. Changes by season. Check website for most up-to-date schedule.

Cost: Adults – €13.50; Children – €6 (more info and to book)

Reviews

This company is also very popular with visitors, average 4 out of 5 stars on TripAdvisor, and is even described by some as “the highlight of my time” and “fantastic.” Though most seem to appreciate the guided commentary, others found that it quickly became repetitive because a description of each site was repeated in each of the 5 available languages. However, this is a common issue amongst tour companies that cater to a very international audience and one that does not seem to concern most visitors. 

 


Additional Tours

Paris City Vision (GrayLine) – Paris City Vision, which operates under GrayLine, specializes primarily in package deals that combine a boat cruise with other activities. They offer 1 daytime cruise that isn’t packaged with anything else, however that cruise is actually run by Bateaux Parisiens. 

Vedettes du Pont Neuf – Another cruise company offering a range of day and evening sightseeing tours. 

Green River Cruises – A smaller, but immensely popular cruise company in Paris. Free when purchased as part of the Paris Pass

 


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SEINE LUNCH AND DINNER CRUISES 

Lunch and dinner cruises are popular options for those interested in a more luxurious and leisurely experience. Both offer impressive views from the river, while allowing you to relax and enjoy a nice meal. As is always the case, lunch cruises are much less expensive than dinner cruises – making them an excellent alternative for the budget conscious traveler.

Of the tours listed below, Paris en Scene offers the most affordable dining experience. Vedettes de Paris is also very reasonably priced, though their dinner cruise is slightly more upscale (and completely worth the price!). Bateaux Parisians run the more expensive lunch and dinner cruises. However, the high quality of their food and service justifies the added cost. 

 


 


Vedettes de Paris

Vedettes de Paris offer a few different options for those looking to enjoy a meal while cruising down the Seine. The first is their Snacking Cruise, which is their most budget friendly option and features a sandwich or hotdog in addition to their standard Sightseeing Cruise. Alternatively, you can opt for their sit-down 3-course lunch. This is a slightly more expensive option, but still relatively affordable, especially as it also includes a glass of wine, a beer, or a soft drink. Lastly, you can choose to have a luxurious dining experience aboard their Dinner Cruise, which lasts 2 hours and features authentic French cuisine. 

Availability: 

  • Snacking Cruise: Departs daily. Changes by season. Check website for most up-to-date schedule.
  • Lunch Cruise: Departs daily. Changes by season. Check website for most up-to-date schedule.
  • Dinner Cruise: Departs nightly at 9:15pm (21:15)

Cost: 

  • Snacking Cruise: Adults – €21; Children – €13
  • Lunch Cruise: Adults – €32; Children – €12
  • Dinner Cruise: Adults – €90; Children – €35

Reviews

Vedettes de Paris’s lunch and dinner cruise options are seemingly just as popular as their standard sightseeing cruises, with an average rating of 4 out of 5 stars on TripAdvisor. Most write that they found the food to be exceptional, especially for the price. However, those who didn’t enjoy the food as much suggest that guests bring their own pack lunches to eat on-board – a money saving tip that would be very easy to do! In general, though, guests compliment the experience for being very relaxing and enjoyable. 

 


Bateaux Parisiens 

Bateaux Parisiens run both lunch and dinner cruises on the Seine, in addition to their sightseeing cruises. For lunch, you can choose between a 2 hour cruise with a 3-course bistro style lunch OR a 1 hour cruise that is then followed or preceded by a 1 hour lunch at Bistro Parisien on the quay near the Eiffel Tower. There is only a $10 price difference between the two so your decision should really just come down to personal preference. Similarly, there are a few different options for the dinner cruise as well. Once again, you can opt for either a 2.5 hour dinner cruise OR a 1 hour night cruise that is then followed or preceded by a dinner at Bistro Parisien on the quay near the Eiffel Tower. Like with the 2 hour a lunch cruise, a range of upgrades are also available with the 2.5 hour dinner cruise. See their website for specific details about what’s on offer. 

Tickets:

Lunch Cruise – Departs daily at 12:15pm

  • Lunch Cruise (Etoile Service): Adults – €59; Children – €34
  • Lunch Cruise (Privilege Service): Adults – €77; Children – €34
  • Lunch Cruise (Premier Service): Adults – €89; Children – €34

Dinner Cruise – Departs nightly at 6:15pm, 8:30pm, and 9:00pm 

  • Dinner Cruise (6:15 pm): Adults – €69; Children – €34
  • Dinner Cruise (6:15 pm w/Window Table): Adults – €85; Children – €34
  • Dinner Cruise (8:30 pm Etoile Service): Adults – €99; Children – €34
  • Dinner Cruise (8:30 pm Decouverte Service) : Adults – €139; Children – €139
  • Dinner Cruise (8:30 pm Privilege Service) : Adults – €168; Children – €168
  • Dinner Cruise (8:30 pm Premier Service) : Adults – €205; Children – €205
  • Dinner Cruise (9:00 pm) : Adults – €69; Children – €34
  • Dinner Cruise (9:00 pm w/Window Table) : Adults – €85; Children – €34

Reviews

Though their TripAdvisor rating is representative of all their cruises (both sightseeing and restaurant), Bateaux Parisiens’s restaurant lunch and dinner cruises are particularly highly rated. Guests describe it as “magical” and a “5 star experience.” One even writes that though they are not usually a fan of dinner cruises, this one was incredible. Of course, some people found the food to be overpriced. However, for a dining experience in such a premium location, you must expect premium prices. TripAdvisor Rating: 4 stars. 

 


Paris en Scene

Paris en Scene specializes exclusively in brunch and dinner cruises along the Seine. Both start at only €39, making this one of the most affordable restaurant cruise options on this list. All are approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes, and travel by all of the major sites and attractions in central Paris. Cruises depart from near the Eiffel Tower and then make their way down toward Notre Dame. If you’re looking for a more premium experience, easily upgrade by adding Champagne or getting exclusive seats. 

Availability: 

  • Brunch Cruises: Sundays at 12:30 pm & 2:45 pm 
  • Dinner Cruises: Daily at 6:00 pm, 7:45 pm, & 9:30 pm 

Cost: 

  • Dinner Cruise (3 courses): €39 
  • Wine Dinner Cruise (3 courses): €47
  • Champagne Dinner Cruise (3 course): €49
  • Brunch Cruise: €39 
  • Champagne Brunch Cruise: €49 

Reviews

Most reviewers seem really happy and impressed by the experience with Paris en Scene. The quality of the food receives high marks, as do the incredible views offered by the cruise. Some criticize the customer service, but just as many seem to praise it. A consistent complaint comes from guests who expected there to be recorded commentary playing throughout the trip. However, the company makes it clear that they are not a sightseeing tour and therefore choose not to disrupt the meal with a narrative tour. They do provide a small leaflet describing the various sites that the cruise goes past, though. TripAdvisor Rating: 3.5 stars. 

 


Additional Tours

Bateaux Mouches – This company also hosts lunch and dinner cruises, as well as special performance cruises. Prices are a bit higher, but they reflect the fine dining experience. 

Paris City Vision (GrayLine) – Paris City Vision offers a wide variety of lunch and dinner cruise combos such as a City Tour of Paris with Lunch on the Seine or VIP Dinner Cruise with Hotel Pick-up/Drop-off.

Capitaine Fracasse – Offers a range of dinner cruise options, including a special children’s menu. 

 


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NIGHT AND FIREWORK CRUSIES

Most of the cruise companies in Paris (and all the companies listed above) offer cruises along the Seine at nighttime. Most sightseeing cruises operate until well into the early evening, and, of course, all the companies running dinner cruises will inevitably be doing so at night as well. However, some companies offer specialty night cruises on holidays such as Valentines and New Years Eve, which take advantage of the city’s celebrations and promise guests a beautiful fireworks display. 

Vedettes de Paris is one of the only companies to include a full price list for these occasions on their website, though certainly many more also offer them. Unsurprisingly, prices are much, much higher on holidays. However, don’t worry if you can’t quite afford it or if you’re not in Paris on those days. There is an Eiffel Tower light show that happens for 5 minutes on every hour, which in itself is a pretty spectacular sight to see!


Vedettes de Paris

In addition to their regular sightseeing, brunch, lunch, and dinner cruises, Vedettes de Paris also offers cruises on special occasions. Keep in mind that seating is very limited and that it is best to make a reservation far in advance to guarantee a table during these popular times! 

  • New Year – Dinner Cruise and Party: €390.00
  • Saint-Valentine – Prestige Dinner: €115.00
  • Saint-Valentine – 6pm early bird Service: €90.00 
  • Valentine – Excellence Dinner: €170.00
  • 14th July Dinner Cruise in Paris: €175.00 
  • Mother’s day lunchtime cruise: €75.00 
  • Christmas menu – December 25: €90.00 

Reviews:  Though there aren’t any reviews that specifically describe their experience with Vedettes de Paris on a holiday, most of the reviews in general are very positive. Guests compliment the experience for being very relaxing and enjoyable. Service also seems to get high marks, which really says something as this is a common complaint amongst other companies. TripAdvisor Rating: 4 stars. 


Bateaux Parisiens

Bateaux Parisiens offer a Paris Illuminations Cruise, which is the same as their sightseeing tour listed above — but at night! You will enjoy a 1 hour cruise along the Seine, learning about the various historic landmarks dotting the river bank, all while enjoying the beautiful Paris skyline. In addition to guided commentary, there is also music that is played as your pass by various illuminated bridges. 

Availability: 

  • Nightly, until 10:30pm (22:30)

Cost: 

  • $16 per adult 

Reviews:

Bateaux Parisiens are a very popular company company with excellent reviews. Boasting 4 out of 5 stars on TripAdvisor, the company offers a peaceful though affordable way to appreciate the City of Lights from the water. Though some found the guided commentary to be lacking, most who opted to take this tour at night seem more than satisfied with the beautiful views and serene atmosphere. Plus, at less €20 per person, it’s hard to complain! 

 


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WATER TAXI

In addition to the several companies leading sightseeing and restaurant cruises on the Seine, there is also a water taxi called Batobus that operates as a hop-on, hop-off transportation service. Batobus is, unsurprisingly, much cheaper than any of the other cruises. However, it is also much more basic and does not feature any guided commentary or the opportunity to buy food/drink. Nevertheless, the incredible views are the same, and, at a fraction of the price, Batobus is a great way to see Paris! 


Batobus

Batobus departs from 9 different stations in the heart of Paris including, the Eiffel Tower, Musée d’Orsay, St-Germain-des-Prés, Notre-Dame, the Louvre, Champs-Élysées and several others. You have the option to either purchase their 1-Day Valid Pass for €17 or a 2-Day Consecutive Pass for €19. Both will allow you to use the Batobus as often as you like from any of the water taxi stations. There is also an annual pass available for €60, though that probably won’t interest most visitors. On the weekends, Batobus  runs until 7pm, giving you the opportunity to experience Paris from the water at night time if you’re visiting during the colder season. 

Availability:

  • From Monday to Thursday 10am to 5pm / Boats every 40 min
  • From Friday to Sunday 10am to 7pm / Boats every 40 min

Cost: 

Reviews

A majority of reviewers seem to give the Batobus a solid 4 out of 5 stars on TripAdvisor for their experience. As a water taxi, it is obviously not going to be a luxurious outing on the water. However, most really praise Batobus for giving guests the chance to enjoy beautiful views of Paris from the water, without having to dole out the cash required to go on a sightseeing or restaurant cruise. Some guests report that the Batobus was late to their particular station. However, delays of these kind are to be expected for such an affordable trip.  Several forum posts seem to warn against using Batobs as a substitute for bus and metro transportation, as the latter are more efficient and faster.

 


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BOAT TOUR COMBOS

Several boat cruises have partnered up with other attractions and tour companies in Paris. By purchasing 2 or more activities as part of a package, you can really cut costs and simplify your travel planning. 


Vedettes de Paris (Bus & Boat Tour) 

Vedettes de Paris has partnered with Foxity Bus to offer a packaged deal that combines their 1 Hour Sightseeing Cruise alone the Seine with Foxity’s 1 Day Pass City Tour. The latter takes you all around Paris, stopping at 4 different hop-on, hop-off locations along the way. You have the option of traveling with either company at daytime or night, as the ticket for either is good all day. Vedettes de Paris has also partnered with several other attractions such as Disneyland Paris and the Palace of Versailles. However, though Vedettes de Paris sells discounted tickets on their behalf, they do not offer combo package deals with them. 

Availability: Both are available for the entire day. Timetable for Foxity bus (departure Eiffel Tower): 11:30am, 12:00pm, 12:30pm, 1:00pm, 1:30pm, 2:00pm, 2:30pm, 3:00pm, 3:30pm, 4:00pm

Cost: 

  • Adult : €29
  • Children under 12:  €10 per paying adult
  • Additional children: €29

Rating: Though there aren’t any reviews written specifically about this package deal, Vedettes de Paris generally receives very good reviews for their boat cruises. Foxity Bus is also fairly well rated, with many praising the ease by which their tours allowed guests to see Paris. There are some complaints about buses being delayed. However, this is to be expected in a city with lots of traffic. TripAdvisor Rating: 4 stars. 

 


Paris City Vision – GrayLine (Seine Cruise & Moulin Rouge)

Paris City Vision offers a huge variety of tours around Paris. In addition to their several walking and bus tours, they also lead day and evening cruises on the Seine. If you’re interested in seeing Moulin Rouge, consider purchasing those tickets as part of a package with Paris City Vision’s sightseeing cruise. There are a wide variety of add-ons also available, such as hotel pick-up and dinner at the Eiffel Tower. 

Availability: Packages available daily. 

Cost: 

  • Dinner at the Eiffel Tower, Seine Cruise, Moulin Rouge Show: €255
  • Seine Cruise and Moulin Rouge Show: €145
  • Dinner Cruise, Moulin Rouge Show, Hotel Pick-up/Drop-off: €280

Rating: Paris City Vision offer a huge range of tours, each of which receives a different ratings from guests. Generally, people seem fairly pleased with their experience, especially their time on the Seine Cruise. Guests should note that tours that conclude with the boat cruise do not bring guests back to the original start location, but rather ends at the dock where the cruise finishes so it is worth figuring out your transportation ahead of time. TripAdvisor Rating: 4 stars. 


Additional Tours

Blue Fox Travel – Blue Fox Travel is a bike tour company that offers packages that combine a bike tour with a sightseeing cruise. 

Gogo Tours Paris – Similarly, Gogo Tours Paris is a Segway tour company that offers packages that combine a Segway tour with a boat cruise. 

 


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DEALS AND DISCOUNTS

There are several different tourist passes that include a Seine sightseeing or lunch/dinner cruise as part of their package deal. Tourist passes are a great way to save money on different activities and attractions for first time visitors to the city. 

Paris Pass

The Paris Pass is one of the most popular tourist passes available in the City of Light. If your aim is to see and do as many things as possible, then the Paris Pass might be your best option. In addition to saving you money, the Paris Pass also promises to save you a lot of time by allowing you to skip the line at many major attractions. Another perk of the Paris Pass is free unlimited travel on the local metro and buses.

Top Attractions Included in the Paris Pass: 

  • Bateaux Parisiens River Cruise (Normal gate price EUR 14.00) 
  • Musée du Louvre (Normal gate price EUR 12.00) 
  • Musee d’Orsay (Normal gate price EUR 11.00) 
  • Centre Pompidou, National Museum of Modern Art (Normal gate price EUR 14.00) 
  • Espace Dali (Normal gate price EUR 11.50) 
  • Big Bus – Hop-on Hop-off bus tour (Normal gate price EUR 30.00) 
  • Wine Tasting – O Chateau (Normal gate price EUR 30.00) 

Cost: 

  • 2-Day Passes – 135 € /Adults, 82 € /Teens, 46 €/Children
  • 3-Day Passes – 169 €/Adults, 99 €/Teens, 52 €/Children
  • 4-Day Passes – 199 €/Adults, 109 €/Teens, 58 €/Children
  • 6-Day Passes – 239 €/Adults, 129 €/Teens, 75 €/Children Get 10% off
  • More information or to book online.

Reviews of the Paris Pas

Visitors generally seem to find the Paris Pass to be extremely useful and a huge money saver. The ability to skip the line at key attractions such as the Louvre is also hugely beneficial, as guests don’t need to stress about the inevitable crowds. This pass seems especially recommended for first-time visitors who want to take full advantage of everything Paris has to offer. GYG Rating: 4 stars. 

 


Turbo Pass Paris

The Turbo Pass Paris is very similar to the Paris Pass, but is cheaper and features a few less attractions than the latter. This is a great pass to choose if you have already been to Paris and do not want to visit quite as many sites as the first-time visitor. Though some might be disappointed that the Turbo Pass Paris isn’t as extensive as its competitors, their succinct list of attractions will likely make you feel slightly less overwhelmed by all there is to do! 

Top Attractions Included in the Turbo Paris Pass:

  • Boat cruise on the River Seine: EUR 15
  • Louvre: EUR 12
  • Palace of Versailles: EUR 18
  • Centre Pompidou: EUR 13.50
  • Notre-Dame tower and viewing platform: EUR 8.50
  • Musée d’Orsay: EUR 9
  • Arc de Triomphe viewing platform: EUR 9.50
  • Panthéon: EUR 8.50
  • Sainte-Chapelle: EUR 8.50
  • Musée de l’Armée: EUR 9.50

Cost: 

  • 2-Day Passes – $98.22/Adults, $43.59/Teens, $21.75/Children
  • 4-Day Passes- $163.77/Adults, $61.07/Teens, $32.67/Children
  • 6-Day Passes – $218.39/Adults, $76.36/Teens, $43.59/Children 
  • More information or to book.

Reviews

The Turbo Pass Paris is just as highly rated as the Paris Pass, averaging 4 out of 5 stars on Get Your Guide. Most reviewers praise the pass for streamlining their trip to Paris and making the whole experience much more affordable. The staff at Turbo Pass Paris also come highly rated for being very helpful and informative. 

 


Paris Passlib’

The Paris Passlib’ is a 1-day, 2-day, 3-day, and 5-day pass that gives you access to a handful of attractions. Compared to the other Paris tourist passes, this is by far the most affordable, but most limited. However, if you know what you want to see and do, then this could be the pass for you! 

Top Attractions Included in the Paris Passlib’:

  • 1-hour cruise/boat tour on the Seine with the Bateaux Parisiens
  • A 24-hour ticket on the L’Open tour sightseeing buses
  • The Paris Visite Travel Card – use either the metro, bus, tram or RER to get around Paris
  • The Paris Museum Pass – Access to over 50 popular museums in and around Paris 
  • Optional 2nd Floor Eiffel Tower Ticket for 15 € extra
  • Free Paris Passlib’ Booklet with useful information
  • Free Map of the inner city to help you get around

Cost: 

  • 1-Day Pass — 40 €/Adults, 35 €/Teens, 26 €/Children
  • 2-Day Pass – 109 €/Adults, 65 €/Teens, 35 €/Children
  • 3-Day Pass – 129 €/Adults, 70 €/Teens, 39 €/Children
  • 5-Day Pass – 155 €/Adults, 90 €/Teens, 47 €/Children 
  • More information and to book.

Reviews

The Paris Passlib’ is a much smaller company and so has much fewer reviews, however guests who have used the pass seem very pleased with it. GYG Rating: 4 stars. 

 


Big Bus Tours Packages

If you’re planning on taking a hop-on, hop-off bus tour as well as a boat tour on the Seine, then you should look into purchasing one of Big Bus Tour’s combo packages. There are several options including the choice between a 1 or 2 day tour, and a day or night tour. 

Cost:

  • 1-Day Bus Tour and Cruise – 37,80 €/Adults, 19,80 €/Children
  • 2-Day Bus Tour and Cruise – 41,40 €/Adults, 19,80 €/Children
  • 1-Day Bus Tour, Cruise, and Night Tour – 54 €/Adults, 29,70 €/Children
  • 2-Day Bus Tour, Cruise, and Night Tour – 57,60 €/Adults, 29,70 €/Children 
  • More information and to book.

Reviews

As one of the most popular bus tour companies in Paris, Big Bus Tours maintains a 3.5 out of 5 stars rating on TripAdvisor. Though not all of their reviews are entirely positive, most people ultimately seem happy with their decision as it allowed them to visit many sites that they might have otherwise missed.

 


L’Open Tours Packages

L’Open Tour has partnered with Bateaux Mouches to offer a handful of bus and river cruise packages for visitors. This option is very similar in both price and itinerary to Big Bus Tours, which is listed above. Some of the tourist passes also feature the option of a Seine cruise and a hop-on, hop-off bus, but those tend to offer just a 1-day pass rather than the 2-day pass that is included with L’Open Tours. If you don’t want to fill rushed, then this might be the best deal for you! 

Cost: 

Reviews

With a 3.5 out of 5 stars rating on TripAdvisor, L’Open Tour is very comparable to Big Bus Tours. Some guests write that they were disappointed with the commentary, though all seem quite pleased to have been able to see so many different sites and attractions with a hop-on, hop-off tour. 

 


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Self-Guided Montmartre Tour

Posted by & filed under Paris.

Once you’ve seen the Eiffel Tower, Arc du Triomphe, Notre Dame and the Louvre, there is still plenty more to discover about Paris. No neighbourhood sums up Paris’s sexy, artistic image quite like Montmartre with its breathtaking views of the city, chic bistros and treasure trove of art history. This self-guided tour should take between 2 and 4 hours depending on how long you dwell at each stop. Take the metro to Pigalle on line 2 or 12 and prepare to stroll in foot steps of geniuses.

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Pigalle

Exit the metro and you’ll find yourself in Place Pigalle on the Boulevard de Clichy. Downhill you’ll head back into Paris and going across either east or west you’ll be waking around the Butte du Montmartre or the hill of the martyrs. We’ll find out about the name later, but in the late 19th Century this went from being the countryside outside of the city to the most radical artistic neighbourhood in the world.

degas-labsintheLooking down the hill you’ll see a nightclub called Folies Pigalle, this was once the café Nouvelle Athènes frequented by Van Gogh, Henri Matisse and Degas where the latter painted his famous L’Absinthe (see picture). Back then Absinthe, a supposedly hallucinogenic drink made of anise, fennel, herbs and wormwood, was all the rage but we’ll hear more about that later too.

By the 1940’s the bar had become a striptease club where the Nazi’s and later French Resistance fighters would relax. Sex and the erotic has always been a pig part of the Montmartre story. Looking around today you’ll see lots of clubs and sex shops along the Boulevard. It can be quite seedy here at night, but as we head up the hill you’ll notice the atmosphere becomes much less bawdy.

The name Pigalle comes from an 18th Century painter but American GIs arriving in Paris after its liberation by Free French forces (there’s information on the French Resistance on the platform of Barbès – Rochechouart station), found the same pleasures here and nicknamed the area Pig Alley! Right now we’re going to head west along Pig Alley (the Boulevard de Clichy) keep downhill on your left and uphill on your right.

Le Chat Noir (68 Boulevard de Clichy)

chat-noir-posterYou are standing in front of the world’s first modern cabaret. La Chat Noir is now most famous for stylish retro posters on a thousand student walls (See picture) but this was the soul of Belle Époque Paris, a place where fashionable artists came to be entertained at their tables by raucous music hall entertainment.

The club opened in 1881 as the meeting place of Les Hyrdopathes a group of artists who preferred wine to water! The doormen club dressed like the Pope’s Vatican Swiss Guard but their job was to stop priests and the military people from entering this bohemian and radical club.

The list of famous patrons is like a who’s who of modern art and culture; the musician Claude Debussy,the singer Aristide Bruant and painters like Henri Toulouse Lautrec.

Henri Toulouse Lautrec was a fascinating character and we’ll meet him again as we walk around the area. Born to a noble family with a history of inbreeding, Toulouse broke both legs when aged 14 and his legs ceased to grow, leaving him with an adult torso, child’s legs, and hypertrophied genitals! He became the centre of the Montmartre social scene, a leading post-impressionist painter, and a legendary lover to many local prostitutes and models. From this he contracted syphilis, went crazy and drank himself to death at the age of 36. Today he’s probably best known for designing the posters and flyers for the most famous cabaret in the world.

You don’t need us to tell you the name of that cabaret, keep walking west on the Boulevard de Clichy and on your right you’ll spot a big red windmill!

Le Moulin Rouge

10399648_541995724243_5837_nThe original Red Windmill stood atop a low building here which marked the entrance to the cabaret where kings and paupers could mix and watch girls dancing the famous Can Can dance. That windmill burned down in a fire, but the club was rebuilt and continues to wow audiences.

The Can Can, where dancers kick up their legs one after the other, getting quicker and quicker, was originally danced by both sexes but women in the late nineteenth century wore open underclothes which would occasionally flash audiences as they danced. Here at the Moulin Rouge they found that the more the girls flashed the more customers kept returning and over the years the under clothes got shorter and shorter as the club became more and more famous.

Baz Luhrmann’s film with Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor reignited interest in the club in 2001. If you’ve seen the film John Leguizamo’s character is based on the painter Toulouse Lautrec.

The Moulin Rouge remains one of the main attractions in Paris with shows every night at 9pm and 11pm. Tickets start at 87€ per person, it’s not cheap but will certainly be an unforgettable evening.

For now, let’s head up into Montmartre. Turn back towards the Blanche Metro stop and then left up Rue Lepic.

Café des Deux Moulins (15 Rue Lepic)

As you head up Rue Lepic, you’ll find this charming café-bar on the left hand side.

Movie lovers will instantly recognise this as Amelie’s work place from the famous 2001 French film; Amelie. The quirky love story is set around Paris but focuses heavily on Montmartre. The cigarette machine from the film is missing but the Café’s bathroom remains identical to how it is in the raunchy movie scene!

Despite its fame, the Café des Deux Moulins is no more pricey than other cafés and restaurants in the area. A top tip for saving money in Paris is to drink at the bar. You will pay a higher price for table service and an even higher price for sitting outside on the terrace.

Continue up Rue Lepic, you will get to what looks like a junction, but turn left and you’ll find that Rue Lepic continues curving its way up the hill.

Van Gogh’s House (54 Rue Lepic)

As Rue Lepic turns right up hill you’ll find a plaque on the wall commemorating Vincent Van Gogh’s time here.

Van Gogh was born in the Southern Netherlands to a family of art dealers in 1853. Vincent was sent to work in London and by 20 years old was earning more than his father. Despite success the woman he loved rejected him and his attitude to work turned sour because he hated the commodification of art. He was eventually fired by his own family!

Van Gogh then became a Protestant Minister in a Belgium mining town where he gave up his lodging to a homeless man, slept on straw in a stable instead, and tried to help his impoverished congregation. This angered the church authorities who dismissed him for bringing his position into disrepute and Van Gogh began studying art.

He fell in love with his widowed cousin and refused to accept her rejection of him. One night, Van Gogh held his hand in the flame of a candle to prove his love, but this only freaked her out more!

Third time lucky, he met a girl who did accept him. In 1882 Van Gogh began a relationship with an alcoholic pregnant prostitute who had a 5 year old daughter! As you can imagine, his family disapproved and Vincent could not support her or her children on his own. After a year Van Gogh moved out again.

His painting up until this point has been generally dark, but after a suggestion from his brother Theo who lived here in Paris, Van Gogh began painting in the vibrant colors for which he’s known today.

In Paris Van Gogh became interested in Japanese art, pointillism and impressionism and was hanging out with artists like Toulouse Lautrec, Paul Gauguin and Camille Pissaro but success continued to elude him. His erratic character was compounded by alcoholism, excessive smoking and poverty. His brother kicked him out several times.

In 1888 Vincent decided to move south to Arles to start an artist’s colony but many of the other artists found him too erratic. Most infamously Van Gogh chased Gauguin with a razor and then cut off his own ear, wrapping it in tissue and delivering it to a local prostitute, before being found unconscious.

starry-nightHearing voices and suffering hallucinations Van Gogh entered a mental asylum in 1889. He painted some of his best works, like Starry Night (see picture), in these final years but tragically shot himself in the chest while walking alone in a wheat field in 1890. Having failed at most things in his life, Van Gogh even failed at suicide! The bullet missed his vital organs and he eventually died in hospital from an infection.

Van Gogh’s fame among the neo-impressions only came after his death. This is truly the story of troubled genius and after such an uplifting tale it’s time we move onwards and upwards for fantastic views to lift our spirits.

Le Moulin de la Galette

Stop on Rue Lepic at the corner with Rue Tholozé for fantastic views down into Paris. Cast your eyes upwards and you’ll see the Moulin de la Galette. A galette is a kind of wholemeal crepe which was a staple food of the poor of Montmartre and Paris at the turn of the 20th Century.

The windmill here is the only original windmill remaining today, but back then, Montmartre was full of windmills. This one is famous for two reasons:

During the 1870 Prussian siege of Paris the mill’s owners defended the area and the miller was nailed to the sails of the mill in punishment by Prussian soldiers.

renoir-moulin-de-la-galetteOn a happier note the mill was famous as a café, cabaret and meeting point for artists. Many painted scenes here, but most famously Pierre-August Renior (see picture). Renoir and the impressionists took art away from trying to capture purely accurate images. They preferred to show how things move and change over time as light changes from morning to evening. Renoir’s Moulin de la Galette painting appears in the film Amelie for those who’ve seen it. If not you’ve got home work to do before or after your trip!

Today the windmill is privately owned and you can’t go up there so we’ll continue around the corner on Rue Girardon.

Saint Denis (2B Impasse Girardon)

One block on, you will find a small park on the left of the Rue Girardon. In the park there’s a statue of the first Bishop of Paris, Saint Denis. Saint Denis was beheaded here on the hill by the Romans in the 3rd Century. According to legend his corpse picked up his head and walked 10km to the point where the Cathedral of Saint Denis now stands in the suburbs of Paris. Every French king is buried at Saint Denis and it’s great for a visit if you get the time. Although historically the name Montmartre, the hill of the martyrs, has been attributed to this event, today most historians think the hill was already known as Montmars, the hill of mars, by the pagans before the advent of Christianity.

Dalida & Rue L’Abreuvoir

Exit the park the same way you entered, continue down Rue Girardon and on the corner, where it turns to the right into Rue L’Abreuvoir, you will see a small bust of the famous Egyptian-Italian-French singer Dalida.

Dalida had an incredibly successful career but a tragic love life. Her first fiancé shot himself, her husband shot himself, her friend jumped to his death from a Paris apartment and her final lover gassed himself in his Renault car. All this became too much and Dalida overdosed on barbiturates in 1987 leaving a note saying; life has become unsupportable for me- Can you blame her!

This charming street was immortalised by the painter Maurice Utrillo. Utrillo was one of the few painters born in Montmarte. His mother Suzanne Valadon was the first woman admitted to the society of fine arts and learned her art from the countless painters she’d modelled for as a young woman. Her former house is now the Montmarte Museum just ahead at number 12 Rue Cortot. When Valadon fell pregnant she didn’t know who the father was. According to one Montmartre resident at the time; “she went to Renoir, but he looked at the baby and said, ‘can’t be mine, the color is terrible’! So she went to Degas, who said, ‘He can’t be mine, the form is awful!’ Valadon then saw an artist named Miguel Utrillo, and told him her woes. He told her to call the baby Utrillo: ‘I would be glad to put my name to the work of either Renoir or Degas!”

La Maison Rose

m-utrillo-maison-roseOn the corner with the Rue des Saules you’ll see the Maison Rose, or pink house, where Utrillo and many other painters used to hang out (see Picture).

Upstairs was once a brothel where Van Gogh is reported to have contracted syphilis. Today it’s been cleaned up and is a lovely spot for a bite to eat! Honestly!

Turn left down Rue des Saules with the vineyard on your left and stop on the corner by the Lapin Agile.

Au Lapin Agile

This little cabaret started life as a hang-out for low-lifes and criminals. After the owner’s son was killed in an attempted robbery the place was known as the Cabaret des Assassins, but fortunes changed when Andre Gill painted a new sign with a rabbit jumping out of a saucepan. People started to refer to the place as Gill’s Rabbit and this later changed to the Agile Rabbit.

At the turn of the 20th Century the place was bought by Aristide Bruant to save it from closing and it became a favourite meeting place for struggling artists. The young Picasso used to flirt with the waitresses and doodle their portraits on napkins in exchange for them letting him off the bill!

This is still a Cabaret today and well worth a visit for a more intimate and less bank breaking French cabaret experience.

Le Jardin Sauvage

Turn right on Rue de Saint-Vicent and you’ll head past the old wild garden vineyards. The wine’s they made here were Beaujolais, some of the first wines of the season and cheap wines for the people of Paris. Unfortunately, the wine crops failed for several years in the late 19th Century and this is where the tradition of drinking absinthe came from. Once the wine stocks returned, many poor artists preferred to stick to absinthe as it was cheaper. In order to get their customers back many vineyards began spreading the idea that Absinth made drinkers go mad, hallucinate and commit all sorts of terrible crimes. They also tried to get its sale prohibited. The legend they invented of hallucinogenic trips with the ‘green fairy’ persists to this day.

Le Sacré-Coeur (back)

Continue uphill along Rue de Saint-Vicent. You’ll cross the path with the stairs heading up and down the hill. The view down the hill is beautiful but we’ll continue uphill on the more gradual incline. As the road bends to the right you’ll suddenly catch a view of the back of the Sacré-Coeur Basilica.

The basilica was built to make up for what many saw as moral corruption which they blamed for French defeat in the 1870-71 Franco-Prussian War. When Prussian troops took Paris in January 1871 the French Government and Army surrendered but the working class National Guard and people of Paris refused to accept the surrender or the authority of the French Government and created an autonomous commune up here in Montmartre. This was the first example of working class rule in the history of the world, but it only lasted a few months. In May French troops attacked and destroyed the Commune in what became known as the Semaine Sanglante or bloody week

sacre-coeurOn both sides terrible atrocities were committed and the Sacré-Coeur was seen as a way to atone for those sins. They started building in 1875 but didn’t finish until during WWI, so it was only consecrated after the war in 1919.

Let’s head around the church to its right, at the front you’ll get the most spectacular view of Paris, prepare to have your breath taken.

Le Sacré-Coeur (front)

Take all the time you need to drink in the incredible views of Paris. In the afternoons the steps will be packed with people listening to street musicians. Once you’ve regained your breath, turn back to the basilica and you’ll see two statues of people on horseback.

The statue to the left is king Louis IX, the only king of France to be made a saint. Louis brought in the right to a fair trial and banned medieval trial by torturous ordeals like walking over hot coals. From his fights in the crusades he brought back holy relics that you’ll find today in the Sainte-Chapelle in the centre of Paris.

The statue on the right is Joan of Arc. During France’s darkest hours when the English were conquering at will, Joan rallied the French armies and started their fightback. She was captured and burned as a witch by the English ensuring her legend forever in history.

You can enter the Sacré Coeur free from 6am – 10.30pm. You have to pay to climb the dome and you’ll need strong legs to climb the 300+ steps!

Once you’ve checked out the church and got your breath back from the view turn right with the church at you back and head along Rue Azais, looking out towards Paris you’ll catch a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower, then turn uphill to the right. As the street bends left you’ll enter the Place du Tertre.

Place du Tertre

Today, as in years gone by, the square will be full of painters selling their art. If you’d like your own portrait they’ll be more than happy to paint you.

On the northern side of the square the Mere Cathrine restaurant was the first Bistro in the world. Russian soldiers at the end of the Napoleonic wars demanded their drinks quickly- Bystro in Russian, and the idea of a bistro or rapid service restaurant was born!

Once you’re done in Place du Tertre, leave on the downhill corner, diagonally opposite to the side you entered. At the end of the small street steps go downhill, do not take those, turn right on Place du Calvaire and you’ll come to the Espace Dalí Montmartre.

Salvador Dalí is today the most famous surrealist artist in history, which is ironic as the surrealists kicked him out of their movement!

Surrealism was a reaction to all the craziness of wars and destruction in the world. A group of writers, poets and painters led by Louis Bréton began to question whether the comforting world of our dreams was really the real world and our crazy world just a nightmare.

To connect with the dream world, they tried to write and paint without thinking consciously. This automatic writing, as they called it, can be fun to try and to read back to yourself, but generally reading the nonsense of someone else’s head isn’t too engaging. Dalí’s painting seemed intended to provoke and he was kicked out of the movement for thinking too much about his work and more than anything for making too much money from it!

People are still making money from his work today, entrance costs 12€ and is a must for fans of surrealism.

Continue on Rue Poulbot uphill and turn right at the end on Rue Norvins then left on Rue Jean-Baptist Clément and right on Rue Ravignan into Place Emile Goudeau.

Bateau Lavoir

This hidden little square is named after the leader of Les Hydropathes who we met right at the start of our tour. On the right as you enter downhill, you’ll find the Bateau Lavoir which is steeped in art history. Only the façade remains for the original building after a fire in the 70’s, but at the turn of the 20th Century the creaky building would sway in the wind like the washing boats on the River Seine, hence its name- the washing boat. The name was coined by Picasso’s life-long friend the writer Max Jacob.

The original Bateau Lavoir had many floors below going downhill towards the back and when Picasso arrived in Paris in 1900 the place was packed with struggling artists. Picasso had been painting in dark blue colors since his arrival in Paris when his best friend shot himself over unrequited love, but living here Pablo met his first love, Fernande Olivier and began painting in happy pink or rose colors, he then moved on to experiment with African masks and created the first ever cubist painting here in 1907.

les-demoiselles-davignonThe impressionists had been moving away from 100% accurate depictions of their subjects but in Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (see picture) Picasso took the art rule book, ripped it up and threw it out of the window, representing five ladies with hard angular blocks of color.

Avignon is in the South of France but most people now think this painting is of five prostitutes from the Carrer d’Avinyó in Barcelona where Picasso grew up. Picasso and his friends were poor struggling artists but always to be found out and about in Montmartre. If you’re on the Picasso trail, check out the Picasso Museum in le Marais.

Leave the square downhill on Rue Ravignan and turn on Rue de Abbesses to Place des Abbesses.

Murs de j’taime – The love wall

On the upper side of Place de Abbesses you’ll find a small park with I love you written in over 250 languages. The wall was created by the artists Frédéric Baron and Claire Kito and is a must for lovers and honeymooning couples.

If you come back this way Abbesses is the nearest Metro stop to the top of the hill but it’s spiral staircase is hard work for all but the fittest of visitors.

If you’re looking for a place to eat there are many great restaurants for all budgets around here. A personal favourite is l’Annexe on Rue des Trois Frees or for something fun and different, the Refuge de Fondues on the same street where the wine is served in baby’s bottles!

Take Rue Yvonne le Tac and Rue Tardieu across the hill (neither up nor down) and you’ll arrive at a park with fantastic views back up to the Sacré-Coeur. This is where Amelie calls her lover on the pay phone and tells him to follow the blue arrows. Whether you’ve seen the movie yet or not the soundtrack by Yann Tiersen should be your soundtrack to this trip J

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed our time in this most romantic of neighbourhoods. If you’re done with Montmarte just head down Rue de Steinkerque to Place Anvers where you’ll find the Boulevard where we started and the Metro station Anvers to head off to your next Paris destination.

If you’d rather hang around longer and explore, just remember whichever way you go downhill on the Sacré-Coeur side of the hill, you’ll hit the big Boulevard where we started and where you’ll find a Metro station.

Self-Guided Île de la Cité and Latin Quarter Tour

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Your tour of Paris should really start at the start. Paris was founded on a small island today known as the Île de la Cité. This Self-Guided Tour will start at the start and lead you through Paris’ 2000-year story to the most famous Art Gallery in the world. Check out our Self-Guided Last Rulers of France Tour which continues on from this tour.

Cité Metro Station (Line 4, the purple line)

Exit the metro and you’ll find 1919258_588484245873_661703_nyourself in the heart of a small island in the River Seine. You cannot tell yet that we are on an island but we’ll see both banks of the river soon enough.

The first known people to live on this island were a Gallo-Celtic tribe called the Parisii, there are many theories about what they called the city but the first recorded name comes from Julius Caesar who called it Lutetia, probably because of the marshy land on the North bank on the river where today most of the famous monuments are found.

The Parisii stood up to Julius Caesar and the Romans with the rebellion of Vercingetorix, who is normally depicted looking a lot like the cartoon character Asterix (or rather the cartoon is based on him!). Vercingetorix’s men camped on the South bank of the river where today you’ll find the magnificent Pantheón in which France buries her most illustrious sons and daughters.

The Gaul’s were crushed by Caesar whose legions then constructed the Roman city of Lutetia. The straight roads leading north-south across the island at either end of this little street are part of that original Roman grid system. Most of the Roman city was built on the hilly, left (South) bank, where today you can still find the remains of an aqueduct and the amphitheatre. In the 3rd Century the Romans began persecuting Christians and on the right (North) bank, up on the hill of Montmartre, the first Bishop of Paris, Sant Denis was martyred (See our Self-Guided Montmartre Tour). As the Roman Empire began to fall the city was renamed Paris after its original inhabitants.

With the metro entrance steps at your back, turn right towards the Boulevard du Palais where you’ll find the Sainte Chappelle.

Sainte-Chappelle

Behind the ornamental gates today you’ll find the Palais du Justice. Justice has been dispensed here since the middle ages. Originally this complex, which stretches from one side of the island to the other, was the Roman governor’s fortified residence. Later it became the main royal palace until the 14th Century when they moved to the Louvre. During the French Revolution, Marie Antoinette was imprisoned here but you’ll have to check out our Banks of the Seine Last Rulers of France Tour for more on that.

The oldest remaining parts of the Royal Residence are the Sainte Chappelle whose Gothic Chapel tower you can see rising up out of the Palais to the left of the gate, and the Conciergerie which we’ll see in a moment.

The Sainte Chappelle is testament to the power and piety of Louis IX who was made a saint after his death. Louis had fought in the crusades and purchased a number of Holy Relics from Baldwin the Christian king of Jerusalem (although he actually had to pay the Venetians to whom Baldwin had pawned the relics- times must’ve been hard!). Today those relics; a piece of the crown of thorns, holy lance (which pierced Jesus as he hung on the cross), and a piece of the cross, are still housed in the Sainte Chappelle. Perhaps more impressive still is the building itself with gravity defying arches and beautiful stained glass windows, it’s well worth a visit.

For now, turn right (North) and stop outside the Conciergerie.

Conciergerie

The basement of the Conciergerie is all that remains of the original palace. Once the kings moved to the Louvre Palace this became a prison. Richer prisoners could buy nice suites but the commonest were left to sleep on damp straw among plague infested rats. During the Revolution 2,700 prisoners were detained and tried here before being led to the guillotine in today’s Place de la Concorde.

As you reach the edge of the island the corner tower of the Conciergerie is known as the clock tower (for obvious reasons!). In 1370 they installed the first public clock in Paris here. The current clock has allegories to law and justice.

To your right the bridge leads to the Right Bank and central Paris, but we’re going to turn right along the north bank of the island. You’ll pass a traditional flower market. Walk through the bustling passageways of the market and turn left once you come out the other side. The building across the Rue de la Cité is the Hotel Dieu, turn right (South) along it’s imposing walls and then left into Place Notre Dame Jean Paul II. The first thing you won’t be able to help looking at is Notre Dame Cathedral, but have patience. Walk along the front of the Hotel Dieu and stop by the main entrance (Picture).

hotel-dieu-entranceHotel-Dieu

The Hotel Dieu is the oldest hospital in Paris, and the oldest still operating in the world. It dates right back to 651! The current building dates from the nineteenth century and above the door you’ll see written- Liberté, egalité, fraternité: freedom, equality, brotherhood – the three mottos of the French Revolution and the foundation of modern French ethics.

Ok, now you can turn to the famous church!

Notre-Dame Cathedral

1923486_541995140413_4146_nNotre Dame was built between 1160 and 1345. The grandiose building was started by the Bishop of Paris, Sully, because “Paris had become home to the kings of Europe and they needed a Cathedral fitting their status”. It is probably the most famous example of Gothic architecture in the world and one of the first to use flying buttresses (the supports that stick out from the sides and back like spiders legs) to allow such a massive construction.

During the Revolution the Cathedral was sacked and damaged and then used to house the cult of reason. Napoleon chose Notre Dame for his coronation as Emperor, inviting the pope to come and crown him, and then snatching the crown from the Pope and crowning himself!

Apart from its magnificent beauty, Notre Dame is famous because of a great marketing campaign. Like many historic buildings, Notre Dame had fallen into disrepair in the late nineteenth century. Victor Hugo’s famous story was written to ignite interest in the Cathedral and raise funds for its restoration. His book was called Notre Dame de Paris and only in English has become known as the Hunchback of Notre Dame. His idea worked and a lot of the modern restoration was carried out by the famous restorer, Viollet le Duc.

In the story the hunchback falls in love with a beautiful gypsy girl. Today there are still many gypsies around here, but be very, very, careful of their scams. It may seem rude, but tried to avoid engaging them or letting them get too close.

No visit to Paris is complete without a visit, but try to plan in advance to avoid the lines.

charlemagne-statueCharlemagne

On the southern side of the square, towards the river, you’ll find a statue of Charlemagne, the first Holy Roman Emperor and father of modern Europe.

After the collapse of the Roman Empire, Europe fell into small kingdoms scrapping for power but in the year 800, Charlemagne’s Frankish Empire united modern France, the low countries and Western Germany and stretched down into Italy where the Pope crowned him Holy Roman Emperor with the crown you can see him wearing here. The title of Holy Roman Emperor was passed on through various royal dynasties until the kings of Austria were defeated by Napoleon in 1806.

For now, we’re going to leave the Île de la Cité and head across the pedestrian bridge (Pont au Double) to the Left (South) Bank.

Shakespeare & Co. (37 Rue de la Bûcherie)

Turn right on the Left Bank and you’ll walk past a little park, just after the park, looking out towards the River Seine, you’ll find the famous Shakespeare and Co. bookstore opened by Sylvia Bach in 1919.

The original shop was further into the Latin Quarter, away from the River. The Latin Quarter takes its name from the fact that this was the University district where scholars studied and spoke in Latin. The Left Bank in general has long been associated with artists and intellectuals. In the 1920’s this was where the art collectors Gertrude & Leo Stein lived and many ex-pat writers and artists used to hang out. Gertrude Stein described them as the lost generation. Ernest Hemingway called the Paris of those years ‘a moveable feast’. The English language bookstore was central to their Paris world and even today attracts writers from all across the globe. Writers can stay there for free if they volunteer to help out in the store!

If you buy a book, make sure you get them to stamp it and then leave and head along Rue Sainte Julien le Pauvre to the side of Shakespeare & Co. Turn right on Rue Galande and cross the Rue du Petit Point into the little streets of the Latin Quarter.

Latin Quarter

Turn left at the Church of Saint-Séverin and stroll along the quaint streets until you reach the Boulevard Saint Germain. This area is packed with café bars and crepe stalls if you need a snack.

The Boulevard Saint Germaine runs through the heart of the Left Bank and for bohemians the Café les Deux Magots and the Café le Flor further along the Boulevard are a must. Every famous writer who passed through Paris sat at the tables, perhaps most famously; Simone de Beauvoir and Jean Paul Sartre. The building opposite is the Sorbonne University, the second oldest university in Europe, dating back to 1150!

Head around the University on the Rue de Cluny and right on the Rue du Sommerard.

musee-clunyHotel de Cluny University

The incredible building on your right (Pic) is the Musée de Cluny medieval history museum. Packed full of archaeological and artistic artefacts, it’s well worth a visit. The building is one of the best examples of civic architecture in the city, is built on top of ancient Gallo-Roman thermal baths, and used to be part of the much larger Cluniac Monastic complex.

Haussmann Plan

Head back downhill towards the river on the Boulevard Saint-Michel, you’ll cross the Boulevard Saint-Germain again as you go. These Grands Boulevards were designed by Baron Haussmann during the Second Empire under Napoleon III, Napoleon Bonaparte’s Nephew. By the time he came to power Paris and France had had three revolutions since 1789. The people of the Paris slums would pull up the paving stones and blockade the narrow streets making it very hard for the authorities to regain control. Napoleon III tasked Baron Haussmann with redesigning the city and the most abiding legacy of that today are these Grands Boulevards with their magnificent views up to many Paris monuments. Haussmann also designed many of the beautiful parks and limited the height of the buildings ensuring Paris retains her distinctive skyline today.

One thing he missed was those paving stones. Parisian’s continued to pull those up in their revolts against the government. In 1968 student’s inspired by Jean Paul Sartre, revolted using the slogan ‘under the paving stones the beach’ meaning after the revolt utopia. Instead, after the 68 riots, they finally cemented down the paving stones!

Place Saint Michel

Continuing down the Boulevard Saint-Michel, you’ll come to the Place Sant-Michel with its magnificent fountain depicting the arch-angel Saint Michael vanquishing the devil.

Napoleon III original wanted a sculpture of his more illustrious uncle here, but at the time he was not so popular and they opted for the religious image instead. Continue north across the Point Saint-Michel Bridge.

palais-du-justice-bullet-marksWe’re back towards where we started. The building on your left is the Palais du Justice (Pic) which we saw earlier. On the corner facing the river you’ll see bullet marks in the walls from French Resistance fighters who attacked the Nazi occupiers here at the end of WWII.

We’re going to take the steps at the far island side of the bridge, down to the banks of the Seine.

Viking Sieges

Walk West (straight) after descending the steps.

The banks of the Seine and the Île de la Cité have seen countless raiders and attackers conquer and be repelled. Perhaps the fiercest were Viking raiders in the 9th Century who repeatedly sailed up the river from the coast of Normandy.

These huge warriors were significantly taller than the average Parisian at the time and struck fear into their hearts. In 845 Ragnar arrived with 120 ships carrying 5000 men, they easily overran the Frankish armies placed on the two banks of the Seine and hung 110 soldiers here on the Île de la Cité while praying to Odin. The Franks had no choice but to pay them off with 2600 kg (5,600 lbs) of gold and silver, but this just whetted the appetite of the north men who returned demanding tribute three times in the 860s.

The Count of Paris ordered tbe building of two bridges to connect the Île de la Cité with the Left and Right Banks, the fortification of the city’s walls, and two defensive towers on each bank, but this didn’t deter the Vikings who raided with 300 ships and tens of thousands of warriors in 885. This time Odo, the Count of Paris, held the Vikings off for four months and eventually paid them to sail on up river to attack Burgundy instead! After this siege Odo was elected king of Francia, ending the Carolingian dynasty of Charlemagne. The Vikings were given control of Normandy (the land of the North Men!) to stop other Vikings from raiding down to Paris.

It’s hard to imagine those fierce attacks today as you stroll the pleasant banks of the Seine. Keep going towards the next bridge covered in small faces.

Pont Neuf Bridge

Walk under the arch of the Pont Neuf.

Just to confuse you the Pont Neuf or New Bridge is today to oldest surviving bridge in Paris. It was commissioned under Henri III but due to religious wars between Protestants and Catholics it wasn’t finished until the reign of Henri IV, who we will meet on top of the bridge.

This was the first bridge built without houses on top and the first bridge with a sidewalk to keep pedestrians out of the horse poop. The faces carved in stone are based on classical forest and field gods.

The tip of the island on the far side of the bridge was not here when the bridge was first built but sand built up over the years and now we have the Square du Vert Galant, or Square of the Green Galant. Henri IV was known to court his young mistresses here as an old man. In French a green gallant is an old man who chases after young lovers.

Jacques de Molay and the curse of the Knights Templar

As you head up the steps onto the Pont Neuf, you’ll find a plaque commemorating the death of Jacques de Molay, the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar.

The Knights Templar were a military order founded to fight in the crusades to take the Holy Land, but evolved into one of the first Christian banking systems. Up to that point lending money for profit was forbidden by Christian doctrine, but the Knights Templar began offering protection to pilgrims travelling to the Holy Land. Among their services was protection and safe keeping of Pilgrims money. They amassed a huge fortune and lent money to princes and kings, many of whom ended up with huge debts to the Templars.

Faced with costly wars against England and rebellions in Flanders, Phillipe IV found himself in financial meltdown. Owing debts to various groups, he expelled the Jews and Lombard Bankers from the country but still owed huge debts to the Templars. In 1307 the Templars were accused of heresy over some of the strange practices in their initiation ceremonies and Phillipe seized his chance.

French agents arrested the Templars, including their Grand Master, who was tortured into confessing to heresy. The Pope ordered the arrest of all the Templars in Christendom and planned to put the whole order of trial, but Philippe found 54 Templar leaders guilty in his own courts and burned them at the stake here in May 1314.

As Jacques de Molay was burning he is reported to have cursed Phillipe and the Pope to be judged by God for their crimes with a year. One year later the Pope had died and Phillipe fell from his horse while hunting and died of his injuries. The curse didn’t stop there. Within 14 years all of Philippe’s sons had died and his royal dynasty came to an end, not only that, but the English took huge swathes of France in the Hundred Years War and almost took over the entire country until Joan of Arc turned up. We wouldn’t recommend hanging around on this cursed corner of Paris, head on up the steps to meet the man who finished the bridge, and let’s leave Jacques du Molay to rest in peace.

Henri IV

Meet the green gallant, in later life Henri was known as a lover, but from an early age he was a fighter. He was born to a protestant Calvinist mother, the Queen of Navarre (a Kingdom on the borders of modern France and Spain), and joined protestant forces during the 14th Century wars of religion. When his mother died he inherited the Crown of Navarre and was invited to Paris to marry the daughter of Catherine de Medici, the Catholic Queen Regent of France.

With Royal finances exhausted Catherine had arranged a peace with the Protestants but few in her court accepted the deal. The Pope and Felipe II of Catholic Spain condemned the union and when Henri’s protestant wedding party stayed in Paris after the wedding to debate the deal they were assassinated. Common Catholic Parisians were starving after failed harvests and increased taxes to pay for the wedding. On hearing of the assassinations the city began rioting. Lynching of Protestants spread throughout France and between five and thirty thousand people were killed. Henri had to convert to Catholicism to avoid death and escape the city, but he renounced the conversion as soon as he re-joined his own forces.

When his brother-in-law died with no heirs Henri decided to renounce Protestantism in order to be crowned king of France. He famously declared “Paris is worth a Mass”! As king, he passed the Edict of Nantes, a law allowing tolerance of French Protestants. He is generally regarded as having restored Paris to greatness, sorted out the Royal finances, encouraged agriculture, protected forests and sent the French to lay claim to Canada, but he could never shake off the hatred of some Catholics.

In 1610 a Catholic zealot called Francois Ravaillac jumped into Henri’s carriage while it was stuck in traffic and stabbed him between the ribs. Henri died instantly and Ravaillac was tarred with burning oils before being ripped into four by horses tied to each of his limbs. Not a nice way to go.

Across the river on the Right Bank you can see La Samaritaine. The department store closed years ago and is now offices and apartments but it remains iconic. You may recognise it from the Jason Bourne films.

We’re going to head back to the Left Bank and walk further West.

The green boxes on the banks of the Seine used by street vendors of books and postcards were installed after the Franco-Prussian wars of the 1870s to give returning veterans a way to make a living. Today they’re a nice place to find some good souvenirs (A word that means memory in French!)

Académie Française

When you reach the next pedestrian bridge, you’ll find a grand building looking across the bridge from the Left Bank towards the Louvre on the Right Bank (See pic). This is the Académie Française, first established by Cardinal Richelieu in 1635, “to labor with all the care and diligence possible, to give exact rules to our language, to render it capable of treating the arts and sciences”.

The Académie remains the ultimate authority of all things French, editing new versions of the dictionary and deciding important things like whether new nouns taken from other languages, like iPod for example, should be masculine or feminine!

The Académie is made up of forty members known as the immortals who elect new members and hold their posts for life. Turn your back on the immortals and head across the Pont des Arts.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPont des Arts

This was the first metal bridge in Paris built during Napoleon Bonaparte’s reign. It was rebuilt in the 1970’s but collapsed in 1979 when a barge hit one the supports. Quick, look around and make sure no barges are heading for you now! Just kidding. You’ll usually find the fence covered in padlocks which couples attach throwing the keys into the Seine below to symbolise their love. The bridge has become a favourite spot for lovers to sit and enjoy fantastic views of the most romantic city in the world.

We’d recommend that you do just that, across the bridge on the Right (North) Bank is the most famous art gallery in the world. We have another self-guided tour which begins there but for now we’re done. We hope you enjoyed our wander through the ancient city of Paris.

Paris Transport Guide

Posted by & filed under Paris.

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Paris can be a tough city to navigate, but don’t worry, even if you’ve never used public transport, this guide will help you get around Paris safely, quickly, efficiently and best of all without breaking the bank.

Read more »

Self Guided Paris Tour: Banks of the Seine

Posted by & filed under Paris.

This Self Guided Paris Tour explores the remnants of France’s great and terrible kings along the banks of the river Seine. For entrance into many of the sites included below, do consider a tourist discount pass “The Paris Pass”

 


 Self Guided Paris TourStop A: Cour Carrée

This inner courtyard is the oldest part of the Louvre. The Louvre was originally built in the 12th century by King Philip II, parts of the original building can still be seen in the crypt. It was transformed into a royal palace 300 years later by Charles V, and would remain the official royal residence until King Louis XIV moved the court to Versailles. Read more »

Is Travel Insurance Worth It?

Posted by & filed under A Blog on Visiting New York City, Berlin, Boston, Charleston, Chicago, London, Miami, New Orleans, Paris, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington DC.

Is Travel insurance worth it?Travel insurance is often the last thing you have on your mind when planning your next trip for just yourself, with your family or with friends. We look forward to a well-earned and long-desired vacation and we know deep down, however, that travelling brings about the unexpected (mostly in good ways). For the hopefully rare bad case scenarios, where you need to cancel a trip due to hazardous weather, sickness, the death of a family member, or any accidents during your trip, stolen or lost luggage/passports/wallets, and even worse injury or death of a travel mate, you want to be covered. Instead of overthinking the many things that might happen, travel insurance can help to put your mind at ease for the many what-ifs, so you can get back to planning and enjoying the fun things about your next trip.  So, is travel insurance worth it?

Be sure to read our post on purchasing a SIM Card for the US.

Travel insurance – what to look for:

Most travel insurance plans cover 2 main things: travel benefits and medical benefits. Those usually entail:

  • a refund when you need to cancel your trip due to emergency
  • covered expenses when a flight is delayed or cancelled or when you miss your flight
  • compensation of expenses if your carrier loses or delays your luggage
  • Coverage of expenses for any medical or dental emergency during your trip
  • Coverage of cost for medical emergency evacuation or accidental death or dismemberment
  • Optional benefits include car rental insurance

Depending on the provider benefits may differ in cost and range, so make sure you read the small print. Read more »