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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
Looking 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)
You 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
The 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.
Hearing 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.
On 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
On 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
On 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.
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.
The 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.
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 yourself 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.
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.
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).
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 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.
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.
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.
Hotel 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.
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.
We’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.
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.
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!)
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.
Pont 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 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.
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”
Stop 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 »
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?
Many of our tour guests who travel from afar or from overseas have trouble to adjust to the new time difference in their destination city. Here are some tips on how to avoid jet lag.
When you travel to another time zone, your internal clock is off – that’s what you call jet lag. Usually getting over jet lag should take 3-4 days depending on how far you have traveled from. Flying eastwards will make it a bit harder to adjust to the new time zone, then when you are flying westwards. That is because our body accepts it better if you are staying up a little later, then having to go to bed much earlier than usual. In addition, if you are used to getting up rather early, flying eastwards is a little bit easier than for people who generally stay up late. And vice versa, if you are a night owl, you will have less trouble adjusting, if you were traveling westwards.
How can I avoid jet lag or at least minimize it?
Start to adjust your internal clock several days before you fly, by staying up later (if traveling westwards) or getting to bed earlier (if travelling eastwards).
Once you are in the plane, act like you are in your destination time zone already e.g. change your clock, take a nap, eat moderately or skip a meal and avoid alcohol.
Be healthy and well rested. The more you rest before your big travel, the easier it will be to adjust to your new time zone.
If you are travelling overseas, on the day of your flight, try to sleep in or sleep as long as you can. This goes for either direction, as you will likely skip a night travelling eastwards, or you will have to stay up much longer when you arrive travelling westwards.
Bring a neck pillow and nap on the plane. Even if you don’t fall asleep into a deep slumber, your body will thank you later for each little 20 minute nap you do on the plane.
Stay hydrated. It’s best to purchase a bottle of water at the airport (after you are through security), so you don’t have to get the stewardess attention every time.
Once you arrive, don’t nap more than 30 minutes or go to bed immediately if it’s not bedtime yet. Stay up till at least 9 pm. This discipline on your first day of arrival, will get you over jetlag much faster.
Other things to consider when travelling to different time zones and jet lag:
When flying westwards, e.g. from Europe to New York, or from Washington DC to San Francisco: Don’t make any late evening plans the first couple of nights. You might think you are up to it, but your body will tell you otherwise. If you are booking our walking tours, stick to the morning and daytime tours, and avoid the evening tours.
When flying eastwards, e.g. from California to New York, or from Boston to London: Don’t make any morning plans the first couple of days. Instead plan more things to do in the afternoon and evenings. If you are booking our walking tours, avoid the early 10 am tours, and go for the afternoon or evening tours.
+++We hope you have safe and enjoyable travels without much jet lag and we look forward to having you on our famous pay-what-you-like walking tours soon.+++
Bonjour. I am Lindy I have lived in the beautiful city of Paris since 2009, and I would like to share my personal top 10 things to do if you are visiting Paris on a budget, or just if you want to get away from the madding crowd at the Eiffel tower!
PLACE DES VOSGES/VICTOR HUGO MUSEUM
Situated at the crossroads of the 3rd and 4th arrondissements in the heart of the ancient Marais district lies the historic ‘Place des Vosges’. Often described as one of the most beautiful squares in the world, this is certainly the oldest and most distinctive in the city of Paris.
Formally named ’Place Royale’ (and various other less inspiring names after the revolution such as ‘Place des Federes’, ‘Place de la Fabrication-des-armes’, and ‘Place de l’invisibilite’!) It became ‘Place des Vosges’ in 1800 and was classed as an historic monument in 1954
Construction began in 1605 during the reign of Henri IV and was completed in 1612, two years after the much beloved king’s death at the hands of the Catholic fanatic Francois Ravaillac. The square was finally inaugurated in 1612 at the engagement of his son and successor, Louis XIII to Anne of Austria (parents of Louis XIIII – ‘The sun King’) and it is Louis XIII’s mounted statue that occupies the centre of the square, which is known as ‘Place Louis XIII’.
The vast garden square is flanked by distinctive, red bricked, many windowed buildings which reside beneath imposing blue slate roofs, giving an appearance of harmony, when in fact each is architecturally unique. Surrounding the statue, are grassy picnic areas, enclosed children’s playgrounds and sandpits, and elegant fountains. An abundance of duel sided benches offer shade beneath the many trees, the ideal place to relax with a book or simply sit and people watch.
Shady colonnades surround the square on all sides, dotted with private art and photographic galleries, exclusive shops and a variety of restaurants. Ranging from the ‘popular’ ‘Café Hugo’ situated on the corner of Rue du pas de la Mule, to the up market ‘La Carret’ where a cup of tea will set you back 8 euro – giving you an indication of the rest of the prices, My personal favourites are ‘La Nectarine’ salon du the, just a bit further on than Café Hugo, serving reasonably priced snacks, salads, omelettes and ‘plats’ as ‘ Coq au vin’ and ‘pave du saumon’ for around 13 euro, with a very friendly and relaxed atmosphere.
And the slightly more up-market ‘La Place Royal’ for a ‘tete-a-tete’ in a more romantic ambiance.
Shops worth visiting are ‘Parfums et Senteurs de la pays Basque‘ a gorgeous little boutique selling a collection of candles and perfumes for the home situated in between ‘Café Hugo; and ‘La Nectarine’ – you will be drawn in by the aromas alone. Another wonderful aroma exudes from Dammann Freres’ tea merchants since 1692, situated directly opposite. And I can never resist a visit to the quirky little hat stall on the corner closest to the ‘Marais’ entrance to the square, with an wide array of hats ranging from around 5 to around 25 euro – try some on for fun!
Victor Hugo Museum
The Victor Hugo Museum is on an internal corner of the square at ‘6 Place des Vosges’ and was where the writer, Paris conservationist and welfare rights publicist lived from 1832 – 1845. The museum exhibits memorabilia from his life from the periods pre, post and during his exile to Belgium and finally Guernsey due to his opposition to Napoleon.
Here wandering around what were his private apartments, one can see a collection of family paintings, personal letters and original manuscripts, elaborate room reconstructions and a poignant selection of furniture made by Hugo himself and carved with the initials ‘V.H. and J.D.’ his own and those of ‘Juliette Drouet’ the actress who was his lover for more than 50 years until her death in 1883, preceding him by just two years.
All permanent exhibitions are entirely free and there is a modest little gift shop at the entrance of the museum selling notably his most famous works, ‘Les Miserables’ and ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’, along with lesser known works and biographies. There are also toilets situated at the museum.
Place des Vosges is easily reached from metro station Bastille – lines 1, 5 and 8. Take exit 7on to Rue de Beaumarchais and continue along this road for about 200 meters then take a left turn onto Rue du pas de la Mule. Place des Vosges is at 100 meters on the left.Alternatively it can be reached from metro station St Paul on line 1 with a leisurely (signposted) stroll through the colourful boutiques in the winding streets of the Marais (I like to arrive via Bastille, then saunter through the Marais after visiting the square)
The museum is open every day except Mondays and all public holidays.
Opening times are (correct at time of publication)- 10am – 6pm.
Bonjour. I am Lindy I have lived in the beautiful city of Paris since 2009, and I would like to share with you my personal top 10 things to do if you are visiting Paris on a budget, or just if you want to get away from the madding crowd at the Eiffel tower!
1 – THE RODIN MUSEUM
Tucked away in the nondescript ‘Rue de Varenne’ in the shadow of the imposing ‘Hotel des Invalides’ lies my personal favourite, the ‘Hotel Biron’, (named after a former owner, The Marechal de Biron, as war hero from the battle of Fontenoy) a veritable little gem of an 18th chateau standing in its own grounds and home since 1919 to ‘The Rodin museum’.
Constructed in the Rococo style between 1729-1730 by ‘Jean Aubert’, the architect who went on to build the magnificent chateau of ‘Chantilly’ to the north west of Paris, the chateau is worth a visit in its own right. It is elegant and understated, the south facing ‘salons’ being luminous and airy, with large French windows that overlook the lovely gardens.
The Hotel Biron has played host to a number of famous residents – notably the writer, cartoonist and film maker Jean Cocteau, the painter Matisse, and of course Rodin himself, who occupied the exquisite south facing rooms on the ground floor and with the light streaming in through the large French windows it is easy to imagine the artist himself at work on a new masterpiece, but in fact he continued to live and work at ‘Meudon’ and used this Paris apartment for soirees with his many friends from the world of art and literature.
In 1911 the state took possession of the property and the idea of transforming it into ‘The Rodin museum’ arose. Rodin donated all of his sculptures and drawings, along with their rights, to the state in 1916, but he sadly died in 1917, before seeing the realisation of his wonderful and generous gift to the nation.
The museum now houses not only a large collection of sculptures and sketches by Francois-Auguste Rodin himself, ranging from the sheer simplistic beauty of ‘The Danaide’, ‘The Cathedral’, ‘The Secret’ and the famous ‘Kiss’ to the eroticism of ‘The messenger of the Gods’, and the tortured suffering and despondence of ‘The gates of Hell’ But is also home to works by Camille Claudel, his former student, muse and lover, who tragically spent the last 30 years of her life in an asylum and produced my personal favourite sculpture above even those of Rodin – ‘The Waltz’, a tiny masterpiece in bronze, standing less than a meter high, portraying the power, tenderness and beauty of the human form, and is a marvel to view from each and every 360 degree angle.
The best news for those travelling on a budget, is that entrance fee just for the gardens is only 2 euro during high season, and 1 euro during low season, and it is here that the major grand works, such as the famous ‘Thinker’ and ‘The Gates of Hell’ are found.
The gardens are a delight in themselves and a wonderful place to find sanctuary away from the hot sun and crowds during the high season in July and August. There are shaded copses furnished with wooden loungers on which to relax with a book or enjoy a picnic. There is a wooded area eerily populated by a variety of grim Biblical figures, a lovely fountain, and a great photo opportunity of the golden dome of ‘Les Invalides’ and the Eiffel Tower, both seen from the courtyard at the front of the chateau. And, of course, ‘The Thinker’ tantalisingly peeking from a behind a maze of giant topiary bushes.
All this and a nice little cafeteria with both indoor and outdoor seating, serving reasonably priced sandwiches, pasta salads, quiches and a very tempting selection of patisseries. Teas coffee and you can even enjoy a chilled glass of wine! There is also ice cream and soft drinks on sale from a kiosk.
The museum has ample well maintained toilet facilities both in the garden and near to the main entrance, plus an interesting gift shop where you can buy books, post cards etc, and replicas of some of the sculptures.
The museum is a few of 100 meters metro station ‘Varenne’ on line 13. (on leaving the metro turn in direction of the dome of Les Invalides keeping on the opposite side of the road, cross at the pedestrian crossing near the cafe, and the museum entrance is almost opposite at 79 Rue Varenne)
The museum is open every day except Mondays*.
Opening times are (correct at time of publication):-
10am – 5.45pm (last ticket sold at 5.15pm)
Late night opening Wednesday until 8.45pm
Early closing 17-24 December at 5pm. (last tickets sold at 4.15pm)
The museum is closed 25 December, 1st January and 1st May.
Prices (correct at time of publication):-
9 euro – House and gardens
1 euro October- 11 March, 2 euro 12 March-September – Gardens only
7 euro – reduced rate for visitors from non EU countries aged 18-25
4.50 – Persons accompanying a disabled visitor
Disabled visitors, young people under 18 from non EU countries and young people under 25 from EU countries are admitted free.
Audio guides in English are available for 6 euro with various concessions.
The weather in Paris in October starts out partly sunny and mild but temperatures fall steadily during this month and will tend to be a bit chilly with mostly cloudy conditions by the month’s end.
Afternoon temperatures early in October tend to be around 18-19C (in the mid-60s F) falling to around 12-13C (into the mid-50s) by month’s end. Some days, early in the month, can see afternoon high temperatures reaching 23-24C (into the mid-70s F). Early morning low temperatures, on the other hand, tend to be near about 10C (50 F) early in the month falling to 6-7C (into the low to mid 40s F) near the end of this month. On one or two of the colder mornings you could see temperatures down at 1-2C (into the mid-30s F).
On average, about half the days this month will be either clear or partly sunny while the other half tend to be mostly cloudy. More often than not, the sunniest days occur early in the month and the cloudier days occur during the latter half. Rain falls on about 16-17 days this month, however, snow is rare but has been reported in the past once every few years.
What to wear in Paris during October
It is always a good idea to pack at least 2 pairs of comfortable walking shoes and given the tendency for wet weather, an umbrella and/or raincoat are a must. In addition, a light sweater and a light to medium weight coast will be a welcomed addition for those chiller days and colder nights.