A friend of mine sent me an article on this subject back in March and I was immediately intrigued… Afterall, I own a tourist business in Paris specializing in unique private tours, I spend a lot of time in Paris (about 3 months a year) and I’m loving every moment of this crazy lifestyle Ivan and I have created together. So, I decided to look at their suggestions and offer some of my own … in 2 parts; Here’s Part 2.
Unlike New York and other major cities, you can’t depend on flagging down a taxi in Paris, and the taxi stand system is maddening and hard to locate, even in the daytime. The good news is: Uber is in Paris (and in other cities in France) so if you have the app on your smartphone, you can use that same app in France (just be sure to add an International Plan through your phone service). It’s not that finding your Uber is any easier in Paris than it is in other strange cities, but they do provide fast, reliable service—in English—and are more courteous than your random taxi drivers, not-to-mention, you won’t have to worry about the meter ticking away while you pass the same monument for the third time.
NOTE: the Paris Metro runs until 1:15 a.m. on weekdays and 2:15 a.m. on Fridays and Saturday… it is a fast, direct option when rides are scarce.
If you’re a tourist, you’re a tourist and there’s absolutely no shame in that – so be a tourist. AmericanConcierge.com offers tons of excellent private tours— others offer terrific group tours (including last minute ones)… Tours can be on foot, by car or by bicycle—and they can show you sides of Paris you may not see on your own, offer insider tips and historical facts, get you through the lines and into VIP places, and enrich your entire experience. For 25 years, Paris Walks, the least expensive of the group tours, has offered a series of great user-friendly strolls, led by friendly, knowledgeable experts that explore everything from fashion and chocolate to churches, street art, and cheese shops along with specific neighborhoods and historic themes. To create your own itinerary for private tours (with some small group tours), contact us and we can create your dream vacation together.
Paris is smaller than many major cities but wandering around the capital on foot—an absolute must—can be frustrating if you don’t understand its layout and street plans. If you have some idea of the neighborhoods before going, you’ll enjoy it so much more. You can find a map or an app that lists every street, monument, and museum or one that targets your specific interests (or Paris’s history). Apps can save a lot of time, money, and frustration if you really want to wander on your own. GPS works (!) If you want to maximize your time and enhance your experiences in Paris, we (AmericanConcierge.com) can create exactly what you want to see and do when you want to see and do it. Don’t leave anything to chance… Paris is really busy this year (and will be even more busy with the Olympics in the Summer of ’24) so take the time before you go, to figure out what you want to see and do when you get there: Plan ahead to avoid surprises you don’t want.
Paris’s bike-for-hire system Velib’—for a standard or electric velo (bike)—is one of the best and cheapest in the world. All you need is a credit card with a chip and you’re off. Rentals are easy, stations are plentiful, bike lanes are wider and much more ubiquitous since the pandemic, and rentals are 24 hours a day, all year round. Here’s how it works: go to the terminal at any Vélib’ station; follow the on-screen prompts in English; select your subscription (1-day, €3, €5, €10 for various plans; 3-day, €20) and bike; wait for the green light and go. The fee covers a 45-minute or 60-minute ride depending on whether you choose a standard or electric bike. Paris has recently banned city-ride scooters but there are still a few different last-minute city bike rentals so they’re relatively easy to find. NOTE: They’re not big on helmets there so BYO.
I raised my family (4 kids) in New York City so I can tell you that Paris too, is an amazingly kid-friendly city. For starters, every museum, foundation, arts center, and park in the city has a tantalizing list of activities for kids, some in English. Paris’s top hotels have added fun activities for including cooking classes and tours (and babysitting), leaving parents some free time to hit the spa. Paris also has two zoos—the wonderful Parc Zoologique de Paris, where animals roam free in five “biozones,” and the historic Menagérie, one of the oldest zoos in Europe set in the lovely Jardin des Plantes. From Guignol puppet theaters, historic merry-go-rounds, and playgrounds (the Luxembourg Gardens has all three, for example) to interactive museum exhibits (Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle, Cité des Enfants, Palais de la Découverte) and amusement parks (Jardin d’Acclimatation), your children will be well-entertained during a family visit. For all the most current information on what’s happening for kids in Paris, check out the Paris Visitors Bureau website in English.
Dinner on the Seine in one of a few boats of varying sizes for your final evening in Paris is your own special “Cary Grant/Audrey Hepburn moment, not to be missed. Even if you’re traveling solo, you’ll see most of Paris’s 37 bridges up close along with the city’s most famous landmarks on a relaxing 2-hour boat ride while you dine. It’s just gorgeous. AmericanConcierge.com offers a beautiful 1-2 hour ‘sunset’ cruise on the Seine for up to 8 or 12 people… There are daytime options as well, of course, where you can simply sightsee with commentary. Boats leave from several locations, including the Port de La Conférance at Pont de l’Alma and smaller boats from the Pont Neuf. Another option: the Batobus operates continuously from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. (9:30 p.m. at peak season, hours can vary in the off-season) every 20 minutes from nine stops around Paris. Travel times between sites range from 5 to 30 minutes. As of this typing, prices are around 19€ adults, €9 kids (unlimited 24 hours; €21 adults, €11 kids unlimited 48 hours) you can hop on or off wherever and whenever you like all day long. Stops include the Musée d’Orsay, Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Champs-Elysées, and Saint-Germain-des-Prés.
You don’t have to stand in line at the Eiffel Tower forever just for a great view, there are plenty of places where you can get fabulous views without the crowds. Paris is only 7 stories high so there’s very little blocking your view if you’re up high enough on a hill… e.g., the views from the roof at Galleries Lafayette or Sacré Coeur are free …as are so many other places where you can take in the views while relaxing in a park or enjoying a drink. For a little nature with your panoramas, head to the Parc de Belleville, the highest park in Paris, complete with a working vineyard and miles of beautiful garden paths with limitless views. Or the Butte Chamont in the 19th Arr. If you really want to pay for a view, try the Tower at Montparnasse… I haven’t been up there yet, but I’ve been told the views from the top are spectacular.
You’ve got two feet… weather permitting: use them. To be a Paris flaneur is to see the city like a true Parisian to uncover firsthand all its magic and mystery. Each neighborhood in Paris’ 20 arrondissements has its own unique character: the Chinese restaurants and street art of Belleville in the 20th; the chic hotels, cocktail bars, and nightlife of Pigalle (9th); the charming cobbled streets of Montmartre and its vineyards (18th); the leafy lanes of Père Lachaise cemetery (11th) resting place of dozens of French luminaries; the charming neighborhoods of La Mouzaia (19th) or Les Epinettes (17th) or La Butte aux Cailles (13th); or the historic Jardin des Plantes with its zoo and splendid art nouveau greenhouses (5th). Don’t rule out a leafy inner-city hike on the wooded Paris Ceinture (the old belt railway) or the Coulée Vert René-Dumont (which stretches from Bastille all the way to the Bois de Vincennes), or along the nearly two miles of the Berges de Seine at the river’s edge. Even if you stay in the popular central neighborhoods, like Saint-Germain-des-Prés or the Marais, there are plenty of discoveries to be made while strolling and letting your senses take the lead.
From just after the New Year until May, and especially in mid-January through March, you can snag great deals on airfare from many places in the U.S. to Paris. It’s one of my favorite times to be in Paris, even if I don’t get my bike out of storage… Temperatures rarely fall below freezing even in the dead of winter. These are the least touristed months and that means fewer lines, easier reservations at restaurants and hotels, great off-season deals, plenty of available guides who are grateful for your business and opportunities to visit museums and other cultural attractions blessedly crowd-free. Quoting Audrey Hepburn: PARIS IS ALWAYS A GOOD IDEA.
If there’s one thing you don’t want to miss experiencing in Paris, it’s the food… especially a bit of its infamous haut cuisine. You don’t have to go out of your way for a great restaurant, nor do you have to always eat white tablecloth in Paris. But if you can afford a special evening out, book one of the Michelin-Star restaurants, gussy up and enjoy the treat… they really are special and if you’re just a little careful in the ordering, it doesn’t have to break the bank. If you’re research adverse, you’ll dine like royalty at Le Jules Verne, on the second floor of the Eiffel Tower, with all of Paris at your feet.
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See the classic sights of Paris with this collection of Private Tours and other experiences. Great for New Travelers.
Some parts of France can’t be put into a 2 or 3-hour tour and some just take a while to get to. Venture out of Paris on an exciting Day Trip.
Experience some of the most significant works of art in Paris on a Private Art Tour. Learn about the story’s of the painters behind the works and ask questions along the way.
Taste the latest Paris Food experiences with our personal and tasty private food tours. Learn to make authentic Parisian meals, taste chocolate assortments, or…
From perfume to WW2, our private history tours are a way to see Paris in a different light.
Experience immersive music tours in Paris. Sit and listen up close to an award-winning Master Pipe Organist or learn about the history of Jazz in Paris on a private tour!
Looking for something particular? We’ll help you find it in Paris. Our private shopping tours include Antiques, Wardrobe, and more!
The Château de Fontainebleau, just 35 miles southeast of central Paris, can proudly claim to have been a sovereign residence for eight centuries. Capétiens, Valois, Bourbons, Bonaparte and Orléans, all members of French ruling dynasties, have lived within these walls. The chateau dates back to 1137—and centuries of royals have expanded this former royal hunting lodge to a more than 1,500-room estate. Most of what you’ll see dates back to the 16th century, a combination of Italian Renaissance art and French design, these rooms are some of the most intricate and breathtaking in France. If times allows, you can enjoy lunch in this charming area.
Tour Length: 5 – 6 hours