Travel to Europe: Five must-see Paris tours to keep on your radar
Whether it’s a sunset cruise in a classic car or a visit to the city’s most unusual sites, there are plenty of tours to help you explore Paris. Photo / 123rf
Saving for a dream trip to the City of Lights? Add these unique tours to your wish list, writes Tiana Templeman.
See all the main highlights – in just one day!
If you are in Paris for quite a while, not long, it may be impossible to decide what to do. Should you visit the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre, the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur or Notre-Dame, take a cruise on the Seine, explore a classic neighborhood or simply stroll around the city?
The good news is, there’s no need to choose, because a one-day Paris tour lets you see all of these things and more in — you guessed it — just one day. While visiting all of these iconic attractions in just nine hours might seem impossible (not to mention exhausting), it’s easy enough when you’re with a local who knows all the shortcuts. The tour runs in an order that minimizes crowds and includes metro transport, skip-the-line access, and an expert local guide who shares fun facts and interesting stories along the way.
Cost: $269 for adults; $253 for children. takewalks.com
Tour of Paris in a Citroën 2CV
It’s a heavenly marriage: a cheerful Citroën 2CV and the city of Paris. As a touring vehicle, this classic French car adds a certain je ne sais quoi and its compact size makes it easy to navigate the narrow lanes of the arrondissements of Paris, especially with a handsome Frenchman behind the wheel. Tours are available from 11am to 10pm, but the best time to book this 1-hour tour around the French capital is just before sunset.
As the waning light bathes the historic buildings of Paris in a soft glow, your classic transport zips through the famous streets and around the Arc de Triomphe with its radiant avenues and thrills. As the sun dips below the horizon, you’ll make your way to the Eiffel Tower, stopping just as the lights come on and dancing up and down the city’s famous landmark. You will have time to take photos with your shiny 2CV before being returned to your hotel.
Cost: From $130 per car for a one hour visit. 2cvparistour.com
See history come to life at the Museum of Fairground Arts
The Musée des Arts Forains, or Musée des Arts Forains, proves that you’re never too old to ride a carousel. However, you may be too young. In the late 1800s, when bicycles were more expensive than horses, adults lined up to ride bikes on carousels powered by their feet and reaching speeds of up to 60 km/h. You will find one of these carousels in this museum, which has one of the largest collections of old rides and games in the world. Better yet, you can ride it, but only if you’re 13 or older.
You can also see (and hear) a rare Hooghuys fairground organ, ride other historic carousels, play quirky amusement games, and learn about life in Europe in the 1800s on a two-hour interactive tour . English tours are available during the summer months, with an English transcript provided at other times of the year.
Cost: $30.60 for adults; $20.85 for children. arts-forains.com
Spend a strange evening in Paris
Discover a darker side of Paris on a spooky ghost tour that ventures through historic buildings and winding alleys to show you a side of the city that isn’t in tourist brochures. Your macabre guide is an expert on the grim and seedy side of Paris, when people were burned at the stake and sentenced to death at the Palais de Justice. It didn’t matter if you were king or poor, no one was safe from the dazzling blade of the guillotine.
Walk in the footsteps of the plague that ravaged the city in the mid-1300s, hear tragic love stories and scare yourself with horrifying tales of ghosts, blood, murder and mayhem. You’ll be looking over your shoulder on the way back to your hotel after this hair-raising evening.
Cost: €34.20. citywonders.com
Explore a neighborhood with a local – for free
Whoever said “we got nothing for nothing” obviously never came to Paris. The city is part of the Global Greeter Network, an international organization that organizes free guided tours led by passionate volunteer guides in cities around the world.
In Paris, our guide was a retired professor who showed us around Montmartre, where he had lived for over 30 years. Pierre not only had the perfect name, he also had a portfolio of fascinating historical photos and the communication skills of someone who has spent his life teaching. To my surprise, he also shared my passion for the incredibly romantic film Amélie and shared behind-the-scenes stories about Montmartre filming locations that only a local would know. Greeter tours aren’t just about visiting the sights, they also offer a fascinating insight into the heart and soul of a destination and the people who make it great.
Cost: Free. Reservations essential. greeters.paris