Members of the Paris Tourist Office (Convention and Tourist Bureau) offer numerous opportunities to visit Paris. The Open Tour sightseeing bus is now visible dressed in its red, white and blue stripes. This is the tour bus I recommend as it is linked with the Paris transportation system RATP and the buses are now electric.
Sixty-five walks around Paris with Paris le nez en l’air (Paris with your nose in the air). Full of self-guided walks, long and short, anecdotes, maps, quizzes, treasure hunts. However, you will have to use Google Translate if you do not read French. There is a PayPal donation button at the bottom of the page if find this is a fun way to learn about and enjoy Paris. Read more on “Wandering around Paris“.
Discover Paris! is for those of you interested in exploring African-American history in the City of Light. Their clients include independent travelers, small groups, and university study-abroad programs.
Paris History Walks with Alain Pradelle
Alain offers a very personal tour of his home town, Paris, where his family has lived for over one hundred years. A historical Parisian connoisseur, if you have a question he cannot answer immediately; guaranteed you will receive a detailed response via email. He gives tours in English or French. Alain’s latest walk is “Right bank former Slums, Passages, Abbeys and medieval houses.” The walk includes: the Court of Miracles; Caire Sq. and Passage: Egyptian mania in Paris; The Sentier: garment and silicon district, the Ponzi system, etc.
Guideapolis with Benoit Bossuet (“A smart service to find and book tours in France with passionate guides). He is the only guide on this Website though, whose page is in English. Give him a try.
David Downie and Alison Harris Paris,Paris Tours
Claude Marti – “MartiVisites” Tours in French. He has a catalogue of visits (pay when you arrive). There is even a visit to the famous Harcourt studios.
Paris Walks – Peter and Oriel Caine
Discover Walks – Is “a network of locally-born-and-raised guides. They know their home cities as only a native would – the landmarks and the heritage, but also the side streets, the secret spots and the good gossip.” – Let Colleen’s Paris know what you think!
ToursByLocals I found this website “ToursByLocals” for Paris visitors looking for a private, customized tour. A local expert offers personal attention and the type of unique, local experiences you won’t find with a large group tour. “ToursByLocals is made up of a group of dedicated professionals based out of Vancouver, Canada, who are committed to changing the relationship between travelers and the local people who deliver travel services.”
Paris Sweet Paris – They take you on gastronomic walks, historical district walks and museums. Both Muguet and Sylvie have their National Guiding License from the French Ministry of Culture and Tourism. They say: “There are places galore to taste the excellent produce of France, to discover the exquisite cuisine, and the many unexplored secrets, and to spoil yourself…where tourists are still welcomed with warmth and grace.”
Classic Walks – Paris
English-speaking walking tours of Paris (Da Vinci Code, Montmartre, Latin Quarter, Marais and World War II).
Fat Tire Bike Tours – Paris
English-speaking bicycle tours of Paris, Versailles and Monet’s Gardens. (I have heard rave reviews about their night bike tour.)
Paris Tourist Office – “You’ll find details of the places mentioned in the Paris Tourist information pages and a full description of everything each of these neighborhoods has to offer in the guidebook “Paris For You”, published annually in French and in English by the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau. It is distributed free of charge in all our welcome centers.”
As long as I was on a roll trying different walking tours, I remembered my experience with the London
Walks. I called Paris Walks about their walking tour of Saint-Germain.
These three walks varied as much as the commentators did. The language, the scenery and the
presentation for each set them apart.
The size of the groups varied and varies with each tour and day of the week according to the tour
On these days, there were about 60 participants for Mr. Marti, 6 with Charlie from Fat Tire Bike and 30 plus
with Malcolm from Paris Walks.
What sets them apart
Mr. Marti’s walks are in French, fast-paced and full of anecdotes and history. There is little time available to chat with your neighbor or companion, especially along narrow streets. The point is to keep up and not miss anything when he starts speaking again. He rarely chit chats while walking to the next point.
His tours are excellent because he is chatty, is so full of information, and loves to answer questions! He enthusiastically takes you to buildings and street corners and inside gates. You could say that he takes you back in time and is a great Paris storyteller.
The tours are in French; but is also a good way to practice listening, asking questions or just
seeing the sites and read about them later. His tours are extremely popular.
The Fat Tire Bike Tours are more relaxed, have a smaller group size, are in English, and very social and fun. The number of participants is not an issue with Fat Tire. Their tours go forward whether you end up with a private tour or have several participants.
The routes we took, gave the impression that we were nearly the only tourists in the neighborhood.
Our guide, Charlie, met us at Metro Blanche and guided us up to the hill (butte) of Montmartre via a small side street to the cemetery. He preceded any references to the various painters, who lived and worked in the area, with an example of their work.
These tours are excellent for those who just do not want to rush. There is time to chat with others on the tour (and possible get some touring tips!), take photos, ask questions as you go, chat with the guide and still end the tour at the prescribed time.
We even had a chance to watch the Paris firefighters (sapeur pompiers) in action. We watched until the group decided by majority to move on.
Malcolm with Paris Walks was open to questions, full of good humor and ran an excellent, informative and anecdotal tour. Along the way, one could also step into his private world of interests: books, art and general window-shopping (lèche vitrine). By his showing an interest in off the beaten path shops, it opened up ideas for us for return visits on our own.
Using the word “excellent” to describe these three tours was not for the lack of better vocabulary. All three were excellent in their own way.
Whichever one you choose, wear your good walking shoes.
As an additional idea for an afternoon, if you are here on a weekend, consider a walking tour, a concert and try a new restaurant.
Sources for Paris walking tours
You will not be wanting for choice when looking for a specific tour. In fact, Fat Tire, Paris Walks and Claude Marti are only three of a possible 47 Paris walking tour companies.
Visit the Paris tourist office website for a list of official “Guides and interpreters” with their themes,
language and contact information, including web (addresses).
“The guiding profession is tightly controlled by a law dating from 13 July 1992 and, for tours inside museums, monuments and châteaux, only those possessing an official license are authorized to accompany you…. — “Paris tourist office”
The Paris tourist office also publishes a free guidebook every year that provides a map of the area
and basic, interesting details. Pick up a copy at one of their Paris tourist office locations around Paris.
“Paris for you” is available in English with 12 self-guided, themed walks or read Going for a walk in Paris online:
Another important source is the weekly event magazines, L’Officiel des Spectacles (0,35 euro cents) or Pariscope (0,40 euro cents). These small format magazines appear each Wednesday. On the contents page, look up “Conferences” for themes, dates and meeting place. Buy them at any magazine shop or kiosk.
Times and additional information
Paris Walks – Walks run seven days a week at 10:30 a.m. or 2:30 p.m. The themes vary. Their website offers regular walks, this month’s walks, next month’s walks, private tours. Some themes of their walks are the DaVinci Code, Hemingway, French Revolution, Jefferson’s Paris, etc. walks, walks in other cities, etc.
Check their website for tour and theme details. About 30-32 people showed up for the Saint-Germain walk.
An average on most walks would be 15-25 people. Usually over 30, they call in an additional guide.
For most of the Paris Walks tours, no reservation is necessary, unless stated in the description.
Fat Tire Bike Tours – Their walks meet at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and vary from two to four to ten hours. Their themes include The Da Vinci Code Walk, the World War II walk, the Montmartre walk, the Quaint Marais walk, the Latin Quarter walk, the Wine Tasting experience.
Reservations are not necessary but may be made ahead of time. The Montmartre tour had six international visitors. The Fat Tire tours operate rain or shine with however many show up. Sometimes you might have a private tour!
The Montmartre tour lasts for two hours and meets on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Their other walks include the Classic, DaVinci Code, World War II, Montmartre, quaint Marais and Latin Quarter walks, the D-Day Beaches Day trip, Womens Groups in Paris. Check the Fat Tire website for dates and times and current prices.
“The Classic Walk gives a overview of Paris” — Fat Tire. An Australian couple took the “Classic” walk during their first day from Fat Tire and loved it. This four-hour tour was very relaxed they said and gave them the time to get their bearings in the city, which they proceeded to walk around and enjoy for an additional 6 hours!
The Fat Tire tours whether walking, biking or Segway always give you a chance to buy a beverage or a nibble along the way.
The other tours move too quickly for a stop at the local corner grocery (épicerie). Their office also has high-speed internet service available.
Claude Marti –The group size for Claude Marti’s tours both times was approximately 60 people.
Participation in M. Marti’s tours (in French) requires only that you show up unless otherwise stated that a reservation is required. Repeat participants receive a fidelity card.
After your second tour with him, you receive a fidelity card; after five tours, the sixth is free.
His visits begin usually at either 11 a.m. or 3 p.m. at a cost of 10 euros plus any entry fees to museums.
Check his website for dates and times for the current and future months’ visits. For detailed descriptions (in French) of his tours, click on “Plus d’info”.
Even if the walks are in French, you may see some things you would not normally see on an English tour.
His subjects include Opera Garnier, Basilique Saint-Denis, the Fire of the Bazar de la Charité and
prestigious neighborhood of François 1st, a rare visit to the Academie Française, famous criminal cases at the Musée de la Police, treasures of Ile Saint-Louis, etc.
Walking tours without a guide
If you want to walk around and follow a path without a person guiding you, the possibilities are endless.
A reader recommends City Walks: Paris: 50 Adventures on Foot compiled by Christina Henry de
Tessan. Cards in a box take you on your chosen tour.
Paris Mayor’s Office suggested Paris Heritage strolls:
Art in the city – the east walk – route along the T3b tram line
LOW-COST HOUSING – the invention of social housing
Victor Baltard, architect and restorer
Gestures and images of man at work
Art in the city – The north walk
Art in the city – the south walk – route along the t3a trame line
The Paris Commune
On the trail of Saint Jacques
Henri IV (13 December 1553 – 14 May 1610)
The Paris of Frédéric Chopin
The thirties style in gardens – the south of paris
The thirties style in gardens – the gardens of Roger Lardat
The Vestiges of Ancient Paris Stroll
Atlantes and caryatids
Fashions in statuary
Fragments of exhibitions
Myths and realities
Atlantes and caryatids on façades
The Great Minds Stroll
Musicians and poets
Classical and baroque tombs
Paintings of italy
Ceilings and cupolas
Temples or basilicas ?
Churches of the second empire
The Paris Bell-Tower Stroll
Ways of the cross of the 20th century
The Mosaics Stroll
Stained glass windows of Paris
Fountains of yesterday and today
Fountains of yesterday and today
The Paris Bridge-and-Statue Stroll
The Knights and Horses Stroll
Statues, reliefs and décorations
The néo-Gothic style
On the trail of the middle ages
Paris and its suburbs
On the trail of Nicolas Ledoux