The complete guide to the best guided tours in Paris

מדריכי טיולים בפריז - סיורים מודרכים בעיר האורות

Five tips that will help you maximize your enjoyment from a guided tour in Paris

Recommended guided tours in Paris:

A guided tour in Paris is often not a cheap experience, but it can upgrade your trip, just like adding a little bit of truffle will upgrade any sauce or dish. The reason is that a professional guide, who knows very well the streets of Paris and its diverse culture (history, art, fashion, culinary, etc.), can add a dimension of depth to the ordinary (and charming in itself) wandering-around in the City of Lights. With a good guide, you can discover the “insider’s secrets” of Paris, and reveal things that tourists tend to miss out of lack of knowledge.

About six months after I first established my blog, I started to get requests to lead guided tours in Paris. And so, over the past few years, every time I came to Paris I led a few guided tours, which I enjoyed immensely (and from my understanding, so did the people who joined me in those tours).

However, the major problem with this issue is that 99% I’m not in Paris, and so I must refuse most of the requests of quite a few Francophiles who wish to tour with me. Therefore, I decided to present you with alternatives, and find some excellent guided tours in English that will enrich your stay in the City of Lights.

However, before I start giving you all the required details for each and every one of these guides allow me to provide you with several tips, based on my personal experience and the experience of other guides, which will allow you to make the best and the most of your chosen guided tour:

Be curious

An excellent guide (and I only recommend such guides) is an endless trove of information, and there’s nothing he would like more than to share this information with the people who tour Paris with him. So do a little homework in advance (for example, basic introduction to Paris), and come with questions.

I assure you that you will leave the tour with a wonderful sensation of learning, and the guide will also enjoy, and maybe will even give you some “extras” that were not included in the original tour. On the other hand, if the diverse French culture doesn’t interest you, and all you wish to do is check the box on the main attractions in the city, I would recommend you to avoid the guided tour, and save yourselves quite a bit of money.

This advice is even truer if you’re travelling with children or adolescents. Instead of dragging them to a tour that does not interest them in advance, wait a few years and return to Paris, this time without them. Both the children and the guides will sincerely thank you for that.

Come prepared

Make sure to check what the weather is going to be like, and come dressed appropriately so that you aren’t too hot or too cold. And of course, since this is a walking tour, which is usually a few kilometres long, come wearing your most comfortable shoes. It would be a shame if the entire tour is ruined because of the wrong clothing or shoes.

Come a few minutes earlier

Running around the metro tunnels or the streets of Paris while trying to get to the meeting spot on time may help you burn the calories of the éclair you had yesterday, but it adds an unnecessary dimension of stress and unpleasantness (especially if you’re late or about to be late).

Most guides start the tour a few minutes after the scheduled time, and therefore, if you’re late, there is a good chance that you will miss the tour, and that would be a shame (especially if you pay for the tour in advance, which means you’ll also lose your money).

Therefore, I recommend getting to the meeting spot 15-30 minutes before the beginning of the tour. Worst case – drink some coffee in the area, hang out and see the surroundings, or enjoy the guide’s company longer than the other travelers, because the guide is always early and arrives at the meeting spot before the scheduled time.

Be considerate to the other group members

Please take into consideration that when travelling in larger groups (8-15 people) the guided tour may be cheaper, but it is also much less flexible, which means you have to walk at the pace of the group and keep your guide in view, so that you don’t lose him (usually, in such tours, you pay at the beginning of the tour, so if you lose your group because you decide to enter a shop while the group continues marching on, the guide won’t look for you).

Boutique tours for small groups (mostly up to 7 people) have a more relaxed pace and a more flexible route. In such cases, in order not to turn the tour into a world war, I highly recommend to be considerate of those travelling with you, even if they really-really-really have to take a bathroom break 5 minutes after you left a café, or wish to stop for a few minutes to take a peek at an interesting patisserie. Do that, and other people will be considerate to you when it is your turn to stop for a little cup of coffee or to take a look at a charming boutique at the Marais.

And the most important thing: from my experience, a large part of the fun of these tours is the company you’re with, and there are some cases in which people who are totally strangers to one another connected on my tours, and have become good friends after them (some even after their vacations ended). Therefore, keeping your temper and being polite to others will only increase your chance of finding new friends, which is already a major bonus.

Have a good mood (the most important tip)

Remember that the main purpose of this tour is not to check a box or get some sort of certificate (there is no test in the end), but to enjoy yourselves. Therefore, come to the tour filled with joy and anticipation, and delight in the romantic squares, the sweet pastries and the piquant stories.

At the same time, elegantly ignore those little things that can happen in any trip (for example, a heavy rain that starts falling in the middle of the tour, a small shop whose owner decided to take a vacation exactly on the date of your tour, and so on). I assure you that if you do that, your joy will be complete, and so will the consideration for the sum you paid. And this is exactly why you’re reading this article, right?

So now, after this introduction, allow me to present to you the English speaking guided tours I personally recommend.

Please pay attention that if you have a relatively limited budget, some of these tours cost 15-30 Euros per person, and could still be suitable for you.

A guided tour between Ile de la Cite and Luxembourg gardens

This is a walking tour that goes through the most beautiful parts of Ile de la Cite (including entrance to the Notre Dame cathedral) and the Latin quarter.

סיור מודרך בין איל דה לה סיטה וגני לוקסמבורג. מקור תמונה אתר MUSEMENT
A guided tour between Ile de la Cite and Luxembourg gardens. Photo source: Musement

The tour includes the following sights:

  • The home of Abelard and Heloise
  • Saint Michel fountain
  • The Sorbonne building
  • The Pantheon
  • Luxembourg gardens

For additional information and ticket purchase, click here.

Passage tour between the Palais Royale and Opera Garnier

This tour begins in the place where the passage culture was born, goes through some of the most beautiful passages in Paris, and ends with a visit to Opera Garnier, the splendid opera building of the City of Lights.

אופרה גרנייה. צילום: MUSEMENT
Opera Granier. Photo source: Musement

The tour includes:

  • A visit to the gardens of the Palais Royale
  • A visit to Galerie Vivienne and passage Choiseul
  • A guided tour in the Paris opera building (Palais Garnier)
  • A panoramic view of Paris from the roof of the famous department store Galeries Lafayette

For additional information and ticket purchase, click here.

A visit to the Montmartre, including the Sacré-Cœur basilica and the artists’ quarter

The Montmartre neighborhood, with its bohemian and village-like atmosphere, is one of the most toured quarters of Paris. During this tour you will discover some of its main attractions.

סיור מודרך במונמארטר. צילום: MUSEMENT
A guided tour at the Montmartre. Photo source: Musement

The tour includes:

  • A visit to the Sacre Coeur basiica
  • A tour at the artists’ quarter around Place du Tertre
  • Dalida’s home
  • A visit to Moulin de la Galette

For additional information and ticket purchase, click here.

A cinematic tour at the Montmartre neighborhood

Paris is one of the most photogenic cities in the world. Therefore, it is not surprising that it starred in many movies. The purpose of this tour is to present to you some of the monuments and streets at the Montmartre neighborhood, which starred in those movies.

סיור קולנועי במונמארטר. צילום: MUSEMENT
A cinematic tour at the Montmartre. Photo source: Musement

The tour includes:

  • A visit to Amelie’s café
  • A tour around the Moulin Rouge area, in the footsteps of Nicole Kidman’s famous movie that bears that title
  • A tour in cafes, restaurants and additional locations that appeared in various French movies
  • A detailed explanation of the way the shots of Paris were taken in the different movies
  • A glass of wine at the Brasserie La Bonne Franquette or at the café Des 2 Moulins
  • A boutique tour of up to 8 participants (minimum of 2 participants).

For additional information and ticket purchase, click here.

A tour between the Eiffel tower and the Invalides palace

A great walking tour for beginners, who want to see the Eiffel tower and its close surroundings.

הכנסייה של ארמון האינוולידים. צילום: MUSEMENT
The church of the Invalides palace. Photo source: Musement

The tour includes:

  • Alexandre III bridge
  • A walk in the courtyard of the Invalides Palace and its church
  • The gardens of the Rodin museum (not including a visit to the museum itself)
  • A visit to the École Militaire, the military school that was established in 1750 and in which Napoleon himself studied.
  • A visit to Champs de Mars
  • The Eiffel tower (not including going up the tower)

For additional information and ticket purchase, click here.

A guided tour at the Louvre museum

The Louvre is one of the biggest museums in the world, and this is exactly its problem from the viewpoint of tourists. How can you experience it in only a few hours without missing the most important artworks, and still leave it without feeling completely exhauster?

This guided tour at the Louvre was created exactly for this reason. With this tour, you can see the “crème de la crème” of the exhibit of the museum, instead of having to wander for hours to locate the must-see pieces of art.

This tour includes:

  • A guided tour by a certified guide that takes you to the most important artworks in the museum.
  • An entrance ticket that will let you bypass the line and also visit the temporary exhibitions.

For additional information and ticket purchase, click here.

A guided tour at Musée d’Orsay

The Orsay museum may be smaller than the Louvre, but it also contains quite a few masterpieces. If you wish to better understand the stories of the paintings and sculptures from the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, this guided tour is meant for you.

This tour includes:

  • A 2-hour guided tour that provides a historical background of the impressionism and the special structure that houses the museum.
  • An entrance ticket that will allow you to bypass the lines to the museum (if you’ve chosen this option when buying the ticket).
  • If you wish to combine this tour with a gourmet meal, you can check out this option.

For additional information and ticket purchase, click here.

A guided tour at the Rodin museum

Auguste Rodin is one of the most popular French artists thanks to the amazing sculptures he created, headed by the “Thinking Man”. If you’re interested to learn a bit more about the “creating man” who made all these sculptures, and at the same time wander around the mansion and gardens of the museum with a professional guide, this tour is for you.

This tour includes:

  • A ticket to the museum
  • A 2-hour guided tour

For additional information and ticket purchase, click here.

HOP ON HOP OFF

Address: There are 9 stations where you can get on and off the bus

Metro: Irrelevant

Attraction type: Paid

Opening days and hours: Every day

A few words about this attraction: Let’s say you came to Paris for a single day, or even for a few hours, and you’re interested to quickly take a look at all of the central attractions. The Hop On Hop Off bus was created just for you, as well as for people who are simply not interested in experience Paris by foot.

This is a double decker bus that stops at 9 different stations and goes between all the central monuments in the city. This bus also acts as sort of an organized tour, because there you can listen to explanations about each of the attractions. If you want to stretch your legs a little, you can always get off the bus, walk around, and catch it again in one of the next stations.

Buy a ticket for the bus

History Bus

Address: Place de la Concorde

Metro: Concorde (lines 1, 8, 12)

Attraction type: Paid

Opening days and hours: Every day

A few words about this attraction: This is a very nice options for all you history lovers who don’t wish to walk hours and hours by foot. This is a combination of driving between the major monuments in Paris and films that are projected on the bus windows, and tell you, in a very interactive manner, about the history of Paris.

Buy a ticket for the bus

A tour in Paris with a Citroen 2CV

Address: Irrelevant

Metro: Irrelevant

Attraction type: Paid

Opening days and hours: Every day

A few words about this attraction: Citroen 2CV is, without a doubt, the most iconic vehicle ever created in France, and although about 70 years have passed since its launch, many people still love it and miss it. So if you’re looking for a special and amusing way to get to know Paris, try this guided tour, which will take you to any corner you’d like in the City of Lights, a la French style.

Day tour | Night tour

The best of Paris

If you don’t have much time, and you’re interested to see the best of what the City of Lights has to offer you, this tour is meant for you. In only 4 hours you will be able to see most of the main attractions of the City of Lights.

המיטב של פריז - סיור אופניים שעובר בין השאר ליד כנסיית הנוטרדאם. צילום: MUSEMENT
The best of Paris – a biking tour that passes, among the rest, by the Notre Dame cathedral. Photo source: Musement

This tour passes by:

  • The Eiffel tower
  • The Notre Dame cathedral
  • The Champs Élysées
  • The market in Rue Cler
  • The banks of the Seine
  • The Concorde square

For additional information and ticket purchase, click here.

A bicycle tour from Centre Pompidou to the Champs Élysées

This is a bike ride that takes you from the Bastille square, through the luxurious mansions of the Marais, and ends at the famous Champs Élysées.

This tour passes by:

  • The Bastille square
  • Several of the most beautiful parks at the Marais
  • Centre Pompidou
  • Île Saint Louis and Île de la Cité
  • The Eiffel tower
  • The Champs Élysées

For additional information and ticket purchase, click here.

An evening biking tour that also includes a cruise on the Seine

If you want to see Paris lit in all its glory, and as a “dessert” go to a cruise on the Seine, this tour is perfect for you.

סיור אופניים לילי בפריז. צילום: MUSEMENT
An evening biking tour in Paris. Photo source: Musement

The tour includes:

  • A ride by the Louvre, the Champs Élysées and the Eiffel tower
  • A 1-hour cruise on the Seine over the course of the evening

For additional information and ticket purchase, click here.

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