When you first arrive in Paris, your first order of business should be to get introduced to the city. This process is not unlike getting introduced to someone new at a cocktail party – while you could just walk up out of the blue and say hello, you may well get a nicer reaction if a mutual friend brought you into the conversation.
In the same way, having some assistance from a mutual friend (AKA someone who lives in or knows Paris very, very well) in getting to know the city can make a world of difference.
There are several ways you can get to know the city, including the many organized Paris tours which run on both land and water. These may seem impersonal, depending on the size of the group, but they can help you get a lay of the land so that when you go back exploring on your own you have a better idea of where things are and even sometimes which sights you want to skip entirely. And if you sign up for a smaller group tour, you’ll feel more like you’re getting a city tour from an old friend than from a tour guide.
Here are a few options to consider for tours of Paris.
Paris is a big enough city with enough variety that there are several ways to take a tour of Paris. You can do overview tours by bus, boat, or on foot, or you can focus on specific elements of the city – food, shopping, history, etc. You can also do several tours in one visit to Paris to get an even broader picture of the kind of city it is.
If you opt for one of the tours that are hop on/hop off (usually buses or boats), they often come with a headset so you can listen to a recorded guide in your own language. Sometimes there’s a real live person as a guide, but that’s less common on a tour when people will be getting on and off throughout the trip.
There are also tours that are specifically designed to be smaller groups, so you can have more interaction with your guide and have a more personal experience.
Sample Paris Tour Options:
- Paris Boat Tours
- Paris Walking Tours
- Paris Tours from isango! – including shows at Moulin Rouge, Seine Cruises, Dinner at the Eiffel Tower, bus tours, and more
- Context Travel Tours of Paris – smaller groups, walking seminars
- Paris Greeters: Hang Out with Real Parisians
- Paris Walks: Offering Walking Tours of Paris
Day Trips from Paris
There’s enough in Paris to fill an itinerary of several weeks, but it’s also well-placed to take day trips into the surrounding area to explore life outside the French capital. Many of the most popular day trips are easy enough to organize on your own, and there are also tour companies ready and waiting to escort you to any one of the nearby towns or attractions if you prefer.
Most of the day trips from Paris don’t include much in the way of free time, but one thing you want to find out before you book one is whether there are any costs you’ll need to be taking care of on the day of the tour. For instance, while the cost of a day trip to Versailles may include the services of a guide for the entire day, it may not include train fare or the admission to get into Versailles. Also, for tours of more than a half-day there is usually a plan for a meal midway through, so be aware that you may need to bring extra cash to pay for a light meal or snack.
- Day Trips from Paris
- Day Trip to Versailles from Paris
- Day Trip to Monet’s Garden from Paris
- Day Trip to Mont Saint Michel from Paris
- Day Trip to Euro Disney from Paris
Adventure Trips in Paris
The words “Paris” and “adventure travel” may not seem to go together well, but in this case the term “adventure travel” simply means that these organized tour groups aren’t the big-bus variety. They’re more like the kind of trip you’d organize for yourself if you had the time and energy to do so, with independent travelers in mind.
Often with these small group tours there’s lots of free time in each destination, but the big things are taken care of – your transportation between each city, your accommodation each night, any day trip excursions, and guided tours of the main attractions. The trips that include Paris can include other stops in France and elsewhere in Europe, and they can be very general or more specific (food/wine tours, hiking tours, etc.), so look around to find the one that suits you best.
>> Learn more about the France adventure tours that are available.
Some of the Top Paris Adventure Tours
- Classic Europe, 15 days (from $3725) – Lose yourself in two of Europe’s most enchanting countries. From the romantic streets of Paris, head out to discover Provencal food and world-class Burgundy wines then frolic with Europe?s high rollers in the Riviera. Feast on seafood and breathtaking sights in the cliff-top villages of the Cinque Terre and marvel at the architectural elegance of gothic churches and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Conclude this European adventure at the vibrant, ancient city of Rome.
- The Best of France, 13 days (from $2199) – From the elegant boutiques and boulevards of Paris to the sun-soaked coasts of the Cote d’Azure, experience the very best that France has to offer. Sample some Moet and Chandon in the Champagne region, savour the local delicacies and world-class wines of Burgundy and marvel at the spectacular countryside of unbeatable Provence, the inspiration of such masters as Van Gogh and Cézanne.
- France and Spain, 29 days (from $4755) – Join this adventure from romantic Paris to cosmopolitan Barcelona and be captivated by the culture and history of France and Spain. Visit castles, cycle along a river in Tours and hike in the majestic mountains of the Pyrenees. Peruse paintings and marvel at an illustrious Moorish past in Spanish byways and boulevards before partying the night away. This trip will make sure you come away with the best memories of two of Europe’s most-visited countries.
- France to Italy Adventure, 13 days (from $2899) – A magnificent tour through some of France and Italy’s most deservedly famous places, whose names speak for themselves: Paris, Burgundy, Provence, Nice, Florence, Rome. Come see what all the fuss has been about for the last 500 years.
- Marrakech to Paris Adventure, 17 days (from $2799) – From the heart of North Africa, to the heart of Western Europe. Cross three countries and two continents as you take in all the highlights of this fascinating and diverse region, with maximum freedom and independence to enjoy the activities you choose and most importantly, maximum savings for your wallet! From the souks of Marrakech to the historic medina of imperial Fes; the laid-back beach vibes of Tarifa to the spectacular Moorish heritage of Granada and Seville; from the wild tapas bars of Madrid to the vibrant art scene of Barcelona. Round up your adventure in the elegant City of Lights as you stroll the boulevards of Paris and absorb that certain “je ne sais quoi”.