Anyone who has wandered aimlessly in Paris will tell you it’s totally possible to appreciate the city without understanding much about it. This is, after all, one of the most beautiful cities on earth – you don’t need to be told that in order to see it, right? Still, getting more in-depth knowledge of Paris’ history or specific elements of the modern city can enhance your experience exponentially – which is why we love Context Travel‘s tours so much.
Context offers walking tours in 19 cities around the world, including Paris, and their tours are very deliberately called “seminars.” The tour guides are called “docents,” which tells you about the high level of expertise each person brings to their subject matter. You will be smarter at the completion of a Context tour, there’s no doubt about that, and you’ll thoroughly enjoy the learning process to boot.
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One of the things that makes it easy to enjoy and learn from a Context tour is that the groups are kept small – no more than six on a group tour – which means the docent can more easily tailor the tour to a specific group. You get to ask questions without fighting through a crowd, too, and since the docents are veritable encyclopedias of knowledge they’re often eager to discuss an aspect of the topic that’s not usually part of a given walk. It’s an intimate atmosphere, and it’s very easy to forget you’re on a guided tour at all – it feels very much like you’re just taking a walk with a highly educated friend.
The variety of Context walks in Paris alone is astounding, so there’s bound to be something suited to your interest and travel schedule. There are food walks, history walks, architecture walks, museum walks, and more. You can browse the Paris listings to see all of the walks available, or you can view the group walks calendar to see what’s either confirmed or tentative (meaning the minimum number of sign-ups hasn’t yet been crossed) during your Paris visit. Context’s private walks can be more tailored to specific requests, if that’s more your style, and there are even walks geared toward families.
Keep in mind that outside the high season, walks don’t occur with the regularity that they do during the summer. When you’re making a tour request on the Context site, they ask how long you’ll be in the city and a way to get in touch with you while you’re there – this is so that, if another walk opens up during your stay, they can offer you the chance to switch if the original walk you wanted isn’t likely to happen. During the high season, there are typically many more walks available on a regular basis.
photo courtesy of Context Travel