Paris is culture, art, architecture, beauty... but it is also very big. Touring its main points with a specialized guide is a great idea.
Paris is much more than the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and the Luxembourg Gardens. Paris is its neighborhoods and so that you can discover them in an authentic way I make you a selection of the best tours.
1. Paris night tours
If they call Paris The City of Light is because you have to see it at night. Its illumination is a spectacle and the night tour of Paris is specially designed to discover it. During the tour you will visit the areas of Trocadero, Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe or Grand Palais. Of course, stories of social scandals, great loves and revolutions are also included in this tour.
The duration of the night tour of Paris is also approximately two hours and children under 13 can join for free. Another advantage of this tour option is that you will get to visit Paris with far fewer people than you would walk its streets during the day and, in addition to the lights, you will also get to know the nightlife atmosphere of the city.
2. Tours and boat cruises on the Seine River
Paris can be toured in many ways, and one of the most popular is cruising the waters of the Seine River and seeing monuments such as the Eiffel Tower or the Notre Dame Cathedral. The best thing about this night cruise on the Seine with tickets to the Eiffel Tower, is that it not only includes the boat tour, but also a night walk through Paris aboard a vehicle with a view.
Among the alternatives to walking tours, this is one of the most comfortable and complete generic tours to get to know Paris. It allows you to see the city by day and night, with explanations by a professional guide, without walking and covering large distances.
This option includes pick-up and drop-off at the hotel. It is the most recommended option for those who have little time and do not want to miss places like the Paris Opera, Notre Dame Cathedral, Place de la Concorde, the Louvre, the Hotel de Ville, the Grand Palais, the Champs Elysees, the Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower, the Invalides or Pigalle. Almost nothing.
3. Montmartre Tours
Each and every neighborhood in Paris is worth a visit, but I will start with the most mythical neighborhood of the French capital, Montmartre, and the tour that will always be my favorite: the walking tour of the Montmartre neighborhood.
Details of the area
The Montmartre district is located in the north of Paris and is known for being the cradle of the bohemian painters and artists of the 19th century. It's hard to compare this place to any other and even harder to describe the feeling you get when they show you around on a guided tour and tell you all the stories of the characters who lived there.
By the time I took my first guided tour of Montmartre I had already visited the neighborhood on more than one occasion and had spent countless hours wandering its streets. None of this helped; it was as if I was seeing it for the first time.
About this tour
This is the most requested tour because of the history and charm of this neighborhood. To see Montmartre you have to reserve at least half a day and not because the neighborhood is not accessible on foot, which it is, but because it has many things to see and the best way not to skip any of them is to take a walking tour of the Montmartre neighborhood.
What you will see
Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, Monet or Picasso lived in this neighborhood, so during this two-hour tour you are going to soak up many of their anecdotes, the corners they frequented and what attracted them so much to Montmartre.
As well as painters, the neighborhood has also inspired filmmakers so cafes like the one in the famous film Amélie are also a must on this tour. On the Montmartre tour you will also see such emblematic spots as:
The Moulin Rouge
The famous cabaret in which the drawings of Tolouse-Lautrec were set and which appears in different films is located in the lower part of Montmartre. It is a must to visit it illuminated. If you are considering attending a mythical show in the most famous cabaret in the world, I invite you to read this article I have written on Moulin Rouge Tickets: how to buy and prices.
The Sacré-Coeur Basilica
At the top of the hill of Montmartre stands this impressive basilica of gleaming white. In addition to admiring the beauty of its architecture, you can also admire the city of Paris from the top of the stairs that precede it.
The painters' square
Located behind the Sacré-Coeur, it is actually called Place du Tertre although everyone knows it as the painters' square. A series of restaurants with their chairs arranged in a row (this is how it is done in the French capital) surround the square where various artists paint and sell their paintings.
The red light district of Paris, Pigalle
Cabarets, nightclubs, erotic stores, neon lights ... The red light district of Paris is worth a visit and also the subject of more than one anecdote.
4. Tours of the Latin Quarter
Another neighborhood worth visiting in Paris is the Latin Quarter, south of the Ile de la Cité. Although it often goes unnoticed by many tourists, the Latin Quarter has a special charm and coziness. In addition to emblematic places like the Pantheon or the Sorbonne, this neighborhood has excellent sweet shops and during this walking tour of the Latin Quarter of Paris of about an hour you will visit one of them with an aperitif included.
What this tour consists of
The main advantage is that this is a private tour in which the guide will be exclusively at your disposal and that of your travel companions. This way, you have the possibility to customize the tour route, the explanations about the history of the neighborhood and the city of Paris and the gastronomic recommendations of the area according to your preferences.
5. Personalized tours of Paris
Paris is so diverse that each traveler has a preference for a particular area. For this reason there are private tours in which the traveler is the one who sets the itinerary. This tailor-made tour of Paris is the best option to explore the city in depth and also with a local guide expert in the city.
What this tour consists of
This private tour (you will only be with your travel companions) starts at the Louvre museum and, from there, the itinerary is set by the traveler himself. This walking tour can last from two to six hours and you will choose yourself which sites to visit, if you want to focus more on one aspect of the city or another and if you want to stop more or less time at one point or another.
The guide adapts completely to your preferences while discovering practical details of the city and telling you the stories behind each of its corners.
6. Gastronomic tours of Paris
If you like the experience of a tour of the streets of Paris and want to give it some more originality, I recommend you to try a gastronomic tour of Paris. The essence of this type of tours is also to learn more details about the city, but these are focused on gastronomy and also include tastings of star products of the French capital such as cheese, chocolate or wine.
If you want a specific recommendation, I recommend this gastronomic tour of the Latin Quarter of Paris. In addition to the tastings and the explanations of the guide, you will also enjoy the conversations with the vendors, which makes this tour a very authentic experience that is difficult to enjoy in any other way.
7. Sightseeing bus tours
There is also an option to enjoy Paris in all its immensity without having to walk through each of its streets. The tourist bus, although at first it may seem too touristy if you are looking for a more authentic trip, is a great option to continue enjoying the incredible views of the city while you rest a little or move from one area to another.
Especially in big cities like Paris, the bus is usually a good way to get to the most interesting areas without having to get on the metro in the crowd and above all, without missing a single detail of what's going on outside. I leave you an article I wrote about Paris Hop on Hop off Bus Tours in case you want to know more.
8. Tours of the Opera Garnier
Don't worry if you get caught up in the illumination of the Paris Opera House during the night tour; there are guided tours of this building where you can soak in all of its history. The goal of these tours is to give you a generic overview and pique your curiosity as a traveler, it's up to you what to delve into further. I have written a guide about Paris Opera Garnier Tours that may interest you if you want to know more in depth one of the most emblematic buildings in Paris.
9. Louvre Tours
We all know that the Louvre is the most famous museum in Paris (and probably the whole world). And when it comes to visiting a museum of such magnitude, there is nothing better than taking a guided tour to get to know it well, understand what we see and make our time inside the museum more efficient and get more out of the visit.
There are different types of guided tours, from the most "express", where the guide will make sure you do not miss the essentials to more extended tours, where an art expert will describe the main works in a more complete tour. Come and discover the culture that awaits you at the Louvre with an expert guide.
If you want to read more about the experience of visiting the Louvre, I have created a guide to the Louvre, guided tours and how to buy tickets. You won't be left in any doubt!
10. Excursions to Versailles
Leaving the city one day to go to Versailles will complete your trip with a day in which, in addition to traveling back in time, you can relax among the spectacular gardens of the Palace of Versailles. As it is such a popular visit, there are different types of excursions: from those that allow you to tour Versailles at your own pace to those that will give you a guided tour of the Palace and its gardens. A plus? Stay to see the spectacle of the fountains of the Palace: a marvel!
If you feel like doing this tour, you can read more details in my guide on the best tours to Versailles from Paris. You can get there by train or bus and in just one day you will be able to enjoy a spectacular landscape that will not leave you indifferent.
Organize your guided tour of Paris
How to book a tour
Most Paris tours can be booked online. Once you have made your reservation, you will receive a voucher with the necessary instructions to meet your guide on the day and at the time you have chosen. If you are one of those who prefer to improvise during your trip and leave room for the unexpected, make sure you choose a tour that has free cancellation; this way with 24 hours notice you can reschedule for another day without losing your money.
The meeting point varies depending on the area of Paris where the tour takes place, but they are all accessible by public transportation and well located. If you want to visit a nearby museum, choose the time and day that allows you to do it before or after the tour, but I recommend that you reserve your energy for walking if you choose the walking tour option.
Paris walking tours run every day of the week and there are usually different schedules to choose from. Keep in mind that on Tuesday many of the city's museums are closed, so it can be a good day to take a walking tour through the streets of Paris. If you want to escape the crowds choose night tours and avoid weekends in high season.
The average duration of a tour is usually two hours, but it is possible that these can be longer. You can also find more comprehensive tours and shorter ones. Keep in mind that during the tour you will have enough time to contemplate the different points of interest along the way; these are not tours that are done in a hurry because the idea is to relax and enjoy the city. Try not to delay the group and remember that you can always revisit any of the tour points.
The price of the tours may vary depending on the area and the tour, but I recommend that you don't miss the opportunity to take a guided tour of Paris for the money. There are different prices (for example, a private tour or a boat tour is more expensive) and some very affordable to the pocket; I promise you that, with all you will learn, you will amortize every euro invested.
The guides who conduct these tours know the city of Paris to perfection. Take advantage and ask them for recommendations on where to eat, what to visit according to your preferences, where to buy original souvenirs, which is the best area to go out and party... The day before you can make a list of questions; they will be happy to answer them during the tour or at the end of it.
Paris is visited by visitors from all over the world, so most of the tours are available in several languages. English, Spanish and French are almost guaranteed, but many tours also have the option of German, Italian or Portuguese, among others.
Frequently asked questions
What is the average walking distance?
Most of them last about 2 hours. All tours can be adapted to your pace, but it is still a good tip to wear comfortable shoes and dress according to the weather for a perfect experience.
What is the best way to get around Paris?
The best thing to do is to walk whenever you can: this way you will discover charming little streets, artisan bakeries and other hidden gems that are part of the essence of Paris. The city center is quite compact and all areas of interest are relatively close to each other, so a combination of walking and taking the metro will get you where you want to go quite easily.
What can I do around the Louvre?
You can stroll along rue de Rivoli and enjoy a moment of tranquility in the Tuileries Garden. In addition, you can visit the statue of Molière at rue Richelieu 40, pass by the Place de la Concorde and admire the Royal Palace from the front.