When visiting Paris, it is generally agreed that the Métropolitain underground system (known as the Métro) is an inexpensive, fast and efficient way to get around. The Métro does, however, have the disadvantage of being underground and therefore is not an ideal way to see the sights. Lines 2 and 6 of the 14-line system are outdoors for a large portion of their routes, but all the other lines are tunnel-bound.
The public transport system also has an extensive bus service. However, for the first-time visitor, deciphering the bus maps, finding bus stops and figuring out which is the right direction can be a little daunting and time-consuming.
An alternative way to get around, to get a good overview of the city and to take in the major sights of Paris, is to make use of one of the many companies offering tours of the city. The following is a selection of bus and walking tours of Paris.
Open Tour buses made their début on the streets of Paris in 1998, with a single route taking in some of the major monuments of the French capital. Today, there are four routes in operation with commentary in 10 languages including Mandarin, Czech and Russian. The distinctive green buses of Open Tour have the advantage over some competitors, at least in the summer months, in that they are open-topped, so the views from the top deck are very good and visitors can enjoy the feel of the breeze in their hair. One, two or three-day passes can be purchased on board the buses or online. There are more than 50 hop-on, hop-off stops at places of interest around the city and the buses run seven days a week from 9.30 am to 6.30 pm.
Another operator offering open-top tours of Paris is Les Cars Rouges, with their red double-decker buses being run in partnership with Big Bus Tours. One-day tickets are available online and a choice of nine signposted stops at such places of interest as the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre palace and museum, Notre Dame cathedral and the Champs Elysées. Big Bus Tours also offer a similar service in other cities around the world, such as Shanghai, Dublin, Abu Dhabi and Philadelphia, to name a few.
For those who prefer to stay on board for the duration of the tour, Cityrama operates air-conditioned, yellow double-decker bus services offering half- and full-day tours of Paris, as well as Paris by night trips, all with official guides and a variety of different itineraries. This operator also offers tours of the city by minibus or minivan, combined boat cruise and bus tour tickets, full evening visits with dinner and a show, as well as day trips outside of the city to such places of interest as Monet’s house in Giverny and the Versailles and Fontainebleau palaces. They run further afield to the châteaux of the Loire Valley or Mont Saint Michel too.
Since 1992, Paris Trip is another company offering a variety of guided and escorted tours with the choice of touring by coach or minivan, day and night-time visits with evening entertainment taking in a show at the Moulin Rouge or Crazy Horse cabarets. There is also a daytime tour which includes lunch at the 58 Tour Eiffel restaurant on the first floor of the famous monument, or visits further afield to the battlefields of the Somme or the Normandy D-Day tour.
For the more energetic, there are many Parisian walking tours. Paris Walks has been offering such a service since 1994. There are a number of walks to choose from; around the hilly Montmartre district, the old Marais quarter or tours of Père Lachaise cemetery, where many famous and diverse figures such as Frederic Chopin, Oscar Wilde , Edith Piaf and Jim Morrison are buried. There are also themed visits, focusing on Paris during the World War II occupation, or even Mediaeval Paris. The guides are all English speakers and enthusiastic experts on Paris. It is normally not necessary to book in advance for these walking tours.
Sight Seekers Delight is another company offering a number of walking tours of Paris. The four-hour Paris Along the Seine tour goes all the way from the cathedral of Notre Dame to the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte at Les Invalides. There is plenty of time to enjoy stories of French history with all the juicy details and also visit a few Hollywood movie sites along the way.
When the sun goes down, why not try a Ghosts, Mysteries and Legends night walking tour of Paris? This takes the visitor back in time through some of the darkest moments in France’s history, such as the plague, the French revolution and Nazi occupation. It is a great opportunity to delve a little deeper, behind the glittering façade of the city of light.
These are just some of the ways to get around Paris. There are many other outdoor tours available ranging from tuk-tuks and bicycles to rollerblades and Segways. Visitors to Paris certainly have a wide range of transport options to choose from.Write a Comment
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