I recommend Les visites particulières, which is a private tours agency in Paris.
They offer private guided excursions throughout several exceptional art locations in Paris. Their passionate guides open the doors of art galleries, foundations, museums, artist workshops and private collections of Paris.
Oh luxury, a personal driver is provided.
I've never lived such an experience anywhere. Paris is the capital of arts, I live there, and I didn't know there was so much beauty.
I used to live in Paris, so felt I knew it quite well until I joined a Bike About Tours group for one of the most uplifting and interesting tours I have ever done. Bike About Tours was set up by two charming Kiwi ex-pats (both complete francophiles) whose mission is to show English speakers the real Paris. Most bike tours focus on the big tourist attractions, but at Bike About it is all about the lesser known charms of the City of Lights - quaint little side streets, the guides' favourite local bakeries, unexpected history lessons (like pointing out the mini cannon ball still stuck in the side of a church wall from Revolution days!) to name but a few. We even had exclusive access to a beautiful 'secret' courtyard garden that extended behind a building on one of Paris' more well known streets - I would have biked straight past it! In a couple of hours on this tour, I found out more about the character, history and charm of this amazing city and its unique inhabitants than in any of my classes at the Sorbonne.
Daily tour meeting point (10am and 3pm): by the statue of Charlemagne in the square outside Notre Dame cathedral.
A great way to discover Paris and some of its most famous landmarks, such as Notre Dame, the Louvre Museum, la Sainte Chapelle, and the Eiffel Tower, plus the 17 bridges across the River Seine. The guides are locals who love their city and have many stories and historic information to share in a very entertaining way, even for children. Luckily they are fluent English speakers who are happy to answer any questions and organise the tour as you wish. After a highly enjoyable walking tour they take you on an absolutely wonderful boat cruise all around the River Seine. After this four hour tour you truly feel very welcome in the city!
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The largest memorial garden in the world is a beautiful backdrop for the oversized mausoleums and famous tombs packed together along its gravel and cobbled paths. But Père Lachaise is more than a repository for the crème de la crème. Throw the map away and wind aimlessly under the ancient chestnut trees of the well-tended park. Jim Morrison's grave is less interesting than the crowd round it, and the Holocaust and war memorials will give you pause.
Free maps are supplied at the gate
16, Rue de Repos, 20th Arrondisement, Paris
Métro: Père Lachaise Gambetta
Hours: 8:30am-6:00pm (last entry 15 minutes before closing)
Google map: bit.ly/KtQIFC
Paris is for walking, yet teems with cars and tour buses. Banish their omnipresent blare by taking the steps down to river level at every opportunity. For 2000 years the Seine has been Paris’ pulse. Looking up at Notre Dame from the left bank quayside instead of from the roadside, it’s easy to imagine scenes from the city’s rich historical – and fictional – past. Like de Gaulle remaining unflustered as sniper shots fired by pro-Nazi sympathisers concealed within the cathedral’s cavernous interior narrowly missed turning the1944 mass to celebrate the liberation of Paris into a massacre. Or Quasimodo sliding down his rope to rescue a praying Esmeralda about to be led to the gallows. Sight Seeker’s Delight pack phenomenal detail into their 4-hour Seine walking tour, and, on Sundays, the right bank running close to the Eiffel Tower is closed to traffic and given over to pedestrians before being transformed into Paris Plages for a month from 20 July: several kilometres of sand, seaside fun and stunning views.
To get the true feeling of being in Paris, then leave the main tourist trail and head for the water- no, not the Seine, but one of the Parisian canals.
The canal cruise I would highly recommend is called "Old Paris" on the Saint Martin Canal it takes 2.5 hours and is simply heaven. It leaves from Paris Arsenal Marina and goes to Parc de la Villette It is a romantic trip and gives you the opportunity to hear the history of the true Paris.
Cruise along the tree lined canal while admiring the old, yet beautiful footbridges. You will also pass below the Bastille. You can also enjoy going through several locks and a couple of swing bridges. You will watch as people go along the canal banks with the many retro shops and cafes-it is truly a view of Paris you will adore.
During the cruise I went on, they played old French songs - which may sound off putting, but on this occasion I found it added to a glorious experience I long to repeat. And the cost is 15 euros for adults and eight euros for children.
For your first day in Paris, take a classic walking tour with an English-speaking guide to take you to all the main sightseeing spots. It only costs about 20 euros per person for 3.5 hours but you get to see all of Paris on the first day and allows you to go back and re-visit any of the sights for the rest of your holiday or go elsewhere. Wear comfortable shoes as there is a lot of walking and bring your camera!
Since this was our first visit to Paris, we weren't sure how to best spend our time. We came across Aeon's site and ended up taking a tour. We were, all in all, pleased with our tour and guide. She was knowledgeable and willing to answer any of our group's questions - even our most ridiculous ones. And, trust me, we had a few since we were there during the Metro workers strike in 2007. She was willing to start our tour later due to us not being able to get to the meeting point in time.
Once your kids can ride a bike there's no better way to see Paris than cycling about it. The high spot of our recent half-term break was a morning spent exploring the Marais, Bastille, Louvre, St. Germain de Pres, Les Halles and many back streets in between.
Our guide, Paul, founded Bike About Tours with a friend and gives a charming and personal view of a city he clearly loves. Some of his enthusiasm rubbed off on the kids who particularly relished spotting locations from Ratatouille, or finding out how many Parisians slip in dog poo each day. Paul takes only safe back streets and cycleways, stopping for lunch at a boulangerie on the way.
Every so often we would park the bikes and explore a secret garden or a hidden alleyway on foot, letting Paris work its magic on children and adults alike. By the end of four hours we felt like we belonged. Try it, you won't be disappointed.
Most Paris visitors obviously look for the essence of France as they wander the city, but I found something exceptional and different in the Monique Wells "Discover Afro-American History in Paris" tours.
The haunts of Josephine Baker and James Baldwin come to life, and you see the wonderful Chateau Rouge area - a brilliantly vibrant mix of colours and cultures, boutiques and restaurants. Paris' varied international and colonial history is brought to life.
My wife and I went on a 2CV (you know that old typical French car you see in the movies) car ride and I strongly recommend it to everyone. The driver was an authentic Parisian (except he was actually really friendly ahah) who told us random stories about the city and France in general.
They stopped in front of every main monument to let us take pictures or sometimes even took the pictures for us and the view was just breathtaking. We could stand up (even though the car is so cosy you don't feel like standing up) to take advantage of the view on the Champs Elysees etc... I mean it was such a great typical experience we actually decided to do it again.
So the next time they picked us up from the restaurant and drove us around (Moulin Rouge, the foot of the Eiffel tower, Notre Dame). There was literally no traffic, and we definitely appreciated that bottle of champagne they let us take in the car.
Finally they drove us around Montmartre in some tiny streets and places only locals know so I won't hop on any of those touristy buses ever again.
PS: The name of their website is parisauthentic.com but don't trust the website's bad quality, it doesn't reflect the quality of the service.
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