Paris is much more than the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and the Luxembourg Gardens. Paris is all about its neighbourhoods, and so that you can discover them in an authentic way, here is a selection of the best tours.
1. Paris Night Tours
If they call Paris the City of Light, it 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 Trocadero, Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe and 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 the age of 13 can join for free. Another advantage of this tour option is that you get to visit Paris with far fewer people than you would during the day, and in addition to the lights, you'll also get to experience the city's nocturnal atmosphere.
2. Seine Boat Tours and Cruises
Paris can be explored in many ways, and one of the most popular is to cruise the Seine River and see sights such as the Eiffel Tower and 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 tour of 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 by night, with explanations by a professional guide, without the need to walk and covering long distances.
This option includes pick-up and return to the hotel. It is the most recommended option for those who have little time and do not want to miss places such as the Paris Opera House, Notre Dame Cathedral, Place de la Concorde, the Louvre, the Hotel de Ville, the Grand Palais, the Champs Elysées, the Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower, the Invalides or Pigalle. Almost nothing.
3. Montmartre Tours
Each and every neighbourhood in Paris is worth a visit, but I'll start with the most legendary neighbourhood in the French capital, Montmartre, and the tour that will always be my favourite: the walking tour of the Montmartre neighbourhood.
Details of the area
The Montmartre neighbourhood is located in the north of Paris and is known for being the birthplace of the bohemian painters and artists of the 19th century. It is difficult to compare this place with any other and even more difficult to describe the feeling you get when you are shown around on a guided tour and told 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 neighbourhood on more than one occasion and 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 neighbourhood. To see Montmartre you have to reserve at least half a day, not because the neighbourhood is not accessible on foot, which it is, but because there are so many things to see and the best way not to miss any of them is to take a walking tour of the Montmartre neighbourhood.
What you will see
Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, Monet and Picasso all lived in this neighbourhood, so during this two-hour tour you'll soak up many of their anecdotes, the places they frequented and what attracted them to Montmartre.
As well as painters, the neighbourhood has also inspired filmmakers, so cafés like the one in the famous film Amélie are also a must-see on this tour. On the Montmartre tour you will also see such emblematic spots as:
The Moulin Rouge
The famous cabaret in which Tolouse-Lautrec's drawings were set and which appears in several films is located in the lower part of Montmartre. It is a must-see when it is lit up. If you are considering attending a mythical show in the most famous cabaret in the world, I invite you to read this article I wrote about it. Moulin Rouge Tickets: how to buy and prices.
The Sacré-Coeur Basilica
At the top of the hill of Montmartre stands this impressive, gleaming white basilica. As well as 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, but everyone knows it as the Place des Painters. A series of restaurants with their chairs lined up in a row (that's how it's 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 shops, neon lights... The red light district of Paris is worth a visit and is also the source of more than one anecdote.
4. Tours of the Latin Quarter
Another neighbourhood worth visiting in Paris is the Latin Quarter, south of the Ile de la Cité. Although often overlooked by many tourists, the Latin Quarter has a special, welcoming charm. In addition to iconic landmarks such as the Pantheon and the Sorbonne, this neighbourhood has some excellent sweet shops, and during this walking tour of Paris' Latin Quarter, which lasts about an hour, you'll 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 can customise the tour route, the explanations about the history of the neighbourhood and the city of Paris and the gastronomic recommendations of the area according to your preferences.
5. Personalised tours of Paris
Paris is so diverse that each traveller has a preference for a particular area. For this reason there are private tours in which the traveller sets the itinerary. This tailor-made tour of Paris is the best option to explore the city in depth and with a local guide who is an 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 traveller. This walking tour can last from two to six hours and you choose which sites to visit, whether you want to focus more on one aspect of the city or another, and whether you want to stop more or less time at one point or another.
The guide adapts completely to your preferences as he reveals practical details of the city and tells you the stories behind each of its corners.
6. Gastronomic tours of Paris
If you like the experience of a Paris street tour and want to add a little more originality to it, I recommend you to try a gastronomic tour of Paris. The essence of this type of tour is also to learn more about the city, but they focus on gastronomy and also include tastings of the French capital's star products such as cheese, chocolate and 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 guide's explanations, 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 every single street. The tourist bus, although at first it may seem like a touristy experience if you're looking for a more authentic trip, is a great option to continue enjoying the incredible views of the city while you rest a bit or move from one area to another.
Especially in big cities like Paris, the bus is often a good way to get to the most interesting areas without having to squeeze into the metro through the crowds and above all, without missing a single detail of what's going on outside. Here is an article I wrote about Paris Hop on Hop off Bus Tours in case you want to know more.
8. Opera Garnier Tours
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 the building where you can soak up its history. The aim of these tours is to give you a generic overview and to pique your curiosity as a traveller, it's up to you what to delve deeper into. I have written a guide about Paris Opera Garnier Tours that might interest you if you want to know more about 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 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 the most out of the visit.
There are different types of guided tours, from the more "express" ones, where the guide will make sure you don't miss the essentials, to more extensive 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
A day trip out of the city to Versailles will complete your trip with a day where, as well as travelling back in time, you can relax in 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 explore 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 Palace fountains: a marvel!
If you want to do this excursion, you can read more details in my guide on the best excursions to Versailles from Paris. You can get there by train or bus and in just one day you can make the most of a spectacular landscape that will not leave you indifferent.
Organise your guided tour of Paris
How to book a tour
Most tours of Paris can be booked online. Once you have made your booking you will receive a voucher with instructions on how to meet your guide on the day and at the time you have chosen. If you prefer to improvise during your trip and leave room for the unexpected, make sure you choose a tour that has free cancellation so that you can reschedule for another day 24 hours in advance 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 transport and well located. If you want to visit a nearby museum, choose a time and day that allows you to do so before or after the tour, but I recommend that you save 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 times to choose from. Bear in mind that many of the city's museums are closed on Tuesdays, so it can be a good day to take a walking tour through the streets of Paris. If you want to avoid the crowds, opt for evening tours and avoid weekends in high season.
The average tour lasts about two hours, but tours can be longer. You can also find more comprehensive tours and shorter ones. Bear in mind that during the tour you will have enough time to see the different points of interest along the way; these are not tours that are meant to be rushed as 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 points of interest on the tour.
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 are very affordable; I promise you that, with all that you will learn, you will get your money's worth.
The guides who run these tours know Paris inside out. 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 or at the end of the tour.
Paris is visited by visitors from all over the world, so most tours are available in several languages. English, French and Spanish are almost guaranteed, but many tours also have the option of German, Italian, Portuguese and other languages.
Frequently asked questions
What is the average walking distance?
Most last around 2 hours. All tours are self-paced, but it's still a good idea to wear comfortable shoes and dress for the weather for the 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'll discover charming little streets, artisan bakeries and other hidden gems that are part of what Paris is all about. The city centre is fairly 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 fairly easily.
What can I do around the Louvre?
You can stroll along rue de Rivoli and enjoy a quiet moment in the Jardin des Tuileries. You can also visit the statue of Molière at rue Richelieu 40, pass by the Place de la Concorde and admire the Palais Royal from the front.