Husband and I will be in Paris for 3 or 4 days. Should we do a tour or do Paris independently? Also, could you recommend a fabulous tour?
Interested in a dissenting opinion. Well, here it comes!
I never take a tour unless it guarantees entry into a venue I might not be able to get into on my own. Neuschwanstein castle is a good example. You can go there, buy a ticket, but if things back up they give priority to bus tours. You may have a valid ticket but never get in.
The well organized professional tour is designed not for you experience a new culture, as much as it is to separate you from your money. I can remember on the earlier mentioned bus tour; as we pulled into town the tour guide told us we could eat in restaurant A, Restaurant B, or Restaurant C. I sat there wondering, "What's wrong with the other dozen restaurants I see." The answer is of course that they didn't give him a 5% kickback on the business sent their way.
With the abundance of travel information on the web, putting together an itinerary on your own is fairly easy. Beside the number general travel sites there are plenty of blogs and user opinion sites. In addition, most places in major cities have their own websites, These sites not only give you the ins and outs of seeing the venue in question, but in many cases you can reserve entry on line, I've only traveled to Paris independently. I've always managed to see everything I wanted, and some things I never planned on.
That being said, if you find a tour that fits you; a tour that goes to what you wish to see in a time frame that suits you, who am I tell you not to?
Now, it sounds like Brenda is speaking about a personal guide. If you can swing that, and still don't feel confident enough to go at it on your own, hell, why not! I've never gone that route, personally, but I certainly wouldn't rule it out.
Also, David is right when he points out that 3 or 4 days really isn't that long. In that time you won't see everything the city has to offer. Then again, there are plenty of places you could spend a lifetime in and never see everything. What ever choice you make you'll need to prioritize what you want to see. My recommendation is to travel with the attitude of, "I will return here one day."
What ever way you choose to go, I recommend you take some time to stroll through any of the Paris' residential neighborhoods. Go into the shops. Assemble a picnic lunch (or dinner) and find a nice spot in one of the cities many parks. You'll really get a feel for the city you won't get any other way.
There are actually two public bus routes in Paris that make great sightseeing tours. Bus 69 and bus 42.
Bus 69 will take you in a loop around Paris going from east to west. If I were you, I would think about taking this bus once during the day and once again at night because Paris is so gorgeous at night. Remember, you can use your train tickets for the metro for these. You can either pick up a carnet (a book of 10) for about 13 or 14 euro, at a Tabac (these are little convenience stores/newsstands) which are all over the place, or you can buy a single ride for 2 euro.
Bus 42 does more or less the same thing but using a different route. It goes a little farther out than is necessary for sightseeing, but still it will really give you the lay of the land.
Obviously, there aren't any tour guides on these but they both make a great, inexpensive way to see the city.
It depends on your comfort with the city -- if you've been before, know some of the layout, speak some French, or are seasoned travelers, then by all means grab a map, do some internet research, and explore by yourself.
However, if most of the above doesn't apply, and you're only in town for 3 or 4 days and want to make sure not to miss something, I'd recommend a tour for the first day: get your bearings, learn about the dos and don'ts in the city, and plan from there for days 2, 3, 4.
As for good tours, I think you can't go wrong with a food tour in Paris, as wine and cheese and produce are such an important part of the culture, and good tours will introduce you to Paris through the vehicle of food. (I'd personally recommend La Cuisine Paris - Cooking Classes and Food Tours in Paris.)
Mentioned in this answer:
I would recommend a tour the first day. That will give you a good idea of the city as a whole and then continue more independently. Also, 3~4 days is really not that long, it's a big city with lots of history. So the tour will help you doing the best out of it. You might also consider a day trip to the Château De Versailles from Paris.
Hi Rosalie, i grew up In Paris ans i am already organizing city tour with my private car. If you like, i could organizing something for you. Let me know if there is some specific places you would like to visit.
No one stopped to ask you what you're interested in seeing and experiencing. That will make a difference in the answer. If you're interested in having a guide to help you learn what is worthwhile and what is not--based on YOUR interests, you should find one and do that the 1st day. If you just want to "wander", you can do that on your own. It's perfectly possible to take 1/2 day tours to places you're interested in if you want and then be on your own the rest of the time. So, the answer is: it depends.
Where are you staying? How do you expect to get around? How comfortable are you on your own? Do you prefer to "be taken care of"?
I am NOT here to solicit business although I've been a travel agent forever and have lived all over Europe, but I would suggest that you find a travel agent you're comfortable working with who will "qualify" your needs and expectations and then give you advice on how to get the best out of your trip.
I agree with David D. My first trip I had a wonderful guide who walked me all over Paris, explained public transportation options, gave me great local restaurant recommendations and showed me how to avoid the lines at ALL of the museums without the expense of a Paris pass. Cost was about the same as the pass would have been. That firsy day made me extremely comfortable and helped me prioritize what to see on my visit.