Paris – Visits with a difference

Whether you want to party or learn to cook, travel by limousine or by hot-air balloon, play at being an urban explorer or relax in the home of a Parisian, you’ll find that Paris is a never-ending adventure.

Paris is a continual journey of discovery. However often you visit, there is always some new facet of the French capital to uncover. Entertaining, interactive guided tours explore a wide range of themes, from games and shows to music, with apps and websites devoted to the city’s eclectic charms. Unusual and little-known aspects of Paris are even more fascinating when recounted by knowledgeable guides with colourful anecdotes to tell and a list of great places to see. Paris, a multifaceted city, is revealed through design, photo workshops, wine tasting and cinema trails. Explore every little corner of Paris at your leisure: on the water, in the air, on foot, on wheels or by motorized transport, and marvel at the myriad facets of this wonderful city.

Paris unveiled

It is such a pleasure to learn about Paris’s rich heritage in the company of a knowledgeable tour guide! The good news is that Paris has numerous guides passionate about their subject, who can relate fascinating anecdotes and interesting facts that reveal the hidden side of monuments and give visitors new insights into the capital’s buildings and districts. Guided walks by Robert Pink are moments of complicity, revealing insider information about popular tourist districts. Each of these walks has an interesting theme (contemporary art, chocolate, etc.). Les Balades du Renard reveals the secrets of the city’s thousand-year walls, the stone buildings perched on its hills, and the towers hidden away in its cul-de-sacs. Crime and law courts in Paris; wartime Paris: Paris Dédale casts light on these absorbing aspects of the city’s history. And food and music fan Guillaume Le Roux of Le Vrai Paris gives you a sampling of a truly authentic Paris you never knew existed. Turn a corner and you may well stumble upon people in period costumes, gesticulating and swirling, launching into a tirade or a poem. At these performances, actors, magicians, acrobats and street artists transform Paris into a stage for open-air theatre.

– Did you know? If you take a stroll through Les Halles, you’ll come across the real house where Molière was born. The great French playwright was indeed born in the 1st arrondissement – but the house was located at the corner of Rue Saval and Rue SaintHonoré, not 31 Rue du Pont Neuf. A tripe butcher used to live there. He seized on the growing fame of Jean-Baptise Pocquelin (Molière’s real name) to install a bas-relief and bust of the playwright and thereby give his house and shop some cachet.

  • A journey in Paris – www.ajourneyrinparis.com
  • Aimer Paris Tours – www.aimerparistours.com
  • APGILS – Association de Guides-Interprètes et Conférenciers Professionnels en langues scandinaves (Scandinavian-language tour guides) – www.apgils.com
  • Association des guides interprètes de langue russe (Russian-speaking tour guides) – AGILR – www.agilr.org
  • Les balades du Renard – www.les-balades-du-renard.com
  • Dom in Paris – www.dominparis.com
  • Fédération nationale des guides interprètes – www.fngic.fr
  • 1 visit 4 you – www.1visit4you.com
  • Paris par Rues Méconnues – www.facebook.com/ParisParRuesMeconnues/
  • Paris pour un jour – www.parispourunjour.fr
  • Paris toujours – www.paris-toujours.fr
  • Sandy Paris Tours – sandytours.com
  • Le Vrai Paris – www.levraiparis.com
  • Robert pink – www.robertpink.com
  • Helptourist – help-tourists-in-paris.com
  • Discover Paris – www.discoverparis.net
  • Walking Steps – https://www.walkmysteps.com/
  • Claudia’s Secret Paris: claudiassecretparis.fr

Paris with the kids

Why not take advantage of a family stay in Paris to offer your children a special tour of the city designed just for them? It can be a fun way to discover museums, monuments and different districts. Kids and adults alike will be enchanted by these tours. With Delphine Lanvin, the story of Paris is told on a tour of little streets in Montmartre or in the Latin Quarter. Parisphile seeks to make heritage appealing to children over 3 years old, as does ThatLou Treasure Hunt, which organizes orienteering at the Louvre Museum, and Aurore Juvenelle/Dédale Visites Guidées, which presents the city through numerous anecdotes. The website Familin’Paris lists good ideas and good deals for a Paris visit with the family.

– Did you know? Hidden within the 2nd and 9th arrondissements are some beautiful covered passages, with names like Passage Jouffroy, Passage Verdeau, Passage des Panoramas, Passage Choiseul and Galerie Vivienne. These arcades lined with shops, art galleries and restaurants take you straight back into 19th-century Paris.

Educational tours

  • Art Kids Paris – www.artkidsparis.com
  • Delphine Lanvin – www.lanvinvisites.com
  • Familin’Paris – www.familinparis.fr
  • Gin Tonique Tours – www.gin-tonique-tours.fr

Down memory lane

Who hasn’t dreamed of being in the shoes of Amélie from Montmartre, or of the French king Henri IV? Paris is full of encounters with great fictional and non-fictional characters. Whether on foot or by bus, you’ll find yourself in the settings of famous films with Ciné Balade. With Lire et Partir, set off on the trail of the nocturnal wanderings of Gerard de Nerval in the district of Les Halles, or of Colette with her cats behind the windows of the Palais Royal. Paris Walks takes you to Hemingway’s Paris. And music lovers can hum along as they retrace the steps of Edith Piaf through Belleville in the company of Les Passeurs d’Histoires. Thierry Le Roi and the Nécro Romantiques take visitors into the Père-Lachaise cemetery. Spread over 44 hectares, with 5,300 trees and 70,000 graves, it is the final resting place of such famous names as Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, Honoré de Balzac, Alfred de Musset and Molière.

– Did you know? Marcel Aymé (there is a statue of his ‘Man Who Walked Through Walls’ by Jean Marais in Montmartre), Marcel Carné and Maurice Utrillo are buried in the Saint-Vincent cemetery (18th arrondissement), which has flower-lined paths and 900odd tombs, and offers an unusual view of the dome of the Sacré-Cœur basilica.

An app for every museum

Exploring the rich collections in Paris’s museums couldn’t be simpler. Practically all of them now have multilingual apps describing their major works. The Fondation Louis Vuitton’s FLV app is definitely one to download to enhance your discovery of the interiors, exteriors, terraces and lake at this amazing contemporary art venue, while the ‘Archi Moi’ app is educational and fun, encouraging kids to explore the magnificent building designed by the architect Frank Gehry. The Pompidou Centre app, now stocked with new features, reviews 120 years of contemporary and modern art history. It is an excellent way to find your way around the vast and dazzling collections housed in the iconic building designed by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers. Louvre: Ma Visite is the must-have app for visitors to the world’s biggest art and antiques museum. The app has 60,000 m2 of museum space modelled in 3D help you find your way around, with 600 descriptions of the museum’s artworks and historic rooms, and 600 audio commentaries. The Muséum national d’histoire naturelle’s new Paléo Museum app provides comprehensive information on the museum’s fascinating animal fossil specimens. And, for a complete rundown on the Palais de Tokyo’s collections, get the official app from the App Store or Google Play to plan your visit, locate the not-to-miss pieces, get more information about them, and share your picks on Facebook or Twitter.

– Did you know? The intricate wrought-iron details on the side doors of the Notre Dame Cathedral were made by a metalworker named Biscornet in the 13th century. Overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task, he made a pact with the devil so he could finish the work on time. But on the day of their inauguration, the doors stayed firmly shut. A great deal of holy water had to be splashed on the doors to finally get them to open and save the unfortunate craftsman’s soul.

SECRET AND UNUSUAL PARIS

Interested in exploring the dark side of the City of Lights, approaching the echelons of power and getting an insider’s view from real Parisians? Follow the guide!

Strange Paris

The history of Paris is peppered with jealously guarded enigmas and secrets. The Catacombs, the Paris sewer system, and the Père Lachaise and Montmartre cemeteries give rise to all kinds of fantasies. A tour of these places is the best way to unravel many mysteries. Paris’s metro system also holds many surprises: ghost stations, disused lines and obsolete signal systems.

Dark Paris takes you to some of the creepiest sections of the City of Lights, on the trail of vampires, ghosts, serial killers and other dastardly individuals. Les Visites de Théo, invoking plenty of bloodthirsty crimes, will also thrill fans of the morbid. In the 10th arrondissement, Le Manoir de Paris stages 17 Parisian legends filled with blood and gore in a spooky haunted house. The Musée de la chasse et de la nature is not for the faint-hearted. This strange museum is filled with eerily lifelike stuffed animals. Located in a magnificent private mansion in the Marais, it also displays hunting-related weapons, graphic art, photographs and pottery. The sizeable collection of 5,000 items is further enriched during temporary exhibitions, held all year round. Tales of crime and punishment, and the chance to step into the shoes of a police officer, are among the attractions at the Musée de la Préfecture de police de Paris, a treasure trove for crime fans: fingerprints, an amazing array of guns and an actual guillotine, plus true-life crime anecdotes.

– Did you know? In the 1830s, Boulevard du Temple, which runs through the 3rd and 11th arrondissements, was known for several years as Boulevard du Crime – not because it was crime-ridden, but because thousands of people flocked here to watch the melodramas enacted in its many theatres and street theatre performances. In all, the Almanach de Spectacles listed more than 151,000 such play-acted crimes: poisonings, immolations, drownings and kidnappings.

  • Ademas / Métro historique – ademas.assoc.free.fr
  • Les Catacombes – www.catacombes.paris.fr
  • Le Manoir de Paris – lemanoirdeparis.fr
  • Musée de la chasse et de la nature – www.chassenature.org
  • Musée des Égouts de Paris – http://www.parisinfo.com/musee-monumentparis/71499/Musee-des-egouts-de-Paris
  • Musée de la Préfecture de police de Paris – www.prefecturedepolice.interieur.gouv.fr/musee
  • Necro-Romantiques – www.necro-romantiques.com

Heritage open days

Every third weekend in September, the European Heritage Days open up numerous places that are usually closed to the general public. In addition to works of art and Parisian heritage, you can explore sites relating to industrial or political activity, parks and gardens, archaeological sites, furniture, and literary, river or military heritage. And, throughout the year, several artists’ collectives comprising visual artists, painters, sculptors and photographers organize special days to give the public the opportunity to meet artists amid their art works, as at the Cité Montmartre aux artistes, in Rue Ordener. Arts and crafts specialists like Evanela arrange unique encounters with artisans to see how they craft beautiful items. Alternatively, you can watch arts and crafts professionals at work in a single location like the Viaduc des Arts under the arches of the Coulée verte walking trail. It’s an offbeat way to explore this district in Paris, the capital of the arts.

– Did you know? A flower-lined path, a courtyard leading to a beautiful mansion (the Hôtel Scheffer-Renan) and two artists’ workshops make up the enchanting setting of the Musée de la vie romantique, tucked away at 16 Rue Chaptal (9th arrondissement).

  • Les ateliers d’artistes de Belleville – http://ateliers-artistes-belleville.fr/
  • Les ateliers associés du Père-Lachaise – www.apla.fr
  • Les ateliers d’artistes – Les Frigos – les-frigos.com
  • Les ateliers de Paris – www.ateliersdeparis.com

Backstage tours

There’s nothing like a glimpse behind the scenes to enhance your appreciation of a show, a film or an art masterpiece. You’ll enjoy a backstage tour of the famous Grand Rex cinema or the Théâtre du Châtelet, and of famous sporting venues like RolandGarros, the Stade de France and Parc des Princes. As of March 2018, Parc des Princes will allow visitors into areas usually reserved for the legendary Paris football club’s players – a chance to stroll through the dressing rooms, the edges of the pitch and the exclusive hospitality areas just like a PSG star. Foodies will relish the tours organized by Meeting the French, revealing the secrets of great Parisian brasseries, chocolatiers and bakers/pâtissiers. Looking to explore a secret, history-filled corner of the city? L/Oblique takes you into the Cité internationale universitaire de Paris: a collection of student residences, each allocated to a different country, set in a sprawling park. The grand foyer, the cupola, the terrace: learn about the history of the famous department store on Boulevard Haussmann in the course of a guided tour (in French or English) organized by the Galeries Lafayette. As well as monuments, more and more companies occasionally open to the public. Visits to companies showcasing the expertise of individuals, and to industrial sites have become highly popular. Most of these visits take place on the outskirts of Paris, in Seine-Saint-Denis.

– Did you know? Next time you visit the Opéra Garnier, keep going until you come to the Société Générale building at 29 boulevard Haussmann (9th arrondissement). The building, purchased by the bank in 1905, is a fine example of art nouveau architecture, with a spectacular glass cupola adorning the ceiling.

  • Cultival – www.cultival.fr (behind the scenes at the Eiffel Tower, the Théâtre de l’Athénée, the Théâtre du Châtelet, etc.)
  • Rex Studio – http://www.legrandrex.com/mobile/rex-studios.php
  • Galeries Lafayette – http://haussmann.galerieslafayette.com
  • Cité Internationale – L/OBLIQUE – www.ciup.fr/
  • Meeting the French – www.meetingthefrench.com
  • Opéra Bastille or Opéra Garnier – www.operadeparis.fr/visites
  • Studio Harcourt – www.studio-harcourt.eu
  • Parc des Princes – https://www.psg.fr
  • Stade de France – https://www.stadefrance.com/fr
  • Company visits – www.tourisme93.com

THEMED ITINERARIES

Discover some great places or take a private guided tour through the world of Parisian gastronomy, design, photography and urban planning. Paris offers many ways for visitors to pursue their special interests.

Paris for foodies

Renowned for its gastronomy, Paris may also be explored through the taste buds — an excellent way to experience the delights of French culture. Several agencies offer gastronomic guided walking tours such as chocolate tours, visits to the market with Parisians or chefs, visits behind the scenes at a local baker’s, cooking courses and urban tours or workshops on the subject of wine, in Paris as well as in famous wine regions. Not to be missed: a visit to the Musée du Vin de Paris, accompanied by a sophisticated dinner in Rue des Eaux. Tasting Passport invites you to discover the best food businesses in Paris. Armed with your ‘passport’ and map, you’ll set off to taste 12 different products by artisans in four different districts of Paris, who will also recount interesting anecdotes and advise you on the best way to sample their product. One of the finest Paris cellars for champagne lovers is located in the heart of SaintGermain-des-Près. Dilettantes boasts a selection of more than 150 rare and authentic champagnes. Most of them are selected from grand cru vineyards, and all are artisan, family-produced champagnes. If you’d like to cook the Parisian way, download VizEat, the foodie traveller’s favourite app. A few clicks will give you information about any culinary activity in Paris you’re interested in, from cookery classes to market tours or good places to dine. The app also lets you connect with Parisians who will be happy to invite you over for a meal, so you can really get an insider’s taste of Paris.

– Did you know? Near the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, the 230 grapevines on the Bergeyre hill bear enough grapes to produce a dozen bottles of wine. This urban vineyard in the heart of the 20th arrondissement was planted in 1995 by a municipal gardener wanting to experiment with growing grapes in an urban setting.

Wine related

  • De Vinis Illustribus – www.devinis.fr
  • Dilettantes – www.dilettantes.fr (champagne)
  • Musée du Vin de Paris – www.museeduvinparis.com
  • Ô Château – www.o-chateau.com Œnodyssee – www.oenodyssee.fr
  • Paris wine day tours – www.wine-day-tours.com
  • Wine tasting in Paris – www.wine-tasting-in-paris.com
  • Les Caves du Louvre – www.cavesdulouvre.com
  • Vino Cado – www.vinocado.fr
  • Le Vin Qui Parle – www.levinquiparle.fr

Gourmet tours and walks

  • Meeting the French – www.meetingthefrench.com
  • My Workshop in Paris – www.myworkshopinparis.com
  • A journey in Paris: www.ajourneyinparis.com
  • 1day in Paris – www.1dayinparis.com
  • La Route des Gourmets – www.laroutedesgourmets.fr
  • Promenade des sens – www.promenadedessens.fr
  • Robert Pink – www.robertpink.com
  • Le Food Trip – https://www.le-food-trip.com/fr/
  • Le Connoisseur – www.le-connoisseur.com/fr
  • Discover Paris – www.discoverparis.net/
  • Paris a Dream – www.paris-a-dream.com
  • L’Atelier des Sens – www.atelier-des-sens.com
  • Original Food Tours – www.originalfoodtours.com
  • VizEat-EatWith – https://fr.eatwith.com
  • Tasting Passport – www-le-food-trip.com
  • DEGUST’Emoi – Tel: +33 (0) 810 009 847
  • Vino Itineris – vinoitineris.com

Paris shopping

Shopping fans are going to love this unique experience. With the services of a personal shopper, you’ll have a wonderful time browsing in new boutiques – and finding that outfit, object or perfume epitomizing Parisian elegance. The agencies follow the fashion codes of the true Parisian woman. And you can even have your very own fragrance made up for you at a creative atelier like Studio des Parfums in the heart of the historic Marais district.

– Did you know? You can feast your eyes on Paris after giving in to the temptation of a shopping spree. Printemps, the department store on Boulevard Haussmann (9th arrondissement) boasts a terrace with a panoramic view: one of the top spots in Paris from which to admire the city spread out beneath you.

  • Aimer Paris – www.aimerparistours.com
  • Design à Paris – www.designaparis.com
  • Dom in Paris – www.dominparis.com
  • Sacrebleu Paris – www.sacrebleu-paris.com
  • Paris pour un jour – www.parispourunjour.fr
  • Paris Shopping Tour – www.parisshoppingtour.com/fr/
  • Paris upperside – www.parisupperside.com
  • Personal Shopper @ Paris – www.personal-shopper-paris.eu
  • Personal shopper by Ronteix Nadia – www.personalshopperbyronteixnadia.com
  • Promenade des Sens – http://www.promenadedessens.fr/
  • 1day in Paris – www.1dayinparis.com
  • Ultimate Paris Guide– www.ultimateparisguide.com

Paris gardens

Besides its extraordinary heritage of monuments, Paris boasts 500 hectares of parks, gardens and squares – not to mention two forests on the eastern and western edges of the city, the Bois de Vincennes and the Bois de Boulogne. The French capital also has many secret little gardens on street corners – to be explored, for example, with the people behind parcours-botaniques.com, for whom Paris – and plants – hold no secrets. – Did you know? Tucked away behind the Musée Guimet devoted to Asian art (16th arrondissement) is a very unusual garden. The Japanese garden is one of the most peaceful spots in Paris: a 450 m2 expanse dotted with ponds, stone bridges, thickets and huge bamboos.

  • Le fil des jardins – www.lefildesjardins.com

Immortalize Paris!

Visiting Paris and its most beautiful monuments and squares while learning the art of photography: that’s what agencies like Pic My Trip and Focus on Paris offer. Their experts teach you various techniques to take great photographs of Paris and enjoy them for ever. And if you dream of painting in watercolours or making charcoal drawings outdoors, sign up for a walking and sketching session. Just like art school students, you will stroll around, advised by a qualified teacher, making rapid sketches of local scenes, facades, people … in short, of life. The Paris street art scene is every bit as vibrant and colourful as in any of the other major European capitals. Urban art is ubiquitous in the city: from giant murals on walls in the 13th arrondissement and on roofs and trucks in Ménilmontant to striking designs on the streets of the Marais. Paris has a long history of graffiti and street art that is very specific to the city, as you will discover on a tour with Fresh Street Art Tour Paris’s enthusiastic guides. And if you’d like to immortalize yourself visiting Paris, entrust yourself to the capable hands of Studio du Louvre. The team will spend hours getting your hairstyle and makeup just right, then take a portrait of you dressed in a costume from a past era, or surrounded by superb work by some of the finest artists in Paris.

– Did you know? In Passage Dantzig (15th arrondissement), La Ruche is the best-known Paris artists’ colony. Past inhabitants of note include Modigliani and Chagall. The building was originally a domed wine pavilion at the Universal Exhibition, designed by none other than Gustave Eiffel.

  • Ever Photo Shoot – www.everphotoshoot.com
  • Fresh Street Art Tour Paris – www.freshstreetarttourparis.com
  • Urban Visit Paris – www.urbanvisitparis.com
  • Fresh Street Art Tour – https://www.freshstreetarttourparis.com/
  • Randocroquis – www.randocroquis.com

In an unusual vehicle

Whether they’re vintage or exotic, on two or four wheels, Paris is full of original modes of transport in which to explore the city.

Bicycle taxis, tuk-tuks and other pedal-powered vehicles are an easy way to make a short journey or to enjoy an environmentally-friendly guided tour of the capital. For something just as eco-friendly and fun, but requiring a bit of balance as well, you can weave through Paris on a Segway, or the Trikke, a three-wheeled vehicle cleverly combining the sensations of roller-skating, scootering and skiing. As for the iconic 2CV, it takes aficionados from all around the world on discovery tours of Paris with a driver-guide at the wheel ready to answer all your questions. Fans of retro and/or romantic transport can experience la dolce vita Paris-style on a Vespa, while a lavish white, black or pink stretch limousine will satisfy those looking for a spacious and plush means of transport. With little tourist trains, you can return to your childhood in the magical setting of Montmartre. Or take a tour with the company Another Paris with the theme of your choice: ‘Royal’ in the Marais, ‘Bohemian’ in the 14th arrondissement or ‘Artistic’ from Saint-Germain-des-Prés to the Louvre. And why not experience the magic of a drive in a horse-drawn carriage? Paris Calèches invites visitors to hop on for the most enchanting of rides in its Cinderella coach. Everything can be made available on board: macarons, champagne, roses, etc.

– Did you know? One section of the Petite Ceinture, a disused railway line, is a nature walk known as the ‘Sentier Nature’. Running from Porte d’Auteuil to La Muette (16th arrondissement), this 1.2-km stretch of greenery is also, surprisingly enough, a haven for wildlife in the very heart of Paris.

Bicycle taxis and side cars

  • Allo Tuk Tuk – www.allo-tuktuk.com
  • Cyclopolitain – www.visite-insolite-cyclopolitain.com/fr/
  • Happy moov – www.happymoov.com
  • Retro tour – www.retro-tour.com
  • Freescoot – www.freescoot.com
  • Tuktuk in Paris – www.tuktukinparis.com
  • Cooltra – Rent a scooter – www.cooltra.com
  • Ride’N’Smile – ridensmile.fr

Segways and trikkes

  • City Segway tours – www.citysegwaytours.com
  • Fat tire tours –www.fattiretours.com/paris
  • Paris bike tours – www.parisbiketour.net
  • Paris Trikkes – www.paristrikkes.com
  • L’œil d’une parisienne (electric kick scooters) – www.loeilduneparisienne.com

Horse and carriage

  • Les Calèches de Versailles – calechesdeversailles.com

2 CVs, Beetles and other vintage cars

  • La Traction Parisienne – www.latractionparisienne.fr
  • City Wheels Tours – www.citywheels-paristours.com
  • Paris Authentic – www.parisauthentic.com
  • 4 Roues Sous 1 Parapluie – www.4roues-sous-1parapluie.com
  • DS World Paris – www.dsworld.paris/
  • Drive Collection – www.drivecollection.fr
  • Paris Classic Tour – www.parisclassictour.com
  • Quad in the City (tours by night on a road-legal quad bike) – www.paris-trip.com

Limousines

  • Anciennes de prestige – www.anciennesdeprestige.fr
  • Gasnier Services Limousine – www.gasnier-limousine.com
  • Paris Major Limousines – www.1st-limousine-services.com
  • Drive Collection – www.drivecollection.fr
  • Chauffeurs de mâitre – www.chauffeursdemaitre.com
  • Limousine’s Agency – www.limousinesagency.com
  • Carigami – www.carigami.fr
  • My Daily Driver – www.mydailydriver.fr
  • Easy-van – www.easy-van.fr
  • Paris Connection – www.parisconnection.fr

Little trains

  • Another Paris – www.another-paris.com
  • Le Petit Train de Montmartre, Place Blanche (9th arrondissement) – http://www.promotrain.fr/

By Bicycle

To explore Paris at your own pace, as free as a bird, there’s nothing like a bicycle! You can hire a bike from a rental place, or pick one up through the city’s self-service bicycle hire scheme.

With the Vélib’ system, renting a bicycle has never been easier. Pick up a bicycle at one station and drop it off at another. This self-service system operates 24/7. It is available for kids too, with P’tit Vélib’: 4 models of bikes for children aged from 2 to 8. A bike ride can also be a chance to meet Parisians who share your passion for this clean means of transport. Join the cycle outing through the streets of the city which takes place every Friday evening and the third Sunday of the month (at 10.30am), starting from the Hôtel de Ville (Paris City Hall), or take part in the annual Vélibienne, a 15-km group bike ride. Laid-back riders can opt for an electrically-assisted bicycle. Numerous companies offer guided bicycle tours in several languages, while cyclists wanting to tour on their own can work out their route using the cycle maps produced by the Paris City Council.

– Did you know? There is a strange sort of giant sculpture along Allée du Cercle in the heart of Parc de la Villette (19th arrondissement). Sculpted by the artists Claes Oldenburg and Coosje Van Brugen and known as the Bicyclette Ensevelie, it consists of a partially buried wheel, handlebar, pedal and saddle.

  • Ptit’Vélib – blog.velib.paris.fr/ptit-velib/
  • Vélib’ – www.velib.paris.fr
  • Paris Rando Vélo – www.parisrandovelo.com
  • Holland Bikes – www.hollandbikes.com

Guided bicycle tours

  • Bike About Tours – www.bikeabouttours.com
  • Paris Fat Tire Bike Tours – www.fattiretours.com/paris
  • Paris à Vélo c’est Sympa – www.parisvelosympa.com
  • Blue Fox Travel – www.bluefox.travel/paris
  • Paris Bike Tour – www.parisbiketour.net

Draw up your own cycling route Downloadable map of recommended cycling routes – http://www.paris.fr/velo

Paris from on high

Whether it’s from the air or from the rooftop of a tower, Paris has plenty of opportunities to get a bird’s-eye view. Enjoy these sky-high vistas, with or without a floor beneath your feet.

Dizzy heights are guaranteed with these views over Paris. Only the bravest visitors to the first floor of the Eiffel Tower will dare step onto the glass floor 57 metres above the ground, before continuing their ascent to the highest point of the Tower. And there are other rooftops with panoramic views offering this kind of exhilarating experience, like the 56th floor of the Montparnasse Tower with its 360° view of the city’s most beautiful monuments. To get a panoramic view of the ‘voie royale’, or historical axis, running across the city from the equestrian statue of Louis XIV in the courtyard of the Louvre to the Grande Arche at La Défense, head to the top of the Arc de Triomphe.

Those with a real head for heights should get up in the air to enjoy the best views of Paris. By helicopter, tethered balloon, hot air balloon or even, for a unique experience, in an airship, discover all the different ways of flying over the City of Light.

– Did you know? No fewer than 20,000 light bulbs (5,000 on each of the four sides) had to be installed to make the Eiffel Tower sparkle for 5 minutes every hour on the hour, until 1am. 25 mountain climbers worked for 5 months to install 40 km of fairy lights and electrical cords and 10,000 m2 of safety nets.

Rooftops and top floors with panoramic views

  • Arc de Triomphe – www.arc-de-triomphe.monuments-nationaux.fr
  • Bar La Vue – http://parisetoile.regency.hyatt.com/fr/hotel/dining/bar-la-vue.html
  • Tour Eiffel – http://www.toureiffel.paris/
  • 56th floor of the Tour Montparnasse – www.tourmontparnasse56.com

Helicopter rides

  • Helipass – www.helipass.com/fr/

Hot-air balloon rides

  • Aerfun Montgolfière France – www.aerfun.com
  • Ballon Generali – www.ballondeparis.com Panoramagique – panoramagique.com

Buses with a difference

Choose from a prestige air-conditioned coach, a double-decker bus or a vintage minibus to discover Paris with multilingual guides on themed circuits. Opt for a tour alone, a private hire tour for a group, a morning, afternoon or even an evening excursion.

Simple and practical: the hop-on/hop-off ticket on double-decker buses enables users to get on and off at any of the stops at famous tourist attractions. Busity is a digital way to experience bus travel, enabling you to do your Paris sightseeing through the windows of the city’s buses. This location-aware app uses your geographic location to relate a host of light-hearted cultural anecdotes all along the route of your bus journey. The app is free to download, and you can also use it offline. Some buses are available for private hire for celebrating events like stag nights, weddings and birthdays. A ride in the specially outfitted Stan and Walter articulated bus makes for an unforgettable Paris party. It’s the perfect place to hold an unconventional business meeting and, with its stylish bar, converts easily into a club or lounge. There is also a free photo booth with a tablet so that guests can immortalize the moment.

– Did you know? The retractable roof of the Georges Vallerey swimming pool (20th arrondissement) is opened up in summer. It was the first pool with lanes (50 x 21 m) built especially for the Olympic Games, and it was here that Johnny Weissmuller won three gold medals in 1924. Eight years later, he played Tarzan in the movie Tarzan the Ape Man.

Hop-on hop-off bus tours

  • Big Bus Paris – www.bigbustours.com/fr/paris/visites-paris-bus
  • Paris l’open tour – www.paris.opentour.com
  • City Sightseeing Paris – www.city-sightseeing.com
  • Foxity Paris – www.foxity.com

Unusual buses

  • Locabus Ratp – http://services.ratp.fr/fr/ratp/r_108544/louez-un-bus-avec-locabus/
  • Bustronome (lunch and dinner aboard a bus with a panoramic view) – www.bustronome.com/fr
  • Stan and Walter – www.stanandwalter.com
  • Bus Burger – www.bus-burger.com

Digital bus

  • Busity – www.busity.co

Party buses

  • Bus discothèque – www.busdiscotheque.com (luxury bus)
  • Soirée Bus – www.soireebus.fr

Along the Seine

A stay in Paris simply would not be complete without a boat cruise along the Seine or the canals, offering many unforgettable views of the city.

On a cruise, the splendours of Paris unfold on either side of the city’s most beautiful avenue – the Seine. As you glide along the water at a leisurely pace, you pass by the most magnificent museums and monuments. Some companies offer special entertainment for children to make the voyage even more magical: a Croisière Enchantée (enchanted cruise) with a musical show, or a Petits Matelots (Little Sailors) cruise based on the character of Barthélemy the pirate. Also worth discovering: the cruises along the Canal Saint-Martin, with its picturesque locks. Contraste organizes several activities on the water, including group rides in inflatable boats and nautical rallies between the Port de Paris Arsenal and the Bassin de la Villette. Venice is not the only city to have legendary craft plying the water. The gleaming mahogany and flamboyant copper Rivas of Paris Boat Prestige brave the criss-crossing of lines of barges for a fantastic ride. The river, which runs through the middle of the city, can also be explored on foot, via its many bridges and via the new Berges de Seine. This promenade has become a popular place to stroll all year round. On Sundays, the quayside stretch is also immensely popular for walking, kick scootering and cycling. Information on these outings along the Seine, and also to woods, parks and gardens can be found at the Comité départementale de la randonnée pédestre de Paris, which offers 88 way-marked routes. Seasoned walkers can trek across Paris from north to south or east to west on way-marked paths.

– Did you know? For some water sports fun just a metro ride away, head to the Club Nautique in the 19th arrondissement, at 28 Avenue Simon Bolivar, where you can enjoy water skiing, wake skating, wake skiing and even air chair riding on the Seine in Paris.

Luxury and Riva cruises

  • La Marina de Paris – www.marina-de-paris.com
  • Croisieurope – http://www.croisieurope.com/croisieres/la-seine-en-croisiere-parisrouen-et-la-normandie
  • Yachts de Paris – www.yachtsdeparis.fr

Public transport

  • Batobus – Port de la Bourdonnais, Paris 7th – M° Alma-Marceau, RER Pont-de-l’Alma – www.batobus.com

On the Seine

  • Bateau Ivre Maxim’s – http://maxims-de-paris.com
  • Bateaux-Mouches – www.bateauxmouches.com
  • Bateaux Parisiens – www.bateauxparisiens.com (Enchanted cruise)
  • Capitaine Fracasse – www.croisiere-paris.com
  • Paris en scène – www.paris-en-scene.com
  • Les Vedettes de Paris – www.vedettesdeparis.com (Petits Matelots cruise for 4-11year-olds)
  • Les Vedettes du Pont-Neuf – www.vedettesdupontneuf.com

On the Canal

  • Saint-Martin Canauxrama – www.canauxrama.com
  • Paris Canal – www.pariscanal.com
  • Marin d’eau douce – www.marindeaudouce.fr (electric boats on the Bassin de la Villette)

On foot

  • Comité départemental de la randonnée pédestre de Paris – www.rando-paris.org

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