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good tour guides in Paris

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Oct 17th, 2013, 10:41 AM
  #1
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good tour guides in Paris

I know that, like Venice, people often say that Paris is a great city to get "lost" in. But we're at the age/stage where we definitely need a guide, at least for the first couple of days. In fact, someone who could pick us up at the airport and spend perhaps 4 hours that first day with us would be very helpful.
My husband has hesitations about going to Paris anyway (many reasons), so if we're to make this trip (which I am eager for), we'll definitely need guidance. We tend to prefer small group tours than private ones, but private might be ok too.

Thank you very much for suggestions.

(Haven't figured out the hotel yet-- hopefully in the 6th-- but Fodorites have been wonderful about steering me to various places.)
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Oct 17th, 2013, 11:30 AM
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Check with VictorCabs, both about picking you up at the airport and doing a city tour ([email protected]). There is also Taxis G7.

If you want something more, then check out 'Ultimate Paris Guide (www.ultimateparisguide.com).
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Oct 17th, 2013, 11:35 AM
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Paying for a guide to pick you up at the airport, take you to your hotel, wait while you check in and then spend 4 hours is not a good idea. You'll be paying for their time to get to the airport and back into Paris (2 hours perhaps) without showing you the sights. Private guides are expensive. You're better off taking a taxi from the airport, resting and just walking around the first day and then getting a guide when you're fresh from the flight.

I've never heard of people getting lost in Paris the same way you can get lost in Venice. Completely different cities. I've never heard anyone say this and have never seen anything on this board about getting lost easily in Paris and I've been reading and responding to Paris threads here since 1998. Who are these people who "often" say this?

For private guides I can recommend either Paris Walks or Context. You can also contact Michael Osman whose rates are less than the other two companies.

For small group walks, Paris Walks is great. They offer 2 hour walking tours of small areas.

There's also a free Paris Greeter service with tours given by volunteers. There's a great free Notre Dame tour 3 times a week, again given by volunteers (duration 1.5 to 2 hours).

Many museums have group guided tours or audios(check the web sites).
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Oct 17th, 2013, 11:42 AM
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If you're relatively hale and ambulatory, check out Fat Tire Bike Tours.
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Oct 17th, 2013, 03:32 PM
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I think poss means "lost" like in losing yourself in the culture and architecture of the City.

I would get a guide ahead of time and let/her know what you want to see and or do.

The first time I went to Paris , I had a private guide.
He purchased tickets for the Eiffel Tower, The Louvre , Versailles, Moulin Rougue .

I did not have to wait in line as we just by passed everyone and walk in as if I was the President of France.

Unless you do your homework very well, you will need a guide for some explantion.

I just got back from Paris a few weeks ago.

I walked everywhere for 3 full days ( but I knew everywhere I was going), then for one day I had the same guide I had a couple years ago...and it was nice to have his input,

even if I thought I knew all about the place.

For me whenI get a guide it is not because I know nothing about the place but rather for the guide to get me from point A to point B quickly, I maximize my time and see more.

Yes, it cost extra, but I see more during my visit.

I know of a good guide in Paris if you want one,
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Oct 17th, 2013, 04:21 PM
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TwO words MICHAEL OSMAN!!!
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Oct 17th, 2013, 04:22 PM
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We also took tours with both Paris Walks and Paris Greeters and enjoyed the tours and found the guides to be enthusiastic and knowledgeable.
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Oct 17th, 2013, 04:50 PM
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<< I think poss means "lost" like in losing yourself in the culture and architecture of the City. >>

I don't think so. poss compares Paris to Venice, a city where it's easy to become physically lost and then wants a guide (not a car service) to pick them up at the Paris airport.

poss - how about this tour with Road Scholar, a well-respected tour company. It's part guided and part independent.

http://www.roadscholar.org/n/program...x?dID=1-642OBT
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Oct 17th, 2013, 08:47 PM
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Could be adrienne , I took it the other way !!
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Oct 17th, 2013, 09:23 PM
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I agree with adrienne. Most people who talk about what fun it is to get "lost" in Paris mean how much fun it is just to wander a bit aimlessly without a plan, turn down a side street, and discover something unexpected and fascinating. I've never been truly lost in Paris (I always have my Paris par Arrondissement with me, and I have an innate sense of direction to begin with). Venice is another story - I've been to Venice a number of times and have never failed to become physically disoriented and lost (something about those calles where I can't see the position of the sun and the lack of good detailed maps available). Paris is truly hard to get physically lost in.


I think having a guide come pick you up at the airport, take you to your hotel, wait for you to unpack, and then drive you around Paris is total overkill, and knowing quite a few experienced Paris guides myself for decades, not something I would think was part of their job description. It's not what they are trained to do, and it would be unnecessarily expensive when taking a taxi is a no-brainer.

I'm not even going to go into the bit about rude French people except to say it's an unfounded stereotype from decades and decades ago, and it's up to you to learn how to act in their country, whether you think that's an imposition or not.
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Oct 18th, 2013, 10:16 AM
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I don't think you should hire a guide to drive you to/from the airport, either, it isn't a good use of money. And you may not even find some who will do that, guides aren't necessarily professional chauffeurs, after all.
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Oct 18th, 2013, 01:18 PM
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Really appreciate the continued input.

Wanted to explain about airport pick-up. In several other countries, we've hired terrific guides who picked us up at the airport (early-mid morning) and then gave us a wonderful half-day tour. We did not go to hotel first. In fact, most hotels don't allow check-in until mid-afternoon-- which worked perfectly; it was a wonderful use of money. (Made much more sense than hiring a car service for transport, then having to hire yet another service for touring. Maybe things don't work this way in Paris, but they worked wonderfully in other cities.)

Percy is correct about the sense in which I used the word "lost." (That's why I put it in quotes.) My husband, in his mid-80's (healthy, but of course no longer the energy of yesteryear), is less and less comfortable with traveling unless things are pretty simple. Thus, the wish for a guide so that things will be easier for me as well.

Adrienne: Thanks ever so much for mentioning Road Scholar. I looked into their "Independent Paris" 7-night tour and it looks very tempting indeed. It's more days than we might be able to spend in Paris (we'll be coming off a 2-week cruise, which disembarks in Monte Carlo). We love the fact that there are lectures and so forth. And one of the dates fits exactly with what we need! Only real problem (other than can we spend that many days) is that I know that Road Scholar (unlike Tauck Tours, e.g.) does not book especially appealing hotels (and thus is way less costly than Tauck). I looked at the one they use in Paris-- Le Patio St. Antoine (a Best Western) and it doesn't have a whole lot of appeal. It doesn't seem to be in the area that I'd been looking for accommodations, and it looks as if one would have to take metro most places. (Husband not real thrilled about that; we'd hoped we could walk most places.) And the rooms seem ordinary, no particular French "feel." But it would certainly be a relief not to have to figure out the hotel situation (which to book) and it would be wonderful to have guidance. I am giving this serious thought!

I am also looking into the various other suggestions-- which I much thank you for again.
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Oct 18th, 2013, 02:00 PM
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I'm sure you can find a guide service to meet you at the airport. I just thought it wasn't the best use of your money. You may not be able to check into hotels but you can leave your luggage and freshen up.

I wasn't crazy about the Road Scholar hotel either but the program looked really nice.

It looks like a more central hotel and private guide or group tours is the way to go for you.
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Oct 18th, 2013, 02:14 PM
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Hi Adrienne,

I've just been speaking with the Road Scholar folks and they emphasize that the Independent Paris program has about 5 miles of walking a day, including lots of up and downs for the metro. Probably not a good idea for us. (3-4 miles a day is fine)

And I really do think we'd enjoy a more central hotel. Problem, of course, is that the ones that seem lovely to me are over our budget. (Don't want to go over 300 EU) And of course private guides are going to be very costly as well. Nice thing about Road Scholar is that it's relatively inexpensive (and very well run from what one hears).

Back to the drawing board (with a little help from my friends!)
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Oct 18th, 2013, 02:24 PM
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Take a taxi to your hotel, and just wander around for your first day. Go to a couple of sites--take the boat ride.
THEN hire Michael Osman for the next day(s). He is also great as a guide for the museums. Michael will be the best investment of money you'll make.
Try the HOtel Muguet in the 7th.
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Oct 18th, 2013, 03:22 PM
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As I've mentioned before, I know quite a few tour guides in Paris (not because I have ever taken a tour, but my best Parisian friend has been one for 30+ years and I've met a lot of her colleagues). Not a single one of them even has a car; if they have the occasional need to transport clients around the city by means other than on foot or public transportation, they have contacts with private drivers (whom they also use for trips outside the city). They wouldn't even use their own car if the had one, as the insurance/bonding costs would likely be prohibitive.

And in Paris you never want to "hire a car service" from the airport. Private shuttles are notoriously unreliable. If you must have an illusionary private service you can arrange with Taxis Bleus or G7 Taxis ahead of time for a special pickup in the "alternate" formal taxi queue.

Plus, seeing as you have revealed your age group, I must say can hardly imagine getting off an overnight flight, then driving around on a tour. You can always drop bags off at a hotel, whether you can check in or not. With jetlag, the best thing is to ramp up your Vitamin D intake by staying outdoors and getting as much sunlight as you can - so a walk around the neighborhood to familiarize yourself with it is almost always the best approach on Day 1.
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Oct 18th, 2013, 04:25 PM
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The OP is coming from Nice (I suspect) after their cruise.
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Oct 18th, 2013, 07:27 PM
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Oh, right. Missed that. I think it's Monte Carlo, actually. But still, after even a short flight or long train ride, not a great plan. And if it's a short flight or long train ride, why would the hotel room not be ready?
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Oct 18th, 2013, 07:55 PM
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I recommend Michael Osman.
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