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Paris walking tour recommendation for teen/tweens--complete novices! :-)

Paris walking tour recommendation for teen/tweens--complete novices! :-)

Old Mar 11th, 2013, 08:26 AM
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Paris walking tour recommendation for teen/tweens--complete novices! :-)

Hi,

We will be in Paris for the first time in July and I hope to find a good walking tour(s) geared to young teens. I've found adult tours and kid tours on line...an overwhelming number actually...but my kids do not fully fit in either the adult or young child category. They are good travelers and love good tours but aren't quite at the full adult level for many things.

I would be ok doing a private tour(s) and breaking things up as needed and we would do as much as we can afford to do. We have 4 full days and we like to do about 2 couple hour things a day and possibly an evening thing. I would like them to see the major sights and actually go into major sights...... but also just see unique aspects of the city like markets and shops etc. and get recommendations for restaurants.

Honestly, I am nervous about getting us around the city, we live in a rural area and I have never really had the opportunity to use public transportation. Are there people who meet you at the hotel and take you around showing you how to navigate the city/public transportation as well as teaching the history or the sights? is this going to be prohibitively expensive?

I would love recommendations for tours/companies/individuals for...

The main sights.... Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, the Opera House, Notre-Dame...any others? Any Gardens?...should we book our Eiffel Tower and Notre-Dame tours separately or can we go inside and learn about them as part of a longer walking tour.

A market

The Louvre with a tour at teen level

Would you recommend catacombs?

Montmarte...would the kids like this?

Versailles

Anything I am missing? Anything I should skip? We plan to have 4 full days. For reference, we will be coming from Amsterdam where we will have been in the Hague area and seen the Van Gogh Museum and Anne Frank Museum. We hope to head down to the Avignon/Arles/Nimes area ....for castles, walled city, roman ruins after Paris then Dorgone...for caves or East Coast for beaches/dunes. I will post questions about that separately!

Thank you so much for any help you can give!

Best,
"Complete novice in France" Belinda
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Old Mar 11th, 2013, 08:40 AM
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I think what you are looking for will be very expensive just for your family. Not sure how old your kids are - but when our daughters were 11 and 14 and then 14 and 17 - they loved Paris - spent some afternoons on their own doing teen stuff while we did galleries.

Not sure how young your kids are they they can;t just tour with you with a guide book
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Old Mar 11th, 2013, 08:41 AM
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Sorry -

Ours especially loved

the ballet
Musee d Cluny (middle ages)
Getting to practice their french in restauarnts and shops (be sure you all learn at least the basic polite phrases)
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Old Mar 11th, 2013, 08:51 AM
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That's a tall order, yes, it will be expensive for you to hire a private guide to teach you everything about a city, such as how to use a bus or metro system. in addition to history. But why don't you state what your idea of expensive is, maybe it won't be by your standards, I just know a lot of people expect a lot for very little. There is one private guide people recommend on Fodors who will do such a thing (I've heard he can do an introductory tour thing) and isn't that expensive, but he can be hard to book. YOu could try, however. And then he could gear things to your kids, also.

HIs name is Michael Osman, you can find him at http://twitter.com/parisfind
or linkedin or googling

But if you've been to other cities enough to know what tours your teens like, why would you have never taken public transportation before?

As for your attractions, there are many nice parks (gardens) in Paris, you'll be around the Tuileries for sure, Luxembourg gardens are nice. I think your kids probably would like Montmartre. No, I would not recommend the catacombs and wonder why you have chosen that out of all the possible things to do, you don't say why you would want to go there so much, so if you don't have a real reason, I'd skip it, you don't have much time, anyway.

You might look into Paris Walks tours as they are geared to many levels of people and at least are cheap. http://www.paris-walks.com/
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Old Mar 11th, 2013, 08:53 AM
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If your kids are teens/tweens they are plenty old enough to start reading about Paris and figuring out what they'd like to do and how to do it.

You need a comprehensive map of Paris, plus guidebooks (plus the internet, videos, etc. - all readily available in this information age). You don't HAVE to be clueless - that's a choice. There is a wealth of information out there.

There probably are people who for a fee would meet you and show you how to use the Paris transportation system, but is this really something you can't master on your own? The entire system is laid out very clearly on www.ratp.fr and at every métro and bus stop. And on maps.

Paris Walks gets pretty good reviews here and elsewhere for various tours of the city. Major museums have audioguides. You can hire a private tour guide if you want. There are lots of options. Markets - you just locate them, know their hours, and go and enjoy them. Montmartre? Read about it and decide if its offerings appeal to you. Tours of the Louvre at the teen level? Not sure what the "teen level" is, but the museum's website shows all kinds of activities. Catacombs? Read about it, look at photos, and decide if it's something you'd like. We don't know you or your kids, so can't pass judgment. Same thing with Versailles (though with only 4 days in Paris, I wouldn't leave).

There are also Fat Tire bike tours, Seine boat cruises, and plenty of other things to do for families.
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Old Mar 11th, 2013, 09:07 AM
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I think it would help to know something about your kids - ages, genders, interests. Our loved tons of things in Paris - including wandering on their own - but they were city kids and not super naive.

Agree that if they are teens they are certainly old enough to do research on what they want to see/do, Have them look at a Let's Go Student Guide or the Thorn tree section of the lonely planet website. Ask them what they've learned about France in school that they would be intersted in. Get them involved so everyone enjoys the trip.
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Old Mar 11th, 2013, 09:27 AM
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Private guides are normally quite expensive (IMO). Why can't you read something about the Paris metro/bus system and look at a map. It's really easy to do. I taught my then 14 year old niece how to use the metro in about 2 minutes.

Paris Walks is a very good company. Most of their walks are 2 hours and there is no reason why teens cannot take these walks with their parents. The walks are informative and the guides make the history fun.

Paris Walks also does private tours of 2 hours for E180. It would be a waste of their knowledgeable guides' time and your money for them to hold your hands and explain a map. You can always ask for help with map reading from the hotel desk clerk if you can't figure it out on your own.

You're taking your children to the Anne Frank house so they must have some level of maturity.

http://www.paris-walks.com/summer-walks.html

You will not need a tour for the Eiffel Tower or Arc de Triomphe. The Opera House has its own tours as do many of the major museums. Notre-Dame has free tours 3 times a week A tour of gardens? That would be horticultural and would your children be interested in this?

I do have a question and this is not sarcastic. If you can't read a metro/bus map for public transportation how will you be able to read a city map to walk any place? How will you get around? How are you getting around Amsterdam? Do you have a private guide?
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Old Mar 11th, 2013, 09:38 AM
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Don't be intimidated by public transportation, or the city in general. If you are savvy enough to figure out to use this website, you are savvy enough to get around the city on your own. Just get a guidebook and continue to do what you are doing... use the web to get answers to your questions. Reading trip reports from others on this site may give you some good ideas. (As others have suggested, you could have the kids do some of the legwork... You could even put them in charge of figuring out the subway!) If it would make you feel comfortable, perhaps do a guided walking tour for your first activity in Paris, just to get your feet wet. Then I think you will be confident striking out on your own. The bike tour and Seine cruise are also great suggestions, and much different from a traditional walking tour. Have fun and Bon voyage!
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Old Mar 11th, 2013, 09:46 AM
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One thing you must understand - by taking an independent trip - rather than a guided tour - you have signed up to do a significant amount of work in advance - reading guidebooks, getting (now) and understanding city and subway maps, internet research, etc.

If you are just hesitant - agree to do a group walking tour as a first step.

If you are totally overfaced by the whole idea (have you never visited a city before?) then maybe you would be more comfortable with either a tour or a package - that organizes flights, hotels, transfers and half day tours for you.
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Old Mar 11th, 2013, 10:24 AM
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Paris Walks is a good idea - many to choose from, about 2 hours long, usually animated guides that mix history with some funny stories.

Also check out Fat Tire Bike tours, they also do segways, very youth oriented. I'll never forget surging across the Place de Concorde yelling "YEE HAW". They also do Versailles and Giverny daytrips - would be great for all of you.

I have not tried but have heard good things about Paris Greeters - google them. Free. In New York City one of the first things they do is help the visitors get oriented to the public transportation.

I'd also suggest getting a Rick Steves guidebook for the city - he will have alot of good suggestions.
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Old Mar 11th, 2013, 10:42 AM
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I've taken guided walks with both Paris Walks and Context Travel and can recommend both. Paris Walks is much cheaper but the groups can get quite large. With Paris Walks you don't have to commit in advance (with the exception of a few tours) so we showed up and checked out the group size before deciding to join. On that day for the tour we picked it was fairly small, around 15 people. Context Travel only takes a maximum of 6 so you're guaranteed a small group size but the price is much higher and you need to prebook.

I was also going to mention Paris Greeters but have no personal experience.

Many cooking schools also offer market tours with a class after (don't know if they're interested in this aspect or just the market). Again, they're not inexpensive but I can recommend La Cuisine Paris which I've used. If you're interested more in food tastings (no cooking), try Paris By Mouth.

The hotel staff can help with navigation.
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Old Mar 11th, 2013, 11:51 AM
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Thank you to everyone for the responses...most were quite helpful....snarkiness of StCirq aside!

For StCirq... I do not PLAN to be clueless. I do have notes, guide books, and have spent a great deal of time on line. I just keep finding the same big general things to do...nothing particularly unique.

In the past I have found that a good private guide or driver is the fastest way to connect with someone local and learn about the things that guide books don't cover...how else would you learn the local vet rehabilitates animals.... helping feed the turtles, mapaches, monkey's etc at the clinic was much better than the zoo in the guide book; fishing and shrimping with our drivers grandfather who knew the location of the freshwater centotes in the ocean where the manatees congregate was much better than the guide book standard fishing tour...we even got to help his mom cook them...as were the visit to the ice cream makers house in a small village, the tour of the small cave cenote by another drivers family on their property, road bowling with the locals on the Sheepshead Peninsula in Ireland, the behind the scenes tour of the catholic church in Oaxaca...the kids even helped ring the bells...the list goes on. The best things aren't usually in guide books! We always learn more with the help of a knowledgeable local. Perhaps, Paris is not such a place and there is nothing I can't teach myself from a guide book, but I hope not.

Thank you again for the helpful responses.
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Old Mar 11th, 2013, 01:16 PM
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You should try this organization where locals volunteer to guide tourists.

http://www.parisgreeters.fr/?lang=en
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Old Mar 11th, 2013, 01:18 PM
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You might like the Eiffel Tower backstage tour.

http://www.pariscityvision.com/en/gu...e-eiffel-tower
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Old Mar 11th, 2013, 01:41 PM
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We've taken our teens to Paris several times. We're not the guided tour type, mostly because I'm a history geek who's usually referring to several guide / history books at a time. And because we don't like to have our time that scheduled in advance.

But with or without guidebooks or private guides, you and your kids can get a lot out of the city.

My son's a film buff, so I used various film location guides to plot various filming locations (I've done that for other cities) of movies he likes.

We've made a study of various pastries, mostly macarons, stopping in patisseries to get a couple to sample. Some are the famous places, some aren't.

Our kids like art and history too. These are places they've enjoyed:
- Notre Dame, going up the towers (DS and I read The Hunchback of Notre Dame beforehand)
-
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Old Mar 11th, 2013, 01:41 PM
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Sorry, must have accidently hit send
-
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Old Mar 11th, 2013, 01:48 PM
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And I did it again
- The best, IMHO: having their first view of the Eiffel Tower be on a boat trip on the Seine in the evening.
- When they were younger, the Sunday bird and animal market, I think on Ile St. Louis
- Louvre, Musee d'Orsay, Orangerie, Pompideau (ok, only DS was really into that)
- Wandering around, especially in the Latin Quarter and St. Germain
- Pantheon, because Victor Hugo is buried there
- Markets and picnic lunch by the Eiffel Tower
- Yes, they both like Montemartre (but again, for us, they were interested partly due to the artists' connection)

We rarely take buses, because to be honest I find buses in foreign countries more confusing and I rarely feel the need - we walk a lot! We do take the Metro in Paris, and it is pretty easy to figure out. The people at the toll booths are helpful and mostly speak some English. They were even helpful when our son was having an airhead moment and found himself trapped behind the ticket turnstile without money or a ticket!
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Old Mar 11th, 2013, 02:28 PM
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You may want to check out the internet for videos explaining the metro. I like this one, but others can review and comment as to whether the details are still current. Don't teens love internet videos. Make you kids look for the best one.

http://www.geobeats.com/video/4337b1/how-to-ride-metro.

And, for a family of four, do not dismiss if you are traveling together a taxi may be not much more than the metro. If you feel like you can't make a comfortable attempt to pronounce your destination in French then write it down to hand to the driver. I always carry a small pad of paper and a pen in foreign countries for this purpose. This can make a lot of sense at the end of the day when some might be tired, hungry, bored etc.
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Old Mar 11th, 2013, 03:10 PM
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It sounds like most of your vacations have not been big city destinations. And big city destinations in europe are going to be expensive.

Certainly you can find private guides to do things like the ones you mention - but they won;t be cheap.

The Context tours mentioned are about $100 per person - or $450 for a private group - for a 2 or 3 hour themed walk. As mentioned the large public group walks cost less - but you may have a group of 30 or more people.

We have taken and loved some very small-scale walk on specific topics - architecture of Old Town Prague - by university professors and have felt they were worth the money. Must admit I haven;t done it in Paris - where we are so much more familiar with the city and it's history.
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Old Mar 11th, 2013, 05:18 PM
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Personally, I would skip a paid tour guide. There are about a dozen main attractions that are easy enough to research in advance. Paris is about wandering around exploring and taking in the culture. It's been months since our visit with teens in tow and the things that left a lasting impression are the pastry shops, conversing with a few polite French phrases, cafes, and the overall beauty of the city architecture. The metro is fairly easy to navigate after you've done it once or twice. So don't worry.

That said. It is a city and more than a few bad apples roam about preying on tourists especially in July. Read about the subway ticket scams, the gold ring scam, and the gypsy girls to prepare yourselves. We easily encountered them all.

Also. When I was researching like yourself 12 months ago, I encountered some of the same cast of characters who post on this board regularly even now. A few of them really seem to enjoy belittling newcomers with their condescending tone, but at the same time offering good advice. Not sure why.
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