Personal Tour Guides for London & Paris

Mar 31st, 2010, 04:29 PM
  #1  
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Personal Tour Guides for London & Paris

My family of 4 is traveling to London & Paris this August & we'd like to hire a personal tour guide in each city. We have previously done this in Italy & enjoyed it very much so if any one can recommend somebody in either of these cities we would really appreciate it.
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Mar 31st, 2010, 05:59 PM
  #2  
dcd
 
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In Paris, Michael Osman. An American ex-pat. Here's an excerpt from my 2006 trip report describing Michael:

"At 1:30, we went downstairs and met our guide, sir Michael. Didn't know what to expect really. Just knew I'd booked 4 days with him and was hoping like heck all the raves here were true to form. And, of course, they were.

Fun guy. A little on the artsy, kooky side which is perfect for Paris. And he knows his stuff--history, art and just about everthing else. Extremely patient and kind. Probably in his mid 40s. DW and I are the inquisitive sorts so when we travel we like to get a feel for the culture, politics, people and customs of place we're visiting. In Paris that was going to be very difficult not knowing anyone and not knowing a lick of French. Enter Michael. Poor guy probably answered hundreds of questions but he never tired of doing it. Michael Osman can be reached via his website: www.geocities.com/parisfinder/ and at [email protected]"

Don't know if those are still good email addresses.
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Apr 2nd, 2010, 04:36 PM
  #3  
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I have tried looking up Michael Osman but can not tell if he is still guiding or not...I have read quite a bit though about this woman in Paris named Barbara James who they say is very good. Anyone know anything about her??
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Apr 2nd, 2010, 06:15 PM
  #4  
 
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Yes, Michael is still guiding. We've used him on multiple trips. We took our 30-something son and daughter and (at the time) pre-teen grandsons to Paris and he was so great with everyone! We went to Pare Lachaise cemetery (a favorite spot of mine) and no one knows it like Michael! As a surprise after leaving there he took us to Jim Morrison's apartment (where Morrison died) and my son--a big fan--got a kick out of it! Such a nice thing to do.

He's terrific! E-mail him again and put in your subject line that you are arriving in August.
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Apr 2nd, 2010, 07:02 PM
  #5  
wug
 
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I was the tour guide for a trip to London last year and we used a gentleman named John. For the life of me I can't remember his last name. I found his phone number though. 44 079 7684 0265
I'm going to send the coordinator of the trip an email and see if she has an email address for him. I'm pretty sure she does.
John was awesome! He's an older British man, high energy and a lot of fun. I highly recommend him. He also does areas outside of London. He did our day trip to Oxford and Stratford as well.
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Apr 2nd, 2010, 08:16 PM
  #6  
 
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Just today I spoke with Anne Mark in London. She was terrific to talk with.

http://www.marksman.co.uk/

Context Travel does a good number of very small group walks in London. Your family might be the entire group, because I think they limit them to six.
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Apr 4th, 2010, 04:53 AM
  #7  
 
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In June, 2001, my family took a cruise out of Southampton, England. Our group included two 40ish adults, two 70ish seniors, and a seven year old girl. We arranged pre-cruise and post-cruise transfers/tours with British Tours. I had requested a guide who's good with kids. The guide who was assigned to us was Andrew Stevens. Andrew has since gone on to found his own company, Luxury Vacations UK.

http://www.luxuryvacationsuk.com/abo...aspx?itemId=10

Andrew picked us up at London Heathrow and drove us down to Stonehenge. From there we went to Salisbury Cathedral, and on to Bath for an overnight stay. The next morning, Andrew took us on a walking tour of Bath. He then drove us to Southampton to meet our
cruise ship. On the way, we stopped at Old Wardour Castle for a picnic on the castle grounds, and a tour of the castle ruins.

At the conclusion of our cruise, Andrew was at the pier to collect us, and he drove us back to London, where he gave us a short, driving city tour before he dropped us at our hotel. The next day, we took a river tour from a point near our hotel
( The Savoy ) to the Tower of London. Andrew was there to meet us as we got off of the boat. Andrew then gave us a tour of the Tower of London.

Andrew is truly a history buff. He knows the facts and names and dates, but just as important to him is conveying to his audience a
sense of what life was like in ages past. He really paints the whole picture for you, and does it with passion and humor. We all
enjoyed our time with him. He was fantastic with our daughter!

We've been back to Europe a few times since, and have tried to arrange other tours with Andrew ( we really want to do his Harry Potter tour in Oxford ), but our travel dates haven't lined up with Andrew's busy schedule.

You mentioned reading good things about Paris guide Barbara Pasquet James. You've likely, then, seen my review of her wonderful "Chocoholic Tour" of Paris. If not, here's the link:

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...king-tours.cfm

I found another fairly recent, very positive review for Barbara on Tripadvisor. In case you haven't seen that one, here's the link:

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic...de_France.html

If you haven't already, please give Barbara's website
( Paristalks.com ) a good going over! It's full of great ideas for different types of themed tours and "table talks". Try googling her name and you'll find some of the articles she's written about Paris for different publications.

One other suggestion: If you like art museums, check out the website of Paris Muse ( parismuse.com ). We did their "Muse Clues"
Louvre family tour with Ellen McBreen, and we were very impressed. Our daughter had just turned thirteen at the time, and she loved the tour. Their guides are all art historians.

Bill Hjort
Maplewood, Minnesota
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Apr 4th, 2010, 05:12 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
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Don't forget the obvious (and more budget friendly)...

London Walks:
http://www.walks.com/

Paris Walks:
http://www.paris-walks.com/
G_Hopper is offline  
Apr 9th, 2010, 12:14 PM
  #9  
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Wow thank you to everybody for your helpful feedback - you've given us much to consider & we really appreciate it!
traveler1234 is offline  
May 7th, 2010, 01:29 PM
  #10  
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**Update** Thanks again everyone for your feedback. We have booked Michael Osman for 2 days in Paris but we are still searching for a guide in London. Does anyone know any independent tour guides as opposed to ones who are part of a company - those ones tend to be on the more expensive side...
traveler1234 is offline  
May 7th, 2010, 01:38 PM
  #11  
 
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If you have the time then head to http://www.blue-badge-guides.com/ and send a couple of likely sounding guides your requirements and then see which one you like the sound of most.

Blue Badge guides go through a lot of work to get their badge and therefore (rightly) charge more but times being what they are, you might find some flexibility in pricing.
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May 7th, 2010, 02:23 PM
  #12  
 
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...independent tour guides as opposed to ones who are part of a company - those ones tend to be on the more expensive side...

I would say that a London Walk is infinitely cheaper than a private guide.

Michael is..rather expensive?
Michel_Paris is offline  
May 7th, 2010, 11:59 PM
  #13  
 
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"Michael is..rather expensive?"

If you are referring to Michael Osman, I couldn't disagree with you more! My family and I toured with him less than a year ago and his rate was approx. E125 for the whole day for the whole group (five) of us. I consider that a great bargain!
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