personal tour guides -- Paris

Jan 7th, 2006, 08:50 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,902
Thank you, Tod! It's been far too long since Paris & I met - since April 2003, as a matter of fact & I can't wait to get there. I've been dreaming about walking Paris streets every night now for the past week.

Since you love Paris, too, then you know aobut that feeling you have just when you're in that city - that vibrant feeling, the sense of adventure. I have that exact feeling in my dreams. I'm going nuts until I get there.

Tod, I'm so glad you found your copy. It's such a beautiful book and while it has the same interesting, informative tone as the first three, undoubtedly Romantic Paris is her valentine to her home city.

Yes, it is a lot to read since she's so thorough but I read it piece by piece when I get a chance and have been highlighting my books like crazy.

Tod, do you think you'll be able to get back to Paris anytime soon?

Beatchick is offline  
Jan 7th, 2006, 10:23 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 19,000
beatchick's statement that "...the Philippe-Auguste wall is a very important piece of [French] history" piqued my curiousity. Since I minored in French history and my wife is a lineal descendant of Charlemagne, I have more than a passing interest in the subject.

I checked with Google to see how important the Philippe-Auguste wall is in the grand scheme of things, as measured by the amount of material cataloged on the Internet.

I got 155 hits. The Petit Trianon, by contrast, drew 120,000, and the Palais-Royal Paris, 1,190,000.

But if it's important to you, that's all that matters.
Robespierre is offline  
Jan 7th, 2006, 11:03 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,902
Well, how popular an item is & how important it is are two entirely different things, don't you think?

For instance, there are many films that are considered to be important but aren't necessarily popular. Boudu Sauve des Eux, for instance, is considered to be a very important movie & its director is considered to be the 12th greatest director of all time, according to AFI (American Film Institute). But how popular would you say either the film or the director is here in the US?

The number of hits on a subject would indicate its popularity.

In any case, Robespierre & I have had an exchange via e-mail. These are some of the comments that I e-mailed him. I hope this puts this argument to rest:

"I wasn't trying to be negative or discouraging. I actually LIKE you & your discourses on most topics. However, I just felt in that case you were being across-the-board insulting and took umbrage with that. That was the only thing. You had made a comment "how many have a burning desire to know the precise location of every last remnant of it? Gimme a break" that I felt was very smug & directed personally at me. Prior to that exchange I don't think you & I have ever had a disagreement on the board. I am always up for an open debate - I love exchange of ideas & don't mind when someone disagrees with me. However, I don't like it when I feel someone is making broad assumptions nor when they are being insulting. I had not insulted you at all (I don't think, and if I did please point it out to me) prior to your comment so I couldn't understand why you were attacking (as I felt).

I think, too, that when you name so many numbers out of so many people that your statement is difficult to quantify. After all, are you the one doing the polling on these questions? I find these statements equally glib as well with no backup for the argument. Do you see what I mean?

I find you to be INCREDIBLY intelligent, informative & humorous. I've always enjoyed your exchanges on the board & had never taken umbrage to anything you'd said prior to this. I find that our styles of traveling are very similar as I, too, am a budget-oriented traveler & seek out the history, architecture & art of a culture (instead of merely going for the food, doing a lot of shopping, holing up in expensive hotel rooms. I do hope you understand that I respect you and hope that we can proceed in a mutually respectful manner on the board... Very rarely do I dislike an individual. I generally focus on the specific action. Hopefully, you can forgive me in my moment of rashness, which it was.

Anyway, the fact that the Philippe-Auguste wall is obscure is the VERY REASON why I would choose a tour guide, who happens to be conversant on that topic, to guide me around on such a subject. Because it's not written up very well on the web or in books, I choose to find someone who can personally give me info on every aspect of this wall that I find to be so fascinating. It's very obscurity is what causes me to seek it out, to learn more. Michael Osman is a specialty tour guide who provides tours in his specialty of art & history and as such I feel I can learn a great deal from him. Maybe you've never noticed my posts but I do focus a great deal on art & history when I travel to Paris. I love off the beaten path things. I want more from the city than what is apparent. Before I'd heard of him I had little use for a tour guide, thinking, as you do, that the use of one was unnecessary for me since I do all the research myself.

So as you can see, we do agree on a few things."
Beatchick is offline  
Jan 7th, 2006, 07:53 PM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 2,121
There are different types of guides and tours, and so one cannot simply say that a guide or tour is or isn't a good idea.

In fact, there's quite a spectrum of services available in popular tourist cities like Paris. You can find anything from a tour that will hold your hand and spoonfeed you at the restaurant to a tour that does scarcely more than toss a few maps in your hand along with a bill. It all depends on how much you want to be helped, and in what way.

First-timers to the city may hire a guide or take a tour just because they are a bit spooked about going it alone. If they've never been abroad before this is all the more true. Some people want guides who lecture on history all day. Other people want guides who tell them all sorts of interesting but random anecdotes about the city. Still others want guides who simply cover logistics such as helping to get from place to place or providing interpreting services. Fortunately, there's something for everyone in a city like Paris.

Some people prefer to do everything themselves, and that's fine; I did the same on my first few trips to Paris. But if you don't have a lot of time and you want to see a lot, or if you don't know what to see, or if you're the shy type who prefers not to be completely independent, a guide or an organized tour can help a lot. It's not the same as a guide book or map. It may or may not be necessary. It just depends.
AnthonyGA is offline  
Jan 7th, 2006, 07:57 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 46,706
Yeah - long story short, it's not a big deal. I've BEEN a tour guide in Paris, yet I've loved HAVING a tour guide in Paris. Get it?
StCirq is offline  
Jan 7th, 2006, 08:19 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 41,787
So right, Anthony, everyone should do what they feel like.
Osman is popular here because he is an artist and will take you to where your tastes are and families say he is very good with children.
There are other guides who are better at shopping or for gourmet places.
But I think his success is word of mouth becaus he is a kind gentle soul, not a commercial shill.
cigalechanta is offline  
Jan 8th, 2006, 11:43 AM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 2,121
Most independent guides are less commercial than large companies; but they are often rather less organized and efficient, too. Since it is extremely difficult to earn a living exclusively by freelance tour guide activity, especially if one does it legally (i.e., by declaring one's income), many do it only part-time.

Independent guides are also hugely variable in orientation and quality and personality. The fact that you do or don't get along with one doesn't mean that you will or won't get along with another.

Most guides apparently charge by the hour, especially if they are declared. Some will quote day rates. Some have set itineraries and speeches they make on specific topics (in which they are often specialists); others provide logistic assistance, leaving the choice of which sights to see up to the client, if the client has a preference.

There are many options. But, as you say, freelance guides are known mainly by word of mouth, so finding who matches what you want (or finding one at all) can be problematic.
AnthonyGA is offline  
Jan 8th, 2006, 12:57 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,903
Actually Michael is good with "children" of all ages--like adult 30 year olds, one of whom lived in Paris for a while and is anti anything like a tour. He LOVED Michael. He, Michael, gave us wonderful anecdotal history items that I used in my "travelogue" for my book club. Our "kids" wanted him to come hang out with them on another day.
And he knew that our daughter was interested in vintage clothes and provided her with a list of off the beaten track shops, as well as the VERY chi chi resale shops we window shopped in the Palais Royale (I think). Yanno, it doesn't really have to be an "either/or". Everyone can do what they want--it's their trip. I wanted a tour guide because I didn't want to be "in charge" for this "overview". I also haven't seen everything by any stretch. The kids were offered the chance--if they wanted to go. Once they met Michael, they WANTED to go.
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