The flâneur, a literary character who strolls the streets and alleys of a city observing his or her surroundings, watching the scenes of urban life unfold around them, was born in Paris. It’s a city that invites you to explore, to ride your bike leisurely, or to roll down the sunroof of your car and poke your head out. Known for its ornate, covered shopping arcades and network of pedestrian bridges crisscrossing the Seine, there is no shortage of routes to take to discover the City of Light. The best tour companies in the city offer innovative ways of getting around, and have teams of knowledgeable experts to show you around. There may be no substitute for the discoveries made while getting lost in a city’s backstreets and untouched neighborhoods, but there’s much to be learned from the men and women who make their livelihood showing people their city. And of course, walking is always an easy way to explore Paris. Why not take advantage of the city’s unique, unexpected ways to sightsee?
Itineraries are not available on Purple Truffle’s homepage, because A-List travel agent Bonnie Brayham curates bespoke tours specifically to the needs and interests of each travelers she works with. Like the name, Purple Truffle specializes in culinary excursions: and what better way to explore the city of pastries, cheeses, and fine wines than with an acclaimed chef, artisanal producer, or even a local food blogger leading the way?
Fat Tire Bike Tours
For more than a decade, this group has been providing guided, English-speaking bike tours of Paris, as well as other major European cities. Take to the streets during the day or the evening, or tag along on an all-day excursion outside the city, to Monet’s Gardens or Versailles on the signature red bikes.
4 Roues sous une Parapluie
English-speaking drivers chauffeur you and three companions around Paris in a vintage Citroen 2CV convertible. There are many themed tours, ranging from Essential Paris (the key, not-to-miss landmarks) to immersive wine tours at the Bernard Magrez Wine Cellar. You can order on-board extras including champagne, and can even choose your favorite color from the cars available.
See the city from the Seine on this eight-stop river circuit. Voyagers pass the Jardin des Plantes, the city’s sweeping botanical gardens, as well as the Hôtel de Ville, the Louvre, the Champs-Elysées, and the Tour Eiffel. Hop on and hop off to visit a site in detail: it’s only €16 for a full-day pass, and boats run every 20 to 30 minutes, allowing you to easily hit Paris’s major attractions.
Left Bank Scooters
Zip across Paris’ quintessential stoned streets and around the city’s highlights (the Arc de Triomphe; Notre Dame) on vintage-style Vespa scooters. Tours are offered in English, French, or Spanish, and the knowledgeable guides will pick you up at your hotel, a metro station, or even a private residence. For those wary of navigating the city’s notorious traffic, book a private sidecar tour and relax on the flanks of an escorted motorbike.