Paris is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Romantics like myself dream of spending a few moments in Paris with the one we love, strolling hand in hand along the Seine, admiring the beautiful architecture and then enjoying a meal at a quaint French bistro.
As I write this, the world is shut down and borders are still closed to travelers but I’m lucky to have memories, wonderful memories of Paris to share with you. Paris is at the top of bucket lists of millions of people wishing to spend time in the fabulous city at least once in their lifetime. There is the elegant Parisian architecture, the romantic gardens, famous museums, world class shopping and all the delicious French food we yearn to experience. There is so much to see and do that many of us want to return again and again.
Being one of the world’s most amazing cities to spend time in, Paris is best explored on foot. However, the French capital is enormous and trying to see all that Paris has to offer is not easy. There never seems to be enough time to cover everything on your wish list, especially if you only have a few days to try and take it all in.
Before you venture out to explore Paris by foot, ask the concierge at your hotel if he can furnish you with a map that is arranged by arrondissements so that you can orient yourself wherever you happen to be in the city. Ask him to point out where the nearest underground metro stations and bus stops are in relation to the major attractions you plan to visit. However you decide to get around Paris, I would suggest taking a hop on, hop off bus tour shortly after you have checked into your hotel for a great introduction to the city.
When my husband and I visit a new, large city such as Paris, Berlin, Barcelona or Vienna for the first time, we feel there is probably no better way to learn the layout of the city as well as its centuries of history and most famous sights than from the open top of a hop on, hop off double decker bus.
You’re given headphones with an audio guide describing what you are passing by. The bus drives around the city on a set route and makes multiple stops along the way at many of Paris’ major monuments. You can get off a bus as often as you wish, perhaps to visit a museum, then get on another bus to continue your tour. You can also stay on the bus for the entire tour, taking in all the highlights, before returning to your starting point or anywhere in between.
On a past visit to Paris, we took a bus tour on a beautiful sunny that lasted about two and a half hours where we enjoyed seeing the Eiffel Tower, Champs du Mars, Opera Garnier, the Louvre, Notre Dame, Musee D’Orsay, Champs Elysees, Grand Palais and the Trocadero. We got some great photos, hopping off a few times to get a closer look and then getting back on. If you wish, you can also combine your tour with a boat cruise on the Seine. The boats have glass roofs and open areas so you have great visibility and their stops are not far from some of the major highlights such as the Eiffel Tower, Saint-Germain-des-Prés and the Champs-Élysées.
We thought the hop on, hop off bus system in Paris provided a good overview of this large city. We felt it was a comfortable way to see a lot of the top Paris sights in a short period of time, especially for people who might have issues with walking long distances or just too tired from jet lag to do a lot of walking. We enjoyed the experience, both seeing and learning about the history of this remarkable city at every turn. Once we finished the tour, we had a sense of where the landmarks, galleries, shopping and dining areas were in relation our hotel. For the next few days, we felt comfortable exploring Paris on your own in much more detail. While the rest of our stay was overcast and drizzly, we enjoyed our visit to Paris and dream of returning some day.
Walking all day in a large city like Paris can not only be exhausting but sometimes even a little intimidating. While you may not be a fan of an all day excursion on a bus filled with tourists, taking a couple hour tour on a hop on, hop off, open top bus designed for taking in fantastic views is a fun way to get an overview of Paris before you venture out to explore on your own. While perched high above the streets and over the heads of tourist filled sidewalks, you have the opportunity to take photos of some of the iconic monuments of Paris. I hope my photos from an open top bus convey how a few moments in Paris can create memories that will last you a lifetime.