Your tour meets near the Louvre in one of Paris' most charming and elegant small plazas, the Place Colette. Don't bother looking for it on other tours, it's a local favorite and most tour itineraries miss it.
From there, you’ll head over to the Jardins du Palais Royal, to learn how they went from a royal hangout to a hotbed of democratic fervor in the revolution, finally transforming into the city’s most popular gardens today. You’ll also see the Palais Royal and learn the history of this lovely building before stepping into the iconic courtyard of the Louvre. In front of I.M. Pei's famous (or infamous, depending on your opinion) glass pyramid, your guide will tell you the story of this ancient fortress-turned-palace-turned-art-gallery and recommend what to see when you go for a visit.
Then it's onto the banks of the Seine, where you'll walk onto Paris' most romantic bridge and learn why city authorities decided to make it slightly less romantic. You'll also pause here with a map and use the lovely views up and down the river to orient yourself with some of the most recognizable landmarks. It's the perfect spot to learn about Paris' famous escargot (snail) layout and figure out how to get to some of the other places that you'll visit later in your stay.
Crossing the Pont Neuf, you’ll learn why Paris' oldest bridge is called the 'New Bridge', and why Henry the IV, whose statue adorns one end, is looking so pleased with himself (hint, the ladies loved him). We’ll also give you a little treat: Tickets for the cruise ship that leaves from Pont Neuf. Although we won’t hop on right away you can return and use the tickets whenever you would like during your stay.
Strolling down the Seine on the Ile de la Cité, you'll step back to a time when this was the heart of the city, and indeed all of France. It is only fitting then, that you’ll stop in the lovely square of the Place Dauphine and learn how to play France’s most beloved game: Petanque. Don’t get too competitive, though, there are a few highlights still to come. As you continue down streets that seem to have changed very little in 500 years, you'll pass the Conciergerie - once the country's most feared jail - and then turn a few corners to find yourself in front of the great Notre Dame. It turns out that the city has actually changed quite a bit since the Cathedral was first built, but you'll need your guide to explain exactly how. The tour finishes with a little surprise on the point considered the exact geographic center of Paris. Your guide can explain to you the different legends and traditions surrounding it, but it's up to you whether you want to leave a coin, spin in a circle, or kiss a loved one.
Your 2.5-hour tour will fly by, but the knowledge of Paris' history and culture will inform your entire stay and set you up to enjoy the city to the fullest.
Sites Visited - All from the outside:
- Place Colette
- Palais Royal
- Louvre courtyards
- Passerelle du Pont des Arts
- Seine banks
- Pont Neuf bridge
- Ile de la Cité
- Place Dauphine
- Sainte Chapelle
- Notre Dame Cathedral
- Cruise on Seine River