Best of Paris in 7 Days Tour 2012

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Notre-Dame Cathedral

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Montmartre

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Cruising on the Seine

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Marais District

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Louvre Museum

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Gardens at Château de Versailles

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Eiffel Tower

You'll get all this!

Your week in Paris will include a monumental mix of the city's greatest sights: the Louvre, Orangerie and Cluny Museums, Notre-Dame Cathedral, Sainte-Chapelle, and Versailles Palace. You'll also enjoy guided neighborhood walks through the city's historic heart, and quieter moments to slow down and savor the intimate cafés, colorful markets, and the joie de vivre that brings life to the City of Light.

  • An extra-small group, limited to 20-24 people — less than half the size of most tour groups
  • Full-time services of a professional Rick Steves guide and local experts who will make the fascinating history, art and culture of Paris come alive for you
  • All tours and admissions — at no extra cost — covering at least 15 group sightseeing events • Paris bus orientation tour • 6-day Paris Museum Pass, allowing free admission throughout the city • Seine River cruise • Louvre Museum tour • Orangerie Museum tour • Orsay Museum orientation • Cluny Museum • Montmartre walking tour • Historic Paris walking tour • Notre-Dame Cathedral • Sainte-Chapelle • Marais walking tour • Carnavalet Museum • Wine tasting • Versailles tour...and more
  • All group transportation including a Métro subway pass or tickets for the entire week, and round-trip train transportation to the Château de Versailles
  • 6 nights accommodations in a memorable, centrally-located hotel
  • All breakfasts and half your dinners
  • All tips for guides and driver
  • Free stuff including Rick Steves' Paris guidebook, French phrase book, map, moneybelt and earplugs
  • Guaranteed tour price, locked in the moment you make your deposit
  • Optional single supplements — this tour has a limited number of private rooms for solo travelers for an additional fee
  • Tour alum discount of $50 for each tour you've taken prior to 2012
  • 50% discount on a consulting appointment with our in-house experts to assist with your pre- or post-tour travel plans
  • Flexibility should you need to transfer, or cancel/interrupt your tour
  • Fine print: You are responsible for the cost of your drinks and free-time sightseeing. See our Tour Conditions Agreement for important details regarding everything listed above

Daily itinerary

Daily Activity Key

  • Light = 2-4 miles of mostly level walking throughout the day.
  • Moderate = 2-6 miles walking throughout the day with some hills and stairs.
  • Strenuous = 2-8 miles walking throughout the day with lots of hills, stairs and uneven terrain.
Day 1: Welcome to Paris

We'll gather at our hotel in Paris at 3 p.m. for a short meeting and orientation stroll around our neighborhood, followed by a panoramic tour of the City of Light aboard a private bus. Then we'll get acquainted with one another over dinner together. Bus: 2 hr. Walking: light.

Day 2: The Historic Heart of Paris

Let's begin where Paris did, on the Ile de la Cité. Your guide will lead a walking tour of the city's early history, including visits to a pair of the world's most significant medieval Gothic churches: the legendary Notre-Dame Cathedral and the exquisite Sainte-Chapelle. Then we'll take a stroll through the bohemian Latin Quarter, with free time for lunch on your own. We'll end our afternoon with a visit to the Cluny National Museum of the Middle Ages, home to the sublime Lady and the Unicorn tapestry and a rare, up-close look at the artistry of original stained glass windows from Sainte-Chapelle. Walking: moderate.

Day 3: Montmartre

This morning we'll hop on the Métro, then hike up Montmartre to tour the colorful neighborhood which was the haunt of artistic geniuses a century ago — including Van Gogh, Picasso, and Renoir — and generations of hopeful artists since. We'll end our walk with spectacular views of Paris from the Sacré Coeur church. You'll be free for lunch and have time to explore more of the city on your own this afternoon. We'll regroup this evening to enjoy a wine tasting and dinner together before embarking on a dreamy Seine River cruise. Walking: strenuous.

Day 4: The Marais District and Louvre

We'll begin our day with a walking tour through Paris' diverse, history-layered Marais district. As we walk we'll learn about the enlightened urban planning at the beautiful Place des Voges, the cultural roots of the Jewish Quarter and how the French Revolution grew from this neighborhood. Our walk will end at the Carnavalet Museum, an easy-to-absorb cavalcade of Parisian history, which you can visit on your own. This evening Europe's greatest museum — The Louvre — is open late and we'll take advantage. Our pre-dinner hours will be spent touring its great masterpieces. You'll come face-to-face with the works of Rafael, Delacroix and Leonardo, and timeless treasures that include Mona Lisa, Winged Victory, Venus de Milo and hundreds more. Walking: strenuous.

Day 5: All Day at Château de Versailles

Today we'll explore the elaborate palace that Louis XIV, XV, and XVI called home. We'll make the 30-minute train trip to Versailles, where we'll have a guided tour of the dazzling Hall of Mirrors and key rooms of the palace. You'll then have free time to wander through the expansive grounds and Marie Antoinette's hamlet — or zip back to Paris early via one of the frequent trains. Train: 1 hr. Walking: strenuous.

Day 6: Masterpieces of the Orangerie

This morning we'll tour the Orangerie Museum featuring Monet's magnificent water lilies and home to a fine collection of other works by Renoir, Matisse, Picasso and more. You'll have time this afternoon to see the world's greatest collection of Impressionist art — almost next door — at the Orsay Museum, with art from Monet and Degas to Cézanne and Gauguin and beyond. Or visit other nearby places covered by your included 6-Day Paris Museum Pass, such as the Rodin Museum, or the military museum of Les Invalides. Tonight we'll enjoy a farewell feast together, sharing travel memories and toasting new friends. Salut! Walking: moderate.

Day 7: Tour Over After Breakfast

It's a breeze to reach Paris' airports by taxi, shuttle or public transportation. Your guide will help you with any post-tour planning, leaving you well prepared for the road ahead. Merci et au revoir!

Itinerary specifics subject to change.

Rick Steves tours are physically active!

This is an integral, essential part of the "back door" experience. On our Best of Paris in 7 Days tour — among other things — you'll need to happily...

  1. Carry your luggage up several flights of stairs to reach your hotel room.
  2. Be on your feet for up to 4 hours walking and standing, both inside museums and outdoors in all weather conditions (hot sun, rain, etc.).
  3. Sleep with no (or weak) air conditioning and street noise in some hotels.
  4. After orientation and transportation lessons, be able to navigate around the city on your own.

Pre Tour

Getting ready for your Rick Steves' tour can be overwhelming, so we've put together some specific information on what you should know about this tour before you go. You'll also find more general information about "Getting Ready for Your Tour" on our Tour FAQ.

Sightseeing On Your Own

If you arrive in Paris before your tour begins, learn the Métro (subway) system and use Rick Steves' Paris guidebook for sightseeing ideas and good-value restaurants. If you are in Paris in the off-season, it's a good idea to double-check museum hours and closures with a quick call.

Here are suggestions for sightseeing in Paris that we do not do as a group: Arc de Triomphe, Les Invalides, Jewish Art & History, Marmottan, and Pompidou museums; Eiffel Tower, St. Sulpice organ concert, Père-Lachaise cemetery, Paris sewer tour, day trips to Monet's Giverny garden, Chartres, Vaux-le-Vicomte and Fontainebleau.

The Marmottan museum is closed Mondays, and the Jewish Art & History Museum is closed Saturdays; most other museums are closed Tuesdays. Confirm all sightseeing plans with a tourist information office.

Eiffel Tower Reservations: The tour does not include a visit to the Eiffel Tower. However it is often a highlight for any traveler and one we highly recommend. Avoid the lines by booking tickets in advance at: http://ticket.toureiffel.fr. Pre or post tour is the best time to visit the tower. If you need to visit the tower during the tour, consider making a reservations for Day 2 or Day 5 after 16:00 or any evening after 22:00.

Transportation

Paris is perfectly located for quick trips around France or to neighboring countries. London is only three hours away by the Chunnel train; Brussels and Bruges are about two hours away; and Amsterdam is a mere four-hour train ride.

Flying within Europe can be reasonable. Ask your travel agent or check Rick's list of European budget airlines. For links to helpful rail and air websites, go to www.ricksteves.com/plan/links and look under "Transportation."

Read Rick's Guide to Eurail Passes at http://www.ricksteves.com/rail and decide if your travel plans merit a railpass (or contact our Rail Department for advice at rail@ricksteves.com or 425/771-8303, ext. 214).

Prior to your tour departure, you will receive detailed directions on how to get from the airport to your tour hotel, as well as contact information for your hotel in case you wish to book pre- or post-tour hotel accommodations.

For specific details about traveling in France, please see Rick Steves' France guidebook. If you need more information about additional European travel or for specific questions about your tour, contact the Tour Department at 425/608-4217 or email tour@ricksteves.com.

Weather

Paris is generally warm (or hot) and sunny in the summer, cooler and a bit wetter in the spring and fall, and chilly in the winter. Spring and summer tours will enjoy longer twilights while fall and winter tours will reveal why Paris is known as the "City of Light." Weather is a bit unpredictable in the off-season but very manageable with smart packing.

For more specific weather information, see www.weatherbase.com or www.weather.com.

Packing

For ideas on what to pack, check Rick's Packing List and our Women's Packing List.

Tour Guide Raves

Marie Altman

"Marie is a treasure and well versed in the Parisian scene. We could not have asked for a nicer, more knowledgeable guide. And she was kind enough to help me hone my French language skills!"

— Ted in San Jose, CA

"Arnaud was so personable, knowledgeable and patient with everyone. We were impressed with the history of Paris he shared with us and also his help and suggestions for navigating the city, dining, etc. Arnaud made both the old and the new Paris come alive with his narrative."

— Doreen in Gresham, OR

Favorite tour memories from recent alums:

"Every day held a different 'wow' moment! I loved walking down to the Eiffel Tower every night and watching it light up, seeing all of the market stalls set up on rue Cler each morning, trying out as many pastries as possible, rubbing elbows with the locals and dining on amazing French food at our group dinners. The restaurants that we ate at together were wonderful and I tried new foods that I never would have on my own. The entire trip was a 'wow' moment!"

— Lenae in Kennewick, WA

"Our orientation bus ride was all 'wow' moments — seeing the Eiffel Tower from the Trocodero, the place Vendome, the Arc de Triomphe and all the narrow, colorful and fascinating streets that make Paris...Paris!"

— Marcia in Webster, NY

"Our nighttime boat cruise on the Seine was spectacular — one 'wow' after another! The weather was great and the city was beautiful."

— Randall in Macungie, PA

To see more comments on Rick Steves' tours, read through our tour member reviews.

Videos & More

This region is rich in history, art and culture. To help you get the most from your trip, we've put together this collection of travel resources from Rick's TV shows, radio interviews and articles, as well as recommended books, films and music.

Watch

Rick Steves' TV Clips & Shows

(For more Rick Steves' TV clips on this region, visit Rick on YouTube.)

Films
  • The 400 Blows (1959)
  • Jules and Jim (1962)
  • Charade (1963)
  • Blue/White/Red (1990s)
  • Amélie (2001)
  • Paris, je t'aime (2006)
  • La Vie en Rose (2007)

Listen

Rick Steves' Radio Interviews

(For more radio interviews on this region, see Rick's Audio Europe™ files for iPod, PC & MP3.)

Rick Steves Audio Europe™
Rick Steves' Audio Tours
  • Paris: The Louvre, The Orsay, Versailles Palace, Historic Paris Walk
Music
  • Pop: Maurice Chevalier, Johnny Hallyday, Edith Piaf, Charles Trenet
  • Cabaret: Charles Aznavour
  • Movie Soundtracks: French Kiss, Gigi, Amélie

Read

Rick Steves' Articles

(For more articles on this region, see Rick's Best Destinations.)

Books: Non-Fiction
  • Rick Steves' Paris
  • French or Foe?; Savoir-Flair! — Polly Platt
  • Is Paris Burning? — Larry Collins
  • Almost French — Sarah Turnbull
  • The Flaneur — Edmund White
  • Paris: The Collected Traveler — Barrie
Books: Fiction
  • A Tale of Two Cities — Charles Dickens
  • Les Misérables; The Hunchback of Notre Dame — Victor Hugo
  • A Place in the World Called Paris — Steven Barclay
  • City of Darkness, City of Light — Marge Piercy
  • Inspector Maigret series — George Simenon