If you’ve ever wanted to spend a week walking the streets of this amazing city as part of a small group, this is your opportunity! Whether this is your first visit, or a return to a city you already love, it goes without saying that one could spend months in Paris, and still not experience everything it has to offer. Having said that, during our week together, we’ll do our best to see the major sights, such as the Eiffel Tower and Palace of Versailles, as well as exploring neighbourhoods where Parisians live to this day.
At the beginning of our tour, we will spend most of our time together. But as the week unfolds, you will have increasing amounts of free time. As your tour planner, I want you to do as much as you want, while also maintaining an enjoyable and sustainable pace. And while Paris is filled with “bucket list” attractions, one of this city’s greatest pleasures is simply sitting in a cafe, watching the world go by while savouring a coffee, beer or glass of wine. Remember, Paris is a city to be felt, not just one to be seen.
To ensure your stay in Paris is memorable and hassle-free, I have laid out an agenda that uses our time as efficiently as possible. For example, advance tickets allow us to avoid lines at most tourist sites. You may also want to skip activities that don’t interest you, and I am happy to organize alternatives (i.e. someone may want to see where Monet painted in Giverny, rather than visiting Versailles). Finally, you are also welcome to join me for optional activities, like a running tour or visiting a jazz club.
While in Paris, we will mostly ride the Metro, but also do lots of walking. As such, you will need comfortable walking shoes, a daypack, and suitable rainwear. (Having said that, for those who want/need a break, it’s also easy to go back to the hotel mid-day at any time.)
While researching this trip, I visited more than 20 hotels before finding the Hotel Saint Paul Rive Gauche - and it is a gem. First, it is perfectly located in an amazing and safe neighbourhood, steps from a key Metro station, and on a street featured in the film Midnight in Paris. Second, while hotel rooms in Paris are small by Canadian standards, these are relatively large, and each is unique. I am delighted to say this hotel has the character and history everyone hopes to find in Paris, including an ancient grotto as their breakfast room.
Even considering recent political protests, Paris is still very safe. Compared to North American cities, central Paris has little violent crime, and it is safe to be on the streets of the Latin Quarter day or night. Having said that, the biggest threat to visitors comes from pickpockets. As such, it is wise to leave expensive jewellery at home, and to be vigilant regarding handbags, wallets and cameras. Ironically, the advent of electric vehicles has increased the risks posed by (near-silent) buses, cars,bikes and scooters, so it is important to be extra careful while on the streets.
Finally, for those who may wish to extend their vacation, it is easy to add a few days or more by deferring your return flight, probably at no additional cost. Upon request, Travel Maven is happy to book additional nights at the hotel for you.
TYPE: Great City
HOTEL: 4 Star
LENGTH: One Week
HIGHLIGHTS: (click to view)
7 nights at a four-star boutique hotel, 7 breakfasts, 3 dinners, 6 day Paris Museum Pass, admission to venues not covered by the Pass (i.e. Eiffel Tower, Opera Garnier, Versailles guided tour), full-time TravelMaven escort, all ground transportation and all taxes.
This tour is guaranteed to depart regardless of group size. This Land Package price is quoted in Canadian dollars, based on double occupancy, and only guaranteed when a $250 deposit has been received.
Day 1: Depart Toronto
Rather than a rushed departure on Friday, we will meet Saturday afternoon at Pearson Airport for our direct flight to Paris. Guests are allowed one checked bag each - hopefully one with good wheels to negotiate the ancient cobblestones we will encounter on the streets of Paris!
Day 2: Arrive in Paris (Latin Quarter)
After our overnight flight, we will take a direct train to the Latin Quarter, home of the Sorbonne. This area has a youthful vibe, and many reasonably priced cafes. After dropping our bags, we will walk to Rue Mouffetard Market, frequented by Ernest Hemingway and Julia Child. After some shopping and free time, we will enjoy our Welcome Dinner at Bouillon Racine.
Day 3: Notre Dame; Opera, Eiffel Tower
Today, we will explore the 'heart of Paris', walking around the Notre Dame Cathedral and Le Louvre. Our goal is general orientation, so you can decide where to return later in the week. Weather permitting, we will have a picnic lunch before window-shopping at the Vendome and visiting the Opera Garnier. After dinner, we will cap our day with a visit to the Eiffel Tower.
The lobby of Hotel Saint Paul Rive Gauche
Day 4: Versailles Royal Palace
It’s hard to imagine a week in Paris without a day at Versailles. After an early departure, we will begin with a guided tour of the King’s Apartments. Subsequently, you will be ‘turned loose’ to explore the main palace and massive grounds, returning to the hotel at your leisure. If you have any energy left, you may also want to join me at a nearby jazz club in the evening.
Day 5: Arc de Triomphe; Louvre
We will begin with a walk through the oldest part of Paris, Le Marais, ending at the iconic Centre Georges Pompidou museum. After a short Metro ride to the Arc de Triumph, we will walk Paris’ most famous street, the Champs Elysees. Then, after a brief sojourn back at the hotel, we will spend the evening in the world’s largest and most famous art museum - Le Louvre.
Day 6: Free Time; Musee d'Orsay
Our final few days will feature lots of free time, so you can explore the city on your own. In the morning, I will take an easy running tour of Paris - and you are welcome to join me! In the late afternoon, we will stroll through Saint-Germain on our way to the Musee d'Orsay, where we will enjoy dinner together and savour the world renowned impressionist paintings.
The Hall of Mirrors at Versailles.
Day 7: Montmartre; Sacre Coeur; Pigalle
After a free morning, we will visit the Galeries Lafayette, Paris’ most famous department store. Then, we will climb Montmartre to see the Sacre Coeur Basilica, and an amazing view of the city. Finally, we will descend (literally & figuratively) from the church to Place Pigalle, home of the Moulin Rouge and lots of risqué entertainment. You’re on your own there!
Day 8: Free Time; Farewell Dinner
Saturday is our last day, and you will have the morning and afternoon free to catch whatever you’ve missed. You may want to take a cruise on the Seine, or visit another of the amazing galleries in the city. If you like, you may choose to join me at one of the city’s famous Saturday markets. And in the evening, to end our week, we will enjoy our Farewell Dinner together.
Day 9: Free Morning; Fly to Toronto
After breakfast and a leisurely morning at the hotel, we will head to the airport, bidding farewell to the City of Light, and to fellow travellers who may be staying a few more days, arriving in Toronto in the late afternoon.
The Sacre Coeur Basilica on Montmartre.