What is the weather like?
During the spring and summer months, Paris can quite enjoyable, while basking in the Parisian sun in one of the many parks. But keep in mind that rain is quite prevalent, and the weather can change rather quickly, so be prepared, and carry an umbrella. Dressing in layers is also advisable. During the fall and winter, the temperature can drop drastically, and there can be strong winds. So it is advisable to have gloves/mittens, and a hat or something else to cover your ears.
How do I get from the airport(s) to the city?
The best option, and most convenient is to book a car service through our site. The driver will be waiting at the airport with a sign with your name on it. Car Service prices and information.
Taxis are also available at the airports, and each has designated spots to pick up passengers. The price, depending on traffic, will cost around €40-€50.
There is also the Roissy Bus, which services Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport, and the center or Paris (Opera terminus). Buses run every fifteen minutes. Tickets are available from the driver in cash and cost about 9 euros. Bus lines 350 and 351 also service Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport, but do not run at night. These are cheaper than the Roissy Bus, but take much longer.
The RER B metro line is also quite efficient, and perhaps the most economical in terms of time and money. The train leaves from the center of Paris, and services terminals 1 and 2 at Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport, and takes approximately 45 minutes. The best stations to catch this train are at Chateles-Les-Halles or Gare du Nord. Tickets can be purchased at any metro station and currently cost about 9 euros.
Orly airport is accessible by the ORLYVAL (automatic metro). ORLYVAL is the train service between Orly airport and the RER/metro station ‘Antony’, which takes you directly to the heart of Paris. The ORLYVAL leaves every 10 minutes and the journey takes approximately 8 minutes. ORLYVAL has stations in each Orly terminal (Orly Sud and Orly Ouest). The ticket you purchase at the airport is valid for your whole trip to your final destination in Paris. It costs just under 10 euros.
We’ve heard that the lines can be long at museums. Are we able to skip this line on the tour?
At the Musee D’Orsay and Louvre we are able to make advance reservations and ticket purchases. There might be a minimal wait for security purposes. But we bypass the main lines.
Does it make sense to buy a museum pass?
If you are the serious art lover and plan on visiting many museums during your stay, then it would definitely be to your benefit to purchase a museum pass. Also, having tickets in advance will allow you to bypass any lines. However, keep in mind that you need to be visiting at least two museums each day for it to work out economically.
Museum Passes are available through us and delivered to your hotel; all prices and information can be found by clicking on the link.
Where do I purchase Métro tickets?
Tickets are available at automated machines located in the majority of all station, more and more now accept foreign credit cards (but only those with a smart chip) or bills, but not all so be prepared with change in order to save time. However, most stations have a ‘guichet’ or ticket window, where you may use your credit card or bills to purchase tickets. A convenient method is to buy a ‘carnet’ or packet of ten tickets (around 11 euros).
Is the Métro dangerous?
No, the Métro is not dangerous. It is, in fact, one of the most efficient and reliable transportation systems in the world. We strongly urge you to try it out in order to get a taste of the true Paris of Parisians. Pickpockets can be an issue, especially for tourists. Pay close attention to your bags, wallets, and purses on the platforms and in crowded Métro cars.
Is Paris a safe city?
Overall crime rates are very low, and violent crimes are rare, especially when compared to rates in American cities of similar size. Just be careful of such petty crime as pickpockets who tend to target tourists.
Is Paris a walking city?
Absolutely. In our opinion this is the best way to experience the city. Although Paris is the second largest city in Europe, it is definitely navigable on foot.
Where is the “Rive Gauche” (Left Bank)?
The left bank is located on the south side of the Seine river. It is referred to as the left bank, because when floating downstream this is the part of Paris that is to your left.
How do I hail a taxi in Paris?
Very rarely will a taxi pull over when you try to flag one down. Not entirely impossible, but difficult. Instead, you need to find your way to one of the city’s taxi stands (square blue signs, with ‘taxi’ in white letters), where taxis line up, waiting to take people to their desired locations. If your French is up to the task you can also call one of the taxi call centers, such as Taxi Bleues (08 91 70 10 10) and they will send one to you.
What time does the Métro stop running?
The last metro depends on the station. Stations in the city center stop running service between 12:45 a.m. and 1:00 a.m. Stations further out (in Arrondissements 12-20) service stops closer to 12:30 a.m. On Friday and Saturday nights, stations stay open later, closing around 1:30-2:00 a.m. However, don’t fret if you decide to stay out late, and don’t have enough money to take a taxi. There are late night buses, that go throughout the city. You can find more information on the metro/bus website ratp.fr (they have some info in English).
Do I need to make reservations to fancy restaurants in advance?
Yes, most upscale restaurants do require a reservation, and depending on the restaurant, may require weeks, even months in advance. We can make restaurant reservations for you, please consult us for our concierge fees.
What time do Parisians usually eat and when are restaurants open?
Parisians usually eat lunch anywhere between 12-2PM and dinner between 7:30-11PM. France has a distinction between different sorts of eateries and their hours vary accordingly. A “Brasserie” is a café-restaurant that is open from about 7 am – 8-11pm and serves hot food all day, some served dinner but not all. A bistro or restaurant is only open over lunch and then again as of 7 pm. Many restaurants are closed on Sundays but you can usually find some open in every district.
Is a boat cruise on the Seine a good way to see the city?
Many of the cities best sites are along the Seine, therefore a boat cruise is a nice way to see the city, plus take a little break from walking. The Batobus is a good option for traveling along the Seine, as it’s a hop on and off system, it does not have a guide. We offer a Paris by Riverboat walk which uses the Batobus if you would like to experience this with a knowledgeable docent. For regular boat cruises the best is probably the Vedette de Pont Neuf, leaving from the western tip of Ile de la Cite, they are more personal then the larger Bateaux Parisian or Bateaux Mouches. For a dinner boat cruise we highly recommend Capitaine Fracasse (you can book through us) or the Paris en Seine, both offer the best price/quality for lunch or dinner cruises.
Where can I pick up necessities, like bottled water and toiletries?
Paris has a lot of little convenience stores, where you can pick up supplies. There are also supermarkets throughout the city, the nicest chain is “Monoprix”, here you can find food but also cosmetics, toiletries, household supplies and clothing. Other chains are “Franprix”, “Carrefour Market” and “G20”. The BHV, beside the Hotel de Ville is perfect for odds and ends fro clothes to stationary to electrical converters and hair-dryers.
What are the best areas for shopping?
Paris is great for shopping, if you’re looking for small unique designers try in the Marais, around Abbesses (south-west of Sacre Coeur), along Canal Saint Martin or Saint Germain des Pres (which also has very high end shops). Haute Couture boutiques are mostly on rue de Faubourg Saint Antoine or Avenue Montaigne. Affordable European chain shops can be found along Rue de Rivoli. The major department stores have everything you could be looking for fashionwise: Le Bon Marche, Galeries Lafayettes and Printemps.
How can I learn about events going on in town?
The Paris Tourism bureau has a pretty good site with a comprehensive array of events www.parisinfo.com/. When you arrive in Paris you should pick up an Officiel de Spectacle or Pariscope (available at news kiosks) for all exhibit and concert information. Check out our blog for events and exhibits going on in all of our cities.
What are possible day trips from Paris?
Visiting a nearby Chateau makes for a great day trip, instead of going to Versailles, why not try Vaux-le-Vicomte, Fontainebleau or Chantilly. In the Spring and Summer it is nice to visit the Monet Foundation in Giverny (see below), Rouen, Reims, Chartres and Troyes are nice day trips too.
Can I visit the Loire Valley Chateaux on a day trip from Paris?
While this is not impossible we highly encourage anyone really wanting to see the Loire castles to go for at least two days. However, it is possible to see two or three chateaux in a long 12-hour day.
Can I visit the Normandy D-Day beaches on a day trip from Paris?
The D-Day Beaches are situated on the northern cost of Normandy, about a three hour drive from Paris. This is best done in two days, and then perhaps including some local history and culture (such as the Bayeux Tapestry, Rouen or Honfleur) However, it is possible to do a D-Day tour from Paris which would be a 12-hour day.
How do I get to Versailles?
Using public transportation, the RER C train goes directly to Versailles, and takes approximately 45 minutes. You want to descend at Versailles Rive Gauche. From the train station, you are able to walk directly to the chateau and the gardens. You are able to purchase the chateau tickets directly at the train station. During our Versailles walk, we help facilitate the transaction, as well as take you on a walk around the gardens. We then leave you to enter the chateau, as they do not allow our docents to give commentary there.
How do I get to Giverny?
The Monet Foundation in the Normand village of Giverny is open from April 1st to November 1st. Giverny is approximately 50 minutes from Paris, and is accessible by train. SNCF offers transport from Paris to Vernon, which is on the main line ‘Paris-Rouen-Le Havre Railway’ line.
From Vernon, you may take a taxi, which are usually waiting at the train station, and will cost around €12.
During the spring and through autumn, “TVS” has buses servicing the train station in Vernon to the bus station in Giverny. Round trip fare will cost €4.
When is the best time to visit the Louvre?
The absolute best time to visit the Louvre is on Wednesday and Friday evenings when the museum is open until 9:45 pm, there are many fewer visitors. We usually schedule our Louvre Italian Masters on Wednesday late afternoon to enjoy the art in this less busy environment.
Is there a long line to enter the museum?
It depends of the time of day. The line outside the pyramid entrance varies from 5 to 20 minutes. This is a security purposes. Participants on all Context Louvre walks will not wait in line as we pre-purchase tickets and thus have access to a special line. Museum Pass holders or advance ticket holders can also enter this way (see our concierge service for purchase of non-walk advance tickets).
I’ve heard the Louvre is enormous, how should I decide what to see?
The Louvre has one of the largest art collections in the world and it would take weeks to see it all. To make the most of your visit, it’s a good idea to read up on the different sections (perhaps in your guide book) so you can have a better idea of what you would be interested in seeing. If you are deciding on a walk with Context, we recommend the French Masters walk, which introduces you to French art and compliments your Parisian experience. If you are visiting the museum on your own, try not to see everything, you will appreciate the works more by focusing on a few sections, pick up a map at the info desk which will help you navigate its vast wings.
Where can I get a snack or have lunch?
While eating inside the collections is not advisable, bags are not searched for food, so you could bring along a snack, sandwich or bottle of water in your bag and have a break in the main foyer. There are numerous cafes throughout the museum and in the Carrousel du Louvre, the shopping centre attached to the museum, you can find a fairly good food court with world cuisine. For a more leisurely lunch or break, try the Café Marly which is on the North Side of the Cour Napoleon (part of the Richelieu wing), great for people watching.
Is the Louvre wheelchair accessible?
The Louvre is wheelchair accessible and you can request a temporary wheelchair loan from the information desk. There are elevators throughout the museum as well and you can print a wheelchair accessibility guide from the site. We are happy to custom design visits to the Louvre for visitors with mobility issues.
MUSEE D’ORSAY SPECIFIC
What kind or art is in the Musee d’Orsay?
The Musee d’Orsay collection contains works roughly from 1848-1914, some of the art movements include Romanticism, Realism, Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, Symbolism, Pointilism and such artists as (Manet, Courbet, Corot, Monet, Renoir, Degas, Gaugain, Cezanne, Van Gogh, Seurat)
When is the best time to visit Musee d’Orsay?
The Musee d’Orsay is very busy and not as spacious as the Louvre. We highly recommend visiting the museum when it is open late on Thursday evenings and we schedule our Musee d’Orsay and Paris in the 19th Century walk for late afternoon on Thursdays for this purpose.
Is there a long line to enter the museum?
Yes, the Musee d’Orsay has a long line most of the day (not for the Thursday evening opening), therefore it is strongly advisable to get advanced tickets or a Museum Pass. We always include advance tickets in our Orsay walk to avoid this wait (for those without a museum pass).
What is covered on your Musee d’Orsay walk?
Each docent leads his or her walk in a different way, however, in most cases you will start with some history of the building, look at some of the earlier 18th century art movements such as Romanticism and Realism, then look at some impressionist and post impressionist masters. This is not a solely impressionist walk as the collection holds a great variety of wonderful art.
Is the Musee d’Orsay wheelchair accessible?
The Musee d’Orsay is wheelchair accessible. There are elevators throughout the museum as well and you can print a wheelchair accessibility guide from the site. We are happy to custom design visits to the Musee d’Orsay for visitors with mobility issues.
FOOD WALKS SPECIFIC QUESTIONS
Are there any addition costs to the culinary walks?
No, the walk price includes tastings, however, you may like to make additional purchases at some shops, your docent can help you with these if you do not speak French.
What is the difference between your Bistro to Baguette walk and your Bobo Palate walk?
These walks are complimentary and both can be taken if you have a strong interest in cuisine. The Bistro to Baguette walk is more about the foundation of Parisian gastronomic traditions while the Bob Palate is about new trends, often stemming from traditions or international influences.
Can I participate in your small group food walks if I have food allergies?
Yes, but if you have any food specific allergies/intolerances please indicate these in the Travel Notes section when your booking and your docent will keep these in mind. Our Chocolate walk is not the best option for anyone with nut allergies.
Are these walks walking intensive?
The chocolate walk is fairly walking intensive, however the other culinary walks take place in a more confined area.
BOULEVARDS OF PARIS
What part of Paris does this walk feature?
This walk starts near the Louvre at the Palais Royal and visits the area towards the Opera Garnier. It is quite walking intensive.
Does the walk include a tour of the Opera House?
The walk does include the historical context of the Opera Garnier, however, we cannot promise a visit of the interior. The Opera Garnier reserves the right to close without notice for rehearsals.
What sort of sites are visited on this walk?
The Marais district has many former private mansions built mainly from the middle of the 16th century to the end of the 17th century. Most of these are now museums.
Might there be any additional costs?
Each docent includes different sites, so it is possible you may go to a museum that requires an additional ticket.
Does this walk include visits to private mansions?
Most of the mansions included in the walk are now museums or libraries so you will probably not be entering any private mansions.