Explore Paris | 21-day Small Group Tour Exploring Parisian Life
On this small group tour of Paris, travellers take the time to join local guides to learn about the destinations within this city. Authentic experiences with like minded people and an Odyssey tour leader. Staying in apartments this European tour immerses itself in Paris' history, art, and culture in the city of light.
- 1. Days themed around Art, Literature, History, and fashion, in which we immerse ourselves in the city's rich culture
- 2. A visit to Alexandre Dumas's home, the Chateau du Monte-Cristo
- 3. The Palais Galliera, Paris's only dedicated museum of fashion
- 4. A half-day excursion to Rueil-Malmaison, including a visit to the beautiful Chateau Malmaison
|11 March 2024 |
Ends 31 March 2024 • 21 days
|09 September 2024 |
Ends 29 September 2024 • 21 days
|10 March 2025 |
Ends 30 March 2025 • 21 days
|08 September 2025 |
Ends 28 September 2025 • 21 days
Explore Paris Small Group Tour
The Eiffel Tower, the Palace of Versailles, the Louvre (or more accurately, the Mona Lisa seen from behind a crowd of selfie sticks), and the Champs Elysees … sadly, most visitors to Paris only get to see a few familiar tourist highlights. But get away from the crowds and you’ll discover the fascinating, gritty, and beautiful city that earns fierce loyalty from its locals and has entranced writers, artists, and visitors from around the world.
On our small group tour of Paris, we get to know the city beyond the tourist centres. Staying in self-catered apartments in one of Paris’s central arrondissements, we live like locals, shopping for fresh produce and flowers at one of Paris’s many local markets. Our program delves into the city’s history, art, and culture, with a mix of guided tours and day trips, and plenty of time for you to explore the city on your own. We have several themed days, focusing on literature, fashion, art, and history, including:
- Our first day is themed around the life and achievements of Napoleon, visiting the Arc De Triomphe and the Vendome Column; while the following day we visit the luxurious residence of his wife, Joséphine de Beauharnais, the Chateau de Malmaison. Our tour also includes days devoted to the turbulence of the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution in France, and the French Enlightenment.
- We explore France’s literary history, with visits to sites associated with Denis Diderot, Victor Hugo, and Alexandre Dumas, while investigating the allure of Paris for American bohemians and writers such as Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Jim Morrison. We soak up the famous literary vibe of the 'left bank' of the Seine River, in the Latin Quarter and Saint Germain des Pres neighbourhoods.
- We see key works of art in some of Paris’s little-known galleries, and explore what makes Paris the world capital of fashion. We make a trip to Montmartre, where artists took inspiration from the demimonde at the Moulin Rouge.
- We see key churches, including Notre Dame Cathedral and Sainte Chapelle on the natural Seine island, Île de la Cité, and Sacre Coeur in Montmartre
- We also get out of the city on a day trip to Amiens, where we take a walking tour of the UNESCO World Heritage listed cathedral, and make a day tour of the Chateau de Vaux le Vicomte, a Baroque palace to rival the Palace of Versailles and the chateaux of the Loire Valley.
While other tours in Paris jump from tourist spot to tourist spot, this extended city tour is for travellers who wish to really get to know the 'city of light', spending time as a tourist and time as a local.
On our tour you will live like a Parisian, living in self-catered apartments, getting around the city by Métro and suburban rail, and shopping like a local in one of Paris's many markets. The markets of Paris go back a long way - the first market can be traced back to the 5th century AD, when the city was called Lutetia. Today, the city’s more than 90 active markets (69 of which are open-air) remain at the heart of daily life in the city. Food tour lovers will enjoy the Marché International de Rungis, the world’s largest wholesale food market (and the go-to of many a Parisian chef) and the upmarket Marché des Enfants Rouges, on a market site dating back to the 16th century. Markets also sell specialty goods, including flowers at the Marché aux Fleurs and books at the weekend Le Marché du Livre, while the city’s famous flea markets are the perfect place to search for antiques or second-hand designer goods.
While our tour includes several group dinners, we also give you several nights to yourself. Since you’re staying in a self-catered apartment, why not pick up some fresh produce and cook like a Parisian? Virtually all of the city’s village-like arrondissements has its own market, selling fresh produce, cheese, cured meats, and bread. Bear in mind that most open-air markets are open only on certain mornings: luckily, the offical website of the Visitors Bureau of Paris has a list of markets along with opening times.
Another highlight of our tour is the chance to soak up some of the subtler details of Parisian architecture, including the city’s many elegant arcades. Paris’s arcades - covered passages built within larger buildings or between two buildings, lined with shops, restaurants, and cafes - were built in the late 18th and early 19th century as a way for the city’s wealthy inhabitants to shop unencumbered by the dark, overcrowded city beyond. The first indoor gallery was constructed at the Palais Royal in 1786, and soon inspired similar walkways. The Passage des Panoramas, built in 1799, is a showcase of elegant 18th century architecture, while the Galerie Vivienne (built 1823) is decorated in intricate neo-classical decor. While in their heyday the arcades played host to a variety of shops, today, most are home to eateries, upscale boutiques, and antique sellers.
Explore Paris Small Group Tour Itinerary: a collection of in-depth experiences
While you're probably familiar with the Louvre Museum, the Musee d'Orsay and Marie Antoinette's hamlet, this tour takes you to twenty-two museums, galleries, and key places of interest in Paris, on a journey designed to go beyond traditional Paris sightseeing. Some of the museums and galleries we will visit include:
- Musee de L’Arme
- Musee Rodin
- Musee les Arts Decortifs
- Musee Yves Saint Laurent Paris
- Musee du Vieux Montmartre
- Fondations Louis Vuitton
- Picasso Museum
- Marmottan Monet Museum
- Musee Maillol
- Musee des artes et Metiers
- Palais Decouverte
- Chateau de Vaux le Vicomte
- Jewish Museum
- Sainte Chapelle
In order to provide a authentic experience, every tour guide is a long-term resident of Paris, with an in-depth knowledge of the city's history, literature, and art, so that our clients can benefit from their expertise.
For more details, click the ‘Top 5’ or ‘Itinerary’ buttons above! If you’re keen to experience this tour, please call or send an email. Or, to book, simply fill in the form on the right-hand side of this page.
Articles about France published by Odyssey Traveller
You may want to browse our country profile about France. Odyssey Traveller also publishes articles, designed for mature aged and senior travellers, to maximise your knowledge and enjoyment on your tour of Paris:
- Exploring France by rail some tips
- Ten of the best travel books on France
- Ten things to do in France when you visit
- Designing Paris
- Paris; leaders and landmarks
- Guillamot prevents the collapse of Paris
- The elegant arcades of Paris.
- Questions about France
- Studying Gargoyles and grotesques
- Around the world in six coffees
- Ten of the best French cookery books.
- Ten of the Best art galleries in Europe to visit
- A guide on France for mature travellers
- Loire Valley History
External articles to assist you plan your visit to France
- A guide to Alsace
- History of Alsace: Britannica.com
- Burgundy's climate: a UNSECO world heritage listing
- Avignon, the Palace of Popes
- History of Avignon, 15-18th century
- Exploring Chatres cathedral
- Wars of Religion: France
- Published articles on French history
Enjoy Odyssey's long stay city tours
This trip to Paris is one of Odyssey's specialty long-stay city tours, which allow our clients to live like locals in some of the great cities of the world. Our in-depth focus was inspired by Ina Caro's book, Paris to the Past: Traveling Through French History by Train, which inspired our first French History by Rail tour in 2012.
Since that first long-stay tour, we have added the following cities to our list:
- Berlin walking tour
- Discovering Berlin
- Contemporary Japan
- Lisbon & Barcelona
There will be more long stay tours to follow, centred on the cities that our clients have indicated that they most want to return to explore further. If you've ever imagined living in Paris, Berlin, or Tokyo in a period of historical or cultural ferment, our tours are for you. Spend three weeks living as a local, and delve into all that a city has to offer.
Day 1: Paris
On arrival in Paris, you will make your own way to your apartment. In the evening, we meet for a welcome dinner.
Day 2: Paris
Today we enjoy a full guided tour of Paris, constructed around the life and achievements of Napoleon.
Napoleon did a lot for Paris and many of the monuments he built can still be seen today. A local guide take us to see some of the main sights related to the grand historical figure, such as the Vendome Column, the Arc du Triomphe and the Boulevard des Marechaux.
Day 3: Paris and Rueil-Malmaison
Today, we continue with the theme of Napoleon. In the morning, we take an excursion to Rueil-Malmaison where we visit the Chateau de Malmaison. This chateau was oncethe residence of Empress Joséphine de Beauharnais and the final residence of Napoleon in France. In the afternoon we return to Paris and the rest of the day is free to enjoy at your leisure.
Day 4: Paris
Today, we embark on a full-day guided tour that guides us through the drama of The French Revolution, one of the most influential historical events not only in France, but also globally.
We visit the Place de la Bastille, the Tuileries Gardens, the Place de la Concorde, and finish the day with a visit to the stunning Musee de l’Armee. In the evening, we enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.
Day 5: Paris
Paris is among the richest cities in the world when it comes to art, and this tour takes advantage of that. Today, we enjoy a full day guided tour which includes the Outdoor Sculpture Museum, the Musee Rodin and the Musee les Arts Decoratifs. Pending availability, we will attend an opera performance in the evening, possibly at the Palais Garnier.
Day 6: Paris
Today is all about fashion. We have a local guide for the day to take us through a number of fashion museums and areas with high fashion shops
We’ll visit the Palais Galliera, the only dedicated fashion museum in Paris, the Musee Yves Saint Laurent and walk through the famed Triangle d’Or.
Day 7: Paris
You have the full day to explore Paris at your leisure.
Day 8: Paris and Le Port-Marly
In the morning, we take a trip to Le Port-Marly, where we visit the beautiful Chateau du Monte-Cristo, once the home of Alexandre Dumas and named for his famous novel. Today, the chateau is a museum dedicated to the writer’s life. In the afternoon, we return to Paris and the rest of the day is at leisure.
Day 9: Paris
Today we take a guided tour of Paris that is themed around the Enlightenment period, following in the footsteps of some of the great eighteenth century thinkers. We visit the Pantheon, a neoclassical church, and view le Procope and le Palais Royal, and a statue of the magnificent philosopher Denis Diderot.
We end the day with dinner at a local restaurant.
Day 10: Paris
Today, we turn once again to the history of the city, with a guided tour of central Paris. We enter the Musee du Vieux Monmartre, visit Sacre Coeur, Place du Tertre, Moulin de la Galette, Moulin Rouge, and more!
Day 11: Paris and Lille
In the morning we board a train to Lille. On arrival, we take a walking tour of the city, before having free time to explore Lille on your own. We return to Paris by train in the late afternoon.
Today is another day dedicated to art in Paris. We have entrance to the newly opened Fondation Louis Vuitton, le Jeu de Paume, and the Picasso Museum, each magnificent in its own way.
Day 13: Paris
Throughout the years, Paris has been the home to many authors, natives and those who have moved there. Today, we enjoy a tour that focuses on the city’s literary side. With a local guide, we visit the Cimetière du Père Lachaise where many famous authors and artists such as Jim Morrison are buried. Then we visit the Maison Victor Hugo and the Notre-Dame Cathedral which inspired Hugo’s “Hunchback of the Notre Dame”.
We also visit the old and well known bookshop Shakespeare & Company, the first outlet to publish James Joyce’s Ulysses . Other stops on the tour include the British Embassy where Somerset Maugham was born and La Closerie des Lilas. Ernest Hemingway lived nearby this café and it was here that he read the first finished manuscript of The Great Gatsby by Scott Fitzgerald. Pending availability, we end the day with an evening ballet performance.
Day 14: Paris
Today is themed around science, and the industrial revolution. We visit the Musee des artes et Metiers and the Palais Decouverte with a local guide. During the tour the group will also view the Institute de France, the building itself is only open to visitors one weekend per year (the 3rd weekend of September). During the tour the guide will discuss the importance of the Industrial revolution and why it was not as spectacular in France as it was in its neighbouring countries.
Day 15: Paris and Maincy
Today the group will visit the Chateau de Vaux le Vicomte in the morning. This is a baroque french chateau with glorious gardens. In the afternoon we return to Paris and the rest of the day will be at leisure.
Day 16: Paris
Today we focus on the various cultures that come together to make Paris what it is. A guide will walk us through the Marais area where many Jews live, here the will visit the Jewish Museum and the Shoah Memorial which commemorates the Jews that were deported during WWII. Afterward we visit Sainte Chapelle, a church well known for its spectacular glass stained windows. To end the day we visit the Arab World Institute.
Day 17: Paris
Today is free to explore Paris at your leisure.
Day 18: Paris
Today is another when we focus on Paris’s rich literary history. A local guide takes on a journey through the famous Latin Quarter, including the Bibliotheque Mazarine, La Sorbonne, and the Ceramic Mosaics at Cluny-La Sorbonne metro station. We also visit Jardin de Luxembourg, among other local literary sites.
Day 19: Paris
Today, we focus on the history of film in Paris, visiting locations that have been used in films and television.
We visit the open-air market Carré Marigny which was used in the film Charade (1963), the Pont Alexandre III Bridge which was used in the movie a Midnight in Paris, the Place Dauphine which was used in the series Sex and the City, The Louvre Pyramid, Le Nemours, and many more sights.
Day 20: Paris and Amiens
In the morning we board a train to head to Amiens. On arrival, we’ll be met by a local guide to show us around the city. We will also visit the late-19th-century home of Jules Verne, with preserved interiors, his effects & a winter garden. In the afternoon we will return to Paris, with the rest of our final full day free to wander the city. In the evening we will enjoy a farewell dinner.
Day 21: Paris
Today, we make our own way to the airport for departing flights.
Includes / Excludes
What’s included in our Tour
- 20 nights of serviced apartment accommodation.
- 5 dinners.
- Applicable entry fees and services of local guides.
- Service charges and gratuities.
- Touring by local public transport and local inter city trains.
- Transport and field trips as indicated.
- Services of a Tour Leader.
- Detailed tour information booklet.
What’s not included in our Tour
- Return international airfares and departure taxes.
- Comprehensive international travel insurance.
- Items of personal nature like laundry, phone calls and meals not included in the itinerary.
Participants must be able to carry their own luggage, climb and descend stairs, be in good health, mobile and able to participate in 3-5 hours of physical activity per day, the equivalent of walking / hiking up to 8 kilometers per day on uneven ground.
Make it a private tour
Easing your journey
Crossing international borders with restrictions
The list of requirements to travel internationally has changed and will continue to change for several years. Odyssey is here to assist you in managing your way through these requirements:
For more information see our Crossing international borders with restrictions page.
Book With Confidence
If less than 30 days before your tour starts you are unable to travel as a result of Government travel restrictions, Odyssey Traveller will assist you with a date change, provide you with a credit or process a refund for your booking less any non-recoverable costs.
See Terms and conditions for details.
Peace of Mind Travel
The safety of our travellers, tour leader, local guide and support staff has always been our top priority and with the new guidelines for public health and safety for keeping safe for destinations around the world, we’ve developed our plan to give you peace of mind when travelling with us.
See Peace of Mind Travel for details.
Reading List Download PDF
France: A History: from Gaul to de Gaulle
John Julius Norwich
I can still feel, as if it were yesterday, the excitement of my first Channel crossing (as a child of nearly 7) in September 1936; the regiment of porters, smelling asphyxiatingly of garlic in their blue-green blousons; the raucous sound all around me of spoken French; the immense fields of Normandy strangely devoid of hedges; then the Gare du Nord at twilight, the policemen with their képis and their little snow-white batons; and my first sight of the Eiffel Tower...This book is written in the belief that the average English-speaking man or woman has remarkably little knowledge of French history. We may know a bit about Napoleon or Joan of Arc or Louis XIV, but for most of us that's about it. In my own three schools we were taught only about the battles we won: Crécy and Poitiers, Agincourt and Waterloo. The rest was silence. So here is my attempt to fill in the blanks...
John Julius Norwich (at 88) has finally written the book he always wanted to write, the extremely colourful story of the country he loves best.
From frowning Roman generals and belligerent Gallic chieftains, to Charlemagne (hated by generations of French children taught that he invented schools) through Marie Antoinette and the storming of the Bastille to Vichy, the Resistance and beyond, FRANCE is packed with heroes and villains, adventures and battles, romance and revolution. Full of memorable stories and racy anecdotes, this is the perfect introduction to the country that has inspired the rest of the world to live, dress, eat -- and love better.
Parisians: An Adventure History of Paris
No one knows a city like the people who live there - so who better to relate the history of Paris than its inhabitants through the ages? Taking us from 1750 to the new millennium, Graham Robb's Parisians is at once a book to read from cover to cover, to lose yourself in, to dip in and out of at leisure, and a book to return to again and again - rather like the city itself, in fact.
'Quirky, amused and très British' Julian Barnes
'A collection of true stories, culled from Robb's insatiable historical reading and lit by his imagination . . . So richly pleasurable that you feel it might emit a warm glow if you left it in a dark room' John Carey, Book of the Week, Sunday Times
'This book is the sort of triumph that we have no right to expect to come from anyone in the steady way that Robb's masterly books come from him' Philip Hensher, Daily Telegraph
'As Parisian and as bracing as a freshly mixed Pernod and water' New York Times
Paris: Biography of a city
'Paris is the World, the rest of the Earth is nothing but its suburbs' - Marivaux
In this intelligently-written and supremely entertaining new history, Colin Jones seeks to give a sense of the city of Paris as it was lived in and experienced over time. The focal point of generation upon generation of admirers and detractors, a source of attraction or repulsion even for those who have never been there, Paris has witnessed more extraordinary events than any other major city. No spot on earth has been more walked around, written about, discussed, painted and photographed. With an eye for the revealing, startling and (sometimes) horrible detail, Colin Jones takes the reader from Roman Paris to the present, recreating the ups and downs in the history of the city and its inhabitants. Attentive to both the urban environment and to the experience of those who lived within it, PARIS: BIOGRAPHY OF A CITY will be hugely enjoyed by habitual Paris obsessives, by first-time visitors, and by those who know the city only by repute.
The Invention of Paris: A History in Footsteps
A radical guide to Paris through art, literature and revolution.
The Invention of Paris is a tour through the streets and history of the
French capital under the guidance of radical Parisian author and
publisher Eric Hazan.
Hazan reveals a city whose squares echo with the riots, rebellions and
revolutions of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Combining
the raconteur’s ear for a story with a historian’s command of the facts,
he introduces an incomparable cast of characters: the literati, the
philosophers and the artists—Balzac, Baudelaire, Blanqui, Flaubert,
Hugo, Maney, and Proust, of course; but also Doisneau, Nerval and
It is a Paris dyed a deep red in its convictions. It is haunted and vitalized
by the history of the barricades, which Hazan retells in rich detail. The
Invention of Paris opens a window on the forgotten byways of the capital’s
vibrant and bloody past, revealing the city in striking new colors.
We'll Always Have Paris: Trying and Failing to Be French
As a bored, moody teenager, Emma Beddington came across a copy of French ELLE in the library of her austere Yorkshire school. As she turned the pages, full of philosophy, sex and lipstick, she realized that her life had one purpose and one purpose only: she needed to be French.
Instead of skulking in her bedroom listening to The Smiths or trudging to Betty's Tea Room to buy fondant fancies, she would be free and solitary, sitting outside the Café de Flore with a Scottie dog at her feet, a Moleskine on the table and a Gauloise trembling on her lower lip.
And so she set about becoming French: she did a French exchange, albeit in Casablanca; she studied French history at university, and spent the holidays in France with her French boyfriend. Eventually, after a family tragedy, she found herself living in Paris, with the same French boyfriend and two half-French children. Her dream had come true, but how would reality match up? Gradually Emma realized that she might have found Paris, but what she really needed to find was home.
Written with enormous wit and warmth, We'll Always Have Paris is a memoir for anyone who has ever worn a Breton T-shirt and wondered, however fleetingly, if they could pass for une vraie Parisienne.
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