Category Archives: Paris, Île-de-France

Paris Small Group Tours with Annie and Elyse, Episode 152

Paris small group tours with Annie and Elyse, Episode 152

Paris small group tours

A few months ago Annie and Elyse decided to take the plunge and organize some Paris small group tours. Elyse has extensive experience as a tour leader, but Annie had none up until now. But, what do you know? The tour was lots of fun and we’re ready to do it again!

On today’s episode we reminisce and discuss future plans. Why should you listen even if you have no desire to go on a tour with us? Because we share a lot of travel logistics gems in this episode, listen and learn!

Would you like to tour France with Annie and Elyse? Visit Addicted to France to choose an upcoming tour.

What You Will Learn About in this Episode

4’30 While leading the Inaugural Tour we ran into a lot of tour groups where there were so many people that it was just a one-way conversation.  It’s like factory tourism. What we’re doing is totally different because our groups are so small.

5’16 Touring with Annie and Elyse is like touring with family.

5’50 Because group members chose us based on the podcast, they were looking forward to it and knew what they were getting into.

6’20 We had group members from all over the US, we also had various ages, and it all worked out really well.

7’10 Our next Paris Tour is going to be October 1st through Oct 7th 2017 and we hope to announce 4 more Paris tours in 2018 as well.

8’50 Our tour started by going to a wine bar called Chez Nous, followed by a river Cruise on the Seine River. Next time we’ll probably start a little earlier on Sunday and visit the Luxembourg Gardens.

9’45 Two guys who thought the Luxembourg Gardens were ugly. When you look at something with no context, it’s hard to see the beauty or appreciate anything.

11’30 On Monday we didn’t start too early

12′ We lucked out on all the places we went to eat. Annie’s goal was to keep it around 15€-20€ for lunch and 30€-35€ for dinner. We were looking for good value and we found it!

13′ France is not a good place to keep a strict diet. No vacation is good for your diet, really, is it? We eat a lot of meat and dairy in France. Lots of duck and lamb, fish (fish is usually the “diet” choice on a French menu). But we also don’t eat fried food very much in France.

17′ We’ll be looking for a good audio solution to use all the time. We had a whisper system in some of the museums, but even there, they limit you to a specific amount of time. So we’ll be looking for a good solution.

17’50 Monday activities: Conciergerie (where Marie-Antoinette was held before she was beheaded), Sainte-Chapelle, restaurant Saint-Régis.

19′ Annie being recognized by her voice, an eerie experience for sure!

20’41 Notre Dame, Place de la Concorde, the Orangerie. “Droit de parole” complications. They give you an appointment at a specific time, which is not always suitable.

22′ Tuesday: Orsay Museum which isn’t very big as far as Paris museums are concerned. Lunch by the big clock. Arc de Triomphe and Champs Elysées. In future tours we will do a drive by night that will include all the big sights of Paris by night.

25′ Wednesday: Louvre Museum. If you want to have some peace in the Louvre you have to get off the beaten track and choose other pieces that are of interest to you ahead of time. There are lovely sections of decorative arts, music, Egypt, Roman and Greek, Babylonian, Islamic Arts, etc. Next time we do a tour we will spend a little time with each participant to help them decide about a good section for them so they can go explore that part and enjoy the Louvre with some peace and quiet.

29’30 Montmartre: Annie is not in love with the area, it’s too touristy and crass. Elyse will plan a different itinerary where we don’t spend so much time in the middle of the crowds. Wine tasting with a sommelier. Next time we’ll take the time to have dinner right after the wine tasting.

31’20 Thursday: Opéra Garnier, Galleries Lafayettes, Musée Rodin, then we went to Montparnasse, ate at a crêperie, we got soaked that night.

34’20 Friday: Marais walk with Elyse, lunch at l’As du Fallafel, Picasso Museum, dinner at Bouillon Racine on rue Racine.

37’40 Saturday: we split up that day. Annie went to Père Lachaise and Steve from Florida helped greatly because of his surveyor powers. Elyse went to the Pantheon, Sorbonne, Saint-Eitenne-du-Mont church, the Cluny Museum and the Latin Quarter in general. Then we all met together at the Centre Pompidou which was an add-on, and had some free time.

45’30 Next time we will add more shopping time and we’ll give people the choice of two different shopping areas. We’ll also add some time at a flea market or food market and a drive by night Uber ride around Paris. Next time we’ll choose a concert with more approachable music, probably not Notre Dame.

48’40 We will also add some excursions one day before the tour and another after the tour. We’ll do a day at Giverny on the Saturday before the Tour and a whole day at Versaille on the Sunday after the Tour. For 2018 we’ll set some dates for a Tour in April, another for May, then one in September and one in October. We won’t do a Tour in July and August because it’s too hot and June is too busy in Paris.

55′ Annie didn’t grow up wanting to be someone who evangelizes about France and a tour organizer, but Paris small group tours are so much fun, this is something worth investing time into.

56’38 Thank you for your support new Patreon donors Nancy Calkins, Todd Costella, and Stephanie Ellis. Thank you also Sophia Semensky and Paul Goess for tipping your guide.

58’37 Feedback on the previous episode on using Uber in Paris: using Uber between Disneyland and Paris city center. They had a really good experience using Uber in Paris, but it is true that most Uber drivers in Paris do not speak English. They had one bad experience with an Uber driver who never showed up at all and they grabbed a taxi instead. The Uber to get back to the airport to go home went well, but the ride took 1.5 hrs because the traffic was heavy.

Feedback on the Inaugural Tour from Steven Struck, his impressions and experience as a tour member. He also shares about his experiences moving to France.

People who have been to Paris before should not discount this tour because they are going to learn so much, my head got filled every day. And for people who have never been to Paris, what a great way to see Paris for the first time. Steven Struck, Inaugural Tour member.


Paris small group tours are hard to find because most tour operators would rather go for numbers. But we’re not like everyone else: a small group is the only sort of tour worth doing in our opinion. Hanging out in Paris for a week with people you will get to know and enjoy is the best way to make a lovely break from your daily life and recharge your batteries. We loved the 10 people who toured with us on this Inaugural Tour, we are so glad they chose to come see Paris with us and hope to have many wonderful small groups again.

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Tips for Using Uber in Paris, Episode 151

Blair Bell and her husband, Tips for using Uber in Paris

On this short episode of Join Us in France we are discussing tips on using Uber in Paris and those tips apply to a lot of big cites in France also. Blair compares the cost of Uber with taxis and public transportation. This was Blair’s third trip to Paris and because she was 34 weeks pregnant, she and her husband decided to mostly use Uber whereas in previous trips she had mostly used other modes of transportation.

Would you like to tour France with Annie and Elyse? Visit Addicted to France to choose an upcoming tour.

 Tips for Using Uber in Paris, Episode 151

What You Will Learn in this Episode with Timestamps

2’52 The biggest difference between using Uber in the US and in France is the language barrier.

3’25 Uber Pool vs. Uber Black: If you use the Uber Pool option, because it’s a big city, you will have a lot of people riding with you and it will add on to the time it takes to get where you want to go. Uber Pool is sometimes half the price of Uber Black, so it’s worth it if you’re not in a hurry.

4’05 No Uber Pop in France: Uber Pop is the Uber service with older cars.

4’30 To get an accurate bid you need to set your pin location properly. Sometimes you have to enter the address manually.

6’00 It’s hard to get a good estimate of how long before the driver will pick you up with Uber in Paris because of the traffic conditions.

7’10 Tips on what to do on May 1st in France. Blair suggests taking an organized tour on that day and going away from Paris with a group where everything is organized.

8’33 When using Uber in Paris you will get to use your French, and it’s good to also have the Google Translate App.

9’15 Uber Pool is a better option in the US than in Paris, that could be that it’s because there are fewer Uber drivers in Paris.

9’40 Uber in Paris is cheaper in August than during the rest of the year. That’s probably because it’s mostly tourists calling Uber in August, demand goes down, so prices go down as well.

10’25 Uber is worth it if you have more than two people in your party. To go from one of the Paris airports to either the city center or to Disneyland Paris, it’s definitely worth it. A taxi between CDG Airport and the left bank will run you over 60€, the same ride on Uber is at least 15€ cheaper.

11’35 Comparing the price of metro tickets to Uber in Paris. Blair and her husband took 20 trips with Uber in Paris. Twenty metro tickets for 20 trips for two would cots 60€ if bought in packs of 10 (it would be 76€ if buying single tickets). Those same trips with Uber cost them 185€. So Uber is about 3 times the price of taking the metro.

13′ Install the Uber App before you come to France, you will use the same App with the same credit card.

13’40 French cars also have a license plate on both the front and back of the car, so it’s easier to recognize the car if you don’t know European cars.

15′ Basic French phrases you will need when using Uber in Paris:

  • c’est à gauche = it’s on the left
  • c’est à droite = it’s on the right
  • allumez la climatisation s’il vous plaît = turn on the AC please

16’30 Some things Blair and her husband enjoyed in Paris: Paris Picnic. Blue Bike Tour was great too.

19′ What else did you wish you knew before you went? Uber in August is cheaper, if you go the rest of the year consider mixing things up and maybe using the bus system (see our episode on comparing the Paris Metro with the Paris Bus and details on how to use them both).

19’50 To go back and forth to the airport definitely use Uber. Here is information from the Uber website on where to wait for your Uber at CDG: from terminals 1, 2A, 2C, 2D and 2F, exit on the departure level. From terminals 2E, 2G and 3, exit on the arrivals level. Head outside and wait at the curb. Then enter your terminal and door number so your driver knows where to find you.

21’45 Air France buses between CDG and Paris city center.


Using Uber in Paris is a good option in many situations, even if you’re on a budget. Between the airport (CDG) and the center of Paris Uber turns out to be cheaper than RER tickets for 4 people, it’s also a lot more pleasant. Listen to this episode so you understand the ins and outs of ironing out the pesky details.

If you’ve used Uber in Paris and would like to give voice feedback to be included in an upcoming episode of the podcast, call 801-806-1015.

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Paris Metro or Paris Bus? Episode 142

Paris metro or Paris bus? Bus #86

Paris Metro or Paris Bus?

When in Paris, should you take the metro or should you take the bus? Is one better than the other? Which one is right for you?

This episode spells out all the differences between the Paris Metro and the Paris Bus, down to the small details that will matter a lot when you’re in Paris yourself! This is all based on my recent personal experience getting around Paris without using my personal car (which was parked at the hotel garage) or taxis or any of those “convenient” modes of transportation that we all rely on every day. I wanted to do as much as possible without touching the car, and this episode came I wasn’t any worse for wear as a result.

When it comes to public transportation, Paris is cheaper than other capitals with similar transportation systems. A single ticket in Paris is 68% cheaper the same ticket in London, 79% cheaper than Berlin, and 36% cheaper than New York. So you need to consider learning about it, especially if you’re on a budget. No shame in that, you still get to do everything everybody else gets to do in Paris, but you show up with a metro ticket in your pocket instead of car keys. That’s cool.

Would you like to tour France with Annie and Elyse? Visit Addicted to France to choose an upcoming tour.

How RER, Metro and Bus Work Together

Another train that you’ll see in Paris is the RER, I left it out of the equation because it is a commuter train used mostly to go longer distances. The RER doesn’t run as often as the metro and the distance between stops is greater, but sometimes hopping on to the RER is handy.

When you stay within zones 1 and 2, the price is the same no matter if you use the metro, the bus or the RER, so you might as well. But once you’ve used your ticket for the RER you can’t use it in the bus later.

Other Modes of Transportation in Paris

There are, of course, several other modes of transportation in Paris. Taxis, Uber, tourist buses  are also good options, but today let me concentrate comparing the Paris metro system with the Paris bus system, in other words, let’s concentrate on what the RATP (Régie Autonome des transports parisiens) a massive company that French people love to hate.

Annie’s Favorite Transportation Apps

At the end of the episode I will also recommend my favorite Apps to help you navigate Paris also:

  1. RATP App
  2. Citymapper App
  3. Par ici la sortie App
If you like this episode, you will also enjoy 10 Tips for Getting Around in Paris.

Episode Highlights with Timestamps

  • [10’15”] In Paris most people rely on public transportation because using private cars is not practical. Yes, even really posh and rich people use public transportation in Paris!
  • There are lots of public transportation options and all are safe and inexpensive. 
  • Public transportation gets a bad rap in North America, but put that out of your mind please. If you’ve taken the underground in New York you’ve seen it all. In Montreal the metro is so gentile, it’s a much smaller metro system too, but it’s great.
  • Both the metro system and the Paris bus system are great, but they are best at different things:
  • The Paris metro is better if you’re in a hurry and if you can take the stairs
  • The bus is better if you are looking for simplicity and/or going cheap
  • If you’re listening to this podcast, you’re into planning your vacation, so you will probably plan enough to avoir zooming around Paris too much. If you’re going to visit both the Eiffel Tower and the Quai Branly, do it in the same day, they are close to each other!
  • If you plan your days out well, you can save yourself some money by not getting a transportation pass but by getting a pack of 10 tickets instead. I never use more than 4 tickets in a day in Paris, that’s 6.4€ in transportation for the day. Any of the passes I could get cost more than that.
  • Buy a pack of 10 tickets (16€ currently), kids under 4 ride for free and there are discount tickets  for kids under 10. 
  • You can buy packs of 10 tickets at any metro station. Hotels often sell them too, and so do tobacco shops.
  • You can always buy single tickets from the bus driver, it costs 1.9€ and they like people to have exact change or as close to it as possible. 
  • [14’22”] Tickets for the bus and the metro are the same, you pay the same whether you take the metro or the bus.
  • The metro is usually a little faster than the bus, and it works well for people who don’t mind stairs. There are elevators and escalators in the Paris metro, but you can’t count on them always working.
  • Buses can get stuck in traffic, especially at intersections. But buses also have their own lanes and they trigger green lights when they approach. Sometimes the time difference between the metro and the bus is very small.
  • Your bus ticket is good no matter how far you ride, no zones to worry about. If you need to change bus, you don’t have to worry about what zone you’re in when you switch, transfers always work between buses.
  • The metro is a little more complicated: you can ride till the end of any line on one metro ticket, but you can’t always transfer anywhere. As soon as you enter zone 3 things get complicated with the metro and single tickets.
  • [17’57”] If you’re planning on mostly using the metro or in transferring between metro and bus, it’s probably best to get a pass, just to save yourself some hassles. You have to choose one of 3 passes:
    • Paris visite which has different prices depending on number of days, number of zones, and the age of the rider.
    • Mobilis Pass, it’s good for 1 day and you have to choose how many zones you’re going to use.
  • Navigo weekly, you can ride in any zone for a week for 22, 15€, but you need to pay 7,60 to get your account setup initially and you need to give them an ID photo
  • There are a few Paris City buses that cost more: Noctilien (runs between 00h31 and 5h30 AM), Orlybus, Roissybus, 221, 297, 299, 350 and 351. More on those later.
  • You can transfer between buses for 90 minutes from first validation. You can also transfer between bus and tram using the same ticket, also for 90 minutes. 
  • You cannot transfer between bus and metro with the same ticket, to go extra cheap, look for all-bus options when deciding on your route (I’ll talk about Apps later).
  • [22’28’] You cannot use the same ticket to ride on the same line more than once. If you get off to buy a sandwich you can’t get back on with the same ticket. If you ride to the end of the line and want to go back in the opposite direction, you’ll need a new ticket. 
  • [23’15”] Keep your ticket until you exit the bus or the metro, especially for the metro, you often need your ticket to open an exit gate.
  • To recap, why do I usually choose the bus rather than the metro? A. I can see the city B. I like the atmosphere better. C. No stairs. D. In the bus you don’t have to worry about zones. 
  • I can’t comment on hop-on/hop-off buses because I’ve never used any of them in Paris. They have their value for people who are only in Paris for a couple of days and don’t want to figure out the public transportation system.
  • [26’51”] Apps I recommend to get around Paris: the RATP App and Citymapper.
  • These Apps always puts the fastest route on top. It’s often faster to do metro+bus rather than stay on the same bus, but sometimes it’s only faster by a minute or two, so pay attention to the details!
  • Why I like Citymapper better than the RATP App: it’s not as prickly about needing the exact address, you can enter the name of a hotel or a venue for instance and it will find it. With the RATP App you need to enter the name of the bus stop or metro station.
  • Also consider an App called “Par ici la sortie” App that helps you find the best metro exit for where you are going.
  • [29’30”] One of the reasons why Paris cafés are always full and lively.
  • [30’35”] Make your life simpler and decide where you want to go in Paris, then group visits into geographical areas in order to save on transportation time.


There aren’t too many gotchas to public transportation in Paris, but if you listen to this episode you’ll be able to handle them all without any trouble. And remember that an ounce of preparation makes for better vacations! Yes, we’re not afraid of clichés here. We’re French, we’re used to beeing seen as breathing / walking clichés.

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