|Hop on - Hop off Bus Tours in Paris|
|Hop-on, hop-off and see a lot of the city from a double-decker bus: Should you do it? Is it worth the price? Here's how to find out.|
On your first trip to Paris, the idea of taking a hop-on hop-off city tour by open-top bus to orient yourself to the city seems attractive: get a sense of what's where, see the major sights, and then figure out what to do next.
In good weather, it is fun to sit up top and see things from a height, which is why these buses are often full. But be careful in your decision-making: you don't want to spend a lot of money only to find yourself stopped in traffic, with little time left to actually hop off and see the sights.
Paris's major hop on - hop off open-top sightseeing companies have different prices, different routes, and different services. Choose carefully, and don't pay for more time-on-a-bus than you want in a day.
Big Bus Paris focuses on central Paris and its main monuments—from the Eiffel Tower to Notre-Dame, to the Opéra Garnier and the Arc de Triomphe, charging 29.70€ per adult. Children (up to age 12) pay 14.40€. More...
L'Open Tour covers more of Paris, with 4 routes and 50 stops including the lower part of Montmartre and Les Grands Boulevards to the north, and as far as the Parc de Bercy in the southeast—but how much of this elaborate system will you actually use on a one- or two-day pass? A one-day pass costs 33€ for adults, 17€ for children (4 to 11).
They provide ear buds so passengers can listen to a sightseeing commentary in any of 10 languages, with additional channels designed for kids. In between the talking, you can listen to French music.
The Problem? Traffic!
Here's the problem: these buses have to make their way through city traffic, just like any other vehicle. So you can end up spending a lot of time just sitting in traffic. Sometimes the commentary doesn't quite match the traffic, so you may hear a description of a monument several minutes before you actually see it.
An Open-Top Boat Instead?
Batobus Water Shuttle
You have another option if you want to see some of the major monuments and get oriented in Paris: take the Batobus, a hop-on, hop-off water shuttle that follows a circle route on the Seine and stops at eight places. More...
Or enjoy a cruise on the Seine. These trips run about an hour and have recorded commentary on what you're seeing. Of course they don't cover everything, just what's visible from the Seine, but that's quite a lot. Seine cruises are one of my favorite things to do in Paris. And you don't have to sit in traffic! More...
You can actually get a combination pass that gives you time on a tour bus and also on a river cruise boat. Ceetiz, a FranceTravelPlanner.com partner, offers the full variety of land-only, cruise-only, and land + cruise options. More...
And don't forget the do-it-yourself option: decide which sights you'd like to see, get a guidebook or print the relevant pages from FranceTravelPlanner.com, grab a good map, and set off on the Métro, on a city bus, or on foot. Our recommended itineraries can be a big help in your planning. More...
The Métro is comprehensive and covers the entire city, and a small map (available in stations or as part of your own map) will help you navigate the system. The city buses are a bit more complicated to follow, but if you want to be above ground that's another option.
As for me, my favorite way to see Paris is on foot. It's a great walking city, and you'll often be going faster than the cars and buses. If you want to see Paris from higher up, check out our suggested places for breathtaking panoramas of Paris.