One of the most common things people do in Paris, or any other city, is to take a tour to view the sights. You won’t want to miss out on that, especially if it’s your first time in Paris, but you can mix it up a bit and make your tour unique and special.
Instead of signing up for a walking tour or hiring a taxi, you can hire a horse and carriage! This historic mode of transportation was once commonplace, but today’s modern world has made such an experience incredibly rare. Horse-drawn carriages are inherently charming and romantic, but to ride one through the streets of Paris is pure magic. I am aware of three carriages taking passengers through Paris, all run by Paris Calèches. One is a burgundy barouche carriage pulled by a jet-black Percheron, the second is a white landau carriage pulled by a brown Percheron, and the third is a white Cinderella carriage pulled by a pure white Percheron. You can book one hour, one and a half hours, two hours, or four hours on the carriage of your choice. You can also add champagne, roses, and/or “macaron” confections for an additional fee. The typical ride begins and ends at the Eiffel Tower; alternate places can be arranged but will cost extra. The price is per carriage, not per person. You can book any of these tours on several booking sites across the net, at varying prices, or (better) book directly with the company.
Another unusual way to see Paris is to take a canal cruise tour. Many tourists book cruises along the river, but very few are even aware that the Saint Martin Canal exists. A canal cruise is more than just a pleasant float through the city, though it is that. Touring the canal shows you parts of Paris that most other tourists miss, which are very much worth seeing. A canal cruise tour will show you a fascinating mix of modern life and history to satisfy all comers. Also, the canal itself is an amazing work of engineering that is worth a look just because it exists. There are two big companies that do regular canal cruise tours lasting 2.5 to 3 hours.
On the other hand, perhaps spicing up a tour isn’t so much an issue of how you accomplish the tour, but what you see. Fans of The Da Vinci Code, either the book or the movie or both, can tour that Paris. Beginning at the Ritz Hotel, as the book began, a good Code Tour will take you through the events of the story as you visit the key places where it all happened. Re-read the book or re-watch the movie shortly before you travel to get the maximum appreciation for this extraordinary eye-opening tour. Several different tour companies offer several variants on the theme, varying in the amount of time spent, the exact itinerary of things you will see, how the guide will lead you through, and many other considerations. Alternately, you can save money and go at your own pace by downloading a “DIY” tour from the web, such as this one.
Alternatively, tour the hidden mystical side of Paris. France has a long history, which has left many ghosts and skeletons in its wake. From unsolved mysteries of the past to places still haunted today, from the unexplained to the unexplainable, and from the mysterious to the mystical, Paris has it all. There are many different organized tours (operated by many different companies and individuals) that delve into the supernatural and/or the mystical. Some tour graveyards, some visit actual sites of unexplained happenings, while others tour reported haunted buildings. The knowledge and enthusiasm of your tour guide will make or break the experience.
Maybe it’s really all about cramming as much as possible into as little space and time as possible. What if you could see all of France in one day? Well, you could if you were a giant. For those of us of normal size, there is France Miniature, a park which has scale models of all the major sites and regions in the country. You can walk through the entire miniature version of the country in less than a day, easily. In addition to scale model buildings and accurate miniature landscapes, there are working (moving) trains and boats, and even miniature animals. This is a great overview of France, and a lot of fun for kids and adults alike. (And if the miniatures aren’t enough to fill your day, the park also has slides and rides.)
No matter how you go about it, Paris is a magnificent city with plenty to see. Bon Voyage!