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Self guided walking tour or hop on hop off bus tour?

San Diego
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Self guided walking tour or hop on hop off bus tour?

My husband and I will be visiting Paris for the first time in early January. Since this is our first trip, we were thinking of taking the hop on hop off bus tour to familiarize ourselves with the city. However, after reading reviews, it appears that a lot of people didn't have the best experience with these tours, and it seems like it might not be the best option with the cold (and possibly rainy) weather at this time of year. My Rick Steve's guidebook outlines a self guided walking tour. Would this (as well as using the metro) be a better option? Thank you!

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Oslo, Norway
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1. Re: Self guided walking tour or hop on hop off bus tour?

IMO yes, absolutely. Self-guided walks is a more interesting way to discover the city, and, as a first-time vivitor you will get the satisfaction of finding your way around on your own,

Most guide books have suggestions of walking tours, and I think it is a good idea to read more than one.

Guided walking tours is another option. I have done several with Paris Walks and had good experiences with them.

Leiden, The...
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2. Re: Self guided walking tour or hop on hop off bus tour?

I recommend a HOHO bus tour to familiarise yourself with Paris and get a chance to see the main sites. Then you can decide which areas/places you'd like to visit on foot.

I would much rather be sitting inside a bus on a cold / rainy day than trudging the streets.

Lakeland, TN
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3. Re: Self guided walking tour or hop on hop off bus tour?

I agree with fifitrain, particularly if there's a chance of winter rain. We went in December, walked most everywhere and were caught in some steady drizzles which detracted from the experience.

Lords Valley...
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4. Re: Self guided walking tour or hop on hop off bus tour?

It depends on how much time you have and as you point out, the weather conditions. If time is short, I would opt for HOHO. In extreme weather the heated lower level of the HOHO bus can be inviting.

California
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5. Re: Self guided walking tour or hop on hop off bus tour?

I agree about the HOHO bus--you can also cover much more ground in a shorter time than you would walking on your own. I love walking around Paris tho, so don't pass up the chance to do some exploring on your own. The neighborhood walks suggested in guidebooks are good to get an idea of where to start and what to see along the way. The bus does give you an opportunity to get a feel for the layout of the city--I wish I had held a map in my hand when we did this on our first trip, and followed the route the bus was taking...it would have helped me get a fix of the lay of the land much sooner!

Chicago, Illinois
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6. Re: Self guided walking tour or hop on hop off bus tour?

the two things are really different. walking tours of necessity cover short bits of the city -- you could easily do a couple dozen -- they are a great thing to do, but I am not sure December is the time for them (unless you have delightful sunny crisp days.

whether a hoho is a good idea depends on your travel goals. I don't see any particular point in getting an overview of the city beyond reviewing a good guidebook (given limited time) I would pick a few things I wanted to immerse myself in after getting my overview in a guidebook -- but that is me. I don't like my travel to feel like viewing a travelogue video tape. Other people find them very helpful. If you are going to be there for a week or more then the overview makes more sense.

If it were me, I would plan a couple main things a day and then look at what else is clustered nearby and add those in. We also get d'Orsay tickets the first day or two we are in Paris and then use them on a rainy day. Paris is a great indoor city and thus a great winter destination -- so regardless of your luck with the weather you will have a great time.

you can see some self guided walks we did in www.janettravels.wordpress.com under 'Paris' -- these are all somewhat peripheral though as we did our central walks decades before the blogs. there are some great walking tour books so if you want to do this, there are great resources.

Los Angeles
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7. Re: Self guided walking tour or hop on hop off bus tour?

All depends on you. Some of us like walking in almost any weather (and are hopefully prepared for it), while disliking sitting in a vehicle with a bunch of other people. Both can be very fun (or not) depending on your own style. Remember, you can get off the HOHO bus at several different stops and walk around.

Merely driving past various sights is not for me; we prefer walking and love discovering the many small architectural details, window displays, cafés, etc.

Like Janet, we prefer not to have the canned narration experience that ends up making our trip feel as if it's a youtube video. And, I don't mind getting damp (or cold) as long as I can get inside someplace that's warm once in awhile. Still, if you're really wanting to see all the monuments from the outside and see Parisian streets, the HOHO bus could be a good alternative (albeit expensive compared to the city buses, which do the same thing - drive around Paris). As for whether the HOHO buses will protect you from the weather, well, you still have to stand at their bus stops and wait for them to come. There are several routes and to take advantage of the ticket price, you might feel compelled to go on all of them.

People on the buses do look like they're enjoying it, except for when they get stuck in big traffic turnarounds for awhile.

I agree with Janet that having some walking routes laid out with some obvious indoor places to go to in case of truly inclement weather, would be good. I see you're from San Diego, so you're used to weather a little warmer than I am (I'm north of you by 3 hours or so). If you've got a warm coat and a water proof outer layer, I think you might really enjoy walking around. Longterm forecasts can be wrong, but historically, Paris is about 45F during the day in December - which is exactly what it is in my backyard right now.

Does the HOHO bus run at night? Because it gets dark early, and that's when I'd want the transportation (we have done a taxi tour of major lit monuments twice; it wasn't that expensive).

Pjk
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8. Re: Self guided walking tour or hop on hop off bus tour?

We've done a nice self-guided walking tour which is in the DKEyewitness book. It takes you from approx the l'Abyesse Metro stop all the way up to Sacre Coeur then even over the top to the other side. On a nice day, I'd rather do a walk for the unexpected things you will find along the way and since you can linger longer in front of things that interest you, but in January the weather will be a factor.

Pjk

San Diego
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9. Re: Self guided walking tour or hop on hop off bus tour?

Wow- thank you so much for all the advice! I really appreciate it. I may play it by ear- if we have nice weather, perhaps we will stick to walking! Thank you again. :-)

Chicago, Illinois
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10. Re: Self guided walking tour or hop on hop off bus tour?

you might want to search for 'passages' and plan a day in the old fashioned covered passages of Paris. We did this at Thanksgiving time with family one year -- it was sort of blustery so having short walks between the covered strolls worked well.