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Best French Revolution Tour: Paris through a history lens (2023)

Published 15 April 2023 by Leyla Alyanak

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Are you looking for a French Revolution tour? Paris has fascinating tours for all types of history buffs

Many visitors to Paris are fascinated by the French Revolution, which lasted a decade from the storming of the Bastille to the rise of Napoleon. Paris is full of revolutionary reminders, such as the Conciergerie (where Marie-Antoinette spent her final weeks), the Concorde (where the guillotine was set up), and the Bastille.

The tours I describe below will guide you through the most fascinating segments of Parisian revolutionary history, a period during which much good and much evil happened.

These tours are short, under three hours. They're perfect if you want an escape from regular sightseeing, if you want to delve more deeply into French history, or if you have a few free hours during the Paris 2024 Olympics

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Top French Revolution tours in Paris:

🏆 For lovers of history: French Revolution Paris history tour with a historian

🏅 For visitors who want to know: Sightseeing walk of revolutionary sites

The French Revolution changed France forever. Not only did it unseat the monarchy, but it swept away feudalism and weakened the stronghold of the Catholic church, leading to anarchy and a complete social breakdown.

On the positive side, it heralded new ideas of freedom, gave opportunity to commoners, abolished slavery and foresaw women's rights. All these changes were so profound they are still being felt in France today.

To save you some research time, here are my top 5 recommendations for a French Revolution tour. Paris will never look the same for you!

1. US and French Revolution with General Lafayette

Are you from the USA? If so, you'll be fascinated by the close links between Paris and Washington during the Revolution. They were friends, foes, and friends again, in a series of political two-steps that would affect the history of both nations.

This is one of the most loved Paris revolutionary tours and is called a "hidden" tour for a reason: it takes to sites that other tours do not normally include, including a private estate that contains a cemetery with several important graves – and a focus on General Lafayette, who played such an important role in both countries.

⏳ TOUR LENGTH: 2-3 hours 

✔︎ Fascinating look at US involvement in the French Revolution
✔︎ Visit of a private cemetery
✔︎ Visit the site of a former guillotine
✔︎ Small group, maximum 10 people

🇫🇷 BOOK YOUR GENERAL LAFAYETTE REVOLUTIONARY TOUR HERE

While much of what you'll see will resonate if you're American, you'll be just as fascinated if, like me, you're a French history buff who wants to go beond the obvious.

For example, you'll learn all about the guillotine, initially designed to be humane but perverted to silence opponents of the Revolution during a period of history known as "La Terreur", the terror, which you'll uncover during your walk.

But I think I'll stop here or you'll have nothing left to learn from the tour!

"My tour guide, Milan, was truly exceptional in providing fascinating information and insight about the French and American revolutions. He avoided simplistic explanations and really gave a feel for how complicated circumstances were."
-Michael B.

"Our guide was so knowledgeable about French history and showed us sights we wouldn’t have found on our own."
-Stefanie C, USA

"Our guide, was so knowledgeable about French history and showed us sights we wouldn’t have found on our own."
-Barbara P.

"Best tour ever!"
—Khloe G.

Read more reviews here

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2. The French Revolution tour of Paris

This is a tour for those who want to delve deeply into the French Revolution's history. It's run by a historian who specializes in the Revolution – he even takes professional tour guides around to explain the revolution to them in detail.

This is the perfect tour if you want to go beyond the superficial and explore such historical details as the counterrevolution, the terror, the final flight of the royal family (and their capture)...

⏳ TOUR LENGTH: 2.5 hours   

✔︎ Run by a specialist French Revolution historian 
✔︎ Private tour so you can bring along friends and family
✔︎ Documentation

🇫🇷 BOOK YOUR HISTORICAL TOUR HERE

The French Revolution isn't as straightforward as it might seem, so having a historian interpret its facts for you is incredibly useful.

The revolution was the culmination of a complex set of events which laid the foundations of France as we know her today. Understanding how the Ancient Regime (monarchy) gave way to popular rule will go a long way towards helping you understand the underlying culture of France.

"Romain is a real professional and we highly recommend him." -Mary M., USA

"He really knows his history!" -Kerry W., USA

"His vast knowledge of both historic and current events not only met our needs, but exceeded our expectations!" —Belisa M., USA

Click here for more reviews

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3. Paris walking tour - the French Revolution

While both above tours is for history lovers, you don't have to be one to enjoy learning about the French revolution. This tour is for visitors to Paris who are interested in the revolution but don't need all the intricate historical detail.

If you would like to visit revolutionary highlights in Paris and catch an overview of the country's history, this is the perfect tour for you.

⏳ TOUR LENGTH: 2 hours   

✔︎ See the sights where the most historic revolutionary events took place
✔︎ Understand how the Revolution shaped the Paris we know today
✔︎ Near public transportation
✔︎ Wheelchair accessible

🇫🇷 BOOK YOUR FRENCH REVOLUTION WALKING TOUR HERE

You'll visit a number of revolutionary sites, from the Place de la Bastille, where the Bastille Prison once stood (its capture led to the French national holiday we celebrate today), to the Place de la Concorde, where Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette were beheaded.

While the two first tours are historical with sightseeing, consider this one a sightseeing tour with history.

"By going on a walking tour, we were able to see so many things we would have missed on a bus tour. Now I know Marie Antoinette never really said, Let them eat cake!". -Karen P.

"You can read about these historical events all you want – there's nothing like seeing them in person!" —Alida G.

Read more reviews here

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4. Bike the French Revolution in Paris

Paris is increasingly becoming a cycle-friendly city, and biking tours are popular, serving up the city from a completely different perspective than you would get from a bus or on a walking tour of Paris.

Because you can go further on a bike than on foot, this tour is far-flung and will take you around to a number of sites you might not otherwise see.

This revolutionary biking tour includes a knowledgeable tour guide who will explain the historical significance of what you see. 

⏳ TOUR LENGTH: 3 hours   

✔︎ See Paris from a different perspective
✔︎ Includes bike rental
✔︎ Small group tour

🇫🇷 BOOK YOUR FRENCH REVOLUTION BIKE TOUR HERE

This tour will stop in all the usual venues – the Bastille, the Place de la Concorde, the former Tuileries – but also the Place Vendome, today a chic square but once the site of severed heads paraded on posts, and the Cour du Commerce St André, home of the first guillotine.

Along the way, you'll enjoy some of the city's newer cycling paths, and see many of the capital's major landmarks, all the while enjoying the freedom of being on two wheels and taking in the Parisian atmosphere.

"Cool way to see the city, would recommend to any visitor." -Brian J.

"Amazing time and history lesson." -Amanda W.

Read more reviews here

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5. French Revolution walking tour for teens

If you're looking at family time and want to entertain your younger family members with a cultural visit that will entertain them and remain a fun memory once they leave Paris, this is the tour for you.

Because it is a private tour, the guide can build it around your children's ages and interests.

⏳ TOUR LENGTH: 3 hours   

✔︎ Designed for families and personalized
✔︎ Teen-friendly historian guide
✔︎ Activity booklet for kids

🇫🇷 BOOK YOUR TEEN TOUR HERE

What makes this tour interesting for teens is that it's not a long recitation of facts − the storyteller guide brings history alive through the many characters of the French Revolution.

Follow in the footsteps of Robespierre, Marie-Antoinette, Thomas Jefferson and many others who played a role in the Revolution, all in a fun, interactive way that will be anything but boring.

"Cool way to see the city, would recommend to any visitor." -Brian J.

"Amazing time and history lesson." -Amanda W.

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If you're interested in French history and want to better understand those tumultuous years with a French Revolution tour, Paris will appear different to you after taking one of these tours. Many things – from street names to unusual habits or customs – will take on new meaning once you begin to understand some of their roots, not to mention that the revolution provides a perfect introduction to Paris.

Suggested books about the French Revolution

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