Unsure about your French table manners? Click Here to download > > How to avoid these 10 food etiquette mistakes !
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
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!
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.
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!
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)...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.