We met at the Fontaine Ste Michel on the edge of the 5th arrondissement. The giant red umbrella was our tour start. I first found Sandeman’s free tours in London, and enjoyed it, so I knew it was the best way to get Mom’s feet wet on our first day in Paris.
Keep in mind, we’d each slept maybe two hours on our flight the night before. By the end of the day, we’d walked seven miles. From the fountain, we went to Notre Dame and around the Île de la Cité.
I’ve been a big fan of the CW show Reign, so I kept imagining what Paris was like 500 years ago when the real Francis and Mary, Queen of Scots, might have visited it. Bonus points to the writers for the totally fake love story in the show, which is a lot more fun to imagine than the real-life sibling bond the monarchs shared.
This is what my very-tired brain wanted to focus on, instead of fun facts about squares, the buildings, and the history of Paris.
So I don’t remember much from my tour guide, except that Paris was completely rebuilt in the 1840s-1860s. This is why it looks so architecturally uniform.
If you’re looking for a good intro to any major city, Sandeman’s free tour is the way to go. You’ll pass by many of the popular sites, get your bearings, and learn a few things. I generally give the guide a €10 tip, which is how they get paid. You can do more or less, depending on how much you liked him or her.
We wound our way through the city, crisscrossing the Seine. Ending at the Jardin du Tuileries, we thought seriously about crying and falling asleep under the trees.
Clearly, that meant it was time for a glass of wine and a pain au chocolat.
We started and ended our week in Paris here; the very last thing we did was take the Grande Roue up to get views of the city before we flew home. I’m a fan of bookends, especially when they come shaped like Ferris wheels.