What To Expect
First timers to Paris usually choose the convenience and utility of a hop on hop off bus tour. Lots of attractions can be covered in a short time if you take the hop on hop off tour and usually there is no limit on the time you can enter or exit the bus. A big double decker open topped bus follows a predetermined route with many stops. You can get off at any stop and check the attraction for as long as you like (conditions apply) and then catch the next vehicle by the same service provider.
All such tours have an audio commentary offered in many languages and sometimes there is an extra bonus like a free walking tour or a poncho or a cute pair of headphones. Check out the best known hop on hop off bus tour providers of Paris and their offerings.
You can find a comprehensive choice of hop on hop off tours of Paris and book online through this Viator site.
Big Bus Tours
Earlier known as Les Car Rouges, Big Bus Tours has been operating since the year 1991. Due to their international presence most tourists have already heard of Big Bus Tours in a significant way and they have enjoyed steadily rising popularity. There are Marsala/ burgundy coloured large open topped buses with prominent signage that you just can’t miss.
The tours are divided into 3 versions; Classic 1 day standard/ Classic 1 day with river cruise, Premium 2 day and Deluxe 2 Day. All tours have choices of 2 routes; classic Red Route (2 hour 20 minute tour) that covers most important points of Paris and the Blue Montmartre Route (1 hour 15 minute tour) that focuses on a specific zone.
There is a special deluxe ticket plus night tour option that includes a panoramic night tour and a Seine river cruise. The Seine river cruises are provided by Les Bateaux Parisiens …an hour long cruise that departs from Port de la Bourdonnais near Eiffel Tower. There are freebies like earphones, poncho and a rewards booklet for all customers of BigBus. All buses have free WIfi in them.
A commentary audio is available in 11 languages i.e. English, French, Italian, Spanish, Russian, German, Japanese, Arabic, Brazilian Portuguese, Korean or Mandarin.
Audio quality is sometimes sketchy with long stretches of music in the middle. There is usually a person doing live commentary on the bus though…the bus window has a notice saying whether there is a guide on board or not, so you can decide whether to hop on or not!!
Red Route (Classic)
First bus runs from stop 1 at 9.30 a.m. and the last bus runs at 5.40 p.m. If you want to catch a bus earlier or later then you can catch one at 9.15 a.m. and 6.30 p.m. at Louvre Pyramid (the Big Bus Information Centre stands here).
Buses run every 5 to 15 minutes at every stop so you never have to wait long at any attraction for the next bus. Note: To get back to the tour start point on the bus try catching one before 5 pm; after that tours will finish at Trocadero.
Blue Route (Montmartre)
You can only hop on the blue route buses at the Louvre Pyramid stop and the Gare du Nord stop. First bus for the Louvre stop starts at 9.30 a.m. and the Gare du Nord has an earlier bus at 9.05 a.m. Similarly the last buses at both stops run at 6.40 p.m… The other stops are hop off only. Buses run every half an hour at this route.
There are two common routes; Red Route (day tours) and Blue Route (night tour).
The red route tour lasts for a 2 hours 20 minutes and usually covers Eiffel Tower, Champs du Mars, Opera Garnier, Louvre, Notre Dame, Musee D’Orsay, Champs Elysees, Grand Palais, and Trocadero in this order. You can get on/ off at any point or change the route at the Louvre stop for Blue route.
The blue route tour lasts for 1.5 hours usually and visits Louvre, Notre Dame, Musee D’Orsay, Champs Elysees, Grand Palais, Trocadero, and Gare Du Nord in that order. You can only hop on at Louvre and Notre Dame Stops but hop off at any point. The blue tours are mostly Montmartre centric and drive through some less reputable areas of Paris so that might be an issue if you are touring with your family.
The Big Bus stops are rather obscurely marked…you might have a hard time locating the actual point of pickup.
34 euros per adult and 16 euro for kids between age 4 to 12 for the classic 1 day Tour without river cruise; this includes a choice of 2 routes and a ticket valid for an entire day with live commentary on board. Booking online may fetch hefty discounts.
Contacts & Ticketing
Tickets can also be bought from the bus drivers and from the reception desks of most hotels in Paris. If you buy tickets online you need to take a printout of the voucher and then exchange it with an actual ticket in the bus.
11 Avenue de l Opera, 75001 Paris
Phone: +33 (0)1 53 953 953, Booking Website
L’Open Tours are an affiliate of Grayline that’s a global sightseeing company offering hop on hop off plus tours of several kinds. If variety and maximum number of stops is what you seek then Grayline tours are always a good option.
There are 3 route options and 50 separate stops on their Paris hop on hop off tours and guests can access more than a 100 sites of interest. While opting for an L’Open Tour taking a longer ticket makes more sense otherwise it’s technically impossible to see all the spots. L’Open buses are huge with open tops and a zingy lemon colour that’s marked with prominent signage.
L’Open Tours are friendly towards guests with reduced mobility. 8 of their buses are wheelchair accessible. With the standard Bus Pass 1 day/ 2 day or 3 day tourists can access all 3 routes at their convenience giving them access to almost the whole of Paris.
There are also special offers like Bus and Boat packages where they partner with Bateaux Mouches River boat shuttles taking tourists to certain locations allowing another perspective of the city. For a higher fee you can enjoy an hour long Seine cruise along with 1 or 2 day ticket. The Seine Bateaux Mouches cruise starts at the 12th stop of the Blue Line Route i.e. the Port de la Conférence Pont de l’Alma on Droite River.
There are other combination like bus tour with guided tour of the Louvre, and bus tour with guided tour of Musee Grevin but their details keep changing with seasonal demands. A special night Paris tour runs from April to October and it covers Place de l’Opéra, the Champs Elysées, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame Cathedral, Saint Germain des Prés in roughly 1.5 hours.
A thorough commentary audio through earphones is available in 10 languages i.e. English, French, Italian, Spanish, Russian, German, Japanese, Brazilian Portuguese, Chinese
The audio quality gets consistently good reviews and the earphone quality (you get to keep these) are nice too…there is even a kid friendly guide. Guests will also get a discount voucher booklet that allows discounts on restaurants, museums etc.
Buses run from 9.30 am to 6 pm daily and the service ends at 7.45 p.m. A bus is available every 15 to 20 minutes
Buses run from 9.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. daily and the service ends at 6.40 p.m. A bus is available every 20 to 25 minutes
Buses run from 9.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. daily and the service ends at 6.30 p.m. A bus is available every half an hour.
The above mentioned frequencies are meant for peak season i.e. April to October. In winters there is a larger time gap between buses.
Montparnasse Tour / Greenline
The most notable stops are Notre Dame, Pantheon, Latin quarter, Saint-Germain: Petit-point, Place de la Bastille, Observatoire Port-Royale, Esplanade des Invalides, Rue du Bac. The tour commences at Notre Dame and lasts for about 1 hour 20 minutes
Montmartre Tour/ Red Line
The most notable stops are Haussmann opera Visitor centre, Trinite, Moulin Rouge Pigalle, Montmartre sacre coeur, Gare du Nord, Gare de l’Est, Madeline, place de la République, Bonne nouvelle Grand Rex and Hard Rock café grands Boulevards. The tour commences at Haussmann opera visitor centre and lasts for about 1 hour 5 minutes.
the most notable stops are Haussmann Opera Visitor Center, Opera Septembre, Palais Royal, Musee Louvre, Conciergerie, Pont Neuf, Orsay Museum, Place De La Concorde, Avenue Champs Elysees (Grand Palais, Disney Store, George V) , Trocadero, Eiffel Tower (full circle), arc Triomphe, Hotel des Invalides, Esplanade des Invalides, Concorde Royale and Madeleine. Tour commences at Haussmann opera visitor centre. Blue Line tours are the most extensive and last for 2 hours 18 minutes.
34 euros onwards for the 1 day pass, 38 euros for the 2 day pass and 42 euros for 3 day pass. A pass for kids costs 17 euros and can be utilised for 3 whole days. There is a cost effective family pass for 1/2/3 days that starts 85 euros upwards for a family of 2 adults and 2 kids. If you are looking for maximum sightseeing in a cost effective and comfortable way, LOpen is a good option. Booking online may fetch hefty discounts.
Contacts & Ticketing
Tickets can also be brought from the bus drivers and from the reception desks of most hotels in Paris. You can collect the tickets physically from the ticket office on 13 Auber Street.
13 rue Auber, 75009 Paris, Phone: +33 (0)1 42 66 56 56; Booking Website
If affordability in hop on hop off tours is what you are looking for then Foxity is your answer. Even Parisians vouch for the fact that the climate controlled Foxity buses are amongst the cheapest ways to see the city. The buses have retractable windows and a sliding transparent roof. Naturally the high focus on budget drives them to economise a lot and their routes have fewer stops than their competitors. However the company promises access to 40 monuments albeit in a touch and go manner. You will easily recognise a Foxity bus from afar; the orange and white colour scheme is eye catching.
There is a standard tour offering and a Pass City Tour plus one hour cruise combination in partnership with Vedettes du Paris. There is a Paris by Night tour too but the availability is demand driven and seasonal.
A standard commentary audio is available in 9 languages i.e. English, French, Italian, Russian, German, Japanese, Portuguese, Chinese. You need to plug in the headsets (these have to be returned) and choose your preferred language.
The audio quality is okay but the commentary style is rather dry focusing on dates and names rather than experiences.
The lower deck of the Foxity buses are equipped to handle people with reduced mobility as they have some special accessible chairs. However it’s recommended to reserve seats in advance.
Buses run from 9.30 am to 6 pm daily. Buses run every 20 to 25 minutes. Their fleet has fewer buses and customers often crib about substantial time differences between buses but that’s to be expected from a low cost service provider. You can board buses at any point on the route. The night tour operates from 7.30 pm and 9.30 p.m. every day from a spot near the Louvre.
There is only one route and they follow mostly a fixed plan that takes in the Eiffel Tower, Opera, Concorde la Duree, Grande Magasins, Opera, Louvre, Vedettes du Pont Neuf, Notre Dame, Champs Elysees Disney Store, Arc de Triomphe and L’Ecole Militaire…. covering the route takes 2 hours approximately.
You can begin the tour from Opera, Notre Dame/ St Michel and the Louvre stops….these are also Foxity Tourism agency stops that sell tickets!!
22 euros onwards for the standard Tour. The city tour with the Vedettes cruise is also competitively priced at 32 euros. Kids under the age 11 can travel for free (one child per adult). The night tour is from 19 euros and the city tour with Seine cruise package comes at around 30 euros.
A special family ticket which includes tours for a family of 4 people (2 adults and 2 kids) is available at 50% discount online.
Contacts & Ticketing
Buying online is recommended. Otherwise you can buy tickets from the opera agency on Avenue De L’opéra &
Agence France Tourisme near Louvre and the France Tourisme agency located near de Notre-Dame. You can get tickets from Foxity kiosks at all these stops subject to availability.
5 Avenue de l’Opéra. Phone: 33 (0)1 42 96 07 97; Booking Website