IPA Magazine-Luxury Travel Reviews

Getting Around in Paris: The Big Red Bus of Paris

red busJust arrived in Paris for the first time and don’t know what to do?  The best way to enjoy the fabulous sites of this majestic city is to start with a “hop on, hop off” bus tour aboard an open top, double decker bus.

First of all, if time is a factor, start with the Paris Day Tour.  However, if you have time, you’ll want to add the Paris Night Tour and the River Cruise on the Seine.  The adult fare combo price for all three is €53 for one day or just four euros more for two days (highly recommended—it would be difficult to do all three in one day, and you’ll savor the experience more if stretched out over two days).  There are other combinations and prices for these tours that you can find out about online at http://eng.bigbustours.com/paris/home.html

The Big Red Bus day tour begins at the Eiffel Tower where you may purchase your ticket (or you may choose to save 10% on your tickets and purchase them online).  The e-tickets are sent straight to your Smartphone.  Once onboard, pick up a set of free ear buds, find a seat, and choose your personal recorded audio commentary station available in one of 11 digitally recorded languages.  (Free rain ponchos are available if it’s raining.)  Have your sightseeing map open on your lap to follow the route.  The Day Tour stops at 10 key points along the way.  The frequent bus departures from each stop allow you to hop on and off the bus to explore attractions easily.  Here are some of the sights you’ll see along the way:

Eiffel Tower

Named after its designer, the engineer and architect Gustave Eiffel, the tower was built for the 1889 World’s Fair where it became the tallest bus eiffelstructure in the world and remained so until the Chrysler Building was erected in 1930.  The global icon of France has 3 levels.  Tickets may be purchased to ascend by stair or elevation.  Nearly 7 million persons visit the tower annually with over 250 million persons having visited it by 2010.

Champ de Mars

A large public park directly behind the Eiffel Tower, the park is named for the Roman god of war, Campus Martius, alluding to the former use of this area by the French military.

Hotel des Invalides

Originally built by Louis XIV as a hospital and home for disabled soldier, it houses the Tomb of Napolean Bonaparte and its museum has a huge collection of over 500,000 artifacts, including weapons and armor.

Petit Palais

The Petit Palais was built for the 1900 Universal Exhibition and became an art museum in 102.  It now houses the City of Paris Museum of Fine Arts, displaying paintings by Rembrandt, Monet and Cezanne, to name a few.

Place de la Concorde

One of the most famous public areas in Paris, the Place de la Concorde is the largest square in Paris.  King Louis XVI was executed here in 1793 and Queen Marie Antoinette was guillotined here as well.  A 3,300-year-old Egyptian obelisk which marked the entrance to the temple in Luxor was given to France from the Ottoman Viceroy of Egypt in 1929.

Opéra Garnier

Founded in 1669 by Louis XIV as the Academie d’Opera, The Opera Garnier was built between 1861-1875 as the primary home for the Paris Opera.  It is now used mostly for ballet productions.  It was the setting for Gaston Leroux’s 1911 novel, The Phantom of the Opera and subsequent adaptations in films and on stage by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s popular 1986 musical.

Place Vendome

A prestigious square, the imposing column in the center of the square was erected by Napolean to celebrate the battle of Austerlitz in 1805, his finest hour, when he defeated the Russian and Austrian armies.

Musee du Louvre and Pyramid du Louvre

Philip II built the Louvre Palace in the late 12th century.  In the 16th century, King Francis I used the Louvre to house his private art collection.  The Louvre became a national art museum in 1793 when the royal collection was opened to the public following the French Revolution.  DaVinci’s famous Mona Lisa is found here.  The Pyramid du Louvre is a large glass and metal pyramid in the main courtyard of the Louvre Palace.  It serves as the main entrance to the Louvre Museum.  The Louvre is the world’s most visited museum, and receives more than 9.7 million visitors annually.

Notre Dame Cathedral

One of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture, it is among the largest and most well-known church buildings in the world. Started around 1163, it was completed in 1345.  The cathedral reliquary is said to house the Crown of Thorns, a fragment of the True Cross and one of the Holy Nails.  Notre Dame suffered desecration during the French Revolution but was restored in the 19th century.

Institute of France

The neoclassical building houses a variety of academies, the most famous of which is the Academie Francaise, founded in 1635 by Cardinal Richelieu.  The Academie is the official authority on the French language and publishes an official dictionary.  It seeks to prevent the Anglicisation of the French language and recommends that contemporary words such as “software” and “email” be avoided and to use words derived from French instead, such as  “logiciel” and “courriel.”

Musee d’Orsay

An art museum housed in a former railway station, the Musee d’Orsay holds and extensive collection of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces by such painters as Monet, Degas, Renoir, Cezanne and Van Gogh.

Arc de Triomphe

One of the most famous monuments in Paris, this arch was commissioned in 1806 by Napolean.


Champs-Elysees is the most famous street in Paris and perhaps the world.  It extends from the Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe and is known for its cinemas, cafes and luxury shopping.

Grand Palais

The Grand Palais was built primarily for the great exhibition of 1900.  It is famous for its vaulted glass ceiling.

National Assembly

The Palais Bourbon was built in the 18th century but became the home to France’s National Assembly, the parliament’s lower house.  The political terms “left wing” and “right wing” originated here, as socialist leaning parties have sat to the left (as seen from the president’s seat) and the conservative parties have sat to the right.

The Night Tour Route

The night tour includes the sparkling lights of the Eiffel Tower, Champs-Elysees, Louvre Pyramid and Moulin Rouge.  The departure point is at Champs-Elysees.  The trip lasts approximately two hours.

River Cruise

River cruises on the Seine start at 10:00 am and continue every ½ hour April to September, with the last cruise departing at 10 pm.  From October to March, the tours depart every hour and the last cruise departs at 9:30 pm.  Board the cruise ship across from the Eiffel Tower on the river waterfront.

The Big Bus Information Center

11, avenue de l’Opera

75001 Paris

Tel: +33 [0] 1 42 61 24 64

For all customer enquiries please email: infoparis@bigbustours.com

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