We booked this trip through Viator, but it is actually the same tour as Evan Evans The Magic of Paris (Escorted) and handled by Evan Evans. We did show up at the train station at 5:30 to somewhat of a disorganization. There were at least 3 different tour companies that offer a day trip to Paris tour, all starting from the same location at the train station. Unfortunately, none of the tour company representatives showed up until 6am, so we all stood around waiting. Then one by one they showed up, but you had to pay attention to make sure you spot your proper tour group representative. We did see our Evan Evans representative immediately and she escorted our group off to the side to explain the entire process. She was very efficient, explained everything thoroughly and handed us the envelope with the tickets and information. By now it was about 6:10, but unlike the brochure or info, the train to Paris does not leave until after 7:00am, so we had another hour to wait. Maybe they do this on purpose to allow for extra time for people who are never on time. Train ride was nice and uneventful. We had 4 seats in the same aisle. When we arrived in Paris, we did not immediately see our tour guide. All the others (ie Golden Tours, Premier) were right in front, but ours was in the back about 15 feet behind the others. There were about 16 folks on this tour, but 5 of them were on the unescorted version. After they received their info, they left and we were a nice small group of 11. We boarded a hop on hop off bus outside (along with other none tour group tourists), got our bus tickets and earphones and proceeded on the tour. It was a picture perfect, warm, beautiful day, which allowed us to thoroughly enjoy our bus from the upper deck. We drove down Champs-Elysees and around the Arc de Triomphe finally stopping at the Eiffel Tower. As the schedule had warned, there was a chance we would not go up to the second level because of the crowds and we did not. This was a little disappointing but not unexpected as I had read other reviews from Evan Evans and they did not go up either. We did walk all around the Eiffel Tower and our tour guide offered to take photos of our group. Next was the 1 hour Seine River Cruise, which was also very enjoyable. After the cruise we got back on the hop on, hop off bus to continue our city tour. Next stop was the Louvre. There were long lines to get in, but our guide got us in through the tour entrance with no waits. We were on our own at the Lourve and he had allocated 2 hours until we meet. I first thought it was a little too long, but that turned out not to be the case. By the time we saw the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, a few other items and a bathroom break, it was time to meet. Back on the bus, next stop Notre Dame. Here we had time to go inside (there was a line, but it moved quickly). We also walked around the entire Notre Dame, than went across the street to Café Panis for something to eat. We met our guide at the designated time and took a 15 minute walking tour of the area. We got on the bus and went to the Opera district where we spend about an hour including time in the store Galeries Lafayette. (we actually bought a few souvenirs). Finally it was back on the bus for the final ride to Paris Gare du Nord. We still had a little time before we caught the 9:15pm train back to London. We were about 35 minutes late in arriving back to London as our train stopped as soon as it crossed the channel back to England. There were some rowdy passengers on board and the police had to be called to remove them. We never saw the misbehaving passengers or the police. We arrive back in London after 11pm.
So to summaries, the good points are that this was a small group of only 11. No one was late for any of the meeting times, in fact everyone was always at least 5 minutes early. I felt we did a lot for one day as the tour kept moving along at a steady pace. Our tour guide gets extra bonus points for getting us on the buses, as the lines were always long on the hop on, hop off bus, but he managed to shuffle us through the back door without any waits.
The few minor disappointments are that we did not actually get to go up the Eiffel Tower, just walk around the outside. But that did leave extra time for a few other items at the end of the day. Also, while our tour guide was friendly, his English was not the best. And he was not the most outgoing person, rather more of a reserved type. I think these two items contributed to limited information he provided at the various sites (ie background, history, interesting tidbits etc.).
Other than those few minor items, overall we were very satisfied with the tour and it met our expectations. It provided a great way to get through the top Paris sites in one day.
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