A few weeks before our trip to Paris, I ran across a blog post about a program where volunteers give tourists a free private walking tour of the city. It sounded too good to be true. I immediately looked up Paris Greeters to get more information. Paris Greeters is an organization of volunteers who are passionate about sharing their city with visitors.

On their website, they have a spot to register for a walking tour. What really intrigued me is that we had no idea what part of Paris we’d be exploring. The volunteers live all over Paris and it’s surrounding areas. My husband and I are always looking for authentic experiences when traveling. This seemed like the perfect way to do it. I filled out the online form (and noted that we’d be with our baby and 3-year-old.) A few days later, Paris Greeters proposed a walking tour of Boulogne, a suburb of Paris. I had to Google it. This quiet neighborhood is known for 1930s Art Deco design. We excitedly confirmed the walking tour!

Paris Greeters walking tour in Boulogne.
Patrick pushed our stroller during this walking tour while chatting with my husband about the poets who were featured in this park in Boulogne.

Paris Greeters Walking Tour

Our volunteer was Patrick Lucard, who we later learned was the President of Paris Boulogne Greeters, which is a “sister” or affiliated association of Pais Greeters. He was beyond fabulous! We met him at the Michel Ange Auteuil Metro stop and he suggested we grab coffee like true Parisians. We headed across the street to sip cappuccino at the bar. after getting to know each other a bit more, we found out that he had just returned from a trip to Seattle a few weeks prior, so it was nice to see what he thought of our city before we explored his!

Paris Walking Tour
Playing at a Parisian park was a highlight for our 3-year-old. Photo Credit: Darren Cheung

Since we had our 3-year-old, he figured we might want to mosey toward a local park so he could run around a bit. We brought our stroller with us because our son had been done a lot of walking and we figured his little legs could use a break. Patrick offered to push our son around which made the walk even more enjoyable. I wore our baby in our Tula baby carrier and this freed my husband up to take photos along the walking tour.

One of the first things he showed us on our walk to the park was a vintage Art Nouveau “Metropolitan” sign by Hector Guimard. I’d seen this on a postcard but didn’t realize how rare it was to find. There are only 2 left in Paris. Then he started showing us the different styles of architecture. He explained how the second floor was the most desired floor and often featured a balcony. That’s the floor where the builder would live.

Paris Greeters Walking Tour
The highlight of the walk for me was talking with Patrick about Paris and life in general. Photo Credit: Darren Cheung

The park was a really wonderful experience. There were several nannies there with a handful of children. It was our first time in a park in Paris and our son was ecstatic to have the opportunity to run and play! Patrick and I sat on a bench and talked about life. He told me about how when he travels around Europe, it’s more about seeing great architecture, visiting historical sites and experiencing the culture. However, when he visits the United States, it’s like a dream vacation! I told him that when we visit Europe, we feel like it’s a dream because we get to see places we’ve only seen in books and movies and taste authentic food and hear other languages. We also talked a lot about the importance of learning other languages and exposing our children to other cultures through travel.

Paris Greeters walking tour
We never would have explored the greenhouses had we not taken the Paris Greeters walking tour. Photo Credit: Darren Cheung

We decided to continue our walking tour and go “look at the fishies” and we headed to a nearby greenhouse. Patrick told us that this was a favorite spot to bring his daughters because it was never crowded. We only saw one person in the greenhouse and she was sketching in a notebook. It was really beautiful to see the different plants and to look at the little fish. They had just pruned so we didn’t get to see as many flowers as we had hoped. It was still very relaxing. We saw that it was raining outside, so we lingered a bit inside another greenhouse to stay warm and dry.

Hotel Molitor
Exploring Hotel Molitor was an insider’s experience. Photo Credit: Darren Cheung

Coming from Seattle, we never let a little rain interrupt our plans. The Tennis Stadium was closed, so we just looked at it through the fence. But, Patrick was quick to think on his feet and he told us he had somewhere to show us.

He brought us to the Hotel Molitor Paris which was originally a swimming pool in the 1930s. They have kept the Art Deco vibe and the hotel is absolutely stunning. It’s the type of place where you could just relax at the hotel and soak in the cool vibes. Patrick took us inside to show us the original 1930s pool and it was breathtaking. He also was able to get us inside the spa area so we could get a look at the indoor pool. Not only was it a great way to warm up and stay dry, but it was definitely somewhere we never would have seen without our guide. He ended the walking tour by showing us Art Deco homes and the Rugby stadium.

Paris Greeters walking tour
Our Paris Greeters walking tour was a highlight of our trip to Paris. Photo Credit: Darren Cheung

This walking tour was a highlight of our entire trip to Europe. I recommend them to anyone traveling to Paris. Patrick immediately put us at ease and it truly felt like we were exploring Bolougne with a family friend. By the time our 3-hour-tour ended, we really felt like we were saying goodbye to a family member. It was so much more than just a tour of a city.  My husband and I felt like we were in great hands. We cherished this opportunity to connect with a local Parisian.

Paris Greeters Walking Tour

Blog Post Signup

Never miss a blog post by subscribing to Marcie in Mommyland!

Please wait...

Thank you for signing up!

Author

62 Comments

  1. Beautiful photos ūüôā ! I have always wanted to travel to Paris !

  2. I love this! It does sound too good to be true! I want to plan a trip for Paris soon and will definitely check this out, thanks for the recommendation!

  3. Seriously WOW! This sounds so amazing. Having a true local show you around and be quick on his feet to show you things when others don’t work out is amazing! I love that he catered to you have children!

    • marciecheung Reply

      I know, right? We really enjoyed the details like this in Boulogne.

  4. Finding native Parisians to take you around is such a nice way to see a new city and what great pr for France in general. I will definitely keep this in mind if I ever get there.

    • marciecheung Reply

      Yes, it is great PR! We really enjoyed this experience!

  5. What a really fabulous idea of the walking tour. I am still wanting to visit Paris. On the bucket list. Maybe one day it will come true – fingers crossed!

  6. Love Paris. When I lived in England we went to Disneyland Paris and Paris is such an amazing city. I loved it. I still remember it vividly and I was only 12 years old. One of my favorite memories.

  7. This is beautiful …I love taking walks..getting the opportunity to do in Paris would be life!

    • marciecheung Reply

      Walking tours are such a great way to really experience a city. I’m already looking for walking tours for future trips we’re taking other places!

    • marciecheung Reply

      Paris is fabulous! And this tour really made our trip special. Have a great time!

  8. I have always wanted to go and visit Paris. It is for sure one of the places my husband and I plan to travel too once we have some of our debts paid off. I think it would be so much fun even for the kids to get to experience it.

    • marciecheung Reply

      Yes, I think Paris is the dream destination worth saving up for.

  9. Oh how I love Paris. Never been myself but think it would be a real fantastic time. I would love to visit when my kids are a bit older and bring them along!

    • marciecheung Reply

      Yes and we could ask as many questions as we wanted!

  10. I would love to visit Paris! This sounds like such an amazing way to get an insider view of the city and see things that you wouldn’t see on a traditional tour!

  11. What a fabulous idea this is! Growing up my Dad’s work took him to Paris often so it’s a city I know pretty well. I love the idea of taking a tour with a local and seeing perhaps something that as a tourist I’d otherwise miss.

  12. This sounds like a perfect day! It is so good to see a new city from a local person’s perspective so you get a true feel for the area. I had no idea that the Metropolitan signs were so rare! As often as I’ve seen them in pictures I thought they were the norm!

  13. Sounds like such a great change from the large tours that are normally offered. Plus you get to see a real neighborhood and talk to a local, win – win!

  14. Aren’t walking tours amazing! I love that especially when I’m in a different country. It’s a great way to explore and learn more about the city that you’re in. So beautiful!

  15. This looks wonderful. We’ve always wanted to visit Paris and now, more than ever, want to visit with our daughters.

  16. Paris is my new spot to visit. It looks so gorgeous and this walking tour looks amazing!

    • marciecheung Reply

      Paris is fabulous! I highly recommend this walking tour!

  17. I had no idea something like this existed. I love walking tours. Sometimes you really just get the most culture that way.

  18. What an amazing way to see any city- through the eyes of a local! We loved our locals access tour on one of our vacations and it is amazing how different and personal it is. Good to know they have a volunteer service- I never would have known!

  19. This is so nice. I love to see families traveling together. Your son is so adorable! If we ever get the chance to visit Paris, we will definitely look into this.

    • marciecheung Reply

      Thanks! He talked about everything we saw when we got back to the hotel.

  20. Walking tour that makes you feel like a family friend is taking you around the city…that sounds wonderful. The individual attention of the guide would have added so much depth to your experience.

    • marciecheung Reply

      It was such a wonderful experience! I feel so fortunate to have found them online!

  21. oh my gosh!! headed there in a month and any tips I can get traveling with kids is a plus. thank you for this. will email it to myself to have it on hand.

    • marciecheung Reply

      Wonderful! I hope you have such a lovely time! I highly recommend hitting up Monoprix or Monop’ for super inexpensive treats to bring home!

  22. What a great idea… the Paris Greeters Walking Tour I mean! You will get more of a local view of the things while exploring the city. I wish more cities would do something like that. Or maybe I just haven’t been looking from a right place? Paris is lovely, especially at the spring time.

    • marciecheung Reply

      I loved that this tour was private because we were able to adjust it based on our children’s moods. Most of the walking tours I’ve found are for large groups. But, I’m definitely going to look into more walking tours when we travel!

  23. What a beautiful park! Very romantic, but at the same time, perfect for families. I’m glad that you brought your kid along so he could enjoy the outdoors. Sadly, today, most kids are glued on their tabs, computers, and phones.

  24. This was a lovely experience. I would check out the website of Paris Greeters and learn more about them. It would be so nice to meet a friendly Parisian like Patrick. I love all the places that he showed you. Patrick looks enthusiastic and knowledgeable.
    Your son looks adorable. I am sure that he will have lots of travel stories to share with his friends.

    • marciecheung Reply

      Patrick was the friendliest and most helpful tour guide we’ve had to date!

  25. This is something I would like to experience when I visit a different country! Aside from the famous tourist attractions, it’s always good to be closer to the locals and for sure they have better places to show you. I hope they have something like that in different countries too. I used to tour my friends from different countries because they said they wanted to know more about the locals, but sometimes it’sexhausting. But the idea is great! Thank you for sharing this!

    • marciecheung Reply

      Yes, I get exhausted showing people around Seattle. But, it is fun to see someone experience your city for the first time!

  26. We never knew about Paris greeters and good we got a chance to read your post. We have been to Paris and have heard about walking tours but never thought how it would be. Now that you have introduced Paris greeters to us, we will make it a point to register and do the Paris walking tour. Your pics are incredible!

    • marciecheung Reply

      Thanks! Paris Greeters is a great program and I’m so glad we were able to try it out!

  27. This walking tour sounds absolutely brilliant. I’m a big fan of taking a walking tour when I arrive in a new place, but they are usually in big groups and, although they can be fun and informative, they are sometimes a little impersonal. It sounds like Paris Greeters do a really good job and matching you with the right guide. This is definitely something I will look into when I visit Paris later this year.

    • marciecheung Reply

      Yes, look into it! I loved how personalized the tour was. And it went at a pace that worked for our family. Have an awesome trip!

  28. I love this Idea of Paris greeting tours. It would be great to try it myself some time. It must be a special feeling to be taken care of. Thanks for sharing!

  29. This is a really cool way to explore Paris! Especially to a traveler who’s never been to France! Thanks for the virtual tour !!!!

Write A Comment