Paris is one of the most visited destinations in the world and with all of that traveller traffic comes tourist hot spots that seem to overtake the city. Luckily Paris still has many areas that are true to the city, filled with locals and few to no tourists. Whether you like it or not you will be a tourist when visiting Paris and though all of the hot spots are worth seeing for their incredible and intricate beauty it’s nice to get off the beaten path and really see Paris how a local sees it.
Locals in Paris get to see the stunning architecture, smell the croissants being baked at local shops and freshly made coffee wafting from cafes. They roam through small streets filled with their favourite shops and avoid the hordes of thousands who visit the city every year.
But how do you find these local spots? What areas are worth seeing and what can you see while you’re there? One tour company has gone above and beyond when it comes to local tours and will show you the side of Paris that most visitors have no idea about.
Before you roll your eyes and decide that you don’t want to read about a tour hear me out. Context Tours is not your typical tour company. They run small group tours around the world that limit their tours to only six people each. It won’t really feel like a tour because by the end you’ll feel like you’re among friends.
The tour guides aren’t trained like other tour companies either because they already know their stuff and more than what any trained guide could know. These are experts in their fields that show you what they’re passionate about. Your guide will be a historian, architect or chef, depending on what tour you choose.
It’s these experts that know the best areas around Paris, the top spots to see, the most unique things to do and who can teach you so much more about Paris than any guide book or hop-on hop-off bus could show you.
I thought you would be.
On my third trip to Paris I decided I wanted to see more than the tourist hot spots and opted to head out with Context Tours to see a neighborhood I wouldn’t have even stumbled across if roaming through the city by myself. I did the Paris Market tour because who wouldn’t want to try food in Paris?
The tour was led by Anna, a local chef who just oozed detailed knowledge of all things food, specifically French food. She guided our group of 6 to her favourite shop full of freshly baked bread and pastries where we could grab breakfast.
Across the street was a local market where she pointed out food unique to Paris and commented on the education needed to be a butcher in France. She described the thinly sliced meat like it was a piece of art and taught us about specific types of birds that live in only a certain area of France, explaining how expensive and high-end they were.
She bought us some cheese, two choices with fresh bread that we enjoyed along the sidewalk sat at round tables while we watched deliveries being made to the market.
Everything that happened in the market Anna could explain. As a chef she knew the process inside and out and was able to open our eyes to the complexity of and passion behind food in France. She taught us how to choose fruit and vegetables from the stands, handing us fresh figs and raspberries.
Every question we had she could answer and she was happy to continue talking for hours on the topic if she could. Unfortunately, the tour was only two and a half hours long but I could have gone on all day tasting samples and learning about French cuisine from a pro.
The Paris Market Tour was only scratching the surface of what Paris has to offer but it was by far the best way to discover more of Paris and gave me a way deeper knowledge of Paris and French cuisine than I could have found anywhere else.
I’m sure there are plenty of things that you walk by without even knowing what they are, the significance behind the little details or the history of the ancient building next to you. It’s easy to do so in Paris but with Context Tours you can be sure that you’re learning the most that you can in these small group tours.
Don’t miss the opportunity to discover Paris like a local. As someone who has been on many group tours I can vouch that these tours are worth adding to your Paris itinerary whether you want to learn about food, history, wine or even have a customized tour.
Disclosure: This post was written in exchange for the Paris Market Tour. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.