We all know the city guides that tell us about the Eiffel Tower or talk about how heavy the bell of Notre-Dame weighs. Of course there’s nothing wrong with that kind of information, but we rather go on tour with someone who can really teach us something new. Like a true Parisian!
On the 3th of January, I was the lucky one to get invited by the company Discover Walks, to try one of their amazing tours. Yes, with a real Parisian ;) I could pick a lot of different tours. They all looked interesting, but eventually I chose the Left Bank Tour. I didn’t knew that much information about the Latin Quarter, so I was really curious about the hidden secrets of this touristic place Or isn’t it that touristic at all…?
The rain was very badly that day, but when our guide arrived (a big plus for being perfectly on time!) it stopped. I would love to tell you all the details about the tour, but that would ruin the excitement for you and the guide. So, just grab your notebook and write down the highlights, because that’s what I’m going to talk about.
Our guide for that day was Quentin, a really nice guy who had lived for at the Quartier Latin area for a while. He started the tour with some facts and history about the district. Did you knew that ‘Left Banky’ means: rich and intellectual. That was because of the many students who studied there at one of the universities. The name ‘Quartier Latin’ is because Latin was the spoken language until the French Revolution.
Back to the tour, our first stop was the English bookstore: Shakespeare and Company. A famous bookstore where selling their books isn’t their first priority. It’s a company that gives upcoming writers a place to publish their work and a place to sleep in change for a few hours work in the bookstore. That’s no bad deal, who doesn’t want to work in such a romantic place ?
After we passed by the oldest tree of Paris (400 years old) and a church in a small park we arrived at the street: rue Saint Julien le Pauvre. The borderline between a good choice and a touristic one ;) Choose the way of rue Galande and you’re safe. The other side if full with touristic restaurants and souvenir shops. So, ignore the handsome waiter that try´s to get you inside of his cheap looking restaurant and move your way over to rue Galande. If you walk till the end of the street, you´ll find Studio Galande. A very special cinema, highly recommended by our tour guide. They play 5 different movies a day and on your ticket, you can find some things you have to bring to the movie. Think of rice to trow during at a wedding scene. How awesome, finally a legal reason to trow things at people during a movie!
During our walk the guide payed attention to everyone and tried to keep the group together. He taught us how to cross a road in Paris and told us many things about the Parisian life. Little facts that you can’t find in books. For example: did you knew that Parisian markets are not meant to be a touristic place? The Parisians are very serious when it comes to food. A market isn’t a place to buy quick some food and take some snapshots. It’s for many Parisians a place to socialize and talk about food in a traditional way. Food shopping at a Parisian market is serious business, but definitely worth to try! During Christmas season you can buy those delicious galettes….mmmmm.
We also passed a view impressive buildings like College de France, (where you can join many classes for free. You only have to speak French and show up. You don’t need a student ID to get inside) and Sorbonne. Sorbonne is known as THE university of Paris. But Quentin warned us to not be tempted by the looks. It is definitely not the best school in Paris. Somewhere near Sorbonne stand a statue of the writer Montaigne. The myth goes that if students are touch his foot, it brings luck with writing their essays. I just had to finish my philosophy essay last weekend, to bad I couldn’t try it haha.
Pff, time flies because Sorbonne was already the last stop. After a group photo and some social talk, it was time to say goodbye to the group and to Quentin. Who did a really good job. He was one of the better guides I ever had in Paris. A loud speaker, interesting information and he even took the time to advise people about nice restaurants or places to get a cup of coffee. By the way: café le Flore at St.Germain des Prés was one of his favorites.
The whole tour was a nice experience that I will recommend to everyone. You can choose between paid and free tours. The free tours are only tip-supported which means that the guides are depending on your generosity ;) You can easily book online or just show up at the meeting point when the tour starts. Introduce yourself to the guide and he or she is more than happy with your company! The free tours are running every day the whole year. Yes…even with bad weather!
Sweet dreams everyone or a really good morning ♥