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Experiencing Bohemian Paris with Urban Adventures

Grey skies in Paris on eatlivetravelwrite.com

After the fun I had on the Urban Adventures “Secret Paris” tour, I was really looking forward to their “Bohemian Paris” tour – something a little different from the food-centric tours I tend to take (i.e. this tour by Flavors of Paris on the Left Bank, the Context Paris Chocolate Walk, the Context “Bobo Palate: New Trends in Parisian Cuisine“, the Context Baguette to Bistro tour, the La Cuisine Paris “Sugar Walk” of the Marais, the “Bellies on Foot” tour, again from La Cuisine Paris) or this food tour of the 7th arrondissments with Localers, just to name a few!), though as the tour did promise we would “learn about France’s heritage while walking the streets, playing petanque and sampling regional fare,” I was pleased to see a snack built into the 4 hour afternoon walking tour (€40 per person).

The day for the tour dawned bright and hot (as in 35˚C) but as the tour was in the afternoon, I was hopeful there might be some cooling breeze by then. Little did I suspect as I headed out in my coolest clothes, water bottle in hand that in the 10 minutes it would take me to reach the meeting point by the stifling RERB train, the weather would have turned completely. As in…

Grey skies and construction in Paris on eatlivetravelwrite.com

Huddled in a doorway just 50 metres from the meeting point of the Pantheon, we had a phone call from Tim, our Urban Adventures guide, confirming that we should still make our way there as we was optimistic that the rain would pass.  Soaking wet, standing under the arches of the Pantheon, looking at this view a few minutes later, we weren’t so sure…

Raining at the Pantheon on eatlivetravelwrite.com

We weren’t a large group and people seemed pretty keen to “wait it out” and lo and behold we set off under light rain but clearing skies just about 20 minutes late, some of us sporting the magic “Paris” umbrellas that seem to appear on every street corner as soon as it starts to even look like it’s going to rain…

As with the “Secret Paris” tour, Tim “read” the group very quickly and was able to tailor the information he was giving us according to our interests – like any mixed group, there was a a wide variety of ages/ interests and knowledge about Paris but Tim made the information relevant to us all.  What I really liked about this tour was all the historical information – as I said before, most of the tours I take focus on food (history) so it was a nice change to focus on things like architecture and history this time around. As I told someone else on the tour, when I lived in Paris, those were not really the things I spent a lot of time thinking about – I think you tend to take things like learning about the history of “that building” for granted when you live somewhere or you always think you’ll look it up later but never do.  Taking tours like this one in Paris has been great for “filling in the blanks” for me in terms of a lot of historical knowledge about Paris.

Paris 5th arrondissement on eatlivetravelwrite.comBy the time we got to Luxembourg Gardens, though, it was raining quite hard again – more of us had purchased umbrellas which were pretty useless against the pounding rain (I do notice now that the tour info suggests bringing an umbrella which I don’t remember seeing on the site before – as a general rule of thumb, I’d carry an umbrella with me at all times in Paris now!) – so we decided to wait it out in a café.

Luxembourg Gardens in the rain Paris on eatlivetravelwrite.com

Whilst it wasn’t a designated stop on the tour, it was actually quite nice as it gave us a chance to chat and get to know each other. After another 1/2 hour or so, we set out again, hopeful that the rain might hold off for a few more hours at least.

Luxembourg gardens in Paris on eatlivetravelwrite.comLuxembourg Gardens in the sun on eatlivetravelwrite.com

As we wandered along to St Germain via place de l’Odéon, the skies did look somewhat threatening….

Stormy skies in Paris on eatlivetravelwrite.com

But wait….. could it be… might it be… sun?

Theatre de l'Odeon on eatlivetravelwrite.com

In fact it was and from that point on, the weather was gorgeous and sunny.

Candies at Place de L'Odeon Paris on eatlivetravelwrite.com

(No tour of St Germain is complete without a stop at the sweet seller at the Odéon metro stop!)

Under much clearer skies, we headed into the charming streets of the St Germain area, stopping by Paris’ oldest café (founded in 1686)…

Around St Germain des Pres Paris on eatlivetravelwrite.com

I love that alongside gorgeous and/ or historic buildings, there’s always a little slice of the “ordinaire“…

Paris buildings and alimentation generale on eatlivetravelwrite.com

And for the first time in all the times I’ve walked through the Place which is home to Paris oldest church, l’Eglise St Germain-des-Prés, I looked up…

Place St Germain des Pres Paris on eatlivetravelwrite.comYes, those are books in the trees!  It’s a nod to the area’s history – being home to publishing houses and many bookstores.

Inside the church (also my first time), you’ll definitely want to look up… It’s gorgeous!

Inside Eglise St Germain des Pres on eatlivetravelwrite.com

Out on the streets again, we passed the extraordinary (unexpected wall paintings) and the ordinary (Paris café life)…

St Germain des Pres Paris on eatlivetravelwrite.com

And learned about the colourful history of the Hôtel La Louisiane.

(for those of you not familiar with its famous former residents, you can read the charmingly translated history here)

Hotel Louisiane on eatlivetravelwrite.com

Moving on towards the Seine through quieter streets, we passed by the formidable Institut de France – encompassing five Académies, the most famous of which is the Académie Française (a body created in 1635 with the aim of protecting the French language – they have a harder time now with all the English that’s creeping into the French language these days!).

Institut de France on eatlivetravelwrite.com

Passing by the Pont des Arts, we stole a glimpse of the love locks

Pont des Arts love locks on eatlivetravelwrite.com

Soon is was time for our snack break as a tiny wine bar in the Place Dauphine. And what a snack it was. Cheese, charcuterie and a little glass of wine.

Fromage and charcuterie on eatlivetravelwrite.com

Followed by more wine and a game of pétanque in the square. Honestly? Best afternoon ever!

Petanque and red wine in Paris on eatlivetravelwrite.com

After a few games (no, my team didn’t win any!), we strolled slowly to the end point of the tour, Notre Dame, along the Seine, admiring the bouquinistes along the way…

Bouquiniste in Paris on eatlivetravelwrite.com

And a bit of “Oh, right, THIS is Paris too” as we strolled by the Gendarmes

Gendarmes in Paris on eatlivetravelwrite.com

Passing by Paris’ most famous English language bookstore, Shakespeare and Co.

Shakespeare and Co in Paris on eatlivetravelwrite.com

Finally, nearly 90 minutes late (but noone cared at all, we were having so much fun!), we arrived at our destination – Notre Dame…

Notre Dame Paris on eatlivetravelwrite.com

Isn’t she beautiful?

Notre Dame in Paris on eatlivetravelwrite.com

And we all made a wish to return to Paris as we pivoted around Paris Kilometre Zero.

Making a wish to go back to Paris on eatlivetravelwrite.com

Fingers crossed we all do :)

All in all, even with some “weather challenges”, this was a fabulous afternoon – full of history made fun. Highly recommended, especially as it’s very competitively priced compared to other walking tours. Even if you think you know Paris, there will be something for you to learn on this adventure.  If you only have a few days in Paris, this would be a great way to cover a lot of ground in one afternoon, making notes for places to come back to later in your trip, time permitting.

Disclosure: I was a guest of Urban Adventures on the “Bohemian Paris” tour. I was not asked to write about this, nor am I being compensated for doing so. All opinions are 100% my own.

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21 Responses to Experiencing Bohemian Paris with Urban Adventures

  1. Debbie August 6, 2013 at 08:27 #

    Great photos and description of the tour, makes me want to go there right now! Maybe next summer.

    • French Foodie in Dublin August 6, 2013 at 15:45 #

      I’m loving all your posts about Paris Mardi! I’m going to France in 3 weeks and you make me feel like I’m there already! :)

    • Mardi Michels November 10, 2013 at 18:54 #

      Definitely worth it!

  2. Kelly@ Try New Things August 6, 2013 at 09:27 #

    Your photos remind me how much I miss Paris…I am putting it on my list for 2014.

    My wish is to spend a couple of months just living in Paris and feeling the vibe that your pictures remind me of. Thank you … it is wonderful to see. Lucky you.

    • Mardi Michels November 10, 2013 at 18:54 #

      Thanks – that’s why I like going each summer and just “being” :)

  3. Coco in the Kitchen August 6, 2013 at 15:33 #

    The rain put a romantic flair onto your pics.

    I see you had President butter. It’s my fav!

  4. Pamela August 6, 2013 at 17:33 #

    I enjoyed reading about this tour. Will add this to the list. Thanks Mardi.

  5. David @ Frenchie and the Yankee August 6, 2013 at 18:40 #

    And just like that, you transported me to St-Germain and other areas of Paris. Thanks Mardi!

  6. Bintu @ Recipes From A Pantry August 7, 2013 at 04:49 #

    What a lovely time you had. I think I need to go on one of these tours.

  7. Michelle August 7, 2013 at 07:44 #

    I don’t think I’ll ever get bored of going to Paris – it’s such a beautiful and exciting city. Love the photos (especially the sweets!)

  8. yummychunklet August 7, 2013 at 17:31 #

    Love your photos!

  9. Gail September 6, 2013 at 07:59 #

    Beautiful trip, Mardi!

  10. Alicia October 5, 2013 at 16:06 #

    This was a wonderful recommendation for my Paris trip Mardi. I loved this tour and it was one of the highlights of my stay. I would highly recommend this to others! Thanks for the tip. :-)

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