Saturday, our first full day in Paris, and we had a walking tour with Wego Walking Tours. From what I read, they are unique because there is no charge for the tour. As long as you show up. If you don’t show, they do have your credit card information and will charge 20 euro. But if you show up, you just pay what you feel the tour was worth. They are also a 2 person company. Paul, our guide, and Pau, his wife.
Paul was the first to greet us when we arrived at Notre Dame, the starting point. Right away he had us chuckling with his energy and excitement. He literally bounced as he talked to you, and hopped from person to person as new people trickled in. He was talkative and funny, and was wearing an orange vest – which all came together to give us the impression we were getting a walking tour from Tigger. Once that was said, I couldn’t get it out of my mind!
However, aside from giving us the giggles over the Tigger parallel, Paul was extremely interesting to listen to. He was a history major in school, and his grandfather was a history professor who actually (unsuccessfully unfortunately) worked to get the school to change how they taught history – away from the dry names and dates and on to the story and drama of history. So Paul grew up with his grandfather’s bedtime stories all being the story of history.
So as Paul let us from Notre Dame, to the Louvre, to Jardin de Tuileries, to Place de Concorde, to Champs-Elysees, to Invalides, to Tour Eiffel, (and a number of places in between) he was telling stories about all the main players if Paris history. How Victor Hugo’s Hunchback of Notre Dame, aside from being a great piece of literature, was an attempt to endear Notre Dame to the people at a time it was threatened with being torn down. Which worked. About how Louis XIV always stood “like that” in portraits because he was so proud of his attractive calves, and how that was also why he wore tights and red high heels. (Can you imagine?)
Paul clearly loves Napoleon. Not in a way to glorify or gloss over the negatives, but with a fascination that brings Napoleon to life and puts him in the context of history. I hadn’t realized that after France’s bloody revolution it was under constant attack from the monarchies all around it. None of Europe wanted France’s little experiment to work or be rewarded, so France was constantly attacked and threatened. Enter Napoleon, who had already been working his way up the rungs of power.
“It’s probably a good thing France no longer has a death penalty, we tend to get carried away with things like that.”
Anyway, it was fascinating. We very much recommend Paul, Pau, and Wego Walking Tours. And yes, there is no official charge for the tour, but if you go on this tour and either stiff them, or really underpay, shame on you. Because he does a great job, and is worth a comparable tour payment.
That tour ended at lunch time, so we headed over to Rue Cler to find somewhere to sit and rest and eat. I had heard about Rue Cler from Rick Steeves (of tour book/guide fame) as being a street with every possible food option. Paul also recommended it, and pointed out that it was only a couple of blocks away. So that was where we settled for lunch. Mmm…. I couldn’t finish it all and had to ask for a doggie bag.
And then we had a walk across the city home. That was a LOT of walking for one day, and we basically just went out and grabbed food at a local like sandwich shop to bring home for dinner, and crashed!
Please do check out Wego Walking Tours if you will be in Paris. We were so pleased with our tour and highly recommend it.
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