Frequently Asked Tour Questions
Q: Can you book a hotel for me?
Nope. I review hotels for a living, so to avoid any conflict of interest I avoid booking rooms for guests. Also, only registered and insured travel agents can book hotels, flights, drivers, and shows for clients. I can give you information to do this directly yourself as a travel consultant.
Q: Can you recommend a hotel near the Louvre? Give us a list of budget bistros? Tell us where to go dancing? Suggest a few trendy clothing stores? Help me research an article about Paris ?
Of course I can! My travel planning and custom itinerary services are available here.
Q: Why can't you just answer a few quick questions for free? Surely it only takes a moment to recommend your favorite restaurant!
The short answer is that this is how I make a living, and I don't have time to work for free! I get dozens of information requests every week from tourists, students, people who want to come live in France, and even other travel writers looking for help with their research. The only people who get free advice are my friends, family, and former tour guests. If you're on a budget, there's plenty of free information and recommendations in the Resource Guide and Secrets of Paris newsletter archives, but you have to find it yourself!
Q: Can you send us the final itinerary before we book the tour?
While you may have a general theme in mind when booking our custom tours, we only create the full itinerary once you’ve sent us your deposit and completed questionnaire. This extra step may take more time, but the result is a vastly improved tour experience personalized just for you. We’ve written about thousands of “Secrets of Paris” over the years, so we have a vast repertoire of obscure, quirky and specialized places we can weave into any customized tour once we know your interests. And if you’re feeling adventurous, just tell us you want to see a side of Paris you’d never see on your own, we’ll be happy to surprise you!
Q: How do I reserve a tour?
Contact us to reserve your tour after reading through the types of tours we offer and pricing. All reservations require a credit card deposit (through PayPal) of €50-€500. We usually ask that you book your tour or travel-planning service at least two weeks in advance, earlier if possible (but within the same year only). We're currently accepting bookings for 2016.
Q: What form of payment do you accept?
I accept credit cards for the deposit and cash for the balance on the day of the tour. Euros only, please (gone are the days when dollars could be used everywhere, alas).
Q: What is your cancellation policy?
Deposits are non-refundable, but can be used towards another tour depending on availability. If your guide has to cancel a tour, all deposits are fully refunded.
Q: Why can't you give a tour to my group of 20?
All of my tours are interactive in the old-fashioned sense, meaning I like to have a conversation with my guests, answering questions and getting to know each person. This isn't possible with a large group. Plus I can't take large groups into all of the little places that I think make my tours so special.
Q: What happens if the weather is bad?
Tours take place rain or shine, heatwave or snowstorm (which are, to calm your concerns, rare). I don't like to freeze, get drenched, or melt either, so be assured that I'm always prepared to adjust tours for your comfort and mine, whether it's ducking into the historic covered passages to escape the rain, an unexpected stop for ice cream to cool off, or warming our hands and tummies with a glass of vin chaud! NOTE: From November through March, all tours over two hours are done with a driver.
Q: What should I wear?
Whatever makes you comfortable, especially for the walking tours. If there's somewhere on tour that has a dress code, I'll let you know in advance. More importantly, try to carry as little as possible. No shoes in the world will help your feet if you're carrying around unnecessary weight!
Q: Why are your tours so expensive?
While not the most expensive tours of Paris, it’s true they are at the top of the range. There are several reasons for this. First of all, the guides are experienced professionals at the top of their field, many of them are also travel writers like myself. We are all fulltime residents (some born in Paris) who make a living in the tourism industry. This is our career and our calling, not something we do "on the side" or because we just moved to Paris and can't find any other job.
Second, there is considerable preparation time involved for private tours, including one-on-one communication between the guides and the clients during the planning process. For almost every tour, the guide meets the clients at their hotel; we don't make you try and find a "meeting point" in an unfamiliar city! We always go the extra mile for our clients to ensure their entire trip is memorable, not just the time they spend with us.
Finally, Secrets of Paris tours are part of the French limited liability company, Fleur de Lire EURL. Your tour price includes the hefty 20% Value-Added-Tax, and takes into account our somewhat considerable business taxes -- hey, someone has to pay to keep Paris looking good! Tour companies which are not registered to do business in France (or who do it "under the radar") are not subject to these taxes, and can therefore charge less.