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Paris Sightseeing Buses


ABOVE: A bus of L'OpenTour swings past Nôtre-Dame Cathedral on the Île de la Cité. INSET BELOW: A double-decker of Les Cars Rouges.

L'OpenTour and Les Car Rouges

If you're in Paris for only a short time, or if your body won't withstand hours of walking every day, a traditional escorted bus tour is a great convenience. Our advertising partner, Viator, offers a variety of tours and excursions in Paris and the surrounding area, with prices in a wide choice of currencies.

Independent travelers often turn up their noses at guided tours, preferring to travel on foot, by Métro or RER trains, or on city buses. (We share their preference.)

Nowadays, a third option offers a compromise between convenience and independence: the "hop on, hop off" sightseeing bus.

photoDouble-decker buses of L'OpenTour and Les Cars Rouges follow set routes with stops at leading museums and tourist attractions. For a fixed price, you can step off a bus, explore an attraction or neighborhood at your leisure, and catch another bus when you're ready to move on. As a bonus, you can put on headphones and listen to a running commentary between stops.

The green-and-yellow buses of L'OpenTour cover four sightseeing routes: "Paris Grand Tour," "Bastille-Bercy," "Montmartre-Grands Boulevards," and "Montparnasse-Saint Germain." A single pass gives you access to all four routes.

The red-and-white buses of Les Cars Rouges cover only one route, which stops at nine locations in the city center. You can buy your pass on the bus or save 10 percent by ordering online.

  • Language note: Les Cars Rouges has narrations in nine languages: French, English, Spanish, Italian, German, Japanese, Russian, Chinese (Mandarin), and Brazilian Portuguese. L'OpenTour's commentaries are in 10 languages: French, English, Spanish, Italian, German, Portuguese, Russian, Czech, Chinese (Mandarin), and Japanese.

  • Prices:  Both bus lines offer similar prices for one- and two-days pass. (L'Opentour also has a three-day pass for a few euros more.) For details on current prices and special offers, see the companies' Web sites and check Viator's rates in the currenty of your choice before you buy.

  • Waiting times: In summer, both lines operate buses at 10- to 15-minute intervals. Les Cars Rouges offers more frequent service in the winter months, however: every 15 minutes, compared to every 20 to 30 minutes for L'Opentour.

  • If you prefer water to asphalt: Try the Batobus (see next page), which extends the "hop on, hop off" concept to the Seine.

Next page: Batobus water bus

In this article:
L'OpenTour, Les Car Rouges

Related article:
Paris Sightseeing Boats