A Drive Through Paris
Sights to See on a Car Tour of Paris
Are you planning a trip to Paris, but you’re worried you won’t get to see it all?
All the incredible landmarks, all the storied quarters and streets, all the views. It’s an overwhelming city with so much to offer, and it’s just too much to see in one trip on your own.
I’ve been giving guided tours of Paris for a decade, and now, I’m collaborating with a professional Parisian driver to offer a 4 hour trip through the city streets in a Mercedes.
If you want to have lunch at a great French restaurant, relax in a park or stroll through an art museum during the car tour, you can also add extra hours for an extended experience.
The car tour is an exciting way to show people the city. While walking and biking are essential ways to see Paris up close, taking a car allows you to see everything.
It makes for a great option early on in your stay in Paris. It will give you a chance to orient yourself, and figure out everything you want to see up close and personal.
Of course, we can change the route to fit any preference, but below, let’s look at some of the favorite places people have loved to see in my Paris car tours.
One of the best places to begin your car tour of Paris is at Montmartre, a district named after for its hill that gives an incredible view of the city — it should, it is the highest elevation in the city.
It is a world renown arts district, which boasts incredible monuments as well as nestling in hidden gems everywhere you go. You can see it immortalized in the paintings of the Impressionists and the films of the French New Wave.
How did it become such a hotspot for artists? The Belle Époque (1872 to 1914), a time of optimism and peace for France, saw many creatives move to Montmartre because it was inexpensive.
And once some artists lived there, it began to attract more and more. The cafes were alive with discussions and the streets filled with the likes of Edgar Degas, Vincent van Gogh and Henri Matisse. These artists formed influential groups and many of them went on to become some of the most notable painters of all time.
This began an association between art and Montmartre, one that continues to this day. Its bohemian bent has made it a popular locale for literature and films set in Paris.
If you fall in love with Montmartre (which you almost certainly will), you can visit the Museum of Montmartre. It is located in the former residence of none other than Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
There are plenty of popular sites to see here, but the overall feeling of the area is more than the sum of its parts. The winding cobbled streets give you a chance to discover your own Montmartre story, and after a car tour, you’ll be able to return with a great idea of where you’d like to go and what you’d like to explore.
And the basilica at the top of the Montmartre hill is a great place to start.
The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris (the Sacré-Cœur) is a gorgeous Roman Catholic church in Montmartre, and it is a must-see destination on any car tour of Paris.
It stands at the very highest point of the Montmartre hill, an imposing architectural marvel overlooking the City of Lights below it.
The building project began in response to the country’s defeat in the Franco-Prussian War. Bishop Fournier gave a public speech declaring that this loss was meant to punish France for its increasingly immoral ways after the French Revolution.
The government of the new Third Republic decided to build a basilica to move away from the strong secularism of the Revolution, and they chose to erect it on the site where the Paris Commune began. (The Paris Commune was a revolutionary left-wing movement that took power in France from 1870 to 1871.)
When it was being built, the Sacré-Cœur caused enormous anger in many citizens, especially those who were sympathetic to the Commune and other secular movements. That it was made in part to celebrate the murder of the Communards became an especially bitter part of its story.
In fact, many of the most notable Montmartre artists actually left the area in protest, choosing to move to Montparnasse in the south of the city.
Though it was highly controversial, it stands today as a jaw-dropping feat of construction. It is the second most visited landmark in France, and that’s due in large part to the awe it inspires in people who see it.
The basilica’s impressive system of domes and statues of the saints King Louis and Joan of Arc are now iconic. And it has become an unforgettable part of the Paris skyline. With its complicated history and astounding presence, it is an important part of this city, one you won’t want to miss.
You can’t have a car tour of Paris without seeing Notre-Dame, in the Latin Quarter.
The cathedral which began construction in 1163 and was finally completed two generations later, in 1345.
The cathedral is, without a doubt, one of the jewels of Gothic architecture. Its medieval origins make it feel as if you are stepping back in time to a different Europe, and its undeniable magnificence is inspiring.
Notre-Dame is the most visited monument in the city, bringing in over 10 million visitors every year. And it is still used as a cathedral, with many Catholic Parisians calling it their spiritual home. That it is still so alive after almost a millennia is a testament to the artistry and craft that went into it.
In 2019, the roof of Notre-Dame caught fire, causing headlines around the world as people watched in horror for 15 hours as the flames ravaged the cathedral. The building is currently under renovations, which are planned to be completed by 2024.
Even in its current state, it is a wonder to behold. And the fire helped to remind us how much we should treasure this historic building.
The Eiffel Tower
Almost everyone I’ve taken on a car tour through Paris wants to see the Eiffel Tower. After all, it has become the image for this city since it finished construction in 1889.
But it didn’t begin that way. In fact, there was heated debate about whether it should be built at all before ground was broken. Artists in Paris organized to block its construction, believing the design to be hideous and a terrible betrayal of the beauty of Paris.
There was also skepticism that the structure could actually stand. The plan was for it to be 300 meters tall (almost 1000 feet), which would make it far and away the tallest man-made structure in the world. At the time, no building even stood 200 meters tall.
The protests, on both aesthetic and engineering grounds, were not successful in blocking the construction of this observation tower designed by Stephen Sauvestre and led by engineer Gustave Eiffel.
While its construction was stop-and-go at times, it was eventually completed, and the criticism did not immediately go away. It finished in time for the 1889 World’s Fair in Paris where it played the centerpiece of the exhibit, which cemented it as a symbol for the city.
Its unique look originally made people think of it as far too industrial to match the Parisian sensibility, but now it is seen as the perfect backdrop for any romantic moment. And just as it was once worried that the tower would ruin the image of the city, it is now one of the most well known buildings in the world.
If you visit, you can check out the observation deck, eat at one of the tower’ two restaurants or have a drink at the champagne bar.
Dedicated for the Car tour in Paris
Take a Car Tour Through Paris
Guide + Driver - 4 hours
Do you want to see the city of Paris all in one day?
Then come on a car tour with us !
Because it is chauffeured, you don’t have to worry about the stress of driving through the city streets — our driver has decades of experience doing that! All you have to do is look out the window at the wonders of Paris.
And after a car tour, we can spend a day taking a walking tour of everything that caught your interest. We can walk the streets of Montmartre or over the lawn of the Champs de Mars under the Eiffel Tower.
There’s no better way to be introduced to the City of Lights!