Paris is filled with museums and a seemingly endless list of tourist activities. Our family has always sought out more unique, backstage experiences where we can learn how something works in addition to being entertained. Some of Paris’ greatest monuments and tourist sites offer visitors VIP and backstage access, where they can be explored more intimately. For only a little bit more money than a regular tour ticket, these tours bypass the lines and crowds for a better use of your time. Here are three great backstage Paris tour experiences:
The Eiffel Tower
France’s greatest monument offers an official behind-the-scenes VIP tour, starting deep under the Champ du Mars. VIP visitors get to see the machinery that operates the tower’s elevators, along with the wartime bunkers. Next, VIPs get to bypass the lines (worth the tour price alone) to go to the tower’s second level, home of the Jules Verne restaurant. The special tour then takes visitors to the roof of the restaurant for a great view of Paris, off limits to regular Eiffel Tower visitors. Once on the second floor, tickets to the top, third floor level can be purchased. Tours are $31.50 for adults. Tours are given at 10 a.m., noon and 4:30 p.m. with a few more on weekends and during holidays. Tickets can be purchased online.
This after-hours VIP tour gives visitors access to the cathedral and the towers (you must climb up 422 steps). Visitors get a more private experience at this normally very crowded site. The views of the city are amazing from the high vantage points as are the close-up views of the building and architecture. The $45.50 per person tours are extremely limited, only 25 visitors, and usually done monthly on the third Monday of the month. Tickets can be reserved in advance on the cathedral’s website.
Lido de Paris
This famous Paris theater (think Moulin Rouge) offers a behind-the-scenes tour that takes visitors into the areas the audience doesn’t see. The tour includes dressing rooms, makeup areas, costume storage, even the backstage area to see how the lighting and scenery is done. Stage sets and scenery is moved with giant pulleys and an elevator system. The tour also highlights the historic building, long-time home to one of Paris’ most famous dance shows. Tours are limited to only 15 people and are booked well in advance. The tours are done at 5:30 p.m. before the nightly show and can be reserved online. Tours are $21.50 for adult tickets.
Ted Sherman has spent a lifetime traveling. With journeys to every continent, almost 100 cruises and multiple group tours, he enjoys sharing his travel experiences and knowledge with others. Follow Ted on Twitter, @travel4seniors and on his travel blog, travel4seniors.
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