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Welcome to France

Our Best of Europe in 21 Days tour is a carefully balanced design of intense big cities and relaxed small towns. It starts easy in Holland and finishes with a cultural bang in France. As a tour guide, a favorite challenge is to prep our travelers so they enjoy and appreciate French culture rather than find it threatening. A nice intro to France is the charming, wine-soaked town of Beaune in profoundly French Burgundy.

After the Alps, we need to raise the cultural bar a bit. All dressed up (pardon my wardrobe malfunction), we embrace the French joie de vivre. Pas de problème!

rick steves france tours

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Rick Steves France (Travel Guide)

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rick steves france tours

Rick Steves France (Travel Guide) Paperback – October 18, 2022

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Rick Steves France

  • Fully updated, comprehensive coverage for planning a multi-week trip to France
  • Rick's strategic advice on how to get the most out of your time and money, with rankings of his must-see favorites
  • Top sights and hidden gems, from the Louvre and the Palace of Versailles to neighborhood cafés and delicate macarons
  • How to connect with local culture: Stroll through open-air markets in Paris, bike through rustic villages, and taste wines in Burgundy and Bordeaux
  • Beat the crowds, skip the lines, and avoid tourist traps with Rick's candid, humorous insight
  • The best places to eat, sleep, and relax with a glass of vin rouge
  • Self-guided walking tours of lively neighborhoods and incredible museums
  • Vital trip-planning tools, like how to link destinations, build your itinerary, and get from place to place
  • Detailed maps, including a fold-out map for exploring on the go
  • Over 1,000 bible-thin pages include everything worth seeing without weighing you down
  • Coverage of Paris, Chartres, Normandy, Mont St-Michel, Brittany, The Loire, Dordogne, Languedoc-Roussillon, Provence, The French Riviera, Nice, Monaco, The French Alps, Burgundy, Lyon, Alsace, Reims, Verdun, and much more
  • Covid-related travel info and resources for a smooth trip
  • Print length 1208 pages
  • Language English
  • Publisher Rick Steves
  • Publication date October 18, 2022
  • Dimensions 4.6 x 2.3 x 8.05 inches
  • ISBN-10 1641714611
  • ISBN-13 978-1641714617
  • See all details

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Rick Steves Paris (Travel Guide)

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What sets Rick Steves apart from other travel guides?

A personal and experienced take - Rick Steves has spent over 40 years traveling Europe and he shares his favorite spots and essential travel strategies with you.

Are these books updated for current travel?

Rick and his team fan out across Europe personally checking and updating each listing in his guidebooks. These are the most accurate guides to Europe!

Why should I use a Rick Steves guidebook?

Rick will point you toward worthwhile experiences and help avoid expensive mistakes. A Rick Steves book is like having a tour guide in your pocket!

Editorial Reviews

About the author.

Since 1973, Rick Steves has spent about four months a year exploring Europe. His mission: to empower Americans to have European trips that are fun, affordable, and culturally broadening. Rick produces a best-selling guidebook series, a public television series, and a public radio show, and organizes small-group tours that take over 30,000 travelers to Europe annually. He does all of this with the help of more than 100 well-traveled staff members at Rick Steves' Europe in Edmonds, WA (near Seattle). When not on the road, Rick is active in his church and with advocacy groups focused on economic and social justice, drug policy reform, and ending hunger. To recharge, Rick plays piano, relaxes at his family cabin in the Cascade Mountains, and spends time with his son Andy, daughter Jackie, and his new grandson...baby Atlas. Find out more about Rick at www.ricksteves.com and on Facebook. Connect with Rick: facebook.com/RickSteves twitter: @RickSteves instagram: ricksteveseurope Steve Smith has had one foot in France and one in the United States for 55 years. He drives a Deux Chevaux car and has restored a farmhouse on the Burgundy canal where he hangs his beret in the spring and summer. Steve managed tour guides for Rick Steves’ Europe for more than two decades but now spends his time researching guidebooks, teaching about France, and exploring every corner of his favorite country. When not in France, Steve loves finding dirt grown backstreets in his VW camper van.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Rick Steves; 20th edition (October 18, 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 1208 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1641714611
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1641714617
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.32 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 4.6 x 2.3 x 8.05 inches
  • #6 in Paris Travel Guides
  • #15 in General France Travel Guides
  • #67 in Tourist Destinations & Museums Guides

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rick steves france tours

The European Destination Rick Steves Recommends For Adventurous Foodies

W hen thinking of European cuisine, that of France and Italy may come to mind first. The proliferation of favorites such as croissants, éclairs, pizza, and pasta (not to mention multiple wine varietals) is impressive given the relatively small size of the aforementioned countries. However, as you look further east on the continent, you may feel less familiar with traditional foods in other countries.

Over his decades of cultivating guidebooks for the entire European continent, Rick Steves has uncovered amazing food with the help of local tour guides. While he has had some of the best of what influential cuisine hubs like Paris and Rome have to offer, he encourages people to keep their minds and palates open to lesser-known locations, such as Poland.

"More adventurous foodies should seek out food tours in unlikelier places," Steves states on his website . "For example, Poland's bigger cities — particularly Warsaw — offer fascinating and flavorful food tours with a focus on vodka, fermenting techniques (for dishes like borscht), and [hearty] stews that originated in the country's peasant past."

Read more: Anthony Bourdain's Perfect Advice For Spotting The Best Local Places To Eat

Learn About Polish Culture Through A Food Tour

Many travelers book city tours with local guides to learn about Poland's history, art, or architecture. While these tours are wonderful ways to understand bustling cities like Warsaw, Rick Steves suggests adding a food tour to your itinerary. "These tours provide valuable perspective on how food affects culture, and vice versa," he explains on his website . Staples of Warsaw's contemporary Polish cuisine date back to the country's medieval times, and beef or fish in soups and stews are still common today. Bagels, now famous worldwide, were invented by Polish Jews. As you meander through Warsaw, make sure you stop to try bagels, pierogies, borscht, and bigos, which is also known as hunter's stew as it traditionally includes wild game meat.

Poland-based organization Delicious Poland takes guests to authentic, local eateries with the goal of avoiding tourist trap restaurants and eliminating the time-consuming nature of deciding where to eat. Their tours occur at 5 p.m. every day and last around three hours. Book your spot  online and arrive ready to eat and drink like a local.

Find Traditional Polish Foods Close To Major Attractions

Among the city's notable restaurants is  Zapiecek , which has several locations including one near the National Museum of Warsaw (Muzeum Narodowe w Warszawie). Head to this restaurant for pierogis and multiple types of soups and stews, including vegetarian versions of traditional Polish dishes. Another popular locale less than 1 mile from the inspiring Warsaw Rising Museum (Muzeum Powstania Warszawskiego) is  Warsaw Brewery (Browary Warszawskie). It has over a dozen beers to choose from but is also a lively restaurant. The menu has traditional Polish fare along with dishes influenced by its head chef's global food experiences. 

To  get the most out of your food tourism experience in Warsaw, a bagel in its country of origin is a must.  Być Może is one of many places to get these famous baked goods. Enjoy one while you wander a short distance down the street to Palace on the Isle (Pałac na Wyspie), Pałac Belwederski, and other points of interest in  one of the top-ranked city vacation spots In Europe . Warsaw has truly emerged from its troubled past with renewed vibrance while still retaining its culture, especially in its cuisine.

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European town square at night

France tries to shed its rude reputation ahead of the Olympics

Is the unfriendly Parisian a myth? A local goes undercover as a tourist to find out.

Paris is in the home stretch of preparing for the Olympics. A new 8,000-capacity arena has been opened in the north of Paris, the Olympic Village was inaugurated by Emmanuel Macron in early March, and authorities are still desperately trying to make sure the Seine is swimmable by the summer. The country is slowly but surely getting ready for the more than 15 million visitors that will descend on the capital and its suburbs between July and August. But there’s still something to consider — something a bit less tangible.

Are Parisians ready to welcome these visitors? Like really welcome?

France gets a bad rap when it comes to friendliness. There’s, of course, the long-standing cliché of the snooty French waiter or the surly Parisian, and a viral TikTok earlier this year of an American woman tearfully telling the camera that traveling in France was “isolating” and that French people were unwelcoming got thousands of comments — many from people agreeing with her.

“This kind of bad PR doesn’t worry me because it’s anecdotal,” says Corinne Ménégaux, the head of the Paris tourism office. “I think maybe 15 or 20 years ago the French were less welcoming, but nowadays we’ve got past that cliché. You inevitably have a small percentage of people who aren’t nice, and there’s not much you can do about it. It’s a reality of big cities, just like in London or New York.”

That hasn’t stopped France trying to clean up its rude image before foreigners come to town. Last year, the regional chamber of commerce updated a decade-old hospitality campaign called “Do You Speak Touriste? ” in the run-up to the Rugby World Cup held in Paris. The official guide touched on cultural differences, gently reminding the French that “The cultural tendency in France is to openly show one’s emotions, through one’s gestures or tone of voice. […] In other countries, disagreement is expressed a lot less openly.”

“There’s still the cafe waiter who doesn’t speak to you and sullenly serves you a Coca-Cola for 15 euros. I’m not saying that doesn’t exist anymore. But we have seen a real improvement,” said Frédéric Hocquard, the city councilor responsible for tourism and nightlife in Paris. He says that the covid-19 pandemic was the great turning point.

“There was this period when we had no tourists at all. And the tourist industry realized it had to make a bit of effort.”

A friendliness pledge

Part of Paris’ effort to revamp its reputation is a “hospitality charter,” which has been signed by more than 1,600 businesses in the tourism sector, from hotels to restaurants to tour guides. The agreement is based around three main principles: promote sustainable and environmentally friendly measures; make visitors’ experiences more fluid; and support local businesses. Businesses that have signed up will be able to display a sticker or sign on their establishment so that tourists know that they’re a trusted place. The city is also training workers in newspaper kiosks, bakeries and tobacco shops to be able to answer tourists’ questions.

Both Ménégaux and Hocquard agree on one point: Visitors to Paris also have to do their part. . In an ideal world, Ménégaux would like tourists to sign a “good tourist etiquette” charter of their own. “When people come to Paris, we want them to commit to respecting certain things: to respect their neighbors’ peace and quiet, to use a reusable water bottle and not buy plastic ones and not to buy products made in China when you can buy local.”

Differences in etiquette are among the first things some foreigners notice when they move to or visit France. American expats and social media content creators Ember Langley and Gabrielle Pedriani devoted a video to the thorny issue of French politesse in their lighthearted TikTok series, “The ABCs of Paris.” In the video , Langley warns, “What’s considered polite in the U.S. might not be considered polite in Paris.” The two go on to give tips such as “Smile less”, “Get into a debate over dinner” and “Arrive fashionably late.”

“I see Americans in the Metro and it’s like — read the room. Everyone else is being quiet!” Langley said in an interview. “When you’re a traveler, and you’re coming here on vacation, it’s easy to forget that 2 million people are living their lives here. You need to be respectful of the local culture and approach your interactions humbly.” But Langley says it’s a misconception that the French are rude; it’s just a matter of cultural differences. “The biggest thing here is that the customer is not always right; in the U.S., the customer is king.”

Going undercover as an English-speaking tourist

I decided to put Parisians’ friendliness to the test myself. As a Brit who has lived in Paris for a decade, speaks French and has even obtained French nationality (with immense gratitude), I put on my best British accent and went to see how I was treated around the French capital.

The experiment began at ground zero: in front of Notre Dame cathedral, which is still blocked off and undergoing renovation work after an enormous fire engulfed the roof in 2019. With a friend, I headed into the archaeological museum in the crypt. “Hello! Parlez-vous anglais?” I asked the woman behind the ticket desk. I was greeted with a broad smile and patient description — in English — of the museum and ticket prices. She wasn’t even bothered by a patently stupid question about whether we could visit the cathedral, gently explaining that the site wouldn’t be open to the public for months.

We thanked her and headed back up into the sunlight.

Next stop: a bouquiniste. These Seine-side booksellers have to tackle tourist questions day in, day out. The man running his stall opposite the cathedral cheerfully took the time to find books in English for us, before recommending that we try Shakespeare and Company just across the road, one of Paris’s most famous English-language bookstores. It was the same at the tourist trinket shop, where we asked for directions to the Eiffel Tower or down in the Metro station, where the woman behind the counter told us that her English wasn’t very good and yet valiantly answered all of our questions about transport passes with broken but determined English.

By this point, I had even ditched my poorly-pronounced French icebreaker, just bouncing up to them and speaking directly in English. And yet everywhere we went, we were greeted with smiles and a genuine desire to help. I’ll admit that I was surprised — it’s been years since I was a tourist in the city, but I certainly remember eye-rolling, terseness and a certain unwillingness to help.

It was time for the ultimate test: asking for oat milk in a Parisian cafe. We chose a touristy spot on the Place Saint-Michel, where the servers were every inch the stereotype, in white shirts and black bow ties. Our server swept up to us haughtily but didn’t blink when we responded in English, even though he initially couldn’t understand my question. “Hot milk?” he kept repeating. When he finally understood, he laughed, waving his hands dismissively. “ Non, non , it is not possible, soy milk, vegan milk, we do not have, only la vache .” To make his point, he added with a flourish, “Moooo!”

My request had managed to elicit the famous “ c’est pas possible ” — well-known to anyone who has struggled with French bureaucracy and customer service — but it was said with such good humor (and a complementary animal sound), so how could I be offended?

The more than a dozen tourists I spoke to had also had largely positive experiences. Samantha Capaldi, visiting from Arizona with two friends, told me, “We love it here,” before admitting with a wry smile, “We’re trying to blend in but we’re so loud, everyone notices us.” In the four days they’d spent in Paris, they’d observed the same cultural differences Langley mentions in her videos — such as not getting tap water automatically with your meal at a restaurant, or being given a funny look when ordering an appetizer alongside an entree. “They kind of laugh at us, but not in a mean way,” she continued. “Trying to speak French helps a lot.”

Carla, from Sheffield in the United Kingdom, was in Paris with her boyfriend Brian to celebrate the anniversary of their first date. She’s visited Paris several times and has noticed a marked difference in the way she’s been treated compared to previous trips. “I’m a bit of a weightier person and I’ve been deliberately ignored in restaurants before — other people being given menus before me or served before me. But I rarely get that now. Everyone seems really nice.”

It seems that the city’s efforts in recent years are paying off and Parisians are — dare I say it? — learning that a little hospitality goes a long way. The only thing left is being able to get oat milk in cafes — but maybe it’s up to Americans to let that go and lean into France’s love of dairy. Mooo!

Catherine Bennett is a writer based in Paris.

More travel tips

Vacation planning: Start with a strategy to maximize days off by taking PTO around holidays. Experts recommend taking multiple short trips for peak happiness . Want to take an ambitious trip? Here are 12 destinations to try this year — without crowds.

Cheap flights: Follow our best advice for scoring low airfare , including setting flight price alerts and subscribing to deal newsletters. If you’re set on an expensive getaway, here’s a plan to save up without straining your credit limit.

Airport chaos: We’ve got advice for every scenario , from canceled flights to lost luggage . Stuck at the rental car counter? These tips can speed up the process. And following these 52 rules of flying should make the experience better for everyone.

Expert advice: Our By The Way Concierge solves readers’ dilemmas , including whether it’s okay to ditch a partner at security, or what happens if you get caught flying with weed . Submit your question here . Or you could look to the gurus: Lonely Planet and Rick Steves .

rick steves france tours


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    Welcome to France. Our Best of Europe in 21 Days tour is a carefully balanced design of intense big cities and relaxed small towns. It starts easy in Holland and finishes with a cultural bang in France. As a tour guide, a favorite challenge is to prep our travelers so they enjoy and appreciate French culture rather than find it threatening.

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