What if while in Paris I told you, you couldn’t use your phone (aka social media) for two hours? What would you do?
It’s going to be ooookay!
After all, how are you supposed to enjoy the beautiful surroundings of the city you’re in with your face glued to the screen of a tiny device? Disconnecting (even just for a little bit) is a surefire way to enjoy your vacation even more.
SOMETIMES YOU NEED TO GET UP EARLY TO #MAKEPARISYOURS
After eating our fill of the macarons we made in class and tasting all of the French wine the night before Laura and I needed a little exercise. I mean let’s be real, you can’t eat all of those delicious pastries and drink French wine every day and not start to feel a little sluggish. So when we were able to secure a walking tour with Paris Polaroid Tours it was serendipitously the best form of exercise.
With Polaroid cameras in hand and an enthusiastic smile on her face Stéphanie from Paris Polaroid Tours met us just outside of Notre-Dame cathedral. Not only was Steph our guide she is also the creator of the company which was born out of her belief that the best way to discover a city is by wandering and interacting through it.
After getting us set up with the film (we received 10 films and the camera) and going over the basics of how to use the cameras (if you can believe it, it was my very first time actually using a polaroid camera) we were off!
I knew it was going to be a morning to remember – walking through Paris’ history, before the crowds, from behind the lens of an actual camera.
"Photos are not just souvenirs or a medium of memories though. They are representations of how tourists experience a particular place. You can...take a piece of the city home with you. That will remind you of ‘that’ time in the city." - Stéphanie, Paris Polaroid Tours
And what could possibly make it more special? The added takeaway of physical photos.
PRO TIP: These days you can ignore those famous lyrics by Outkast. You definitely DO NOT need to 'shake it like a polaroid picture' when your photos come out of the camera.
Your smartphone camera skills are irrelevant
But you’ll gain the new skill of getting one chance to compose the perfect picture. Polaroid cameras also provide instant gratification, and practice makes perfect!
Stéphanie could not have said it better when it comes to using the cameras:
"Take your time! No need to rush things when taking a Polaroid. Keep in mind that you will get to keep this photo forever, so get as creative as possible!"
Your inner history nerd will love every minute of it
Stéphanie definitely appealed to mine during the “Classic Paris Tour”. Not only did we get to step back in time by walking through Paris’ past she shared some of the most fun and random tidbits and facts along the way.
You get to visit some of the top sites on the Right Bank
PREMIER ARRÊT: THE FLAMBOYANT BRILLIANCE OF NOTRE-DAME DE PARIS CATHEDRAL
Built eight centuries ago this architectural wonder attracts 13 million global pilgrims a year, has beehives on the roof, and was partly saved from being demolished by the prolific author Victor Hugo ironically enough by writing ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’ where he used the first three chapters as a plea to preserve the Gothic architecture he found beautiful.
DEUXIÈME ARRÊT: PONT NEUF (aka 'New Bridge') & the CONCIERGERIE (aka the former site of the Palais de la Cité and the prison where Marie Antoinette was held)
“5:30 p.m. Paris. Today. Pont Neuf. You come alone. You walk to the middle of that bridge. You take off yourjacket. Face east. I'll redial this number.”
- This is where Matt Damon aka Jason Bourne set up a meeting with CIA Assistant Director Conklin.
- It's located near Paris’ safest street, which has more street cameras than any other street and is where the Police headquarters are
- You can see the insane amount of relocated padlocks from the Love Lock bridge, which are now near Pont Neuf
- It's the oldest standing bridge on the Seine river
- The bridge was considered the heart of the city – for both commerce and crime
- Before being completed in 1607, this is where gangs would hide to rob and murder people
- It features 381 mascarons (stone masks) representing the heads of gods and goddesses from ancient mythology
- If you wanted to meet some lovely ladies in the evening back in the day, this is the site of a former lively prostitution trade
TROISIÈME ARRÊT: PONT DES ARTS (the former ‘Love Lock Bridge’)
Now refurbished with glass paneling, it's currently a destination for outdoor art exhibitions (which hasn’t stopped people from relocating locks to the lamp posts and writing their ‘love messages’ on the glass instead).
Seeing the relocated Love Locks and the new bridge I completely understand why the ‘City of Love’ had fallen out of love with the more than 1 million padlocks on the bridge.
QUATRIÈME ARRÊT: MUSÉE DU LOUVRE
This is a sight to behold and something you cannot miss while visiting Paris! The history of not only the palace, but the grounds, the Jardin des Tuileries and the vision for the Pyramide is astounding.
This is also the place where it’s perfectly acceptable to take a million photos – just like the fashion bloggers we saw snapping away in their weather-inappropriate attire. Do it for the gram (which you're uploading later of course)!
CINQUIÈME ARRÊTEZ: ARC DE TRIOMPHE DU CARROUSSEL
Napoleon’s grandeur which was built to commemorate his military victories. At the last minute he amusingly decided to not include his gold statue on top of the arc due to the fact it seemed to “ostentatious”.
PRO TIP: The lighting by this point of the day is usually perfectly behind the arc, making for some pretty magnificent photos!
SIXIÈME ARRÊT: JARDIN DES TUILERIES
One of my favorite outdoor spaces within the city.
It was created by Catherine de Medici in 1564 and is now the place you will find Parisians young and old sitting and relaxing, people watching, and enjoying the beautiful crisp fall weather – which they have been doing since it was opened to the public in 1667.
FUN FACT: When Louis XIII became the owner of the gardens in 1610 (at the age of 9) he turned it into an enormous playground - for hunting and his menagerie of animals.
ARRÊT FINAL: PLACE DE LA CONCORDE
Where the famous Champs-Élysées begins and the impressive column the Obélisque de Louxor (which was originally situated outside the Luxor Temple in Egypt) is located.
Seeing Paris from behind a lens will turn your Parisian rendez-vous into a love affair you can’t shake
Even though the tour was scheduled to last two hours, we were having such a great time with Stéphanie before we knew it three hours had flown by and we were standing in front of the Fontaine des Mers snapping away the last photos in our film and saying our goodbyes.
I couldn’t believe the morning was coming to an end (and somehow I still had 4 photos left in my film).
This is when you know it was one of the best tours you’ve taken.
A picture is worth a thousand words – and this is the only souvenir you’ll ever want
Edible and drinkable souvenirs are not included in this statement.
In this digital age it’s fun to get a little nostalgic and experience the excitement of printed photos.
This is why the walking tours Stéphanie created through Paris Polaroid Tours are so special. She believes that Polaroids are the "best way to capture ‘moments’ and make the tour experience more memorable, magical and fun". This is also way it should move right to the top of your Paris ‘Must-Do List’.
Not only did Laura and I have the time of our lives framing and taking the polaroid shots we were able to leave with something tangible that no touriste shop can ever replicate.
PRO TIP: Do yourself a favor. Grab a friend or two, strap on your walking shoes, get a little exercise, indulge in a little history, get a little vintage, and make lifelong memories in the form of a photo. You won’t regret it!
Paris Polaroid Tours offers three 2-hour tours that run 7 days a week. Whether you’re into street art, classic history or want to see the infamous Montmartre neighborhood (and Stéphanie's personal favorite) this will be the best 45€ (plus film fees) you’ve ever spent.
BIG thank you to Stéphanie at Paris Polaroid Tours for not only setting Laura and I up with this tour but taking us on it herself and giving us some of the best three hours of our trip!
Don't forget to pin one of the images below! :)
Content Creator, Traveler, Foodie, Amateur Photographer (and surprise!) Graphic Designer living in New York City. This website started in 2016 as a space to share my passion to live life to the fullest, make adventures a priority, eat all of the good food, drink all of the wine, and curate the beautiful photos that come along with it.