Jonathan Welch says bonjour to the French capital, and speaks to Tootbus Managing Director Benoit Barraud about the company’s French operations
It’s that time of year again when open-top sightseeing routes are starting to become popular, as the weather improves and the tourist season kicks in. Whilst some such routes are seasonal, most of the world’s major cities have year-round operations; London, Edinburgh and others come to mind in the UK as cities with particularly large open-top markets.
Looking across the Channel, a short (if expensive!) Eurostar ride away from its London and other UK operations, TootBus operates sightseeing tours in both Brussels and Paris. Whilst on holiday recently in Paris, I took the opportunity to take a trip on Tootbus’ tour of the French capital before heading out west to an industrial estate in Gennevilliers to meet Managing Director Benoit Barraud and find out more about the RATP Dev-owned company.
I boarded an early afternoon departure on Tootbus’ Paris Discovery hop on, hop off tour, for which one-day adult tickets start at around £30, or €37.80 in local currency, rising to €55 for a three-day pass. I boarded at the tour’s stop number one, within sight of the grands magasins of Galeries Lafayette and Printemps, the Parisian equivalents of London’s Harrods and Liberty. With regular departures, the tour takes around two hours to complete its circuit; I decided to stay on for the full trip, enjoying the view from my seat near the front of red, white, blue and – thanks to Tootbus’ clean energy drive – green Unvi convertible open-top double-decker. After a brief exchange with the friendly driver, I headed up the forward of the two staircases on board, and found a seat near the front; the coveted front seats had already been occupied, though I still had a good view thanks to the removable roof, which consists of glazed sides and a fully glazed ceiling. A full-depth windscreen extending to the floor also enhances the view down the aisle for those seated further back. I noted some litter on the floor, but otherwise the bus was well presented and in reasonable condition.[…]
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