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Activity Level

I have some concerns about doing a Rick Steves Paris tour. Frankly, it looks like there is so much walking and so strenuous I'm not sure we can keep up. We are late 60's/early 70's with some typical age-related things that make a stop a little more frequently, take it slower, stretch it out. Does anyone have experience and advise specifically related to the Paris tour? Thank you.

Posted by
116 posts

I recently went on the The Best of Paris in 7 Days Tour when I turned 60. It was the least strenuous and most moderately paced of the 5 Rick Steves' tours I've taken so far (I've greatly enjoyed each one).

However, I have no real difficulties walking about. I wear good Rockport walking shoes and two pairs of socks (one thick pair over the other) on tour for extra cushioning and to avoid blisters walking on cobblestones all day. I will also wear an elastic knee brace for a few hours from time to time when the walking is particularly strenuous, but didn't need it in Paris, which is mostly flat.

The Best of Paris in 7 Days Tour page Activity Level reads:
"This is a moderately active tour! Most days are moderately paced with 2–8 miles of walking, including some hills and stairs."
The tour is marked in the exact middle of the activity level spectrum which ranges from light to strenuous (least active to most active).

Also, at the bottom of any page of this website, you will see 'Travel Help.'
Choose 'FAQ' which leads to

Our Tours: Frequently Asked Questions
Tours FAQ
While on Tour
"What are the physical demands of your tours?
Our tours are physically active! Expect to be on your feet, walking and standing, for up to three hours, indoors and outdoors, and in all weather conditions. You'll also need to carry your own luggage, often up several flights of stairs."

I suggest you check out the "Best Walking Shoes for Travel" section from the drop-down menu of this section (Tips & Trip Reports).

Maybe someone with more age related ambulatory difficulties can give you more advice.
You know your own body and will have to be your own judge.

Posted by
1516 posts

Hi yvent, I just returned from the Paris in 7 Days tour. It was my 9th RS tour and we had a great time. I use a Fitbit and tracked 77 miles in 8 days. We did a lot of "extra" walking in our free time and made good use of the included metro and museum passes!

This tour has a nice mix of tour time and free time. You could take that time to return to the hotel or a café and relax rather than just continuing to run around. You can also skip an activity if you need to take a break. The nice thing about a city tour is that the bus is not leaving in the morning. You are staying in one hotel for the entire week and can return at any time. We arrived in Paris a day early and stayed three nights after the tour ended. That made things feel a bit less rushed.

The itinerary pretty much describes what is included in the tour. Please let me know if you have any specific questions.

Posted by
7680 posts

I'd agree that the Best of Paris is the least strenuous of the 8 I've done. With a city tour if you feel tired you can always hop on the Metro or get a cab back to the hotel. I'm late 60's and doing tours 9 and 10 next month.

I do train for tours by making sure I get a stable base of walking in. I try to go 4 miles 3 or 4 times a week and for myself I also try to extend a walk past 4 miles one day a week. That's just me - not really needed but I hate to miss out on anything!

On one tour a tour member made a comment that she thought the guide was going too fast. He told her to stay right up with him as he walked a moderate pace and she could do it. He said the further back in the pack you are the more you'll have to scramble to keep up.

I learned SO much about Paris on this tour. I just fell in love with the city and can't seem to get enough!

Posted by
741 posts

Best of Paris in 2015 was the first of our two Rick Steves tours (we did VFR last year). While we did a great deal of walking each day, a lot of that was on our own. The tour itself is quite moderately paced, I would say. Lots of neighborhood strolling, rather than A-to-B marching. The day we visited the Marais District in the morning and the Louvre in the evening was pretty tiring, but, again, we were doing things on our own in the afternoon. You'd have the option to rest if you prefer.

My knees are worse now than they were then (I'm having my first replacement soon), so I'd have a bit more trouble now only because of stairs, such as in some of the Metro stations. But I'm sure I could manage that tour fine even with the bad wheels.

We had a pretty wide range of ages on the Paris tour, including a couple of folks well into their 70s. They didn't have too much trouble keeping up, though one woman skipped one of the morning activities to rest.

I think you'd probably be fine, and Paris would be an excellent starting point to find out how you like RS tours.

Posted by
272 posts

My husband and I took this tour last September. He was 67 and I had just turned 64. I have a bad knee (bone-on-bone and a torn meniscus). The tour had some days that were difficult for me, but it was manageable. I wear an elastic copper band around my knee and that helped a lot. The one thing that was good about this tour is that if you get tired you can leave the tour and get on the metro and head back to the hotel. At the end of the first full day (toured St. Chapelle, Notre Dame etc.) we chose not to tour the Cluny museum and took the bus back to the hotel. Our hardest day was Versailles. We used to own a garden center, so we love plants. We spent an additional 4-5 hours at the gardens and Marie Antoinette's hamlet. Our Fitbit showed that we walked 10 miles that day. Yes, we were tired. Yes, my knee hurt, but when will I have the opportunity to see that again? We would stop and rest every little bit, so that helped. We rested on the train on the way back to the hotel and then rested a little before supper. When we felt better, we walked a short distance to dinner, then came back and went to bed. You will visit several museums, and you can sit down and rest while you listen to your guide talk to you on your earphones. The one good thing about all the walking is that you can eat as much as you want of all the wonderful French food, because you walk it all off.

Posted by
16769 posts

I think the main factor will not be distance walked but the total amount of time walking and standing on stones, whether outside or in marble-floored museums. Expect most group time to be spent standing up. This would be the same on your own, but you could add in more rest breaks without having to find space for 26 people.

Metro stations tend to require a flight of stairs in each direction. I also see that the planned route for Montmartre indicates walking up the hill together, in order to leave you at the top for your photo ops and lunch time.

Posted by
838 posts

I’m younger but when I took the Paris tour I had a not-yet-diagnosed case of plantar fasciitis in my left foot. Awful. No issues keeping up, but my foot was killing me at the end of each day. The walks in Marais and Montmartre were among my favorites because they were meandering and we kept moving. The worst day for me was Versailles. I walked out to the Hamlet and came back via the tree-lined road. And the cobbles at the front of the palace are huge. I couldn’t wait to get back on the train and my first stop off the train was at a pharmacy to get insoles.

I think it’s important to know there is plenty of standing in the Louvre, there are stairs in Metro stations. As others have said, though, the city tours do offer more flexibility for calling it a day if you’re tired. Supportive, comfortable shoes are a must for any of these tours.

Posted by
406 posts

Did this tour a while ago. As others have mentioned there is a lot of standing. If you can not stand for long periods of time you might be unhappy. There is really not many places to rest or stretch out. Half the time is your own so if you can keep up in the tour time you could then take it easier in your free time. It is a great tour. My whole family loved it.

Posted by
2378 posts

This is why I can't consider RS Tours. I have had 0 problems keeping up on tours that stay in hotels with elevators and often walk 5 miles a day on tours or when traveling. But I can't handle a lot of steps in hotels-I need to save my knees for steps while sightseeing.

Posted by
2954 posts

I did Paris and the Heart of France. We had individuals with different abilities on our tour. They never complained and were always cheerful. If they needed to rest, they simply rested and met up with the group later. You always have the option to "opt out" if you need a break. There are also ways to manage steps with a little planning. If the whole group is going to walk up Montmarte, wish them well and meet them at the top having taken the furnicular.

The two hotels we stayed in while in Paris both had elevators.

Posted by
1085 posts

I am in my early 70's and took the 14 day Ireland tour in June. It is rated as pretty active and there was walking on up to hill forts and of course walking tours. I have had one knee replacement and need another. I took one walking stick for help on uneven ground. I was usually the last one in the group, but I made it to all our destinations and even walked across the rope bridge over the raging sea! Just train for lots of walking. I try to do 30 minutes at least every day, even when arthritis is acting up. I bet you can do the Paris tour with little or no problems, just take lots of coffee or wine breaks whenever you have the chance.

Posted by
4011 posts

We are 70 and 72, and have been doing RS tours since 2009. We have never had a problem keeping up with the group. In fact, I make it a point to stay as close to the guide as possible. Not only do you get more information that way, you don't have to run to catch up. And I've decided that when the day comes that I can't keep up with the guide, it'll be time to quit RS travel.

The last two tours we've been on were very active (BOE 21 Days and Village Italy,) and on both we had a few folks with mobility issues. They generally opted out of certain activities, or arranged to fall behind the group and catch up later. It works. The guides are helpful and flexible. If it's a travel day, of course, the flexibility goes away. But that won't be an issue on the Paris tour, except possible for the Versailles day.

It's a great tour, by the way. We fell in love with Paris on our 2011 Best of Europe tour - much to our surprise - and signed up for Best of Paris the next year. Paris is like Rome: there's always something you want to see again, or something you haven't managed to see yet. Wonderful city, wonderful experience. We're planning Paris and Heart of France in 2019, and will end up spending at least another week in Paris.