If you aren't staying in Paris for long and want to see the main sights, a bus tour is a good choice. In 1-2 days, you'll see all the biggest symbols of the city. The double-decker Hop-on Hop-off buses are good for an overview of Paris, and then you can dedicate the rest of your vacation to your favorite places.
Types of Hop-on Hop off buses
Paris has a few companies that provide bus tours. They are Big Bus Paris (red buses), Open Tour (yellow buses) and Foxity (orange buses).
The tourist buses run every day, including weekends and holidays.
The buses are bright and have two floors. The top floor is usually open so you can see better. Tourists recommend sitting in the first rows on the second floor because they're protected from the wind and have the best view of Paris.
Benefits of bus tours
The biggest plus for Big Bus Paris is a single ticket for one or two days. When you buy it, you can ride on any red double-decker bus. You don't have to get off or onto another bus at every stop on the route. The drivers don't care as long as you show your ticket.
Also, the buses provide headphones and you can listen to an audio guide while riding. Just plug the headphones into your chair and pick your language. The information is all interesting and connected to what you see.
Another plus is riding around in the rain and seeing Paris at its best without getting wet.
Bus tour tickets are bought from the driver, in tourist agencies or on the official site. A two-day ticket price changes from time to time, but right now an adult ticket is 42 Euros and a child ticket is 20.
Tourist bus routes
You can get on a Big Bus Paris bus or other buses at any ninth bus stop. They are all close to the metro in famous areas.
The first bus leaves from Trocadero station at 9:30. The next is after about 10 minutes in summer or 20 minutes in winter. The buses stop at 7 or 8, but there are night buses too. One leaves at 8:30 from the Champs Elysees.
On your tour you'll see the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Champs Elysees, the Fields of Mars, the Louvre, Orsay museum, and the Grande Opera, though these are just the famous places. There are special double-decker bus stops outside these places as well.
The full trip takes 2 hours and 20 minutes, but not many people use them to just ride in a circle. Usually tourists go to a specific stop, get out and look around at something like the Eiffel Tower or Notre Dame. And then they get on the next bus and go to the next stop. You can download the route here or at the end of the article.
The bus only follows this one route, which is about the only downside to them. But if some place was so wonderful that you want to spend the whole day there, on the next day you can just continue along that route on the bus. And it's still free!
The audio guide on the buses are good enough, but only give you an introduction. If you want more interesting in-depth information, you should book additional tours in advance (you can see them here) or download our detailed audio guide of Paris here. It has good interesting information on museums, tourist sites and secret places. There's no boring info from Wikipedia, since the tour is made by locals with reliable sources.
Enjoy your trip!