Subject: What do you like/dislike about guided tours?
Hi Ziners,

I don't take a lot of tours by choice because when they have been compulsory, they haven't always been very good. For example, in stately homes in England, sometimes you don't have a choice and the tours can be tedious, filled with people who don't really want a tour.

On the other hand, we have had some excellent tours. For example, we took a walking tour in Paris with Paris Walks which highlighted Hemingway and other authors. Very interesting anecdotes and great pace.

One famous tour we enjoyed was the tour of Chartres Cathedral with Malcolm Miller. He's been doing the tours since 1958! His walk through the stain glass was wonderful. If you are interested, no reservations needed, just wait by the bookshop at noon or 2:45. Cost: 10 euros, and more than worth it.

We took a tour in Versailles. We had read that it's the way to see certain rooms not generally on view, and it's true! We opted for the one that was being announced as we arrived - the private life of the king. This meant that we followed what would have been his route through the rooms, not the one the public must use now, and we saw his bathroom! No fittings in it but interesting nonetheless. Perhaps because we were early in the day (10:30 am or so), the group was small - just another family of 4 and us. By the way, we spent all day there. Well worth your time because we seemed to be apart from the crowds. After 3:30 or so, the crowds in the rooms got bearable but in the meantime the Trianons and the gardens are superb, even if the weather doesn't cooperate.

Our tour guide in Malta was great. This was the first time we organized a private tour, partially as a way to get us those hard-to-get tickets to the Hypogeum as well as giving us context and information about the archaeological sites. Mariella was professional but relaxed and we enjoyed the tour.

We took a non-tour in the Loire Valley - a shuttle bus service from Tours to 4 chateaux in one day! We were given information about the chateau we were about to see while we were in the van enroute but were free to tour the site ourselves. We used Acco-Dispo and we would recommend them. I liked the fact that we weren't shepherded about the grounds but it sure made it easy to see several chateaux in one day.

Our compulsory tour of the Hypogeum with the official tourguide was amazing. The man was filled with information and was able to convey it. So just because a tour is obligatory doesn't mean it has to be awful!

Frances Toronto, Canada