Context Travel is a Rome-based tour company that offers educational walking tours for a number of European destinations. What makes Context Travel unique is its intellectual and educational focus, with experts from a variety of disciplines, including literature, history and art, leading the tours and providing a unique and in-depth look at the destination. There are a number of tours to choose from in locations such as Rome, Barcelona and London, with several designed especially for families, like the Kings Quest walk my family and I took while we were in Paris.
The Kings Quest walk goes around the city revealing the history of kings, queens and emperors who once ruled Paris, beginning at Point Zero, right in front of Notre Dame Cathedral. Point Zero is considered the true center of Paris and is the point used to measure all distances.
Standing in the shadow of Notre Dame, we learned the role royalty has played in the history of the cathedral throughout the centuries, from King Louis VII during whose reign construction began in 1163, to King Louis XIV who recast and named the cathedral’s largest bell “Emmanuel”, to Napoleon who was crowned emperor inside the cathedral in 1804.
The walk also took us past Palais de la Cité. Located on the Ill de la Cite, the Palais de la Cité, often referred to as Le Concierge, was the royal residence until Charles V chose the Louvre as the palace and the Palais de la Cite was turned into an administrative building, left in the care of a gentleman known as the Concierge (hence the name), and eventually a prison. Le Concierge hashoused such famous prisoners as Napoleon III and Marie Antoinette whose cell was converted into a chapel.
We also passed La Dome du Marais. What is now an elegant tea salon marked by an ornate stain-glassed dome, was once the former Mont de Piété pawnshop inaugurated by Louis XIII in 1637. After a few years the parliament shut down Mont de Piété, but in 1777 Louis XVI authorized its reopening as a way to help combat poverty.
The walk also took us past a couple of places not exactly fit for royalty, like Rue du Chat-qui-Pêche. Rue du Chat-qui-Pêche translate to street of the fishing cat, and is the narrowest street in Paris. Built in 1540 it was originally an alleyway that allowed access to the river Seine. A peek down this tiny street with the funny name, along with the mural of a cat on the wall, were the highlight of the tour as far as my children were concerned.
The Kings Quest tour, which lasted a total of 2 hours, was long enough to keep the children engaged and not over-exert them or my parents-in-law who were also with us.
For more information about the Kings Quest and other Context Travel tour, visit the website.
Disclosure: My family and I were provided with a complimentary Kings Quest tour. I was not asked to express any particular point of view, and as always, all thoughts and opinions are all my own.