Thank you for your question!
France is certainly a nice place to visit and there?s so much to see.
1) I?ve looked for private tour guides and came up with this:
Private Tourist Guides
They?re affiliated with the tourism office and seem professional. I
don?t know if it?s within your budget though. The price with provided
transport is a bit excessive, renting a car and getting one of those
guides would be much cheaper and flexible.
This also seems interesting and is also much cheaper, they do museum
visits and general walks around Paris:
Paris Walkabout Personalized Walking Tours
This company has private tours:
Paris at First Sight, Private Tours
A more packaged approach, including everything you need (but I guess
you lose flexibility and it?s not cheap):
Brass Tours (the customized tours seem interesting)
Here?s an American company with similar services:
Luxury Private Guided Paris Tours
A professional personal guide:
Another option would be to find a student in history or art; they will
still be on summer break in September and will be looking for money.
It wouldn?t really fit your requirement of a professional but would be
much cheaper and maybe as interesting. I can help you with finding a
person like that if you?re interested.
If you want to go around on boats that?s definitely possible. Lots of
places on the Seine have tours or mini-trips. Can get dinner on a boat
Paris by boat (general information about boat companies and a price guide)
Bateaux Parisiens (all sorts of cruises)
Vedettes de Paris, Cruise on the Seine
Unless you want to reserve something specific, you can pretty much
turn up somewhere on the Seine and find a boat there, when and where
you feel like it.
3) Hotels, restaurants
I would recommend picking up a Michelin Red Guide. It?s a small book
that is *the* reference in terms of restaurants and has lots of hotel
references. It has information, such as general price, specialities
for restaurants; for hotels it has basic information and price
estimate. It is an extremely useful resource. When I went visiting
France with a few friends, we had a 10 year old version of it, and it
was great. Could find nice little hotels right away, wherever we were
in France and some great restaurant recommendations. For a restaurant
to be featured in the guide it has to be good. Then there are
restaurants with 1, 2 or 3 stars. Those are excellent, but of course
price is proportional to the number of stars. A 1 star restaurant is a
guarantee of quality. There are only about twenty 3 star restaurants
You probably won?t need it if you stay around Paris, but if you travel
a bit south, improvise during your trip and get hotels at the last
minute it?s great.
Michelin 2004 Red Guide France (it?s in French though)
You might want to read the reviews here first to decide if you would
like it (it?s more of a recommended directory than a guide):
Michelin LE Guide Rouge France 2003 (Michelin Red Guide: France, 2003)
The Michelin Regional Green Guides provide more detailed information
about a given region.
Michelin Green Guide Paris
You might also find this interesting:
Michelin Charming Places to Stay: 1000 Hotels and Guesthouses in
France for Less Than ?80 (Charming Places to Stay in France, 2004)
The Paris Events Diary, has a few recommended art exhibitions, so you
can probably find something that suits you there. You can search for
events for September/October on there.
Paris Events Diary
There?s a museum pass that you can get that will help you avoid queues
and work out cheaper if you?re planning on viewing several museums in
a few days.
About musical comedies, I think you would need to be fluent in French
to have fun or appreciate them, since so much depends on the song
lyrics. Gladiator, Gone with the Wind and Abba Mania seem to be the
popular ones at the moment.
Tickets can be bought on Fnac (click on ?Spectacles? at the top, then
can choose type of event on menu on left):
There?s an exhaustive list of museums on the next site:
Museums and Monuments
Nice list of Festivals
Most of them seem to be during the summer :S. You might like this one for example:
Open air opera 2004 - La Bohème
The Deauville festical is very famous:
Festival of American Cinema
But I?m not sure your intention of going all the way to France is to
see American films. :)
5) Cities and guides
The following site has interesting information about other places and
cities in France:
I?d certainly recommend Avignon, Aix-en-Provence, which is very nice
(the old city is beautiful) and of course Toulouse (if I didn?t my
girlfriend would kill me, St-Sernin church) and of course the Châteaux
de la Loire. The site above has some short information on the cities.
La Loire des Châteaux
Les Châteaux de la Loire
Informal General Guide
Big list of museums
If I was to make a recommendation and you feel like travelling a bit
(since you?ve already visited Paris before), then you could go to
Paris for a few days, then go down south on the east side, and see
places like Dijon, Avigon, Aix-en-Provence. Then go west, to Toulouse
(stopping at Marseille if you want), then up through Angoulême, Loire
region and its castles (Amboise, Blois), Orléans and back to Paris. It
would mean travelling quite a lot, by car it could be tiring (but
certainly doable, went from Perpignan to Brussels following the Rhône
in 2 days, stopping in a few cities) by train it would very quick and
probably less tiring.
If you want any more information, please let me know.
Hope you have fun!