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Conquering the Parental "Bucket List"

My cousin and I are taking our parents (my mom [72], her dad[76]) to Toulouse/Lourdes/Burgos/Fatima/Lisbon; they have wanted to visit these places and haven't had a chance. We are starting in Paris. We will be there for 2 nights, arriving at the CHARLES DE GAULLE Airport at 7am on the first day. Their wish list includes the Louvre, Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower, Versailles, MontMartre, and Pantheon. I know most of these are fairly close to each other but my Uncle has issues with his knees (a train car door fell on him) and I am trying to find a SAFE, accessible hotel that would make it fairly easy to get around to their wish list and maybe a few of mine (neighboring little towns). We can go up to moderate budget. Any suggestions?!

Posted by
1482 posts

Two nights is really only one full day, and that's quite an extensive list. Is there any way you could add 3 or 4 (or more) nights in Paris?

Posted by
12596 posts

We are starting in Paris. We will be there for 2 nights, arriving at
the CHARLES DE GAULLE Airport at 7am on the first day. Their wish list
includes the Louvre, Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower, Versailles, MontMartre,
and Pantheon. I know most of these are fairly close to each other but
my Uncle has issues with his knees (a train car door fell on him) and
I am trying to find a SAFE, accessible hotel that would make it fairly
easy to get around....

I am trying to find a SAFE, accessible hotel that would make it fairly
easy to get around to their wish list and maybe a few of mine
(neighboring little towns)

Hi Primeform -
First off? Your Uncle's knees are the least of your challenges. You cannot do all of this with one full day and a partial of another. You're going to have to cut the list down, starting with Versailles. It is not "in" Paris and takes most of a day to see. You also do not have time to see any "neighboring little towns".

Additionally, arrival day is often a blur of jetlag, and the worst thing you can do is try to take in museums that demand attention such as the (vast!!!) Louvre.

Drop your bags at a hotel on arrival day and take in Notre Dame and the Eiffel (MUST make reservations in advance). I'd HIGHLY advise doing Saint-Chapelle as well, and spend the rest of your time walking to stay awake.

Day 2, do the Louvre in the morning, and Pantheon and Montmartre in the afternoon IF your Uncle's knees hold up. Use the metro to get around.

Posted by
4647 posts

What time are you leaving on Day 2? How long will you be in Europe? If I were designing that trip, I'd be thinking Paris, either Fatima or Lourdes, and Lisbon. You're going to wear yourselves out hitting that many places, especially if you're only staying one or two nights in each town.

Posted by
4647 posts

I think also you should follow one of the precepts of most folks on this board, and assume you're coming back. Trying to cram in all your "wants" and all your family's "wants" into a short visit is a recipe for frustration and exhaustion. Yes, your parents are in their 70s, but so are many people who post here.

Trim it down. Kathy was right about dumping Versailles; I didn't notice that the first time I read your post. Versailles would take at least half a day; I'd allot an entire day, counting transportation there and back, especially if you want to see the gardens.

Prune!

Posted by
4125 posts

Add or subtract--time and destinations, respectively.

Brutal honesty today yields a great trip tomorrow.

Posted by
415 posts

You might consider taking taxis to all these places. It will be pricey, but I don't see how you could possibly squeeze all of this in 1 1/2 days. Subways don't always have escalators or working elevators to every level or sometimes it's a long walk to one. I do worry about your uncle's knees.

Posted by
3580 posts

Past 70, bad knees, four people, little time. Take taxis as much as possible. Younger people don't usually notice all the stairs in the Metro. But they are there and they get more numerous and steeper as we age!

Posted by
3833 posts

I've never considered using one, but for the knee issue, you might want to check those Hop On/Hop Off type tour buses. If that is a viable plan, then I would select a hotel that's near one of the stopping points. You can check them on-line to see what routes they run.

Posted by
1610 posts

I would also consider the Hop On Hop Off. Maybe you could metro or taxi to your first timed entry and then get the HOHO bus. It gives you the advantage of being out in the fresh air which will get over jet lag. I would also recommend deciding what specifically they want to see at the Louvre ahead of time so you don't wander aimlessly through. Buy or borrow a copy of the RS Paris guide for tips on where to find the easiest entrance to the Louvre, and other tips that will maximize your time.

Finally, go to Booking.com or TripAdvisor and plug in your $ amount for hotels and dates. Pick 5-10 (+ or -) and then come back here and people can help narrow it down.

Have fun!

Posted by
184 posts

I support the previously mentioned idea of a HOHO bus tour for your trip. This way you know you will have transportation between the sights you want to see and they are usually reliable with their timing, coming around every 20-30 minutes or so. I did one the first time I went to Paris (for 1 day), since I knew there was no other way to get to everything. I also recommend adding at least a couple more days to your time in Paris, otherwise you will not be able to see, and appreciate, all of the sights on your list.

Posted by
3 posts

OK! Thank you, EVERYONE! I have realized that I am a bit too ambitious! ha ha. So, this is what I was thinking: We arrive at 7am on Tuesday - Many locations are closed so I thought we'd be able to drop our bags at our hotel (We were thinking Holiday Inn Paris - Gare de l'Est) and hit Montmartre, Arc de Triumph, Champs Elysees, and end with a reserved trip to the top of the Eiffel Tower for Sunset. Wednesday - Hit the Louvre, Notre Dame, the Latin Quarter, and Pantheon. Thursday - try and squeeze "something" in as we make our way to the train station to go meet our tour group in Toulouse! :D I was thinking about getting the Museum Pass.

Posted by
6749 posts

On your arrival jet lagged Day, take a boat on the Seine such as Bayeux Mouche or Vedettes de Pont Neuf. They pass by most of Paris famous sites and your uncle won't have to walk so much. Choose the boat company most convenient to your hotel. With a fresh breeze in your face, it will help you stay awake and orient you to the city too.

Posted by
106 posts

I second the boat on the Seine. Board at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. A wonderful way to see almost all Paris has to offer.

Posted by
7124 posts

Arrival day ...
Notre Dame
Sacre Court & Montmartre

Next (full) day ...
Eiffel Tower
Pantheon
Louvre

Sorry, no time for Versailles.

Posted by
2486 posts

You'll be jet lagged and fatigued that first day. Don't reserve anything you cannot afford to lose as your relatives might not feel up to it. Here are my suggestions: Day 1-drop your bags at the hotel, stroll your neighborhood, depending on the time enjoy coffee and a croissant, or lunch. See Notre Dame. Return and check in. Unpack, shower, rest. Have a nice dinner near the Eiffel Tower, later if you are up for it and see the tower lit. Day 2-Lourve, Pantheon, Arc de Triomphe, top of Eiffel Tower-pick two or three. If the ET is one of them buy your tickets when they go on sale. Trying to do more may hobble the dad for the rest of the trip.

Posted by
333 posts

Plus, Montmartre is heavy walking up very steep hills! You're still too ambitious for Day 1 when you consider jet lag and physical limitations. I think taking a Seine River Cruise is excellent for Day 1. There are different kinds of cruises, daytime, evening, dinner cruises, etc. Go to the Eiffel to explore, maybe even splurge to eat at the Eiffel restaurant. If everyone is up for it, then consider the HOHO bus to further explore. Perhaps end with an evening river cruise, which will let you see Paris (and the Eiffel) all lit up and sparkling. You're going to have a fantastic trip- just remember, in your case, with your considerations, less is probably more.
Lisa

Posted by
4125 posts

Re jet lag + boat: You cruise, you snooze. Not a good idea.

Posted by
7124 posts

Location wise, I would suggest St Germain, near to RER at St Michel station for easy access from CDG.

Posted by
5688 posts

Note for Arc de Triomphe -- there's an elevator to the top (then about 40 steps to the view level) which is available for seniors ... and the rest of their party.

Posted by
3580 posts

For Montmartre and Sacre Couer (sp) there is a funicular to take you up the steep hill. Then you can walk around and take the funicular back down. A metro ticket or pass is required and it is well worth it. The Pantheon is uphill from other things. A taxi might work well. A couple of carnets of metro tickets (20 total) might be enough for your group. The tickets are good on the metro, RER, or buses.

Posted by
367 posts

There is also a hop off hop on boat that starts by the Eiffel Tower and goes up past Notre Dame. It is a fun way to see the sights and if you decide to get off you can. It makes stops at or near many must see sights. If I remember correctly it is called the bateau bus.

Posted by
11450 posts

I am shocked at your original itinerary , I am glad you plan to amend it !!

Versailles is off the list , you have no time .

A "Holiday Inn " by Gare d'Est sounds horrific , not a great location and blah !

What is your hotel budget per night and I assume you are getting two rooms ? Rooms in Europe are much smaller than you may expect .

Posted by
638 posts

I think you're still trying to do too much. 7am arrival means maybe getting out of the airport in 1.5 hours. Then you'll have rush hour while getting to your hotel. And unless you're flying first class you'll be tired. Excited, but tired. If you do too much that first day you won't remember it AND you'll feel like crap. I would add a day, or 2. Or add it to the end if you're flying out of Paris. My rule of thumb is no more than 2 big things/day. You don't want to rush through sightseeing on top of the Eiffel (especially for the price you'll pay), nor rush through Montmartre or the Louvre. You also have to add transport time between sights, and food, and finding taxis...

Posted by
638 posts

Oh, flights usually arrive early going to Europe (from the US), once we had to wait for Customs people to get there... then wait in line with all the other flights...

Posted by
638 posts

We didn't give much help on hotels did we? I can't help there but I will suggest calling RS and talking to them. There's a charge based on how long your consultation is, but I think with your "wants" and physical limitations/age of group, it would be well worth it. No, I don't work for them!😁

Posted by
4944 posts

Do you currently spend much time with your parents? I'm not asking about devotion, I'm asking how intimately you understand their "ground speed"? Most of the locations you have chosen involve substantial activity, like walking, a few steps up, and so on. There are long lines for the elevator at the Arc de Triomphe. You forgot to give the month of the year, but I'm sure it's at the absolute peak of tourist season, with sweltering temperatures many days. Your daily schedules MAY still be too ambitious for their energy and mobility. Seeing Paris without a car and driver means walking, walking, walking.

You need to do heavy research on how Lourdes/Burgos/Fatima institutionally reduce the walking distances for their many elderly pilgrims. I've been only to Fatima, and it's huge! Do you sign up for mini-bus, or what?

Edit: You don't need a chain hotel to get an elevator in Paris, you just have to read the descriptions of places you are considering. From your OP, you should stay near the Louvre or Notre Dame. For the parents, the location is more important than the price. I suggest you get air conditioning in the summer.

Posted by
3 posts

@Pat - I also have a hotel that I was looking at near Montparnasse (but it seemed to have a sex shop next door - which my uncle is a bit old fashioned... so, I don't know. Our budget is Moderate.

@Tim - I spend a lot of time with my mom. She's pretty spunky but was recently diagnosed with something that may make it a little tougher to get around. she can hit Disneyland ALL day (not the rides, but walking wise). My Uncle, I don't spend a TON of outdoor time with him, but I know he has a slow time making it up our stairs at my house. I am planning to avoid the lines by getting the museum pass and I only intend to make reservations for the Eiffel. I plan on taking everything else at their pace.

The trek in Burgos, Fatima, etc. is with a tour group.