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1st Time Paris - Questions

Greetings! My wife and I hope to celebrate our 30th Anniversary this year in Paris. The problem is that it falls on the first week of November. I hear it can be cold and rainy. Hopefully it wont be too bad but this leads me to my first questions.
Has anyone traveled to Paris in November and what was your experience?
Will the cold/rainy weather ruin the experience?
What is a good, safe, centrally located area to stay in for first timers in Paris? (Eiffel Tower, La Defense, Louvre, Bastille Republique, Saint Germain-des-pres, etc.)? Or should I ask what Arrondisement??? Also keep in mind that I am a foodie. ;)
Is five/six nights too long to stay in Paris???? Will there be enough to do?
I am sure I will come up with more questions as we move forward with our plans but this should be a good start. Thanks for your help!

Posted by
21724 posts

November would not be my first choice but it is impossible to forecast the weather beyond seasonal. Could be cold and rainy or hot and sunny. Just bring a some layers of clothing that can be added or deleted as needed. Sun light will be limited and weak given how far north Paris. is But, personally, I would rather be in Paris than in Colorado in November.

Taxis and the subway are very convenient so exact where you stay is not that important. We tend to stay near Champs Elysees and the Arch since that is kind of the heart of Paris. Good restaurants are everywhere. A month stay is about right for Paris -- anything less than that is a quick hit.

Check out Steves' guide book for Paris. That is you best place to start.

Posted by
8293 posts

I have twice been in Paris in November and did not find it uncomfortably cold, but I live in Montreal. I do remember the temp. was in the 40s F one November trip, which is not too bad. The cafes will have heaters in their outside terraces, which is nice.

La Defense should not be one of your choices for a hotel area, unless you really, really like being among tall, modern office buildings. As for where else, I usually just stay at a hotel I can afford, probably in the 11th, 12th or 15th arrondissement.

Posted by
139 posts

Great Idea!

Can't help with November - never been there at that time. I was there in October one time but one time does not a trend make - it was very pleasant.

Cold depends on you I guess, if you're from LA going to the top of the Eiffel Tower might not be enjoyable in the cold, but if you're from Tahoe it won't be. When it rained during my visits it turned into a museum day - if where you are staying is near a Metro station a bit of rain won't be a big problem. Don't try a double-decker bus tour :-)

Given you're going for the first time I'm going to say staying somewhere nearby the Seine in the 1-8th Arrondisement will get you close to everything you're likely to have on your list to see. There are plenty of excellent places to eat as well. We've stayed near the Arc de Triomphe and on the Ile Saint-Louis - both excellent locations.

5-6 nights? I am convinced that I could spend 5-6 months (years?) in Paris and never see everything. There will be more than enough to do - get Mr. Steves Paris guidebook and pare down everything described into what will fit in 5-6 days...I predict it won't be so easy.

Have fun!
-bruce

Posted by
3685 posts

While you're waiting for your guidebook to arrive, you can explore Paris some on this RS website. You can use this online guide to answer many of your questions. Enough to see or do? I think if you do the research, you'll want to spend more time in Paris. I could live the whole rest of my life there and it not be enough.

In Paris I've experienced decent fall weather and miserable cold and wet weather the first 2 weeks of June. This is a resource for averages and to check the weather closer to the time of your trip. I hate layering, but it is the answer to almost every question about how to pack, especially if you want to pack light.

I've stayed in a small hotel near the Eiffel Tower (7th), a B&B near the Arc de Triomphe (8th) and an apartment in the Marais (3rd). Of these, I liked the Marais best. But there are many great areas and places to stay and I'm sure you'll get lots of suggestions.

Booking.com is a good resource for finding lodging of all kinds. You can filter the results in many ways. You can book through them or Google your favorites and book directly with your final choice.

Posted by
8293 posts

Maybe have a look at the Hotel Jeanne d'Arc in the 4th arrond. Nice little hotel, metro stop and bus stop very near at hand. Walking distance to the Picasso Museum, and Place de la Bastille. Leon de Bruxelles is a good place to get mussels, if that appeals, and there is one of the two locations at Pl. de la Bastille.

Posted by
776 posts

Weather in Paris in November is usually miserably cold and wet. However, the past three years have seen lovely November weather indicating again that Paris weather can be counted on to be capricious. Most people suggest that first timers in Paris stay in arrondissements 1-6 because of proximity to the "major attractions." and their relatively short visits to a city that is full of other things to do. In five or six nights you'll only get a Paris sample.

Posted by
3621 posts

First, congratulations!! Can't think of a better place to celebrate an anniversary than Paris.

You asked "What is a good, safe, centrally located area to stay in for first timers in Paris?"

You didn't mention your budget for accommodations, but don't rule out staying in the absolute center of Paris on Ile St. Louis because you think the rates will be out of sight. At that time of year, depending on vacancies, you may find rates quite reasonable. We've stayed at Hotel des Deux-Iles and really enjoyed the location. It's quiet with friendly and helpful front desk personnel. Very well located -- cross the river and you will be in the Marais -- cross it the other way and you'll be in The Latin Quarter. Walk to the end of the island, cross the bridge and you'll be at Notre Dame. The Metro is near enough that getting anywhere is not a problem.

We emailed them with a request for rates, booking, and got a reply within 24 hours. We did not eat breakfast there as it seemed quite expensive for what was offered.If you do stay on the island we know where you can get a great little breakfast for a good price.

If they are full, a few doors away is their sister hotel named Hotel de Lutece. We would stay there based simply on our experience at Hotel des Deux-Iles.

There is another hotel on the island named Hôtel Saint-Louis en l´Isle. They have (I think) a dedicated shuttle that will pick you up at the airport but I'm not sure what it cost. With taxis into the city from the airport now charging a flat rate that may be the way to get to any hotel.

A few minutes of googling should give you and idea if staying on the island is a possibility, or if you should rule it out.

Five or six nights in Paris will just scratch the surface. Have flexible daily plans so you can switch from indoor to outdoor things depending on the weather.

Posted by
6626 posts

We have spent an entire November in Paris; the month we were there it was overcast or rainy every day; in October on the other hand, we have had mostly lovely days crisp and often sunny. You may have better luck. It is not seriously cold, but dour and rainy is the norm. I grew up in Seattle; it is like that. Gray, short days, misty drizzle (the heavy rain usually falls at night), chilly.

Paris is a great indoor town -- museums, concerts, shopping 'passages', restaurants. So unpleasant weather is not a big deal. It would not be the month I choose

Absolutely don't stay near the Eiffel Tower which is on the edge of Paris or the business park La Defense which isn't even in Paris (you could throw a dart at a map of Paris and do better than that). We have stayed all over centrally and on the edges. For a first visit, especially in a time when the weather is likely to be iffy, I would choose the Marais (4th), Latin Quarter (5th) or St. Germain (6th) near the river. It is lovely to be able to stroll at night by the Seine with the city lit up. Safety is not an issue. You are relatively safe from violent crime anywhere in Paris; we have literally traveled from one end of the city to the other at midnight on the metro without hesitation and the center will be full of people on the streets till late.

Here was our 43rd Anniversary Lunch; it really was great and by reserving 3 mos out we ended up with the best table in the house:
https://janettravels.wordpress.com/2016/03/01/anniversary-lunch-at-la-tour-dargent/
For our 45th we ate at L'Initial -- much less costly than La Tour d'Argent -- only 48 for a 7 course meal that was just excellent.

I am the wrong person to ask if 5 or 6 nights (4 or 5 days) is too much as I am heading over for 6 weeks, spent 3 last year, a month the year before, two months each the two years before that etc. I think 6 nights is a sort of bare minimum for a first visit to Paris. If you are interested in Opera definitely get tickets when they go on sale several months in advance; the Bastille opera house is our favorite house -- wonderful technically, often amazing direction, and even when the production is less impressive the voices are always first rate.

IMHO the least visited amazing tourist destination in Paris is Basilica St. Denis on the 13 metro line. Definitely put that on your list.

Posted by
21076 posts

I'm one of those people who has a physical need for sunlight, else I feel lethargic. I know I am not typical. However, for what it's worth: I've been in Europe as late as October 12 and was already bothered by the shortness of the days. At that point, the temperature in Croatia was cooling but it certainly was not cold. But that was barely mid-October.

Is it essential that you take this trip in November rather than in October?

Posted by
489 posts

Congratulations on your 30th Anniversary... ours is next Feb.

Our first time together in Paris was last June. We stayed in the Marais area at Hotel Jeanne d'Arc. Very lovely boutique hotel... but remember an older building. It is very close to Victor Hugo's home. That area is lovely with very good restaurants.
We stayed 5 nights and because that was our first leg of the trip, the jet lag had attacked us. However, we arose very early on the first day ... a Sunday to find the entire Paris all to ourselves. From the hotel it is a short walk to Notre Dame and then we strolled by the river, enjoyed a breakfast at a very old restaurant (name escapes me, but it is very close to the city hall, that looks like some kind of huge hotel) and wandered around the Louve before anyone was there.

As a foodie, I would recommend a food tour in the Montmartre Area.... AWESOME!

We also booked an evening of a chauffeur driven CV2. It was a highlight of our trip.... But try to pick a nice evening.
We also booked what I call the trifecta ... It was not inexpensive.. But we did dinner in the Eiffel tower, a short river cruise and the evening capped off with the show at the Moulin Rouge with Champagne...
We hardly scratched the surface of what to see in Paris.. (Yes, we visited many museums, too).

Posted by
22 posts

Wow! I am overwhelmed but so thankful for all the great info you have all provided so quickly! I will certainly take into consideration and research out all of your suggestions. The cold does not really bother me at all. I was however concerned that Paris attractions would shut down in the low/cold season and there would not be much to do. It sounds like I have nothing to be concerned about. I thought about changing to October but it would just be so nice to be there on our actual Anniversary on November 5th. Still maybe something to consider changing. Thank you all so much. Please feel free to keep providing any suggestions or information.

Posted by
6626 posts

Paris is a major world city. Nothing shuts down in winter and that is when the cultural things like symphony and opera are in season. The Eiffel Tower and the river cruises are up and running every day of the year (except for the cruises when the river rises and the boats can't get under the bridges which has been true the last month or so).

Posted by
8294 posts

I recommend staying in the 4th, 5th or 6th. And I’m with TC, Ile St Louis is my favotite area.

I’d rather be in Paris with short days and cooler temps because there will be far less tourists, lines, crowds, and it’s much easier to walk places (Paris is a very walkable city) when it’s not warm.

Paris is wonderful even when cold and short days, the city is lit up, people are out and about and sitting inside or outside at a café is very enjoyable.

No, 5-6 days is not too long. It’s too short.

I spent a whole month of April in Paris (my husband’s first time) where it rained almost all day, every day... didn’t matter to us at all, we had a fabulous time. Paris is very romantic, especially when it rains.

As others have said, get the RS Paris guide. It has everything you need to know to have a great time.

Posted by
4125 posts

The other disadvantage to November versus October is less daylight. Remember most of Europe is north of the continental U.S. On the other hand, you are in a city so there re indoor attractions and outdoor lighting.

Posted by
2466 posts

Everything is open, the weather will be windy and rainy. Bundle up.
The Metro is only 500 metres away...in any direction, except the 16th and 7th arrondissements.
I would stay in the 6th, because that's what people think of when they think what Paris will be like.
Some serious eating possibilities, too...
Check out ParisByMouth for neighborhoods.

Posted by
1760 posts

Hi Brad, congratulations on your anniversary! You will be fine in November, just be prepared to dress appropriately for chilly, possibly wet weather. Paris is an amazing world-class city and there are tons of things to do. Get a guidebook. Get a Paris Museum Pass (available for 2, 4 or 6 days). I like to stay in the 7th arrondissement near the Eiffel Tower and recommend the Londres Eiffel Hotel and the Hotel Empereur. Nice, safe, upscale area with lots of restaurants. We walk everywhere from this neighborhood but there are metro and bus stops nearby if you need them. Hope you have a wonderful anniversary trip!

Posted by
245 posts

I would stay in the 4th, 5th, or 6th as near to the Seine as you can.

Posted by
14917 posts

Sunset's around 5.50-5.55 during the first week of November (sunrise, just after 8 am). That's actually a benefit, since you'll have long evening to enjoy Paris after dark. I can't imagine a bad time to be in Paris - you just have to plan somewhat differently for sights and activities. 5-6 nights in Paris is barely enough to scratch the surface.

I'd stay in the 3rd-4th (Marais) or the 5th-6th (Rive Gauche). It's good to be near a metro station, especially one that has more than one line.

Posted by
4 posts

I live in southeastern France and have been in Paris in every month of the year, and I think November is a fine time to go, as less crowded. It can be rainy and cold and eternally grey anytime, but Paris is worth it ;-) Bring appropriate clothing, of course. Even the outdoor cafés usually have heaters.

For a first-timer, I think the 6th or 7th would be great.

Five or six nights--you will hardly scratch the surface! There is a lifetime's worth of stuff to do! You will have a memorable time.

Happy to answer any other questions you might have, especially on the food front!

Bonne chance! Faith McLellan

Posted by
24 posts

Spent a week in November 2017 and had plenty to do. You will leave wishing you had more time.

Weather- mid 50s to 60s. Bring gloves if you will be outside all day. It rained lightly on 2 days, more like a mist that didn't really interrupt sight seeing.

I thought Nov. would be the off season but be prepared, Paris is a huge tourist destination year round and was busier than I expected.

I stayed on Iles St. Louis at Hotel des Deux Iles, for $135 a night single(did not get the breakfast as there are many cafes). The room was small, remodeled and had a nice bathroom and excellent heat. Hotel is non-smoking. Front desk was helpful.
I would highly recommend this lovely little island. It is centrally located, safe(I travelled solo), and quiet at night, it also has those narrow roads and quaint feel that I want to experience when in Europe. The neighborhood has everything you will need, there are several places to eat, some shops, a bank ATM on the corner and a little market just down the block. There are no metro stops on the Iles but the nearest stop is a 4 minute walk over the bridge.
You will be able to walk to Notre Dame, Saint Chapelle, the Marais, and the Latin Quarter in minutes. The subway is easy to use and will get you to all the sights you might want to see that are a little further away.

I visited the Louvre(go when it opens), the D'Orsay, the Picasso museum, saw Monets water lilies,the Eiffel Tower at night(did not buy ticket in advance, just lined up for about 30 minutes to get ticket and clear security), took a day trip to Versailles(you don't need to book a tour just take the train and walk from the station it's easy on your own), did 2 walking tours, visited the Musee Jacquemart-Andre( I really like places like this- those that seem frozen in time preserving an era/lifestyle), and ate in many fine restaurants.
I hope this helps, if you have specific questions just ask. I can recommend several places to eat.

Posted by
9718 posts

You can go to www.sunrisesunset.com to print out a calendar of times for your visit. Yes, I am sliiiiightly compulsive and yes, I add the exact times to my daily itinerary!