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2 1/2 Days in Paris

My 2 adult daughters & I are taking the Chunnel to Paris in mid September on a Sunday. Daughter #1 (age 42) goes home Wednesday morning and Daughter #2 (32) and I start our Rick Steve's tour Mon 5:00 and leave Paris also Wed morning. (We are doing RS "My Way Europe in 14 days").

So, we have 2 1/2 days in Paris. My daughters are musicians & private music teachers. (Actually this trip is the first to Europe for all of us, and it is in celebration of Daughter #2's graduation from PA school.) But, we don't have to do anything music. We also love art, history, food, etc. And we like to walk and explore Parisian culture. (I speak quite a bit of French.) I love to shop, but we won't be able to buy anything in Paris. Paris will really be the only place that we will be doing jam-packed things that we plan ourselves.

So, could those of you who know Paris let me know flaws in my current plan? I'm sure I've packed too much in here. I'm thinking that we should buy Paris Museum passes? What about a Paris Pass?

We would love to take some of the lovely tours, but can't afford them all!! Which sites should we definitely book a tour for?

If we don't do a tour, do we try to bus, uber, walk, taxi, or what to these places?

Also, if anyone has ideas on where to eat lunch/dinner in the midst of all of this, that'd be awesome!! We love the cafes, but are on a budget.

I'm thinking...


Chunnel to Paris.

Taxi to Hotel (Art Hotel Eiffel).

Musee D'Orsay (if we get in early enough).

Walk down Champs Elysees.

Maybe walk up the Arc de Triomphe.


Le Louvre.

Saint-Chapelle (If we aren't too absorbed with Le Louvre).

Tour Meeting back at Hotel 5:00.

Eiffel Tower Summit.


Versailles (For this, we may spring for a tour. Maybe a bike tour? We'd like to probably do one that takes us by train. Wouldn't that be faster? Should we just do 1/2 day, since we have so little time in Paris? I think just a walking tour if 1/2 day.)

Saint Germain food tour or La Marais food tour? (We don't really drink wine.)

Seine River Cruise (which one do you all recommend?).

We are all so excited!! I think, most of all me. I have studied 5 European languages, and have always dreamed of going to Europe.. I'm most looking forward to Paris. So, I'm spending so much time brushing up on the 3 languages of the countries we will be visiting, as well as planning what we will do! (Instead of doing what I'm supposed to be sleeping!! LOL)

Thank you so much, whoever can help!!!

Posted by
707 posts

The RS audio tour is a great beginning to get your bearings the first visit/day.

Check the Museum hours online just before you go. Some museums are open one evening a week and that can change your approach. The Orsay had an evening opening on my last visit. There are also tours to Giverny - Monet’s home.

Have fun.

Posted by
60 posts

I am kind of on the same timeline as “My WaY” tour meets next Monday!!!!!!!! I arrive early Sunday. I am looking at a easy Sunday morning and going to the Louvre in the afternoon. I read somewhere Monday is a very busy day there. Monday I’m going to the l’Orangerie, the Cluny, and a walk about, meeting the group at 5. I’m looking at the Orsay on Tuesday. It depends on the weather.....if it’s nice I may skip the museum (been there) and venture up to Montmartre or both....:). The best advice I could give you is go early and research the skip the line options....I’m excited for you’re going to have a great time....

Posted by
13506 posts

Versailles (For this, we may spring for a tour. Maybe a bike tour?
We'd like to probably do one that takes us by train

With so little time in Paris, I guess I might question spending a chunk of that outside the city? There is a great deal to see in the city itself that you could take advantage of!

Paris Pass? Non! Paris Museum Pass? Oui! I would absolutely buy the 2-day museum pass for your two FULL days in the city. You will recoup the 48€ price just with visits to the Louvre, Sainte-Chapelle, d’Orsay and Arc de Triomphe. Add some other attractions it covers and you are ahead of the game.

Along with the Louvre, you might want to see Monet's "Water Lillies" and some other lovely works at Musée de l'Orangerie (in the Tuileries). Music lovers might enjoy the Musée de la Musique collection at Philharmonie de Paris:

We took in some history at the old and forbidding Conciergerie (very near Saint-Chapelle) and paid respects to some of France's "most illustrious figures" at the Pantheon.

All of this and more is covered by the pass. Not covered by the pass but which might be a good substitute to Versailles, take a look at Palais Garnier instead? It'll take far less time, be of interest to fans of the arts + satisfy some of the "glitz" factor!

To get around central Paris for a couple of days, I'd use your feet and the metro (it's not difficult!) and just buy a couple of carnets (books) of 10 individual-ride tickets for 14,90 € apiece. You can share out the tickets between the 3 of you:

The Paris Museum Pass will work for Chateau Versailles but not for line skipping the security checkpoints - which can be very long - or for tours. Musical water & Musical garden days cost extra. You'll also need to purchase additional transport tickets to/from Paris> Versailles. You can, of course, avoid some of this by booking a tour.

Posted by
718 posts

Lucky you! Paris! What a city......I would recommend a Seine River tour at night, just as the sun sets so you can see the Eiffel Tower is really special. Have been to Paris 3 times and have not walked the Champs Elysees yet......much prefer the Marais and the small quaint stores along it’s streets........if you want a delicious local meal go to the Marais and eat the best falafel EVER at L’As du Fallafel......delicious and budget friendly. We took a day to see Versailles......had the Museum pass from Paris and still felt like we wasted too much precious time in line to get was July and the crowds were insanely large. See if you can plan a late afternoon visit to avoid is well worth seeing but hate to see you waste time in line! We don’t drink wine either so we read David Lebovitz’s blog post that is titled TEN INSANELY DELICIOUS THINGS YOU SHOULDN’T MISS IN PARIS.......we made our list of where these were and had fun seeing Paris as we searched out these items to try. So worth it! I would recommend you make sure to eat a Mont Blanc pastry at Angelina’s....their specialty and only made in Paris. It’s incredible. We also enjoyed walking down through Rue Cler, as recommended by RSteves, as a charming local Paris neighborhood......we had a pastry there each morning on a sidewalk cafe, bought fruit at a market, purchased a painting in a store and did our place to explore!
Hope this helps!

Posted by
681 posts

I would also forget about the Champs Elysees, it just big multi national shops and not that attractive. The best view in Paris is from the top of Tour Montparnasse, as much as from that view point you can't see Tour Montparnasse (bit of an eye sore) and you can see the Eiffel Tower.
Second vote for the Orangerie, also love Musee Cluny with the Lady and the Unicorn Tapestries.
And I think you mean Euro Star, no such thing as the Chunnel. Londoners will look at you weirdly!!!!!

Posted by
13506 posts

I would also forget about the Champs Elysees, it just big multi
national shops and not that attractive

Arg, yes. I forgot to say that we found it underwhelming as well so I would use the time for something else. One bonus about the Arc de Triomphe that could come in handy is that it's open quite late at night so can be visited when other attractions have closed for the day. We did it during the day but it could be a nice spot for sunset or to admire "The City of Light" after dark. :O)

Posted by
608 posts

I second the recommendation to visit Palais Garnier instead of Versailles on your tight time frame, unless Versailles is one of the most important things to you. It is beautiful and much easier to visit. I loved Versailles, and visited it on a very short trip, but we definitely short changed other things in Paris to do so. Sounds like a wonderful trip, hope you have a wonderful time!

Posted by
2000 posts

I agree that you should not use your valuable time in Paris on walking the Champs Elysees. However, if you make it to the Arc de Triomphe, you could walk 2 or 3 blocks down the boulevard to Laduree. Have lunch or dinner there, or just buy some macarons or other pastries from their shop. (this place is a bit pricey, but classic Paris).
On the side of town near your hotel, I highly recommend you see the twinkling light show at the Eiffel Tower every evening on the hour. You can view it from the Champs de Mars. I always recommend going up the tower, but for a short stay I think viewing it from the ground is sufficient (and saves a lot of time).

I also think you should not do Versailles on this trip. It's wonderful, but takes the whole day.

I would concentrate on Paris.
I also recommend:
The Orsay museum
or the Orangerie - smaller, less crowded, still has great art. combine this visit with a stroll of the Tuilleries.
Strolling the islands. Perhaps see St Chappelle
touring Opera Garnier building instead of Versailles (stop for lunch or a drink at Cafe de la Paix nearby)
The Palais Royale (stop at Cafe Kitsume for coffee or tea)
Place des Vosges (with a stop at Carette tea room, for lunch or snack) If you don't take a food tour of the Marias it is a wonderful place to walk around, many wonderful shops and cafes.
eating places I recommend: Les Cocottes and Cafe Constant on rue st. Dominique
Cafe Flore, Cafe Deux Magots, Le Petit Cler (on rue Cler). All are moderate in cost, though not super inexpensive.
I recommend the Vedettes de Pont Neuf Seine cruise if you can conveniently get to it. Otherwise any other cruise will show you the same sights. One cruise line runs from near the Eiffel Tower which may be more convenient for you.

I just posted a version of this comment in response to another question similar to yours, but I thought you might be interested since you're going to l'Arc de Triomphe anyway:

The first time I visited Paris, I enjoyed starting at l'Arc de Triomphe (very good view from the top, and an eternal flame beneath the arch, plus it's amazing to watch the chaotic traffic in what must be one of the largest traffic circles anywhere).

From there walk down the Champs Elysée (itself not that interesting) to Avenue Winston Churchill, take a right there and walk past the Grand Palais and the Petit Palais, noting Sir Winston's statue next to the Petit Palais, and then on across the ornate Pont Alexandre III heading toward the golden dome of Invalides with the Eiffel Tower off to your right -- that was a pretty good introduction. You and your daughters may recognize Pont Alexandre III from countless films set in Paris. If your daughters are interested in French history, maybe a quick stop to see the tomb of Napoleon might be worth your time. It's pretty amazing.

And now my question: what's PA school and what does it have to do with playing or teaching music? PiAno school? Petit Accordion school? Plastic Alphorn school?

edit: p.s., I don't think many people use the term "chunnel" these days. To take "the tunnel" or Eurostar, the name of the train service traversing the tunnel, are the most common ways to refer to that trip.

Posted by
2 posts

Thank you all so much for all of your replies!! They are so helpful!! Amazing, thanks again!!