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2-4 Days in Paris

This is a bit long and I do apologize.

We (family with teens) visited Paris several years ago. We will be there from a Monday afternoon and leaving on a Saturday morning. I'd appreciate any suggestions or tips with regards to planning these days.

On the one hand, we don’t want rush too much and we’d like to enjoy just enjoy being in Paris. On the other hand, that’s hard to do when one is excited about a place and time is limited. With that in mind, my husband said that a good question to ask should be: "What will I regret not having done when I get back home?" I know that last time we were there I regretted not having visited Giverny.

We came up with a list of things that we would most love to do. It gets a bit tricky.
1. We would love to do two day trips - fewer crowds and less hassle than busy Paris - Giverny and Chateau de Vaux le Vicomte is what we came up with.
2. Many of the the Paris views are most beautiful at sunset.
3. I'd like to get Museum Passes - but how to fit it in - since they need to be used on consecutive days.

These are the places that we would most love to visit.
Shakespeare & Company
Musée d'Orsay
Palais Garnier
Eiffel Tower and Trocadero
Pont Alexandre III (bridge)
Galeries Lafayette
Champs Elysee and/or Notre Dame - for the view

Here's my rough plan:
Arrive to Paris and check-in
Galeries Lafayette - and rooftop view
Seine River Cruise

Day Trip to Giverny
If we have the energy - Arc de Triomphe at sunset for the view

Notre Dame, Shakespeare and Company, Saint-Chapelle
Eiffel Tower and Trocadero

Chateau de Vaux le Vicomte

Arc de Triomphe at night for the view

Thank you so much.

Posted by
3933 posts

Don't wait until too close to closing to go to St Chapelle (I see you have it for Wed). We waited almost an hour to get in (end of Sept) and just made it by the skin of our teeth. I think we were in the second to last group let in. The kinda horrible thing was - people were still coming up and asking the guards about their chances of getting in (this was after we were already in line about 40 min and getting close to the front of the line) and the guards told them just to wait in line. I imagine there were people who stood in line 30 min or more, only to not get in...I believe the last group is allowed in 15 min before close...we got in 20 min before close.

We bought our tickets for the river cruise from Vendettes de Pont Neuf (oh, my spelling could be bad there). We were able to get discounted tickets and they are good for any day (tho you do specify morning cruise or afternoon/evening - prices are diff).

Sacre Coeur - the last time we were there - wasn't all that appealing at night. Mind you, we were there I think it was a Fri or Sat, so maybe its diff M-Th - there were guys selling beer and wine, and of course, people sitting all over the steps drinking beer and wine - and of course- broken beer bottles littering the steps - I thought it very disrespectful. I'd only go back thru the day, and enjoy a few hours tooling around Montmartre.

Posted by
183 posts

Nicole, thank you so much.
I'll be sure to make changes with regards to Saint Chapelle.
Last time we visited, we also did our river cruise from Vendettes, I think. We enjoyed it and it's one of the things that we thought is worth repeating.
And yes, we weren't that impressed with Sacre Coeur much at all. Like you, we were there on a weekend and it was extremely hot and unpleasant. We'll likely just pass by it and see Montmartre.
Thanks again.

Posted by
3933 posts

I'm finding it really helpful to use a map app on my ipad - I like City Maps 2 Go - I 'pin' the places I want to see - whether sights, shopping or dessert places - and then I can take it out when we are in an area to make sure zI don't miss anything - also helps to plan the sightseeing for the day.

When we get back next month, we are going to drop our bags at Montparnesse Stn (our airbnb won't be ready until later on in the day and she's only a few stops from Montp)...going to walk to the Tulleries, visit St Sulpice, hit the d'Orsay...and depending on time, sneak across the river to a dessert shop I've been dying to try (following dessert places on Instagram is BAD!)...the map app was helpful because I can see everything in the area we want to visit.

We may even finally get to the top of the Arc as well for the nighttime views! Three trips and still haven't tackled that one. I guess depending on when you are there, sunset could be later in the evening for you more time thru the nice thing about when we got to St Chapelle - tho it was later in the afternoon, the sun was streaming thru the stained glass windows (again, late Sept so sun was lower in the sky at 4pm)...I'm not sure if you went at the height of the afternoon when the sun was more directly overhead that you would experience that - maybe someone who has been there in the afternoon could let you know...

Posted by
5262 posts

Your plan makes sense to me -- basically you're filling in "blanks" left after your last visit. My only suggestion would be to move the cruise to Wednesday when you'll already be on the Ile de la Cite. If you want to do it at night, then try Tuesday or Friday, whichever night you don't visit the Arc. If you've flown overnight the night before arriving, you may not be in good shape to make the most of that Monday night cruise.

I don't think the Museum Pass makes sense for this plan, since you don't have two consecutive days in Paris. I know it covers the Orsay and the Notre Dame towers (but you don't need it for the cathedral). Not sure about Ste-Chappelle. But that's about it on your list, so why make the investment? I doubt if it would save you much or any money, though it could save you in-line time especially at Orsay.

Posted by
14919 posts

When are you going? You mention sunset. It's pretty late in summer.

My preferred time for the Seine river cruise is to start around sunset. Watch the lights go on and the scenery change from daylight to dark. Shakespeare & Co. is a book store - that's all it is. It's like a US used book store, not a Barnes & Noble, but it's still just a book store. Lots of English books for people who live there and want what you can buy at home at the mall or on Amazon and also a good selection of English books for francophiles. Giverny is not exhaustive. Buy tickets in advance for the sight and for the train. Take the first train to get there somewhat ahead of the crowds. Unless you want to spend time seeing Vernon (the town where the train stops), you'll be back in Paris by early afternoon. If you really like Monet, buy the combo ticket with the Marmottan Museum and spend the afternoon there. It's a little out of the way and not on the Paris Museum Pass, so it's usually not at all crowded. The best way to see Sainte-Chapelle is to go to an evening concert. Get there when the doors open and you'll have some time to walk around and take photos, then admire the stained glass windows (binoculars help) while you listen to the musical - usually Vivaldi's Four Seasons. Sunset is definitely the best time for the Arc de Triomphe.

Posted by
183 posts

Thank you all so much.

Nicole, I've made a note of that app.
Have a wonderful time on your visit next month! My daughter and I were talking about dessert places yesterday also! Thanks again.

Dick, it's reassuring to know that our plan makes sense. Thank you! We probably won't be tired, since we'll be taking the train from Lyon to Paris.
We're re-thinking our plan: first two days for Giverny and Chateau de Vaux le Vicomte and last two days in Paris, which will help justify purchasing the Museum Pass.
When you say that Pass is not needed for the cathedral, do you mean Sacre-Coeur? The Pass will work for Saint-Chapelle and Notre Dame.

Chani, we'll be there in May. I think that sunset is around 9 PM or so then. We're thinking of going on the cruise at around 8 PM or so, if possible.
My daughter and I love Shakespeare & Co. That entire area, in fact. We were there last time. I can't imagine that we'll spend more than half an hour or so there.
Thank you for the Giverny tips. I'll get the tickets in advance and make sure to take the first train there.
I never even thought of the concert idea with Sainte-Chapelle. I hope that we're able to do that. That sounds like something we'd love.

Thanks again everyone.

Posted by
3933 posts

If you want to mark some dessert places... My goal in 2015 was to visit them in NYC, Paris and London - I didn't make it to the London store, alas, but they make delicious little confections.

The other place I want to visit, and I'm afraid the prices will scare me, is over near the Tulleries...the pastries are a work of art...I don't think we'll indulge in the tea room, but I hope to get something to go...without breaking the bank...(the rose shaped pastry is the most beautiful piece of food I think I've ever seen)

Posted by
3933 posts

Oh god - I just found Angelina's price menu - at least I won't have sticker shock! The heck with it - I'm gonna treat myself ;)

Posted by
183 posts

Nicole., thank you! Those look lovely. My daughter has already had Angelina's on her list.

Posted by
14919 posts

Sunset May 1 - 9.06
Sunset May 31 - 9.44

Take a 9 or 9.30 cruise. The last one is probably around 10 or 10.30.

The Eiffel Tower lights start to go on about 15 minutes after sunset and take about 15 minutes. The first on-the-hour twinkling is after that. So at the beginning of May it will twinkle at 10.00, but toward the end of the month, not until 11.00.

Posted by
183 posts

Chani, I can't begin to tell you how much I appreciate your help. Thank you!