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2 partial and 1 full day in Paris before our RS tour begins - itinerary?

It will be our (husband and my) first trip to Europe, our first trip outside of North America, and we aren't sure how jet lag will affect us. I've very loosely planned our time before our tour begins, but would love your feedback and/or suggestions.

T - 2 days before tour: fly from Los Angeles to CDG, land at 1530. Take transportation to Hotel Tilsitt Etoile, and check in. Go out and grab a bite to eat (would love suggestions on a nice little mom and pop place where the locals go) and then take a cruise on the Seine. (I've got my eye on Vedettes du Pont Neuf) My first thought was to take a sunset cruise, but then I looked up the time of the sunset, and in June it is close to 10 pm. Something tells me we won't be able to stay up that late... sigh... After cruise, take transportation back to hotel.

T - 1 day before tour: Find a little bakery or cafe for breakfast. Hopefully I will have been successful at getting a ticket to the summit of the Eiffel Tower. My husband doesn't do heights, so he will most likely people watch while I tour the Tower. Maybe do a picnic lunch. The rest of the day is unplanned, but we may possibly look for a Catholic Church to attend Saturday evening Mass.

Day of Tour: Rick Steves' Tour begins at 1500. Our morning is free unless we don't go to Mass the night before, then we will go to Mass this morning.

Do you have any suggestions for our down time? I wanted to make sure I didn't cram too much into our days in case the flight / time change wears us out. If you are familiar with Rick Steves' Tours, I'd like suggestions for places to go / things to see that aren't on his tour, but that we don't necessarily need far in advance reservations for, in case that time is spent sleeping. ;)

Posted by
208 posts

We have exactly the same one day opportunity in Paris coming up in April.

My strong recommendation is that you tough out the 36 hour day flying over, and stay up until evening in Paris. I believe that's the best way of acclimatizing quickly.

I am not a big fan of heights either, but I didn't have an issue with the Eiffel Tower. Which I found much more interesting than I expected, and not just a touristy thing. So try to convince your husband.

Some things I would think about doing on your free day: 1. Visit the Orangery (Monet's water lillies) (within easy walking distance of the Eiffel Tower). 2. Visit Sacre Couer and Montmartre. 3. Visit Notre Dame and the Louis XIV chapel with the stained glass windows. Pick one, depending on your interests. I'm sure others will have good suggestions to add.

Posted by
11355 posts

Musee Rodin, outdoor sculpture garden. “ The Thinker” is there and many other of Rodin’s masterpieces.

Posted by
771 posts

Which RS tour are you doing? Is it a Paris tour, in which you'll see many of the major sights (but not the Eiffel Tower) or one of the others where little time is spent in Paris?

I have a bit of the same quandary. We are arriving 2 days early for our Best of Paris tour. My husband has never been to Paris and it has been decades since I was there. I want to use that time wisely (even if that means cafe sitting and walking around the city.) I like to have things lined up that we can do, but not be tied to too much.
- Have you checked out They have guided walks most days at 10:30 and 2:30 where you just show up and pay 15 euros, no reservation. The schedule is on the website. I'm thinking of that for our first afternoon.

-The next day we have booked a food tour that will take us around Montmartre, stopping at food shops and sampling things, then sitting down to a meal with foods and wine the guide purchased at the shops. They do other neighborhoods, as well.

-The church of Saint Gervais has organ concerts and seems like it would be a lovely place to go to mass with Saturday evening or Sunday morning.

I'll be watching for other replies to get some ideas, too!

Posted by
4252 posts

I was planning to post a similar question this morning, now I'm just going to pay attention to yours. We arrive in Paris on May 18th about noon and have to be in Chartres on the 19th at 5pm for the start of our RS tour (Loire to the South of France in 13 days). This will be our 4th trip to Europe in the past 5 years and we've never really been affected by jet lag on this leg. Going home has always been a different story. Having said that, we've never hit the ground running with concrete plans just in case of flight delays or we're tired, etc. If you're anything like us on our first trip to Europe (for us it was Rome), you'll be so excited that you'll be able to kill a whole day by just soaking in the atmosphere of a totally different place than what you're used to. We are planning on an evening cruise on the Seine. The next morning we may get up early enough to get in line as early as possible to go to the top of Notre Dame.

Posted by
1103 posts

OP: Is this the Paris city tour?

I would consider not taking the Seine river cruise on you arrival day. It would be a shame to fall asleep during an activity that costs money!

Our first RS tour was the Paris 7 day itinerary. We did a lot of walking around before the toil started, including a visit to the Pere Lachaise cemetery and the Rodin Museum.

Posted by
169 posts

I'm loving all your responses! I'm doing a quickie reply on my break, and will be back later to reply more indepth. I'm sorry I neglected to write which tour we are doing! We are doing the Best of Europe in 14 days. This is our itinerary for Paris:

Day 1: Welcome to Europe
We'll have a group meeting at around 3 p.m. at our hotel in Paris, followed by an orientation walk through our neighborhood. Then we'll get acquainted over dinner together, and celebrate the start of our European adventure with a private panoramic bus tour through the City of Light. Sleep in Paris (2 nights). Bus 2 hours. Walking: light.

Day 2: Historic and Artistic Paris
Let's begin where Paris did, on the Ile de la Cité. A guided walking tour will reveal the city's early history, including visits to a pair of the world's most important Gothic churches: the legendary Notre-Dame Cathedral and the exquisite Sainte-Chapelle. Then we'll take a stroll through the bohemian Latin Quarter. Next we'll explore Europe's greatest museum — the Louvre — where your guide will orient you and set you free to come face-to-face with the works of Raphael, Delacroix, and Leonardo, and timeless treasures that include Mona Lisa, Winged Victory, Venus de Milo, and hundreds more. The rest of the day is free to visit the world's greatest collection of Impressionist art — from Monet and Degas to Cézanne and Gauguin, and more — at the Orsay Museum, or be inspired by Monet's incredible Water Lilies at the Orangerie, or puzzle over the whimsical water fountains and modern art at the Pompidou. With your included Paris Museum Pass, the City of Light is yours to discover. No bus. Walking: moderate.

That's it. Thanks!

Posted by
202 posts

If you have not already, I would be Google mapping and 'walking' around Hotel Tilsitt Etoile now to discover exactly what is nearby your accommodation and the arrondissement you are in. It is a fun and informative way to start familiarizing yourself with the epically grand and glorious City of Light. Best case scenario, your hotel arrival after the long flight/whichever into Paris transportation option you choose will be carefree and with minimal fuss. I have done both Roissybus/Metro combination with luggage to hotel as well as sprung for a taxi. Each method can be easy and uncomplicated with € value being your call. My typical plan of action on European arrival day is reaching my accommodation, dropping my bag, heading out for a wander in the immediate vicinity and making evening meal plan. Serendipity and energy level(s) dictate what fills my time before hitting the hay, planned no earlier than 21:00. Since the hotel offers breakfast, I would opt/pay for that as it's easiest/most convenient for enjoying your first petit dejeuner. For your one full day prior to tour start, an Orangerie and Monet's Water Lilies visit is a wonderful possibility. The Paris Museum Pass provided as part of the BOE 14-day (I think you are on) is naturally not provided until the tour begins. The pass includes the Orsay, Rodin and Cluny museums (which you may be able to squeeze in during brief free time as you will not visit as part of BOE) but does not include the Orangerie; you would being paying its entrance fee in any event if interested. I vote you be interested. I too, recommend a Paris Walks tour should any one of them be to your liking and available at a workable time during the full day prior/day of tour start. I do think there is a lot to be said for starting slowly and acquiring your sea legs in a moderate fashion when heading out on a 7-stops tour which can push the limits on feeling casual and comfortable as you cycle through the arrive, get situated, tour and depart for the next great location itinerary. Either way, it sounds like you have a great handle on choosing pretour activity which interests YOU. Have a marvelous trip and tour, I suspect you and your travel partner could easily become repeat RST customers.

Posted by
1103 posts

OP: Are you also staying on in Rome after the tour ends?

Posted by
39 posts

My husband and I will have an extra day at the end of a Best of Paris tour this spring and I am interested in the Paris walking tours a couple of you have mentioned. The link that someone gave to that organization's website didn't work for me, however. Does anyone know the correct web address for Paris Walks?

Posted by
169 posts

Matt- Thanks for your input on the Eiffel Tower - hopefully I can talk him into it.

Suki- that would be really cool to see in person!

va from va - Thank you for the ParisWalks link. A chocolate tasting tour?! Yes, Please!!! Your food tour sounds interesting, too. I looked up the church of St. Gervais. Thank you! I'm also completely open to attending Mass in French. I actually think I'd prefer it. :)

Allan- thank you - I predict I will be giddy, overjoyed and running on adrenaline and DH will be ready for a nap! haha. But of course, I could be wrong. Yes, we may do nothing but soak it all up our first evening, and that is perfectly ok. :)

Posted by
169 posts

Bob- Pere Lachaise - is this the one where so many famous people are buried? Yes, we are staying on in Rome for a couple days. We haven't solidified plans yet, but when the tour ends after breakfast, we hope to hop on a train to Assisi. (we will return to Rome that evening). The next day is Sunday, and I'm hoping Pope Francis will make an appearance.

Theresa- love the google map idea! Thank you for all the great info, and I too hope we will be repeat RST travelers!

catherinem- the link worked for me. Maybe the website was down when you tried?

Posted by
14167 posts

Since you arrive at 3:30 you may not get to your hotel until 6:30, so I'd go for dinner somewhere in the neighborhood and then walk a little if you can. You are really, really close to the Arc de Triomphe so I'd walk in that direction and watch the craziness of the traffic circle around the Arc. If you want to walk out to the Arc there is a pedestrian subway under the traffic circle. Be pickpocket proof in this area and down the Champs-Elysees (money belts on under your clothing, only a small amount of cash in an accessible pocket). You'll be travel weary and may not be as alert as you need to be. Nothing dangerous, just pickpockets.

It's also not a bad walk from your hotel to the Eiffel Tower so you might consider that the next day, then walk along the Seine toward Notre Dame. I'd go in Notre Dame today as you may not have time to see it on your tour day. You could also consider stopping in the Orsay Museum if you are interested in that time frame of art.

I'll just say that you are going to have such a fun introduction to Europe! The tour you've chosen has you seeing blockbuster sights every single day!

Posted by
17 posts

You didn't mention which RS tour you will be on? Because you are staying at the Tilsett I am guessing one of the Best of Europe tours? I stayed at the Hotel Tilsett Etoile last October as the first part of the 14-day Best of Europe. The front desk recommended the restaurant L'Etoile 1903 for lunch. I met another traveler from my group in the lobby of the hotel, and we went over there and had French Onion Soup and Charcuterie. It's about a block over from the hotel to the Avenue de Wagram, and 1/2 block up towards the Arc de Triomphe. You mentioned picnic, and there is also an open-air fresh produce market on Rue Poncelet just a few blocks away, but in the other direction going towards the Rue des Ternes. I guess it's the custom for them to pick your produce for you. And there is a mini-market about a 1/2 block on the Rue de Montenotte for bottled water and snacks. If you are on the BoE, you won't have much time in the Louvre or other museums, so pick the one that most interests you. I could spend more time in the Shakespeare Bookstore by Notre Dame. They have wonderful cards and momentos. We only got about 15 minutes there on the BoE, but we had the whole afternoon free in that area on the BoParis tour so I ate lunch near there in 2015 at the Cafe le Petit Pont. I'm from the NW so you'd think I'd get enough Salmon, but no, because I prefer fresh Atlantic salmon which is what is served there, but with different sauces than here in the PNW, in this case it was a sauce homaradine. I've always wanted to visit the Pere Lachaise Cemetery. I will be back there in October for the Heart of France so maybe then? Have fun whatever you do.

Posted by
169 posts

Pam- Love the suggestion of A d T on the first afternoon, and thanks for the pick pocket warning!

Kath- Yes, BOE14. So did you like your lunch at L'Etoile 1903? Thanks for the directions! Thank you also for letting me know that it is customary for the vendors to pick out produce for the customer. I am so picky with my produce- but good to know so I don't make a fool out of myself! Thanks for all the suggestions, and have fun in October! :)

Rocket- WONDERFUL! Thanks for the link! :) Strongly considering doing that.

Posted by
22 posts

I would suggest walking around the Rue Cler area. It is very close to the Eiffel Tower so you can get some dinner and stroll around before or after you ascend. Rue Cler is a great food street .....many cafes and food markets.

Many great restaurants around the Rue Cler area between Cler and the Eiffel Tower on Rue Grenelle and Rue St Dominique; good take away foods on Rue Grenelle too. La fountain du Mars on St. dominque- wonderful roasted chicken on Sunday nights. Reservations needed- your hotel can help you.
*****I HIGHLY recommend La Gourmandise Pizzaria- OR Haboubi Pizza (it has a few names- Rick Steves’ just calls it the Pizza Place) not far from Rue Cler- 28 rue Augereau. This is a little hole in the wall….but great pasta and salads and pizza….ask for the olives and mushrooms to start. Great friendly service. Cheap. Take away food too. I never visit Paris without a stop in the pizza place...even thou Rick Steves mentions it in all his Paris books, it is still a place the locals go.

If you like bread, find a Poilane bakery.....3 locations in Paris....worth the walk!! try the apple tart!!!!

Posted by
921 posts

You did not say which days of the week you will be touring Paris. I would avoid touring anywhere near the Arc de Triomphe or Champs Elysees on Saturday. The yellow vest demonstrations have been ongoing at least since mid December. My husband receives alerts from the American Embassy in France since he did work there (over a year and a half ago!) but he still receives them. Every Saturday since mid December, 2018, he has received between 3-4 alerts on his cell phone. They include that police have used tear gas and water cannons. We will be in Paris in April and have built our itinerary around Saturdays when we have chosen to be outside the city. I have no idea when the demonstrations will be over. My sister visited Paris mid December and had to walk @ two miles to her hotel due to the police stopping the Metro at points way before the demonstrations. Just saying, plan accordingly. It has not stopped us from making great plans to enjoy our favorite European city!

Posted by
4574 posts

Is there anything in Paris you really,really want to see...and with adequate time? Even if you are seeing something on the tour, chances are it will be for a shorter time than you would like, so see it to your full when you can control the time.
The Orangerie. Small museum, but large canvasses....Monet Water lilies. Moving and beautifully displayed.

Posted by
169 posts

eleblang- Thank you for the marvelous food suggestions!

Lindy- we will arrive on a Friday and the tour begins on a Sunday. Hopefully demonstrations won't be as crazy in June- as our hotel is near the A d T.

Maria- Thank you- I'm still trying to prioritize.

Posted by
33137 posts

Worked it out - A d T = Arc de Triomphe