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2 Teens and their Paris Itinerary, suggestions

We are taking our 2 twin teens to Paris and Germany for their high school graduation present. Here is what they have presented as the itinerary they would like to follow while in Paris. Any suggestions on their plans? Of course, we will be going to these places with them, but also letting them explore on their own. Thanks.

Monday, May 27th - Arrive in Paris around 1:15 Go to Hotel - Rest or take an evening walk around the Seine.
Tuesday, May 28th - Morning Notre Dame, (if possible see the Shakespeare Bookstore and Cafe- the love to read and love books) Afternoon - The Louve, dinner and then possibly the Luxemburg Gardens if not too tired.

Wednesday, May 29th - Morning Eiffel Tower, Avenue Champs Elysees/Arc d Triumph Lunch then Sacre Coeur and Pere Lachaise.
Thursday, May 30th - Versailles all day/half day then evening Walk around the Seine

Friday, May 31st - Leave Paris for Germany late morning.

The girls would love to hear suggestions on any other places that might fit into this already packed schedule.

Posted by
1198 posts

Wednesday the 29th is too full, and arrival day is emptier than necessary. They could walk to Luxembourg gardens on the arrival day and then make their way back to the Seine via Rue de Buci ( a nice, active street with shops off of St. Germaine). They could do Notre Dame and Shakespeare bookstore on arrival day also (they're both on the Seine and don't take a lot of time ... then they could fit Pere Lachaise somewhere else - maybe day 2)

Shakespeare book store is right across the street from Notre Dame. Notre Dame will probably take an hour (depends on the line out front. They need to wear something that covers their shoulders), and then they can cross to Shakespeare, which will not take long to visit (20 minutes?). Just up the street from Notre Dame is St Chapel which is really nice, and may be a good swap for Pere Lachaise, which will be hard to fit in on Wednesday

One thing to think about is how much time they will spend just wandering. Its fun to just walk the streets, so they may not check off sites as efficiently as their current plan aspires to do :)

Posted by
125 posts

I assume that the teenagers (and you) have plenty of energy, because this itinerary will take a bit. The only thing I noted was that you did not allocate much time to the Louvre. If they just want to see a small part of it, then that is fine. But they should realize they cannot even begin to explore the Louvre in a morning. I assume that they are not that interested in art, and hence the lack of other museums. You might want to tempt them with another museum if they do appreciate art. And I agree that you should allocate some time for just wandering and perhaps stopping at an outdoor café. Peter

Posted by
186 posts

I would recommend going to the Louvre on Wed p.m. as the museum is open until 9 p.m.

On Tuesday, after lunch and ice cream near Notre Dame, take a Seine River cruise that allows on and off access and use it to see the Tuileries Garden, the Musee d'Orsay, and the Musee d'Orangerie, all in easy proximity. You could try for late afternoon/early evening Eiffel Tower tickets and then stay for the light show in the p.m.

That would leave Wed. day for Sacre Coeur, the cemetery, etc., with the Louvre in the evening.

Posted by
6604 posts

I would choose St. Denis Basilica with the tombs of the Kings of France over Pere Lachaise. Although both are well worth a visit. Note that Pere Lachaise is on the opposite side of Paris from Sacre Coeur. IMHO Sacre Coeur while lovely at a distance is not very attractive or interesting up close and would not be high on my list for a short trip like this. I'd also want an evening Seine Cruise and at least one stroll around Notre Dame after dark -- it is really something especially from the back all lit up at night. I agree that day one is wasted as is. You don't want to do a Seine Cruise then because it will put you to sleep, but plan some walking then -- the Luxembourg Gardens would be a good choice -- you can get ice cream or coffee there to keep you going. If at all possible don't rest or nap that first day, instead keep out in the sun and then go to bed earlyish.

It is a shame to miss the Musee d'Orsay. If you decide to go there you can get tickets for the adults at the newsstand out front and use the ticketed entrance where lines are short or non existence. I think if the girls are on their own for that and not yet 18, they can get in free and just present ID at the door. If they are 18 they will need tickets.

Posted by
2889 posts

No one has to cover their shoulders to go into Notre Dame. They can if they wish out of respect of the fact that it is a house of worship but it is not required.

As to the itinerary, if you arrive at 1:15 PM, I don't see why it is rest or an evening walk. It could be both though I encourage people to get right out and skip resting the first afternoon. Going to Luxembourg Gardens after dinner makes little sense because it closes at dusk and I don't really see its appeal for teenagers but you know your girls. If you really want to go there, I say go on arrival day. As others have said, you have a lot packed into May 29th. I think you have a timing issue if you plan to climb the Arc de Triomph and fit in Père Lachaise which closes at 6 PM after Sacre Coeur. If you switch that order, you have a better chance of making that day work because the basilica is open until 10ish PM. You might want to do the Eiffel Tower on the day you go to Versailles. I often suggest that because the RER C line has a stop near the tower.

I take the position that in a trip, this short, one does not need to go up the Eiffel Tower, climb the towers at ND, and climb the Are de Triomph. Are you planning to climb all three? If you are, I would not bother with the Arc de Triomph. If you just walk down the Champs (which is just a big street with chain stores) and walk around the Arc, you will have enough free time on Wednesday to see Sacre Coeur or Pere Lachaise before lunch.

Posted by
2889 posts

I agree with you, other Bob, that the view the Arc is quite nice. I was thinking that three views of Paris would be a bit much in such a packed and short trip and because they would have already had the view of Paris from Notre Dame and possibly one from the Eiffel Tower, the third would be overkill. I think you miss my point about that statement on the shoulders but whatever. I am a very religious person and I still think it is worth pointing out that there is no requirement that people cover their shoulders at Notre Dame. They do not have to cover them but they can out of respect (what you call courtesy) but if their shoulders are uncovered they can still enter the space. It's not like in the Vatican where a guard approached my daughter when her loose fitting t-shirt slipped slightly and you could see a bit of her shoulder and told her to cover up even as she was adjusting the t-shirt.

Posted by
181 posts

Its ambitious but it seems like a fine itinerary to me. Much if the feasibility of it will depend upon where you stay which will affect how long it will take you to get to the places you want to see.. For teens - ya gotta go up to the top of the Eiffel Tower - if only to just say that you did it and to prove it with selfies! If they enjoy art than the Orsay should be a must see as well - perhaps on whatever night it is open later (I agree about doing the Louvre on its late night as well).

Posted by
6604 posts

Going up the Eiffel Tower is not about the view; it is about being there and going up the Eiffel Tower. I would think it a must and do get tickets ahead.

Posted by
514 posts

Oddly enough, when you don’t have tons of time for Paris I would suggest trying to do less. There’s a few things I would cut out here, and assume you’ll return one day!

I would suggest skipping Sacre Coeur and Montemarte. It’s not as romantic/enjoyable as you imagine (and I’ve tried a few times.) It’s also one of the less enjoyable metro trips you can take. Often packed trains, multiple transfers, and a sketchy feeling stop. You’ll never feel more like you’re about to be pickpocketed.

Champs E’Lyses is really pointless. There’s nothing remotely interesting or compelling, even from just a shopping perspective. And it’s LONG. Take the Metro to Arc de Triomphe and metro right back. Much better street wandering (and shopping) can be had on St. Germaine and Marais. Galleria Printemps is a grand department store with a massive Tiffany dome, worth popping into.

I’d also suggest seeing St. Chapelle over the inside of Notre Dame. Notre Dame’s interior isn’t memorable, and there’s always a long line to get in. St. Chapelle is breathtaking and can be seen quickly.

Otherwise, just wandering around Paris is it’s own treat. Take your time, stop for a crepe or at local chocolatier, and just enjoy the scenery.

Posted by
19 posts

I would add to the chorus of those recommending getting out on the first day. We generally take a brief rest followed by the nearest cafe for late lunch and walking to the nearest garden (Luxembourg is a favorite but there are many others). For Versailles trip, I recommend the bike tour (we used Fat Tire Tours). After meeting in Paris and taking a train to Versailles, we went to the amazing street market to pick up lunch and then biked to the palace grounds. The tour guide was well versed in Versailles history and we had our picnic lunch before heading to the palace mid-afternoon for a tour on our own. No great biking experience needed. Versailles fountains are lit up certain nights of the week. Highly recommend Musee d'Orsay over the Louvre only because the crowds seem more manageable at Musee d'Orsay plus it's a beautiful building with an amazing art collection. So much of the enjoyment of Paris is taking in the street scenes, seeing the beauty of the architecture, etc. What a wonderful gift you are giving to the twins!

Posted by
28 posts

Thanks for all the suggestions. We thought arriving after a 9-hour flight, it would probably take us at least an hour to get to the hotel and settle in so that is why we felt a chill evening, just a walk, would be best however we will see how they feel. If they are up to more than that is certainly an option. They have read all the suggestions and will work on their plans. Looking forward to the adventure!

Posted by
714 posts

I agree with the suggestions about seeing Sainte Chappelle and skipping Sacre Couer.

Also, on day one, yes, you may want to rest a bit, but no more than one hour nap or you'll not adjust. After the rest, the best way to undo jet lag is to get outdoors and into the sun. What better way to do that than take a free tour at 3pm? It's educational, well done (I've taken them both), and you're not obligated for the whole time. Here's two I like, both very close to Notre Dame:

As for the Louvre, I highly recommend downloading Rick Steves' audio tour of the Louvre. It's about 45 min, hits the highlights, and is really mini course in Art History. And it's free!

Another thing that I enjoyed with my daughter was going to Chez Janou (Google map it) for their all-you-can-eat chocolate mousse for dessert. I've forgotten many pictures in the Louvre, but not the mousse!

Posted by
3343 posts

We thought arriving after a 9-hour flight, it would probably take us at least an hour to get to the hotel and settle in

I always allow closer to 3 hours from landing to hotel- it is often a bit less but not always!

We never sleep on overnight flights no matter how hard we try- if we can get into our room and that is iffy with check ins normally after 2 pm- we do take a quick nap- set an alarm for about an hour. That is enough to take the edge off- then we are starving- head out to the closest cafe and have lunch. Then we walk- stay outdoors in the sunshine as much as possible (IOW no museum visits).
Last trip to Paris we stayed in St-Germain area, just off Rue de Buci- after that quick nap we had lunch, visited Notre Dame, Holocaust memorial behind the cathedral, did most of RS Left Bank Historic walk and worked our way back to hotel to change clothes/freshen up for dinner.
After dinner took a boat cruise on Seine- that is always an enjoyable experience and a good thing to do on first night. Fantastic views of Tour Eiffel, and if it is late enough you will get to see the Tour sparkling. (In fact we like this better than a climb to top)
We have used this company twice- no need to book in advance.

First trip to Paris we had our 20 yo daughter with us- she was an Art History major (now has her PhD!) so museums were big on her must do list- but other things she enjoyed- in no particular order ( if she could have spent every waking moment in the Louvre she would have)
Musee d'Orsay, Pere Lachaise , Sainte Chapelle, just wandering neighborhoods, people watching, popped in to 2 big dept stores-Galeries Lafayatte Printemps, Opera House, RS Marais walk, eating crepes from a sidewalk vendor, having chocolat at Angelina's.

We walked the length of Champs Elysees- and honestly it was a waste of time.
Montmarte was just OK- we really didn't like it as much as we thought we should/would.
On our more recent trip we gave Montmarte a 2nd chance and concluded we were right the first time. It's a long hot crowded metro ride to get there and it was just not enjoyable once there. Crowded, touristy and really quite sketchy. YMMV

Versailles was a long all day trip for us- we left on early train 8ish I think and did not get back to Paris til well after 6 pm-completey exhausted. I don't think you should plan much else on that day.

You didn't mention where you are saying?