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2 weeks in France at a very slow pace? Where to go?

Hi!
My daughter graduates from HS next year and really wants to go to Paris. Only problem is that she has a chronic illness which makes her ver fatigued, and I just don't see how she can handle the hustle and bustle of Paris of seeing sites. We will have to slow things down dramatically. Any recommendations of a 2 week itenerary at a slow pace?

Thanks in advance.

Posted by
2727 posts

If Paris is her top priority, I would say go for it. Spending 2 weeks in Paris would allow you to see quite a lot and still have plenty of rest periods each day. For example, take a morning walking tour of the Ile de la Cite (Notre Dame area) and then go back to your hotel and relax until dinner time. Another morning, take a taxi to the top of Montmartre (Sacre Coeur), ride the funicular down, and walk to the metro. Then relax until dinner time.

The RS Paris guidebook will give your daughter a range of ideas to choose the sights that most interest her.

Posted by
6823 posts

it may be easier if you go off peak late September or May when there are ​ less tourists as everyone is back or still in school, the weather is not as hot, and there is still a good amount of daylight
One week in Paris. One week in Provence based in Avignon Nimes or Aix to make day trips

Posted by
1804 posts

I don't think you need to cut out Paris entirely, just look at other options for getting around the city instead of walking or taking the Metro which requires a lot of walking, stairs and energy. Focus on confining your sightseeing to small pockets/specific neighborhoods each day to not spread yourselves too thin. And stay as central as you can afford to so you are able to come back to your hotel or apartment and she can rest as needed. Wherever you stay, make sure it has an elevator.

Examples to get around Paris easier would be the Hop On/Hop Off Bus (although there are ways to do similar via public transit routes like Bus #69, but no guarantee you are going to get a seat if the bus is crowded), or you could splurge a little and book one of the Citroen 2CV private car tours and see the city in a convertible. Get the Uber app on your phone and use that liberally. Take one of the boat tours on the Seine, especially as it gets close to sunset. Instead of standing in the endless security lines to get into the Eiffel Tower and go up to the top, enjoy it from the ground and have a picnic dinner. Or go somewhere else that has a nice view of it - check out the view from the Montparnasse Tower instead which has far fewer crowds and a quicker elevator to the observation deck level. Go see one of the free fashion shows in Paris at the major department stores and while you are there, go get the elevator/escalator up to the rooftop terrace to take in a 360 degree view of the city. Or take the elevator up to the top of the Arc de Triomphe (also open late and less crowded) to get a nice view from the top.

If she likes museums, maybe focus on just a few of the smaller ones like the Rodin or Marmottan. Or take advantage of the nights when some of the larger ones are open late and go a few hours before closing to see a few select areas. Maybe they have a wheelchair on-site that you can use to cut down on the walking around in some of the really large places like the Louvre.

If anything, Paris is a great city for people-watching. There are so many cafes where you can just sit at a table outside and watch the world go by and relax. Same with the number of parks and gardens scattered throughout the city.

Outside of Paris, I'd look at maybe spending some time at the beaches in the south of France where you can just rent some chaise lounges and relax. Or head to Provence, rent a car and you can stop at the places that interest you and travel at a very relaxed pace. If you want to stick to Northern France, maybe rent a car and travel around Normandy instead.

Work on scheduling the activities for times of the day when she has the most energy. For example, if she does better when she first wakes up, then spend a few hours in the morning sightseeing, stop well before she starts showing signs of fatigue and have a long lunch somewhere. If after sitting for a few hours eating lunch she still has some energy, then move on to some other activity, if not, just stop for the day. There are no rules that you need to see a certain number of tourist sites each day to make your time in Paris worthwhile, and it's perfectly ok to not see any at all if your daughter is feeling a bit worn out.

Posted by
223 posts

Well, if she were my daughter I would ask her why she wants to go to Paris and what sights she wants to see there. I would then plan an itinerary based on those interests.

After that, and considering the logistics of train travel, I would probably consider a trip to a smallish town in Bourgogne to slow things down a bit but still immerse yourself into French life. Beaune springs to mind as a home base; perhaps with trips to some of the small towns in central or southern Bourgogne if you're willing to rent a car.

Posted by
3466 posts

Agree with suggestion that you discuss with her the things she really wants to see. With two weeks you should be able to see and do quite a lot even at a reduced pace. Let us know when her main interest are determined and we'll be in a better position to help lay out an itinerary.

Posted by
2707 posts

Paris is a wonderful city in which to do nothing. Sit in cafes and parks. Hit the gorgeous patisseries or fromageries or boulangeries... Just "being" in Paris is what is important. However, when my daughter was that age, she was planning the trips. I went along for the ride...if I was lucky.

Posted by
4125 posts

I think you can go wherever you like, but plan to move slowly. If the blockbuster sights seem too daunting because of crowds and lines, Paris still has many smaller museums and attractions that will not be mobbed. And the parks are wonderful.

We don't know what your daughter wants to see and do, or what she is capable of. So it is hard to make specific recommendations.

Travel is stressful and tiring, but planning helps, knowledge helps, and being prepared to spend a little more for cabs and a hotel nice enough to spend time in comfortably.

Posted by
1540 posts

I took the #69 city bus from the center of Paris to the Père Lachaise Cemetery. Several very famous people buried there and the grounds are lovely to walk around. What I really enjoyed was the bus ride through the city to see the "work a day" life and some of the neighborhoods. When you arrive at the cemetery, you can get a map that shows the grounds and where some of the most famous graves are.
It was worth the trip for me and I believe it is described in the RS Paris book?
The cemetery is not very large and you could walk around a much as you like - sit on a bench and relax.....
I got off the bus 1 block from the entrance to the cemetery and when I left, I found a bus stop right outside that main entrance.

Posted by
763 posts

Since she wants to see Paris, I think she should see Paris. I absolutely love Paris and have returned many times.

Others have made great suggestions,using UBER is a good idea. One main activity a day with relaxing in a cafe or a park is a great idea. Sitting in a cafe writing in my travel journal is something I do often when my feet get tired. I love having lunch in a park with local business people; it makes me feel like a local. Use busses instead of the metro; the metro usually has MANY stairs up and down with few escalators or elevators. The bus has just a few steps in and if you leave the bus by the door on the side of the bus and not the front, often there is no step.

Even a large museum like the Orsay can be done in a short visit; there are elevators in the Orsay. I cannot remember if the elevator goes to the basement where the bathroom is. find out where the paintings you want to see are, like the tour in Rick's book, but also use the brochure from the museum as they do move paintings around.

If money allows, you might hire a private guide for a half day letting them know before hand of any limitations.

Another poster had a good idea, ask your daughter what she wants to do and see. I am a planner and I love to make a plan for each day. Then on the day, I decide if I am sticking to the plan or not. My main reason for making a plan is to see things that are close in proximity, a museum, park, suggested cafe.

Enjoy Paris! Make sure to visit an open air food market.

Posted by
7869 posts

The Orsay has bathrooms on the top floor as well. Short flight of stairs to get there. And I'm sure the elevator goes to the top floor too.

Really good advice above. I especially agree with Wray. Paris is not like any other city, for me, it is very relaxing. Paris is best enjoyed at a very slow, leisurely pace. Strolling through a neighborhood and stopping at a café or sitting on a bench as often as you like, sitting outside at cafés for 1-2 hrs, sitting in the Luxembourg Gardens (they have comfortable metal chairs everywhere), strolling along the river or taking a 1 hr boat ride to see the sights. I also love the Hop On Hop Off bus, but not for transportation. We like sitting up top, at the very back and just enjoy the 3 hr loop and all the amazing beauty there is to see in Paris.

I've spent a lot of time in Paris, just spent 15 full days there, and it's not too long. Staying in one place is much less tiring than moving around. You and your daughter could have a fabulous time there.

Posted by
5986 posts

Get an apartment near a nice park (Luxembourg Gardens, Tuilleries, Parc Monceau etc etc) that way you can enjoy some special delights of Paris like making the early morning bakery run and choosing breakfast breads and perhaps a pastry for later and get get a leisurely start to the day. Plan on one big thing like a museum in a day and plan to spend some time just enjoying your park. We once spent a week in the 5th arrondissement simply going to a different park every day and sitting and reading and enjoying the beautify of the park and of Paris all around us. The Tuilleries is particularly scenic for this purpose. Sitting and watching children sailing toy boats on the fountain pool with the stunning Louvre palace and old Hausmann buildings all around you is lovely and low effort/high payoff. The Louvre is adjacent and you can come and go from the Louvre all day on one ticket. So you might alternate resting in the park (they have movable chairs some of which are sort of recliners) with forays into the museum. There are cafes and take out kiosks in the Tuilleries and Luxembourg Gardens and every park has at least a refreshment kiosk.

And a big part of Paris is enjoying sitting in a cafe and watching the world go by. Plan to break for a cafe creme or soda or glass of wine (and Paris has really good happy hours if you enjoy cocktails -- I have had 4 mojitos on this trip at 4 different cafes and every one of them has been excellent) in the morning and afternoon and evening. Cafe sitting is a major Parisian activity and you can sit as long as you want -- write in your journal , read a book or just watch.

I traveled in Italy with my mother when she was 80 and somewhat mobility impaired and we made that work by lots of sidewalk cafe breaks --- up to that point I had been too cheap to pay the cost of sitting down i.e. the 5 dollar cappucino, but I learned just how well worth it, it was on that trip. (and in Paris most cafes charge about 3.50 or so for a creme or coke and happy hour cocktails are 4 or 5 Euro -- and they have virgin versions of things like mojitos for less, although your daughter is legal age if she would like to have a glass of wine or cocktail.

Plan to do a bus tour with Foxity where you sit on top of the bus and see major monuments. Plan to taxi or uber to save energy. We love the metro but it is very taxing, filled with stairs and long walks for connections. Or use the bus. The problem I find with the buses is that I often don't get a seat and that will be taxing, so in your particular situation taxis and ubers are valuable.

I am not sure rural areas are less taxing. We love the countryside but visiting small towns involves a lot of walking. Here is a place we stayed for a week in Burgundy one time with day trips to the countryside and abbeys and chateaux.
https://janettravels.wordpress.com/2010/08/25/medieval-towns/ With care you could rent in a very scenic area and take it easy. You don't have to go somewhere and do something every day if you are already in a beautiful place. What my husband and I often do is alternate travel days and sitting on the terrace enjoying the view days. Last fall we stayed with friends in a cottage in the Dordogne regions in a sun kissed beautiful old medieval abbey town. Every day was a pleasure just being there. So find a beautiful place and you don't have to be on the go rushing to see things. You can just be there.

One week in Paris and a week in a region with a pretty B&B or cottage or apartment as base might make a lovely trip.