Please sign in to post.

24 hours in Paris

I am traveling this spring (late March-early April) and will arrive in Paris 6am one day and will be getting on a train to Colmar the following morning at 10am. My wife and I love to travel and usually avoid the big cities, but we have to at least see Paris right?
I was wondering if you might make suggestions to give us a taste of Paris at a relaxed pace so that when we return with more time we might do it in more depth. Things we would like to do is a trip just to see the sights, find a nice park for a picnic, have a nice dinner (not too expensive). see the Eiffel Tower at night and have a reasonable room where we can easily get to Gare est in the morning for our train. So maybe if you were to suggest what you would do, now that you've been there to a couple that only has 24 hours to have a wonderful experience without wearing them out would be like?
Thanks in advance. I'm sure I'll hear lots of neat suggestions

Posted by
145 posts

"a couple that only has 24 hours to have a wonderful experience without wearing them out would be like?"

Depends on the age of the couple :-)

I would suggest staying above ground in your travel unless it is during the morning or afternoon commute hours, when it might be quicker to move around by the (crowded) metro. I would also suggest not going to the museums - you would want to do that at a more leisurely pace. I would also suggest that you stay somewhere in the southern part of Paris, preferably southeast - to get to Gare du l'Est early. Using the metro, you could leave at about 8 to 8:30 am and hope to get there by 9 to 9:30 am. I am assuming you would not have a lot of luggage.

So, with all of the above, I would suggest a walk along the Seine from Place de la Concord to the Eiffel Tower, and later, another walk - this one along the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe. You might want to take a photo at the quaint lovelock bridges (there is more than one of these, as we realized ... too late!). If you want to have a brown bag lunch and picnic (I have no clue what the weather would be like), you could either do so near the Eiffel Tower, or at the little island south-west (?) of the tower which has a 'Statue of Liberty', or at the Tuilleries (sp?) garden.

Hope this helps.
Porcupyn

Posted by
84 posts

Really helpful!
just a little more detail. we are a mid 50's couple, but this is early in our trip and we tend to not try to cram too much and just enjoy things at a more leisurely pace. we will be traveling with just carry on luggage as we will be taking a few easyjet and ryanair flights.
We will arrive in Paris via coach from London at 6am on Sat 28 of March. So if we can arrange an early check in or have whatever hotel we book hold our Luggage or we will check our bags somewhere.

Posted by
6809 posts

Gare de l'Est is about one kilometer north of the Seine on the old north-south central axis of the city that was traced by the Romans and is today Blvd. St. Michel, Bvd. de Strasbourg, and a couple more. There is an Ibis Hotel, part of a large chain, one block from the Gare de l'Est on the quiet rue St. Laurent, between Blvd. de Strasbourg and rue du Faubourg St. Martin. This is a good, clean standard two-star hotel with a good breakfast buffet and an elevator. From here you can take metro (line 4) four stops to Chatelet--the absolute center of the city, go one stop further to Notre Dame Cathedral, and one more stop to the heart of the Latin Quarter, all along the Seine. You can walk along the Seine, take a boat ride, see the Eiffel Tower, and more. The 38 bus takes the same route but above ground, and can be caught at the top of rue du Faubourg St. Martin. The hotel desk clerk can point you in the right direction. Additionally, several metro lines go through the Gare de l'Est.

Edit: just read your second post with details. If a hotel won't give you a room early or store your bags, you can use the lockers in the train station. Also, I'm not sure why someone said to stay in the south of the city since the train station is in the north.

Posted by
2229 posts

As Porcupyn suggests, age (and possible jet lag) may be a factor here. Just know that it takes longer than you might imagine to go from place to place, due in large part to the number of sights along the way, and the "just being there" aspect too. At the least, a good walk through the Tuilleries and or Luxembourg, a visit to the Musee D'Orsay (avoid the Louvre if there for just the day), a special dinner like here, and a Seine river cruise so you are on the river at ten pm when Eiffel lights up.

In my opinion, however, there is nothing quaint about "love" locks on Paris bridges, or anywhere else. Destruction of historic public property is more like it, imho.

Have a great day in Paris!

Posted by
335 posts

Since Gare d'Est is in the NORTHeast part of Paris, I'd suggest staying in that area. I had a wonderful experience using Citadines Apart-Hotels in Paris recently (the Tour Eiffel one) and see that there is one located near the Republique Metro stop. That would be a straight shot on the Metro to the Gare d'Est on your departure morning (or a quick taxi ride up Blvd. de Magenta). I also see an Ibis and many other hotels in the Gare area (I've never used any so can't say what they are like). The Republique Metro stop has multiple lines which can take you down to the tourist areas in 15-20 minutes or a taxi can take you wherever you want. There are wonderful large and small parks all around Paris, and dinners out don't have to be expensive (send me a private message for some of my faves). I travel on a budget and seldom spend more than 30 euros for a dinner (excluding wine, dessert).

Posted by
2081 posts

yo,

In my opinion, if you dont care for "big cities" and if Paris is one of them then why go someplace you dont care to or avoid?

Also, in my opinion, if there are things that interest you in Paris then you may want to look into seeing whats to do/see and enjoy.

Since i have a background in Art/Architecture Paris has a lot to offer me and my background. Also, for me i just enjoy seeing other places i cant see in my backyard and is #1 why i travel.

as mentioned jet lag can be an issue and will affect people differently.

If all you want to do is to "see" the sights that can be done, but too. You can do the walk from the Arc de Triomphe to the Louve and maybe see some of the other sights too.

happy trails.

Posted by
1406 posts

I'd say, don't walk at all. Take a half day bus tour with either a live or recorded commentary. You will see every single sight that tourists over the decades have wanted to see (they kinda specialize in that sort of thing). If you see something you want to see more of, or they missed something you need to see, at the end of the tour hop onto a city bus or the metro and go back.

Better to see some of the city and let someone else do the work, why not.

Posted by
6809 posts

" I also see an Ibis and many other hotels in the Gare area (I've never used any so can't say what they are like)."

To fill Holly in, we use the Ibis, Novotel, Mercure (and Logis chain) when traveling outside Paris because they are clean, reliable, etc. Like you, Holly, we stay in an apartment when in Paris, but use these chains in the provinces. I gave up on some of the so-called quaint hotels when too often quaint meant run down.

The Ibis use a platform bed (my preference), white duvets with covers that they change with each client like the Hampton Inns in the US, and often flat carpet or linoleum floors--very basic and simple but clean. Soap and shampoo are in a dispenser on the wall; no amenities to take home. There's wifi, tv, a built in basic desk, bench, place to hang clothes in the room. The Mercure is a step or more above with all the amenities, beds with box springs, maybe a couch in the room--kind of like a Sheraton. The Novotel is akin to the Mercure.

Posted by
145 posts

I only said southern part of the city because I have read on other threads where folks have been uncomfortable at night in the Gare du Nord and Gare du l'Est area. And folks definitely advised me against the Montmorte area where I was originally looking for accommodation.

Anyway, like I said elsewhere, we stayed near Michele Bizot and were close enough to Gare du l'Est to get there in just over half an hour, definitely not "two minutes to the station" kinda close. Most areas in central Paris would probably be within that amount of time from the station via the metro.

I like phred's suggestion of taking the tour bus. As we did not do something like that, I have no personal experience to share.

"I travel on a budget and seldom spend more than 30 euros for a dinner (excluding wine, dessert)."

Holly: If one has 100 euros to spend for a dinner, a 100 euro dinner would be a budget dinner as well! ;-) In other words, we don't know what OP means by "not too expensive."

Porcupyn

Posted by
4 posts

The key to getting around Paris is the Metro, but try to avoid rush hours.. The Metro isn't as complicated as it looks, everything is well-marked. Advise that you stay together and stay near the doors, because there are precious few seconds to jump off at your stop, and it's hard getting reunited if one stays on to the next stop and beyond. Have a plan agreed on in case this happens. There are diagrams above each door showing the sequence of stops for that particular line.

To start off, you might want to start at the top of the Arc de Triomphe, where you can get a visual panorama. With map in hand, it will help you get an idea of the scale of things and the locations of the major landmarks relative to one another. From there, back on the Metro and on to your next stop

Look up the sunset time on your day there and plan a river cruise ride at sunset. The Eiffel Tower is lit up every hour on the hour for 5-10 minutes with a jillion little strobe lights. After that, possibly dinner at Chez Francis at Place d'Alma (where Lady Di crashed). They have a great view of the Tour from there. Reservations recommended.

If you have the time, and particularly if it is a sunny day, visit Ste. Chapelle, just a couple of blocks from Notre Dame. Look up Rick Steves' video on it. You will find the most stunning stained glass imaginable.

Bon Voyage!

Posted by
84 posts

Thank you all for the great suggestions!
Our day in Paris is shaping up now. We did get a room at the Ibis near Gare de l'est. They offer an early check in there (9am)
We can drop off our bags and freshen up after a night on the coach and grab a light snack. The historic walk (Audio Tour) is a great idea. Probably do that first. Catch lunch along the way or afterwards. Depending on how we are doing (jetlag usually isn't a problem for us going over, but the overnight coach from London? We'll see if we can crash) so we will keep ourselves flexible after this with the exception of making a dinner reservation. The Sunset boat ride sounds like a must as well.
Turns out that the night we are staying will be the night to set clocks ahead as well. So having the room close to the Train seems logical, and we can use the buffet breakfast at the Ibis if we are not moving so quickly in the morning before heading over to the train.
How far in advance do you suggest to arrive at the train before it departs?

Posted by
1217 posts

I'll say to try not to overschedule yourselves. The Seine-adjacent attractions are often a total zoo. Paris is one of the most densely-populated cities in Europe, and once you add in the tourists, it gets exceptionally crowded. After the tour, I'd probably go towards Notre Dame, see a little of that, and then go south across the bridge and have a ramble around, stopping at a cafe for a slow drink to watch the world go by.

I don't know how your trip matches with their hours, but the Paris architecture museum has a really awesome view of the Eiffel Tower. You don't need to pay admission to buy something from the cafe, and from there you can enjoy the view with nice thick plate glass between you and the incessant petition girls and trinket-sellers that otherwise swarm that area.

As for Montmarte, we stayed there, scrambled up the hill and back again north of Boulevard de Clichy, and never felt unsafe at all. It's a lovely area, and one of my best Paris memories is sitting on the steps of Sacre Coeur looking out at all of central Paris below us, and a street performer doing amazing gymnastic feats with a light pole in the foreground. Yes, the area around Moulin Rouge is an adult entertainment area, but like many places in Europe, it manages to pull off a slightly sleazy, but actually pretty safe vibe.

Posted by
6809 posts

If you booked on rue St. Laurent, you are only one short block and a wide street to cross from the station. I'd walk over 20 minutes before to give yourself time to get out to the tracks, find the right one, find your train car.
I mentioned the 38 bus to Notre Dame, passing behind the Pompidou Center, allowing you to stay above ground. Selkie mentioned continuing south from Notre Dame. If you do, you stumble right onto the Shakespeare and Co. bookstore and behind it starts the Latin Quarter, and just south of that is the Luxembourg Gardens.

Selkie's tip of going to the Trocadero to see the ET from the cafe is lovely and close to a boat dock for a Seine ride.

You've had a lot of good tips from people. So no matter what direction, there is plenty to see and do.

Addendum: I agree with the others that a hop-on, hop-off bus is a good idea for an overview during a short stay.

Posted by
489 posts

"Things we would like to do is a trip just to see the sights, find a nice park for a picnic, have a nice dinner (not too expensive). see the Eiffel Tower at night and have a reasonable room where we can easily get to Gare est in the morning for our train"

Your hotel, location, luggage, transfer issues have been answered. "Just to see the sights" hop on the tour bus as suggested.
"Park & picnic": Hop off the tour bus and stroll one of the neighborhoods in the Luxemborg or Les Halles for goodies. Walk over to the Tuillieres or visit Luxemborg Gardens, or just take up a bench with a great view......there are so many everywhere.. "Nice dinner" are everywhere, too. I suggest walking around and exploring menus and hints of where you'd return to in evening. The Seine dinner cruise is worth it if you want all the details taken care of for you, and leisurely stroll the river afetrwards.

We did a hop off/hop on bus during our 1st visit. The benefit is seeing all the main sights and getting an understanding of the Paris layout. We hopped off 3x and then stayed on for the entire loop to just sit back and enjoy all the sights. Since that time I walk or use the bus everywhere as the Metro wasn't warranted. But for distance and time the metro is invaluable.

One of our most memorable experiences was an impromptu stroll over to Galleries to finish our sightseeing day.... We picked up several selected goodies and returned to our hotel in the 7th. We bought a bottle of wine from the corner store. Later we walked over to Champ du Mars Parc and had a lovely dinner and evening on one of the park's benches. Later we walked around the Parc, up to the base of the Eifel Tower then along the river quay and back to the hotel. It was totally unplanned and one of the best times for us.

I believe you'll have a wonderful experience and will find that Paris may be a city you'll want to always see and not avoid.
Good wishes.

Posted by
1406 posts

Speaking of the Galleries, don't forget the roof is a giant open air patio that is FREE and has nice overviews of the Right Bank.

But like my wife, as you escalate up to and down from the roof you might find your eye wandering to the clothes for sale and need to make some detours.

Posted by
3 posts

I don't know if anyone suggest this yet, but the Hop on/ Hop off bus is perfect for such a short stay! You can see so much in such a short time and you wont waste time getting lost!

Posted by
1217 posts

Though I'd argue Paris is a great place to get slightly lost in. The areas where tourists go are extremely safe (just understand the risk of pickpockets) and there's something magic about going a little ways off the main roads and finding yourself smack in the middle of everyday Parisian life.

If you get really turned around, just look up for the Eiffel Tower or Montparnesse office building or Sacred Heart, and you can frequently use that to get yourself righted again.

Posted by
84 posts

I think I gave the wrong impression about my attitude towards Big cities. I grew up in and spent half my life in the Bronx, NYC. Its more a travel preference that we are not too interested in crowded tourist areas. We of course do want to see Paris, and will probably return. This you might say is a bit more of a reconnaissance portion of our main trip for our future trips. The way we found our flights and rooms, left us with an extra day to spare between London and Colmar, so we decided to have a day in Paris and check it out. We are not overly worried about getting lost, that happens and you find your way out! Rough neighborhoods? Well not that I'm looking to walk through them, my life's experiences have taught me to spot them, and either avoid or deal with them.
You all have given me some great advice. When trying to figure out what to do with one day in the city, I thought "Ask people who have been there!" It was an excellent thing to come here for advice.
I am now brushing up on my French so I can make attempts to communicate and understand and not find myself just talking like Inspector Clouseau!

Posted by
1406 posts

If you look in guidebooks they have suggested itineraries of different lengths, and they usually reluctantly offer "what to do if you only have a day."