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3 day itenerary before start of Paris and Heart of France Tour?

Hello fellow travelers:

We'll be arriving in France (CDG) on a Friday morning and our RS tour starts in Paris on the following Tuesday afternoon. Any suggestions for pre-tour itinerary for these 3-4 days? I'm considering (1) transferring to provence (probably via tgv), and spending three days in Avignon/arles area; (2) transferring to Burgundy area, and visiting dijon/beune/lyon and wineries; or (3) transferring to paris and enjoying a few more days in the city, since the RS tour only spends two days in Paris. We also have an extra day after the tour ends in paris before we have to go home.


Posted by
4994 posts

Hillary, consider staying in Paris the entire time before and after the tour. You will lose a lot of time transferring to another location and then getting back to Paris. Believe me, there is more than enough to keep you busy just going to places the tour does not cover. You might even do a day trip to Reims or somewhere else fairly close.

Posted by
7400 posts

Since you have extra time for Paris after the end of your trip, I would head outside Paris for your pre-tour days. It sounds like you might already have your airline tickets. If not, fly into Marseille, and then you could easily see the Avignon/Arles area before taking the train up to Paris.

If you're thinking about Lyon, be sure to concentrate in the Vieux Lyon area - so interesting! There's an excellent Roman arena museum (Gallo-Roman Museum of Lyon-Fourvière) in that area, too. You could consider a quick loop of Lyon, Annecy & back to Paris.

Since you're going to be arriving with jetlag, I'd concentrate on two cities or locations max. before returning to Paris.

Posted by
2487 posts

In the unlikely case Paris hasn't enough to offer you for those few days, other easy and worthwhile day trips can be made to Fontainebleau or Chartres.

Posted by
12 posts

Thanks all - I should also mention that the tour time is mid-May, if that makes a difference

Posted by
14163 posts

"Also, you'll need to rest up a bit for the forced march that all groups tours are."

Actually, I've done this tour and did not feel like there were forced marches at any time.

I would however, stay in Paris and perhaps do 1 day trip. The tour goes to Giverny which will be lovely in May so you might consider something like Chartres. There is so much to see, do and experience in Paris particularly if you've not visited before.

Consider my favorite activity which is Paris Walks. They are a 2-2.5 hour walking tour of a certain area or with a certain theme. No reservations needed (except for a few of their tours), just show up at the appointed Metro stop with 15Euro. Well worth the price and the time! The one that I really found interesting and have done twice was the Paris during the Occupation walk.

Depending on your interests you could also consider a 2 or 4 day Paris Museum Pass. If you arrive on Friday and the tour starts on Tuesday you'd have Sat/Sun/Mon plus either Friday afternoon (depending on how jet lagged you are) or Tuesday AM to see museums/sites that are not included on your tour. I love museums so I often enjoy visiting the same museum 2 or 3 times during a stay in Paris, lol. I KNOW that is not everyone's cup of tea!

Do know that if you want to go up in the Eiffel Tower you'll need to do that on your own. Others here can tell you the particulars of getting tickets to go up in the Tower. (I've got a fear of heights so I just like to see it from the ground.)

Posted by
6625 posts

I agree with others, use this early time to see things in Paris that the tour won't cover, and maybe a day trip nearby. If you can stay in the hotel the tour uses, so much the better. The tour won't be a "forced march," but it will move around plenty, and you might do better if you've been anchored in one place for a few days before starting out.

And that extra Paris day after the tour ends will help you "fill in the blanks" or maybe visit or revisit places that mean more to you after the tour. Smart of you to build in some time before and after.

Posted by
8594 posts

Two important things not on the tour you might want to see: the Eiffel Tower; Versailles. Some people assumed they would be. Not much free time in Paris if you want to see Montmartre and/or the Marais, or spend more than a couple of hours in the Louvre.

Posted by
3300 posts

Since you have an extra day in Paris after the tour, I would take the TGV to Avignon and use it as a base for a couple of day trips in Provence. Avignon has some very nice sights, but I really liked it more as a place to "be" than as a place to tick off major sights. Don't miss the Cave de Pas Sages for lunch and wine.

We used this company for a couple of day tours and were very pleased with them.

Posted by
14163 posts

"Giverny would be an absolute must in May."

Giverny is included on the Paris and Heart of France tour. The tour bus parks in the regular Giverny bus parking lot and the guide leads the group through to the group entrance by the underpass to the Waterlily garden with several hours of free time for the gardens, the house, the church/cemetery, etc.

Posted by
2145 posts

Hi Hilary, I did this tour a few years ago and had a great time. There’s plenty to do in Paris pre-tour so I’d just check your tour itinerary and fill in the few extra days with the Eiffel Tower and anything else not covered. We enjoyed our visit to the catacombs, Picpus Cemetery, Montmartre, and the Marmottan museum. I’ve been to Paris about 10 times but still haven’t seen everything. Great city.

Posted by
12 posts

Thanks for all the great suggestions. We'll spend the extra time in Paris, maybe one day trip out. Now I have to figure out where to stay, etc. Thanks again!

Posted by
4994 posts

With regard to " figure out where to stay...", call the RS office. They may (or may not) be able to tell you what the tour hotel will be in Paris. If so, you will eliminate a lot of hassle by staying there before and after the tour. It's a least worth a phone call to see.

Posted by
12 posts

Thanks TC - the first hotel is Hotel Beausejour Montmartre - in Montmarte. Other threads re where to stay indicate that Montmarte is a little far out/less convenient location. I don't mind moving and it might be nice to experience a neighborhood that is different from the one on the tours...? Thoughts welcome.

Posted by
776 posts

Actually, your hotel is well located in an interesting neighborhood that you could explore a little more than your tour would allow. The Musee de la vie Romantique is a charmer, the mansions around Parc Monceau are worth seeing and some have been turned into museums. Rue des Dames is a street undergoing changes where you can see art students at work. A walk down this street will take you into the market street Rue de Levis. Look more carefully at a map to get some more ideas. Walking the "back streets" of this area would give you more of a non-tourist view of Paris.

Posted by
4994 posts

The tour hotel isn't really a "...less convenient location." In Paris one can get to just about anywhere conveniently on The Metro. Moving from one hotel to another will consume a fair amount of time and will, in my opinion, just be a pain in the anatomy.

Posted by
6625 posts

That hotel is a block or two from the Place de Clichy, where two Metro lines intersect. It's not really in Montmartre, as I'd define it anyway, but close enough to get there easily. It's also near the Parc Monceau, one my favorites. Proximity to a Metro, especially an intersection, opens up the whole city for you. Of course there are many other hotels in many other good locations, but moving between them takes time and energy you might prefer to save.

If you want a contrasting neighborhood for those first few days, I'd suggest the Marais or the Latin Quarter, 4th or 5th arrondissements. is a good way to find candidates, but try to book directly with the hotel's website.

Posted by
7175 posts

I would head to Lyon first up, but you could just as easily choose ...

Friday: Arrive Paris CDG, then TGV to Lyon (for 2 nights)

Saturday: Explore Lyon

Sunday: Return to Paris (for 2 nights pre tour)

Monday: Paris sights ...
•Cluny Museum
•Luxembourg Gardens
•Place des Vosges
•Centre Pompidou

Tuesday: Day to Versailles before meeting for start of the tour ...

We'll meet at 5 p.m. at our hotel for a short "bienvenue à Paris" meeting. Then we'll take an orientation walk through our neighborhood, followed by time to get acquainted over dinner together. Sleep in Paris (3 nights). No bus. Walking: light.
Wednesday: Historic Paris and Sainte-Chapelle
Let's begin where Paris did, on the Ile de la Cité. Your guide will lead a walking tour of the city's early history, including visits to a pair of Europe's most significant medieval Gothic churches: the legendary Notre-Dame Cathedral and the exquisite Sainte-Chapelle, along with a stroll through the bohemian Latin Quarter. This afternoon, armed with your Paris Museum Pass, you'll be free to explore more of Paris, including the world's greatest collection of Impressionist art — from Monet and Degas to Cézanne and Gauguin and more — at the Orsay Museum. No bus. Walking: strenuous.
Thursday: Neighborhood Paris and the Louvre
This morning we'll take a more intimate look at Paris and what gives the French their joie de vivre with a promenade through one of your guide's favorite Parisian neighborhoods. Your walk will end with an orientation to the Louvre museum, where you'll come face-to-face with timeless treasures that include Mona Lisa, Winged Victory, Venus de Milo, and hundreds more. Your afternoon will be free to be inspired by Monet's incredible Water Lilies at the Orangerie, perplexed by whimsical water fountains and modern art at the Pompidou, or compelled to climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, followed by a classy stroll along the Champs-Elysées. No bus. Walking: moderate.

For your extra day in Paris after the tour ends ...
•Sacre Couer
•Seine Cruise
•Eiffel Tower