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3 full days in Paris - Itinerary help needed and advance tickets or not? vegetarian food?

We are in Paris for 3 1/2 days at the beginning of June - so, next week. It is our first trip to Paris. What are some must see and must do places/things? Also, should we buy advance tickets to Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Versailles? How should we plan Day 1, Day 2 & Day 3 ? Currently, we are thinking Day 1 ( Notre Dame, Sainte Chapelle, Hotel De Ville, Latin Quarters & then Seine River Cruise, Pont Alexandre III Bridge, Luxembourg Gardens); Day 2 (LOUVRE in morning (Orsay Museum afternoon) and then, Eifell Tower (walk up to 2nd floor) around 5pm for Sunset and Night Lights), Day 3 (Montparnasse Observation Deck, Monmatre area including Sacre Coure Basilica, Champs Elyse & Arc Du Triomphe (go to top & take pictures from here (steep/narrow steps)), Place du Trocadéro - watch Eifel Tower Night show from here, (Tuileries Garden - see from Eifel Tower or grab a sandwich & eat there)), and Day 4 (Versailles). Should we make changes? Add anything? Thanks!
Rose

Posted by
3319 posts

There are hundreds of things to do in Paris...I suggest you get a good guidebook and tailor your visit to the things you are interested in. I could easily tell you what I would do but I'm not you! :)
Since you are there for such a short amount of time you should definitely buy as much as you can in advance via the websites for the places you intend to visit. With just a few days it is unlikely your itinerary will change making advance tickets inconvenient.

Posted by
4620 posts

Rose,
I second the suggestion that Anita has given you regarding getting a good guidebook to help you decide how to best spend your days in Paris.

You don't say when you plan to travel to Paris but be aware that you can book your tickets to the Eiffel Tower 90 days in advance.

You may also consider getting the Paris Museum Pass, to save you from having to stand in long queues.

Forget the lock for the bridge.
You may be interested in reading a recent thread here on the forum regarding this topic. Use the search bar above.

Posted by
112 posts

In two trips we have spent about a total of three weeks in Paris. I'm sure there are people who might comment that have lived there or have spent more time. But even with the time we have spent there, we could spend more time. We've not experienced it all by a far stretch. I my opinion your plans are aggressive and may have you moving about so much you might enjoy very little. First you will need to learn to use the Metro. Not just getting tickets but navigating the system. It is not difficult and can be fun, but at times it can be very busy and crowded. You need to compute the travel times into your plans and the time you need to walk from the Metro station to the desired point of arrival. This can take a good percentage of your day. Maybe not a lot, but enough that it needs to be considered in the overall plan. The time you see something during the day (Sanite Chapelle for example) makes a big difference. If you get there early, one of the first in line in the morning, you may have waited for a half-hour or so for the place to open and let you in. If you arrive later in the day, you may wait an hour or more for the opportunity. This all adds up and it is very difficult to rush it it all. Given the time you have my one suggestion would be to pick a major site to see, perhaps be the first to get into it during the day then build stops around it as would become available or convenient. Also, this may sound hyper-touristy but the hop-on-hop-off buses give a great overview for a first day if you couple this with a boat tour of the Seine, then see some of the things around it and experience the Paris night scene with a glass of wine some place with a view of the Eiffel Tower. Enjoy the city, don't kill yourself. You can't see it all at once. A little savor and flavor will help the trip. No better place than Paris for that.

Posted by
3833 posts

I would recommend switching your Day 3 morning with Day 2 morning, so that you aren't going to two major art museums in one day. I can't imagine fully enjoying the Orsay if I spent the morning at the Louvre.

Agree with a previous posting, utilize the Metro to maximize your time.

Posted by
4671 posts

The Louvre and Orsay are both huge and you will be fed up with art if you try to do them in one day.

The Champs-Elysees is dull and full of international chain stores and traffic, don't bother.

I'd also add my voice to the chorus saying do NOT put a padlock on the Pont des Arts or any other bridge. It's vandalism that damages the structure, and the local government is strongly opposed to it.

Posted by
112 posts

Phil gives excellent advice concerning The Louvre and Orsay. I would add that you go to both with a purpose of seeing specific things, not necessarily the most popular things. As he notes they are vast, and in places during certain times so crowded one can barely move. For example around the Mona Lisa or Winged Victory, but move a little and the crowds dissipate and you can have areas almost to yourself. So pick some interesting things to see in certain areas, be selective with your time there and it serves you better and is more memorable. Tour guides for hire are a great benefit and they can "jump the gate" for you to bypass the crowds usually ... a time saver. Yes, avoid walking the Champs Elyse a total waste of time and energy.

Posted by
2000 posts

It is now impossible to put a padlock on the Pont des Arts. I did not notice locks on any other bridges I saw in Paris a month ago.
Padlocks wreck structures and are no longer cool.

Posted by
4770 posts

I agree with the others about "must sees" and "must dos," these are really up to you and your interests, informed by a guidebook. And I agree that the Louvre and Orsay on the same day will wear out your feet and overload your art appreciation circuits. And I agree that the Champs Elysees itself is just a big boring expensive street between very worthwhile places like the Arc, Corcorde, Tuileries.

I suggest that you choose between the Tour Montparnasse observation deck and the Eiffel Tower 2nd floor. Either would be a good choice, and of course the views would be different, but your time frame seems too short for both. I'd suggest the ET 2nd floor because you'll want to see the tower from close up anyway and climbing there (though physically challenging) won't have you wasting much time in line. Tour Montparnasse has a fine view but it's an ugly building in most people's opinion.

It isn't clear whether your first day is your "jet lag" day after a morning arrival from overseas. If so, you're wise to spend most of it outside walking around. Notre Dame and the Ste-Chappelle don't take very long, except for the line into Ste-Chappelle (and the line to the Notre-Dame towers if you choose that, another tough climb). The Hotel de Ville is a fine-looking building but I don't think they'll let you inside unless you have business there, so it won't take long.

And it isn't clear what happens on your fourth day besides Versailles. If you're flying out mid-day, you probably shouldn't head off to Versailles, on the opposite side of the city from the main airport. And with the few days you have in Paris, I'd say skip Versailles anyway unless you really feel compelled to go there. It's very interesting but also very crowded with long waits in lines.

Consider buying a two-day Paris Museum Pass to save line-waiting time at the Louvre and Orsay. It might or might not pay for itself in terms of admission charges, but the time-saving value may make it worthwhile.

Posted by
2466 posts

The sun currently sets at around 10 PM. You will have to change your timing if you want to see the Eiffel Tower when it's illuminated.

The Eiffel Tower "light show" is a little misleading. The whole tower is illuminated after dark. Then, it only "sparkles" for 5 minutes at the top of each hour after sunset. If you're not there at that time, you'll have to wait another hour.

Lovelocks have been officially banned by the City of Paris. Any locks placed on public property are being removed on a weekly basis. Don't waste your time - take lots of selfies, instead.

The Tuileries garden will be open until around 10:30 PM, as will many other parks in Paris throughout the Summer. Here's a list of gardens, parks, dates and times:
http://parcsetjardins.equipement.paris.fr/tousleshoraires

Posted by
2466 posts

You can find vegetarian food everywhere. Look for pasta with cheese or vegetables, pizza, cheese sandwiches, salades with cheese, cheese platters, vegetable plates, fish or egg dishes if you eat them. No need to seek out special vegetarian restaurants unless you are extremely strict about it. If you need to avoid gluten, avoid bread, pasta, pizza, and desserts.

Posted by
14404 posts

Eifell Tower (walk up to 2nd floor) around 5pm for Sunset and Night Lights) Sunset is close to 10 pm. If you are on the Tower around 9.30-10.00, you'll see the lights of the city going on. The lights on the tower begin to go on a few minutes after sunset and it takes 10-15 minutes. The first "twinkling" will be at 11 p.m.

You've apparently edited your original post based on some of the responses. This is confusing for people. Please, if you make any changes to your original itinerary or have any additional questions, post them as replies.

Vegetarian food is easy to find, both fast food and good meals. However, virtually all the ready-made sandwiches offered include meat or tuna. If you want sandwiches, you'll need to buy bread, cheese, etc. and make your own.

Posted by
4671 posts

My personal advice for the Louvre is to look at some guides in advance and pick some things you are genuinely interested in. But also do just wander for a bit, it's always fun to stumble across something. Pay attention to the rooms themselves as well as the works. Some of them have an interesting history and decor, and there are often panels describing them (in English) at the doorways. There is no way that you can see everything in the museum in one visit and don't attempt it.

Posted by
24 posts

Thanks for all of the great information. We arrive at 9am on Day 1 and I figured that after we check into the hotel we should be ready to grab a light lunch and begin some sight seeing around 1pm. We are in Paris Days 2,3 & 4 fully and leave early morning on Day 5. We will arrive in Paris next weekend. I will split up Orsay and Louvre per recommendations and definitely no Bridge of Sighs (lock's Bridge). Any tips on the best Siene River cruise ( do not want to take dinner cruise), how to best get to Versailles (what time should we try to reach by)? or anything else that would be beneficial?

Thanks! Rose

Posted by
2466 posts

The only difference in the Seine cruises is whether or not you want dinner and the size of the boats.
Vedettes du Pont Neuf has smaller boats, but has added some larger ones recently.
Bateaux Parisiens has mega-tour-bus sized boats.
They all do the same loop for about the same price.
If you haven't bought advance tickets online, get there about 20 mins or so before you want to board and hope for the best. You can Google their websites for precise information.

Posted by
2163 posts

I knew in advance that I would only need--and more importantly, could only stand-about 1 hour in the Louvre. Not my era or genre of art, but I did enjoy the French and Italian painting sections with a brief peek at Mona, surrounded even at 8 pm on a Friday night by photographers. The building itself is fabulous. The D'Orsay I spent a good 3 hours in and that was with one wing closed, but also seeing a special exhibit that balanced out nicely. I planned my 6 day itinerary by area and that worked well, and I fine-tuned it by knowing my must-sees and anything else was a delightful bonus.

Posted by
7124 posts

I would agree with others about doing the 2 big museums on different days, and leaving out Tour Montparnasse because of limited time. Also, I would suggest you start off one morning at Sainte Chapelle, to get in before a crowd builds.

Day 1
Notre Dame
Luxembourg Gardens
Latin Quarter
Seine River Cruise (Vedettes du Pont Neuf)

Day 2
Champs Elysees & Arc De Triomphe
Musee d’Orsay
Monmartre area including Sacre Couer Basilica
Eiffel Tower (walk up to 2nd floor)

Day 3
Sainte Chapelle
Louvre
Tuileries Garden
Place du Trocadéro - watch Eiffel Tower light show

Day 4
Versailles

Posted by
213 posts

Hi there,

Just wanted to comment on the vegetarian part of your posting. We were in France last Fall and I had no problem eating vegetarian. I ate mostly crepes, omelets, salads and wonderful ethnic foods, Indian and Italian, for example. And of course there is always the cheese, the cheese, the cheese! And don't forget to try the macarons, just wow! I ate more picnic style in the countryside as the veggie options are not as great as in the city but still had plenty to eat. Enjoy!!

Posted by
8 posts

The Bateaux Mouches dinner cruise on the Seine, like all the evening cruises, passes the Eiffel Tower illuminated at night. I went on this in April. It has a good fiddle-player, and couples can step out on the dance floor as the ship nears the dock again after a lovely romantic evening.

Posted by
8 posts

The Bateaux Mouches dinner cruise on the Seine, like all the evening cruises, passes the Eiffel Tower illuminated at night. I went on this in April. It has a good fiddle-player, and couples can step out on the dance floor as the ship nears the dock again after a lovely romantic evening. The menu has a vegetarian option, too.

Posted by
34 posts

I'm vegetarian, going to Paris with my family this summer too...happycow.net has list of vegetarian restaurants, and there seem to be hundreds in Paris!

Posted by
24 posts

Thank you! What's the best and also an economical way to travel to and see Versailles since there is a train strike?

Posted by
2466 posts

The Louvre and Musee d'Orsay might be open by Tuesday or Wednesday, but there's no guarantee of that, yet.
Sainte-Chapelle has been closed for a couple of days, as a precaution.
There is no boat traffic allowed until the water goes below flood stage. So, no boat cruises for the next week or possibly longer.

A few Metro stations are still closed due to water and electrical problems - Invalides, Cluny-Sorbonne, Saint-Michel...
RER C is not available at all, so nobody can get to Versailles at the moment unless you book a bus tour.

Posted by
24 posts

yea, the RER C is closed. Does anyone know of any way to take public transport. As I look, I see maybe Metro to Pont de Sèvres and another ticket for Bus 171 from Pont de Sèvres to Versailles. Has anyone tried this?