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An honest itinerary review for an over planner.

Have I been using my travel planning as escapism? Yes. Do I feel like I might have OVER planned... maybe. I need an honest review of my itinerary to see if there is maybe something I should add or subtract. For context, my husband and I are 30 years old with zero kids and two years of excess vacation savings burning a hole in our wallets and we are craving romance and adventure. We love to bake, cook and, obviously, eat! So we have booked an adorable apartment in the 9th from Feb 4-Feb 17th and we are hoping to eat our way through Paris. We have booked quite a few food tours and baking classes. However, am I limiting myself to just living in Paris instead of branching out to something maybe a bit more relaxing and low-key in the country? Or is this how we can get to know the real Paris? I'm a realist, I don't expect Paris to be a fantasy and I'm honestly a bit scared that we are going to get there and be a little bit stuck in a highly populated city, smashed with tourists and genuinely hate it or regret staying in one place for our entire trip. So here is what we have so far:

Friday, Feb 4th:

  • 12:00pm Arrive: (Icelandic Air with a driver picking us up to take us to the airbnb *any advice on Icelandic Air appreciated)
  • Find a health pass (*also any advice appreciated)
  • 4:00 pm -7:00 pm: Local tasting tour of the area around our Airbnb (9th/Rue des Martyrs).

*I always figure having something booked in the afternoon after landing keeps you up and moving so you can try to adjust your time/sleeping schedule.

Saturday, Feb 5th:

  • 9:30am-2:30 pm: Walking tour of major sites. (*This is a longgg walking tour that will cover just about all of the major sites and also get us familiar with using the metro. I figured this will be a great way to get our bearings)
  • 7:00pm reservation: Se'bon

Sunday, Feb 6th:

  • 9:00am - 11:30am: bread baking class (6th)
    • 10:30 pm : Tickets to Crazy Horse (Chaps-Elysees)

*So this day is pretty much open for exploring whatever and doing whatever after the baking class and until 10:00 pm. I thought the flea market or hitting some of the museums that will be free today since it is the first Sunday of the month. Cluny, Musee Carvavalet, Rodin or Orangerie are all great options. I have a few restaurants in mind that are open Sundays.

Monday, Feb 7th:

  • 12:15 pm- 1:45pm: Wine and cheese tasting near the Louvre
  • 3:00pm - 6:00 pm: Louvre tour

Tuesday, Feb 8th:

  • Bike tour of Versailles

*this will pretty much be all day. The bike tour catches the train with you from Paris and takes you to the market to shop for picnic supplies for brunch then you head inside for the tour

Wednesday, Feb 9th:

  • 12:00pm -3:00pm: Food tour of St. Martin

Thursday, Feb 10th:

  • 11:00am-2:00pm: Aligre Market tour in Bastille
  • 7:00pm-9:00pm: Orsay museum tour

Friday, Feb 11th:

  • 11:00am -4:00pm: Food tour of Le Marais

Saturday, Feb 12th:

  • 8:50am flight to Germany to visit family. We return back on the 15th where we switch to an airbnb in Le Marais

Tuesday, Feb 15th:

-Arrive 1:30pm. *No plans. Maybe explore Le Marais and have a nice dinner. Atelier des Lumieres has caught my eye.

Wednesday, Feb 16th:

  • 9:30 am -12:30 pm: Croissant baking class
  • 3:45pm-6:45pm: Spa (*hammam, massage, facial. Basically get some good relaxation in before our flight the next day )

Thursday, Feb 17th:

*hopefully get some breakfast a Hollybelly before takeoff
- 1:15pm fly home

Things I'm assuming can slide in wherever and weather permitting: Flea market, Luxembourg gardens, Rodin Museum, Musee Carnavalet, Atelier des lumieres... and too many restaurants for the amount of food tours we have in here. Honestly, what should I cancel, what should I keep? Should we dump it all and go to a country château? Thoughts? Be brutal.

Posted by
9682 posts

The Cluny Museum is actually still closed for remodel according to the website. The English language site says come back early 2022 but the French website mentions “printemps” which is spring.

https://www.musee-moyenage.fr/en/

Is your walking tour on your first full day an organized one or DIY?

It also looks like Atelier des Lumieres is closed from Jan 3- Feb 17 when the Cezanne show opens. I know many enjoy this venue but honestly I was just lukewarm about it.

https://www.atelier-lumieres.com/en

You fit in Rodin and Carnavalet around your other activities. Carnavalet is free but you will need a timed entry reservation from their website.

I love Paris even though I am not a food person, so your days look good to me.

You might want to include some churches as you go by them - Saint-Sulpice or Saint-Germain-des-Pres. Have you seen Midnight in Paris? Saint-Etienne-du-Mont plays a part in it, lol.

Posted by
1777 posts

It looks like one of Rick Steves suggested tours that he prints in his guides. Nothing wrong with being organized.

Posted by
1105 posts

I read excitement in your email. Go for what you have planned. Everyone is different here. Some are foodies, others could care less. Some are art freaks, others have never set foot in an art museum. Some like small villages and towns, others like big metro cities. Like I said, you seemed excited with your plan. I'll bet a Euro you will have a great vacation. Enjoy!

Posted by
8390 posts

You have done a great job. February in the countryside can be gray and bleak. Paris is a good choice.

Posted by
30 posts

Wow! Thank you all so much for your very quick and insightful replies! I love to be organized for traveling. The more you know, the more you can appreciate what you are seeing. I love to have tons of things in mind, but not too much to feel like you are strangled by your itinerary.

@Pam, thank you so much for your reply and extra research! I have a big travel document where I put all of the opening/closing times of museums and days closed, but I didn't even think to go one step further to make sure there weren't any restorations or ACTUAL closures! The walking tour is an organized tour with a local through Airbnb. I love to get the local perspective and I always think you get so much more information from an organized tour that you would have never experienced just by yourself. It is always my secret goal to try to meet people and make friends on tours abroad. We met some of our favorite travel friends on our tour of the Colosseum in Rome 3 years ago. And we have foodie friends from our food tour in Portugal in Feb, 2020 (oh to go back to when we thought 2020 was going to be a great travel year).
P.S. for Pam. I'm from Boise so I was excited to see you were from CDA! Much love from Idaho.

@Threadwear, thank you for seeing my excitement. I think that's why I love this forum. I'm sure most travel bugs just have that terrible feeling... like I'm not living if I'm not traveling. Being triple vaxxed, I'm just ready to get out of Idaho and start living again.

Posted by
5250 posts

I agree, you've got a good plan. Paris is your best bet for this time of year. Hopefully you'll have good weather to bike around Versailles -- if not, just go inside. Museums will be very crowded as well as free on the first Sunday of the month, though Covid probably means timed entries to keep numbers down. If so, you should firm up that day's plan and get those time slots as soon as you can. Carnavalet is excellent, and probably better now that the renovations are done. Rodin has a great garden full of his work, you could skip the inside unless you're a big fan.

You've probably encountered Paris Walks, but if not you might consider whatever they're offering. And since you're staying on rue des Martyrs, you might enjoy this book by Elaine Sciolino, who has lived in Paris for many years.

Have a wonderful time on this trip. But stay flexible, and, in the words of our host, "assume you will return."

Posted by
810 posts

I agree with everyone! You will not get bored in Paris. It is a beautiful city and it should be savored and enjoyed. Don't rush through Paris! The advantage to staying in a big city is that if you do have rainy/snowy days, which can certainly happen in February, there is always something to do indoors. Not so much in the countryside. Save the countryside for warmer months.

Another site you can add if you wish is the Paris Opera House, the one where Phantom of the Opera takes place. The D'Orsay is one of my favorite museums! And I especially love the Orangerie! All the museums are great. It's too bad the Cluny won't be open when you are there. We really enjoyed the unicorn tapestries.

We spent a full week in Paris and I would have enjoyed more time.

Posted by
7588 posts

Your plan looks great, and you have obviously put a lot of thought and care into it. It would tire me out, but you are younger than I am with more energy !!!

My only bad news is that I don't think there is anyway you have enough time to have breakfast at Holybelly on the day you fly out. They open at 9; say you take an hour for breakfast, then it takes about an hour to get out to the airport - 11 am is WAY too late to be arriving for a 1:15 pm flight.

I had a 1 pm flight last month and I got to the airport four hours ahead. Maybe that is excessive, but read through a few threads of people's experience and see what you think.

(I would definitely make time for Holybelly earlier in the trip!)

Have a wonderful time.

Posted by
3804 posts

There's nothing at Holybelly that you cannot have at home in the US, and the line tends to be long, so I would skip that!
Also, I'm not sure about the difference between a food tour of St Martin and a food tour of Le Marais; those are adjacent neighbourhoods. Maybe just pick one tour? Preferably Marais, since you will be staying there after.
No major comments otherwise.

Posted by
1116 posts

Looks like a thoughtfully planned trip! Bravo!
When you say "wine and cheese tasting" do you have places in mind? Or simply going to a restaurant/bar that has charcuterie and fromage boards?

My favorite is when places offer a "mixte" board with both charcuterie and cheese. Talk about heaven.

Now I am feeling homesick for France.

Posted by
30 posts

I mostly booked the experiences through airbnb. I think you might be right, maybe ditch the St. Martin food tour. It seems like the Le Marais food tour is more quintessential French food, while the St. Martin is more like a local food tour. If we ditched St Martin would you hit Reims, Normandy, or stay in town and just explore the unexplored for another day? I do like the idea of having a full day of no plans and I have quite a few restaurants that would be great to book or stop into for lunch and dinner that day while exploring.

Tasting tour: https://www.airbnb.com/experiences/349

All day tour: https://www.airbnb.com/experiences/308291

St Martin food tour: https://www.airbnb.com/experiences/963857

Market tour: https://www.airbnb.com/experiences/425

Le Marais food tour: https://www.airbnb.com/experiences/148925

The wine and cheese is with a sommelier.

Thank you for the tips on Hollybelly. I've got a pretty extensive list of restaurants so I'd love to squeeze a in few big hitters if I can. Actually, while I'm on the subject, here are some I have in mind if anyone has any opinions. Obviously, I'm not insane so I know I can't hit everything but I love having a ton on my Google maps so if we are in the area we don't have to wander too far to get some great food. I think from this list you can see I'm really looking for little, delicious bistros and wine bars. Maybe one Michelin Star type plated menu to splurge and some great ethnic food (Vietnamese, Lebanese, Korean, Chinese, etc) to make up for the money we spend on the Michelin ;P

Le Bon Georges
Se'bon
Miznon
Hebe
Kodawari Ramen
Willies Wine Bar
Frenchie
Juveniles
Bistrot Instinct
Mumi
Septime
Grandcoeur
L'avant Comptoir
Caractere de cochon
Forty Six and Third
Sunday in Soho
Restaurant David Toutain
L'Escudella
Yam T'cha
Blue Elephant
Chez Le Libanais
Deux Fois Plus De Piment
Double Dragon
ABRI
PHO 14
Song Heng
Maison Zhang
OKUDA

Posted by
21041 posts

Flea markets tend to be weekend activities, and sometimes only one day of the weekend. I don't know the current situation in Paris, but I would definitely check the current schedules so you don't miss getting to one of the major flea markets. (There have been discussions on the forum comparing the markets at Porte de Clignancourt/Les Puces de Saint-Ouen and Porte de Vanves/Marché aux Puces de la Porte de Vanves.)

Your arrival day and next two days look exhausting to me, given the potential for arriving sleep-deprived and jetlagged and needing to adjust your sleep schedule, but I'm more than twice your age.

The usual advice is to avoid the most popular museums on their free days. I don't know whether COVID-related capacity controls will reduce crowding at the major museums on the free Sunday.

I would not take a day-trip to Normandy, if that is what you're considering. I suppose if you just went to Rouen (which has a lovely, rebuilt-post-war historic center) it might not be too bad. But there's lots to see in Normandy. Reims makes more sense to me as a daytrip in that I didn't find it as attractive. I did make two trips to the cathedral, though, and there's enough to see to fill a full day.

Posted by
9682 posts

I agree with Acraven, I would not try to do a day trip to Normandy - too far and too much to see there for a day trip.

Many do Reims as a day trip - Chartres is also good if you want to see a Gothic Cathedral. Giverny is another one that is an easy day trip but is closed during your visit (just putting that in for the lurkers, lol!).

I'm glad you added a location! There are a number of forum folks from the Boise area!

Posted by
3804 posts

On your list of restaurants, I strongly recommend Hébé. I do not care for Blue Elephant (overpriced and many years past its best days). 46 and 3rd is fine, but basically serves American breakfast food, so I wouldn't bother. And Deux fois plus de Piment serves good, but ultimately standard Sichuan fare: you might have good access to that in the US, but I am not sure.
I have not been to the other places in your long list.

Posted by
97 posts

Your itinerary looks great! My only suggestion is to not schedule an organized tour your first evening, as you may too tired to enjoy it after such a long travel day. Also, since the tour begins at 4pm and your flight arrives at 12pm, you may be cutting it a bit close if your flight is delayed and/or you have to pick up checked luggage. You can easily explore the neighborhood on your own that evening. Have a wonderful trip!

Posted by
27710 posts

I wonder if you are counting on free admissions on the Sunday if the rest of Paris will be thinking the same thing? And given covid if many will still require reservations? Two sides of a lumpy coin.

Posted by
8 posts

If you have not yet watched Alice in Paris on Hulu, you absolutely HAVE to do that this weekend, and have a notepad at hand to write down all the places she goes to eat. I think then you will not have a second thought about spending so long in Paris. : ) Also, make sure you see the Musee Rodin. And beware of the free Sunday at the Orsay...my memories of that museum back in the 90s were of a quiet, half-empty place to pause and ponder Degas. You might get that experience on a weekday in February. On a free admissions Sunday in July 2019 the place was unrecognizable to me.

Posted by
9682 posts

Madlori....on a early weekday AM in October the Orsay was quite deserted, including the 5th floor galleries of the Impressionists. I literally shared the space with many of the Monets in the room closest to the gift shop with one other woman plus a guard. I agree, thought, I would not go on a free Sunday at all.

Posted by
7588 posts

Some of the restaurants you'd like to try, including Yam'Tcha and Septime, may already be fully booked for your February dates. Some of these places open their reservations three months ahead etc.

So with the upper-end, chic, or bistronomique places you have in mind, you should check out their websites now to see if there is any availability. Keeping in mind it can be easier to get a lunch reservation sometimes than a dinner reservation.

L'avant comptoir is an exception in that it doesn’t take reservations — you might find a few like that.

Posted by
774 posts

I haven’t done the airbnb tours. I would recommend Paris by Mouth. Go to food markets on your own, Grenelle and President Wilson are my favourites. Monge market is great and visit rue Mouffetard. Enjoy

Posted by
8390 posts

I looked at the neighborhood food tours and the market tour. The market tour will feature quality French products. It looks interesting. The two neighborhood tours, St. Martin and the Marais are featuring more ordinary international snack food ( falafel, croque monsieur). You can find a lot of this everywhere. Rue des Martyres, where you have a tour set up, is excellent.

Is Paris Walks doing its chocolate tour? It’s excellent.

One thing my 30-something son said after a couple of weeks in Paris: his wife had chosen the restaurants based on blogs and reviews.He said too many resembled what they were already eating in Brooklyn. Having spent time at his French grandparents growing up, he wished for a more distinctive cuisine he remembered. Maybe he learned to be part of the planning next time.

Hi! I am planning a first time trip to Paris for 7 days in March with my husband and 2 teens. Your itinerary caught my attention (I'm a serious planner). Could you PLEASE come back after your trip and update what classes/spots/tours you loved (and didn't) and maybe what you would do differently? Also how it was with Covid and the Pass Sanitaire. Thank you!

Posted by
30 posts

Aw, thanks Elizabeth! Over planners unite haha! I will definitely make sure to check back in! We leave on Thursday so we are basically just staying away from everyone to not get sick and keeping all of our fingers crossed that we can still go!

Per some excellent feedback I did end up cutting the food tour on Wednesday and replaced it with a poultry cooking class through La Cuisine: https://lacuisineparis.com/paris-cooking-classes/french-technical-courses/poultry-cooking/86943

I made reservations at some of the fancier restaurants to make sure we could get in:
Seb'on
Jean-Yves Le Chef (https://www.jeanyveslechef.com/)
Hebe
Mumi
Bistrot Instinct

The rest I think we are just going to try to hit some street food/ethnic foods while we are wondering.

Posted by
24 posts

Your itinerary makes my mouth water and I cannot add much to the comments and suggestions of others except to say you might want to do the Carvavalet when you are staying in the Marais instead of 2/6. I used Iceland Air on my last trip to Paris (have spent 9 months there and it still was not long enough) from Seattle and now do not want to go with any other airline. Passport control in Reykjavik to enter the EU took about 5 minutes and it was nice to be able to walk around before catching the flight to Paris. It may have changed since Covid but everyone just lined up at the designated gate close to departure time. Have a great time.

Posted by
4447 posts

What a fun itinerary you have planned! I took a croissant pastry class from this one several years ago, and I still make them regularly. My souvenir that year was one of their huge, beautiful pastry brushes that looks like an oversized hair brush. I’ve never seen one in the US, and I love it!

https://lacuisineparis.com

I would recommend buying the metro Navigo pass. If I remember correctly, they go from Monday-to-Monday, but that may have changed since I was there last in 2019. Then you won’t hesitate to stop over at the Luxembourg Garden or over to the Eiffel Tower to watch it twinkle each evening, etc.

It may be cold, but I still always go on the evening Seine boat tour (not the dinner one) each trip; sit outside. The city is lovely lit up at night with the views as the boat travels through the city.

I love Paris, and after several trips to France, I think I love some of the smaller towns even more. If you get a day of great weather, you might want to catch a train to Rouen - just to see some quaint architecture and a different ambiance.

Have a great time!

Posted by
4447 posts

Oh, and be sure to leave some empty space in your luggage. You will definitely want to stop in some of the famous cooking stores and feast your eyes and fill up those spaces in your suitcase! ; )

Posted by
12 posts

We spent 14 days in Paris – Dec. 2021 into Jan. 2022. The custom lines at CDG airport was super long - be prepared. By 7pm the first day you will be exhausted. We found a pharmacy that does health pass fairly quickly as we walked our neighborhood (not all pharmacies do them – had the app already downloaded on our phones - #TousAntiCovid). We love the Metro - get a 'Navigo Easy' card at a station with a cashier – super easy to reload. We used Google Maps constantly. Brought an old phone with us and purchased a sim card. Also purchased a phone in Paris (there were six persons in our group) and one person had an international plan.
We loved our wine and cheese tasting – O’Chateau. The only museum that needs a tour guide is the Louvre – we used WithLocals (Fernanda). Orsay, Orangerie, Pompidou, Picasso and Marmottan Museums can all be done with the audioguides. Found the Catacombs very interesting. Climbed to the top of the Arc de Triomphe for the wonderful view and the other great view is from Galeries Layfayette. Do Eiffel Tower early am because it gets crowded. The dinner boat cruise was great. We did get reservations to everything before we left. Great that you have time for strolls – we discovered so many quaint shops while strolling. Inside Versailles is super crowded. We did a day trip to Mont St. Michel with Clewel Tours (Cyrus).

Posted by
217 posts

WOW, sounds perfect....IMHO, something fairly new not to be missed and easy to get to-at the end of the Tuilleries...
hoteldelamarine.com on Pl.de la Conncorde...an ABSOLUTELY stunning monument that was the seat of the Ministry of the Navy. Might not sound that interesting, but can rival Versaille...and fabulous views of Paris. Just the interior alone is breathtaking. Timed tickets on line...truly enjoyed it, and so accessable while in Paris. Have a fabulous time!

Posted by
14 posts

I am over planner too and I related so hard to your opening paragraph. I think your itinerary is well-balanced and leaves room for sponteneity. You've made time for breaks and time to take it all in, which is very important.

I think you can absolutely slide in flea market visits, I think they'd take a maximum of 40 minutes but it depends on how large the flea market is. I personally cannot shop for longer than an hour.

Personally, after the 3rd day tour on any trip, I feel like I just want to be left alone to explore. So I'd cap it to 3 tours. Same with baking classes, you might be tired of learning to bake after the 3rd class. Everyone is different, and I don't know what your capacity is for tours and classes, but I was ready to escape the tour group by the 3rd one because every tour always had a wild/annoying person that ruined the experience.