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Another request for a trip evaluation :)

Hi there!

We are a family of 5 (parents, 22, 20, 18) headed to Paris and Amsterdam for a week. (first time trip). Trying to hit the highlights. Would love opinions as I am not sure I am allocating our time appropriately. We will be buying tickets in advance wherever possible so I would like to have this schedule nailed down so that I may do that.

here is what I am thinking:

Sunday 7/29 9:30 arrive
12pm-2pm nap
2 pm-6 pm wander
5:00 pm Becca and Jon arrive (two of our kids are arriving separately from Denmark)
7 pm -9pm Dinner

Monday 7/30 8am breakfast
8:30 AM depart hotel
9 am-12 pm Rick Steve Historic Paris Walking Tour (how much time should this take?)
12:30 train to Eiffel Tower
1:30-3 lunch and tour Eiffel Tower (I am thinking of the lunch at the ET as it includes a lift ticket up to restaurant and will allow us to skip the line..does this make sense? I believe we can then take stairs to second level. Does this seem acceptable or should we book tickets to the top?
3-3:30 Train to Louvre
4-6 pm Tour Louvre using RS
6:00 PM Return to hotel
7-9 pm dinner

Tuesday 7/31 7:00 AM breakfast
7:30 AM depart for Versailles
8:30 AM arrive Versailles
10:00 AM King's apartment tour and then tour on our own
4:00 PM return to Paris
7:00 PM dinner

Wednesday 8:00 AM breakfast
8:30-9:30 drop off luggage at train station Gare du Nord)
9:30-11:30 catacombs
12:00 PM lunch
1 pm -4 pm RS walk Champs Elysee
4:00 PM return to train station
5:30 PM depart for Amsterdam

Thank you!


Posted by
22861 posts

I find it hard to respond to this type of question with anything other than -- ya, it kind of works. It is also very tight. I think you find that transportation between sites will take long than you anticipate. Lunch at the ET is good idea - it was terrific a few years ago - but to see the tower and have lunch in an hour and a half is unrealistic. Tuesday is fine since you have a lot of slack in that schedule.

Posted by
5420 posts

Where are you staying?
If a hotel you can't count on access to your room by 12- unless that is hotel check in time? or you have reserved the night before as well. If in an apartment- then I guess it's possible.
If staying in a hotel they will hold your luggage after check out so you should not have to store at train station on your departure day.

Don't think it is necessary to be at train station 90 min in advance-

Length of time for Historic Walk depends on how many sights you plan to enter/visit. I think he suggests 4 hours which includes visits to ND, Deportation Memorial, St Chapelle/Conciergerie.
Our longest wait was at St. Chapelle- the security took forever- pretty sure it was at least an hour to get thru that and all have go thru it.

I'd skip Champ Elysees walk and spend time in a diff neighborhood- Marais or Left Bank- much more interesting than a bunch of high end stores

Posted by
1635 posts

A few random thoughts/suggestions:

  • Don't take a nap on Sunday. Try to stay up and keep going. Otherwise you will struggle to reset your internal clocks. It's tough the first day when you're jetlagged, but in my experience, it's best to push through with outdoor activities, walking and such, keeping lightly active.
  • Paris is a big and beautiful city, and much of what is wonderful about it can be seen just by wandering neighborhoods and exploring parks and architecture. With only three days, I wouldn't choose to spend one of them at Versailles. But that's just me. I am not a big fan of huge opulent palaces. If you are, then there's nothing wrong with doing that, but give some thought to allowing yourself more free time to see the city. In particular, you haven't allowed time for Montmartre or the Marais. Rick's historic Paris walk doesn't take you very far beyond Ile de la Cite, and there's just so much more to see, especially if the weather is good. If it's bad weather (too hot or rainy), there are many other museums you can see besides the Louvre.
  • Allow more downtime for meals and just relaxing at a cafe for some people watching. Don't think of this as a parade of must-see highlights. Let yourself relax and enjoy the experience of just being in Paris!
Posted by
10085 posts

Catacombs? After five trips to Paris haven’t done them.
Look at L’Orangerie, small museum in The Tuilleries filled with Monet’s Waterlilies or the Musee Rodin, outdoor sculpture garden, The Thinker, etc.
Honestly, both Paris and Amsterdam each deserve a full week with day trips. Have you purchased flights home out of Amsterdam? I like Paris a lot but I really love Amsterdam and The Netherlands. If dlights aren’t booked, hoose one city or the other for the week. I find your proposed itinerary exhausting. For example, wee never combine The Louvre with anything else. No matter where we go in tne world, our rule is , no two “biggies” in one day, i.e. Louvre and Eiffel Tower.
We find that we are so much better not taking a nap upon arrival but pushing through the day and evening before going to sleep. Everyone has their own
ideas on this, but this works for us. Plus I can’t sleep when I arrive as my adrenalin is surging to get out and see everything! In Paris we take a Seine cruise on arrival days.

Posted by
15448 posts

How exciting! Here are my thoughts, day by day.

Sunday. Mid-day naps can be a disaster - hard to get up once you are down, mostly because of the jetlag. And at dinner, you may be falling asleep in your soup. With a mid-morning landing, I'd suggest dropping your luggage and having lunch, then, then some walking, or maybe a Seine cruise, just to get a feel for the city. Perhaps a welcoming drink with B&J on their arrival, then whoever is up to it can go for a light supper, or crash at the hotel.

Monday. The Louvre is more crowded on Mondays because many others are closed, so maybe leave it for Wednesday and see the catacombs instead. If you don't switch these sights, then going to the Eiffel Tower between the RS walk and the Louvre doesn't make sense because the walk ends very close to the Louvre. The guide book says to allow 4 hours for the walk, but there's no requirement to do it all or to enter all the sights. The Sainte Chapelle can eat up a lot of time. A good alternative is buy tickets for an evening concert. Then you avoid the security line and have lots of time to see the stained glass while you sit and enjoy the music. Go early and you can walk around and take photos before the concert begins.

Wednesday. I don't understand dropping off luggage in the morning. And is there even a storage facility there? Can't you leave your bags at your hotel and pick them up when you're ready to leave? Not to mention, you have to cross most of Paris to get from the Gare du Nord to the catacombs. Lastly, the Champs Elysees is about the least interesting place in Paris. The only good bit is the Arc de Triomphe - go one evening after dinner to see the sunset - around 9.30 pm.

Posted by
3 posts

Thank you all so much...lots of great suggestions that I really appreciated. It's back to the drawing board. I am trying to include everything that the kids would really like to see which can be tricky!! I am definitely going to simplify and also move things around a bit....and...No Nap!

Posted by
1635 posts

One other thought: the kids are old enough to do things on their own, so you might allow them the opportunity for independent activities and give you and your spouse some time to yourselves.

Posted by
10310 posts

Short nap, 20-30 minutes ( 40 max) and a shower, help me refresh after overnight journey and keep me going until local bedtime.

2 hours would just mess up my body clock and extend the transition to the locale.

Posted by
5420 posts

We've never been able to sleep on overnight flights at all- so we like to keep our arrival day plans loose and easy. We drop bags, get outside and walk, have lunch, explore our neighborhood and maybe visit 1 nearby sight- nothing too strenous- something like a church or cathedral-then head back to hotel about 2- check in time and spend about 2 hours in the room. Unpack, take a 45-60 min nap/lie down, shower, change then go right back out. That has worked well for us - we are still able to enjoy the evening and get to sleep easily that night. Next day we are good to go.
A cruise on Seine sounds nice but would probably lull me to sleep- do that one evening instead.

Museums- our favorites in Paris were Rodin and L'Orangerie- neither took a huge amount of time. Just the thought of the Louvre tires me out- 2 hours is nowhere near enough- the place is huge- you can pick just a few things to see but even walk thru museum to find them will take time.
Check with your kids- do they really want to see the Louvre? Would the Orsay be more to their liking?

Versailles- been there it's a long tiring day. I liked it well enough but it's not something I would do if I only had 3-4 days in Paris.

Eiffel Tower- we did have lunch there- 10 years ago so I think it's a new restaurant now. It was a good way to bypass the line- there were no book ahead tickets at that time. We only went to that first level. I don't think it's necessary at all to go to the top. We'll be in Paris again this fall- just plan on viewing the tower from boat cruise.

Lane's advice above is spot on. Don't miss experiencing Paris because you are trying to cram in a list of must-dos. Unless those are all truly YOUR must dos.

Posted by
15088 posts

What a fun trip for your family, Theresa!

Quickie thoughts here:
Glad you decided to forego the nap. If we did that on arrival day, we'd be down for the count or so groggy that we wouldn't enjoy a walk and dinner. Fresh air helps!

Monday and Tuesday: Monday feels overloaded to me. The Louvre takes some stamina so it would be a lot fo try and do after a 4-hour walk and the Eiffel. How committed are you to Versailles? With only two full days in glorious Paris, I feel like you're going to miss out on a lot by day-tripping out of town on one of them. You might consider dropping that one in favor of keeping your RS walk on Monday, shifting the Louvre to Wed, as Chani has suggested, and explore some other areas of the city on Tuesday.

I'll also agree with her 100% on the Champs Elysees: it's definitely not all THAT, and you can tag the Arc de Triomphe onto one of your evenings.

Catacombs? Just a hunch but if you end up exploring Montmartre, you might find a ramble through Cimetière de Montmartre just as interesting, if not more. My Canon's lens loved that one and Père Lachaise, and both provided some welcome breathing room.

Posted by
12607 posts

I do take a short nap on arrival day. I can manage to walk around until lunch, then after lunch when I can get in to my hotel room I need to nap for 1-1.5 hours. I get up, shower, head out again. I travel solo and I just cannot push myself past this point. I can then stay up past dinner and the next day I am fine.

Do what you need to do for your body. It differs from person to person.

I agree that Monday is too packed. I would probably start at the Eiffel Tower then walk along the Seine toward the Louvre. Have lunch in the Tuileries, then do the Louvre in the afternoon.

I, too, would skip Versailles unless it is an absolute must for one of you. I'd spend that day doing Rick's Historic City walk, Sainte-Chapelle, Notre Dame, the Deportation Memorial and maybe over to the Latin Quarter. Another thing to consider is the Palace at Versailles can be stifling under normal weather conditions. If it is really hot during your visit, it may be appalling with the number of people that are crammed in there.

Same thoughts on the Catacombs as there are many, many things that might be put in that spot.

Posted by
2466 posts

You've answered your own question - 9 - 12 will do it.
If you want to drop out, you may do so.

20 to 30 minutes will make the train, easily. You can't access the platform otherwise.

Posted by
15448 posts

Tips for the Louvre. First, use the Carousel entrance. The long lines to enter are for security. The Carousel entrance lines are usually quite short. The lines at the main entrance are very long. Once you are inside, there are lots of ticket machines and ticket agents so it doesn't take long to buy tickets (if you don't have the Paris Museum Pass). I thought the audio guide was very good. There are at least 3 different stations to rent them, so if you do, pay attention to which one you used - you have to leave photo ID as a deposit. A US driver's license is fine. 2 hours is not enough time. I had trouble following the RS audio tour. The Louvre has a series of self-guided tours called "Thematic Trails." You can download them from their website. I used the "Palace to Museum" route, which took me past all the highlights - though they aren't actually included in the text, they will be right in front of you.

Posted by
720 posts

Personally the Louvre is my least favourite museum in Paris. So i will add votes for Orangerie, Rodin, d'Orsay but my favorite that i repeatedly go back to is Musee de Art Moderne in Torcadero for Dufy and Matisse. Heaven

Posted by
720 posts

Personally the Louvre is my least favourite museum in Paris. So i will add votes for Orangerie, Rodin, d'Orsay but my favorite that i repeatedly go back to is Musee de Art Moderne in Torcadero for Dufy and Matisse. Heaven

Posted by
375 posts

I would not eat at the Eiffel Tower, as I thought that the food was not good and also pricey- the only thing I liked was the view- your better off just going up and then eating at a local cafe- there are many in that area. I also prefer no nap on arrival and pushing thru until night- I never have jet lag by doing that- but everyone has their own personal preferences. Definitely suggest a boat ride on Seine River you can catch the boat right across the street from Eiffel .

Happy Travels✨💫

Posted by
343 posts

Overall I think this is alright, if not a bit ambitious. I like that you have 4 hours set aside to wander on your first day. There is an excitement each time I go to Paris of just getting out and wandering. Lovely. I would just say to do more of that. More relaxing at sidewalk cafes and just soaking in the ambience. Even for go, go, go types, it's helpful to stop occasionally and regroup.

You might consider a different option one evening - do a Fat Tire Evening Bike Tour. It's great for all ages and a lot of fun.

Regarding Versailles: just make sure that you're doing it because you absolutely have to see it, and not just to check it off a list of things that you should be doing if you go to Paris. I say that only because my husband and I went there, and I wanted to see it because I wanted to see the Hall of Mirrors. We hated it. Actually, loathed is more like it. It was so unbelievably crowded, and the lines just to use the toilet that had all of two stalls made for a really unpleasant visit. Had I the option to do it all over again, I would have wanted us to spend the day at Vaux le Vicomte, or a day in Montmartre. Just my opinion, though, and I've certainly had friends who loved it!

Posted by
103 posts

If you can try to sleep more on the plane, and not nap that might be best. Sometimes the nap just makes you feel more tired.

Some of the major museums are open on some nights, and you may want to check which ones they are. I truly loved seeing D'Orsay, and highly recommend it! It stays light there long into the evening, so going to a museum at night is fun.

Since you're only there for a few days, make the most of it!

Posted by
3 posts

Such generous replies... thank you all for that. I am going to sit down with my husband and read through all the ideas and try to figure out what will really work. We will definitely scale it back and I like the idea of only one major event per day.

For sure, we will include the Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Catacombs, Rick Steve historic walk and a Seine cruise. Most of these were specific requests by our kids. I am leaning towards the lunch at the Eiffel Tower even if the food is average it is an experience that I think we would enjoy doing. Really want make more time for wandering so will see what the consensus is on Versailles.

Thanks again!

Posted by
103 posts

I agree that going to the Rodin Gardens is fantastic. Every time I go to Paris, we sit in the gardens and have lunch. Sometimes we have bought some Brie cheese, ham and a baguette and have a picnic. There is a cafe there as well. The statues are incredible and it's truly an amazing experience!

Posted by
103 posts

I do recommend Versailles, and allow time for the gardens, the Hamlet and the Trianon. I have gone there many times, and now my husband says that we don't need to go again. :) Only maybe to the gardens.

I would take a little time to stroll along the Champs. After all, it's Paris! And the views are beautiful. You might want to take a bus part of the way, between the Arc de Triumph and the Tuilleries., because it is a long walk.

Whatever you decide to do will be enjoyable, and collect ideas for when you go back the next time!

Posted by
22861 posts

.....Don't take a nap on Sunday. Try to stay up and keep going. Otherwise you will struggle to reset your internal clocks.........

I absolutely disagree with that statement. Dealing with jet lag maybe personal experience as what works best for you. There is no absolute method. For years we follow the "standard" recommendation of stay up, gut it out, stay in the sun, etc. The result was a lot of miserable evenings, late afternoons trying to stay awake. Then by accident one year we took a nap for less two hours around 2, 3 pm and never looked back. It recharges the batteries just enough to have a pleasant evening meal, no struggling to stay awake, and a reasonable bed time that night around 10 or so. And the next day we are in far better shape. We always set the alarm for two hours but awake naturally around the 90 minute mark. For us, that is the best method for fighting jet lag. For others staying up may work but not for us. So do not automatically reject a nap.

Posted by
1045 posts

Yeah, the older I get the more I need the nap too. Been to Paris 3 times now but never to Versailles. I would not go there in the summer. If I ever get back to France in the off season, I'll probably brave the trip to Versailles, but I know that with summer crowds and heat, it would be absolutely miserable. And I third or fourth the recommendation for Musée de l'Orangerie. One of our favorite museum visits. We happened to get there about 45 minutes before closing and had the place almost to ourselves. Nothing like sitting with the Water Lilies in peace, and getting thisclose to them.

Posted by
14018 posts

On arrival day there are times I did not take a nap of one hour plus and there are I did, either way no problem. Mostly when trying to nap, I couldn't since I had already slept on the plane. Setting aside the arrival afternoon after lunch for wandering is fine, I do that, take care of "chores" ie buy day trip train tickets, get Metro tickets, or I go to the Les Invalides to see what's new.

Keep in mind that at Gare du Nord the luggage has to checked in, which may involve time spent waiting in line, etc.