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Arrival day suggestions in Paris 8 days from today; also questions about November 1 / All Saints Day

It has been 16 years since I've flown into CDG and will be arriving next Tuesday morning. Assuming I arrive at the hotel in the 6th arr near Luxembourg Gardens RER by 11am, I am seeking suggestions for the day. I know the room won't be ready. I will have a Navigo Découverte card so I'm not worried about keeping track of how much I use public transport. I want to stay awake. Maybe take a boat ride to the Eiffel Tour? If so, any recommendations as to which? I'd like the option of being seated outside as well as inside. Or a bus to the Eiffel Tower? Or bus rides that allow me to see much of the city to get an idea of the lay of the land. I don't like the HOHO buses so I'm referring to public transport. Maybe go to the funicular and take it to the top for the view of Montmartre?

Next, November 1 is All Saints Day. Are there choral services or organ concerts that day that anyone recommends? Will museums be very busy that day if it is an office holiday? Will banks be open? Will outdoor markets be open on Nov 1?

Thanks for your assistance.

Posted by
4370 posts

you could take the metro to the Arch de triomphe. You could walk around the flower market by the Notre Dame/saint chapelle. Walk the Rue Cler or ask if there are other outdoor markets that day. The funicular is a good idea, you could also walk around Montmarte. There is a busy square near the Sacre Cour where there are often artists working.

Posted by
4589 posts

Since you will be near the Luxembourg Garden, I would begin with a nice walk through the garden, and stop for a gelato at Amorimo, located near at the garden side at 4 Rue Vavin. Then I would walk (or take the metro) to Notre Dame, and walk in that area. Then catch a metro over to the Eiffel Tower and other locations you mentioned. I would take the boat ride on another day when you haven’t been flying.

Any activities that have you walking, plus being outside will help you acclimate to Paris’ time zone faster. Enjoy your time in lovely Paris!

Posted by
10116 posts

You never know, your room might be ready. If it is, then unpack, shower, and head out for lunch. If the room ei not ready, head out for lunch. After lunch, take a nice long walk. You could follow one of Rick Steves' self-guided walks or pick up the book "24 Great Walks in Paris." It is out of print but still available used. If I recall, Rick Steves guide has a nice walk that includes the Luxembourg Gardens. I would only go to Montmartre if the day is clear.

Nov 1: Bank holiday. Markets, at least some will be open. In tourist areas, you won't even know it's a holiday. Museums will probably be pretty busy, especially if the weather is poor.

Posted by
3332 posts

These are great ideas. I downloaded the RS walks on his audio podcast months ago. I totally forgot I did that.

A friend of mine recommended the L'Institut du Monde Arabe especially going to the Panoramic Terrace. I see they are part of the Paris Museum Pass. It looks to be an easy bus ride from my hotel. Would I be able to buy the 4 day Paris Museum pass from them by credit card?

And if my room is ready, I will definitely shower and freshen up first!

Posted by
4370 posts

I have always been able to buy my Paris Museum Pass at my first stop, for me it was once at Saint Chapelle and once at the Pantheon. The Pantheon is probably close to your hotel. You could visit that on your first day. We spent a couple hours there, most spend less time. I think the first time I came to Paris, I purchased the museum pass at a booth close to the Notre Dame. Not sure if that was the best place, I would just buy one at the first place you go to the accepts the pass.

Posted by
3334 posts

We've sort of developed a habit for our first day in Paris. We usually stay in the 5th. Last year our hotel was just across the street from the Pantheon, so that was our first stop. Bought our Museum Pass (with credit card) and spent an hour or so there. Then saunter down towards the Seine for lunch at the little cafe beside Shakespeare & Co. The afternoon is given over to Rick's Historic Paris walk of Ile de la Cite and the Left Bank.

If you want a Seine cruise, Vedettes de Pont Neuf is right in this area. We usually leave this for later in the trip and do it at night.

Posted by
9898 posts

Oh, if you are near the Pantheon, after visiting that do....Saint-Etienne-du-Mont! Are you a Midnight in Paris fan? Altho I'm not a fan of Woody Allen or Owen Wilson, I love this movie for all the Paris scenes in it. Owen Wilson was picked up by the time traveling taxi from the church steps. Then you could head around behind it and down Rue Mouffetard to Place Contrascarpe. Take a left on Rue du Cardinal Lemoine to No. 74 where Hemingway lived when he was married to Hadley.

After my last trip to Paris I found his A Moveable Feast for free on Kindle. I don't see a free deal today but it may be on one of the other sites if you travel with a Kindle or use the Kindle app. Lots of fun to track thru that area which he often wrote about.

The Roman arena, Arenes du Lutece is in that area altho it's not hugely interesting as well as the Jardin des Plantes, botanical garden.

This is just me but I'd not want to be as far away as Montmartre on my arrival day. I sometimes don't do jet lag very well and I like to be closer to the hotel in case I have a "sinking spell", lol. I'd also not have my wits about me to be able to avoid the dang bracelet scams in the area nor to be on my watch for pickpockets. That's just me as I know you have a whole lot more innate "city sense" than I do.

Posted by
4370 posts

I also recommend the movie, Midnight in Paris. It's fun and the Paris scenes are great

Posted by
1156 posts

When you are in the area, do go inside St. Etienne. It has the most beautiful carved rood screen that I have ever seen. It’s a miracle that it wasn’t destroyed in the revolution!

Posted by
3332 posts

Fabulous advice, thank you! I never thought about the Pantheon or St Étienne. Great ideas. I saw Midnight in Paris when it first came out. That was a great Woody Allen film.

I don't know what the bracelet scam is; I typically don't wear much jewelry when I travel so if anyone asks if I dropped a bracelet, I'll walk the other way. Someone did try to pickpocket me in Vienna on the u-bahn the day I arrived a few years ago so I will be alert. I caught the person in the act and let her have it. A little boy tried to pickpocket me on the métro when I first visited Paris in 2002 when I had been there for a few days. I was standing as the car was crowded and never noticed it happening. An older woman nearby DID notice and stopped the kid in his tracks. That was awesome! So, again, I REALLY need to be alert. Perhaps staying away from heavily touristed areas as Pam suggested is an idea I'll consider.

We've sort of developed a habit for our first day in Paris. We usually
stay in the 5th. Last year our hotel was just across the street from
the Pantheon, so that was our first stop. Bought our Museum Pass (with
credit card) and spent an hour or so there. Then saunter down towards
the Seine for lunch at the little cafe beside Shakespeare & Co. The
afternoon is given over to Rick's Historic Paris walk of Ile de la
Cite and the Left Bank.

I like this idea. I want to visit Shakespeare & Co too.

Thanks for the Bus 69 advice. If it's raining outside, that might be a doable way of seeing the city while seated! On buses, assuming it's not pouring, can you open the windows? Sometimes buses are overly heated.

Posted by
9898 posts

The bracelet scam is when guys try to start tying a "friendship" bracelet on your arm, then of course charges you.

Here's Rick's description of it.

https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/theft-scams/tourist-scams

I suspect even jet lagged you'll not have your arms held so people can start tying things on to them! But I, personally, just wouldn't want the hassle.

Posted by
18 posts

After a red-eye trans-Atlantic flight, we always feel it's a good idea to do some walking -- try to stay awake as long as we can. (Though we usually take a one-hour-or-so nap after hotel check-in in the afternoon.)

Any of the self-guided walks in the major tour books will do, if it has been 16 years since your last visit. The RS historic walk is always nice.

If you want something different, walk past the Pantheon, down R. Mouffetard (market street) past St Medard church to the Grande Mosquee.

Just a suggestion.

ss

Posted by
6721 posts

I rarely get a seat on a bus in Paris and I am an old lady. If you want an overview of the city I would do a two hour Foxity bus tour and sit upstairs on the open top. If you want to do a 'tour' on bus 69 you probably need to board at the end of the line which as I recall is around Gambetta on one end and Champ du Mars on the other. That way you could get a window seat.

I'd do a walking tour through the Luxembourg gardens and into St. Germaine. You can find possible routes in 'Paris Walks' type books that lay out different walking tours. There is also a set of 50 little cards with mini self guided walks on them easily acquired in book stores etc and we sometimes will put two or three cards together when in an area so we know what we are walking by. Luxembourg Gardens has a refreshment kiosk where you can get an ice cream or coffee and of course there are cafes and bakeries all over Paris to sit and grab coffee on a walk. You can ask for a glass or carafe of tap water along with whatever you buy to drink. The milky coffee in Paris is called a 'creme'; if you order cappuccino here you get a rather icky thing with whipped cream and chocolate on it and not the Italian drink. (and plenty of people order a creme in the afternoon so don't fall for the idea that it is a terrible faux pas since the 'French only have this for breakfast')

Outdoor markets which meet in a place once or twice a week are always open on their designated days. Market streets like Rue Cler, Rue Levis, etc etc are closed Sunday afternoon and Monday usually. None of them would be closed on Nov 1. The days when shops and museums and such are reliably closed in addition to their regular weekly museum closing days are Jan 1, May 1 and Dec 25. Assume everything is closed those days unless you have evidence to the contrary. Other ecclesiastical holidays may give people a long weekend but they are not shop holidays.

Posted by
11973 posts

My plan is to keep walking most of that first day and stay outdoors in the (hopefully) sun. Visiting parks and strolling is a good way to stay awake.

I avoid boat rides or anything sitting down. We did a canal ride once in A'dam on a first day after our flight. My whole family was asleep 15 minutes in and I was having reptile blinks trying to stay awake.

It helps if you can get some sleep on the plane over. My technique is to adjust my watch for local time when I get to my departure gate. From then on, I think only in destination local time - meal times, bed times, etc. Since it's 6 or more hours later, you realize it's late and time to get sleep so skip the entertainment, take a melatonin (before boarding), put on a blindfold and earplugs (or soft music) and sleep. If I get 4 or more hours, it really helps the next day.

Posted by
11973 posts

Buy a museum pass somewhere without a long line. The line is rarely long at the Pantheon. It's not worth the normal admission price but a good stop with a pass. You can buy it anytime and not activate it until you're ready to start using it. For me, the first day is not a good day to use the pass - but fine to pick one up.

Posted by
3332 posts

I rarely get a seat on a bus in Paris and I am an old lady. If you
want an overview of the city I would do a two hour Foxity bus tour and
sit upstairs on the open top. If you want to do a 'tour' on bus 69 you
probably need to board at the end of the line which as I recall is
around Gambetta on one end and Champ du Mars on the other. That way
you could get a window seat.

Thank you for that insight. I may want to go on the #69 bus so I'll grab it at one of the first/last stops.

I'd do a walking tour through the Luxembourg gardens and into St.
Germaine. You can find possible routes in 'Paris Walks' type books
that lay out different walking tours.....Luxembourg Gardens has a
refreshment kiosk where you can get an ice cream or coffee and of
course there are cafes and bakeries all over Paris to sit and grab
coffee on a walk. You can ask for a glass or carafe of tap water along
with whatever you buy to drink.

If it's not raining too hard, that sounds like a wonderful option.

The milky coffee in Paris is called a 'creme'; if you order cappuccino
here you get a rather icky thing with whipped cream and chocolate on
it and not the Italian drink. (and plenty of people order a creme in
the afternoon so don't fall for the idea that it is a terrible faux
pas since the 'French only have this for breakfast')

I'll be enjoying café crème; the word cappuccino won't enter my vocabulary in Paris. That first day especially the afternoon I might enjoy it quite a bit!

Outdoor markets which meet in a place once or twice a week are always
open on their designated days. Market streets like Rue Cler, Rue
Levis, etc etc are closed Sunday afternoon and Monday usually. None of
them would be closed on Nov 1. The days when shops and museums and
such are reliably closed in addition to their regular weekly museum
closing days are Jan 1, May 1 and Dec 25. Assume everything is closed
those days unless you have evidence to the contrary. Other
ecclesiastical holidays may give people a long weekend but they are
not shop holidays.

Thank you!

I avoid boat rides or anything sitting down. We did a canal ride once
in A'dam on a first day after our flight. My whole family was asleep
15 minutes in and I was having reptile blinks trying to stay awake.

I hadn't thought about the risk of falling asleep on a boat. I was thinking if I sat outside, I'd be awake! But that makes sense.

It helps if you can get some sleep on the plane over. My technique is
to adjust my watch for local time when I get to my departure gate.
From then on, I think only in destination local time - meal times, bed
times, etc. Since it's 6 or more hours later, you realize it's late
and time to get sleep so skip the entertainment, take a melatonin
(before boarding), put on a blindfold and earplugs (or soft music) and
sleep. If I get 4 or more hours, it really helps the next day.

I have a hard time sleeping on flights. Even when I get the chance to sit in business on transatlantic flights, I can't sleep. I'll be in the main cabin on this trip so that will make sleep for me even more unlikely. I wish I could. I'm hesitant to take pills to sleep. I might take a Nyquil but that's it. 4 hours sleep is very attractive! I'll be getting up early Monday, go to the gym, work 1/2 day from home, and go to JFK. Maybe that will help? My flight leaves at 6:38pm. I received noise cancellation headphones for my birthday so I'll bring them.

Buy a museum pass somewhere without a long line. The line is rarely
long at the Pantheon. It's not worth the normal admission price but a
good stop with a pass. You can buy it anytime and not activate it
until you're ready to start using it. For me, the first day is not a
good day to use the pass - but fine to pick one up.

Thanks for that info!

Posted by
3332 posts

I requested "Midnight in Paris" from the library and it arrived today so I will watch it again this weekend.

Also, I was listening to one of the RS Audio Europe podcasts about walking around Paris and one of the people he interviewed recommended going to the Père Lachaise cemetery on All Saints Day (Nov 1). He didn't go into detail. Has anyone visited this cemetery on Nov 1?

Posted by
4684 posts

In Catholic countries there is a tradition of visiting family graves on 1st November. Personally, I'd feel like I was intruding on people's private family events if I went there just as a tourist.

Posted by
9898 posts

Thank you for that information Philip. I did not know that.

Posted by
3332 posts

Philip, thank you for that insight. I did not realize that and I appreciate your telling me this in advance. I would never have asked had i not heard it recommended on the RS podcast to visit Père Lachaise cemetery on Nov 1.

Posted by
8499 posts

The tradition is to put pots of chrysanthemums on the gravestones, flowers associated with late autumn and death in France. (Don't ever bring mums as a gift in France.) The families don't stay long and if you are solemn, there should be no harm done, but it isn't a family gathering as in Mexico. BTW, even non-religious families observe the custom, today.

Posted by
317 posts

Lots of great advice here...it makes me eager for my next trip to France!

I think you will really be glad to have noise cancelling headphones for the flight. I used them for the first time this summer and I couldn't believe the difference it made for comfort on the flight. I had been trying to find a good pair that was reasonably priced, and gave up before our trip. On a whim, I went into the airport Brookstone and found a good pair by Anker...with a $30 markup compared to the Brookstone website! They price matched and I got the lower price, and I was very happy. It did allow me to rest more on the overnight flight so I was more alert on our first day in France. I hope this is true for you as well. It was a great investment.

Laurie

Posted by
3332 posts

I think you will really be glad to have noise cancelling headphones
for the flight. I used them for the first time this summer and I
couldn't believe the difference it made for comfort on the flight. I
had been trying to find a good pair that was reasonably priced, and
gave up before our trip

I forgot to pack mine! Laurie, happy you mentioned them. My husband gave them to me for my birthday and I just grabbed them. The small print from Sony says the included battery probably has little power so I'm off to buy a AAA battery. Thanks for the reminder.

Posted by
15037 posts

If your Navigo is 10 years old, you'll have to get a new one.

Posted by
3332 posts

This will be my first ND. My flight is tonight and I am feeling a similar anxiety with those in other threads who are starting to wonder why they are doing this. I feel very anxious and scared which is unusual for me. My husband will be meet me Saturday morning yet I am full of dread about travel. I have a back condition and am worried that I will have a target on my back to pickpockets or worse.

I know it sounds irrational. Anyway, got it off my chest.

Posted by
4370 posts

I LOVE Europe and would take several trips a year if I could. Still, its normal to feel apprehensive about any new adventure. I'm so excited, I'm going to Spain in a few days, but I'm getting some nerves, too. But, I have learned there are friendly, kind and helpful people everywhere. I have been in Paris several times alone. I feel its very safe and honestly, any trouble you run into would be minor in the whole scheme of things. I have found French people to be very nice and helpful. Just start out with Bonjour and a smile and you'll be fine.

Posted by
22 posts

Like so many others have said, I am confident you will have an amazing trip! I have but one small recommendation to add since I am in Paris packing to return home tomorrow. There is a terrific local restaurant called Academie de la Biere, 88bis, Boulevard to Port-Royal. An area I haven't been to on previous visits to Paris, but easy to get to nonetheless. A little beyond Le Jardin du Luxembourg, about a block from the Port-Royal RER station. Full of locals, young and old (and their kids and dogs), with a total neighborhood vibe. We absolutely loved it tonight! As the name implies, huge beer menu. But it is France, so there is also wine, bien sur. Mussels, great selection of sausages, choucroute and several other dishes. Indoor and outdoor seating, and a wonderful, friendly staff. We truly did not feel remotely like tourists in this restaurant. I highly recommend it. Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
3332 posts

I'm back and wrote a trip report in the trip report forum. Thank you EVERYBODY for taking the time to provide advice. :-)