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Best times for Louvre & Notre Dame

We plan on getting a Paris Museum Pass for 4 days - though to use on Friday, Sat & Sunday - Next month.
I am guessing Louvre & Notre Dame would be one of the busiest places we visit. Should we not do these 2 the same day?
Our hotel is in Arrondissement 7.

Here are my thoughts (and from morning to evenings) :
Friday: Louvre, Opera House, Arc De Triomphe & may be Muse L'Orangie.
Saturday: Muse Orsay, Rodin, Notre Dame, Holy Chapel & Pont Nuef Bridge.
Sunday: Dome Church, Muse Napoleon, Luxombourg Gardens & Montepaness Tower.

PS: We actually arrive Tuesday nite. I already have a ticket for the Eiffel Tower for Weds mid morning.

Afterwards a stroll to Champs Elysees & Tuilares Gardens.

Thursday is reserved for Giverney & Versailles.

Thanks for any tips/suggestions to the above.

Posted by
6670 posts

Generally it's a good idea to get to the big museums (Louvre, Orsay) as soon as they open, when they're less crowded and you have more energy for them. Or go in the evenings when they're open, one or two times a week. Your museum pass will save you from ticket-buying lines but not from security lines.

Notre Dame Cathedral isn't especially busy, though there can be a short line at the entrance. Lots of people there but they move through. If you want to climb the towers, though, you could have a long wait. Again, best to show up when they open.

Giverny and Versailles in one day is a lot. Neither should be especially crowded next month, but each involves a train out of Paris. I don't know of any train connection between them, which means (if I'm correct) you'll have to return to Paris, get to a different station, and take another train out.

I like Montparnasse Tower as an alternative to the Eiffel Tower, but since you have that covered you could save time by skipping Montparnasse.

If your plan is to stroll the Champs and Tuileries after the Eiffel Tower on Wednesday, you could hold off your stroll till Friday when you're going from the Louvre to the Arc.

I'd suggest marking your chosen sights on a map, looking for clusters, and focusing each day on a cluster. Your itinerary is very ambitious for the time you have, so you'll want to be as efficient as you can. Good luck!

Posted by
14285 posts

I agree with Dick about Versailles and Giverny being too much for one day. For me, Versailles took an entire day and Giverny, with the train journey included, took nearly a full day. Or are you going on a tour that takes you to both?

I also agree that you should cluster your sights more. Rodin is right across the street from Napoleon's tomb and both may be close-ish to your hotel.

To me, also, the Louvre and the Orangerie would be too much altho the Orangerie is very small compared to the Louvre and there are nice benches where you can sit and contemplate the Water Lilies.

I would probably spend some time deciding on "A" list sights for each morning and afternoon so you can cut your itinerary if need be.

Posted by
16123 posts

I would agree that Versailles and Giverney are too much for one day if you're doing these on your own (no tour).

Make use of evening hours when some of the attractions covered by your pass are open at night. That card allows you as many visits to the museums and monuments as you can fit in so you could, say, see some of the Louvre during the day, and then return for a bit more on Friday night: the place is HUGE so breaking it up into smaller chunks is less exhausting. Arc de Triomphe is also open late into the evenings so that's also a good one to do at night to free up more daytime sightseeing.

I'm not a fan of Champs Élysées - there are much better things to do/see in Paris, IMHO - but if you really want to walk some of it, do it along with Arc de Triomphe. I'd skip Montepaness Tower as well, as you're doing the Eiffel.

Your itinerary should be a little fluid to work around weather: your outdoor walks won't be fun in pouring rain so be willing to shuffle things around if needed. I'd love to see you slip Musee de Cluny/ Moyen Age in somewhere if possible: a terrific museum that's too often overlooked.

A note on the Paris Museum Pass: it does not cover Palais Garnier so you might want to do that one on a day you're not using that pass. You also do not need the pass for Notre Dame unless you plan to climb the towers or visit the crypt.

Posted by
7078 posts

I have no suggestion on your over all itinerary except to agree with everyone that Versailles and Giverny will only work in one day if you're doing a tour and if you're climbing the ET and Notre Dame I don't see any reason to go to Montparnasse tower. My suggestion is what I found to be the best time to visit the Arc de Triomphe and that's in the evening just around or after sunset. It's fun to see the lights come on along the radiating streets from up there, especially the Champs Elysees and to see the lights sparkle on the Eiffel Tower after dark - spectacular.

Posted by
680 posts

This summer we visited the Louvre on a Sunday as it was the only day that worked for us. When we arrived we saw this ridiculously long line and I was dreading the wait. But then we saw the Paris Museum Pass holders line, and we basically walked right in. Except for the big 3 (Venus de Mile, Winged Victory, and Mona Lisa) the crowds were not bad at all; there were many rooms where you could get away from them. We also got into Notre Dame very quickly, but we did not go up the Tower. Other than that, we recommend taking time to relax and enjoy, whether it is in a park, or cafe. There was much we did not see, but we saw what was most important to US.

Posted by
13 posts

We are going on a bus tour that includes Giverny and Versailles all in one day, so your suggestions for the other days and to skip Montparnasse are greatly appreciated!

Thank you!
Diana (Seth's wife)

Posted by
7175 posts

Tuesday night: Arrive Paris
Wednesday: Eiffel Tower >> Notre Dame >> Sacre Coeur
Thursday: Versailles (Why book a bus tour if you are buying a 4 day PMP which you can use here?)
(I would leave Giverny for another visit - you don't have time and October is not the best garden month)
Friday: Pont Neuf >> Orangerie >> Tuilleries >> Opera>> Champs Elysees >> Arc De Triomphe >> Louvre
(Note that the Louvre is open til late on Friday)
Saturday: Musee d'Orsay >> Rodin Museum >> Invalides (Dome Church + Army Museum)
Sunday: Sainte Chapelle >> Cluny Museum >> Pantheon >> Luxembourg Gardens >> Montparnasse Tower

Posted by
3392 posts

Try to go to the Louvre when it is open in the evening...the crowds are much thinner, the light is very different than during the day, and it is a much better experience than during the day when it can be terribly crowded. Otherwise try to go right when it opens in the morning.

Posted by
16 posts

Anita - can you expand on the lighting with day vs night? Is most of the rooms lit naturally (so is best during the day)?

Am I correct that cameras allowed as long as not using a flash.

Posted by
228 posts

While you're at the Notre Dame Cathedral, be sure to go around the corner and visit an even more beautiful church called ' Saint Chapelle'. Imagine all of the walls being made almost entirely out of stained glass. Be sure to take a tripod for your camera to get absolutely fabulous jewel like photos inside.
At Notre Dame, everyone goes inside and most forget the outside. Be sure to walk the entire perimeter and look up... countless gargoyles look down at you! Oh, and by the way, at Notre Dame, there is a 'line' on the outside lining up and slowly entering in. When you get it you realize, there was no need to line up.... so be bold and skip the line and just walk in! It's a working church... just walk in and skip the crowds.
Be sure to WALK from place to place. I think this is where most of our best memories are from... the strolls and finding beautiful, hidden corners of Paris rather than the walls of the metro.

Posted by
16123 posts

Anita - can you expand on the lighting with day vs night? Is most of
the rooms lit naturally (so is best during the day)?Am I correct that
cameras allowed as long as not using a flash.

I'm sure Anita will be back to respond but I did have some trouble at dusk/night seeing works in some of the side galleries which were lit mainly with daylight. Fortunately, we hit the Louvre three separate times during our week, and the other two visits were during the day. Yes, cameras are fine as long as you don't use flash or tripods.

Speaking of tripods, there are multiple reports out there from photographers who have been denied use of tripods in Saint Chapelle (which is what OP is referring to as "Holy Chapel" in the itinerary above) so I wouldn't bring it to that one. Tripods have pretty much been universally banned at all museums I've been to in Europe so far.

Posted by
2349 posts

"Oh, and by the way, at Notre Dame, there is a 'line' on the outside lining up and slowly entering in. When you get it you realize, there was no need to line up.... so be bold and skip the line and just walk in! It's a working church... just walk in and skip the crowds."

Actually, please don't do this, unless you don't mind being rude and cutting in other lines. I believe that those who are genuinely attending a service may do this; the rest of us tourists should line up. The entrance line may look long, but it moves at a walking pace. I've never spent more than 5 minutes in line, even if it stretches across the square.

Posted by
1973 posts

We were in Paris in late February for 4 nights, and visited the Louvre on a cold Friday morning. Yes, there seemed to be a lot of people inside underneath the pyramid entrance. And also, we missed the English-speaking tour that lasts about 90 minutes. No matter--we just wandered, mostly in the Denon wing, and it was magnificent. Plenty of room to move, no real crowds, not even around the Mona Lisa--we were able to step right up. Also, charmingly, there were painters at various spots with their own easels & canvases, attempting to represent the works of the masters. And they were doing a wonderful job! Had a smashing salmon salad at (I think) Café Mollien on the 1st floor in the Denon wing, when it was time to rest our weary dogs.

By contrast, we visited Musee D'Orsay on the following Sunday, early afternoon. The crowds were absolutely brutal, they allowed no picture-taking of any kind (as opposed to the non-flash laissez-faire at the Louvre) and kind of ruined what is a great museum.

Since you are going to be in Paris on a Sunday and will be staying in the 7th, if possible you should really try to catch the 20-minute organ recital by Daniel Roth at St. Sulpice in the 6th. This was the church in the Tom Hanks movie The DaVinci Code, and it exudes history. We arrived at about 11:15, which was about halfway through Sunday Mass. We stayed until the end, which was followed by a concert by Roth (only the 15th organist at St. Sulpice since 1601!) on possibly the most famous pipe organ in all of Europe. Moving, emotional, phenomenal. If interested, check the schedule--he usually plays 3 out of 4 Sundays.

Posted by
16 posts

Thx and St Sulpice is on our list!
I will try to re see the Divinci Code. How far into the movie do I need to go?

Posted by
1973 posts

Before halfway if I remember, Seth. Actually, we only saw the movie once, ironically at our apartment in Florence 3 days after being there, with Italian subtitles!

Posted by
16123 posts

The Pyramid entrance of the Louvre is always the busiest. Use the Galerie du Carrousel, Passage Richelieu or Porte des Lions entrances instead. Porte des Lions may occasionally be closed but I've had friends waltz right in through that one. Short queues at the other two will move quickly.

Saint-Suplice is very interesting and has, along with the great organ, one of those rare gnomons which were once used to set the dates for Easter/Lent every year.