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First Day in Paris

Arriving at CDG at 9:30 on Sunday June 2 with two teenage boys and husband for our first trip to Europe (from US). I have been instructed to try to get sleep on plane and then power through for the first day. Suggestions for our first day to combat our tiredness? Hoping to drop our bags at our place in the Marais and then head out. I want to do a bike tour of Paris. Would that be a good choice on our first day?

Posted by
9682 posts

I’m not of the power through school of thought. I’d see how everyone is doing and if you need a nap (1-1.5 hours and set an alarm) when you get in to your lodging take one.

If you land at 9:30 you may not be to your area until 12:30. Depends on lines at Immigration.

Have a meal, then see how you feel. Walk some in the sun if you can. Will you be able to stash your bags?

I’m not a cyclist but I’d want my wits about me to do a bike tour in Paris. I’ve seen some of them go by and they do have to cycle in traffic.

Posted by
4249 posts

I am a power thru it person. When we travel to Europe, we usually arrive to our hotel/inn around 11am. I find that by staying awake until 9pm and then getting up by 8am, I set myself up with a good sleep pattern for my trip. By the 2nd or 3rd day, we are up until about 11pm and then able rise refreshed at 7:30 or so. I find that I'm so excited about the trip that I have enough energy to enjoy the day. That said, we don't do any museums. We do some light sightseeing, and stop for a snack/beverage mid afternoon and then wander around some more. We might stop at some tourist office or shops to make sure we have all we need to enjoy our vacation I do enjoy wine or cocktails while on vacation, but I avoid them the first day. I love to bike, but I do not think I'd want to bike on my first day in a busy city.

Posted by
14885 posts

The bike tours aren't cheap. I wouldn't want to do it in a jetlagged haze when I wouldn't focus on the information or retain much, if any, of it. Sunday is a great day to just wander around the Marais. Much of it is closed to vehicles on the weekend, and Parisians will be out enjoying themselves at the many cafes, there will be lots of kids in the parks (like Place des Vosges), and most of the boutiques will be open - including chocolates, ice cream and scarves - take the guys into a scarf boutique and try a few, everybody wears scarves in Paris.

Posted by
4447 posts

I love to do city bike tours, but I would reserve it for the second day in Paris, so you can really enjoy it, and to be safer. I do like to be outdoors the day I arrive and try to walk a lot to acclimate to the new time zone.

Posted by
6869 posts

We will try to get into our hotel rooms mid afternoon and take a nap. Then we go out for a light dinner, get our bearings on the neighborhood and retire relatively early. Day 2 we're ready to go. Save the bike ride for later.

Posted by
12879 posts

If you want to be at your best when you land, then sleep on the plane. The more you sleep, the better it is when you land.

I fly out of SFO or OAK non-stop and expect, count on a flight of 11 hrs or close to it, Apart from a few exceptions, I always take a late afternoon departure, basically a night flight, which lands between 10-11 am...perfect, given the 9 hour difference from west coast time.

I don't do bike tours but after dropping off the luggage at the hotel in Paris, I'm good to go.

Posted by
295 posts

On our first trip to Europe last year we powered through, but I hardly remember anything about that first day. Like you, we will be arriving at our hotel in Paris (the Latin Quarter) this summer around 11:00 and our plan is to drop bags at the hotel and then walk around Ile St. Louis, wander over to the Stravinsky fountain, chill out on the plages for a few hours and then check out the Jardin de Luxembourg.

Having done a bike tour in Munich last year, I would caution against biking when sleep deprived for safety reasons.

Posted by
503 posts

The last times I traveled to Europe I took a quick nap (1 hour) once we got into our room. That was enough to take us through the evening. I was still pretty tired by the time 9 o'clock rolled around so sleeping was not a problem. Bike tour the same day .....I would wait until the next day when your energy will be higher.

Posted by
44 posts

I'm also all for powering through--with a judicious nap if you need it, but definitely a short one. I don't know about the suggestions on pills, etc. My sense is that, if you don't know from experience their effects on you, they can mess you up worse than jet lag. I just assume my first day will be long and trippy no matter what I do, and I plan accordingly.

Planning accordingly for me, at least, would mean walking instead of biking. (I would save the bikes for a later day, not merely for enjoyment but for safety.) The Marais itself is a great area for people-watching and exploring on your first day, and from there you can walk to and from iconic sites on Ile de la Cite and Ile St. Louis, and even make it to the Left Bank and the Louvre. You can stop for a break, a drink, a bite, and great people watching wherever you want along the way.

Posted by
901 posts

Just because someone advises you to “sleep on the plane” does not mean that you will actually be able to do it. Out of four trips to Europe, I have slept on the plane exactly once and that was the time I got upgraded to first class and a life flat bed. I cannot sleep in economy no matter what I do. I definitely would not do a bike tour the day you land, you were going to be tired even if you do sleep do you to the jet lag, plus you don’t know how long it will take you to get out of the Paris airport between clearing immigration and taking the fairly long train ride from the airport to central Paris. Plus the Paris airport is not known for being the most efficient or easy to understand airport.

Your first day I would drop off your luggage at your hotel and then walk around or take a hop on, hop off bus tour to get your bearings. If you feel up to doing something as you encounter it then do so, but for most people that first day is really rough.

Posted by
4249 posts

The melatonin is a great idea. Some people feel that it is a sleep aid, which while it does do that to a point, what it really does is improve cicadian rhythm. It is good to take about 2 hours before bed and I do that on the plane as well, so I take it about 7-8pm in my destination. I will use some coffee to keep myself perkier, but I don't drink it after about 4pm in my arrival city. Sometimes I may take Benadryl on the plane to aid sleep, but I don't and it is not recommended to take Benadryl (or products like Advil PM) for sleep on a regular basis.

Posted by
21 posts

I would agree with the majority of previous people, try to power through but don't do the bike tour that day. Also, you never know if you will be delayed. I would skip museums but maybe if you are planning on going up the Eifel tower that would be an easy activity. Or exploring the Marais. Or one of the parks? Maybe take the list of things you are planning on doing during your stay and do one of the activities.
We arrived in Scotland last summer around noon. We just walked around Edinburgh, saw a few things casually, stopped for snacks a lot and did a fairly early dinner. Our kids actually did better than we did.
I usually take some sort of advil or Tylenol for the flight. I will probably give my kids melatonin this year when we go to Paris. They are so excited it is hard to sleep on the plane.

Posted by
514 posts

Bike tour is a bit much. I’d just get everyone walking. Depending where you are in Marais, maybe stroll through Place de Vosges to Hotel de Ville, then along the Seine. Paris has some magic, and especially with some first timers I can picture you doing quite a bit of strolling. Grab a nice dinner, and you’ll wrap up your day tired, satisfied and ready for a good solid sleep.

Posted by
2000 posts

If you are staying in the Marais, there will be plenty of interesting things to see just walking around. Place des Vosges, many good restaurants, museums, walk along the Seine, etc. I suggest doing whatever your family is up for though I, like others here, would not recommend a bike tour on the first day.

Posted by
1804 posts

Here's another vote for trying to power through. That's what we do. I also agree a bike tour on the first day isn't a good idea. Wait until you have the lay of the land.

As suggested, walk around your area. There will be plenty to do. Stay outside as much as possible. Don't eat a heavy meal until dinner time. Walk some more after eating. See how magical Paris can be at night. Go to bed after 9:00 p.m. Wake up early.

Adrenaline will get you through the first day. Be prepared for a day 2 slump, but don't give in to the temptation to nap.

Have a great time on your trip! You are about to have a wonderful experience!

Posted by
2389 posts

"Trying" to sleep on the plane is one thing, and actually getting to sleep is another - especially on your first flight to Europe. It will probably be close to 11:00 by the time you get to your hotel; so it wouldn't hurt to email and ask if you could possibly check in early.

Posted by
191 posts

How to "sleep" on a plane to Europe:
Comfort is key! Wear layers of clothing, because one flight might be freezing cold, another quite warm. I take a large microfiber towel as an extra blanket (most airlines still provide a lightweight fleece blanket and small pillow). I always take a good noise cancelling headset, earplugs, and an inflatable neck pillow. I don't drink any coffee on the flight until at least breakfast time, but usually don't have any until after I have left my bags at my hotel. I might have a glass of wine with dinner, and take a 10mg melatonin at that time. Last fall, I also used an herbal product called MidNite that seemed to help in addition to the melatonin. I NEVER get good sleep on an airplane, but that flight was the most rested I have ever felt after a transatlantic flight. We arrived at our destination at 9:15, were at our hotel by 10:30, and started a walking tour (on our own) immediately. We had an early lunch, visited a museum for which we had reservations, had dinner, took a sunset walk across the city, saw some important sights, and by 8:00 we were ready to crash. We slept well until we needed to arise for an early morning tour we had arranged. We felt no jetlag for the 19 days we spent in Europe. I did the same for the return flight, missed our last flight in Seattle, slept four hours in a hotel and headed home. I forced myself to stay up until dinner, went right to bed and slept for 14 hours straight! No jetlag at all after that, a first for me. It usually takes me two weeks to recover from a trip to Europe. I intend to do this all over again for my trip to France this fall!

Posted by
11286 posts

I agree with the above replies (try to sleep on the plane but don't count on it; no to the bike tour, but yes to walking around). One thing I want to emphasize: if you do take a nap, be SURE to set an alarm on your phone, so you don't end up sleeping for 3 hours and then messing up your adjustment to the new time zone for several days (I speak from experience).

Rick's Heart of Paris walk is good to do on arrival. I wouldn't try to go inside anything - just use it as a way to get oriented to a part of the city.

Posted by
8766 posts

I'm a power through kind of person and don't sleep well on a plane, try as I might. When I arrive I hit the ground running. After getting rid of luggage I stay outdoors in the sunlight as much as possible. I usually get a bite to eat. I've done walking tours and self-guided walking tours. No museums or churches. No buses, boats or anything else that will lull you to sleep. After an earlyish dinner I stay awake until 9:00. By morning I am good to go. I would definitely advise against a bike tour.