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First time visit to France

This will be our first visit to France and we are getting overwhelmed. We will spend about 7 or so days there. Planning on 3 days in Paris, 2 days in Normandy and then 3 days in Paris again. What are your recommendations for getting around. Individual Train or multi day passes? How to go about obtaining either? How do you go about getting advance tickets for major attractions like the Eiffel Tower, Versailles, etc? I realize this is probably a duplicate request of many previous posts of others. If you have posted something that would apply, just post the date of your previous post and we will check it out. No need to re post unless you want to. We are planning on the Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Versailles, Monet's Gardens, what other places, including restaurants, do you recommend?

Thanks in advance, we will be travelling several weeks and will try to post follow up info as we go or at least when we get back to the US in Oct. Once again, thank you for you help.

Posted by
5 posts

There are two of us and we are retired with no travel restrictions. Should have included this in the earlier post.

Posted by
14153 posts

I think you r split is good. When you say 2 day in Normandy do you mean 2 nights (which is one full day) or 3 nights which is 2 full days?

For a divided trip like yours, your best bet for the Metro in Paris is to get the Navigo Easy card. There is a 2E charge for the actual plastic card and then you load it with a carnet of 10 rides. You'd need a card for each member of your group. You can buy them from machines in the Metro stations or I find it easy just to go to a manned window in the Metro station and get help from the staff.

To buy tickets to venues, go directly to the venue site.



Eiffel Tower:

Monet's home in Giverny:

When are you traveling to France? Have you decided where to stay in Paris?

Posted by
2573 posts

If you are traveling into/out of CDG/ORY, it would make a great deal of sense, if, upon arrival, you continue travel directly to Normandy, then finish with Paris.

If you are asking about trains to Normandy, check here:

For travel within the Île-de-France (Paris and surrounding areas), please state your arrival/departure dates, where you plan on going outside Paris, and if you are under 26.

Posted by
726 posts

Why are you dividing the trip that way? We did this trip by first spending 4 nights in Paris ,1 night I Normandy ,taking a late afternoon train back to Paris for 2 nights . That gave us one last day in Paris to see what we missed and then left next morning. We did stay in a apartment in Paris so we only took an overnight bag to Normandy. But agree with idea of doing Normandy at start or end of trip to minimize checking in and out

Posted by
7384 posts

I don’t have my trip report of our first time in Paris, so I will just share from memory. We flew from the west coast to Paris - CDG, and immediately took a train to Caen for a few nights in Normandy. More travelers prefer Bayeux now as a base location. We took a mini-van tour through the wonderful WWII museum in Caen and toured their museum afterwards.

This route gave us all of our days in Paris together to not need to move hotels an extra time. Another activity we really enjoy in Paris is taking an evening cruise down the river to enjoy the city lit at night. And my favorite garden is the Luxembourg Garden. Have a great time!

Posted by
325 posts

Regarding restaurants, it's a pain to plan for specific places and then fit your schedule around them. (unless it's a special occasion or a unique situation). For most meals, we look for popular cafes with locals. I will research ahead of time from home and save a few spots on a google map near our sightseeing but just as an option. Not an obligation.

Posted by
2145 posts

Hi jsstx01, France is totally doable so please don’t be overwhelmed. From your post I’m not sure if you are on the road now and adding 7 days in France, or if you are looking for help for a future trip.

If you are planning a future trip, I just wanted to suggest a Rick Steves tour as a possible option. Paris and the Heart of France would provide a nice introduction to Paris and time in Normandy exploring the battlefields, American Cemetery, and D-Day beaches. Take a look at the itinerary.

Posted by
8158 posts

This is a very short time. It takes 2 nights to get one full day. Every time you make a move, you waste most of a day on logistics. So you need to eliminate the Norman trip in the middle of the Paris trip. I personally would just do 7 days in Paris with maybe a day trip close by if I felt I needed to branch out. But if Normandy is a priority then go there first. Spend two nights and do a beach tour, then head for Paris for the remainder of your time, which if you have 5 nights will be 4 days.

Eiffel Tower tickets go on sale 7 days ahead at 1 pm Paris time. I think Giverny is closed. Book the Louvre in advance as it does sell out. If you want a special dinner, reserve in advance.