Getting overwhelmed and I'm not even there yet.....

As I've mentioned in a previous post, my husband and I will be arriving on a Monday, mid-morning in Paris and would like to see as much as we can, before heading out on Friday morning. I'm in the planning stages, and am already overwhelmed. My first step was/is trying to following advice in RS book, but am reconsidering a few things. We are staying in a hotel across from the Notre Dame area. My tentative itinerary is as such:

Day 1) Monday afternoon/evening...Historic Paris Walk (may trim it down some).

Planning on purchasing the Museum Pass.. The walk includes the Notre Dame, Sainte Chappell (which due to crowds we may see at a later time?); the Ile de la Cite area and Latin Quarter.
Also, thinking of taking a daytime one hour Seine river cruise (Vedettes du Pont Neuf)

Day 2) West Paris:
Champs-Elysees
Arch de Triomphe
Grand Palais
Tuileries Gardens
Army Museum/Napolean's Tomb
Rue Cler Market
Orsay Museum???
Eiffel Tower

Day 3) Wednesday
Visit Versailles/Gardens/Trianon/Domain

Day 4) Thursday
Tour the Louvre
Montmartre??

Hoping in our free time (which we have free time?) would like to visit some neighborhoods (we may possibly be walking through these on the way???) Would also like to just enjoy the areas, cafes, etc... Also, considering scheduling a 3 hr tour a the Louvre thru My Louvre Tour. We are pretty self-sufficient, but thinking we would get more out of a scheduled tour and maybe save us some time...plus, now I'm trying to decide..should we order our own tickets for the Eiffel Tower or do a tour?? Also, I'm thinking we would want to see the Eiffel Tower in the daytime and in the nighttime?

As I said, I'm getting a little overwhelmed. I have an idea, mostly from RS material, how long the visits may take at these places, but transportation, meals, crowds, etc. I'm not sure what is realistic or unrealistic.

Any thoughts would be very appreciated.
Diane

Posted by LeeB.
211 posts

The Musee D'orsay has LOTS of art and can get crowded so you might want to start your day there to see the paintings you really want to see and then do the rest of your list. If you like to take photos, I'd do the Eiffel Tower during the day. Again, it will be crowded. I'd get your own tickets.

If you are going to Montmartre, be sure to visit Sacre Coeur. You can check out the Louvre website to get an idea of what you really want to see because the museum is huge. Even with a three hour tour your eyes might start to glaze over.

I think you should really concentrate on what you really want to see and not tick off everything on your list. You definitely need time to just walk and explore the city and takes breaks at cafes and bakeries and chocolate shops. :)

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
3092 posts

This itinerary looks overwhelming just reading it...I don't see when you will have time to eat, much less have any free time. I would try to pare it way down or I think you will be disappointed. Make a list of the 'must sees' and look at everything else as a bonus. I think one of the best parts of any trip to Paris is hanging out in a café or one of the beautiful parks and simply enjoying the Parisian lifestyle. I would rather do fewer things that I love than a ton of stuff that I had to rush through....

Posted by gone
2081 posts

Diane,

you dont say WHEN youre going and this will make a difference.

I personally think your 2nd day is going to be a bust. Alot of stuff to see/do and alot of walking. you may want to figure out whats important to both of you 2 to see and not.

what RS has in his books in terms of time is his/their estimates and or what they looked at. even though i use his and others estimates for how long i will spend, i always pad the time (+/- but usually +) there since i know what i like to do/see, i will pad that time accordingly. I also only plan for a 6 hour day so that if i want to stay a little longer i can. Or if i want to spend less time, its not a big deal and will add that time to something else that day. If it was me, i would do the Eiffel tower first since you will have a line there and will spend alot of time waiting to get up to the top. Also, once youre done with the Tower you will have a better idea on your time for the other things. You can also do it later in the day/night too. the Orsay was a really cool museum and i could have spent more time there but that will happen the next time.

theres no reason you can wing it either. just start at one end and work you way to the other. Just figure out what you want to do/see after or during your time there. If you dont see/do something, i wouldnt let it trash my vacation, its just something for you to go back and see/do the next time.

happy trails.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
9110 posts

Days 1 and 2: You don't have a prayer of getting all that done.

Day 2: You don't have all the items arrayed in progressive order.

Overall:

. You have third and fifth tier attractions mixed with first tier ones, and have omitted many attractions that many would see as primary.

. You have allowed yourself no breaks.

. Day 2 is continuous walking with little or no opportunity to use transportation or you'll miss something. Are you up to humping six or seven miles plus all the standing you'll do in museums?

Posted by Carolyn
Seattle, WA, USA
237 posts

I would choose one main attraction for the morning and one for the afternoon, then fill in with lunch and lesser sights while going from one to the other. Rue Cler is a market street, not a market per se. I would skip that in favor of visiting an actual market closer to your hotel. There is a market on Rue Maubert, which is not far from Notre Dame, on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings. The Champs Elysee is crowded with tourists and all of the cafes and restaurants are over priced. Take a look while you are at the Arc du Triomphe, but don't spend a lot of time there. Museums you don't mention but I think are well worth a visit are the Rodin and L'Orangerie. If you use the Metro, you can easily get from one sight to another, but group things together as much as possible. Above all, leave plenty of time for cafe sitting and simply soaking up Paris. Some of my most memorable time in Paris was spent watching the parade of life go by while sipping "un café". It is tempting to try to cram everything into a few days, but it is more important to experience Paris than to cross sights off a list. Assume you will return.

Posted by Diane
Conway, AR
71 posts

First, let me say I loved your comments. I did list a lot of things to see, and I did not have them really in any particular order. Our trip is in September, and I've just gotten to where I really want to get this arranged, at least tentatively planned. We are use to traveling and are use to doing and seeing a lot in one day; usually with our extended family. But, that said, I really don't want to exhaust ourselves, especially because Paris is a pre-trip to a two week RS Tour. As you were all replying to my post, I did arrange a guided tour of the Louvre. I think I will take all your advice and slow down, see what we reasonably can in the time we have there and enjoy the the experience!

Posted by Nancy
Corvallis OR
1891 posts

One small thing you can do is take the Tuileries garden off of day 2 and walk through there on your way to the Louvre on day 4. And I agree with Carolyn, just see the Champs Elysees from the Arc de Triomphe, trying to walk the whole thing just to say you did is a waste of time, it's nothing special.

Posted by Donna
Cleveland, OH
574 posts

Hi Fa, your itinerary sounds busy but pretty much doable. For day 2, I'd figure out which 1 or 2 things are "must dos" and do them first. That way, if you run out of time and have to cut something later in the day, you'll have hit the high points. Have a great trip.

Posted by Diane
Conway, AR
71 posts

Thanks for all your replies. I think as we go along we will realize what we will be able to get in. As someone mentioned, we should probably pick out what we really want to see first and then work around the rest....and keep it limited. Going into this we added a day to our trip, thinking that would give us plenty of time to see everything. Now I realize, especially after reading thru guidebooks, that there is a lot more to see than we anticipated, but we should still be able to get a good "taste" of Paris. (Glad we added that extra day.) Can't wait!

Posted by BG
Albany, CA, USA
1522 posts

Right, on your first trip to Paris, with limited time, you are never going to see it all. You will see a lot of great things, but I'm sure you will realize that you will need to return several more times, and I hope you do. It's good to plan and have a basic idea of what you want to see, but take it easy and give yourself some free time to wander, rest or do something unexpected.

Posted by Chani
Tel Aviv
4802 posts

Just a few tips.

Louvre - go on Wednesday late afternoon/early evening. It's open until 9.45 with few visitors.

Orsay - get there when they open, go straight to the top floor and work your way down, to avoid crowds. Most people start at the ground floor, and the top floor (most of the Impressionist paintings) is pretty packed with art so you want to be there as soon as possible . . . also, you can easily run out of steam before you've seen it all - don't waste the energy on the lower floors. If I remember correctly, it's not a far walk from there to Les Invalides (army museum, Napoleon, etc.).

Ste Chapelle - it's nice to visit in the evening for a concert instead of waiting in security lines during the day. You'll have to buy tickets, but get there early and you'll have lots of time to walk around and admire the stained glass (and take photos) before the music begins. There are often 2 performances, go to the one that begins just before sunset for the best effect of the vitrines.

I liked the Seine cruise with Vedettes du Pont Neuf just around sunset.

Check the Versailles website. The fountain displays are usually on weekends and Tuesdays, so you may want to go then instead of Wednesday.

I'm not enchanted by the Sacre Coeur or the (very, very touristy) Montmartre area. The view is very nice but it's a long way to go just for that. You can climb the dome of the Pantheon (with a tour, pay a little for the ticket - the Pantheon is included in the Museum Pass) for a lovely view. The Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower are views you'll have too.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
20918 posts

fa,

I agree with the others, your proposed Itinerary is far too ambitious. A few thoughts.....

  • Your profile doesn't list your location, but I assume you're travelling from North America? If so, don't underestimate the effects of jet lag, as it can be significant with some people. Therefore you likely won't get as much done as planned on Day 1 and 2.
  • September can still be very busy in Paris, so there could be significant crowds and queues at some locations. For example, when I was at Versailles last year, the the wait to get into the Chateau was about 1.5 hours and that was WITH a Museum Pass. All the people you can see in the photo are in the queue to enter the Chateau.
  • For your visit to the Chateau at Versailles, you might consider downloading Rick's free audio tour for that, as it makes the visit much more interesting (that's assuming you'll be packing along an iPod or whatever).
  • Be sure to allow lots of time to get from one sightseeing location to another within the city, as that can take some time.
  • For your visit to the Eiffel Tower, you may want to book your tickets online.
  • You'll have to decide how much time to spend in some sights, as they're HUGE. For example, the Louvre has three wings and it would be difficult to see all of them in a few hours. Many travellers tend to focus on the Denon Wing, which is where the Mona Lisa is located, with perhaps a short visit to the Sully Wing.
  • You'll also have to prioritize somewhat at the Army Museum / Napoleon's Tomb, as it's also huge. I was there last July, and focused only on the Tomb, WW-I & WW-II exhibits and even that took more than three hours.
  • Be vigilant for pickpockets and scammers in Paris!
  • Could you clarify the question marks regarding the Musee d'Orsay. It's one of my favourites and I'd absolutely recommend visiting there if possible.
  • One method I often use to plan city touring is to list all of the sights I want to see on a particular day, arranged in order of importance. I start at the top and visit those that I can, and those that I can't get to are added to the list for the next visit.
Posted by Diana
Michigan, United States
260 posts

One more thing to remember...you will very likely fall in love with Paris and want to return again & again so don't try to pack every single thing in your short time there. At least that is what happened to me. So take your time, enjoy and appreciate all that is Paris.

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
5417 posts

Diana and the others are so right - if you rush through Paris, you may not even want to return. Paris deserves some time.

As for scheduling, is there any way you could do the self-tour after the RS tour? You may pick up some advice on the tour that you can use in Paris.

Posted by Diane
Conway, AR
71 posts

Again, thanks for all the replies. I think we will make a list of what the highpoints are we would like to see and go from there. I got really ambitious last evening and booked a tour for the Louvre and also booked a tour for the Notre Dame/Sainte Chappelle. If I decide to change plans, I can cancel within 72 hours of tours. I pretty much decided to not visit Montmartre. Since we really would like to see Versailles, I would prefer spending the rest of our time in the city. and..Ken, we are flying from the US and I know we will be tired when we arrive. I don't sleep well on a plane. When we went to Italy a few years back, I was up over 36 hours before we finally called it a night. I think the first day will be getting our bearings and I think what someone else mentioned, we should make a list and work down. I do want us to experience the most we can, but I don't want us to be exhausted by the end of the week. We have two more weeks of traveling ahead of us. Thanks for all the suggestions.

Posted by Diane
Conway, AR
71 posts

Zoe, changing our pre-tour is not an option. Our air is set. We are meeting the RS tour in Germany. I think we will be fine. When we travelled with our extended family to Italy, we used a lot of suggestions from RS guidebooks. Going into this, I was using RS 3-day trip suggestion for Paris, but I think I will tweak it and kind of "make it our own". My husbands the navigator. We should do well either on foot or by transportation. Really, listing things by priority, considering the logistics, I think we will take the attitude, "we will need to make a return trip." We booked our RS tour almost a year ago, and decided to go ahead a see Paris since we won't be that far. We are really excited and appreciate everyone's suggestions!

Posted by Jim
Seattle
149 posts

For our Europe trips we always buy Rick's books and arrange a place for them in or luggage, but, for us, the most useful Rick books' elements are the cheerfully rough city maps and descriptions which give us notions for planning for optimal locations with a concentration usually on central areas with great, often walkable access to the "important" sights and we think Rick's ecommendations are pretty good guides. For an easy example, we chose a hotel in Madrid about halfway between the Prado Museum and the Royal Palace and could therefore walk to each; therefore, we try always to select such a central locatoion and for our Fall Paris trip we'll be in one of the four hotels on the Ile St Louis, probably very near where the original poster will be staying.

Touring for most of us is expensive, given the sunk cost of airfare alone, but we try to maximize the touring time by ceralizing our locatoon as noted above, paying the extra couple hundred dollars for hotel laundry service unless the laundremat is located wih a couple of streets of our hotel. If, as we think each time, we may not return to our European destination(s), that costly time spent in enjoying these sights is better spent that way than doing laundry.

Rick runs a very large and popular tour business but, as you read the recommended scheduling for sights in his books, the time he recommends to be set aside for these sights is incredibly short, and may often underestimate the time that perhaps should be spent at some sights for a "quality" visit. You should decide on the "must see" sights and try to plan enough time to make these quality visits, even if you can't make every sight Rick recommends in one of those "...if you have three days in Paris, see..."

You'll be in the center of the city so your location has been chosen well. Use the Meto and your time to maximum advantage.

Have a great trip. Perhaps we'll meet on the Ile.

Jim

Posted by Diane
Conway, AR
71 posts

Thanks Jim...How true. Thinking there's just the two of us (and not 15+ with extended family members), we realize we will be able to maneuver ourselves at a little bit faster pace, BUT, in doing so, I think we will pick the highlights out that we really want to see, and if we manage any other sites in the mix, that is great. Like I previously said, I don't want to be totally exhausted by the end of the week, AND, it usually takes me a few days just to get over the jetlag. I do have to say, this forum is an AWESOME way for travelers to hear from others who have already been to these places and I know everyone has there own tolerance regarding length of time spent sightseeing and such, along with different likes and dislikes of sites to see. It is great to hear ideas from everyone and those ideas will help us make some decisions in our trip planning. Thanks!

Posted by June
Edmonton, Alberta
380 posts

Hi Diane. I love open air markets, so I plan touristing around a morning market sometimes. My favorites are President Wilson, Grenelle & Saxe-Breteuil. Google open air markets and have a look. They all have a different feel, some are very multicultural, North African or Asian, or upper class Parisian! I do love to walk along the Seine at varying times of the day, the Pont des Arts has zillions of padlocks, very cool. I usually make a plan for the day, but if I decide half an afternoon needs to be spent sitting at a cafe with a pastis, so be it. I have a small light journal in my day bag, so my cafe sitting involves catching up in my journal. If you have not tried pastis, it is anise tasting, similar to sambuca, but a bit different. Order a Ricard, a brand of pastis, very cheap. A splash of water, it turns cloudy, yummmmy.

I plan my vacation with lots to do, but I let myself go with my energy flow. One sunny afternoon I observed a protest of some kind from an outdoor cafe, the coolest thing Ever. After every group walked by with their banners and maybe drums, many sat down with each other for a drink. I went to the same cafe many times in the late afternoon for a drink of some kind, sometimes staying for dinner.

Enjoy Paris, I return this November for 3 weeks!

Posted by thekingsmountain
16 posts

Wow, you are making me feel very behind the 8 ball on our 1st ever trip to Paris...next month! The only thing booked thus far-airfare. Lodging is what I am tackling now, while deciding our "must see's" as well. We will only be in Paris for Tues am-Fri-midday, travelling to Strasbourg for Fri-Sun then on to Stuttgart to fly out Mon.

one thing a friend of mine (whose been to Paris 5 or so times) mentioned was to not do one of the Seine river cruises but to just use the Batobus to get us from one end of the city to the other on one of our days. We will still get to "cruise" the Seine, but for less money & when we want :) just a thought.

Posted by Jean
Mill Creek, WA, USA
504 posts

I love the Seine river cruise at night - have done it on two trips and recommend it. Tickets are only about 14Euro - well worth an enjoyable evening. Catch one on the top of the hour at night, so the lights will be twinkling on the Eiffel Tower when you're in that area.

I also recommend reserving your tickets to the Eiffel Tower - saves a lot of time. Our preference is to go up while it's still light in the evening and watch the sunset & lights from the top.

My advice would be to have an attitude to "stop & enjoy", not check-the-box on a list. Paris is lovely to "just be" - sitting in an outdoor café, strolling through the Luxembourg Garden, listening to music & adding a lock to one of the bridges, etc. Take a walk in the evening with no destination.

Others may disagree with me, but Versailles is low on my list. I'd rather spend that time exploring more neighborhoods and seeing the Opera House or a few museums.

Posted by Laura
Rick Steves' Europe
7416 posts

You've had lots of replies, which I hope have answered your questions. I'll assume that you're on the right track for the next steps of your research. Bon voyage!

Posted by Diane
Conway, AR
71 posts

To me, a big part of the journey is in the planning. Hearing suggestions from people helps a lot. I know we all have our own likes and dislikes but it helps rule out things to see, or even gives me ideas of what I might want to add to my trip. I am a list person, so even if I plan to see a particular place or places in one day, on the side I know I will have a list of other things to see or do if the time allows. Call it smart or call it obsessive. This forum has been a big help, especially in realizing we won't see everything on our first visit, but that's ok. It will just be another reason to make another visit in the future:)

Posted by Susan
Marin County/San Francisco
3661 posts

"Others may disagree with me, but Versailles is low on my list"

Yep, I disagree. Versailles is high on my list. I love Paris and can never spend enough time there ... but I also love Versailles, both the palace and the grounds. It's a wonderful and amazing place... especially if you know some of the history. Well worth a day there (but not on the weekend).

Posted by Ruthie
USA Midwest
38 posts

Fa5 . . . I've only had one, 5-day trip to Paris earlier this year and feel like it's a bit presumptuous of me to be giving anyone advice. But I fell in love with Paris and keep coming back to this forum just to read others' questions and discussions, thinking of it as my post-Paris therapy. Well, as others suggested, reading your itinerary made me a little tired and anxious; and like others, I'm afraid if you try to cram it all in, you won't have time to just enjoy Paris. (I have the impression you're trying to scale back a bit, so that's good!) Anyway, I'll be even more presumptuous and suggest that you take a look at this thread which contains a compendium of wonderful suggestions from great folks on this forum for just being in Paris: https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/france/soaking-up-paris#top In Trip Reports, I posted what I did in my 5 days and maybe that would give you some ideas. I'm a pretty energetic person but not for a moment do I regret not trying to do-it-all in the 5 days that I had. I'm plotting my return. I hope your time there is as magical as mine.

Posted by Diane
Conway, AR
71 posts

Oh my! Ruthie, I enjoyed your information and read thru your paris visit. I think I need to reread and take better notes. I need to look into the photo tour you spoke of. I love to take pictures. I am an amateur but am known to take thousands of pics on a 10 day vacation. Also, I hadn't read info on the bikes. That might be something for us to consider, even though we do like to walk. It's not unusual for us to cover over 13 miles in a day. Also, I might need to start another post, but do you think it's necessary to go up the Eiffel Tower during the day AND at night? My hope is to maybe get up there at dusk, but not knowing how long we will will stand in line, it might not work out that we are up there in daylight. I am hoping to get advance tickets online. Also, we are going to do a 2 hr group tour of the Louvre. I think that will be sufficient for us. We are not really into museums. We love history and the outdoors. We are looking forward to visiting the gardens at Versailles and if we can, Luxembourg and Tuileries. But a thought that came across while I was reading thru your review, I wonder if they will still be pretty in September? The one thing I have learned from this forum is that I should not try to squeeze in everything, and really enjoy the city along the way:)

Posted by Susan
Marin County/San Francisco
3661 posts

fa, I highly recommend taking some time to visit the Luxembourg Gardens... anytime of the year. It's my favorite place in Paris and well worth your time.
We always rent bikes at Versailles (by the Grand Canal) and really enjoy riding all over the grounds.
Fat Tire in Paris also does fun bike tours in Paris, to Giverny and to Versailles.

Posted by Bill
Denver, CO
7 posts

Diane,
My wife and spent 5 days in Paris in August. We arrived on a Monday morning and left Saturday morning. You will love it and will want to go back just like us. Here are some thought about what worked for us.

Day 1 of your itinerary looks good. That is a good walk and walking when you get there after the plane ride is good.. And we enjoyed just walking around Paris enjoying the city as much as anything else.

Day 2 is way too aggressive. Doing 2-4 things a day is probably all you can do. Plan on walking 5 miles or so a day even using the Metro.

Walking the Champs really was no big deal. But the Arch de Triumphe is a must do. Find a market street near your hotel to save time over Rue Cler.

We did the Musee d'Orsay and Louvre in the evening (around 6:30pm-7:00pm). Wed. night for Louvre and Thurs. night for the Orsay. Check Rick's guidebook to verify the evening days and times. We walked right in like we owned the place, no crowds. Find ahead of time the galleries you want to see in the Louvre . Go to the top of Musee d'Orsay and work your way down. The impressionist paintings on the top floor were awesome.

We did not really like Versailles. It was too hot and every room was like the last room only slightly different. We got there around 9:15 in the morning and waited an hour to get in even with museum passes. We wished we had spent that time in Paris.

You HAVE to do the river cruise. Doing it from Vedettes du Pont Neuf will be perfect. Do it as the sun is going down so you can see the lights of the city. We did the cruise on our last night there and it was the highlight of our 2 week France trip.

Make like the Parisian's and eat at outdoor cafe's. Find bakeries and cheese shops and make a picnic lunch. Walk through garden's. The Tuileries Gardens are great. Explore the booksellers along the Seine River. Have the thickest most decadent hot chocolate anywhere at Angelina's on the Rue de Rivoli which is down from the Louvre.

Finally, have fun and enjoy the city.
Bill

Posted by Holly
Durham, NC, USA
294 posts

Just a quick follow-up to all the comments above: As others have said, Day 2 looks WAY too busy - I'd suggest picking 2, maybe 3, things to do, hopefully somewhat near each other. Also, I think the X-day lists in the RS books are too busy and don't allow enough time at each place - I usually double whatever amount of time he lists. Whatever you decide - have fun (and remember you'll be back!) PS - I love Ruthie's comment about all of us being a post-Paris therapy group!

Posted by Diane
Conway, AR
71 posts

This forum is awesome! It really helps to hear from people who have travelled to places and get their insight. I have over four months to add or make changes ...so far, this is what we tentatively have scheduled:
Monday- arrive in morning; get euros, any maps, and arrive at hotel; drop off luggage
-(Afternoon) walk around IIe de la Cite (close to our hotel); ROUGHLY follow RS Historic Paris Walk
-if able to get tickets, visit Eiffel Tower in the pm
Tuesday-scheduled tour of Notre Dame/St Chapelle in the am
-(Afternoon) visit Arch de Triumph area
-Eiffel Tower, if not seen on Monday
-will add something else here, even if it's just walking around enjoying the city
Wednesday-visit Versailles & gardens
-(PM) ?
Thursday-scheduled a tour of the Louvre in morning
-Tuileries Gardens
-Luxembourg Gardens
-?
Friday-take morning train to to meet RS Tour in Trier, Germany

We also have tickets for a 1:30 or later seine cruise (any day) on the Vedettes du Pont Neuf boat cruise. Thinking of maybe doing this late afternoon on Monday

We are also considering a nighttime My Fat Bike Tour (either Tuesday or Thursday). From what I've read, reservations are not necessary. This would include a one hour nighttime Seine river cruise.

Regarding the Eiffel Tower, we are able to climb the stairs, so not sure if we need advance tickets?? At least we have some things scheduled and we can work around the rest of our time. We don't want to be exhausted by the time we meet for our two week RS tour.

Posted by Nancy
Corvallis OR
1891 posts

I visited the Luxembourg gardens in late August and it was beautiful, different flowers than in spring or early summer but I love late summer/autumn flowers so I loved it.

Posted by Laura B
San Francisco
724 posts

You say you are not really into museums -- just realize that the Parisian police will NOT arrest you if you skip the Louvre, and decide for yourself whether the museum tour is your best use of 2-3 hours. As others have noted, Wednesday evening the Louvre is open and may be less crowded and chaotic.

Posted by Diane
Conway, AR
71 posts

Laura you are right. Lol! I think we will be fine seeing the Louvre. We do have a tour scheduled. If we decide to change our mind, we can cancel up to 72 hrs before hand. A few years back we visited the Uffizi in Florence; our son, who was 16 at the time, floored us by answering questions our guide asked, regarding pieces of art in the gallery. He had learned info from his school. (We are from small town USA.)...He will not be with us on this trip! Lol!

Posted by Wray
Boston, ma, usa
257 posts

I'm a walker and I love to look at the architecture and watch people. I don't build a lot of museum time into my vacations; ie, 2 hours per day in a museum at the most for me…and I'm an art person! Day 2: So, that being said, I have done your walk from the Tuileries to the Arc de Triomphe. If you get did tired, you could take a short metro ride. I'd rather stop in a cafe for a glass of wine and people watching or a pattiserie--amazing sweets. I'd drop everything on the other side of the Seine and do your walk from the Tuileries to the Arc de Triomphe. If it gets boring on the Champs Elysee move a block to your right and there are wonderful old, expensive antique shops, also I believe Holland's house, etc. I can't be more specific because I just walk and know the area, like home, I don't pay attention to the names of the streets. In addition, there is a real neighborhood market about a 5-10 minute walk from the Arc on Rue de Poncelet, starting just off Ave de Ternes. This is a real French neighborhood. Park Monceau is a lovely little park as well! Rue Cler is somewhere to go if you want to see Americans, which I don't when I'm on vacation. I went to Paris a number of times before going to the Orsay Museum, but if you just read Monuments Men, you might want to go in for the old RR station affect and then walk by the Jeu de Pomme. I prefer the Rhodin Museum, quick and easy. I've yet to go to Napoleon's tomb. He's dead and not going anywhere. Day 3: good. Day 4: Louvre and Montmartre-Sacre Couer for the view and check out the touristy old village area behind it. On an evening, find a nice view of the Eiffel Tower lit up at night, walk along the Seine. However, I think when you get to Paris you will realize it doesn't matter what you see, if anything…it is the spirit of the place that is captivating! You will return to Paris. Have fun.

Posted by Michelle
Iowa
61 posts

Regarding the Eiffel tower I would go up during the day (so you can see the view from the top), then going back at night to see it light up. I personally like to get a bottle of wine and sit in one of the parks to enjoy the show at night. It would be awesome to do a picnic as well.
I would second using the night time hours for the Lourve and Musee d'Orsay. I am not a big art person but thought that the Orsay was awesome because of the building. I would research what you want to see and how to get there. You did not mention how many people you are travelling with, but make sure that everyone is getting to see what they really want to, and can opt out of stuff that is not interesting to them. You can always drop someone at a bakery/cafe for a few hours while you check out the Louvre and come pick them up afterwards.
Versailles is kind of like the leaning tower of Pisa, you have to see it, but there is no reason to go back (try in the morning when it isn't hot and crowded).
Michelle

Posted by Diane
Conway, AR
71 posts

Thanks for all up the insight. Wray, I loved your "Napoleon" comment:). I think we will be happy with whatever we do. Michelle, thanks for your info too. It will just be me and my husband on this trip. He will be happy with whatever is planned. We pretty much like the same things. That's a good thing, right? Lol! I don't know how hard it will be to schedule, buy my hope is to do the Eiffel Tower so we can be up there part of daylight and at night.

Posted by Claudia
Land of La
2473 posts

Another suggestion as you plan for your trip is to check out Paris food blogs. I find food blogs very helpful when I travel.
Have a wonderful first time visit. You'll go back so be sure not to rush this time around. Stroll and enjoy.

Posted by Sarah
Fallbrook, CA, USA
44 posts

Oh, my gosh! Too much!! My husband and I have been to Paris and the surrounding area many times and I still recall the overwhelming experience of our first trip. The antiquity of the city knocks you off your feet. And, regarding feet: they will get VERY tired. You must act like Parisians while there and take breaks to have an espresso, a glass of wine or beer and people watch. The stress of just finding your way, even using the Metro, is daunting. Please pair down your days to allow relaxation. It is very easy to walk in the wrong direction and not be able to ask someone to help you, so take it easy. You cannot do more than one or two museums a day, especially not the the Louvre. When we go to Paris we usually spend an entire DAY in the Louvre, and sometimes on only one floor. Unless you and your husband like standing on marble for three hours, consider doing the Louvre on your own. Versailles is fascinating and HUGE!!!!! That alone will take a day, with its travel to and from included. You will see the Eiffel Tower every night from just about anyplace you are in Paris. Seeing Paris from the top of the Eiffel is priceless, so go there in the daytime. It will help orient you too. By the way, Paris is much bigger than it looks on your map. And you know those historic buildings and monuments that seem to orient you to the map? You may walk right by one of them and not know you passed it. Best advice: pare down your itinerary, follow Rick's suggestions and give yourselves time to enjoy the Parisian way of life. Oh, and very comfortable shoes!

Posted by Diane
Conway, AR
71 posts

Thanks all! Yes, I think we will pare it down. So far,

Day 1) arrive, get our bearings, our room, and walk around. Maybe try to walk up Eiffel Tower (stairs)if we are up to it ( no pun intended)
Day2) AM we have a combined tour scheduled for the Notre Dame and Saint Chapelle. The afternoon we will prob see the Arc du Triomphe.
Day 3) Palace of Versailles and the gardens
Day3). Am 2 hr scheduled tour of The Louvre
Day 4) Travel on to Germany

We have nothing really scheduled in the evenings or Thursday afternoon. I will have a list of possible things to see (if time allows); of course we would want to see Eiffel Tower lit up at night, if not done so already. We may take a night ride bike tour, no reservations needed, and if weather allows. I think we have pared it done considerably and do realize meals and transportation will play into what we do. If nothing else, this forum has helped me see that it would be tough to get see it all in one trip.

Posted by debbiesue22006
43 posts

Diane,
I totally get the overwhelmed feeling. We are planning Italy, and I am right there with you. Too much, too few days, too much to think about. You have gotten tons of good advice, but I have to throw in something else--you don't need a "tour" of the Eiffel Tower, but you DO, ABSOLUTELY, need to book your tickets online. You use a CC#; you get a confirmation number and a time--and my suggestion is to go early, because it tends to get cloudy as the day goes on and sometimes your view is obstructed. Also, if there are too many people up on the upper stages (there are 2 stages, reachable by elevator--no need to climb all those stairs unless you just want to work off your macarons and croissants), sometimes the uppermost stage gets temporarily "full" and no one is allowed up. The most amazing moment of the Eiffel Tower day was when we literally walked past hundreds of people in line, all snaked around the "legs" of the tower, and presented our reserved tickets to the girl at the front of the "reserved" line. People were trying to figure out who we were that we had such amazing VIP treatment. :)

Then later, take the bateau-mouche at sunset and see the Eiffel all lit up. If you have to go back up, then do, but it's not really necessary....

You will return to Paris. I've been 5 times. :)

Bon voyage!
Debbie

Posted by debbie
phoenix, az, usa
31 posts

You may want to consider a Paris walking tour. In December 2012 we used Paris Greeter and the experience was superb. Paris greeter is an organization of volunteers providing walking tours of the City of Light. There website is http://parisiendunjour.fr. We thoroughly enjoyed the experience during our stay so much we booked a second walking tour with the same guide. They accept donations so cost is not a concern. Enjoy Paris, I can't wait to return. Bon Voyage.

Posted by Diane
Conway, AR
71 posts

Thank you DebbiesSue. Not sure if we will chance it and just do the stairs at the Eiffel Tower. Will have to think on that. The tickets aren't online yet, so we have time to decide. And Debbie, I will look into the Paris walk tour. Not sure if that's something we will be interested in, but it's good to know and I will research:)

Posted by Sharon
TX
514 posts

You will adore Paris. I, too, love the Rodin Museum. Small house and lovely gardens filled with his work. Enjoy your stay in Paris and your RS tour. We've been on two RS tours. Loved every minute.

Posted by deblentz
2 posts

I'm loving these replies here, as my hubby and I are taking our first trip to Europe in August, and we are spending the last 4 days of the trip in Paris. I plan on taking my time, seeing only a couple of things here and there (Eiffel Tower, a cathedral or two) and just experiencing Paris itself. One note: I will be skipping the Rodin Museum entirely, as we have one of our own nearby in Goldendale, WA, in the middle of nowhere (south central Washington State). It's the Maryhill Museum, which has an extensive Rodin collection. It is also next to a WW I monument that is a concrete replica of Stonehenge, or as we call it, Concretehenge! I hope you all come see it on this side of the US: the Columbia Gorge is a truly beautiful area!