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Input requested on my Paris Itinerary for late May

  • Just edited my previous post's title to include "Paris" and now the post seems to have disappeared! (Thanks to the 2 folks who previously replied! I did see your comments!)

First visit to Paris for my husband and me in late May. We have been fine tuning the itinerary, but this is flexible and open to changes. I appreciate all suggestions! :) We don't want to overdo it - don't want museum overkill. We love good food so rec's welcome, and would like to find a place to do some wine tasting, maybe a good wine bar in town that has lots of local/regional options for flights or half-glasses (to try more). Also, any craft beer rec's for my husband?

Arrive CDG, taxi to hotel (St. Germain area)
Dinner - possibly Bouillon Racine?
Depending on energy level - night cruise on Seine or walk around/photograph Notre Dame

Notre Dame + tower climb (Duck the Line app)
I'le Saint Louis - Lunch (recs?)
Arc de Triomphe (maybe)
Eiffel Tower - Trocadero, Champ de Mars - 4:30pm reserved tickets to go up
9-11pm - Paris Ghost Tour (booked)

Marche aux Fleurs - bird market
Musee d'Orsay
Orangerie (brief/see Monets)
Possible - Evening concert at Saint Chappelle (could also do Monday)

AM - Louve, Tuileries, etc.
PM - Montmarte (free walking tour 2:30pm or 5pm), Sacre Coeur
Sunset cruise on Seine (if not Friday) or Saint Chappelle concert (if not Sunday)

Weather permitting, sunrise photography @ Trocadero/Eiffel
Daytime = flexible - possible 10am food tour, possible 2:30pm Paris Walks French Revolution tour
6pm - Catacombs
8pm - reservation at Le Severo (thoughts?)

Fully flexible day
Possibilities include - Versailles day trip, Marmottan Monet Museum, Army Museum, Night visit @ Louve, or TBD
7pm - reservation at Les Papilles (may keep or cancel depending on our whim)

AM - St. Germain, Jardin Luxembourg, Latin Quarter as desired
11am - to CDG, 2:30pm flight to Venice

Posted by
1954 posts

When you're browsing for restaurants or bistros on the Ile St. Louis, and elsewhere, steer towards places that are crowded with French speakers and away from places that are not full -- the spots with a lot of tablecloths and candles and leather are there to lure/appeal to Brits and Americans. Parisians today like a sparer decor and more daring menus.

Posted by
67 posts

Dang it, I am going to miss the Bread Festival - that would have been amazing. Oh well! We don't arrive until May 24th.

Posted by
10118 posts

I will just encourage you to go to Les Papilles. We have loved our meals there!

Posted by
5262 posts

I don't know the restaurants but your sightseeing seems well organized and paced. You're not trying to do too much each day. On Friday, does your flight land in the afternoon? If it lands in the morning, and the weather's decent, you may want to do some exploring on foot to stay awake till an early dinner before zonking out for the night. That will give you the best chance of starting Tuesday fresh and relatively adjusted to the time change. Maybe an afternoon cruise Friday instead of evening?

Posted by
67 posts

Sadly, we land at CDG at 4:30pm, after leaving Portland, OR at 7:30pm Pacific time Thursday. We are really just hoping not to pass out immediately! Beyond eating something, we don't have much expectation for Friday night. We'll play it by ear.

Posted by
5262 posts

Wow, that's a long time getting there! I usually fly from Seattle overnight and arrive in the morning. With your arrival time, I'd just walk around my hotel neighborhood, have an early dinner with some wine, and try to sleep all night. It might be hard to stay awake on a cruise. You don't want to miss your surroundings. Maybe put this off till Monday or another day or evening, you don't have to arrange in advance.

Posted by
44 posts

That seems like a really reasonable itinerary, and if it's full of things you're interested in, go for it! I think the open/flexible day on Wednesday is a great idea, too. We try to schedule in some days like that because we almost always find something that strikes our fancy but doesn't fit in pre-set plans for other days. (And sometimes we just need a break.)

I would be wary of a Seine night cruise on the first evening: I'd hate to spend the € 20 just to take a nap on a boat. I almost always have to spend that time walking around if I want to stay awake.

Is your husband interested in Belgian ale? I ask because my experience--as a bona fide beer lover--is that craft beer in France tends to be pretty derivative of American craft beer tastes and cultures. I'm not sure what he'd find there that he hasn't already had here. When I'm in France, I usually enjoy Belgian ales by the bottle. You can also find them on tap at Bouillon Racine, an art-nouveau brasserie that's great for dinner:

Posted by
67 posts

Dick - we change planes in Rejkavik (sp?), using Alaska Air miles for the inbound flight. Long day of travel but we will tough it out.

Philip - thanks for confirming my dinner spot on arrival day haha, was thinking Bouillon Racine already and now I know it'll be good for beer for my husband!

Yeah... Taking the boat cruise off the table for arrival night, good suggestions from you both.

Posted by
738 posts

Your ? for the Arc d’Triomphe might be a good caution fot Saturday, since the Jeune Jites demonstrations seem to be on Saturdays in that area. Just keep that in mind.

Posted by
67 posts

Yes we will definitely get a museum pass, 4 or 6 day, probably the 6 day.

Posted by
1845 posts

You have a busy but workable schedule. I can tell you’ve put a lot of thought in it. I’m not sure you can squeeze it in, but consider visiting Pere LaChaise cemetery. We also loved our Citroen 2CV night tour.

Posted by
8867 posts

Having the museum pass is definitely handy. You can pop in and out of museums without worrying if you're getting your money's worth, and if you need a bathroom it's sometimes easier to find a museum to use one than finding one elsewhere.

Another day trip possibility would be Giverny, especially if you love Monet, and it sounds like you do. It's an easy train ride to Vernon, then a short bus ride to Giverny. The water gardens will make you feel like you have stepped into a Monet painting.

Your trip sounds great.

Posted by
15045 posts

Sunset on May 24 is at 9.36 and gets later by a minute each day, and long dusk hours. The Eiffel Tower lights should begin to go on around 10 pm and the first "twinkling" would be at 11 pm. I don't know how late the Seine cruises are, but if you want to see Paris after dark, you wouldn't want to board before 10 pm. The best is Les Vedettes du Pont Neuf. You could easily go to a concert at Sainte Chapelle and take the cruise (a short walk away) afterward.

Monday isn't the best day for the Louvre because the Orsay is closed (and vice versa for the Orsay) and it's often more crowded than other days. Consider an evening visit on Wed or Thurs when crowds are fewer. I doubt crowds are fewer on the Orsay's evening (Thurs?), it's just too small for the all-too-popular Impressionist collections.

As someone else said, if you are Monet fans, the Marmottan is a better choice than the Orangerie, and the downstairs collections at the Orangerie are great.

The views from the Arc de Triomphe are nice, but the best views of the city are from Tour Montparnasse, and not just because it's the one place in Paris that Tour Montparnasse doesn't spoil the view.

Sunday is a good day to visit one or more of the churches on the Left Bank that have organ recitals in the morning or early pm. There's usually a recital at Notre Dame on Sunday around 4 pm. Get there at least 30 minutes early for seats. You can't understand organ music until you've heard it a cathedral.

Loved the Ghost Tour. Hope you do too.

Posted by
276 posts

Hi Stacey,
I'm going about the same time as you (fingers crossed for great spring weather). As others have said, I think the pace of your itinerary sounds pretty good/not crazy full like so many first-timers :-). Since you say you're foodies and don't want museum overload, I'd suggest fitting in one or two visits for some of the markets, which are fabulous for picking up a picnic lunch, and either picnicking or strolling through parks and gardens at least a few times (the flowers should be gorgeous that time of year). Don't travel across town just to get to a market, since there are so many throughout city, but some of my faves: Marche Bastille (aka Richard Lenoir) in the 11th, open Thurs and Sun; Marche Saxe-Breteuil in the 7th (glorious view of the Eiffel Tower), open Thurs and Sat; Marche President Wilson in the 16th, open Wed and Sat.
In addition to Jardin Luxembourg, Parc Monceau in the 8th is my favorite. If you go to Musee Marmottan, allow time to stroll through the lovely Park Ranelagh across the street. If you do go to the Army Museum (which I recommend!), if it's a nice day you also might visit the garden at Musee de Rodin -- garden is 2 or 3 euros and full of Rodin sculptures.
I love the Seine cruises, but not for first night. I'd plan to explore your neighborhood and walk along the river. I always recommend, especially for first view of Notre Dame, rather than approaching from the front (where the crowds of people can overwhelm the view of church), approach it from side/back by walking down Rue des Bernardins to Pont/Quai de l'Arveveche for a stunning view of side and back of Notre Dame (there's a lovely small garden in back). I highly recommend spending a little time at the Memorial to the martyrs of the deportation, which honors those, mostly Jewish, who were taken from their homes during WWII and sent to work or concentration camps. It's an outdoor spot and extremely moving.
You won't struggle to find fabulous boulangeries and patisseries in St. Germain area, but a few of my favorites: Gerard Mulot, Pain Poilane, Eric Kayser, and perhps my favorite - Carton >> there's on on rue de Buci and not sure if still there, but also on Blvd. St. Germain where marche Mutualite takes place.
Have a great trip!

Posted by
67 posts

Thanks to all for the great tips and suggestions. I'm adding Giverny to the list of possible flex day ideas, I know I'd love to see the garden if we feel like taking a jaunt outside of Paris. I also didn't think about the Louve being more crowded when Orsay is closed so maybe we'll move some things around. I definitely plan to find a local market and check out tons of boulangeries/patisseries, so I appreciate the specific recommendations. For the night cruise, timing will depend on if my husband prefers to be on the water in the "golden hour" around sunset or after (for photography), we are looking at 9:15, 9:45, or 10:15 departures.

Posted by
63 posts

Saturday, your first full day, you're going to be jetlagged. Make that a day for just walking around lookin' at stuff.
Saturday the Louvre and Eiffel will be jammed.
Have some slow paced strolling instead.

Posted by
94 posts

Hi Stacey!
We'll be in Paris late July, staying in St. Germain, so your thread is timely and helpful! I'm intrigued by the Paris ghost tour, which company? My husband and I always like to do a haunted / ghost tour when we travel. Have a great trip!

Posted by
14 posts

Stacey. So nice to see your itinerary. My son and I arrive on May 26th, and I am a bit overwhelmed trying to finalize our trip schedule. Soon many things on the wish list.

Posted by
67 posts

danek2 - Hope we have great weather for our trips, glad if my itinerary can help you (or others), I have spent a lot of time on it!

Posted by
280 posts

By the time you land CDG at 4:30, deplane and go thru passport control (I’ve breezed through and I’ve also stood in line an hour), get to the city and check into your hotel, you’ll be lucky if it’s 7-7:30. Take a nice walk around, eat something light and go to bed early so you can adjust your body clock. Then you’ll be ready to face your first day refreshed. Your itinerary is bold but doable. I’m leaving Monday and have a ticket to the Lumières exhibit of Van Gogh and ticket to the Louis Vuitton Museum if only to see the building and impressionist art exhibit.

Have fun!

Posted by
511 posts

Lots of good advice here. Only thing I see missing is a caution that you probably won't want to do the Notre Dame Tower climb and the Arc de Triomphe climb on the same day.

Posted by
67 posts

Marty, good point. I think we'll fit in the Arc some other time.