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Monday in Paris; May Day

I'm going to arrive for my tour in Paris on April 30, and since it's a Monday, I fear that nothing will be open that day.
The following day is Tuesday, May 1, which is the Labor Day holiday, so again, I'm afraid everything will be closed (our tour starts at dinner that evening). I'm just trying to plan something to do on Monday and Tuesday, before our tour starts.

Will the trains and buses run on May 1?

Does anyone have any suggestions for things to do those 2 days? I guess we could hire a private tour guide to show us around....


Posted by
8293 posts

The Louvre and the Pompidou are open on Mondays. The Jaquemart-Andre Museum is open every day of the year. You could visit the St. Denis Basilica on April 30. Metro and buses will be running on holiday schedules May 1, so consult their websites. You could take a Seine cruise or visit the Pere Lachaise Cemetary on May 1. Not to worry .... you will find the time passing. And on May 1 there will be people everywhere selling little bouquets of Lily of the Valley (Muguets des Bois). Buy some.

Posted by
2466 posts

Buses will be on the Sunday schedule. If a manif' is scheduled don't bet on the buses.
Metro will be on the Sunday schedule.
Other than that, most everything will be closed.
Walk around the parks and buy "muguet des bois" - don't spend a fortune.
If your dinner is all set, you can relax.

Posted by
1103 posts

On our previous trip to Paris (also before a RS tour), we walked around the Pere Lachaise cemetery on our arrival day. It was nice being outdoors and getting some exercise after the overnight plane flight. We are thinking of doing this again on our upcoming trip, as we are arriving in Paris on 5/1/18.

Posted by
14157 posts

Are you doing an RS tour? Where are you staying? I ask so we can point you to things in your neighborhood for Monday afternoon when you are fighting jet lag.

I loved seeing all the people selling the small Muguet bouquets last May 1! Lots of local charities seem to use them for fund-raising and it was very cool to see the local ambulance/firefighters with tables set up to sell them.

I would probably not go with a private tour guide.

There are Paris Walks that are offered on May 1 as well. I love these walks - inexpensive, no booking needed - you just turn up and pay the guide.

Posted by
14580 posts

I'll be arriving in Paris on May Day. This will be a new experience as I've never been to Paris on May Day. If May Day there is anything like Berlin, where I was in 2014 on May Day, I expect it to be quieter/deader than on a Sunday.

Posted by
2616 posts

I arrived in Paris on a Monday and was out exploring by noon; got accustomed to the metro, going first to the Pompidou, then toured Notre Dame & the Conciergerie, and explored a bit of my neighborhood in the 6th before having dinner and an early bedtime. Other suggestions for visiting Pere Lachaise and the Louvre are excellent, and if you're a museum-goer you may want to check individual websites to see if they're open on May 1. Any interest in Versailles?

Posted by
2 posts

I was happy to see your post because my wife and I are facing the same situation as you. On our last visit to Paris we used the Hop On, Hop Off bus to see some the main sights on our arrival day. You can of course get on and off the bus as often as you like, but we just rode the loop. This worked well for us because we were pretty much wasted after the long flight, but did not want to totally surrender to jet lag. So it gave us something to do that did not require a lot of energy. If you are new to Paris I think it is a good option.

As for May 1, I am not sure what we will do. I understand that transit will be running but may be disrupted by parade routes and demonstrations that are part of the festivities. I think we will either look for a modest itinerary of nearby attractions in Montmartre, or a guided tour. I will look forward to other suggestions that show up on this thread.

By the way, are you the Marian that I see on the roster of our Paris and the Heart of France tour beginning May 1? If so, I am the Rob that appears a view places below your name on that list, and I look forward to meeting you.

Posted by
9 posts

Hi, Rob --- Yes, we will be on the tour with you and Norma. Looking forward to it! I'm going to read the Rick Steves Tour Book and find all the places that are open on Mondays (and the suggestions on this post). We've been there before - my husband took me on a surprise trip to Paris after my chemotherapy was over in 1998--we were the "Trip of the Century" in the travel section of the Houston newspaper at the turn of the century! Here is the story from the Chronicle (get tissues ready...):

After I finished chemotherapy for breast cancer last year, my husband, ``Saint" Paul, wanted to do something special for me and make it a surprise And did he ever!
Paul (and a few co-conspirators) showed up at my office with a package and a bouquet of roses. In the package were some silk scarves, a beret, our passports and airline tickets to Paris! I thought I would have at least a day to prepare, but nooooo! Paul had already packed my suitcases, and the flight was leaving in three hours.
My co-workers gathered around my office, cheering as we left. We went downstairs where a stretch limousine - stocked with champagne - was waiting to take us to the airport. Soon we were off to Paris.
I'll admit I was a little nervous getting on an airplane with absolutely no idea what was in my suitcase. But Paul had done a pretty good job of packing. And he had called my boss a few weeks before to make sure it was OK for me to be away from the office. Everyone knew about it - except me!
In Paris, we saw the Louvre, Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower, Musee d' Orsay and more. It was quite a trip, but more than that, Paul is quite a husband
P.S.: The doctors say there is no more sign of cancer.

Posted by
9 posts

I wonder if we can get our Museum passes early, so we won't have to pay again to go to the museums on Monday and Tuesday. Will the Rick Steves tour guide allow that?

Posted by
14157 posts

For both you and Rob...this is a wonderful tour!! Who's your guide? I had Rebecca and enjoyed it thoroughly.

I don't think you can get your Museum Passes early and they are just 2-day passes anyway so you'd need them Wed/Thur. The days have to run after each other so you couldn't use it on Monday and again on Wednesday if that makes sense.

Are you staying at l'Empereur? If so, on your arrival day I would walk over to the Champ de Mars, walk down the garden area to the Eiffel Tower and then back along the Seine. If you want to do a museum you'll be right across the street to Les Invalides and Napoleon's tomb. It is usually open on Mondays and the website indicates it is open April 30.

On Tuesday, May 1 consider going to Notre Dame - and go inside. The church will be open on May 1. You can also consider going to the Musee Jacquemart-Andre which is open May 1. It is not covered by the Museum Pass anyway.

The Ecole Militaire Metro stop has a manned window so it is easy to buy Metro tickets there if you don't want to try the machine. Be sure to greet the attendant with a Bonjour before you start your transaction, even if you think you are not pronouncing it correctly!

Congrats on your health victory!

Posted by
37 posts

FYI- The Pere Lachaise cemetary will be closed on May 1st according to their website.

We will be in Paris too on May 1st, but it will be the last day of our vacation. We're going to disney because I'm a fanatic. For Monday, we booked the "best kept secrets" tour with Airbnb experiences for the AM, and then we'll do Sacre Coeur and Eiffel Tour.

Posted by
1103 posts


I looked at the website for Pere Lachaise cemetery, and they appear to be open every day.

  • Bob
Posted by
12172 posts

I'm not positive but I think Republic is the usual place labor likes to (edit:) gather. There aren't any major sights near there. On May 1st, I'd probably avoid the area.

As I recall, I was staying near there last year, May 2017. I didn't witness any rioting but I saw the aftermath and some locals told me Republic was where labor regularly scheduled their manifestations. On May 1st, they're pretty much mandatory.

Posted by
776 posts

"Republic is the usual place labor likes to riot"

Unfortunate word choice. The display at Republique is just what it's called in French . . . a manifestation.
Most years there's music, food wagons, balloons and all sorts of other entertainment. For you Americans, in case you don't know, May 1, began as a tribute to the sacrifice of Chicago's Haymarket martyrs. Good project for you all to read up on and learn why May 1 is still not celebrated as a holiday in the US although it is in much of the rest of the world.

If there are riots they're not caused by the demonstrators but by young thugs looking for trouble.

Posted by
2466 posts

You're in luck - most of the museums are open that day.
And if you check your admission tickets, you'll save money.
I don't see why RS should have a monopoly on the tickets.

Posted by
2466 posts

There will probably be a manifestion - if so, you just cross the street.
No other things are happening.
The HO-HO buses are running.
The cruise boats are running.

Posted by
8164 posts

I haven't looked up 'most of the museums' but the Louvre and d'Orsay are closed on May 1 which is the most reliably shut down day in France outside of Jan 1 and Dec 25. There are a few things open like Jacquemart Andre and the Eiffel Tower and the river cruises and the parks, but you should all assume that everything is closed unless you check and find that the thing you are interested in is open. We arrived 30 years or so ago in Venice on May 1 not knowing about the importance of this day. I will remember lugging our bags on foot for a mile and a half to our hotel since the Vaporetti were not running. At least in Paris transport does not shut down on holidays.

Posted by
1103 posts

We are arriving in Paris on May 1, 2018. A few days ago, we visited the Met in New York and saw the special exhibit: Public Parks, Private Gardens - Paris to Provence.

Many of the works portrayed scenes of various parks in Paris. We were especially impressed with the paintings of Parc Monceau, so much so that we will visit that park on Tuesday.

Posted by
18 posts

We were just in Paris. One of our favorite activities was a "With Locals" food tour with Carlos. He did a food tour with just us (3 of us). He made it fit our likes and was a wonderful guide. A great taste of Paris! We also did a dinner with Jean Yves. He is a chef who does nightly dinners in his home. It is a pre-fix menu with wine for each course. His website is You can also find him on Trip Advisor and other sites with travel activities. Really enjoyable.