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Our Paris plans

I had posted this elsewhere but was wondering if anyone could give me feedback on our Paris plans. Since we are taking my Mom with us, I don't want to have days that are too full but I don't want to miss the essentials either. We are me 43, hubby 46 with a knee replacement but is better now (had problems since he was 9) and my Mom who is 70 but in good health but does tire a bit after super long days.

thank you for any and all advice.

Plans while visiting in Paris
Just thought I would post our tentative plans for Paris this early November. We are traveling through Alsace, Normandie and The Loire for 2 weeks prior and the coming to Paris for 10 nights. Thought I would get your opinions. We know the weather will be cooler but we are Canadian so no problem there. I know I put Eiffel tower in more than once....We are not sure yet what day it will be but it will be once.

Day 1- Arrive in Paris and check into our apartment in the 7th, get some groceries and wander the neighbourhood maybe see the Eiffel lit up at night.

Day 2 - Day one of our Hop on Hop off tour of Paris. with planned stops at Trocadéro and Place de la Bastille...We plan on stopping anywhere we please that is not scheduled for later.... .Maybe go up the Eiffel at night or a Seine Cruise

Day 3 but it’s day 2 of the Hop on/off Do the loops that we did not do yesterday. Stops where we please and finish the day in the St Germain area by mid-afternoon.....See St Sulpice Church and Luxembourg gardens. Explore and eat dinner in the St Germain area.

Day 4 to 10 are not in any order....will be dictated by weather and mood.

Day 4 Head to Père Lachaise to stroll around and see some famous dead people. I have wanted to visit here since I was a teen (many moons ago). In the afternoon and evening head to Montmartre and visit Sacré Coeur and the area around. Have dinner in this area as well.....

Day 5 (day one of 6 day museum pass.....for convenience and to skip lines) Musee D'Orsay in the morning. By late afternoon or early evening stroll along Les Champs Elysées and to top things off. go to the top of l'arche de Triomphe.

Day 6 Notre Dame, Ile Saint Louis, Sainte Chapelle and area. Ice Cream at Berthillon.....explore near the seine. Maybe a Seine Cruise that evening? Maybe climb the Eiffel....?

Day 7 Leave early and head to Versailles visit as much as we feel comfortable doing and see some of the village as well. (eat there? come back to Paris for Dinner? How late does the RER operate? Tour Monparnasse that evening?)

Day 8 Early Morning at the Louvre....I can't wait for this one.....See all of our must sees but realize that we won't see even a 1/10 of it all.....Stroll the Jardins Tuilleries. and Place de la Concorde.

Day 9 (Hubby's favorite plan so far) Ecole Militaire, Les Invalides, See Napoleon's tomb....See the Musée Rodin (I am so looking forward to that) and stay in the area. Maybe Eiffel tower to the top tonight??

Day 10 If we feel up to it the Catacombs in the morning. We may not do it at all. Les Halles, Le Centre Georges Pompidou in the afternoon. Hang out in the Marais for our last night. Eat one last good meal and pick up any last minute souvenirs we might need.

Day 11, fly home to Canada.....Sniff Sniff.....

What do you all think.??? I want to have lots of time to discover thing, see unexpected things etc....Did I pack too much in any of these days? In Paris it will be me and my husband who are in our mid-40's and my 70 year old mom who keeps up with us just fine. (Sometimes I think we are keeping up with her...LOL) We will have a navigo Decouverte card for transportation after our hop on/ hope off tour. Taking a taxi back to CDG I think so far.

Honest opinions welcomed. Oh and BTW, Mom picked the apartment in the 7th.....So that is that.....LOL

I can't wait.

Posted by
6087 posts

That looks to me like an excellent plan. Plenty of flexibility and "give" for the unexpected. Which, in November, could include the weather. With the Museum Pass and the Navigo Decouverte you'll have freedom to visit as many sights as often as you want (Louvre might be worth a second visit, see how it goes). Also, you may want to split up from time to time as your own priorities and energy levels dictate.

Tour Montparnasse is a good alternative to the Eiffel Tower if you can bear not to have gone to the top of that world-renowned icon. (I did, but once was enough.) First, TM is less crowded and you won't have to stand in line or reserve way ahead (which can be a particular problem in the cold season when you're stuck with whatever weather happens). Second, from the TM you have a great view of the ET (vs. the reverse, seeing the rather ugly TM from the ET).

Paris by Train tells you all you need to know about the Metro and RER. Also consider buses as a fun, though slower, way to get places and see the street scene as you go. And the Batobus is a fun way to travel on the river, though not a substitute for a narrated round-trip cruise on the Bateaux-Mouches or Vedettes de Pont-Neuf or similar. A day-long Batobus pass is like a floating HOHO bus, we like to use it for our last day when we revisit favorite neighborhoods. Finally, Paris Walks offers an easy way to see and learn about many areas. No reservations needed, so you can be flexible as weather changes.

Have a great time on this adventure!

Posted by
776 posts

Batobus on the last day is a GENIUS idea....thank you. My hubby loves being on the water no matter the vessel.

Posted by
2020 posts

A couple of thoughts, based on your info about your husband having a knee replacement, and your mother possibly tiring after a long day. There's no way to avoid walking a lot in Paris, but perhaps you can eliminate some of the more strenuous things.
Do not plan to climb the Eiffel tower. It's worth going up for sure, at least to the second level, but take the elevator. Buy reserved tickets online. You should catch the twinkling light show at night, from the ground, though. Can do this anytime.
Or as one person suggested, you can get a fantastic view from the Montparnasse Tower (and it has an elevator!) but this building is not nearly as impressive at the ET!

Pere Lachaise is a quite hilly place. It is fascinating though, but be prepared to go slow here. Same advice for Montmartre.
The Rodin museum is being remodeled now I believe, may still be happening when you are there, but the garden is very nice and has lots of sculptures. There's a snack bar, and it's a great place to sit and relax.
I don't know about the Catacombs, but I think there are stairs and a lot of walking involved. Perhaps someone else can advise on this.
For Versailles, no need to spend time exploring the surrounding town. Its OK, but not worth extra walking to see. Save your energy for the Chateau and grounds.
Also note, if you plan to take the metro to get around, while a few have escalators, there are stairs and a lot of walking necessary in virtually all metro stations, (some have a little, some a lot), and it adds a lot of walking to the day. At the end of a long day of sightseeing, I always found climbing the stairs out of the final metro station to be quite daunting! Be sure to consider this when planning itinerary for the day.

I agree that your itinerary looks good, but even if you see less sights and just sit and chill at cafes a lot of the time, you will be experiencing the best of Paris too! In the St. Germain area I recommend the outdoor tables at Cafe Deux Magots for a break -- expensive, touristy, but a real treat.

Posted by
776 posts

Trust climb the Eiffel...I meant ELEVATOR....LOL. The Catacombs, hubby will decide if he wants to on our last day. I had no idea that the Pere Lachaise was hilly.....thanks, we shall go very slow.

My Mom doesn't like the subways much so when we can we plan on buses so she can SEE around her. We are prepared to go slower.

Thank you so much,

Posted by
11503 posts

I do know the Catacombs.. and there are a lot of steep winding stairs,, up and down.. and a mile or so of walking on uneven terrain.. you may need to rethink that visit.
Be sure when getting museum pass that you time it so that the days mostly do not fall on Monday and Tuesday.. which are the days many museums close.. its ok to get it so it starts on a Tuesday.. ( since some museums closed on Monday will then be open) or so that it ends on a Monday( same reasoning.. some museums closed on Tuesday will be open on Monday) .

I prefer the L'Open Tour bus.. more routes and stops.. and you do not need to pre purchase tickets.. you can buy on board.. this is good to know because if its pouring rain I would not bother using the hohos.. since huge fun advantage is the open top of the bus( yes.. there is a stair way up.. but its not too long) so you can get a nice view of neighborhoods as you pass through them.. if its rainy bottom floor will be full.. and windows steamy.. so not as good views.. might as well use a regular bus or take a Foxity tour to get lay of the land.

Posted by
776 posts

It's the L'Open tour we want to take. On another site, everyone was telling me not to do it but we love hop on/off tours.

Hubby is ok with his knee now but I will give him veto on all activities. Thanks....I really appreciate it.

I wish I could have a list of Metro stations with the least amount of stairs or escalators.

Posted by
2020 posts

Glad you are taking the elevator up the ET! Buses are a good way to get around Paris, you can use the same carnet ticket or pass on them as the Metro. Bus stops have maps showing the routes, and you can buy booklets that show all the routes. Not sure if there is any place you can get info on stairs in the metro. The hop on/off or tour buses are a good option to see a lot without walking.
One other thought, you mention doing Les Halles, they are doing extensive remodeling of the mall there. It may not be finished and if so, I suggest skipping it. Les Halles is not my favorite place in Paris, in any case. However the Marais is -- where you can walk, shop and sit in cafes endlessly. The Carnavalet museum (free, history of Paris) is there and very good. The Picasso museum also. Unmissable IMHO. But the Pompidou is fantastic too!

Posted by
10344 posts

Considering the physical limitations of some of your group, I'd like to suggest you walk downhill through Pere Lachaise by entering the cemetery at the Porte Gambetta entrance; Rick gives the details of how to do this in his Paris book.

To walk downhill, you have to know to stay on the Metro at the Pere Lachaise stop, and ride one more stop and get off at the Gambetta stop.
The cemetery is large and basically situated on the side of a large hill. For this reason, your party will enjoy it more if you're walking downhill. Many people assume that they should get off at the Pere Lachaise stop--logical but you end up entering at the downhill side and doing a considerable amount of uphill walking, when there's no advantage to doing it that way.
See Rick's book for the details.

Posted by
7175 posts

Look at this possible arrangement of museums for your 6 day pass (for late closing times & grouping of close locations) ...

Tuesday (or Sunday)

Tours de Notre Dame (walk up the towers to get up close and personal with the gargoyles) ...opens 10am
Crypt Archeologique (dig site in front of Notre Dame)
Musee Picasso
Pompidou Centre (modern art collection) ...closes 9pm

Musee Rodin (famous bronzes in beautiful gardens)
Invalides (Napoleons tomb)
Musee d'Orsay (Impressionism) ...closes 9.45pm Thu

Musee Nissim de Camondo (lavish city home with art and furnishing from early 20th century)
Arc de Triomphe (must see view from top)
Louvre ...closes 9.45pm Wed, Fri

Orangerie (Monet's waterlillies) ...opens 9am
Les Egouts (the sewer tour) ...closed Thu, Fri
Musee Quai Branly (artifacts from Africa, Americas, Asia, Oceania) ...closes 9pm Thu, Fri, Sat

Sunday (or Monday)
St Chapelle (amazing stained glass) ...opens 9.30am (summer)
Conciergerie (where Marie Antoinette imprisoned)
Musee Cluny (museum of the middle ages)
Pantheon (dedicated to the greats of France)

Posted by
776 posts

I love the advice for the Pere Lachaise......PERFECT. My Mom will appreciate it. She is hesitant about going to a Cemetery on Vacation but this one was one of my picks.

I will switch Les Halles to more time in the Marais. I love that idea. I had seen les Halles on an Episode of Paris Next Stop but was unsure if it was worth it.

Posted by
2020 posts

The gravestones in Pere Lachaise are fantastic. Very interesting -- a "pleasant" cemetery to walk through. Be sure to get a map showing the tombs of the illustrious people buried there if you can.

Posted by
4684 posts

One warning re Pere Lachaise especially since you have people with limited mobility - the entrance/exit in the corner nearest Pere Lachaise Metro station is closed and the maps in the cemetery have not been altered. I found it closed when I visited Paris last month, and when I warned a woman who I saw walking in that direction she told me that it always is now.

Posted by
776 posts

djp_syd.....interesting groupings......will investigate further. I just want to make sure I plan this trip well so it will be appreciated. Thank you all for the help. I LOVE this place.

Posted by
6087 posts

This site tells you a lot about elevators and accessibility for Metro. It's focused on wheelchair users, though, so don't assume that a station it doesn't mention will necessarily be a problem for you. My understanding is that RER is totally accessible, as is the new Metro Line 14. Otherwise Metro can be difficult with stairs, you'll have to figure out what works as you go. Some stations involve just a few steps, others many.

I agree about starting at the top for Pere Lachaise. It's still a big place with some steep parts which can be hard to walk whether uphill or downhill. But it has an amazing variety of unique tombs. As an alternative, consider the Montparnasse Cemetery, near the station, which is smaller, totally level, and hosts a lot of famous people.

I'd skip the Catacombs because of the walking challenge. Note also that, after a lot of walking, you emerge about a mile south of where you came in. Guess that's not itself a problem if there's a nearby Metro or bus stop.

For more boat rides consider Canauxrama, which runs trips up and down the St-Martin Canal, the Seine, and the Marne. Not sure what will be available in November, though -- maybe just the canal. The longer river trips wouldn't be as enjoyable in late fall anyway.

Posted by
7175 posts

If you schedule museums on days they stay open late it takes enormous pressure off the 'back end' of the day.
Linger over a relaxing long lunch, take a mid afternoon siesta back at the apartment, chill out on the banks of the Seine, or watch the kids play in Luxembourg or Tuileries.

Posted by
10344 posts

Rick provides a detailed walking tour of Pere Lachaise in his Paris guidebook, taking you to the graves of about a dozen famous people.

Posted by
7609 posts

I am not sure why anyone would get off the tour at Place Bastille. Is there something you want to do in that area? e.g. Promenade Plantee or the Sunday market or whatever? Otherwise you can see all there is to see (not much) from the HOHO bus.

I would get ahold of a good 'Paris Walks' book for structuring exploring of some neighborhoods. Consider adding St. Denis Basilica to the list -- burial place of the Kings of France and the tombs are amazing. One of the most interesting sights in Paris (well just over the line but on the metro)

For the mobility issues -- the Louvre has elevators for every stair. Wheelchairs are also available to check out to tour. Buses rather than metro. You are not entitled to a seat unti age 75 so if you have members with mobility issues, carrying a cane will help them acquire those sets on buses for the disabled. I find it much harder to get seats on buses than the metro.

Les Halles would be low on my list as a neighborhood to explore. But Butte Aux Cailles, the architecture of the 16th, the graffiti of the 19th and 20th all very interesting. You can see some of these things in my photo journal in the Paris category

Posted by
9721 posts

Very nice, workable plan that allows you to add more or relax.
As for the catacombs, remember that once you've gone down inside, you have to finish the walk in order to get out. There is no turning back. If your mom doesn't want to go to a cemetery on a vacation, I doubt she'd be thrilled with the catacombs.

Posted by
4684 posts

The RER is NOT "totally accessible". Some stations have elevators, but some of the most important ones don't, in particular Gare du Nord.

Posted by
15448 posts

Pere Lachaise is very big. I thought the lower end (where I started) to be more interesting (old old tombs). I also found it very hard to find specific tombs using the map provided. I don't remember the details, but there was a long list of "famous" people - mostly French people that I'd never heard of. It was very hard to find a name on the long list (I had to do this to find the number) and then try to find the number on the map (the numbers seem to be random), then try to find the actual tomb! I came across a few by accident, and a charming gentlemen walked me to one grave that I absolutely could not find (I think it was either Sarah Bernhardt or Edith Piaf).

Sunset in early November is around 5.30. That means you won't have lots of daylight hours. But you will be able to see Paris at night without staying up until all hours.

Posted by
6087 posts

Philip is correct (above), RER isn't "totally accessible." My mistake, sorry. See the link I provided above for particulars.

Posted by
16 posts

Just another suggestion. The true travelers laugh about the "Montmartre Tourist Train" but it can be a life saver. It is actually a bus, set up like a train, with a "locomotive" front car. But, if it is raining and you are sliding around the hilly streets covered with cobblestones . . . well my friend and I were and we flagged it down. We got to see most of the sites, listened to the running commentary in English, and it dropped us right by the Blanche Metro station. Not bad for 6 Euros! Train runs from the Metro stop every 45 min. in Winter, does a round trip loop. Nice to know it's there, especially if you have not been to Montmartre before.

Posted by
75 posts

If you want a really cool Parisian experience go to the Marche Raspail Market on Sunday morning in the 6th. The food is out of this world, buy your picnic supplies (Rotisserie Chicken to blow your mind!) and head over to the Luxembourg Gardens which is close by and enjoy. It's a perfect day without lines or a museum and one of the best parks in the world! Lunch, linger and stroll.