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Paris 5-Day Itinerary Suggestions

Hello all!

My wife and I will be traveling to Paris for the first time in March. It will be part of a larger Europe trip, but we will be in Paris for her birthday. I was hoping some of you might have some good suggestions for how to best spend the limited time we have. Regarding restaurant suggestions and menus -- my wife is vegetarian so any additional recommendations for places to try are appreciated! :)

We have our Paris Museum Passes ready to go! The main places of interest for us are Musee d'Orsay, the Louvre, the Cluny, Eiffel Tower, Champs-Elysee, Arc de Triomphe, and Versailles. Catacombs are a maybe. And we don't want to just rush from place to place but enjoy our walks and explore on the way.

Our current itinerary is fairly barebones. Please let me know if you have suggestions or would recommend avoiding any of the below ideas!

Day 1 - Saturday March 11:
- Fly in to CDG from Edinburgh and arrive around 2pm.
- Take transit (or taxi?) and walk to our hotel, Henri IV Rive Gauche.
- We will likely want to stretch our legs and explore the surrounding area. Would this be a good time to do the Historic Paris Walk in the guidebook? We might want to stop at a cafe first.. or maybe during the walk?
- No specific restaurant plans for dinner that evening.

Day 2 - Sunday March 12 (my wife's birthday):
- Wake up and head out early by Metro (4?) toward Montmarte for brunch at Le Potager de Charlotte (vegetarian brunch menu). After brunch it might be a good idea to explore the area and do the Montmarte walk?
- I'm struggling trying to figure out how to spend the rest of the day. I would love to be able to make our way to Eiffel Tower and take it to the top on her birthday. The restaurants there look pricey and the vegetarian options/menus don't look worthwhile enough to eat there though. Any recommendations for getting from Montmarte to Eiffel Tower and what to see or do along the way would be appreciated! :)
- Side note -- my wife absolutely vetoed the idea of going to Arpege for lunch when she saw the prices.

Day 3 - Monday March 13:

Day 4 - Tuesday March 14:

Day 5 - Wednesday March 15:
- Versailles first thing in the morning. Taking the metro -> train -> Versailles with the intention to arrive before open. Explore the palace interior and have lunch in the gardens (is there a recommendation of where to eat there?).
- Explore the gardens after lunch.
- I was initially hoping that we would have time to see Versailles in the morning and head straight to the Louvre after lunch and stay there until later because it was open late on Wednesdays.. only to discover it's currently only open late on Fridays. :/
- Travel back to Paris for dinner. I have reservations for us at Chez Pouliche at 9pm to enjoy their vegetarian menu.

Day 6 - Thursday March 16:
- Our flight to Venice isn't until 9:15pm, so we should have until the afternoon to enjoy more of the city. Not sure what would be best to fit in here.

Merci!
-Adam

Posted by
3688 posts

"Side note -- my wife absolutely vetoed the idea of going to Arpege for lunch when she saw the prices."
Smart woman. I wish I had done that.
Why don't you go the Louvre on Monday instead of trying to pack Versailles and the Louvre on the same day?

Posted by
18 posts

That would definitely work! I had seen Wednesdays were recommended as one of the least busy days, especially in the evenings. But with it no longer being open late on Wednesdays, it's probably not worth trying to squeeze it in before dinner at Pouliche at 9pm. Thanks!

Posted by
2303 posts

To get from Montmartre to the Eiffel Tower, take the #2 metro toward Port Dauphine. Get off at Charles de Gaulle Etoile and see the arc de Triomphe. Then take the #6 to Trocadero. That will give you a great view of the tower from across the river. Take the obligatory picture from the plaza. Then walk across the river to the tower. Reserve tickets for the evening if weather is good.

https://metromap.fr/en

I would highly recommend an English tour of the Louvre as it will hit the highlights of the museum. It is huge and you will be frustrated trying to find the most famous paintings and sculptures. If you take the tour first, then you can re-visit the areas of most interest to you as the place can be quite overwhelming!

As for museums that you did not mention that I really like, the L'Orangerie located in the Tuillerie Gardens is a must. The enormous Monet waterlilly paintings are fantastic and in one room, you are surrounded by them which is a wonderful experience.

The second museum that I would recommend is named the Marmottan (not sure if the spelling is correct). It is located in an old house and has lots of great paintings and few crowds. It is located in an interesting part of the city as well.

In Montmartre, right near the Place du Tetre is a great little piano bar and not far away is the restaurant named the Maison Rose, where we have had good meals. Riding on the funicular is fun there as well and don't miss going into the Sacre Coeur church.
Another lovely church to visit is the Saint Chapelle, not far from Notre Dame. Be sure to see the upper floor of this church.

Posted by
4385 posts

I'm going to be a contrarian, I've never found it worthwhile to get up high to get an aerial view of Paris. You just don't see much more than from ground level. If you wish to do that, there are free rooftops at Lafayette and Printemps, or you could go up the Arc de Triomphe, and Rick mentions a hotel bar that's up high. Or Montmartre, or the Tour Montparnasse.

Posted by
18 posts

I have heard Rick say that the best view of Paris from the Eiffel Tower is from the second level. I was just thinking to book tickets to the top as it's easy to book in advance and doesn't cost much more than getting up to the second level, and its something fun to do for her birthday.. and I'm assuming we would be able to stop at the second level before or after going to the top to enjoy the view from there? Maybe not.

I have also seen that one of the best views of the Eiffel Tower is from Arc de Triomphe just after sunset.

Posted by
13906 posts

I would absolutely NOT try to do a tour of the Louvre the same day you do Versailles. If you are going to travel all the way to Versailles, enjoy the palace and gardens without having to rush back to do a timed entry to the Louvre. Plus my brain would be in overload after Versailles and could not enjoy the art in the Louvre. Do your Louvre visit on Monday as it is closed on Tuesday.

There are many restaurants in the area between Rue Cler and Eiffel Tower that have vegan offerings at reasonable prices. One of my dependable places is Cafe Roussillon at the corner of Rue Cler and Rue de Grenelle. They have a wonderful truffle pasta that is vegan. In the past, pre-covid, they have several options for vegans but this has cut sharply back in the time since Covid. IF you are using the Ecole Militaire Metro stop La Terrasse du 7eme is right at that corner and they have several vegan options. Their quinoa salad is quite good. They might not be "birthday" worthy but they are both quite good and you'll find a lot of neighborhood folks in both establishments, contrary to popular belief on this forum.

Any interest in the Rodin Museum or Les Invalides/Army Museum? Both of those are near-ish the Eiffel Tower.

Any interest in Art Nouveau architecture? There are some excellent examples of Jules Lavirotte's work just a block or so east of the Eiffel Tower.

Posted by
18 posts

Thank you Pam! As you and JHK suggested, I'll shift the plan so we do Louvre Monday instead of trying to cram it in after Versailles on Wed. Those suggestions around Rue Cler sound great -- "birthday worthy" for my wife just needs to be delicious, not necessarily glamorous or expensive. :) I'll add those suggestions to the list.

We are definitely interested in Les Invalides and Rodin museum -- we can plan to explore those while in that area.

Posted by
11 posts

Hello Adam,
A small note about logistics. This past summer I used the company Parishuttle from and back to the airport. The drivers were excellent, on-time, very pleasant and knowledgeable. They were great. I will use them again on a May trip. Their email address is www.parishuttle.com. Phone number is: +33 1 85 08 06 03.
All the best to you.

Posted by
515 posts

You can take RER B I believe from CDG to Paris center. Maybe 10eu compared to 90eu for taxi?

I have been to the Louvre twice - 15 years apart - and just found it tiring and tedious both times. The Eiffel should be seen but that has gone down hill so much.

You can always do a river cruise (for various different prices) or a river walk for free.

Look for the "inception" bridge which appeared in that movie and is an "instagram" point.

I think there is a new Luis Vuitton museum that I have not visited. There is the Pompidou modern art museum near Le Marais in the 3rd district.

There is a new medieval museum near the Sorbonne. Several of the last times. I was there it was till under construction but I believe it's opened now.

Research "best croissant" and go judge for yourself some of the famous boulangeries.

You can walk past the Bataclan although not much to see.

Maybe try some authentic Moroccan food? Hang out in Street cafes like Les Deux Maggots where Steinback visited in the 6th, near the church where the mathematician Rene Descartes is buried.

We have also seen a number of small concerts of classical music in churches including one in the Notre Dame before it was torched.

A year+ ago, we visited a big Napoleon exhibition totally apart from Les Invalides.

Posted by
13906 posts

If you decide to take a taxi, you can easily take one from the official taxi rank at CDG. The flat rate for the airport to the Right Bank is 53E, to the Left Bank, 58E. The taxi line manager will point you to a taxi when it's your turn. It is not 90E for a regular taxi.

Bill, glad the shuttle worked for you. Many times the shuttles aren't as reliable in Paris as other cities thus I would always recommend a taxi from the taxi stand.

Posted by
1625 posts

Not sure how you plan to get around the city, but if taking the Metro we found that things just take a lot longer than we anticipated. Between walking to the metro station, the ride, walking to our place of interest etc. Plus there is just so much eye candy in the architecture alone, the huge doors, the windows...I just tend to stroll, or grab a pastry and sit on a bench and take it all in.

I don't see any visits to any of the wonderful parks in Paris. After the Louvre you can meander through Tuileries Garden, grab a coffee or drink at a little cafe in the park and people watch, explore the area.

For the Eiffel Tower I suggest approaching it from The Trocadero which we spent about an hour there, just for the photo op's, the vibe, grabbed a Nutella/Banana Crepe and sat and experienced that area, then walked by the fountains and onto the ET.

A company we use for walking tours is Paris Walks. Wonderful walking tours of all areas, check out their website for what may interest you. You might also want to do a walking food tour? We used the company Paris Secret Food Tours.

Posted by
18 posts

Thanks for all of the replies!

I've had to rework some areas of the itinerary as I had not realized it had passed 60 days out from the date we want to go to the Eiffel Tower, and so the only remaining advance tickets I could buy for the date (March 12) were for the 9:30pm lift.

Revised itinerary:

Day 1 - Saturday March 11:
- Arrive at CDG around 2pm and take RER B to Saint-Michel Notre Dame station and walk to our hotel.
- I'd love to do the Historic Paris walk once we drop our stuff off at the hotel. We're only flying in from Edinburgh so it's not going to have been a very long flight and we won't be super tired.
- I think we'll likely at least walk around and take in the sights of Notre-Dame, Shakespeare and Co, Fontaine Saint-Michel, and make our way to Luxembourg Gardens as those are all around our hotel (Henri IV Rive Gauche).
- I would have loved to fit in a visit to Sainte-Chappelle, Cluny Museum, or Musee d'Orsay -- but I would have to book a timeslot for Sainte-Chappelle (3:30p? 4pm? 4 is the last available timeslot, which may be the safest to go for as we likely won't get to our hotel until 3-3:30pm). Would that be enough time?
- Cluny Museum is also very close to our hotel and is open until after 6pm, so that's an option.
- Whether we're able to make it into Sainte-Chappelle or Cluny Museum or not, we will likely just walk around and continue to explore the area for a few hours.
- I would love to have a more traditional french dining experience for dinner this first night there. Multiple courses -- starter, main, cheese(!), and dessert... but my wife being vegetarian kind of limits our options and cuts out a lot of the smaller more traditional places recommended in the guidebooks. HEBE was recommended in another thread and I see that they have a well thought out vegetarian 3-course menu and is a short walk from our hotel. Are there any other recommendations nearby with good vegetarian options?

Day 2 - Sunday March 12 (my wife's birthday):
- We have brunch at Le Potager de Charlotte scheduled for 12pm. Prior to that we will likely have a light breakfast at our hotel and then start making our way toward Montmartre.
- Walk around and explore the Montmartre area before or after brunch, depending on what we have time for.
- Current plan for the rest of the day (totally open to suggestions!):
- Take the metro and get off near Arc de Triomphe or somewhere along Champs Elysees so we can walk there.
- Go to the top of the Arc de Triomphe.
- Walk or metro to the Trocadero. It's under construction now and likely will still be when we're there, so it's not as nice a spot at the moment.
- Walk from there to the Eiffel Tower, and make our way past it and head to Rue Cler.
- Either eat at a cafe or restaurant in this area or (more likely) gather supplies for a picnic on the Champ de Mars (assuming its been long enough after brunch that we're hungry again!)
- Our Eiffel Tower lift reservations are for 9:30pm this night, so if anyone has suggestions on anything else to do to fill this time on my wife's birthday while in this general area, please let me know. :)
- Dinner? We don't have reservations for this night yet. I was thinking maybe Tekes, but that's pretty far away from the Tower. I haven't yet come across any restaurants with good vegetarian options around Rue Cler or the Tower area. Ora is another one that looks wild but is incredibly far away.

Day 3 - March 13:
- Louvre Day!
- Followed by lunch
- Followed by a walk through the Tuileries Gardens
- Followed by a visit to l'Orangerie

Or reverse that and start with l'Orangerie and work our way the other direction? As l'Orangerie will take much less time than the Louvre and my wife might be overwhelmed after walking around the Louvre for hours.
- Expecting the Louvre visit to take pretty much all day.
- And then dinner this evening could be Tekes if we didn't try it the night before.

Posted by
18 posts

Day 4 - March 14:
- Potentially a good day to visit Musee d'Orsay
- And then not too far a walk from there would be Les Invalides
- And Rodin Museum if we aren't museumed-out by that point.
- No other major plans for this day except walking around and enjoying the city.

Day 5 - March 15:
- Early train to Versailles
- 9am reservations for Versailles. Get there before open and spend most of the day at the palace.
- 8:45pm reservations at Pouliche restaurant back in the city, which has a full vegetarian menu on wednesdays.

Day 6 - March 16:
- Check out of hotel around noon
- How should we fill these hours between checking out and arriving at CDG a couple hours before our flight?
- Flight from Paris to Venice at 9pm

I should also mention we have Paris Museum Passes for all museum and other attaction entry.

Posted by
315 posts

My partner & I were at Versailles in September. We were staying close by (10 min bus). As I booked the timed ticket it came tome that it might be better to visit the gardens first then the palace.I felt good as we strolled in,past the looonnnggg line & straight into the garden.We went straight to Trianon & there was no line there. Messed about & got back to enter the palace. Zero line.I had to fumble with my phone to pull up the ticket.I was anticipating doing that in line.

Just a strategy

Posted by
18 posts

Thanks Mark!

When you say you entered the gardens first and then returned for the palace after, had you set your timed entry later in the day? Or the times entry is for the grounds, including the gardens? I've already booked times entry for entry when it opens, so I just want to check. :) Thanks!

And are there any recommended local tours? Or any gardens or other areas I should include? We have all day Thursday before we leave for the airport to explore more.