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Paris plus 3 days travel suggestions

First time travel to France for family of 3 adults. We have 6 and a half days and want to visit Paris, Versailles, Giverny (is it worth the trip?) and if possible Étretat. Open to car rental or train. Arriving at CDG around 5pm on a Friday, traveling from Southampton after a cruise. I have driven in NYC and Mexico City so crazy driving is not intimidating; automatic or manual transmission are fine. I would appreciate Itinerary and transportation mode suggestions. We like to see things in detail so I am assuming that we will spend 4 days in Paris. What else is doable in this time frame. Also my husband and I will extend our stay by an additional 5 days to a week and are open to explore anywhere. Thank you!

Posted by
650 posts

There's a week or more of art and other museums in Paris, not to mention neighborhoods to explore. By all means visit Versailles and/or Giverny, but other than that 6 days is not enough for Paris itself.

Posted by
5011 posts

Versailles and Giverny are both definitely worth a visit as are the D-day beaches. You might want to consider a day trip to Reims, but Paris has more than enough to keep you occupied for the entire time. I would stick to public transportation simply to avoid all the attendant hassles of rent a car. We've been to all those places just using the train.

Posted by
12 posts

Thank you all for the input. It appears that we would need to take 2 different trains for Versailles and Giverny is this correct? If so I was thinking that driving might be best in order to try and fit them into one day. Is that workable or is it best if we don’t go to the coast and do two day trips from Paris? Cost wise does anyone know if with 3 people it becomes more economical to rent the car rathe than taking trains?

Posted by
4132 posts

Hi Vernast,

Do yourself a favor and slow down. You have 6.5 days and can have a great time if you don't overreach.

I guess you can squeeze Giverney and Versailles into the same day, if you do not want to spend much time seeing the gardens at Versailles. And if you do that, a car would be essential. Personally I would choose one; just think what the day would be like.

I don't see how you fit in Etretat.

Posted by
1806 posts

If you really like to see things in detail, then to me your intended plan to do both Versailles and Giverny in the same day seems opposite of that. The best part of Versailles is exploring the vast gardens, the Hameau de la Reine and the Petit and Grand Trianon. The palace is crazy busy. The other stuff gives you at least some chance to escape the crush. I dedicated an entire day to just Versailles and it was worth it. While I liked Giverny, it was really crowded and I wasn't exactly sad to leave after a visit to the small museum there, a walk through the gardens and the house and then lunch.

We combined Giverny with Reims and did both via public transit from Paris. I do wish we had spent a full day in Reims. If you are extending your stay 5 days to a week, I'd either base in Paris and do some more day trips by train, or rent a car and spend a few nights in Normandy region to really experience the area including the various sights related to D Day for both the American and British & Canadian battles.

Posted by
12 posts

We will be there mid August. Based on the advice we will make a reservation in Paris for the whole time and just do a day trip to Versailles. I am looking at apartment vacation rentals and debating between that and a hotel. We had great apartment rental experiences in Rome and in Athens so I’m leaning in that direction. If anyone has advice on that it is appreciated. I have read most of the blogs recently posted and have just purchased the Rick Steves guide book. By the way, we live in Pennsylvania, USA but will be coming off of a cruise to the Fjords that ends in Southampton.

Posted by
27368 posts

Paris has recently started enforcing a law that requires registration of apartments rented for short periods. You should see a 13-digit number for any apartment you are considering. If the number is not there, the apartment may be an illegal rental, and subject to being taken off the market on very short notice. That could leave you with nowhere to stay at the last minute. Proceed with caution.

Posted by
1340 posts

If I only have three days, I don't want to spend one depressing day at the D-Day beaches (not a popular opinion, but there you have mine). There's plenty of places around Paris to may hommage to WW2. Giverny is only worth the trip if you're a Monet fan. If not, consider somewhere else.
Perhaps take a trip to Normandy and see Rouen and drive up to Mont St.-Michel and St. Malo in Bretagne.

Posted by
9429 posts

I very much agree w jen and Adam. I’d spend the whole time (still not enough) in Paris and do day trips (maybe). There’s so much more to Paris than the tourist sites even w/o going to a museum. Paris is great for walking, savoring, relaxing, sitting outside at cafés and enjoying beautiful parks (like the Luxembourg Gardens).

Great day trips (1 whole day each): Versailles, Vaux-le-Vicomte, Fontainebleau, Provins...

Renting bikes in the garden at Versailles is very fun and a great way to get around.

Reading Rick Steves Paris book and his chapter on day trips would be very helpful to you.

Paris in August may be very hot, and will be very crowded which means everything will take longer (ie, long lines, crowds, etc). Another reason to stay in Paris so you can enjoy it leisurely, do the non-tourist things and not get stressed out trying to do too much in too short a time.

Ps. Very subjective but we intensely disliked Reims... so many far nicer places to visit in France.