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Planning first trip to Paris

My husband and I will be traveling from Amsterdam to Paris in late September. Not sure which part of Paris is best for us to stay. We would like to visit the Louvre and Verseilles. We are in our 60's and are in ok shape but I don't want to kill us with too much walking so I thought the Verseilles tours sounded good. Has anyone found a good tour group?

My second question is the best way to get from Amsterdam to Paris. I like the idea of the train but which one?

Any seasoned traveler advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.

Posted by
8889 posts

To answer the 2nd question. The trains from Amsterdam to Paris are branded as Thalys. They are High Speed trains.
The Thalys website is here: https://www.thalys.com
You can look up times and buy tickets on this website. The tickets are "print-at-home" and are e-mailed to you as a PDF file. The tickets are specific to whatever train you choose, and have date, time, train ID, vehicle number and seat number on them.

Posted by
5967 posts

I like to stay in st. germain or latin quarter, I actually typically end up on the border of the two. The Louvre and Notre Dame are in easy walking distance. RS seems to often recommend Rue Cler area which is absolutely lovely to stay in but has access to Eiffel tower and not much else. If you go to Versailles on your own, perhaps try a weekday. My husband and I went on a weekend at the end of September and it was NUTS. We had the Paris Museum Pass but still ended up waiting well over an hour. We always go back to Cafe St. Victor on 11 Rue Monge. Great bistro food and nice outdoor eating area. Incidentally, around that area is a great place to stay. You might enjoy a day trip to Giverny. It was very nice at the end of September.

Posted by
703 posts

We have stayed on Rue de Vaugirard near Luxembourg Gardens (6th), on Rue de Rivoli in the 2nd and near Republique (9th). The first time I went we stayed on Avenue du Maine near Montparnasse Tower. All were very convenient to Metro stops so you can get anywhere easily. Yes to Versailles during the week. It will likely still be crowded but maybe not as bad as the weekends. How long will you be in Paris? Depending on how long you'll be there, you might want to only do the one day trip to Versailles. Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
2136 posts

We found a lovely little place to stay in the Montparnasse area. We wanted something in a neighborhood and it fit the bill. It was in walking distance of the catacombs.

We traveled all around Paris using the Metro. There's a great smart phone app called Paris Metro. You just type in where you want to go and it shows you the route, including any transfers to other lines. It also shows you how long it will take.

We are in our late '60s and on our trip to London and Paris, according to our iPhones, we walked 8-10 miles a day. You don't have to walk that much, but we loved exploring both cities that way. Although we could have ridden the tube, we walked from St. Paul's to Westminster. We also had a great stroll down the Champs Elysees from the Arch de Triomphe to the Musee D'Orsay.

Posted by
4011 posts

My second question is the best way to get from Amsterdam to Paris. I
like the idea of the train but which one?

I will be traveling from Amsterdam to Paris myself in late October as I am flying into Schiphol. I will be taking the Thalys train directly from Schiphol about 3 1/2 hours after I arrive.

We would like to
visit the Louvre and Verseilles. We are in our 60's and are in ok
shape but I don't want to kill us with too much walking so I thought
the Verseilles tours sounded good. Has anyone found a good tour group?

The great thing about the Louvre and Versailles is that there will be benches for you to sit and relax. If you pay for a tour group, you will have to move at their pace. Instead, you might want to use RS' travel books covering both or, better yet, the RS podcasts for both the Louvre and Versailles and, again, go at your own pace. I have used his podcasts in other cities and have found them immensely useful.

Posted by
6629 posts

Any of the neighborhoods suggested above would be fine, but so would many others as long as you can use the Metro, which connects everything quickly and easily. For the Louvre and Versailles, your easiest bet, if you can afford it, would be to stay in the St-Germain area, across the river from the Louvre and near the RER "C" line to whisk you to Versailles-Rive Gauche.

The Thalys is by far the best way between Amsterdam and Paris. Tickets should be on sale now for late September, at relatively low fares if you're willing to commit to a particular date and time.

Posted by
9 posts

Thanks all. I reserved Thalys to and from Paris. Now looking for hotel. I like the idea of the tour group because some do Monet’s gardens. Anyone have a good suggestion for a tour group?

Posted by
14170 posts

"* I like the idea of the tour group because some do Monet’s gardens.*"

Are you thinking you wanted to do one of the combo tours of Versailles and Giverny on the same day? I would not recommend this. Both locations are big and have a lot to cover even though you say you want to be careful about too much walking.

BOTH of these are actually relatively easy to do on your own, even for a first time visitor.

Posted by
8538 posts

There are many good places to stay as long as you are willing to take the metro. This is an easy thing to do unless you have difficulties with stairs. Then you need to be looking at buses or taxis for main transport

Posted by
303 posts

We recommend Hotel Bonaparte in the St. Germaine area. It is near a Metro, an RER, Luxemburg Gardens, lots of cafes and it has a small elevator. We were in our 60's when we were there and appreciated the lift. It is also a RS recommended mid budget hotel. Skip the breakfast and walk to a nearby patisserie. About Versailles, when we were there in 2013, the palace was closed on Monday's which meant Tuesday's were more crowded. Avoid the weekends! We took the train there on a Wed and arrived before it opened at 9 am, We had a Paris Museum Pass which took us right to the security line past the ticket line. This was in May and not too crowded that early. By the time we left, after touring the gardens and outer buildings, it was insane.

A site I recommend to anyone planning a trip, even those going on a tour, is visitacity.com. If you are planning your own trip, you can load your hotel location, what time you want to start each day, choose the sights you want to see, and how many days you will be there. The site will then figure out a map for you. The sites are chosen to try to stay in an area, and opening/closing times are taken into consideration. You can plan for rest breaks and lunches. I am using this site for a trip to France next year, and have used it in Athens, Florence, Venice and Rome.

Posted by
768 posts

This site has lots of great information about trains in Europe, including how to get tickets in advance for the route you mentioned:

www.seat61.com

I'd suggest you take the train as well, if you haven't done it before it is definitely worth it! I'd also suggest you take Thalys since it's faster and mostly direct. you can find more information on their official site and of course book your ticket if you want. for Versailles and Louvre, I'd recommend not to go with a tour company because you'll have to follow their pace which isn't always fun, better buy and audio book once you're there and enjoy the whole day at your own pace, take some snacks with you and enjoy the view from a bench and have a good day your way!

Posted by
9 posts

Thank you all for the very informative responses. I did book our train on Thalys and waiting for Eiffel Tower to open up tickets for the end of September. Does anyone know when they open up a new date? Is it 12:00 France time? I'd like tickets to the summit. Anyone eat at any of the restaurants in the tower? Was it a good experience?

Thank you all again. I'm glad I found this site.

Posted by
9 posts

Thank you all for the very informative responses. I did book our train on Thalys and waiting for Eiffel Tower to open up tickets for the end of September. Does anyone know when they open up a new date? Is it 12:00 France time? I'd like tickets to the summit. Anyone eat at any of the restaurants in the tower? Was it a good experience?

Thank you all again. I'm glad I found this site.