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Planning five days in Paris and surrounding area

Hi there,

I have five days to fit in Paris and the surrounding area. In my research I have come across many great places but I am having a hard time deciding what to cut and what to keep. I was hoping to get some advice on the best way to plan a short itinerary.

On my list is:
Monet's gardens at Giverny
Bayeux and the D-Day beaches

I will be coming into Paris on April 7th and will be taking a night train on to Barcelona on April 11th. I imagine Monet's gardens won't be more than a half-day. I was suspecting to spend at least two days in Paris, devoting a day to Versailles. I'm wondering if it's possible/worth it to spend a day or so in Rouen and being able to make it back to Paris in time for our train out. I was really hoping to make it to the D-Day beaches but just typing this I have a feeling it would be cutting it pretty close. I do not have a car and will be relying on public transportation.

I would love to get some perspective and any advice from you all!


Posted by
4684 posts

With only three full days in Paris (don't expect to do very much on the 7th, especially if you are coming off a transatlantic flight), I would not bother with any trips out of town, except possibly Versailles if you really want to. Versailles may well already be extremely crowded on an April weekend, so you might want to try Fontainebleau instead. The other possibility is Vaux-le-Vicomte - it used to be quite hard to reach by public transport but this spring/summer they are launching a new shuttle service from the nearest railway station - see

Posted by
1795 posts

Once in Paris be not surprised you want to spend all your time there, so start to make a planning for that. A few daytrips remains always possible ofcourse like to Versailles and Giverny but not everything you have in your mind now. Visiting Bayeux and D-Day beaches are more doable if you can stay in Paris for a longer period, but that´s the way I see it. However there are organized daytrips to the beaches from Paris, others will certainly have an opinion how it is about that. Plan flexible so you can make some changes on the spot.

Posted by
3849 posts

Giverny will only have been open for two weeks so you cannot expect the full effect of the flowers in summer, particularly not the rose gardens. Maybe you could save it for a visit at a more seasonal time of year. On the other hand, it probably won't be as crowded as middle of the summer.

Posted by
1013 posts

I would spend two days Paris seeing all the sites and the third day take the metro to Versailles very early and be the first ones in to view the palace in the morning then spend the afternoon in the gardens (good place for lunch). Versailles is an amazing place and the heart and soul of French culture, I have recommended to several people to go and they always come back so amazed at the beauty of both the palace and gardens. I love France, your going to have a great time!

Posted by
9353 posts

Is this your first time to Paris? If the answer is yes, I would plan on spending the time there. You could do Versailles as a day trip. There is so much to see in Paris. On the otherhand, if you have been to Paris in the past and done the things you want to do there you can definitely fit day trips in.

You want to spend a day or so in Rouen. Does that mean you want to spend a night there? If you are willing to spend the night away from Paris I would suggest staying in Giverny or Vernon instead. Vernon is where you get off the train for Giverny and it's on the way to Rouen. You could see Giverny, then continue on to Rouen the next day. I don't know if they have a place to leave luggage in Vernon, but if they do you could even stop off there on the way to or from Rouen. If there is no left luggage there you may be able to arrange with a hotel near the train station to store it for you. As for Giverny to being at its peak only two weeks after opening, it is still worth going there. We can't all go when the roses are in bloom. We go when we are there, no matter what is in bloom. I was there in mid-October, two weeks before they closed for the season. It was beautiful and there were plenty of plants in bloom.

Posted by
3801 posts

You really only have three full days in Paris and (depending on arrival and departure times) a part of two other days. That being the case, consider spending the entire time in Paris. There is way more than enough to keep one happily occupied for that length of time. In addition, it almost always takes more time to go from Point A to Point B than one would think. Good memories of people, places, and things in Paris will be much better than memories of train stations and running hither, thither, and yon.

Posted by
9353 posts

I just paid attention to your dates, as opposed to the number of days you stated you have. You really need to count how many nights you have, and TC is right. You only have 3 full days. You can't really count your arrival and departure day. I would spend the entire time in Paris. One exception would be that if you have already been there and have satisfied your must see things, you could do a day trip to Versailles and/or Giverny. Not on the same day.

Posted by
1255 posts

It comes down to what do you really want to see. Do you just want to check things off a list and spend the minimal amount of time there or really get a chance to spend more time at a specific site.
Paris City Vision,, offers many packages that will visit the sites your are looking at. If using a tour company, go with them or a local service over Viator, Viator is a third-party company.
Giverny & Versailles:


Posted by
7175 posts

Curious as to your train to Barcelona, as there are no longer any overnight services. All services are same day in 6.5 hours.