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Pre HOF Paris itinerary questions

My husband and I will be in Paris for 3 days prior and 1 day post the RS HOF tour beginning June 10. This will be my husband’s first trip to Paris and my first trip since 1998. This is our very first RS tour. We love history, good food, art, cinema, cool street signs and flea markets.

Does the itinerary below make sense? Any suggestions, tweaks, restaurant recommendations would be much appreciated! We have both gleaned a great deal from all the advice given on this forum. We are thankful RS forum folks are generous in sharing their knowledge and personal experiences. Thanks in advance!

First question, the Louvre and the Musee d’Orsay are both included with the RS tours these are scheduled for Sat and Sun. Since we will be in town several days early our thoughts are to see both these sites prior to the tour when they are hopefully less crowded. We would then plan on peeling away from the tour on both Sat and Sun afternoons, after the group morning activities, to do hopefully less crowded sites. Make sense?

Itinerary - Here we go!

6/7 TUESDAY arrive Paris 3:25pm
Purchase Navigo passes at CDG
Taxi to Hotel Lenox 15 rue Delambre (Montparnasse area)

After dropping our bags at the hotel we may go for a walk around our hotel. However I’m thinking we’ll be tired and will be getting up early the next day so plan on this being an early night for us. We’d like a low key restaurant near our hotel for dinner. My husband is a carnivore and I lean towards vegetarian dishes.

Les Bistro Des Campagnes 6 Rue Leopold Robert was recommended as a cozy bistro, friendly, not fancy

Any other suggestions for our first night?

6/8 WEDNESDAY - Paris
9am Leave hotel
Metro to Arc de’ Triomphe – be there when it opens by 10
10-11 Arc de’ Triomphe
11-12 Walk Champs Elysee using RS guide advice Laduree, Angelinas
12-1 Petit Palasis – perhaps lunch here
1-1:30 Place de Concorde
1:30-2:30 Orangerie (we do not have timed tkts)
2:30-3:00 Tulleries
3pm-6pm Louvre – we have timed tkts – plan on seeing Mona Lisa last at end of day when hopefully crowds are lightest

After the Louvre we will most likely look for dinner then back to the hotel for the evening.

6/9 THURSDAY - Versailles
7am Leave hotel
Entire day at Versailles
RER C train to Chateau Versailles Rive Gauche
8-8:30 Arrive Versailles
9am timed entrance ticket
10am timed Guided tour (booked)

Would love to see Hall of Mirrors with fewest people possible, if only for a few minutes. We have timed tkts to get into Versailles at 9am with our guided tour starting at 10am. This may sound crazy but would it be possible to enter at 9am and head straight to the HOM to ohh and ahh and snap a few pics then double back to meet our tour guide at 10am?

After seeing the chateau we plan on touring the gardens and the Trinon area. Any experiences with the golf cart rentals? Any advice on eating at Versailles? More than one person told us to bring our lunch with us but that may not be possible considering how early we’re leaving Paris.

After Versailles back to Paris, dinner then bed

6/10 FRIDAY - Paris
8:30am Leave hotel
9:30-11:30 Musee Orsay – Museum Pass
11:30-12:30 Lunch: ???
12:30-1:30 Hotel Invalid - Relief Maps
1:30-2:30 Rodin Museum
2:30-3:30 Seine promenade newspaper stands
3:30-4:30 Nap at hotel 😊
5pm RS Tour starts!
Orientation walk
Dinner together

6/11 SATURDAY - Paris
RS Walking tour – Notre Dame – St Chapelle (will we visit Concierge?) – Latin Quarter
Instead of the RS Musee d’Orsay we will:
Musee de la Cinematique
Musee Melies
Luxembourg gardens

6/12 SUNDAY – Paris
RS walking tour
Instead of RS Louvre we will:
Palace Garnier Opera House
Eiffel Tower – outdoor viewing only
Siene River cruise

6/20 MONDAY – Paris
RS Tour over
Last day in Paris
Evening Paris floodlit tour by car

Merci beaucoup!!! Susan :)

Posted by
2581 posts

Your times are too tight. You have an hour for each museum/sight but gave yourself no transport/walking time. You’ve really only given yourself 30-45 minutes per, not enough time to see anything. Or have potty breaks and cafe breaks.

As I was planning my first solo trip for September, I did the same thing. Solution: put everything into your phone’s calendar. You will see the overlap. Using Google maps to guesstimate travel/walking time, Then adjust your itinerary in the calendar. Best to do one big sight a day plus one small sight. Or a couple smaller sights.

Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
10829 posts

The Rodin Museum is mostly an outdoor park with his beautiful statues displayed. You could probably handle this on your second day in Paris. It is a favorite of mine. They have a nice outdoor café for lunch.
You do not need an hour for newspaper or book stands. You walk along, browse.
I have not taken a RS tour but often tour guides are able to get into prime viewing locations, popular museum galleries, better than you can on your own. You will enter the museums faster through a special group line too. These museums will not be having less crowded times in June.
You will just have joined a tour group and then will disappear for two major events? There is group dynamics, bonding . I don’t know if that will affect you but it’s something to consider.
We ALWAYS take a Seine River cruise on our arrival day in Paris! Sit up on top with breezes on your face keeping you awake. It gives an excellent overview of Paris’ significant monuments. I recommend that you do this after checking into your hotel or leaving your bags there! I see you are arriving later than we usually do, but advice still applies. Get out and stay awake! The Seine boat ride will orient you to the city. Take it as early in your time in Paris as possible.
Also, one day have lunch ( or dinner) in the 5th Arron., , on left bank of Seine, facing across to Notre Dame, at La Rotisserie d’Argent. Always excellent.
Hopefully some RS Tour veterans or staff will chime in on your ideas.

Posted by
13638 posts

Here are my thoughts:

6/7: OK this is going to sound weird but the Montparnasse Cemetery is just a couple of blocks away from your hotel. It is really interesting and would be a good place to go for a walk if it's sunny. It's close enough to your hotel that if you start flagging you can head back. A lot of people enjoy Le Creperie Josselin on the next street over from you. I've not eaten at either that or the one your friends told you about but there is a lot of choice in this neighborhood.

6/8: Yep, I agree this is too much. I'd skip Petit Palais. Maybe eat at one of the restaurants in the Tuileries. It is a long walk from the Arc de Triomphe to the Louvre. I might walk a block or two then get on the Metro and get off at Concorde. Save some gas in the tank for your tour.

6/9: This looks fine. I've never rented one of the golf carts, though so no advice there.

6/10: There are many restaurants on the walk from Musee d'Orsay to Les Invalides. I'd probably do Rodin first as you can work your walk so you go there first and then to Les Invalides. It's too far to go back to see Les Bouquinistes after 3 museums so I'd head for the hotel. Is all you plan to see at Les Invalides the Relief Maps? If not, then I'd probably just do d'Orsay with the group and this day focus on Les Invalides and Rodin.

6/11: You will see the Bouquinistes today as you walk thru this area. I've not been to either of those museums.

6/12: This looks fine

6/20: On the day you do the Luxembourg Gardens the Pantheon is very nearby. In fact you can see it down the street as you exit near the Medici Fountains.

Have a wonderful time! Who is your guide?

Posted by
8151 posts

Here is something to consider about arrival day. By the time you make it to the station at the airport to buy your Navigo Pass, you will be directly next to the RER trains. I found that it was actually easier to just to go down the escalator and board the train than to worry about finding the airport taxi rank. I took the RER train in and decided if I felt tired I would take a taxi the rest of the way once I hit Paris. I actually felt pretty good and did the transfer to the metro line and arrived at the hotel easily. Also, I wanted to mention that you can take photocopies of a picture either off of your drivers license or your passport and that will work for the pass.

I like you plan of trying to visit the Louvre on a less crowded time. I ended up not spending a great deal of time there because it was just so crowded and hot.

Posted by
8 posts

My husband and I were on this tour in April and arrived in Paris 4 days prior to the start.

I second Pam's suggestion of walking around the Montparnasse Cemetery. We did that and it was a very nice place for a stroll.

There are quite a few excellent choices for restaurants near the hotel. Our first night we went to the Auberge de Venise, an Italian place right across the street from the hotel. Food was quite good and it was nice to not have to walk far afterwards. We had lunch one day at Cafe de la Rotonde. The table next to us had some sort of seafood platter that was huge and looked amazing. Other places we went for dinner were La Creperie de Josselin, Cafe Odessa and La Coupole. All good. There's an Amorino gelato place nearby that was good if you're in the mood for that.

Enjoy! It's a great tour.

Posted by
8328 posts

Just noting that we stayed at that hotel on our tour. You're a short walk from the Tour Montparnasse which has a great view. A short street Rue du Montparnasse across the street from hotel has several Breton creperies (galettes) worth a visit (mentioned by RS).

Posted by
4223 posts

I like the Orsay a lot, but I'm not sure you need two days. The Louvre, probably yes.

At the Orsay they will show you all the stuff you want to see. If you do decide to go twice, just give in and start at the top floor. Then if it's lunchtime eat at the cafe just outside the Impressionists. Scan the Rodins and browse the gift shop.

Posted by
38 posts

I just did the RS tour, Versailles is part of that tour. The Navigo pass is also given to you. For your free days just buy a daily pass. The place Concorde is just a look, not much to do there. Notre Damne is a no go, it is closed you really cannot even get near it because of construction. Montmarte is also part of that tour. It looks like on your free days you are repeating things done on the tour. There is no need the tour gives you plenty of time for their chosen activities. The newspaper stands were almost non existent. I could count the number on one hand. They just have not come back from COVID, and all they sell is old posters newspapers and books.

Posted by
8328 posts

ckeenan9192, I think you're talking about the 7-day Paris tour, OP was about the 11-day Paris and Heart of France Tour, commonly abbreviated as the HOF.

Posted by
41 posts

On our Paris & HOF tour last month, we did not go as an entire group to the Musee d'Orsay. It is noted as an option for your afternoon free time on Day 2 using the 48-hour Museum Pass the tour guide gives you. If memory serves, our guide offered to meet after lunch that day to help people get to the Orsay so some people may have taken her up on that, but it definitely was not a guided tour of the Orsay. Lots of tour members, including me, went their own way after the morning walking tour ended around lunchtime.

On Day 3 in the afternoon, the majority of the group went to the Louvre through the group entrance. The local city guide gave us a brief overview for each wing then everyone went their own way once we were inside. Though we did not tour the Louvre as a group, getting in through the group entrance and having access to the group restrooms was a time saver. With your Museum Pass, you have lots of other options.

I utilized the RSE audio tours downloaded on my phone as my starting point for both of these museums. I thought the Louvre one was very helpful for navigating the volume of art and people. After the audio tour ended, there was plenty of time to explore even more of the treasures.

Regarding Versailles - we had timed tickets at 9:00 am but no organized tour. Security personnel in each room required that we move forward only in the direction they specified. People who tried to backtrack were stopped by security in more than one case I witnessed. Maybe it is different if you have proof of a guided tour at a later time? Several people on our tour reported trying to rent carts for the gardens. One pair was successful. They went to the rental place first thing, toured the gardens/Trianon, then came back to the Chateau afterwards. Others reported that either the line for renting was too long, so they gave up and/or the carts were sold out. Our friends who did get one loved it!

Here's hoping you love your Paris & the HOF tour as much as we did. It was wonderful!

Posted by
10037 posts

Dinner on arrival night: neighborhood restaurant Le Petit Broc, around the corner at 206 Blvd Raspail just south of Blvd Montparnasse. Large sélection. Low key.
Walk down rue Delambre toward Blvd de Montparnasse, turn right, and turn right again on Blvd Raspail. This is your best bet for good, low key, arrival eve food.

Heavy carnivore food: Le Relais de l'Entrecôte a block away at the corner of Blvd Montparnasse and rue Vavin. Nothing for a vegetarian.

More upscale, historic brasseries, some people watching, ( réserve) Le Dôme corner Montparnasse and rue Delambre, and its less upscale seafood bistro on rue Delambre, La Coupole, La Rotonde both on Blvd Montparnasse.
Or, just walk Bad Montparnasse to find dozens more.
There are cafés and a few restaurants at the top of rue Delambre, on Blvd Edgar Quinet.

Posted by
19 posts

Thank you to everyone who took the time to not only read my long winded post but to reply with your sage experiences. We really appreciate the itinerary suggestions, transportation and restaurant recommendations and Versailles feedback. Pam you asked about our guide, we have Veronique. Also regarding Invalides, we want to see ALL of it, not just the relief maps. I just wanted to make a note of the maps so we don't miss them! Thanks again!

Posted by
13638 posts

Susan, I've not traveled with Vero but watch her FB page and enjoy her walks in Paris and elsewhere. She sounds like SO much fun!

In fact I was just doing a search on her FB page yesterday. She'd recommended a kind of pocket knife by Opinel, a French Company, and I could not remember which size...Yep, it's a #8. So...just ordered that from REI based on her FB posts, lol! (And completely wondering how I forgot to look for one on my last trip?)

On Les Invalides - it is huge. I'd do the gallery with the relief maps first so you can get it in. I particularly like the WWI and WWII galleries. That might not be "your" time frame. You'll need way more than an hour. I'd recommend you do that in the afternoon and cut the rest of your schedule including Rodin and the boquinistes and, unfortunately, the nap, lol.

Posted by
19 posts

Pam thank you so much for tip on on guide Vero's FB page! My husband and I have been enjoying a number of her videos. She looks like an amazing guide. Can't wait.

Also thanks for advice on Les Invalides - definitely want to see the relief maps and will enjoy the WWI and WWII galleries. Agreed we may have to cut Rodin, the boquinistes and the nap! ha ha Getting excited!!!