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What to do on the first jet-lag day in Paris

We will arrive in Paris CDG on a Tues., 6:10 a.m. I know we will be jet-lagged but we can only drop our bags at the hotel once we arrive in Paris , since it is too early for check-in. I also hate to waste a full day of only 5 days there just because we are tired. Was thinking maybe we could handle one of the Paris Walks type tours for a couple of hours to help us get oriented. I will be buying a Paris Museum Pass for myself but am not sure I want to activate it on the first day since we may not be able to go as long and hard as we'd like in order to take advantage of that. My granddaughter is an avid art fan, mainly Monet and VanGogh along with a few more modern artists, so while there we will definitely be going to the Orangerie, Orsay, possibly the Louvre, and, if we can possibly squeeze it in, the Marmottan. We both are looking forward to eating some great local foods. I love the idea of visiting so many beautiful churches, so we will try to get in Ste. Chapelle, Sacre Coeur, of course Notre Dame, and St. Denis, if at all possible. We will go to the Eiffel Tower but we don't have tickets to go to the top. If we decide to do that then we'll probably just walk up to the second level and then take the elevator. Both of us want to just experience Paris--not enough time, too much to do. Sorry this is so lengthy but wanted whoever might respond to have an idea of our interests, to help with any suggestions for that first day. I am 63 but very active and don't require much sleep, and my granddaughter is 17 with hopefully at least as much energy as I have. We are staying near the Sorbonne. Oh, yes, we will be traveling to Giverny on one of the 5 days. Enough!!!

Posted by
5835 posts

I drop my baggage off at the hotel then walk around exploring the area surrounding the hotel. That especially works if your hotel is located in an interesting neighborhood like Le Marais with Le Seine and the Notre Dame Cathedral a km or two away. I like to get some walking in to compensate for sitting all night and get exposed to local time sunlight to accelerate the time zone adjustment.

Posted by
8433 posts

awis1951, look into the Hop On Hop Off bus and you can just ride around Paris all day, or get off anywhere you choose. I think L'Open Tour is one of the companies.

Posted by
552 posts

If I was showing a youngster around for the first time, I would head straight to the river. Enjoying the views as you walk purposefully toward, and into, the Notre Dame.

That's what we did on our honeymoon (I was 32, but as nubile a traveler as many teens nowadays). It was our first time in Paris and very early in the morning. We dropped the luggage off at the Hotel du Levant, two blocks from the 'Cluny - La Sorbonne' Metro stop. From there, it was as if I was being drawn by the spirit of Quasimodo to see flying buttresses and gargoyles up close and personal.

I'm an Atheist (maybe less so back then) but still enthralled by the quality entertainment (free and stimulating) provided by Gothic Cathedrals.

Posted by
8293 posts

Do as Edgar suggests and if you pass a metro station, enter and buy a carnet of tickets. Have a coffe at a sidewalk cafe, and then some lunch. Maybe a hop on/hop off bus to pass time if you get too tired.

Posted by
13925 posts

I am not sure I would activate the Museum Pass that first day either. If you arrive at 610, then you may be to your hotel by 830-ish or later. I would find breakfast and coffee first and enjoy the passing scene. Then as suggested by others, I would probably walk toward the Notre Dame area and go inside. You can make this a shortish visit so you can get back outside. I'm not a tower climbing person but many enjoy that too. I am sure Rick has some walking tours in his Paris books (sorry don't have one at hand right now), but I also just saw this link to a self-guided tour on Ile de Cite.

Something like this would be easy to do and if you all starting crashing you could head back to your hotel.

You didn't ask, but I am suggesting anyway, that you and the granddaughter take a taxi to your hotel. I am 65 and along with a friend took the RER out to CDG to meet another friend last Fall. Along the way we looked at each other and both said Taxi home! We both decided we would budget for a taxi ride, even with just carry on luggage.

Posted by
1203 posts

I too am thinking what my friend and I will do the first day we get into Paris ( and I am always jet lagged my first day). I looked at where our hotel is and what is around there in walking distance. I found that we are near the Luxembourg gardens, which would be very nice, weather permitting, to take a walk around the gardens. I have been to the gardens, but my friend has not been to Paris. The gardens are beautiful. I never go to a museum the first day as I fear I will not enjoy it as being so tired. Plus you want to try to stay outside and get fresh air. There are some nice places to eat lunch near the gardens. I would go to the gardens, then go to Notre Dame and see the church and then go behind the church to the little island and maybe get lunch and see some of the nice shops. By then it will late enough to get your room at the hotel. Or go to see the Eiffel Tower, walk around, take photos then go over to the Rue Cler area and take a walk and eat lunch on Rue Cler. Again, seeing the Eiffel Tower, taking a nice walk around, seeing Rue Cler and having lunch will take a while and then go back to the hotel. The Luxembourg Gardens are near the Sorbonne and you can walk from the Gardens to Notre Dame. You can also take a walk through the Latin Quarter before going to Notre Dame on your way from the gardens, ( I personally would not eat in the Latin Quarter unless you have a good recommendation on where to eat). Have a wonderful time.

Posted by
1098 posts

Hopefully you will have sunny weather! For the 1st 2 days I suggest not wearing sunglasses. UV light helps your body adjust its circadian to the new timezone, and sunglasses block that. We have done several Paris Walks tours over the years and they are uniformly wonderful. However they tend to focus on one specific area; if you want an overview to get oriented I'd recommend one of the bus tours around town the morning when you arrive. We like to take one of these when arriving in any new city. The downside is that its sitting, and walking helps keep you awake.

One other thing you can do is try to adjust a bit to the new time zone before you go. Coming from the West Coast its a 9 hour difference, but about 2 weeks before the trip I start shifting my schedule an hour earlier every 3-4 days.

Posted by
47 posts

Wow!!! Never expected so many quick replies, but then again it's Saturday! Thanks to all of you for the great suggestions, and, John, I have never heard the no sunglasses thing and the need for UV light to help adjust to the time difference. That's helpful and interesting. So excited to learn at least one new thing each day. Today I've learned many...

Posted by
4153 posts

If your GD is truly interested in contemporary art, you can't go wrong with the Centre Pompidou.

Posted by
2349 posts

Walking along the river really gives you that "Wow! I'm in Paris!" feeling. Have lunch, then maybe back to the hotel for a shower. (I also take a nap, but I don't want to derail this thread with a nap/no nap discussion!) Then maybe a walk around your neighborhood, and an early dinner. If you're still up for it, go see something easy like the Arc de Triomphe or Notre Dame at night. Or how about those steps from "Midnight in Paris"? That's across from the Pantheon, at St. Etienne du Mont, so close to your hotel.

Since you're going to Montmartre anyway, and your granddaughter loves art, do consider the Paris Walks there. You'll get a lot of info. And I loved the Musee du Montmartre. It's not big, and it's not included in the museum pass. I found it so thrilling to see the garden where Renoir's "Bal du Moulin de la Galette" and "The Swing" were painted. Both paintings are at the Orsay, so if you go there first, spend some time looking at those two.

Posted by
796 posts

I recommend dropping uour bags off, eating a proper breakfast with protein, like an omelette and coffee. Find an open air market to go to, they are one of my favorite things to do in France. Perhaps buy your lunch fixings there, wander around the neighborhood you are staying. Find a park to eat your lunch. Many locals eat their baguette lunch in small parks along with nannies with prams, sometimes school children. Always great people watching imho. After lunch see how you feel. Most of the time I take a brief nap, I feel I am too spaced out if I do mot have at least an hour of rest, since I cannot sleep on the overnight flight. If you do nap, set an alarm and have a plan to go out for another walk to get the blood flowing.

On my last trip to Paris, I visited the market and had lunch, I got in later than you. Then I had a nap, about 1.5 hours. I then walked to the Notre Dame cathedral, about a 25 minute walk. Wandered in that area for a while, it is quite active on some evenings. Walked back. Had a lovely huge salad in a local restaurant in the way back to my apartment. Then a 10 minute walk to home. Had a long shower and hit the bed before 10. I still woke up at 5 am! Jet lag really gets me. I headed out of the apartment at about 7:30 that second morning, again to the Notre Dame, so a good walk. I was the 3rd person in the church when it opened, such a treat! One of the highlights of my trip. An early service began with some hymns. The church was very empty of tourists for a long time. My day continued on fine form.

I have tried to stay awake all day, but when I am solo travelling I feel the fatigue may make me less aware and a better person to be pickpocketed, plus I feel like a space cadet.

Do have a plan foryourmfirst day or 2, but go with how you feel and be willing to change it up. I usually plan all my days but then change the plan as I please.

Do enjoy my favorite spot.

Posted by
47 posts

To Bill from San Diego: I've been pondering your post since reading it early this afternoon and it tugged at my heart so that I had to respond. I can personally relate to the same draw and enthrallment for cathedrals that you expressed in your comment but I credit that feeling to an indescribable joy fromTHE SPIRIT rather than the sad and heartbreaking spirit of Quasimodo. No insult intended on your personal beliefs. Your comment just made me a little troubled and sad.

Posted by
8939 posts

Riding around on a HoHo bus, listening to a recording droning in my ears, would make me fall asleep.

If you feel fit, go on a bike tour, really see Paris and get a good orientation too.

Posted by
9420 posts

Spend time in the Luxembourg Gardens... My favorite place in Paris!

Posted by
63 posts

You have a lot of great suggestions already. I will only add to the menu. When I visited Paris for the first time I immediately wanted to see the Eiffel Tower so that's where we went. It was exciting to see it in person. Even though that trip was some 40 years ago I still get excited when I see it.

You mentioned Paris Walks. I have done many of them and they have all been excellent. There are walks every day. This is the website. They are very reasonably priced and each walk lasts about two hours. The owner is Peter Caine and he is a great guy. He guides some of the walks himself but all the guides are good.

In my opinion, the best thing to do in Paris -- whether it is your first trip or your tenth -- is just to walk. If it were my first trip I would drop my bags at the hotel and go someplace in Paris I have always wanted to see. For me that was the Eiffel Tower and then the Champs Elysee. A walk between the L'Arc de Triomphe and Place de la Concorde invokes a lot of history and beauty. The shops now are very touristy. But just imagine when the conquering German army marched down the Champs Elysee and later the liberation by the US Army.

I hope you enjoy your trip.

Posted by
1 posts

Try an herbal chewable pill called No Jet Lag, available in travel stores and catalogs. I swear by them. Have used these very successfully on multiple occasions for overseas trips. They do not jack you up or keep you awake when it is time to sleep. Friends have used and liked also. It helps you get into your new time zone easily, and hit the ground running, or at least at a gentle jog.

Posted by
222 posts

I agree with Margrice about the No Jet Lag pills. They do seem to help some. I learned about jet lag the hard way! Planned our trip which included a wine canal cruise the first night in Amsterdam. Had to find a taxi after that as I could not walk home afterwards, so exhausted I felt sick. Plus we had an early morning train to catch the next day. Yikes!! Newbie mistakes I learned from big time. I so wish I could sleep on the plane but it just will never happen, tried everything! You have so many wonderful ideas here, love this forum! Have a wonderful trip!

Posted by
59 posts

Re sleeping on the plane. You can ask your Dr. for mild prescription to help you sleep. some friends take gravel or tylenol pm. I also try the no jet lag pills. They work for me. Try to get some exercise in the daylight after you drop off the bags. The last time we did the HoHo bus (in Dublin), we rode the circuit twice because I slept through the whole first loop! I guess I had my nap and fresh air at the same time! Try to stay awake and active until a reasonable bed time. I am also from the west coast, and find the first couple of days quite an adjustment.

Posted by
14507 posts


How can you assume that after landing in Paris CDG you'll be jet lagged? Past trip experiences? When I fly to CDG, the plane doesn't get in as early as 0610...that would be great were that the case for me! Yes, don't waste a full day since you arrived so early. After going to the hotel, go to a museum...I went to Les Invalides. Or, stay outside, see one of the famous gardens in Paris.

Posted by
796 posts

Another quick note. To avoid some jet lag over hydrate before departure for a few days, then stay hydrated on the plane and on arrival. Water is best.

As other have suggested, get outside in the daylight in the morning. Buy some Vitamin D at home and start taking it now each morning and continue taking it on holidays. I have discussed the dosage with my physician and now confidently take up to 8000 mg/day. Google the latest research and make your own decision on what dose you feel is good for you. (I am not a prescriber, I am voicing an opinion)

The Rodin museum is also a favorite as is just strollong along the Seine as often as I can! Have a fabulous trip.

Posted by
360 posts

I second some of the previous suggestions -- stay hydrated throughout the trip and don't drink alcohol as a lot of the jet lag feeling is from being dehydrated. We also used the No Jet Lag pills and they seemed to work (or maybe it's psychological, but I don't care!). I can't recommend enough to take a sleeping pill and get on the time of where you're going as soon as you can so that 6 a.m. in Paris feels closer to what you would feel like getting up at 6 a.m. on your own time. If you have trouble sleeping on a plane, I would suggest ear plugs and an eye mask -- helped me a lot. I also used compression socks to keep my circulation going and periodically got up and walked around the plane.

Posted by
7175 posts

Do things 'not included' on the Paris Museum Pass - 4 days will be perfect for you Wed/Thu/Fri/Sat
Here are some options ...
Pont Neuf + Notre Dame (not the towers) + Ile St Louis
Champs Elysees + Arc de Triomphe (not the view from on top)
Marmottan (Monet) Museum
Sacre Coeur + Montmartre
Picasso Museum + Place des Vosges + Carnavalet Museum
Luxembourg Gardens + St Germain + St Sulpice
Place de la Concorde + Madeleine + Opera + Place Vendome + Tuileries

Posted by
7175 posts

Suggestion for getting most out of four day Paris Museum Pass ...

St Chapelle / Conciergerie / Orangerie / Decorative Arts or Fashion Museum / Louvre (til 9.45pm Wed,Fri)
Versailles / Orsay (til 9.45pm Thu)
Towers Notre Dame / Cluny / Pantheon / Delacroix / Pompidou (til 9pm ex Tue)
Arc de Triomphe / Rodin / Invalides / Les Egouts / Quai Branly (til 9pm Thu,Fri,Sat)