1 week in France

My wife and I are traveling to France for our honeymoon. We only have one week, and want to get the most out of the experience. I have read Rick's 2010 guide and will certinally visit all of main spots, but I am considering traveling to Amsterdam for a few days. We won't spend too much time in the museums, but we are always on the go and love to walk. Am I trying to cram too much in?

Neither of us speak French either (which I am concerned about.. But we will do our best).

Thanks...

Posted by Adam
Boston
2626 posts

I think it is reasonable to visit both Amsterdam and Paris in a week, flying into Amsterdam, taking the train to Paris, and flying home from there.

That's a lot, and I don't think it is reasonable to hope to do much else. So it's a choice between Amsterdam and a few days in another part of France (than Paris)--Burgundy, Provence, or Normandy.

All of these are great destinations, so I think the only way you could go wrong is not to plan carefully.

An extra day, if you could steal it, would not hurt either.

Congratulations, and have a wonderful trip.

Posted by Richard
Vancouver, WA, US
2 posts

If you only have a week and you want to go to France, stay there. Paris alone is
worth more than a week especially if you plan on the side trips as suggested. You'll really like Paris and the surrounding area.

Posted by Darren
Boulder, CO, USA
647 posts

Hi Dan,
I agree with the other posters, with only a week, I stick to France. Is your 7 days in country, or does that include a day traveling on each end, limiting you to 5? Paris is good for 2-3 (museums will take you well beyond that), Versailles is a day (or combine it with Chartres if you're into Cathedrals), Reims is a day. The Loire is close (if you're into Chateaux and wine), Normandy, Brittany, Mont St. Michele. All of these are within Striking Distance of Paris and well worth it. My advice those, is to pick just a few, and GO SLOW. France is all about slowing down, and you'll love it. Language will not be a problem over there (but Rick's phrasebook is a big help). Have fun.

Posted by Richard
Vancouver, WA, US
2 posts

If you only have a week and you want to go to France, stay there. Paris alone is
worth more than a week especially if you plan on the side trips as suggested. You'll really like Paris and the surrounding area.

Posted by Dave
Vashon Island, WA, USA
4 posts

Dan.... We are intending on starting our 10 days in Europe in Amsterdam (3.5 days) then Bruges (2 days) then Paris (4.5 days). We want just a taste of each with plans that this will not be our last trip. We wanted to see Amsterdam for it's waterways, cafes, museums and Bruges because I visited once and vowed to bring my wife back. Paris...well, because it is Paris! I read that you should not go thinking it will be your last time and we recognize that we will be on the move a bit. But we want to taste each of these areas and get a feel for where we want to return and explore further (so much to see, so little time but so much fun).

I know anything you decide will be terrific and congratulations on the honeymoon!

Posted by June
Edmonton, Alberta
249 posts

I think Paris is worth at least a weeks visit. There is a lot of walking to do in the city, walking along the Seine during the day and at night is heavenly. There are so many different neighbourhoods to explore. The open markets are very interesting and it is fun to buy food for picnics. My favorite picnic spot is in the Champs du Mars, the park in front of the Eiffel Tower. I had a great picnic lunch in the beautiful outdoor Rodin Museum. During my last trip in Oct 09, I found several small parks to picnic, many locals were having their lunch there too.

Happy Travels

Posted by Fran
New Orleans, La., USA
1 posts

Dan,
Good thing you aren't really into museums! Louvre = 2 days. Rodin Museum = 1/2 day. Orangerie = 1 day. Orsay = 1 or 2 days. !!! Here's a good French phrase that got me around Paris, making the Parisians laugh:
"Je fais de mon mieux."
It means "I'm doing my best."

Posted by bronwen
maplewood, new jersey, usa
750 posts

I think it is doable - fly into Paris and out of Amsterdam. Personally, I love Paris but could never spend an entire week there.

I have been to both cities separately - like you I am not a big museum person. In Paris we did a tour of the Louvre with Paris Walks - it was on a Wednesday night (off season) and a two hour highlights tour. Perfect. Most of our time was spent wandering, drinking and eating. We did two days in Paris, two days in Normandy and then two days back in Paris.

In Amsterdam - visited Anne Frank House, the Resistance Museum, the Zoo, and the church which is hidden in a canal house (big hit with my then 9 year old). Also, I have been to Delft, Haarlem, and Leiden - all fun cities.

Posted by Dan
Brockton, MA, USA
2 posts

Thanks so much for all of your replies! I am really excited to have found such this great resource.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
2684 posts

Dan,

Spend the time in Paris...it's also a walking city, a great walking city. Between Amsterdam and Paris a week in Paris is a bare minimum; even if you don't go to many of the museums, just walking around and soaking up the sights is worth your time. Happy Travels!

Posted by Rudy
Nice, France
108 posts

I agree with everybody else here, stick to Paris, it is a wonderful city for walking visitors. One day trip I would recommend from Paris is the medieval city of Provins, easily accessible from Paris. It is on the UNESCO's World Heritage list and it well deserves it. Have a look there http://www.provins.net/index.php/english-version.html

Posted by Darren
Boulder, CO, USA
647 posts

Hi Dan,
I'd stay in France. Paris has tons to offer, though you need not spend a full week there. Spent 3 days to start my trip, then 2 days to finish it, and that was more than enough, given all else that I wanted to see. Did I see all of Paris? Of course not, but 3 days or so will get you a good experience (i.e. Cafes...), especially if you're not into Museums. But Versailles? You have to spend a day there! I'm not sure what time of year that you're going, but if it's warm and sunny, you can spend a full day at Versailles touring the Palace, then spend the day in the gardens. See the Trinions, Domaine de Marie Antoinette (my favorite) and linger in the cafes within the Gardens. Rent Bikes. A great Honeymoon day, all in all. You can also take the Train from Paris to Beaune, Burgundy. Or, Sarlat, Dordogne. Avignon/Arles, Provence. These are all magical towns with great walking opportunities (the biking in Beaune is second to none). So, while Amsterdam in certainly cool, immerse yourself in France, and give yourself a reason to come back to Europe some day. You won't regret it.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7948 posts

Prejudices:

  1. Paris and Hong Kong are my two favorite cities.

  2. I never agree with Adam on anything, just on general principal.

Adam has it nailed.

Fly to Amsterdam. You'll probabbly arrive early to mid-day from the east coast, so just spend two nights -- that'll do it well enough.

Take the early train to Paris and you'll again arrive about mid-day. (Guessing on train business, since I drive, but it's a five-hour trip with one quick stop for me.)

Don't take any side trips out of Paris or you'll gyp yourself silly.

You're set up for the all-time twofer. Do it.

Posted by Susie
Fort Collins, CO, USA
1 posts

Dan- we are in the same boat. Headed in Paris for our Honeymoon. We have 13 1/2 days of available time (already excluded flights in and out). I get to set France itinerary for 7 days and the fiance gets the remaining time for his agenda. I want to see Paris but would also like a day trip to the Burgundy region. Did you guys spend all of your time in Paris? Did you find you needed all 7 days there?

My question to the boards- can I do Paris in 4 days and Burgundy region in 3? By Burgundy region I mean that we would like to explore Dijon, Beaune, and Avallon (avallon to be determined)We would be driving. My goal for this honeymoon is to feel like temporary residents. Sure we want to see museums but we also would like to experience the local lifestyle.

The fiance wants to do Normandy beaches, Brussels and Amsterdam for his trip.

Any suggestions would be welcome.

Thanks!

Posted by jimlindalila
winter park, fl, usa
21 posts

if you're going to normandy go to mont st michel. we went last year and it was the highlight of our trip. we spent the night on the island in a crummy hotel (can't remember the name). next time i will stay off the island but watch the sunset with a bottle of wine on rocks. a lot of people walk around the island at dusk and it's a very reverent group. mont st michel at night is very romantic.

we've spent a month the last two summers and i think the best way to feel like a local is to go out into the country (our base for two weeks each time is Sancerre) and go the local markets or better yet a Carrefour or Auchon grocery. No tourists there and definitely no english.

Posted by Adam
Boston
2626 posts

Susie, I think your idea makes a pretty good trip. Temporary residency might be a stretch, though.

With a car and only 3 days, I'd skip Dijon. If you visit Avallon, it's worth continuing to Vezeley, and planning to spend some time there too.

My personal favorites in the region include Beaune, the Fontenay Abbey, and some of the smaller towns. Rick's picks are, as usual, excellent too.

If you plan things right you can return the car to Montbard or Auxerre and catch a train into Paris in time to get to Charles DeGaulle, or just drive there, or take the train from Beaune.

Your fiance's plans are a tad ambitious, I think.

Best wishes!