I'm being flown to Paris for a job interview in the next few weeks. Having been to Paris twice before (during the summer both times), I'm wondering how to best spend my time before the interview. I've done Versailles, Notre Dame, the Arc, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Napoleon's tomb, and even wandered around a bit. This would be over a weekend, so I'd welcome any suggestions people have. Fair warning, I'm not a modern art guy so Orsay is not up my alley. How doable is going to see the beaches in Normandy? Are there other side trips that are possible? Thanks!
Orsay isn't a modern art museum; it specializes in Impressionist works....it's a must see. Pompidou is the modern art complex.
Chartres makes a nice one-day trip. Normandy is two days at least and that's pushing it a little -- especially when you figure out how much there really is to see in the area.
Other stuff that you might not think of in Paris:
People watching / street perfromers at Pompidou Center
Wandering Montmartre on Sunday morning
Sewer Museum (south end of Pont de Alma)
Archaeological Crypt (at end of square out the front door of Notre Dame)
Pedestrian zone around Les Halles
National Navy Museum (just across river from ET at Trocadero)
The Musée d'Orsay is a museum of 19th Century art, not all of which is Impressionism. You may enjoy a visit there if only for the building itself, actually. There are furniture exhibits (Charles Renee MacIntosh & Frank Lloyd Wright are represented) sculptures, etc., as well as paintings from 19th century artists.
Have you ever been to the top of La Defense? Marvellous views all the way down to the Arc de Triomphe. There's a good restaurant up there as well and usually a small art exhibit of some sort. Bus No. 74 will get you there. Oh, and by the way, Bus No. 74 starts at the d'Orsay so you could have nice relaxing and pretty ride all the way to La Defense.
I never said all the works were Impressionist, I said it specializes in it. In fact, the Orsay has the largest collection of masterpieces of any museum anywhere in the world.
I guess I just don't know what I'm missing! I'll definately check out Orsay now despite not having a great appreciation for the impressionist masters. What about any other side trips?
Claude Monet's Gardens in Giverny is a easy day trip if you enjoy gardens although a love of impressionism makes them more enjoyable! Take the train to Vernon and bus to Giverny, just be aware of the return train times.
A very doable day trip from Paris is Fontainebleau, south of Paris. See the chateau there where Napoleon bade farewell to the Old Guard. Fountainebleau is also a very nice town to walk around in aside from the main attraction; the chateau and its gardens.
Another suggestion is to spend the day in Amiens, north of Paris on the Somme---also a very beautiful and historical city with a magnificient cathedral. Take the train from Gare du Nord.
For me Fountainebleau always has a certain attraction and worthy of a revisit.
There are two chateaux you can reach by public transportation from Paris, and a visit to either one would nicely occupy you for an afternoon. Empress Josephine's charming Chateau Malmaison is small and never crowded. You can get there on Bus 258 from La Defense. Chateau de Vincennes, which is on my to-see list for my next time in Paris, is at the end of Metro Line 1. On your return from Vincennes, why not get off the metro at Place de la Nation and have a good look and walk around a neighbourhood seldom visited by tourists. Lots of good restaurants & cafés and a wonderful outdoor market on Saturday mornings.
I've really enjoyed some of the walking tours that I have taken with Paris Walks. Their schedule is posted on www.paris-walks.com. They have various theme walks. You basically just show up at the metro station, pay the fee, and go on the walk.
Orsay is my favorite museum. Not only is it filled with tons of paintings that you will recognize, the building itself is quite interesting.
Finally, for me Paris is all about the food and wine. If this applies to you, David Lebovitz is a cookbook author living in Paris who has a very entertaining blog with lots of tips for Paris. Check out his recommended foodie haunts.
Since you are going in just a few weeks the odds are the weather won't be great. I would probably not plan on going to gardens and I don't know how many street performers will be out. There is so much to see indoors. I'm with you about modern art. As others have said, the Orsay is not modern art and it is an incredible museum. Another place you might consider is the holocaust (shoah) museum.
The Cluny Museum is fascinating. It is near the Luxembourg Gardens so you can also enjoy a walk, even if the weather is a bit blustery. Read Paris to the Moon and check out a few of the areas he mentions.
If you mean actual time spent at the chateau in Fontainebleau is going to be 4 hrs. max, yes, that can be done. But, if the 4hrs is going to include the train ride to and fro from Paris, my answer would be no. You have to ride the bus roughly across the street from the chateau to get back to the station...all the time being aware when the next train leaves for Paris. If you walk it...from the chateau back to the station, count on at least 40 mins. (I've done it more than once)
Like Versailles, the day trip to Fountainebleau, which is the way I've always done it...from Paris, should not be rushed. You want to give this place ample time, which includes not only the inside of the palace, ie., what they allow you to see (that part not cordoned off), the lovely and spacious gardens, and the shop in the chateau. Look and imagine that court yard where Napoleon said farewell to the Guard. Happy Travels in Fountainebleau.
I was also wondering about what else there is to do in Paris. I'm going next month and I've done all the tourist stuff. For those that have been to Fontainebleau, is it possible to do this as a half day trip (3-4 hours)? I've done Versailles in that amount of time, so was wondering if Fontainebleau is the same deal (I know it's a bit further away from Paris). Yes, the weather will not be great for outdoor stuff, but so what.
To get your fix on French Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and early Modern paintings you don't have to go to France instead you can visit the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia (http://www.barnesfoundation.org/c_main.html).
In Paris, I forget whether Saturday or Sunday is the day they have a market just around the corner from Sacre Coeur. You might want to find out and start up at Sacre Coeur and then work your way down.
Apparently there are over 200 museums in Paris,, therefore, I doubt anyone has actually "done all the touristy stuff"( if you count museum going as touristy after even more then a dozen visits.. unless of course one takes long visits and sees many places a day.. LOL
I also recommend the Shoah Museum, and the Cluny. How about Carnavalet Musuem on Paris History,, it is most definately worth a visit.
The Paris museum specialized in Impressionism is the l'Orangerie. It is an absolute must, beautiful museum in a beautiful setting at the Jardin des Tuileries, check here: http://www.musee-orangerie.fr/documents/anglais_2008-09-16.pdf (info in English) This is where you can see Monet's Nympheas.
Have you been to Montmare? If the weather is nice, it is lovely to walk around, see the view from Sacre Couer, get some ice cream or cofee, watch the painters, and relax!