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23 hour layover Paris-1st time!

Please help! My husband and I will be stopping in Paris on our way to India. I am SO thrilled to be stopping in Paris as it has always been a dream destination of mine. Neither of us has ever visited (nor do we speak the language but I can get by with basics). We are landing at 11:15am on a Saturday and depart at 10:30 am Sunday morning. I would love advice on the following: 1. I think we should stay at the Sheraton at CDG for convenience- any thoughts on staying here versus the city itself? (I was going to use hotel points) 2. How long approx will it take to get out of customs and to a train to the city? 3. Exactly how do we get to the city? How do we use RER/metro 4. What is a good itinerary? I'd like to leave out museums as I don't think we have the time I'd want for that. I want more quality than quantity and to enjoy and not rush.
5. Where should we eat? I'd love to squeeze in a picnic in front of ET- where to get food? I am not frou-frou but want a Parisian experience! I intend by all means to find a Laduree Thanks for any help on any of the above!

Posted by
9110 posts

1. You almost have to stay at the airport leaving that early since you have to hit the terminal three hours prior. 2. Unknown. Maybe an hour? 3. Take the rer from one of the two stations in the airport. Coming from Atlanta, you'll use Terminal 2. The station is in the middle on the lower level. The first ticket will get you to anywhere in town. Google up a metro map and see where the interchanges are. If you want to start at the cathedral stay on until St Michel - Notre Dame, hop off, and walk across the river. 4. Stick 'ed pensacola bit for humanity' in the search box on this page. Undisregard the stuff about museums. 5. No idea / where ever is closest when your storage growls. A Parisian experience sounds expensive - - grub is grub. Buy stuff at whatever market you pass by. A picnic, food buying, hiking out onto the grass will suck down your looking around time and the area is way gone from anywhere else you'd reasonably be on a quick tour. If Laduree is the brand name and not a generic cookie store, there's probably several, but the only one I can picture is on the Champs a block or two down from the Arc.

Posted by
188 posts

I agree with a lot of what Ed says. I would go to your hotel on arrival to off your bags (not sure how to get to it from the terminal). Once there, they can direct you to one of the CDG RER Blue (B) line stations. From the time you arrive until you get into Paris, plan on about 3 hours ( Customs, check-in, back to station; the actual train ride to Paris once you get the train is about 35-40 minutes). St. Michel-Notre Dame is stop to get off at; remember this station-after seeing Notre Dame, come back over to it to get the RER Yellow (C) line to go to Champs de Mars/Tour Eiffel. After seeing the Eiffel Tower up close, cross over the Seine and walk up to the Trocadero plaza to get the classic view of the Eiffel Tower from across the river. Depending on what time it is (it will probably start getting dark now), hop the Metro from the Trocadero station up to Charles de Gaulle/Etoile which is the head of the Champs-Elysees (Arc de Triomphe) and walk down the Champs (it is just as pretty at night). You will then need to make your way back to the St. Michel station to catch the RER back to the airport. I'll leave eating up to you but you can grab a crepe at one of the stands near the Eiffel Tower. Even this is a tight schedule for the time you have so good luck and enjoy!

Posted by
31319 posts

Anjali, I also agree with Ed, but have a few comments..... 1.) I'd recommend staying at the Sheraton, for the reasons Ed mentioned. You'll be able to get a good breakfast before boarding your flight to India, and no worries about how long it might take to get to the airport from Paris. 2.) At least an hour. It will depend on how many flights are arriving at that time, number of officers on duty, etc. 3.) Use the RER "B". You can disembark at Gare du Nord or other stations and then transfer to Metro. The exact route TBD, depending on where you want to visit first. You may find it helpful to have a look at the excellent Paris By Train website. 4.) It will likely be mid-afternoon by the time you get into Paris, so you won't have a lot of sightseeing time. If you want to visit the Eiffel Tower, you may have to take your chances on getting a ticket rather than pre-booking a reservation. It would help if you could indicate which sights in Paris are at the top of your list. 5.) There are good restaurants everywhere. Menus will be posted outside, so you can check the choices and the prices before going inside. DON'T expect the same type of service as on this side of the pond. Servers will NOT come to the table saying "and how is your meal". If you decide to visit the Eiffel Tower, I can suggest some restaurants in the Rue Cler area. There are also some nice bakeries and other shops along Rue Cler. It could be cold and wet depending on what time of year you'll be there, so squeezing in a picnic on the Champ de Mars would not be the most pleasant travel experience in that case. You may want to check the local Library to see if they have a copy of the RS Paris Guidebook. That will give you lots of good information. Happy travels!

Posted by
2081 posts

1. I think we should stay at the Sheraton at CDG for convenience- any thoughts on staying here versus the city itself? (I was going to use hotel points) if thats how you want to stay and use your points. 2. How long approx will it take to get out of customs and to a train to the city? i will let the more experienced travelers handle this one. 3. Exactly how do we get to the city? How do we use RER/metro I would use the RER. Also, if possible, how to use the subway since it can get you around real fast. That is if you decided to move around some. If you google something like "how to get from CDG to Paris using the RER" someone has posted instructions. There are color pictures also. 4. What is a good itinerary? I'd like to leave out museums as I don't think we have the time I'd want for that. I want more quality than quantity and to enjoy and not rush. Thats up to you and what floats your boat. You may want to look at some books or google "what to do an see in Paris" and see what floats your boat. 5. Where should we eat? I'd love to squeeze in a picnic in front of ET- where to get food? I am not frou-frou but want a Parisian experience! I intend by all means to find a Laduree I wouldnt thing about "eating". I would think more along the lines of "grazing". Since your time is limited, i would try to find some small portions and DESSERTS. That way you can try many different foods. sort of like Dim Sum on a global scale. Happy trails.

Posted by
1976 posts

As Ed said, there is a Laduree on the Champs-Elysee. You should look up its exact location in advance so you don't waste time looking for it when you're there. There may be a Laduree at CDG as well; it's worth doing some online research to see if there is.

Posted by
9110 posts

Since I've only been to Paris something over a hundred times in the last fifty years, my experience may not be as great as the others, but I have some comments on the comments. The Sheraton is smack dab on top of the rer station. Nord is the last spot in the world next to Les Halles for a newbie to start switching lines. Get past it. Get past both. That makes it St Michel Notre Dame. You don't have time to get from the Trocadero stop up to the esplanade and back down into the metro. That's almost an hour shot down the tubes not counting the time to ride out there. Walking from the tower and back takes just as long. If you want to go to the Arc after the cathedral, cross to the right bank at Pont Neuf and take Metro 1 to the Arc from Louvre Rivoli. If you want to go to the tower, take rer C from St M - ND. There's no way you can't be in the middle of the city two hours after the airplane doors open - - three if you goof around and drop your stuff. If you want to go up the ET do it at night when the lines are shorter, but time yourself to catch the next to last train back to the airport or be ready to chunk out seventy-five bucks for a cab. The metro is not the fastest way around town except to get to the far ens if the stick - - the ET and the Arc. Walking is quicker. Walking the Champs, day or night, would be pretty low on my list of things to do. It's become almost a strip mall of junk stores.

Posted by
23 posts

Thank you all for your extremely valuable input! It seems like it's not going to be as easy as I first imagined! As much as I'd love to see it ALL- I am happy to just see the city and stand on the soil. I would of course like to stand in front of the ET even if I don't have time to go up. The other place of interest I'd like to see would be Notre Dame if I had to pick. Otherwise I'll have to hope for a next time considering we won't have the luxury of time. Ed- I assumed I would not have time for museums based on our small window but I will definitely check out your recommendations- thank you! I didn't realize how silly the picnic seemed until I realized I did not contemplate what weather conditions would be! This forum has helped me consider practicality over whimsy! Thanks to all!

Posted by
9110 posts

Work at it. If you look at that mess I wrote a long time ago and drop off Montmartre and the museums, it could all be done in the time that you have. It's my standard 'hustle people through Paris before they blink' package. It stinks but it can be done. Pare it down a bit but try to use the sequence. One other thing when words start getting thrown around and turn into shortcuts: Champs Elysees (s on the first word) is a fat street. Champ de Mars (no s on the first word) is a sheep pasture east of the ET where people think they have to eat.

Posted by
7863 posts

Agree with Ed about getting off at St. Michel and seeing Notre Dame. One other treat would be the boat ride on the Seine, particularly after sun set. You'll see a lot of the important buildings all lit up, with commentary, from the level of the water, Eiffle Tower included. It takes an hour, another 20 minutes in line and waiting for it to get going, but it covers a lot of ground, er water. You'll need some down time, that's when I'd get an omlet and fries, or another plate of food, in a cafe and keep on going afterwards. I wouldn't take time for a real three course meal, as it will eat up two hours of your time. I'd also avoid the overpriced cafes on the Champs Elysees, but pop into a small place on a back street. Bon voyage.