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5 Hours in Paris

I have an 8 hour layover in Paris. Any suggestions for what to do in 5 hours in the city would be greatly appreciated.

Posted by
8700 posts

I'll assume that you are flying in and out of CDG. At the airport buy a one-day, zone 1-6 Paris Visite pass (€18.50). It will get you to Paris and back on the RER and Metro and will cover all public transportation while you're in Paris. Be aware that the RER B line divides northeast of Paris. When you return to the airport be sure to get on a train that is going there.

Are you an art lover, especially Impressionist art? Then visit the Musee d'Orsay for an hour or two.

Do you want to get an above-ground introduction to some of the main sights in Paris without paying for a hop on-hop off bus tour? Then use your Paris Visite to ride city bus #69 for its entire route, jumping off whenever you pass by something that looks interesting and then continuing on.

Do you want to stretch your legs and see a bit of Paris at the same time? Then when you come into Paris on the RER B, get off at St-Michel Notre-Dame and start walking along the Seine. Visit the cathedral first, if you wish. It's free, unless you want to go up in the tower.

Eat lunch at a sidewalk cafe. The table will be yours until you ask for the bill. No one will encourage you to leave after you're done eating so you can do all the people watching you wish.

The RATP (Paris Transportation) site is not working correctly at the moment. When it's back up to speed I'll send you links to a Metro/RER map and a bus #69 route map.

Posted by
27 posts

That's hard to say as there is SO MUCH in Paris. That being said, if you haven't done the Louvre or Musee d'orsay yet, either of those would be my first choice. If you like the Old Masters and the Renaissance, then go to the Louvre. If you like Impressionism (Monet, Manet, Degas, etc.) then go to the Orsay. You can't do the entire louvre in one day, but you can do one wing of it in about 3 hours if need be. After 2-3 hours in either gallery hop over the the Eiffel Tower. Go up if you want, depending on the lines. If you're going soon, in the summer, the lines can be long and take a long time, so admire it from the ground. Grab something to eat at a little cafe and then head back to the airport.

If you're not big into art and want high end shopping instead, walk down the Champs Elysses and check out the Arc de Triomphe, and then head to the Eiffel Tower.

There is a lot to do in Paris, but IMO the Eiffel Tower is a must see, if for no other reason than to say you did. The Louvre and Orsay are obligatory if you love art at all. Obviously both in 5 hours is a stretch, but you can pick one or the other.

Posted by
4132 posts

My hat is off to Tim for his reply to this question.

Of course there are many other possibilities--I'd be tempted to work in the Rodin Museum--but he gives a hint of possibilities.

Posted by
8700 posts

Here's the link to a zoomable Bus #69 route map.

Here's the link to a zoomable Metro & RER map.

Posted by
8293 posts

Having taken the RER into Paris, I'm not sure where Tim is advising the OP to pick up the No. 69 bus, which is an excellent suggestion, don't get me wrong. If Lisa gets off the RER at Gare du Nord, she can walk to the back of the station and get Bus No. 42. This will take her to the Champs de Mars, where she can transfer to Bus No. 69 in the direction of Gambetta. The 42 is an excellent sight-seeing route, as is the 69. The 69 will stop close to the Louvre, but frankly, expecting to enter either the Louvre or the d'Orsay, where there are generally queues to get in, and actually have time to SEE anything is just a bit optimistic.

I know the hop-on/hop-off bus will be more expensive, but it can be picked up at Gare du Nord and then you end at Gare du Nord, which is surely a great advantage, because you can get back on the RER to CDG.

The one thing we do not know is what hours of the day Lisa's 5 hours encompass. All the advice about museums, bus routes, etc., could be useless if her 5 hours are say, from 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm.

Posted by
8700 posts

Norma's suggestion of taking bus #42 from Gare du Nord to Champ de Mars is an excellent one. Lisa will see a little more of Paris above ground and then start riding bus #69 at the western end of its route.

Here's a link to the Bus #42 route map.

If Lisa wants to begin with a ride on bus #69, she could take the RER B to Chatelet-Les Halles and then catch the bus at the Chatelet stop.

Posted by
277 posts

Batobus along the Seine. HOHO boat that stops at eight sightseeing destinations. Review their web site for specifics.

Posted by
8293 posts

Too bad Lisa has not come back to tell us what she thinks of the suggestions given and also to inform us as to her 5 hour time frame. Oh, well.

Posted by
582 posts

I received an email from someone else that has only five hours in Paris. They were only going to the Louvre. How frustrating it must be to have only five hours in Paris! I had a layover in Paris on my last trip, and only saw the airport! Well, I'm going there this year for my trip!!

Posted by
1319 posts

I am the other one who has only five hours in Paris this fall, on our way to Reims. We've been to Paris many times and plan to see a special exhibit at the Louvre. We should also have time to walk through the Tuileries and have lunch. We'll make the most of our five hours, which is better than no hours. I think the suggestions made on this thread are terrific!