Please sign in to post.

critique my 5 day Paris itinerary

This is our 1st trip to Paris (and Europe), my husband and I are 31, fine with walking. We arrive April 3rd (late afternoon) and leave April 9Easter Monday (late afternoon). We are flying into CDG only from London (so hopefully we won't be jet-lagged upon arrival). We are planning on purchasing a museum pass so if we only allot a short amount of time to a museum that wouldn't be terrible (we plan to return, so if we only get a feel for where we'd like to spend more time on our next visit, that's probably OK). I think I'd rather be slightly over-scheduled with the option to cut things while we're out rather than not knowing what to do. We don't really take 'relaxing' vacations. We also often get frustrated deciding on restaurants (in regular daily life), which is why I wanted to have some dining options pre-planned for the areas we'll be in. I'm interested in people's opinions on the general order of things, how I have things grouped together. I've read RS's whole France book (originally we thought we might day-trip out of Paris) and some other guidebooks and read a lot of forums (here & some others) and a lot of trip adviser reviews. I've used google maps a lot to map where things are in relation to each other and to time walking distances. We are interested in food, art (but we're not experts), architecture, and history. We're staying in the 2nd, closest metro stop is Marcel. Tues (Apr-3) Arrive CDG (from LHR) at 4 PM RER B transfer to metro 4 at Les Halles or Gare du Nord (destination Marcel) check into hotel 7:30 PM 8:30 reservation at La Cordonnerie (15 min walk) walk to Arc de Triomphe via Champs Elysee (via Laudree, Pierre Herme)
metro back to hotel

Posted by
3 posts

Jennifer, I like you. You plan like I do. Good job on pulling together an amazing itinerary. I only got to spend 5 days in Paris the first time around as well. We jam packed a ton of things in on our first day. I think we ended up walking 14 hours! Make sure you throw in some strolling through the gardens. Tuileries and Place des Vosges were my favorite. I just loved sitting and soaking it all up. We did Versailles as well. Be advised that it is HUGE! To see the palace, Petit Trianons, Le Hamleau, and les jardins - especially if the fountains are on- I'm not sure three hours is enough. But I love walking through gardens (see previous paragraph) and usually take my time photographing while I go. We also snuck in a trip to Giverny for Monet's Garden. It was an easy train ride and not overly extensive as to take all day to go through. Just some thoughts. I'm going back for the month of June, so let me know how your trip goes.

Posted by
46 posts

Wed (Apr-4) bfast-croissant en route walk to Notre Dame (~30 min) Rick Steves Paris History walk (Notre Dame, archeological crypt, Deportation Museum, place St. Michel, Sainte Chapelle, Conciergerie) Lunch (sandwich at Eric Kayser?) wander Ile St. Louis/Latin Quarter (ice cream Berthillon) Louvre (opent til 10 PM) eat dinner in the museum? Thurs (Apr-5) Versailles (arrive by opening) return late afternoonlunch? Bateaux Les Vedettes Siene river cruise try for 7 PM DinnerA la Biche Au Bois 8:30 PM Fri (Apr-6) Good Friday wander Les Halles neighborhood (kitchen & gourmet shops) bfast & lunch wherever looks good Musee d'Orsay Musee de l'Orangerie (time permitting) dinner? Sat (Apr-7) Bon Marche/La Grande Epicerie Luxembourg Gardens lunch-take away from Epicerie (eat in gardens) or Creperie de Josselin Catacombs Sacre Coeur (just exterior? go inside?) Monmatre neighborhood dinnerHugo or Le Relais Gascon Sun (Apr-8) Easter Sunday Richard Lenoir market (bfast & browsing) arrive by 9 AM Marias strolling lunchL'As du Fallafel Jewish Museum of Art & History (open-during passover?) Centre Pompidou Cite de l'architecture (brief, mainly for view, closes at 7PM) walk along Trocadero to dinner (20 minallow ~1hr) dinnerCafe Constant (dinner served 7-11 PM, no reservations) Eiffel Tower (10:30 PM reservation?) Mon (Apr-9) Galeries Layfayette/Paris Opera House (outside only) be in metro by 12:30 PM
flight departs CDG 4:45 PM

Posted by
4979 posts

Jennifer, I like the places you are visiting. You've got some nice foodie choices. I had a great meal at Cafe Constant, love the Richard Lenoir market, and get a falafel on every trip. I have one suggestion. I've really enjoyed the walking tours offered by Paris Walks (paris-walks.com). In particular, they do some nice walks in Montmartre and in the Marais and its a nice orientation. I feel you see a lot and learn a lot more than when you just wander around. They are just two hours and you don't have to book in advance. You just show up. You might take a look at their schedule and see if there is anything that lines up with your interests.

Posted by
3551 posts

great plan but be flexible in case you want to slow down. A gd thing espec when visiting Paris. Maybe have a picnic under Eiffel Tower.
Whatever you do you cannot go wrong. Sip expressos everywhere or gelatos and crepes!!!

Posted by
2013 posts

Have you read "Sarah's Key"?

Posted by
8797 posts

I like your itinerary, and was very happy to see the Luxembourg Gardens on your list (one of my favorite places in Paris). Try to find some time to sit outside at a cafe for at least an hour and people watch - very enjoyable.

Posted by
46 posts

Gary- I am hoping for sunny weather so we can spend more time outdoors. We have time alloted to Luxembourg gardens, which I believe someone on this board claimed their favorite. Since we're walking a lot I do hope to take side tours to stop there if the weather is nice. I actually do like Monet (we share a birthday!) but for some reason I'm not feeling Giverny on this trip. Maybe because it's so early in spring I'd rather go when it's really flourishing? We plan to arrive at Versailles by 9 AM when it opens and then leave sometime in the late afternoon (3 or 4). We don't have anything "planned" back in Paris until 7 PM. I think even if we don't see it all that will be long enough for us. I don't think the fountains will be running since it's the off-season and not the weekend. But I heard that Easter weekend is likely to be incredibly crowded and that's our only weekend. How exciting to spend a whole month! Some day. Laura- Thanks for the Paris Walks reminder. I had read about them before and had forgotten. I agree and think it sounds like a great way to hear a bit of a different story. I will check their itinerary while we're there. Good to hear about Cafe Constant. I am open to other suggestions if you have any.

Posted by
46 posts

JS I think we will definitely keep slowing down in mind. I don't want to miss the feel of Paris by jumping museum to museum. But it is always a good reminder. I do have a gelato shop on map (Grom I think). I should at least write that into the itinerary. And ice cream at Berthilon is already there. :) I did have a picnic in front of the Eiffel Tower in my mind as something I wanted to do. I will try and figure out when it makes sense to do that. Perhaps Friday before we go to Musee d'Orsay. We could metro from Les Halles to the Eiffel Tower and then walk back to the Musee d'Orsay? Patty- I have not, but I had been meaning too. I'm currently reading "My Life in France" about Julia Child. I will try to read that next. Susan- I think I did add that particular garden based on other posts of yours I read. We will make sure to spend some time in a cafe outside. I hope we get good weather.

Posted by
4684 posts

Definitely change from RER to Metro at Nord, not Chatelet-Les-Halles.

Posted by
1916 posts

Jennifer, your itinerary looks great. I've been working on my own plans for 3 1/2 days in Paris before joining a tour and it's so hard to narrow things down. If you have time for another book, I'd like to recommend "The Paris Wife" by Paula McLain. It's about Hemingway's first wife, Hadley. I just finished reading it and it was wonderful. I'm planning to do the Paris Walks "Hemingway's Paris". Hope you have a great trip!

Posted by
46 posts

Donna--I have read the Paris Wife recently. I agree, it's wonderful. I highly enjoyed it.

Posted by
3031 posts

You plan like I do! Which is great, as long as you leave room to be flexible and are willing to skip something because of a find or that you're enjoying something else, that's cool. I don't know what days the Jewish museum are open, but generally observant Jewish businesses will close only for the first and second days of Passover (unless a restaurant). Keep in mind though that Jewish "days" begin at sunset, so the first two "days" of Passover will occur the days after a Calender will state, often (sometimes noted as "Eruv Pesach"). Or you could just go to the musem website, less complicated! I would hestitate to do two art museums in one day, particularly since the Orsay is so big. I would even consider cutting one out unless you're really, really, REALLY into impressionists/Monet. I would consider adding in the Musee Cluny which has Medieval art you won't see elsewhere, including the amazing Unicorn tapestries. In general though this seems like a good itinerary! Since I'm a "planner" but I like to allow for flexibility, I'd write down the names and addresses of a few recommended restaurants in any given neighborhood you'll be in, that way if one is packed or closed or whatever, you have other options without having the dreaded "Where should we eat?" conversation.

Posted by
46 posts

Thanks Sarah. I checked the Jewish museum website and it didn't state anything about being closed for Passover. Although they didn't have en English site, I was just using a google translation of it, and I found it a bit difficult to navigate, so I'm not totally confident in that. But I thought it was weird that it didn't mention being closed at all for Passover or Yom Kippur (at minimum it seems it would be closed for Yom Kippur). But Jews are not the same the whole world round I guess. If we end up missing it we'll catch it the next time. I worry more that the neighborhood won't have it's usual lively feel and the smaller businesses will be closed. Not much we can do about that though. I will make a list of restaurants in neighborhoods or close to certain sights. I will try to be flexible. I think we will drop L'Orangerie. But I will look at the Cluny and see if that fits better.

Posted by
3031 posts

Jennifer - The website has an English option, which I used, and it seems the only days they close are all Saturdays, Christmas (!) and New Years. Weird that they close on Saturday but apparently not on Jewish holidays? If you want to be extra sure, you could use google translate to send an email to info@mahj.org. Have fun! Sounds like a lovely trip.

Posted by
46 posts

Thanks, I think I will email them. Yes, now I remember, closed Christmas but not Yom Kippur. How strange!

Posted by
265 posts

Jennifer, You have a wonderful time planned. You will love La Cordonniere-very small, romatice, very French. The chef is right there in the restaurant for all to see, and the food is divine. A friend of mine, who lives in Paris, recommended it the last time I was there, and when I return in May, I, too, will enjoy a meal there. Be sure to enjoy all that Paris has to offer, look up, down, and sit at a cafe any time you can to just breathe in the culture and the beauty of Paris.

Posted by
46 posts

Thanks for the confirmation Linda. All the reviews I've read seem to suggest the same. We leave 2 weeks from Friday--I can hardly believe it!

Posted by
3893 posts

A la Biche Au Bois is very good value although you better like meat. It is also very busy so a reservation would be valuable. You probably will have to telephone; I can't find an on-line site for reservations.
01 43 43 34 38.

Posted by
55 posts

Duno about Easter Sunday. Have you checked to see what will be open? Also, I think you're a little over-scheduled. Give yourself some time to be off-schedule. Don't be OCD about seeing everything on your list at the time planned. Remember, it's not a competition, it's an expedition. Paris aint going anywhere and at some point it will compel you to pay attention to what it wants you to see as opposed to what you think you should see (and yes, I know this goes for anywhere).

Posted by
15365 posts

Sunday April 8 is a Jewish holiday. I would definitely check with the Jewish Museum ahead of time. Because certain foods are not permitted during the week of Passover (beginning Friday afternoon April 6), I think it is quite likely that all the restaurants and bakeries in the Marais will be closed for the week. If you want to go there, you will have to do it earlier in your trip. Even then, expect the restaurants to be twice as crowded as usual - people getting ready for Passover usually eat out on the 2-3 days (and esp. evenings) before the holiday, since their kitchens are topsy-turvy getting ready for Passover.

Posted by
228 posts

Wander Les Halles; when you do YOU ABSOLUTELY MUST MUST MUST MUST go to E. Dehillerin. It will make your knees melt and eyes tear as you look at all of the kitchen ware... absolutely incredible! We ended up buying 40# of copper pots/pans, they boxed them up absolutely thoroughly, and we checked them at the airport as an additional piece of luggage for only $50! Also, you MUST go to the top of the Sacre Coure basilica and to the top of Arc de triomph... the views are spectacular and you will not believe that Paris is so incredibly sprawling... similar to Los Angeles... it just goes on and on. Two more things, you MUST go to walk around the Eiffel Tower grounds (no need to go up it when you do this) at sunset when it lights up on the hour with thousands of scintillating lights! The crowd goes wild! And man is this a big structure when you stand beneath it! And lastly, for dinner one night, make your way to the Latin Quarter and follow the crowds into the maze of streets ablaze with lights, shops, music and people. Find a restaurant (there are TONS) and enjoy the caucauphony of the world walking past your table.... you MUST do this! Have a fantistic time!

Posted by
46 posts

Chani--I found on the Paris Museum Pass website that the Jewish Museum is closed the following days: Closed on Saturday, on 01.1, on 05.1, on 9.17 and on 9.18 (Roch Hachana) and 09.26 (Kippour). On their own website, they only specify that they are open on Christmas and closed New Year's Day (on the English site anyway). I hadn't really thought about the restaurants serving different foods during Passover, I had considered them and stores just not being open in general. We had planned on eating at L'As du Fallafel. Which looks like it run by Jews since it's closed on Saturdays. I think we're going to walk through the Marais on Wed (Passover begins Thur night) eat dinner at L'As du Fallafel then head to the Louvre for their late night there. We may walk through again on Sunday and just do the Jewish Museum & Pompidou on Sunday. Can't believe this is next week!! Jean-Paul--E. Dehillerin is for sure on my short list. I'm very much looking forward to wandering Les Halles. It's very close to our hotel. James--It's doesn't look like I'll be able to read Sarah's Keys before we leave, but the movie seems to be on Netflix streaming. I don't really like watching movies before reading the book, but I've run out of time. We leave Friday! I can't believe it's time to go!!

Posted by
1 posts

Hi Jennifer. I am in France now. Normandy at the moment, but just spent 2 weeks in Paris and am returning for a final week on Saturday. I have been told Easter weekend will be very busy and have been trying to find out if the Richard Lenoir market is actually OPEN on Easter Sunday. I haven't found anything that says NO, so will show up and see. The Marmatton is having a special exhibit of Berthe Morisot that looks wonderful. A trick I figured out for going to the D'Orsay. GO BUY YOUR PASSPORT Ticket for 12 euros at the Orangerie. just across the river( gets you into Orangerie and D'Orsay and Degas) See that gallery first!!! It is small and wonderful and a really great first taste of Impressionism. Then walk over to the D'Orsay and BYPASS THE ENTIRE Waiting to buy a ticket line go to the far RIGHT of the building and breeze in with your passport ticket already in hand. You'll also get to see the marvelous Degas and the "Nude" special exhibit. you actually have 4 days to use it if you want to do Orangerie and D'Orsay on different days. we did the Louvre at night, No lines to get in. Friday and Wednesday til 10 i think. ALso we were done at Versailles by noon w a 9 am start as we decided NOT to walk the miles and miles of gardens and didn't go see the Trianon. we came back and went to the Louvre instead. i find i start out mid day with a plan but am open to deviations as it is all good!! the Marais is a great walking area. Place du Vosges for sure! Pompidou has a Matisse special exhibit. PICASSO IS CLOSED! Have a great time!!!!

Posted by
344 posts

I know you are already in Paris - I hope you are having a wonderful time. We just got back this past weekend. You have a lot jammed in, but you know how you travel, so I am sure you knew how to plan for yourself, so I won't comment on that part. The only thing I have to add is about your trip back to CDG. I don't know if you have ever flown OUT of CDG, but it is an experience - let me tell you. It was well organized, but HUGE! We showed up at ~11:15 AM for a 1:55 flight. We had zero line at check in (somehow they let us go through a really short line even though there was a ginormous one that most people were in). Then we went through two security check points (one for passports, one for actual security). By the time we made it through those two lines and bought a small snack, we sat for about 20 minutes before our flight starting boarding! They did board earlier than most American airlines (we were on Air France) but still - the whole security process, while it was continuously moving, was VERY long. You may want to give yourself more time to get there and get through it all before your flight. And just remember, not ever RER B train goes to CDG, so give yourself time to wait in the station for the correct train. Have a great week!

Posted by
46 posts

Thanks for the additional advice. We're having a wonderful time. We are pretty much on schedule but we have swapped days here and there. We had a little rain and it's been a little cold. Not enough to keep us inside but enough to prevent garden lunches or snacking so far. Today we hit Versailles and one of our nicer (longer) dinners. Unfortunately the time we'd planned to take our Siene cruise was canceled so we'll have to try another day. Tomorrow's a big day with Notre Dame, Saint Chappelle and the Louvre at night. We did a Paris walks of "the 2 islands" earlier this week to get a feel for the area already. Love Paris!