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Need help with Paris Plan--Thanks!

I'm at the point of admitting I need some sort of plan for our time in Paris. I was originally not planning on scheduling anything, but, well, my OCD took over. What I did: made a table listing site, time open, time not open, metro, and a section labeled 'what to combine this with'. i then used THAT table to make a 'good days in paris' list. One example looks like this:

Metro: Two stops to Chatelet (from apt.)
1. RS Left Bank Walk OR Paris Walks St. Germain (10:30)
2. Picnic in Luxembourg Gardens
3. Pantheon
4. Metro: Odeon two stops to Cite
4. Notre Dame--by 2pm for English Tour
6. Sainte Chapelle
7. Metro: Cite to Les Halles
8. Home for dinner
9. Evening--free. Walk around and hold hands.

Along with that one, I have a Champs Elysees and the Louvre day, and a Montmartre day planned. We'd also like to do a few day trips out of the city. Suggestions for days like this, please! I'm running out of time and energy--it is the end of the school year so I'm crazed (I'm a teacher) and we have a week in Vegas (where I have promised to do zero Europe trip planning) before we leave in early July. Thanks!

Trip details: Minus travel day 1 and a 36 hour side trip to Amsterdam, we have 12 days in Paris. travel day 1 will involve no jet lag--we are taking the eurostar from london, where we will have been since the week before--and we will arrive around 10am.

EDIT--when I made that list, it was in list form. When I posted it, it turned it into that big long sentence. Sorry!

Posted by
463 posts

@Susan--thanks! That's the thing about planning for a city you've never seen--it is really hard to tell how far apart the metro stops are! Thanks again!

Posted by
333 posts

My suggestion is that you have 12 days...relax you'll see plenty.

Have a list of the things you want to see and take it day by day. Plan on seeing the out of town places on the weekdays (less crowds) and try to see the museums on bad weather days.

Stroll around when you have run out of things to do.

Posted by
8648 posts

Hi Tracy, I noticed something on your example...you are going from the Pantheon to Notre Dame on the metro. This is totally unnecessary. It's a short walk from the Pantheon to Notre Dame, I would not take the metro.

Posted by
1631 posts

A few trips out of the city might be Amboise and Chartres. In Amboise, you can take a tour of the Chateau that overlooks the river and walk up to Le Clos Luce, Leonardo Da Vinci's last home. In Clos Luce there is a museum with a collection of models made by IBM based on the designs of Da Vinci. There are also some full-sized models of his fabulous machines in the Clos Luce park that you can operate.

The town of Chartres is a 1 hr. train ride from Paris. The Chartres Cathedral is famous for its gothic architecture and stained glass windows. There are nearly 200 medieval stained glass windows most dating from the 1200s. It's also a great town to have lunch/dinner. Have fun on your trip!

Posted by
359 posts

Tracy, as someone suggested, with 12 days in the bank, get settled in your hotel, see how walkable the city actually is and go from there. I'd not suggest a 36 hour trip to Amsterdam unless you're a bear for punishment and perhaps consider, instead, Brussels/Antwerp/Bruge (two nights though).

Sounds like you've done all your planning and have a handle on the city, more or less. First thing IMO is to pick up a copy of "Paris by Arrondisements" (or something similar), which is a tiny booklet showing all the streets of Paris in the 20 "zones", logically separated by arrondisements or neighbourhoods, plus maps of the Metro lines, bus lines, etc., and which are available at all the corner newspaper stands & "Tabacs" (small stores selling cigs, papers, bus tickets, etc.; look for the "Tabac" signs).

Use your "spreadsheet" plan for starters but maybe spend arrival day, after the "red-eye" from the States, to get your bearings in the hotel neighbourhood you've chosen. Wander the area you've decided to stay with your OCD the first afternoon, stop for a drink somewhere at a cafe, have a nice evening meal in whatever establishment catches your eye, plan day 2 over dinner or back at the hotel, and away the next morning to touch all the bases.

Massage your original plan from there and have a blast. You really will see how easy it is to walk or Bat-O-Bus around Paris and how 12 days will give you lots of time to visit all "YOUR" sites of interest; and do it hand-in-hand. Miss a few; no big deal 'cause you'll be back someday.

Posted by
115 posts

I only had a few days there, and the best things I did were to just spend time at a cafe and relax and have a cappuchino and watch the world go by (the mostmagnificent"grilled ham and cheese ever made on earth too). Try and relax...I bit the bullet and hired -thru the hotel - a tour whose pamphlet is in most hotels I assume, that tok in the basic tour of the Louvre and a basic tour of Versailles....now by basic it means the main sculptures, paintings most folks want to take in at the Louvre and at Versailles it is the main palace and rooms (like hall of mirrors) but not the tours of the grounds(they are soooo extensive) and the tour guide was very knowledable and we went in a van with one other family and we had lunch on our own in between sites. It was worth saving the time I would have spent and perhaps wasted on the metro lines (got lost once before on it)..some tours available are conducive to time constraints...and you skip the lines, which is a big minus when on your own......the line at Notre Dame was over an hour...and eiffle tower too....so I had to skip the interior tours.

Posted by
37 posts

Whatever you do, plan on getting lost...it's going to happen, so don't cram your schedule so tight that you end up unhappy. BTW there is no finer city to get lost in than Paris!
Bon Voyage!

Posted by
115 posts

DeDe is right....you will get lost...and it is a wonderful adventure. Just make sure you know where your hotel is in reference to a major site...for instance...I learned where my hotel was in relation to Notre Dame the first night (just a few blocks) When I got lost and was not sure if I was headed away from the river or towards it, I asked a woman at a newstand (who did not speak english) Pardon, where is Notre Dame, sil vous plais..." she popped out a map and pointed us in the right direction (we were going AWAY from our destination....at least know where you are in relation to the Seine....and enjoy the wondering, and give yourself the time/space for it...there is no need to get worked up about meeting timeframes (my kids did, and once they let go of that idea they enjoyed themselves much more).

Posted by
300 posts

Are you also tracking the closed days? E.g.,the Louvre is closed on Tuesdays.

My suggestion is not to plan every day. For 12 days try not to plan more thaan 8. Then you'll have time to discover other activities not on your plan, or time to get in those activities on a daily plan that you didn't get to.

Posted by
69 posts

Looks like you've got Paris down pat...in terms of day trips out, can't recommend the Loire Valley more. Castles, wine, scenery, warmer than Paris, you can do a bus tour out or more economically rent a car and drive out...3 hours each way depending on how far out you want to do go.

Good luck!

http://www.minitraveler.ca

Posted by
313 posts

You're first reply from Tyson above it great. You've done your homework, you have a list of the things that matter to you, so relax and enjoy. I wouldn't recommend a set plan -- you may fade out at the Louvre quicker than you think, or decide you want to get distracted while you're wandering the left bank shops, or end up wondering why people walk down the Champs Elysees.

A few years down the road, your fondest memories will be a sitting at a sidewalk cafe lingering over breakfast, or that wonderful dinner you had at that little cafe, etc.

Do try to get outside of Paris wherever your interests would take you, just to get a different flavor of life outside the big city.

Posted by
4 posts

Depending on your dates in the city you will want to see and experience Bastille Day - France's national holiday celebrating their independence. Bastille Day is July 14th and being in the city will be incredible. Also,...if your time is later in the month, be aware that the Tour de France ends on Sunday, July 25th and the riders will go down the Champs d Elysee in all their glory. Just a thought if your dates coincide with either of these events.

Posted by
251 posts

My husband decided after a few days of wandering too far in the wrong direction that we needed a compass- I would recommend buying one here in the states that is reliable-not something you'd pick up in a tourist shop. If you like to wander, spend the afternoon in the Palais Royael by the Comedie Francaise, there is a lovely park there bordered by some cafes. Great place to relax and have lunch.

Posted by
295 posts

Normandy! Do a day trip. Take the train (2+ hours) to Caen or Bayeux. Spend the money on a driver (they meet you at train.) Best money we ever spent - especially as a teacher you will enjoy this. You see a bit of the countryside en route. Watch Saving Private Ryan or Band of Brothers before you go as it will give you an idea of what it was like during the invasion.

Posted by
463 posts

@Marie--I'd actually REALLY like to see Mont St Michel (I had a poster of it on my wall when I was in middle school--some kids had New Kids on the Block, I had that!) but it seems to far and difficult to get to. That's in the same-ish area, no?

Posted by
4555 posts

Unfortunately, Mont St. Michel is quite a bit further....and definitely not a day trip from Paris

Posted by
48 posts

Side trips we we loved were: Versailles and the Champagne region, each by tour bus with the narration in English. This year our side trip will be Giverny, Monet's home. Getting lost is lovely as long as you have on comfortable shoes and take a moment to eat and have a coffee before you sort out how to get turned around properly. Some of our most memorable events occurred when we were lost.
By the way, you don't mention that you speak French. Even if you do, remember all languages have accents, so if you speak French, a Parisian may not understand you because of your accent. They also don't understand the accents of French people from other regions either!

Posted by
463 posts

@Sarah--i wouldn't say i 'speak' french. i took it all through high school and college, and i understand it enough to listen to others and to read anything that might need reading, but speaking it is a whole other issue, as i've not had much practice. my husband knows zero french, so i'll be the communicator...which is kind of scary! i'm going to spain on my own after paris (barcelona) and i don't speak ANY spanish (nevermind catalan--though it is closer to french, so i might be ok) so that will certainly be an adventure!

Posted by
239 posts

Tracy,

We just returned from our second trip and only had 5 days in Paris...as some have said, wander around, hang out in cafes, that is Paris at it's finest!! And, a picnic by the Eiffel Tower is a must IMHO (use RS Rue Cler info to get the necessities)! Also, we took a bike tour throught the neighborhoods one morning and loved it.

We went to Mont St Michel and were disappointed due to the throngs of tours...wall to wall people, just not enjoyable. Normandy is a great side-trip, as is the Loire.

If the lines are too long at the Eiffel Tower, go up in the Arc de Triomphe...short lines and great views (steps no elevator). We really enjoyed the evening Bateaux Mouches boat cruise too. And, the unbelievable ham/cheese someone mentioned...croque monsieur...amazing!!! Make sure you put some of their dijon mustard on it and you will be hooked!!