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One (Surprise!) Day in Paris

My wife and I will be traveling to Italy in July, but our flight on Air France will have a layover in Paris. I'm thinking about surprising her with an extra day (arrive Wednesday, tour Thursday, leave Friday). I realize that one day isn't much, but would it be possible to pull off one day in Paris? Obviously we couldn't see a lot, but just a day would be a lot for my wife. As I'm literally doing this off the cuff (thought of it this morning), I'm not sure about hotels, what to do, or if that's a good time to be in Paris July 19-21). Any thoughts? thanks
Jon

Posted by
8510 posts

I think Cynthia nailed it. Unless you are a museum buff, I'd stay away from the crowded museums and just enjoy Paris and the Cluny which Cynthia mentioned. Paris itself is a museum. One alternative to Cluny would be the Rodin Museum, small, doable, lovely garden where you can lunch, and the two of you can be inspired by the majesty of Rodin's The Kiss. Also, Paris Plage is in full gear in July. That's when the Right Bank roadway at river level is closed, sand is trucked in, and free activities go on every day, everything from sunbathing and beach volleyball to ballroom dancing with a live orchestra.

Posted by
9110 posts

What are the Paris arrival and departure times? Have either of you ever been there previously? How bad to you want to see museums, and which ones?

Posted by
23 posts

Still rough on the details (I havent booked the flight yet) but: 1) We'd arrive in Paris Wednesday afternoon (2-4pmish). Leaving Friday, noonish? 2) Nope, neither of us have been in Paris. 3) We'd love to see the museums, but I realize they're so large it might be impossible. Just seeing one or two sites or hanging out in the town would be 'good enough' (we already know that we'd like to come back for a longer trip sometime).

Posted by
517 posts

One day is plenty for what you need to do: Buy some flowers and a bottle of wine, get a picnic dinner from a charcuterie, secure a scenic spot on the river seine to watch the sunset from, and propose marriage to her all over again. Carpe diem!

Posted by
9110 posts

This is like pulling teeth - - when are you leaving?

Posted by
23 posts

smacks head Sorry, forgot to do the departure times. Sometime Friday, looking like noonish. (edits his other post to reflect that).

Posted by
635 posts

One day is just long enough to realize you needed to stay longer. Surprise her even more by staying 3 or 4 days. Leave Sunday? Thomas has a good idea as long as it doesn't rain. Not having ever been to Paris will make getting to/from the airport and getting around a continuous learning experience so plan ahead. For Paris in one day, I'd recommend seeing Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower. You could also consider Montemarte which is outside of the old, original Paris but very scenic for people watching. Of course, most of the people you'll be watching will be tourists. I think you would be happier avoiding most or all of the museums because they will be so crowded. One day would go really fast.

Posted by
3580 posts

I think you can have a great time in Paris. Try finding a hotel near Gare du Nord. If you stay there, you can take the RER from the airport (Charles de Gaulle?), get to your hotel quickly since the RER stops there, and have a quick getaway when you return to the airport. Metro and buses abound in the Gare du Nord area; there are many hotels close to the train station.

Posted by
1681 posts

I think this is a lovely idea! If you want "romantic," I would suggest booking a hotel near the Eiffel Tower so you can go over there both evenings, sit on the grass drinking champagne, and watching the sparkles illuminating the tower. (Sparkles on the hour for 5-10 minutes, starting at either 9 or 10, depending on how dark it is.)...................Spend your Thursday walking around - maybe take a taxi over to the Bastille area, walk on the Promenade des Plantes, explore the Marais, walk across the Seine Islands, head over to Luxembourg Gardens, go in the Cluny Museum and see the tapestries.................... If you have time on Friday before your departure, get to the Notre Dame Towers early enough that you can go up and see the view. (You can also get a decent free view from the top of Printemps department store, although that's not near the other places I have suggested.) ................................Two words of advice: COMFORTABLE shoes - walking all day can kill your feet. Absolutely get an air-conditioned room - we hit a 90 degree spell in Paris, summer, 2010. )

Posted by
283 posts

Jon, maybe it's me but I think you have plenty of time to enjoy Paris. Wednesday afternoon arrival, take the train to the city. Pick a hotel within walking distance of the Metro. Walk the Champes from the Arc to the Obelisk of Luxor. Enjoy the sights, sounds, and tastes of Paris as you go. At night you can do as you please. On Thursday you can do the Eiffel Tower, some of the Louvre or the Musee Orsay. There is also Notre Dame. Don't forget you also have your Thursday night to enjoy. On Friday, have a nice bite to eat at a local Boulangerie and then off to the airport. We spent a week in Paris in Montmartre at a 2 star hotel so I am sorry I can not recommend anything in the city center. We really enjoyed walking in Paris and taking in the local neighborhoods. Do not over think this one. Book your flight, find a room and enjoy. Bon Journee.
(I do not speak French so please forgive my spelling errors)

Posted by
8874 posts

One way to see a lot in a short time is to use the hop on/hop off bus. I have never done this in Paris, but I know in other cities the ticket is good for 24 hours. You could take the entire route to see the sites, then go back to the ones that interest you, if you have time for them. You will have two evenings. On the second evening I would do a Seine river cruise (not a dinner cruise) from near the Eiffel Tower. It is magical in the dark with everything lit up.

Posted by
54 posts

Jon, Since there are thousands of different (and good) answers, I'll just say what I would do. For accommodations, the Hotel Relais Bosquet near the Eiffel Tower in the seventh arrondissement has very good rooms, fair prices and a wonderful location in the Rue Cler. You didn't mention your budget, but for a romantic evening you'll always remember dine at the Jules Verne restaurant on the second level of the Eiffel Tower (reserve online two or three months in advance for a chance at a table by the window), and/or a Seine river dinner cruise. Bateaux Parisiens is a good provider. These are both big buck items, unfortunately. Alternatively, dine at a good restaurant such as le violon d'Ingres. Eat lunch outdoors at a good cafe and let Paris come to you. Get some fresh bread, some cheese and wine, and find a great park to picnic in. Choose one good museum (Louvre, Orsay, etc.) and spend some time there. Stroll around after dark- the Latin quarter is a good place; also near Notre Dame.

Posted by
951 posts

What would I do if I had 1 day in Paris? -like others have mentioned, a picnic with the eiffel tour in your face....bread, cheese, olives, wine (I don't know if that is legal in Paris, open container, drinking in a park).....but wait til evening to go up in the tour. I find it sooo romantic at night. -a museum: it would have to be the Louvre but man.....I loved the L'orangerie, D'Orsay, Cluny, Marmotan. But maybe stick with the Louvre. But beware, 3-4 hours could be easily eaten up.
-Notre Dame and St Chappel: Notre Dame is so iconic but St Chappel has the most beautiful stained glass. It's a busy day but would be memorable. I stayed in the Rue Cler area so I am a bit biased as to where to stay. I found the neighborhood very charming and romantic and close to the Eiffel tour.

Posted by
893 posts

You can see a lot in Paris in a day if you want to. Or you can relax and just hang out. Your choice. But don't let anyone tell you that your time is too short to get anything out of your time there. The biggest thing to do is prioritize what you want to do/see. If you have always dreamed of seeing the Mona Lisa in person, then the Louvre should be high on your list. Maybe you want a romantic cruise on the Seine and to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Or maybe it's a Ho/HO bus tour with a little of everything. The hardest part about having a short time is that you can't do it all. But make sure you do what's important to you.

Posted by
56 posts

There is a bike tour company, Fat Tire Bikes, that does a night tour of Paris. They meet at the "Sud" or south leg of the Eiffel Tower. It is an awesome way to see a cool side of Paris, and it includes a cruise on the river at the end of the night, it takes about 4-5 hours and you really get to see the beauty of Paris at night. What ever you choose you will be planning your next visit soon.
Good luck.

Posted by
31524 posts

Jon, I definitely agree with the others that it would be worthwhile to plan a bit more time in Paris. It's a wonderful city and there's LOTS to see! July is going to be crowded and probably hot. I'd suggest booking a Hotel as soon as you have your travel dates finalized. I prefer to stay in the 7th (Rue Cler area) near the Eiffel Tower, and there's a good choice of Hotels there and easy access to the Metro. ESPECIALLY in July, if you're planning to visit any of the Museums, a Paris Museum Pass would be a really good idea to minimize queues. If you want to travel to the top of the Eiffel Tower, pre-booking online would be a good idea also. If you want to visit the Louvre (Mona Lisa), limit your stay to the Denon wing for a couple of hours. The Musee D'Orsay is one of my favourites also. Notre Dame is incredibly beautiful as is the Cathedral of St. Chapelle (IMHO). The "Hop On/Hop Off" Bus tours are a good way to at least have a look at the major sights (also a good way to rest aching feet or sore back). As I recall, they depart from a location near the Eiffel Tower. One "caution" though. Be sure to wear Money Belts and be wary of "scammers" with the Bracelet or Gold Ring Scams, and of course pickpockets (be especially vigilant on the Metro). In addition to the Bike tours, if you want something a bit unique and memorable, you might consider Segway Tours (either during the day or at night). They're a bit "pricey" but a lot of fun!!! I've taken the one in Paris, and did that again in Prague a few months ago. I had so much fun on the first one, that I booked another one right away (it was a "splurge" but I had a great time). Happy travels!

Posted by
2002 posts

Not knowing what interests you and your wife, I would recommend not concentrating too much on going to museums in peak tourist season, particularly the Louvre. Instead, you can see some wonderful art and historical items at either the Orangerie or Carnavalet museums - both smaller and lovely museums (though they could be crowded also). The Carnavalet is free so no standing in line to purchase ticket. As others have said, stay at a hotel near the train station to make your trip to and from the airport convenient, and then just try to relax and BE in Paris. Don't feel rushed and try to do too many things. It will be crowded and probably hot. To me, just being on the ground in Paris, strolling the streets, the banks of the Seine, the Marais, seeing the Eiffel Tower, and sitting in a cafe are the most romantic and truly Parisian experiences, and don't take a lot of planning. Other easy things to do: Walk the Ile St. Louis and Ile de la Cite, go into Notre Dame Stroll banks of Seine - walk across its bridges - particularly Ponte Alexandre. See the Louvre pyramid, courtyard, then stroll from there through the Tulleries (where the Orangerie museum is) to the place de Concorde. See the Eiffel Tower - going up to the 2nd level is great if you have the time (you can make a reservation online). A must see is the ET light show from the ground, when it's dark.
The Seine river cruise is nice. I am not a big fan of the super touristy hop on hop off buses, but I do take them on occasion. It will certainly show you most of the big sites in Paris, if that is what you want, though it will not convey the essence of Paris. Bon chance

Posted by
23 posts

Thanks all, a lot of good suggestions here. Tickets have been booked and we've got the extra day in Paris. My wife will be pleasantly surprised :)

Posted by
3696 posts

Jon (on Michigander to another) Have a wonderful time and whatever you do it will be great... it's Paris!
The first few times I was there it was only for a day and I saw a lot... there is always more to return for, but I think it is a great additon to an Italian trip.