Paris Day Trip Assistance

I'm thinking about taking a day trip from London to Paris, following generally the outline provided by Rick on this page: http://www.ricksteves.com/plan/destinations/france/0399paris.htm However, I wondered if someone here could help me lay out a revised plan that would include the following places: - Sacre Coeur - Notre Dame - Louvre (just to visit the 1st floor Denon wing)
- Arc de Triomphe - Eiffel Tower I'm just wondering what would be the best order to visit those places in, so as to have the smoothest transitions (keeping in mind my arrival via Eurostar at Gare du Nord). I imagine I would go in metro so as to avoid spending a fortune on taxi fares. This will be my first time to Paris. Would there be any other "iconic" sights I should or could include in the above? I am thinking it's already a pretty full day. Thanks!

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7954 posts

The logical order from Nord would be Sacre Coeur, ET, Arc, Louvre, Notre Dame, and back to Nord. This looks a bit goofey, but it makes the whole circle shortest in time. The fastest transit time per leg would be: Nord to Chateau Rouge on Metro 4 then walk up the east side of the mont Take the funicular down and walk to Pigalle for Metro 12 to Madeliene, switch to Metro 8 to Invalides, then switch to RER C to Champs du Mars/ET Leaving the ET, go back down the same hole and hike the tunnel to Bir-Hakeim for Metro 8 to Charles de Gaulle/Etolle Leaving the Arc, go back down the same hole and take Metro 1 to Louvre Leaving the Louvre, walk about a mile along the quai and cross any bridge to the cathedral Leaving Notre Dame, walk across the square to Cite for Metro 4 back up to Nord If time is running okay, you could walk the Champs from the Arc through the Tuileries to the Louvre knowing that Metro 1 is under your feet the whole time and you could jump on if needed. That's six tickets at 1.70 per. A carnet of ten will cost more and you'll toss some. Buy the whole batch at once so you don't have to keep dorking around the machines. It looks about like three hours of riding/walking/tunnel hiking to get right up against your points. There will be lines of unknown length at the Eiffel Tower, none at the Louvre if you use the lower entrance, none to long at Notre Dame. Don't try for Saint Chapelle, you won't have time for those lines. If you get out of the cathedral early, cross to the left bank and wander the Latin Quarter. If you start to run out of time, you can catch RER B on the south side of the river at either Lux Gardens or St Michel/Notre Dame and scoot right back up to Nord. Remember that you have to have gone through the security check for the Eurostar thirty minutes prior to departure.

Posted by Norma
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
3403 posts

You might consider taking the hop-on & off bus which you can get right at Gare du Nord. The route takes you to almost all the places you mention (not Sacre Coeur, however) and then back to Gare du Nord. Google to see the route and the cost. For the Louvre I think you will need to buy tickets on line so you won't spend precious time in a queue.

Posted by Swan
Napa, CA
2855 posts

Ed, in Pensacola, I love the detailed answers you provide people here on the Helpline. This is about the best itinerary I've ever read. Bryan, stick with Ed. Not only is he right, but he obviously has figured out how to use the RER to best advantage. You have my permission to take a taxi for any of the legs of this trip in Paris. I love zipping thru the streets of Paris in a taxi.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7954 posts

I thought real hard about Norma's idea before I started typing like a mad man. I eliminated it because of the Montmartre spur, mainly, but also because of price ($30?) and frequency. I had to think real hard about stops (it's better for the ET than the metro, a bit worse for the Arc.) It's certainly more interesting than chattering around underground, but I don't think it would work. Also, as I picture the route, the sequence isn't exactly right. And for Pete's sake, get a metro map and double-check me. That was a memory shot and I could have goofed a line number or even a stop name. There's also a journey planner somewhere in parisbytrain.com, but that thing is so theoretical and based on perfect timing that I don't trust it.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7954 posts

Age beats smart, Swan. I was ridng the metro as a kid back in the fifties, way before they built the RER. I'm getting there though, finally road the Eurostar back before Thanksgiving.

Posted by Sam
Green Bay
2253 posts

Log on to the Eiffel tower website and book a reservation. That way you'll have an exact time and won't have to wait in line at the tower not knowing how long it will take to get in. Then you can plan the rest of your itinerary around that. Allow one hour from the entry time to get to the top and look around. A zone 1-2 Mobilis pass for the Paris center Metro and bus is available for 6.60 Euro.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7954 posts

Too many good ideas can clusterfobulate a very delicate itinerary. I can picture at least three kinds of ticket machines. The old pushbutton and the medium-old touchscreens are fairly easy to get anything you want. The new ones with the roller/mouse deal can eventually be switched to English on the screen but it's several steps down the menu and the roller and button embossed instructions are only in French. The manned counters are generally mobbed at Nord. In fairness, I was the sole manager of a a six and a three year old recently, made a beeline for Magenta, and don't care what language I read - - I'm not even sure what kind I used. However, if you get a Mobilis, remember that you have to scribble your name and date on it - - you always have a pen in your shirt pocket, right? Quite frankly, I don't think you have a prayer of getting up the Tower unless you hit a fluke and catch a short line for the stairs to the first level - - even that is going to be a hump (this from a jackass that was once so poor he walked to the very top on Christmas Eve in the miserable cold - - there used to stairs all the way - - but there was a very wonderful girl involved and ....). The real problem is scheduling ahead of time. If the weather sucks, you've wasred money. If you can't get the exact time you need, you're going to criss-cross back and forth across town and the whole delicate routing is down the tubes. The worst problem is that you've got the walk up and down the mont directly preceeding and I can't guess how long that's going take you - - you might run out of air halfway up, there's a couple places for a potential wrong turn, you might have to wait for a space on the funicular, the list goes on.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7954 posts

Another thought on the Mobilis. If you decide to skip Montmartre, or decide to walk down instead of taking the funicular, or decide to walk the Champs - - and buy the corresponding number of tickets ahead of time, you're flush with Mobilis dropping two rides and ahead if you drop three. You can always buy additional tickets at a set price; you can't subtract from a Mobilis. There is never a blanket solution to anything.

Posted by Bryan
Rome, Lazio, Italy
288 posts

Thanks to Ed and to all! Going to the top of the Eiffel Tower is not a priority for me -- just seeing it and taking some photos will be enough. So that will save time in that aspect of the trip. Someone told me that for the Louvre the best thing is to buy the tickets in the underground mall. I presume this is underneath the Louvre itself? If anyone has a better idea of how to get those tickets -- whether the day of or in advance -- please let me know. How expensive are the cabs in Paris? Also, are the drivers generally honest and use the meters, or does one have to worry? I wouldn't be necessarily against taking a cab for some transfers within the itinerary, especially if it would just be a lot less hassle, but it would depend on how expensive they tend to be. As for these references to Metro, RER, Mobilis, etc. I am not sure what all of this is but I will search the forums and do other online research. Thanks!

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7954 posts

Rer and metro are both subways, you won't be able to tell the difference except on route diagrams. Metro has numbers, rer has letters. Taxis are regulated and watched by the Prefecture of Police. They're as honest as can be. Lights on the roof indicate which metering system is being use. There's no chance in the world you can be screwed. You're going to have get one from a taxi rank. They're close to the major sights, often at a nearby metro station. Coupled with the fact that ranks are plentiful, the law that says a cab can't pick up a fare on the street within X distance of a rank, and the price of gas that prohibits driving around, the chances of hailing a passing one are zip. If you're leaning that way, make the first one from Nord to Sacre Couer to save the hill climb. The rank at Nord is just out the main doors - - follow the signs in the station. Go back to my discussion of Mobilis. Each segment taken by cab or walked decreased the potential savings of Mobilis Pass. I'd say forget about it right now. For subway tickets, hold on to the sucker since you'll need it to get out of the station at the end of each segment. If you have a wad of them, keeps the wad in one pocket and the one in use in another. Toss the old one when you're clear. One ticket is good for infinte line changes as long as you remain underground. The same ticket works for a bus and the Montmartre funicular. If you have a couple left over give them to somebody going the other way when you get back to Nord or save them - - I'm sure mine get intermingled and I've used some that are five years old.

Posted by Bryan
Rome, Lazio, Italy
288 posts

Thanks. If you know anything about taxi cost in Rome (where I currently live), would the ones in Paris be similar in expense or more, or less? So what you're saying is that the taxi can get you closer to the entrance of Sacre Coeur, instead of having to climb the stairs or wait for the funicular? That would be desirable. I can do stairs/climbs, but would prefer not to, especially when I have a long day of sightseeing. Thanks again! Bryan

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7954 posts

A really rough guess on the cab price segments that you have is about ten or twelve bucks. The ride from Montmarte to the Tower would be a bit more. Some have a credit card machine, some don't - - I've never tried it, so no idea if a chip card is required. Take my prices with a grain of salt, I don't ride them that often. Even with the grandkids, I either walked or used the metro.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7954 posts

It's been a zillion years since I've ridden a Rome cab, I'm a walker, so have no way to compare. Yes, on Sacre Couer, it'll get your right close to it. The routing I gave you earlier, however, had you walking up the east side of the mont, not using the funicular which is on the south face. I had you taking the funicular down. If you're standing on the steps of Sacre Couer looking over the city, the funicular is just over to your right a bit.

Posted by Ken
Spring, Texas
599 posts

The road up to the top of Sacre Coeur is full of twists and turns. At the top the roads will be jammed with tourists. I'd recommend to get close with the metro and ride the funicular. I thought it was interesting in itself. At the base, the scammers are real thick so be ready. I love the buses and metro. I've been in a Paris taxi and it's like big city taxis everywhere. I'd avoid using a taxi during high usage travel times. The trip would be much faster on the metro. Being cheap and the Paris metro/bus system being so good, I don't see much use for a taxi.

Posted by Bryan
Rome, Lazio, Italy
288 posts

Thanks Ed and Ken. We would be arriving on one of the earlier trains from London, so I guess roughly mid-morning given the time change. I am guessing that that would be a high traffic time and we might be better off taking the metro to Sacre Coeur and either hoofing it to the top or riding the funicular. I am with you Ken about being frugal and I don't mind riding public transportation, as long as it is reasonably easy to figure out. I also speak Italian and Spanish and can read French (and speak a little), so I'm guessing I can get it. One final question that comes to mind: on quick trips like this I am not interested in having a great culinary experience, not that there is really time for it anyhow. In terms of eating something fairly on-the-go and reasonably affordable, is there a certain restaurant chain (like Pret-a-Manger) that I should look for? I've tried Pret before in England and always thought it was good and fairly reasonably priced. I presume they are in Paris also but maybe there is another chain that would just as well serve the same purpose of something basic and inexpensive. Thanks again!

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7954 posts

Ken Go back and read the basic premise. Bryan is on a really tight schedule to fit everything in. If he takes your suggestion, the metro ride will be longer and have changes. He'd also have a good walk from Anvers to the funicular. Also, the lines are longer waiting to go up the funicular than they are waiting to go down. I'm not exactly the village idiot. I sent him up the more gentle eastern slope where the streets are straight as an arrow and the incline mild with only a slight increase in grade for the last fifty yards above R. Feutrier. Bryan lives in Rome, he might have a vague idea of what a scammer is. Regarding taxis. Bryan will be at places that have the largest taxi ranks in the city, there's always one availble. A taxi may well beat the metro from the bottom of the butte to the ET and will certainly save a lot of platform changes on a complex route. Additionally, taxis use the reserved, uncongested lanes that border the major boulevards and are thus not subject to the crawl of regular automobiles. Feel free to knock me up the side of the head if I make a factual error (everybody else does) but gratuitous observations not based on all the facts, and maybe on limited experience, only create confusion.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7954 posts

I'll pretty much duck the food question since I don't talk about what I don't know cold. I hate Pret and won't eat in a chain (but Nero's coffee is the best in London, bar none). The places I eat in Paris, other than a few favorite bistros, would either give you a case of the acute willys or empty your bullion vault. Some people post about the crepe joints which are all over the place, but after you've been to Brittany you won't go near them. Give them a try. Otherwise, I'm a dud.

Posted by Bryan
Rome, Lazio, Italy
288 posts

Ha! I am not above eating at McDonald's in foreign cities (though I almost always regret it): the food is not my interest on this trip. Anyhow, I'm sure that will take care of itself one way or another. Thanks again to all for the info.

Posted by Swan
Napa, CA
2855 posts

In Paris I eat at the Chinese delis. The food is good and fairly inexpensive. I usually can eat a decent lunch in half an hour. The plat du jour is usually a good deal. In the area north of the Eiffel Tower there are Chinese places. Otherwise, I find a bakery and buy a quiche, slice of pizza, or sandwich. In the Notre Dame area are many places to eat. I've seen sandwich places in the Metro stations. Paul's bakeries seem to be scattered around the city. For a treat, find an Amarino gelato place. Chains, such as McDonald's, can be found around Paris. They are not necessarily close to the main tourist spots. There is a chain called "Quick" that is similar to McDonald's with burgers, fries, etc.

Posted by Bets
Bloomington
1964 posts

Given your time frame, and not knowing exactly what you want to do on Montmartre, I suggest you grab a cab at Gare du Nord, have it swing up Montmartre, jump out and take a look, go past the grape vines and Lapin Agile, and then have the cab drop you at the ET. Part of visiting Montmartre is the slow stroll up rue Lepic, glimpsing artists' studios, but you'll have time for that on your next trip. BTW, everywhere you're going the food is cardboard, survival food. But if you go up rue Lepic to Montmartre, even by cab, you'll find Some award winning bakeries and charcuteries in the first five blocks towards Anvers. If you have time to wander into the Latin Quarter, you'll find some interesting food.
Ed's absolutely right about the crepes. They're made with factory- made batter for the most part. As Swan said, Paul's for chain sandwiches and pastry or La Brioche Doree, another chain. These are for don't have time but gotta eatsomething situations.

Posted by Grier
Carmel, IN
1050 posts

Bryan, you can buy a carnet of Metro tickets in London at the station before you board the Eurostar and will save you some time.

Posted by George
Independence, KS, USA
532 posts

Eurostar tip Choose a seat in a carriage closest to the engine, usually right behind the first class carriages which you won't need. Second class is quite nice. It's a long train and there's a hike from the last carriages in line (150 meters) which means you'll be near the last in line at a taxi rank or on a HOHO bus if the train is full and most are. If you don't buy a carnet of metro tickets at the departure lounge in London you can also purchase them on board the Eurostar for a bit more. Remember, there is an engine on both ends of the Eurostar so you'll have to walk the longer distance to your seat on the London to Paris leg.