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Paris Itinerary (only have two days!)

We are coming in via the Eurostar on Tuesday night of the 24th and staying just next to the Grands Boulevards metro stop. We leave via Eurostar @ 7:13 pm on the night of the 26th.


I have a pretty aggressive itinerary for our 2 day stay. Is this doable? Is 30 minutes enough when using the metro?


We're planning on taking both the Champs Elysees and the Historic walks though I have both cut them down and broken them up with indoor activities - figure we're not going to want to be walking outdoors for super long in Nov! (hopefully it won't rain!)

Any and all advice greatly appreciated!

Wednesday, November 25
9:30 take Metro from Grands Boulevards to Charles de Gaulle Etoile
10:00 Champs-Elysees Walk from Arc de Triomphe to Tuileries Gardens (breakfast on the way)
12:00 Orangerie Museum
1:00 Walk to D'Orsay
1:15 D'Orsay
3:15 Lunch / Snack / Walk to Louvre
4:00 Louvre (open until 9:45 – can stay later if nec and adjust schedule)
7:00 take the metro from Louvre to Trocadero, walk to the Eiffel Tower
7:30 Eiffel Tower
9:00 Dinner
11:00 take Metro from ? To Grands Boulevards

Thursday, November 26
7:00 check out and have hotel hold bags

7:30 take Metro from Grands Boulevards to Cite
8:00 Notre Dame & part of Historic Walk
9:45 Cluny
10:30 More historic walk and breakfast
11:30 Sainte Chappelle
12:30 take metro from Cite to Alesia
1:00 shop @ Mephisto
1:45 take metro from Alesia to Varenne
2:15 Rodin
3:15 Rue Cler Walk and assemble picnic dinner for the Eurostar
5:00 take Metro from Ecole Militaire to Grands Boulevards
5:30 pick up bags from hotel
6:00 take Metro (or possible a cab) from Grand Boulevards to Gare du Nord
6:30 Check in for the Eurostar
7:13 Leave on Eurostar
7:20 collapse in exhaustion!

Thanks all!

* edited to add line breaks!

Posted by
5926 posts

You forgot a few things...

9:50 am: bathroom break

9:53 am: stop to tie your shoes

9:58 am: you dropped your water bottle, stoop over to pick it up

10:06 am: wave off the guys giving away string friendship bracelets

10:21 am: stop to take a picture

10:22 am: realize your camera batteries are dead, fish out your extra batteries

10:40 am: you're thirsty, stop and buy an Orangina

10:43 am: out of Euros, go find an ATM

10:46 am: stop to watch street performer

10:47 am: after being bumped by a passerby, do a quick nervous inventory of your purse/wallet, money belt, day pack, and camera to make sure nothing was just liberated...etc.

All kidding aside, while I appreciate your efforts to squeeze out every possible minute in Paris, I think when you start scheduling items down to 15-minute blocks of time, you're probably being unrealistic. Are you going to have a stopwatch and a whistle to keep yourself on task? I suspect your plan will start to go off the rails pretty quickly, and you will be left with the challenge of trying to edit your tightly-choreographed schedule on the fly (be sure to schedule 5 minutes for that every 3 hours ;) ).

As to the specifics - just looking at a glance, I think you have about twice as many things scheduled as you can comfortably do in what is actually less than 2 full days (I'd call it about 1.75 days).

My advice is to remember MacArthur ("I shall return") and cut a lot of your items (maybe half of them). IMHO you'll enjoy the time a lot more. Remember, much of the charm of being in Paris is Paris itself, not just a log list of attractions (great though they may be). If you're enjoying watching the sunset or kids playing, it would be sad to have to "blow the whistle" and force yourself to march onward because your schedule demands that you need to be somewhere else. There's a certain extent of that on any trip, but you're setting yourself up to have a string of those experiences.

Hope that helps.

Posted by
8700 posts

David's points are well taken. Take some time to smell--and drink--the coffee. Paris is a wonderful walking city so it's great that you're planning to take some walks. Whle walking from point A to point B, build in some time to linger as the spirit moves you.

By visiting three art museums on your first day you run the risk of "museum overload," having what you see run together in your mind and become a bit blurry. To help prevent this, you could start your day a little earlier and space out your visits a little more. If, like me, you love the Impressionists, then add another hour to your visit to the Musee d'Orsay. The Musee de l'Orangerie was closed for renovation when I was in Paris in 2005 so I can't tell you how long you should stop there, but an hour may be cutting it short.

While it doesn't take long to get a good look at the stained glass windows and the mosaics on the floor at Sainte-Chapelle, getting through security can take a while if the lines are long. You might want to build in a little more time there.

All of your Metro rides will take less than 30 minutes.

Posted by
14 posts

What would you suggest cutting out? The Orangerie, Rodin & Cluny? Obviously I'll cut the trip to Mephisto :(

Should I plan more time at the Louvre? RS Paris suggested 2 or more hours so I did 3 - is that enough? I've typically found his estimates to be pretty accurate.

Should we skip the walk from the Arc de Triomphe (is it really worth seeing all the shops)? The Rue Cler walk sounds more appealing to me ... has anyone taken them both that can tell me what to expect?

We've traveled a ton in the past, but never done a city in 2 days. (Usually at least a week and then another week in surrounding areas. This is a "day trip +" among a 15 day trip to London.) I'm a little at a loss here since we usually are more of a slow travel couple. :)

I put in the travel times to make sure I wasn't only leaving us 15 minutes in a musuem. I don't really plan on being that anal - this is just an exercise in possibility. :)

*edited to add: we are really big walkers typically and walk everywhere (we did 7 days in Florence last year without using any public transpo or taxi's - just train in and out). It is not unusual for us to do 10+ miles a day. So using the metro, while not new to us, is actually something we normally skip.

Posted by
8700 posts

If you want to see everything in the Louvre, you'll need a week. If you limit yourself to specific areas, three hours is enough.

Since Monet is one of my favorite artists, I wouldn't recommend cutting the Musee de l'Orangerie. If you had more time, I'd recommend adding the Musee Marmottan. It, too, has marvelous Monet water lily paintings.

Posted by
689 posts

I think the Champs is disappointing. It's one of the few places in Paris that are actually touristy, IMO. I don't need to go to Paris to see a Gap. I do think climbing the Arc to see the view is great, though.

If you are really, really into art, or very much looking forward to seeing a particular collection, I can see how you'd want to do all of those museums. But don't do them because you think you have to. I didn't see the Louvre until my 3rd visit and even then, it wasn't a highlight for me (I'm a pretty typical tourist when it comes to art museums).

My favorite things to do in Paris are eat and sit in cafes and people watch. I would do that over any museum. So if I were you, I'd allow some time for that. You'll probably need to sit and have some bottled water or coffee given your itinerary anyway!

Posted by
8293 posts

Walking down the Champs Elysée sounds a lot more wonderful that it actually is. The avenue is a shadow of its former self. Instead take the No. 74 bus from the Arc de Triomphe down the Champs Elysée, having a good look as you go along, and then get off at Concorde and go to the Orangerie. After your visit there, get back on a No.74 and go to the d'Orsay, which is where the 74 terminates. All that walking is all very well, but you are very short of time to see what you want to see.

After you have visited the Louvre, you can take the No. 69 bus from the stop opposite the Pyramid, on the other side of the street, (Direction "Champs de Mars") and get off at the end of the line (Champs de Mars) and you will see the Tour Eiffel right in front of your nose. It is quite a walk from the Trocadero to the Tour Eiffel and will eat up your valuable time.

I am puzzled by your plan to do a rue Cler walk. This will be such a waste of your time and bound to disappoint.

Posted by
14 posts

Thanks everyone for all the great advice. Have greatly pared the list down, done away with shopping time, the Champs and Rue Cler walks (am planning on taking the bus - thanks for that great tip!) and some of the museums.

I just have to keep telling myself: you'll be coming back! :)

Posted by
26 posts

Laurie,
I had minimal time in Paris as well. I personally recommend that you see only the Louvre, since it can be "overload" to squeeze in all of those museums. Also, you'll be so tired from standing/walking all day, you want to make sure you're enjoying the next day too! I recommend that you cut out Chammps like the other postings. My favorite part of Paris was taking a Seine River Boat tower after Eiffel tower at night. Also, give yourself more time if you are planning on going up in the Eiffel tower. The lines are a bear at dusk and you'll need at least 2 hours (unless you want to go up and head right back down). Make sure you spend time relaxing at at cafe and enjoying the beautiful architechure and scenery--that is true Paris.

Posted by
8293 posts

When you arrive at the Gare du Nord and buy your bus/metro tickets (or two one-day Mobilis passes if you think that would be cheaper) be sure to ask at the ticket kiosque for a metro & bus map. I hope you have two grand days in Paris.

Posted by
2336 posts

Laurie, I really laughed when I read your post. You are my kind of traveler. I think it is fine to come up with a schedule like this; in fact, I think it's a good idea (though I agree with a lot of the comments that have been posted, and I think your adjustments will make for a much better trip). I would just allow for a little more down time. Also, I would put your must-sees at the beginning of the day, so if you run out of time or get too tired, you will have seen the stuff that's most important to you. And of course, be flexible. I hope you have a great time in Paris!

Posted by
13 posts

Many others have said what i will say, but I just returned from Pais 4 days ago and my family teases me because I plan all trips like you have!

What I found in Paris, is the charm of the city, is to stop along the way and people watch, sit in the gardens or a cafe, stroll along the Seine etc. You don't have a lot of time for that, but I willt tell you what I found.

Louvre-go to the Dennon wing and see the major site-took us about 1 1/2 hours total. Orangirie-1/2 hour, go in, sit at the water lillies. Musoe d'orsay- a little longer, this was my favorite but 2 hours max-nice cafe there where you could eat (it was pouring the day we went so we stayed there.) Rue cler is very intriguing and I thought we would be there awhile, but it is a very small street-plan on 1 hour only. Champs elysse walk-very busy, crowded and unless you want to go in stores-1 hour.

If you are planning on going up the eifel tower you have to plan waiting time at the elevators, although they really weren't bad last week (1/2 hour). One thing you will want to do is see the tower at either 8, 9, 10 or 11 pm as it is the 120th celebration of the tower this month and they have a great light/music show at those time.

Have fun!

Posted by
14 posts

Thanks Denise - I love the feedback from people who have just been. Really helpful.

Also nice to know that I'm NOT the only crazy person who plans out all the time. I know I'm somewhat neurotic about it, but I really can't help it - I love the planning almost as much as the actual going! We don't actually stick to the schedule if we want to stay later or leave early, but I'm not one that enjoys just winging the day - then I'm always thinking about "what are we doing next, do I need to look at the guidebook?"

I also LOVE seeing food shops and markets so we are going to spend the time going to Rue Cler. I suggested skipping it and my husband pointed out that 1/2 of the pictures from our last 2 trips (Italy and Peru) were of foods we saw in the market :)

Thanks all!

Posted by
73 posts

Oh, my word! I would hate traveling with you! Do cut out some of those museums and do plan to spend a lot of time walking outdoors. That's how you see Paris. Just wear waterproof jackets and layers.

I would not cut the Cluny Museum. It's fantastic (if you like medieval and ancient Roman art). We spent at least 3 hours there this past summer.

With only two days in Paris, I'd cut out the Louvre. Yeah, it's famous and you might have a few regrets, but you really need to spend more time there. Just plan to go back and make that a priority.

Skip the Champs Elysees. It's boring, except for the very cool Toyota store with an entire car hanging on the wall. At least my son thought it was cool.

The Eiffel Tower at night is beautiful, but you'll only have a view if it's clear, so keep that in mind and be flexible.

The metro times can vary. If you are changing lines, you may have long walks in the stations and you can expect a few delays, so if you have something to get to, allow extra time.

Posted by
2349 posts

You certainly don't need to go to Rue Cler for picnic supplies. You can find bakeries and butchers everywhere.

We decided that our museum time was better spent at Musee d'Orsay rather than the Louvre, and we didn't regret that. Wish we'd made it to l'Orangerie.

You can stop in a cafe, and even sit outside. Many of them have outdoor heaters.

Posted by
1170 posts

I'm exhausted reading your list and I haven't finished.

It sounds a lot easier to pack that much into a visit, but honestly, I've been to Paris three times and haven't seen everything yet. We pick whatever is most important and focus on that.

Anyway, as someone said, you would need a stop watch to keep up with your list. Good luck with whatever you choose. Take time to really "see" and "enjoy" Paris.

Posted by
70 posts

I am surprised at the amount of people who are brushing off Rue Cler as no big deal. I visited Paris for the first time in May and stayed for a full week. My favorite memory of the entire week was of the picnic my husband and I pieced together from Rue Cler's stalls. We then walked the block or so to the Champ de Mars and proceeded to relax there, munching on the most delicious food and drink, for over 3 hours.

Also, beware of the Eiffel Tower. We waited until it appeared there were no lines to get in. We got right in and were carted up to the first level only to find ourselves at the end of a 90 minute wait to get to the very top. It was crowded to the max even though it didn't appear to be from the ground. I will never go up the Eiffel Tower again. There are better views at the tops of the Arch de Triomphe and Montmartre.

Posted by
1170 posts

Megan, I have been to the Rue Cler area and don't get the fascination to be honest, and that's after a second try to "see" what Rick was on about.

To me, there are way better places to do just what you did in other parts of Paris.

Posted by
2788 posts

I spent a week in Paris in May 2009 and stayed in the Rue Cler neighborhood for the second time. I would go back there the next time I stay in Paris. Seems like some folks like it alot and some folks don't. Same goes for opera. Happy Travels.

Posted by
2336 posts

I am not in to just winging it either, Laurie. The few times I've tried it, we just waste time trying to decide what to do. The more people in the group, the worse it is. But even when there's two of us, it just doesn't work for me. And like you, I love to plan the trip almost as much as I love to take take the trip.

I was in Paris last month, and we got to the Eiffel Tower at 10:30 on a weeknight. There was no line at all. We could only go to the second level; the elevator went directly there. Ricks says the second level is the best. I've never been to the very top so I can't say. All I can say is that the view was magnificent. We really enjoyed it. I hadn't even planned to go up the Eiffel Tower, but when we went to see the light show, we decided on the spur of the moment to do it if there wasn't a big line. So even though I'm a compulsive planner, I can be spontaneous on occasion!

Posted by
1170 posts

Carroll, that sounds great.

I agree that one should have some plans, but I don't ever want to do so much "sightseeing" that I collapse at the end of the day and forget to do the spontaneous things like you did that night. Good for you.

Last year we also had a day in Paris and tried to take in those things we didn't the previous time. That night we returned to our hotel because my husband was frozen and irritated. We had eaten, and was having some decaf coffee in the room when I suddenly wondered what it would be like to go to the Eiffel tower to see the lights with all that snow around. We did just that, and my kids had a wonderful time having a great snow fight and trying to skate in their shoes because there were some areas with ice on the ground. They still remember that night.

Posted by
768 posts

Hi Laurie,

Not that you need any more feedback, but I spent about 6 days in Paris over the summer and here's what I think.

I didn't get to do everything I wanted, but I have no regrets and look forward to going back again. I did love the evening picnic at the Eiffel Tower and seeing it lit up and twinkling; I did love the historic walk; I loved the Tuilleries Garden; I really loved being out on the streets and the cafe and street scene. I do wish I had more time to walk the Seine at night! The night scene at least in the summer was amazing. I would have hated to spend my whole time inside museums and missing the wonderful city itself.