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Paris Itinerary. . .Thoughts?

Hoping for some feedback on our Paris days. We are a little more than a month away from our European adventure. We are a group of 5 people with one person having only 4 nights in Paris and my wife and I having 6 nights (the last couple has 5 nights). I have visited Paris once before. My first visit was an insufficient, yet magical 2 nights. All 4 others have never before experienced the City of Lights. We are staying in the 11th. I am hoping to experience some of the neighborhoods of Paris while revisiting some of the more well known landmarks with my wife and friends. This plan is from my perspective, but after much discussion with the group. It is purposefully minimal and open to revision. Thursday (My wife and I arrive in the AM) Ile de la Cite Ile St Louis Montmarte maybe Musee d'Orsay (open late) Friday (2nd couple arrives AM) Ile de la Cite Latin Quarter 11th maybe Lourve open late Saturday 11th Market Marais (5th person arrives in afternoon. Group is now 3 women, 2 men in early 30s) Eiffel Tower Arc d' Triumphe Champs Elysses maybe Seine Cruise or Illuminations Tour Sunday Market 11th Montmarte or Marais neighborhood Monday Lourve Picnic in Tuileries Tuesday Versailles Ile de la Cite Nice dinner Wednesday Breakfast
Depart on train around noon

Posted by
8199 posts

Looks really good to me, but don't miss the Luxembourg Gardens... my favorite place in Paris along with Ile Saint Louis and Ile de la Cite.

Posted by
14780 posts

Ile de la Cite appears 3 times - there is much more to see in Paris What's in the 11th? Friday - definitely try the Louvre from late afternoon. I was there in June a couple of years ago and it was packed in the early afternoon so I fled and returned around 7 or so. The crowds had completely disappeared, even at the top highlights. Saturday - you are all over the place. Paris is easier and you can see more if you concentrate on one area, or two nearby areas in a day. Arc de Triomphe is best close to sunset, so you see the view in late daylight, then dusk settles and the lights begin to turn on. The Seine cruise is also best around that time, for the same reason. Sunday is better for the Marais than Saturday. It is crowded, though. A good deal of it was closed to traffic during the day on Sundays when I was last there, lovely for strolling. To pop in to the Carnavalet Museum for an hour or 3. It is free and excellent.

Posted by
1804 posts

You list "11th" under 3 days. Does that mean you want to spend part of 3 days exploring the 11th Arrondissement where you are already staying? There is some worthwhile small scale sightseeing opportunities there, and it's got some trendy shopping & restaurants, but it's not that big and I doubt you'll need to spend part of 3 different days exploring that neighborhood. I love to shop in the US, but even as an avid shopper here, the Champs Elysee is really such a waste of time in Paris. With the exception of a small handful of stores, most you can see during any stroll along 5th Ave in NYC. Besides, the exchange rate makes shopping for designer goods in Europe a bad idea unless it's a one of a kind item you can't possibly get your hands on in the US. I'd spend that time strolling a different part of Paris. And if the ladies want the shopping experience, then checking out one of the flea markets or the department stores when you can see a fashion show or enjoy the view from the rooftop terrace may be a better substitute.

Posted by
9110 posts

I can probably help, but I don't understand what you're up to: 1. The 11th makes a little sense, since that's where you're staying, but there's not much there to wander around and see? 2. Montmartre is a bit out of the way, why go there twice? 3. You've got two markets. Which ones? 4. Cite and St Luis are small enough to cover in a half day, why keep going back? 5. Does the whole mob want to go to Versailles? Fess up and I'll see what I can do. Optinal ideas or sequencing are meaningless since I'd be shooting in the dark. And, a small, picky point, Paris is the City of Light (no 's').

Posted by
8293 posts

Oh, dear Ed, thank you for being picky! Yes, yes, the City of Light, not lights. The word "light" supposedly refers to the age of enlightenment.

Posted by
8199 posts

Chani makes a good point about the Louvre... definitely go when it's open late, Wed and Fri - anytime after 6 is best.

Posted by
9110 posts

Hrumph! Since I speak both english and spanish (and Pearl Delta Wu if anybody gives a rat's rear bumper) as well as I do french.....I obviously only make typos while others make blatant mistakes from wanton ignorance. Sorry Sean, but I had to jump the jeans-wearing, no-money-belt gal while I had the chance. And, half of the people in the world stick the 's' on, it's just a pet peeve. And, Ceidleh, since we share the same attitude about how to do things, I propose that we become travel cohorts. However, you've got to give me a couple of days to work on my wife. Of course there's the yankee vs redneck business, but we can sweep it under the carpet if you can cook worth a toot (and darn socks so's there's no lumps). Now that the baloney is over, here's a couple of ideas: Versailles and the Louvre could be done on the same day (as long as it's not Monday or Tuesday). Versailles will take most of the day and wear you out. If you don't want the full treatment at the Louvre, get there a couple of hours before it closes and you can be in and out in an hour. That's a full darn day, but it will save you a batch of time. The only bird market I know of on Sunday is on Ile de la Cite on everwhat the mid-island street is that connects R. Cite and B. Palais. There's a flower market there also. Neither are worth much of a hoot and will only take you ten minutes for a walk-through. What's also on the island that everybody seems to miss is the archaeological crypt - - it's on the western end of the Notre Dame square and has stairs going down so it looks sort of like a metro entrance. Montmartre is going to be too hard that first day. Go early one morning before the mobs show up - - or late one evening if you want to hike the Clichy-Pigalle stretch.

Posted by
9110 posts

I'd scratch the picnic in the Tuileries and take it to Lux Gardens where there's more shade, less grit and dust, and more space. I'd work that in with wandering the Latin Quarter. If that idea stinks, take it to the botanical gardens which aren't too far from the 11 Arr (just across the Seine from the river entrance to the St Martin canal. The Champs-Elysees ain't what it used to be in the fifties (age showing) or even twenty years ago. It's become just a string of crappy stores and expensive gut-buster grub joints. If you're going to do it, take the metro up to the Arc and walk east (toward the Louvre) - - it's downhill, which may not seem important for just a half-mile, but at the end of the day on a hot pavement it can make a difference. I'd suggest you do this one in the evening as well since the lights on the Arc make it pretty spectacular. There's not much advantage to going to the top, but at least get out under it and take a look at the Tomb of the Unknowns. When you're done walking the Champs as far as you want, hang a right toward the river, or optionally go a couple of blocks north to find a bunch of pretty good places to eat that won't bust the bank. Another place to eat is anywhere along Rue Mouffetard, which also has a really good market, but I've unremembered what day it is. And, for the record, I completely agree with what all the wimmins said. Double hrumph.

Posted by
19 posts

Thank you, everyone, for the sound advice and ideas. I'll make some comments in hopes of further discussion. I mistakenly wrote City of Lights instead of City of Light. Slightly embarassed I am. I mention the 11th several times b/c we are staying in the 11th and I like to explore where I stay. I may have been better served by leaving it off. We may do the Champs quickly and try to catch the view from the Arc d' Triumphe. No Versailles? I am really looking forward to it, but I will bring up the thought with the group. Some of us have less time than others so it is a good point. We will definitely map out our Louvre visit and probably not spend all day in the museum. We have Monday afternoon and some other time open for spontaneity. Now for our messy 1st day. More a list of things we might do, the 1st day's activities will be driven by how we feel after our flight. I'm feeling Montmarte might be overextending ourselves. Pere Lachaise Cemetary is on our list and might be an option. A few of the travel guides mention food and flower markets in or near the 11th. There is a also an exotic bird market on Sunday. The exact names escape me, but I will add them later on.

Posted by
1804 posts

@Ed: Give the dude a break, but if you really want to be picky about the whole "Light"/"Lights" thing on his question, then I guess I'll be equally picky about your response when you talk about "Luis". I believe it's "Louis" in France. "Luis" if you are in Spain or Mexico. If you can dish it, I'm sure you can take it ;)

Posted by
1804 posts

Sean: The Paris Bird Market (Marché aux Oiseaux) is held on the Ile de la Cite. And despite my busting Ed's chops, I agree 100% with him that it will take you, at most, maybe 30 minutes to get your fix of Avian flu. I'd much prefer to go to Deyrolle on Rue du Bac and take a look at their collection of taxidermy where the birds are quiet and won't bite your finger off if you get too close to their cages. Deyrolle lost a lot of their former collection in a fire 3 years ago, but they've since rebuilt and it's a neat diversion if you happen to be hanging around the 7th Arrondissement (although I don't believe they have hours on Sundays and they do close for a few weeks in the summer depending on when your trip is). I still stand by my declaration that the Champs is simply not worth the time to stroll up or down (pretty to look at from the top of the Arc, though), and that's saying a lot since, as a woman, shopping is in my genes (or jeans!). I also agree with Ed on Luxembourg Gardens as a better spot for a picnic with Place des Vosges next and Tuileries way down on the list. Tuileries never seems to have enough shade and if you are hot & sweaty from walking all over the place, it's always good to have your picnic in the shade. New York Times did an article which you can probably find via their website on hidden gardens and small parks in Paris which can also help you find a good place for a picnic. Père Lachaise is a great stop if you can fit it in your schedule somewhere, but since you'll already be there Thursday or Sunday, you could substitute it with Cimetière de Montmartre since they have their fair share of famous dead peeps.

Posted by
524 posts

Sean You are truly a great friend to your friends who are arriving on different days! I just want to point out you can be a little selfish too. Perhaps there is a way for you to arrange your sightseeing so that you don't repeat earlier sights once your friends arrive. 1st DAY Remember you probably will not get to the hotel until noon or so with customs & immigration, transportation into Paris and then to your hotel. Quick shower if your hotel will let you in your room.
I agree with all of the previous posters regarding your first day. Too much. So suggest you pick one area you want to see near your hotel your friends won't get to. Do your research and pick a few restaurants to check out as you walk your hotel neighborhood. One for the 1st night if you are able and then another with your friends later. 2nd DAY AM Do your own thing. Wait until your friends text you to meet them at the hotel. If they are tired & crabby have them do what you did DAY 1. You can get your friends oriented to the Metro, how to enjoy a cafe, etc. or even their 1st day, take them there. But you should be making your own way as well. This might be a good day to walk around the Marais nearby with them. Or the banks of the Canal St. Martin. Boat ride is boring. Continued Below.

Posted by
524 posts

Continued from above. Be sure to buy the BIG RS Paris 2011 or the France. Always excellent info! Paris Walks - www.paris-walks.com - No reservations needed. Just meet at the Metro stop & hand over your $. Shows you portion of a neighborhood. Suggest Ile de la Cite & Ile St. Louis or Montmartre, or Chocolate or Food Tour (In Advance). Bike Tour - www.parisvelosympa.com/en/ located in the 11th AR. Fun way to get an overview of the city. O Château - wine tasting - check web site Also in the 11th. Seine Cruise NOT Illuminations Tour . Or do you mean cruise at night? Both cruises are great. Skip the Champs Elysees. Yes, go to 2 markets! All different. Ask the hotel when your neighborhood market is. Go in the AM. Research a market near other sites & on the correct day. Try to group your sights in the same general area so you are not criss crossing the city all day. Spend at least an hour in a different cafe (without tourists) on a place or quiet corner to rest, regroup, and have a drink, twice a day. This is really what Paris is like! Not going from sight to sight. Suggestions for Group -
Figure out how you are going to keep in touch. Texting? Calls are too expensive. Buy the Paris Practique a little book with maps &list of all of the streets in Paris. By Arrondisement (neighborhoods) at any bookstore or newstand. It is very hard for a group to make a decision. you could rotate each couple/single to make a restaurant decision in the evening as long as you agree on the budget. Do not feel like you all have to do everything together. In fact, the group may want to break up in hes and shes too, occasionally. Versailles for you & your wife . Get there when the gates open & it will be less crowded. Buy tickets in advance. The gardens are fab. Use the bikes to get around more quickly.

Posted by
56 posts

In Bobbie's post he/she references a bike tour. When we were there in 2006 we did a night tour with Fat Tire Bikes. It included a trip on a river boat/barge late at light that was the most amazing part of our trip. The tour giude brought several bottles of wine and we sat on the open air deck viewing the sights. Amazing!. Fat Tire also has a bike tour to Versailles that was really cool, the joint is huge and we were able to scoot around and see much more without wasiting time walking and getting tired. I see that you have Versailles on your schedule, may be worth considering. The night bike tour takes you to Ile de la Cite and the Louve and we got to ride our bikes at dusk in the Louve courtyard around the pyrmaid entrance. Here is the link to their website, also Rick has them listed in his guidebook. http://fattirebiketours.com/paris If you do it I'd suggest doing it early in your trip to help identify things you may want to come back to or cross off your schedule.
When I look back on our trip it was the highlight of a trip of highlights. We are going back in September and plan to do it again. Bon Chance!!

Posted by
711 posts

A couple of thoughts. You mentioned markets on Saturday and Sunday. There are so many wonderful food markets and you can get your lunch there and find a bench or somewhere nice .My favorite food markets are....1. The President Wilson Market on Saturday, 2. The Saxe Breteuil market which is also on Saturday. Get there early.. 8AM- noon more or less. If you want directions send me a PM. Also, the Porte de vanves flea market is wonderful. You can get the neatest old french things there for reasonable prices. It is open both Saturday and Sunday ...starts also around 8AM til around noon. Better to get there early.. different vendors each day.This is the flea market many french prefer. There is a small cafe as you exit the metro at porte de vanves , so if you get tired it makes a nice pit stop. They are very friendly there.There are many more food markets, too.

Posted by
19 posts

Thank you for all the great suggestions.
After we work with our itinerary, I am going to repost.

Posted by
31435 posts

Sean, A few comments to add to the others..... Regarding your visit to the Louvre, don't try to see all of it in one visit as it's huge. If you're mainly interested in seeing the Mona Lisa, it's located in the Denon Wing so you might focus your visit there (watch your wallets, as Pickpockets "work" that area on occasion). As I recall, Venus di Milo was moved to one of the other wings, perhaps Sully. You might consider one of the versions of the Paris Museum Pass, in order to minimize waiting in queues. Check their website for details. If your group would like a somewhat "unique" Paris touring experience, have a look at Paris Segway Tours. It's a bit "pricey" but lots of fun! You might find the Paris Guidebook to be a valuable resource to plan your sightseeing. It has lots of great information on Museum opening & closing times (some Museums are closed on specific days of the week), Hotels, restaurants and transportation. Happy travels!

Posted by
19 posts

Here is a new itinerary I've put together. I'm trying to keep us in relatively the same neighborhood each day so we're enjoying Paris instead of bouncing from site to site. Sunday is a bit of a bounce around day though. I've listed the main spots we would like to experience on each day. Please continue to share any criticisms or suggestions you may have. Many of the suggestions I have received on this forum have helped tremendously and will enhance our trip. For example, we are looking into the Paris Walks and Fat Bike tours as nice ways to explore some neighborhoods and Versailles. Thank you for all your help. New itinerary Thursday My wife and I arrive Latin Quarter neighborhood Pantheon Musee d'Orsay open late (depending on how we feel) Friday Cemetarie du Pere Lachaise Musee Edith Piaf or Parc de Belleville 2nd couple arrives Walk the Seine Hotel Invalides Lourve open late (maybe just my wife and I) Saturday Market Montmarte early Basilique du Sacre-Couer Last of our group arrives Notre Dame Ile de la Cite Seine Cruise or Illuminations Tour Sunday Market Marais neighborhood Place des Vosges Centre Pompidou Metro to Eiffel Tower Arc d'Triumphe Champs Elysses Monday Lourve early Picnic in Luxembourg Gardens Open time Tuesday Versailles Open time Nice dinner Wednesday Breakfast
Depart at 12 noon

Posted by
2235 posts

Did you purposely leave out Ile St. Louis? Or were you going to do that when you do Ile de la Cite? It's one of my favorite places to walk around in Paris. Also, my favorite sight in Paris is Saint Chapelle. I would try to work that in. The only bad thing is that the lines can be very long, and it's the security line that slows things up, so a Museum Pass will not help. It's ideal to go early in the morning, but your mornings are pretty well occupied. Another option is a concert there in the evening. It's not cheap, but it's a fabulous experience. These are minor quibbles. Overall, I think your itinerary is good. I hope you have a wonderful time!

Posted by
524 posts

Sean Wonderful new itinerary! Great incorporation of suggestions! You will have a fabulous time in Paris with your friends! Bobbie

Posted by
63 posts

Don't miss Sainte-Chapelle on Ile de la Cite. Pere la Chaise cemetary (Mr. Mojo Risin) is also a great walk. Seventy thousand people entomb this city of the dead. Most of the monuments are creepy crypts. Shakespeare &Co. is a gnomish little bookstore to bump your head in on the left bank one block downriver from Notre Dame. If you go to the Louvre avoid the Mona Lisa if its crowded. The view of Leonardo's little masterpiece from ten feet through the glare of plexiglass amid the arms of snap-shooting tourists isn't really worth the hassle. Bring binoculars. Versailles is a zoo. When I went there in April the Hall of Mirrors was chockablock with a sedan chair exhibition, whose clutter subtracted from the architectural splendor of it all.

Posted by
19 posts

I appreciate everyone's suggestions greatly. Here's an to our itinerary. We're trying to beat the long lines at our eary stops as early as possible and then have some flexibility with our afternoons. We are still wrestling with our time before the last of our group arrives. Thursday My wife and I arrive Latin Quarter neighborhood & Pantheon or Canal St. Martin cruise (worth it?) Musee d'Orsay open late (depending on how we feel) Romantic, tasty dinner at. . . (any suggestions around Musee d'Orsay?) Friday Cemetarie du Pere Lachaise Musee Edith Piaf 2nd couple arrives Walk the Seine Hotel Invalides Lourve open late (maybe just my wife and I) Saturday Market Saint Chapelle Ile St Louis Last of our group arrives Arc d'Triumphe Walk Champs Elysses (any alternatives for a person not wanting to walk the Champs, but needing to get to the Grand Palais around the same time?) Grand Palais Seine Cruise maybe + Illuminations Tour (any opinions?) Sunday Market Ile de la Cite Notre Dame Marais neighborhood Place des Vosges Museum Picasso Centre Pompidou Monday Lourve early Picnic in Luxembourg Gardens Eiffel Tower St Germain neighborhood + (if we have some time) Latin Quarter neighborhood or Montmarte Tuesday Versailles Gardens + ??? Nice dinner + (if we have the time) Montmarte or Latin Quarter Wednesday Breakfast
Depart at 12 noon

Posted by
5 posts

Sean: Just got back from Paris....amazing city. Try to take a nighttime illumination tour, but make sure it's on an OPEN AIR bus where you can really see the sights and take good pics. The closed busses are stuffy with limited views, and all you get it the flash reflection
from the window. Montmarte is interesting but full of beggars...beware... Have a great time! mark

Posted by
177 posts

i think the Picasso museum is closed. Your first day seems quite a lot unless you are not planning on going inside and up the notre-dame, I'd suggest getting familiar with your surroundings, grab a sandwich at a near by cafe, visit a near by supermarket, sit in the sun, chill and battle your jet lag along with Montmarte and Musee d'Orsay. take your draft of the itinerary, compare it to the map you received at the hotel, and I am sure you can figure out the perfect one for yourself from there. Here was mine and worked perfectly take apart what you please (they are all in order): day 1: Montmartre, walk around our hotel, bought some food from marches, walked around the eiffel tower without going in. day 2: louvre, champ elysees, arc of triumph, eiffel tower and the navy museum around it, museum d'orsay (they open late that day) day 3: versailles (morning and early aftetnoon) & back to paris (museum de l'armee, les invalides, museum rodin, museum orangerie, eglise de la madeleine, opera, gallerie lafayette, place vendome) day 4: notre dame, crypte archeologique du parvis notre-dame, jewish deportation memorial, ile sainte-louis, latin quarter, conciergerie, palace of justice, museum de cluny, pantheon, luxembourg garden, and shopping areas around there on the walk back to our hotel by les invalids day 5:
museum of decrotives, royal garden, les halles, pompidou Buy you eiffel tower ticket online, it saved us tremendous amount of time. We both had a 4-day paris museum pass, we didn't wait inline for anything except for the security checkpoint at the summit of notre-dame. we step out of our hotel with a full stomach around 7:45-8:00am everyday don't forget to visit a supermarket often and just have picnics at the parks around you. Jardin of Luxembourg was the best part of our trip. HAVE FUN!

Posted by
177 posts

also on our first day, we have a day pass for the batobus, so we just rode around the river for quite some time. We are cheap travelers, we didn't want to spend 11 euros per person for 1 hour, nor did we want to spend almost 500 dollars in river cruise dinner. so we bought the 14euro unlimited batobus river bus day pass.

Posted by
8681 posts

If you look at the date of the original post you will see that Sean should have already returned from his trip. I hope you had a good time Sean!!

Posted by
1068 posts

@Ed: You said: "Now that the baloney is over, here's a couple of ideas: Versailles and the Louvre could be done on the same day (as long as it's not Monday or Tuesday). Versailles will take most of the day and wear you out. If you don't want the full treatment at the Louvre, get there a couple of hours before it closes and you can be in and out in an hour. That's a full darn day, but it will save you a batch of time." That makes me... sad. Sorry! You are an awesome contributor here, you predate my lowly presence by EONS, and you know more than I probably will ever know about Western Europe... but... the Louvre is home to some of the most amazing, iconic, moving, astonishing, wonderful pieces of art ever produced on this planet. "In and out" in an hour? Sure - if it is just a notch on Sean's belt. But... wow. "Save you a batch of time?" Words fail me. The Louvre is a destination. A place of pilgrimage. I can spend half an hour just visiting with my favorite painting (Christ at the Column, by Antonello da Messina, finished about 1475). What's with th4e "save time" and "in an out?" Oh jeez... I know I am gonna be flagged by the webmaster, but... wow.

Posted by
9363 posts

As they say, "different strokes for different folks". Everyone has their own likes and dislikes, and not everyone is into art.