Paris Sights/Reservations Needed?

My husband and I will be in Paris for the first time in mid-June. We are staying in the 6th Arrondissment in an apartment on Rue De Buci. We arrive on a Saturday and will be taking a blue bike tour first off to get a lay of the land. The next few days I have planned but am unsure if we will need guides/tours/advance reservations for any of the following. We do not speak french and as I said this will be our first visit to Paris. Our tentative plan is as follows: Sunday Notre Dame, St. Chappelle and Luxemborg Gardens. Monday Montmarte, Sacre' Cour and Musee D'Orsay. Tuesday Versailles (Fountains are on). Wednesday Louvre, Arc d'Triomphe, Champs d'elysees, Eiffel Tower. We leave on Thursday Morning. We will be returning for one day towards the end of our trip and can re-visit any sites we didn't give enough time to or skipped. Any restaurant or other suggestions welcome, I am tired of searching the internet and travel books!

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7819 posts

Get advance tickets online for Versailles or be prepared to wait a few hours. If you do not get tickets then get Museum pass to skip ticket line, but STILL get there before it opens, the lines for security can be long too, we waited 45 minutes at least and that was with tickets in hand ( last summer). Other then Orsay and Eiffel Tower, and possibly St Chapelle, lines not a huge issue at other places. For Eiffel Tour it is too late to buy advance tickets. GO EARLY, or take line for stairs, its shorter. For Louvre, do not enter via Pyramind, enter from Carosuel Mall, or try going on evening they are open late. For ORsay, and St Chapelle a museum pass would help here too.. otherwise you can schedule visits for first thing in am before they open, or for Orsay you can get tickets from FNAC .

Posted by Cindy
Sacramento, Ca, Usa
21 posts

Thank you Pat, very helpful info! We will definitely get a museum pass. Bummer we are too late on Eiffel Tower. I suppose we could get in line with the crowds is it worth it?

Posted by Jim
Dallas, Texas, USA
495 posts

Of course the Eiffel Tower is worth it! What would your friends and relatives say? That would be like going to Pisa and not climbing the tower.....unheard of!!

Posted by Cynthia
Gig Harbor, Washington, USA
1202 posts

When you are near the Luxembourg gardens, you might want to also visit the Cluny Museum which has interesting medieval objects plus the original statues which were on the front of Notre Dame. An hour is sufficient time for a visit there - it's our favorite museum in Paris. The gardens of the Rodin Museum are also worth visiting - they are not too far from the Eiffel Tower and are a lovely place to sit for a bit and rest your feet.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7819 posts

Ha ha , Jim, I have been to Pisa and not gone up the Tower,, but don't worry Cindy the Eiffel Tower is worth it.. I do think that you don't need to worry about going to top though, go up to the second level. If lines look really long, ( and the year I climbed the stairs they had a sign up on a post that said " wait time here 1.5 hours " and the line stretched well beyond that sign... just take the stairs. They are doable by most healthy people. They are wide enough that people can pass you , so you don't have to rush . You can climb to first level, take a break look around then climb shorter distance to second level. You are allowed to take the elevator down from 2nd level if you wish ( which I recommend as going down is actually harder then going up )
Also, once you get to second level you can get in a separate line for the elevator that goes to top if you wish, but views from second level are really great . The line for the stairs is at the base of the "Sud Pilar" ( south foot) its closest to the park on the righthand side as you face the ET from the river. Its a bit cheaper and the line is faster moving then the line for the elevators.

Posted by Cindy
Sacramento, Ca, Usa
21 posts

Well, my husband was wondering how we were going to get our workouts in so I guess we will look at the Eiffel Tower as a way to accomplish that, haha! Really I was wondering if we really needed to wait the long lines to climb it or if just looking at it is enough. I understand there is a hill or something not too far away that has a wonderful view of paris with the Tower in the background. My husband and I are in good shape so climbing is not an issue, we will wait the line and hit it early in the morning. Better than a run I guess!

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7819 posts

The view your husband is talking about is probably from Trocedera, google for it, you will see. The view is pretty special, many people take the metro there just to emerge into that view then walk to the ET .

Posted by Cindy
Sacramento, Ca, Usa
21 posts

More great information! Thank you all, I am now busily finalizing our plans. Does anyone know how or if we need to buy tickets for the Sainte Chapelle concerts mentioned?

Posted by Chani
Tel Aviv
3489 posts

Some tips. . . St. Chapelle - the pass doesn't help much. The long line is through security and it's long because it is also for the law courts in the same complex and, unless it's changes, the security guards have a long lunch break and there's no admittance then. The most efficient way to see it is to buy tickets for a concert there. They aren't long or terribly expensive ( and don't buy the more expensive tickets). There are often 2 per night. Get the one that starts before sunset and hopefully ends after dark. Get there early to grab seats in the middle, then walk around and take photos. When the concert begins, relax and enjoy the music and the chapel. Notre Dame usually has free organ recitals on Sundays at 4.00 p.m. Get there earlier to get seats. In my experience the Orsay is always crowded in the evenings. Best to go first thing in the morning. Start on the top floor (where the "best" stuff is), then work your way down. that way you'll also miss some of the crowds. You might be better off going Sunday morning. Mondays are more crowded because the Louvre is closed. In my experience the Louvre is not crowded in the evening. There's nothing to see on the Champs Elysees. Take the metro to the Arc de Triomphe. I like to be there just at sunset, see the view in daylight and after dark - but that may put you up there for a rather long time. The view is nice, but you'll have great views from Montmartre and the Eiffel Tower, so this is what I'd skip if I were running out of time. Rick has several audio guides that you can download. I enjoyed them. Be sure to print out the maps. Restaurants - don't eat in a restaurant that has a menu in several languages. Often the little mom&pop restaurants around the corner are very good. House wines are usually quite drinkable and not at all expensive.

Posted by Grier
Carmel, IN
1050 posts

Really I was wondering if we really needed to wait the long lines to climb it or if just looking at it is enough. For me, just looking at the Eiffel Tower, especially at night, is enough. After several visits to Paris, I finally went up to the second floor but I like it best from the ground. If you want a view of the French rooftops, go to Galeries Lafayetter observation deck. We got tickets for the Ste Chapelle concert at the ticket booth the same day as the concert.

Posted by David
Walnut Creek
68 posts

We just got back from Paris (2nd trip, so we did not feel a need to see everything, which was a good thing).
If any of the popular sites is a "must" for you, go early or late. Lines for the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame belfry, the Louvre and the Orsay were utterly insane and even worse on "free" days that occurred during our visit. Some ppl on our RS tour never made it to the Orsay on the first day they tried, even with the Paris Museum pass. The view from the Eiffel Tower is no great shakes, IMO. The view from the Arc de Triomphe, which was less busy, is better. If you do not have to say you climbed the Eiffel Tower, find a nice spot from which to view it after dark and enjoy the light shows, which occur on the hour until 1 AM. We've been to mass at Notre Dame on both our trips - a cool way to experience the cathedral. Another way to see the upper level of St. Chapelle is to go to one of the evening concerts. We went on a weekend - since the concert did not occur during the working hours of the hall of justice, the security was "tourist security" (a total joke) and the famous windows were stunning in the early evening light. St. Chapelle does not have great acoustics for chamber music, so it's the total experience, not the music, that makes the concerts so good. You can buy tickets at the door. I love Sacre Cour at sunset - look for the spots along the rails at the base of the church where all the photographers are jostling for great shots of the Eiffel Tower at sunset. The church's website also lists the times for vespers - another good time to experience the church. And do not miss the back of the church! (we did on our first visit). There are no tourists in back and the view, especially after dark, is stunning.

Posted by Sarah
Stuttgart, Germany
2012 posts

I've been to Paris 6 times and never bothered to go up the Eiffel Tower (had planned it once but lost our reservation info and wasn't able to find a place to print out our confirmation in time..) Honestly, I don't feel like I've missed out. The amazing views of the tower are from the bottom and all over the city. I prefer city views with the Eiffel tower IN them - which makes a strong case for the Montparnasse tower - you get to see the Eiffel Tower, Sacre Couer, etc and you don't have to look at the eyesore of a tower!

Posted by Cindy
Sacramento, Ca, Usa
21 posts

Yes, I actually caught that the D'Orsay is closed on Mondays, have re-arranged our itinerary to look like this...still a few ?s though. 6/16 Sunday Luxemburg Garden and Cluny Museum, Notre Dame and Sainte Chapelle with concert. 6/17 Monday Metro to Trocedera then walk to by 9 am Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Arc d'Triomphe at sunset, Champs d'elysees (? may skip) 6/18 Tuesday Versailles (Fountain show) Arrive before it opens, use Museum Pass to skip ticket line 6/19 Wednesday Musee d'Orsay (Lines long-use Museum Pass go first thing in the morning) Montmarte, Sacre'Cour, ??Seine river cruise in evening Does this sound doable??? Other suggestions have been the catacombs, Seine River boat and the On/off bus. We may be cramming way too much in but we are up early and out the door kind of people. Thankfully we have a few days to relax in a chateau after we leave Paris, phew! We may take in something we want to come back to or skipped when we return for the day on June 28th (our anniversary).

Posted by Tim
Wyckoff, NJ, USA
666 posts

If the Eiffel Tower doesn't work out, and you want an aerial view, consider the Tour Maubourg. It's modern and also crowded, but happens to have a view of ... ... the Eiffel Tower. Did you buy Rick's book? It's very useful and has very little hot air-quick to refer to. Paris is a busy city, and you might want to be able to change plans when you hit a huge line, a security shutdown, or a sidewalk and road construction project.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7819 posts

Plan looks good now, I would still skip Champs its nothing to see but shops, and a few car dealerships, its overpriced and super crowded. have fun.
I would also recondsider switching Tuesday and wedsenday as I would not go to Versailles on fountain day, its not worth it, I have been over 8 or 9 times now and only once was it a "fountain show" day and frankly the extra crowds were not worth it... yes, the fountains look cool when they run, but its like 1/2 hr for a few fountains at once, and you have to run around the garden to see them all, and they are scheduled only every 3 hours or so, its impossible to see them all running unless you plan your day around it.. there is a lot more to see on grounds then them.