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Planning Ahead For Paris....

We are 3 or 4 women who will be in Paris, September 2012. We have done some research and found that the 2012 Summer Olympics will be in London from July 26 thru August 13 and the 2012 Paralympics, also in London, from August 29 thru September 9. Therefore, we are planning our trip for the third or fourth week in September, hoping the crowds will have died down. It will be our first trip to Paris. We will be traveling from different points and meeting each other in Paris. We are interested in museums, gardens, love to walk and simply exploring the city. We don't like every minute planned. Sometimes it's just good to see how your day unfolds. Since it is our first time, we are planning to hit the popular spots, but after that just see what happens. Is the following a reasonable expectation for our itinerary? We may not see everything, but we want to enjoy the trip and our time together and not constantly rush from one sight to the next. Day 1 Arrive Paris, Apartment check-in, Afternoon Paris Greeters Tour, Evening free Day 2 The Louvre, Eiffel Tower Day 3 Walking The Spirit Tour (approximately 10:00am – 6:00pm), Evening free Day 4 Musee d'Orsay, Cruise River Seine Day 5 Norte-Dame in the morning, Free Afternoon, Evening Floodlit Paris Tour Day 6 My friends will be departing for home and I will be staying on alone in Paris for an additional week. Day 7 Paris Flea Market, Evening free Day 8 Tuileries Gardens, Evening at the Eiffel Tower Day 9 Nuit Blanche or White Night Day 10 Alexandre III Bridge, Rodin Museum Day 11 Paris Walks Tour Day 12 Free day
Day 13 My flight home Any suggestions/comments would be appreciated.

Posted by
32198 posts

Savannah, I'd suggest packing along a copy of the Paris Guidebook, as it will be a very useful resource for planning your sightseeing. It also has listings for good Hotels, restaurants, Museum hours, transportation, etc. Buying a Paris Musuem Pass would be a good idea, as Paris will likely be crowded at that time of year (Fall shoulder season), so minimizing queues is important. Check their website for details and current prices. I'd also probably pre-book tickets for the Eiffel Tower, as there will undoubtedly be crowds there also. You might want to have a look at a Guidebook to prioritize your sightseeing in the Louvre. The exhibits are contained in three wings (Denon, Sullly, Richelieu) and it's HUGE! If you're mostly interested in the Mona Lisa, it's still in the Denon wing AFAIK. Be sure to wear Money Belts in Paris, as there are scammers about! Have you given any thought to which part of the city you'd most prefer to stay. I'm sure you'll get lots of opinions on that topic from the group here. I prefer the Rue Cler area (sometimes referred to as "Rue Rick"), but everyone has their favourite. Rue Cler is a convenient "home base" for getting to many of the places on your list. Good luck with your planning!

Posted by
9420 posts

I think your itinerary looks really good. The best of Paris, for me, is walking and sitting outside at cafes. I don't see the Luxembourg Gardens on your list, my favorite place in Paris, it's wonderful. My favorite area to stay in is the 4th arrondissement (the Marais and Ile Saint Louis), the 5th (Latin Quarter) and the 6th (Saint Germain). I hope you have a great time, I love Paris.

Posted by
1315 posts

Hi Savannah - What a fun trip! I agree with Susan on the Luxembourg Gardens. You should also consider the Palais Royale Gardens. Also the Parc Bagatelle in the Bois de Boulogne is a wonderful rose garden. September won't be peak time for roses but there will be some blooming. How about a day trip to Giverny? It's easy to get to by train and the village of Giverny is beautiful too. Enjoy!

Posted by
124 posts

Sounds like a very easy going itinerary. Be sure to get a Museum pass as it allows you to go to the front of the line. Also, Most museums are closed on Mondays and the Louvre on Tuesdays. So double check the times. Don;t' miss the Luxemborg Gardens

Posted by
524 posts

Savannah Paris Walks is a great idea. Also, check to see if they have any specialty walks while you are there. A reserved walk ( with a higher fee) such as a Chocolate Walk is a great way to taste and smell the little stores in France. And a wealth of information from the guide. Book well in advance. Check the Paris Greeters website for a tour by a local in Paris. Free if you give a donation to their website, I believe. Wonderful to get a "private" tour of a neighborhood! I am not familiar with the Paris Floodlit Tour unless it is the bus tour. In that case, you may find the Evening Cruise tour is sufficient. Maybe look at TripAdvisor to see what they say. Also, I would link the Evening at the Eiffel Tower with the River Seine Cruise. On the Seine near the Eiffel Tower is one of the river cruise starting / ending points. It is only an hour. See if the Rodin Museum Sculpture Garden (not too far away) would be interest you. How about a 1/2 day cooking class and market tour? Google for info. If not, be sure to visit at least 1 or 2 markets while you are there. Can't remember if anyone has mentioned the Luxembourg. Fabulous to see how this gardent is divided into various areas to suit totally different purposes. Spend some time here to see every corner. You will LOVE Paris! Bobbie

Posted by
2030 posts

I have flown from CA and rented apartments in Paris on several occasions, my thoughts: Prepare for the fact that you may be quite tired after the long flight and checking in to your apartment may take some time, so it's possible you may not have much energy for the Greeter's tour. Particularly if you have to take metro or even a cab to the location. So day 1 may be just to get your bearings and a good night's sleep. (though I think you should get out and walk a bit in your neighborhood for sure). To me, the Louvre and Eiffel Tower are 2 sites that require a lot of time and energy, would not plan them for the same day. You should combine the Louvre with the Tuilleries gardens, and it is right across the street and a lovely walk to or from the Louvre. Great people watching and you can end up at Angelina's for tea or hot chocolate! Also, all your friends should see the Eiffel Tower light show in the evening. A good plan is to hit it at dusk go on it while still light then go down as it gets dark (will be late since daylight savings time) and view the light show the first hour it goes on from the ground. Might want to plan this after you have been there a few days and know when sunset is. Do it on a weekday though. I would do Notre Dame and the islands first day. That is the heart of Paris.
Other than this your plans seem to be sensibly paced, and you have lots of free time which is often the best!

Posted by
2349 posts

Add l'Orangerie. It's not huge and can easily be done the same day as another museum or walk.

Posted by
255 posts

I agree with BG that you should not plan the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower in the same day especially if you decide to pre-book your Eiffel Tower experience. There is a LOT to see in the Louvre that is worthwhile beyond the Mona Lisa. I have been there twice and have still not seen everything there is to see. Definitely check out the Rodin Museum. There is a nice garden there with several pieces to see. I don't see Montmartre/Sacre Coeur on your itinerary nor Les Invalides/Napoleon's Tomb both of which I recommend.

Posted by
1819 posts

You might consider this, especially for one of your solo days: We walked from our hotel (Relais Bosquet) to Parc Monceau, then visited the Jacquemart Andre museum, ate lunch at Printemps and also visited their observatory, walked to the Madeline, finished with coffee in the Tulieres. Opera Garnier is also in that area. ........Details: Parc Monceau is a pretty park in a very wealthy neighborhood. If you go there on a weekday, the park is full of nannies chatting while they mostly ignore their wealthy little responsibilities....the Jacquemart Andre is a museum in a beautiful old mansion and has a very good collection....the Printemps dining room is under a large stained glass dome, the observation floor (free) and snack bar in the building next door has a good view of Paris. The neighborhood is full of expensive shops, so it's fun to window shop......the Madeline is huge, cool inside, a nice spot to sit down for ten minutes......we did the Opera on a different day, it's a beautiful excessively ornate building, English tours are available some days.......We enjoyed seeing this section of Paris which didn't seem to be full of tourists.......Another excellent museum if you like Monet is the Marmottan, in that area but probably too far to walk.

Posted by
358 posts

I would include a side trip to Giverny with your friends instead of the Seine Cruise. I agree with posters and would visit Montmartre to see the Sacre-Coeur and the touristy artist colony. Rodin is a nice small museum with a nice garden area and cafe for lunch. If you like Monet the Marmottan museum is a must. The Parc Monceau is my favorite park in Paris. My favorite walking area of Paris is the Marais and several museums in this area are free (Victor Hugo and Carnavalet). My favorite place for lunch is in the marais L'as Du Fallafel which is the busiest place in Paris.

Posted by
10176 posts

To add on to the previous posts. The Jacquemart Andre museum has an incredible restaurant/tea room with an original ceiling painted by Tiepolo. I always have lunch there with my French girl friends when in Paris. The Printemps Department Store self-service is another good place to go for a bite but better yet for the view from this roof top casual restaurant/snack bar.
I'd keep the Seine boat ride. It takes about an hour, including standing in line, and is always fun.

Posted by
37 posts

The Pompideau Centre is amazing, great restaurant on the roof with views of Paris, and excellent contemporary art. Rather than a flea market, visit one of the outdoor food markets. I always buy canned cassoulet to take home, and other tasty stuff. You do not need a money belt; that's just silly.
I did Paris Walks tours and enjoyed them (I visit Paris twice a year). And Rue Oberkampf is a great street to walk on, visit cafes, and also Canal St. Martin (very untouristy)

Posted by
9099 posts

Just to add to the choir, you definitely need to squeeze Montmartre/Sacre Coeur into your itinerary, and perhaps a couple hours at one of the big department stores or the gourmet food shops clustered around Madeleine? metro station. Money belts are essential: http://tinyurl.com/36os94

Posted by
2349 posts

I did four of the Paris Walks when I was there in October. The guide to the one on Montmartre was not the best. (Not great at controlling his crowd and speaking loudly enough. His knowledge was fine.) But I'm so glad I took the tour. I got to walk around the whole area, not just follow the crowd to Sacre Couer and Place du Tertre. It was Sunday morning, the church bells were ringing, there was a street market and petting zoo, and families were eating brunch in the cafes.

Posted by
3049 posts

Hey, Fairfield! I'm originally from Woodland. :D This is a very reasonable itinerary and everyone has given you good ideas and suggestions. I agree with others for not doing the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower on the same day, though. I wouldn't do the Louvre on my first "real" day either - you'll still be jet-lagged. I'd use the day to orient yourselves around the city, mostly via walking, hitting up some easy-to-see attractions in roughly the same area, then heading to the Eiffel tower in the evening - make reservations for that online! Just thinking, a walk-around "orientation" day could include seeing the outside of Notre Dame (even if you plan to return to see the inside later), the gardens at Palais Luxembourg, maybe pop into the Musee de Cluny which is fantastic for medieval art and has the famous unicorn tapestries but is also a relatively small museum that can be done in a couple hours, even slowly. A lot of the literary sites and cafes are all walkable from these areas, like the famous Shakespeare & Co. bookstore, Le Deux Margot where Hemmingway and the Fitzgeralds hung out, etc. Also Berthillion ice cream! You could see all those things at a leisurely pace during the day and still do the Eiffel tower without exhausting yourselves, I think.

Posted by
18 posts

Five of us stayed in a rented apt on the Left Bank in March. It was a short 2 or 3 block walk to the Louvre and the area was wonderful and safe. The apt was 3 bed/2 bath above the Ferragamo shoe store in St. Germain. It was a 4th floor walk-up so your group has to be in good shape if you rent it! We loved shopping for food and making our own breakfasts & light dinners (wine, cheese, salad, fruit, chocolate, etc). We would eat lunch out (plat du jour) each day. Look for rentals at VRBO.com or Homeaway.com. Have fun!

Posted by
32700 posts

Leslie says, You do not need a money belt; that's just silly. Why do you say that? I am aware that some people wear them and others take the risk, but I haven't seen anybody before say it is silly. In what way?

Posted by
635 posts

Nigel beat me to the comment about money belts being "silly." I just returned from Paris. There are signs scattered about the Louvre warning about pickpockets. When we were in the Orsay, there were several announcements to be on the alert for pickpockets. I assume these aren't just to add "local color" to the trip. I used to work for a well known European company. They strongly recommended that we wear money belts when visiting. Several of my fellow managers didn't bother and literally got stripped of everything in the airport. They had the benefit of having the support structure of the company but these "victims" were usually the butt of jokes by our hosts. I've known other people that have been pickpocketed in Europe. It involves hours of time in the US embassy to get a replacement passport for entry back into the US. They usually have to have people wire them money from the US so they can pay their hotel and have money to eat. I'm sure they probably thought money belts were "silly" until it happened to them. Losing "everything" is a whole lot worse for a US resident in Europe than in another US city. It took me a couple of years to convice my wife to lose her purse and go with a money belt. We now carry copies of each others passport and different ATM cards. I carry a "decoy" wallet that I've not lost in several years although I think a grab was made for it in Prague. I believe the odds are against any one tourist getting "hit." Unfortunately, the price that will have to be paid will be extremely disruptive to any vacation activities.

Posted by
113 posts

Paris is my absolute favorite city in the world! One suggestion I have is in regards to Notre Dame. If you're at all an early riser, get up early and visit right when it opens! My first time in Paris I headed over there later in the afternoon, and it was chaos both inside and out. The next morning I was there by 8:00 and I almost had the whole place to myself for about half an hour. The same goes for the Musee D'Orsay. Another suggestion (I think Rick mentions it) is to visit Montparnasse Tower for a great view of Paris that includes the Eiffel Tower (as opposed to looking at the rest of Paris from the Eiffel tower!). I don't know if the museum pass covers it, but both times I've been there hasn't been a line at all. Oh, and regarding the money belt, I'll just chip in and say that I don't wear one. I have a daybag that is billed as "theft proof," with a zipper that locks and slashproof material. I feel perfectly safe and have several friends with the same bag who love it just as much as I do. (I'm not sure what the rules are for "advertising" non-RS products on here, but PM me if you're curious for more information) Have a fabulous trip!

Posted by
70 posts

What about SHOPPING? You can't do Paris without shopping even if its only "window" shopping!

Posted by
9099 posts

Using an in-room hotel safe is reasonable, but not all hotels have them. If not, using a money belt for valuables when out sightseeing is essential. The locals don't wear them because the thieves specifically target tourists.

Posted by
635 posts

Anyone so inclined on the value of money belts can go to the Graffiti Wall and look at "Losing it all and bouncing back."

Posted by
4151 posts

Perhaps these are included in some of the tours you mention, but I wouldn't miss Sainte-Chappelle (like I did in 2009). I also highly recommend being at the Arc de Triomphe at 18:30 to see the ceremonial rekindling of the eternal flame at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. We stumbled on that daily event and it was one of the most memorable experiences of our time in Paris. I agree with those who have recommended renting an apartment for your time there, or perhaps 2 one for the large group and one for the week by yourself. HomeAway and Paristay are two good places to look for apartment rental options. Finally, I'm sure it's possible, but we had no bad meals in Paris. It may not be ALL about the food, but both my husband and my son-in-law would go to Paris just to eat.

Posted by
11507 posts

Moneybelts are important for those who carry all their money and cards with them every day.. I do not. I wear a moneybelt when in transit( and therefore have my passport and all my credit and debit cards and cash with me).. For day to day sightseeing I have never worn a moneybelt, nor do the locals.. think about it, Leave bulk of money and passport in hotel safe,, carry days worth of cash , one card, and alternate id( I carry a DL and a copy of PP) in a good purse which zips and clicks closed. I have travelled for last 30 years like this,, its never been an issue,, I do think moneybelt are not a neccesary item for everyday wear,, but , I do not think they are silly,, if one chooses to carry all their stuff with them everyday then a moneybelt is in fact very very important.

Posted by
11507 posts

Not completely true Michael,, thieves steal from locals too,, ask my relatives,, difference is ,, a) they don't tend to carry hundreds of euros and passport with them, so while inconvenient its not as diasterous for them to get pick pocketed, and b) theives will steal from anyone who looks distracted and or vunerable,,which yes, tourists can fall in that a catergory,, but so can locals. c) locals know better than to carry wallet in back pocket ,, or let purse gape open,, so are less easy targets. Right now in Paris apparenttly locals are being targeted for their smart phones, they are apparently grabbed out of hands ,, especially on metros where many are commuting and chatting,, soon as a stop nears( which of course thieves are well timed on ) they grab it right out of your hands and jump off..Tourists are less likely to be chatting on phones in everyday commuting situations.

Posted by
9099 posts

If I were a thief I'd go after the tourists. They're carrying the most amount of cash, and most importantly they're unlikely to hang around long enough to testify in court should they get nabbed.

Posted by
37 posts

I believe a money belt is silly b/c you should never ever carry your passport with you. There is no need to carry your passport. As well, I carry very few euros, and only one credit card. Copies of everything kept in my apartment. It's difficult to not look like a tourist, and thus tempting to thieves, when you remove your euros from your money belt. It's an immediate tell. The key is to carry only cash you need for the day, plus atm card if necessary, and one credit card. If you do have your wallet stolen, you can immediately block your credit card. The only time anything was stolen was when a friend was visiting me in Nice, and put her passport, hundreds of euros, and her credit card in a backpack. Avoid backpacks at all cost. I have visited Europe two or three times a year for many years, and find a purse over my shoulder works just fine.
My European friends do not use a money belt!

Posted by
9099 posts

"...It's difficult to not look like a tourist, and thus tempting to thieves, when you remove your euros from your money belt. It's an immediate tell..." That's not how money belts work. Money Belts are designed as a portable "safe" and are not supposed to accessed in public. The idea is to keep a days spending money in ones wallet/purse, everything else (excess cash/cards/passport) in the belt hidden away under ones pants until the end of the day. So if one does get robbed it's limited to just your days spending money. Also, not everyone uses apartments.

Posted by
2788 posts

For as many years as I have been visiting this web site, I have never read about anyone getting their money belt stolen but I can not even count the number of times I have read about some one getting stuff stolen that was not in a money belt. I go to Europe every summer and always ware a money belt containing my passport, ATM card, money, any airline or train tickets, and itinerary. I do not access my money belt in public, keeping the days spending money in a zippered chest pocket. I always use to use a money belt that went around my waist but have recently changed to one that hangs around my neck which I prefer. Since we have been taking RS tours over the last 10 years (9 so far) we were introduced to the use of money belts long ago. On all of the RS tours we have taken I have never heard of anyone loosing anything out of their money belt no having it stolen. To each their own.

Posted by
4037 posts

Date of the 2012 Nuit Blanche arts festival does not seem to have been announced but it will almost certainly be in October.
Also be aware that it takes place during the evening, leaving most of the daytime for something else, or maybe napping.

Posted by
15576 posts

I have no idea how much the Olympics will impact tourism in Paris. I do know that September is a very very busy month - lots of trade shows - so it's much harder to get accommodations than in the summer. The tourist sights won't be particularly crowded, but you will need to book your hotel well in advance. The Heritage Days (Les Journees Du Patrimoine, I think) are usually the third weekend in September in Paris and not to be missed. Many public buildings are open to the general public only on those 2 days and are FREE. Yes, you will have to stand in line for 30-60 minutes, but you will get to see wonderful palaces (Hotel de Ville, Luxembourg, Assemble Nationale. . . ). Many embassies also open their doors and offer special exhibitions. The Paris Walks chocolate tour is terrific. I recently read that the Rodin museum is closing for renovations. There are many other wonderful museums, though. One of my faves is the Carnavalet in the Marais district. It is a museum of the history of Paris, with much wonderful art, and it is free. Pricey, but great fun, are the Fat Tire segway tours.

Posted by
11507 posts

Charlie,, wearing a money belt is a good idea on a tour,, you are in transit constantly , moving every 2 days or so, and likelyhood of leaving stuff in safe is increased due to constant moving, , but for many their trips consist of a only one or two destinations where they stay in same hotel or apartment for a week or more at a time. Also,, wondering, why carry plane tickets? They are replaceable,, just go online and print out new one,, nowadays do some airlines still you paper issued tickets? I have heard ( on tripadvisor forum) of a leg safe being pickpocketed. Its a money belt worn around the mans calf( in this case it was a man) under his long pants. It happened on the metro, a commotion happened( was set up) with a man falling on the floor apparently having a fit,, in the commotion the victims calf safe was removed, and the thieves then jumped off metro. The victim had his leg jostled by "bystanders" who were kneeling to help the man on the train floor,, so he didn't notice when it happened, just moments after, by which time thieves had jumped off train ,,the man having the fit had "recovered" and jumped off too( part of the gang).

Posted by
6 posts

Hey Savannah~ I'm originally from Benicia. I agree you should not miss Montmartre ... an easy Metro ride. I enjoyed wandering around there alone. Also, I loved Pere Lachaise Cemetery ...it is beautiful and where many famous individuals rest, including Edith Piaf, Oscar Wilde, Chopin, Jim Morrison and Heloise and Abelard to name just a few. Another easy Metro ride that drops you right at the cemetery gates.

Posted by
11507 posts

Peter , I have done all their tours,, over a period of 5 years though not all on one trip. They are fun,, and easy enough for anyone. If you want specifics on them ask me,, I have even done the one in London!

Posted by
719 posts

Hi Savannah,
Your itinieray looks great. You leave yourself plenty of free time, so you shouldn't feel too rushed. One thing that I don't see (maybe I'm missing it) is Versailles. Yes the chateau is the "Chateau of Chateaux in Europe", but it's the gardens that you really want to see. And the Hamlet behind the petit trianon? One of my favorite spots in France (or Europe?). Also, make sure to spend plenty of time in cafes while people watching. Ask yourself why the chairs face the rue in Paris...