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Mother-Daughter Paris trip

My daughter and I are a week away from arriving in Paris. We are armed with Rick’s guide book, money belts are ready, we’re packing light and we’re so excited.

Our hotel is in the Historic District and we have 4 full days in Paris. What suggestions do some of you seasoned Parisian travelers have for a possible itinerary? We want to see and learn a lot, but also want plenty of time to people watch and just enjoy ourselves without running ourselves ragged.

Another thing is we realize this time of year is tourist busy suggestions of when to visit different sites/ districts would be helpful . . .maybe this is an impossible request.

Merci for all suggestions.

Posted by
2929 posts

I know you have Rick's book, but have you read it? He gives a suggested itinerary, depending on the number of days you are there. Or get out a map, mark the sites you want to see, and plan each day to see the sites that are close to each other.
In his descriptions of the various places to visit he also gives tips on the best times to visit, or avoid. Most important is to know which day of the week they may be closed.
It's difficult to recommend specific places to see without knowing your interests. The only thing I will suggest is a Seine river cruise, preferably at night so you can see the Eiffel Tower twinkle as you sail past. We use Vedettes de Pont Neuf.

Posted by
5011 posts

Agree with CJean - use the book, it's got exactly the level of detail you need, with suggestions for itineraries based on how many days you have, and tips for maximizing your experience while minimizing crowds and waiting. IMHO these details are the strengths of the Rick Steves books. Of course, use those suggestions as a starting point, and modify according to your own tastes, and don't feel constrained by them. But they do make a great basis from which you can start and then tweak as you prefer.

Posted by
2724 posts

Where is the Historic District?

Posted by
8247 posts

Yes, wondering what is meant by the Historic District as well.

I start my Paris planning by looking at the days I’m going to be there on a paper calendar. Then I make note of which museums are closed which days, then add in which days have interesting Paris Walks. ( ). I look to see where my museums/churches are located and see if Rick’s book has any self guided walks in the area. Pencil in some gardens and I’m good!!

First time to Paris, I’d recommend you watch Midnight in Paris with Owen Wilson. I’m not an Owen Wildon or Woody Allen fan but I love this movie!

Posted by
6508 posts

CJean, David, and Pam have all given good advice. Rick has devised his # of days itineraries based on what's realistic for the amount of time someone has. Then you need to match it against what day when YOU'RE there which things are closed.

There's a reason people buy Rick's books -- because through trial and error, and lots of feedback, he's willing to give you his informed opinion about how best to use your time. Take advantage of his and his team's knowledge!

Posted by
12494 posts

I'll just echo the good advice from all above. Itineraries are personal based on individual interests so it's best to do the reading to customize your own. :O)

Pretty much ALL of central Paris is "historic district" so your exact location is unclear. No matter: we walked all over the city plus made use of the metro to cover some longer distances to save time.

I will say that if you want to see enough of what it covers and have time to make good on it, the Paris Museum Pass is an excellent purchase. We had the 6-day version for our week in Paris, had no problem breaking even on the cost, and didn't feel like we had to run madly from one attraction to the next to do that. It allows you to re-visit attractions as many times as you wish during the life of the pass so we were able to do 3 short visits to the Louvre - including a late-night opening - versus one very long one. For you, the 4-day passes are worth a look:

These can be purchased when you get to Paris; just don't attempt to do that at the busiest attractions (Louvre, D'Orsay, etc.). It also does not cover the Eiffel, does not allow skipping security-check queues (but no one skips those anyway) and does not allow privileged entrance to a couple attractions, such as the Towers of Notre Dame.

Posted by
1023 posts

I recommend waking early. Im not sure how early you like to get going, but I did a mother-daughter Paris trip 2 years ago when my daughter was 13 and I aimed to be on the street by 8a, which usually was closer to 8:30. If you arrive at museums before they open (which I cant remember) the crowds are far fewer than even arriving 15 minutes later or 30. We went to the Musee d'Orsay early on their free day and the wait wasn't bad. Also, when you see a long line, dont be put off, they go pretty quickly. Make sure you have your knees and shoulders covered for churches like Notre Dame or St Chapel, which you can do with a light, cheap scarf that are sold all over Paris (they can also be used to wrap around shorts to cover knees). You will not be let in otherwise and boy is it a drag to wait in that long line and then be turned away (happened to e at Notre Dame but fortunately Id been before so I waited outside). I recommend walking walking walking, rather than worrying too much about where metro stops are. I bought a packet of ten metro tickets on my first trip to Paris and didnt use them. Taking the metro from one end of the city to another makes sense, but I found that so much of the joy of being in Paris is to just be wandering the streets getting from site to site. Yes you will walk for 10 hours a day, and when you leave, you will feel like you know the city. Try to plan your days around certain areas. So Notre Dame, St Chapel, Ile de la Cite, Ile st louis, and maybe the Marais one day, Eiffel, Army museum, Rue Cler another, and so on. I like to do one outside site and one inside, so I like to plan a museum for the morning when my attention is fresh, so example would be Louvre in the morning and Arc d' Triumph in the afternoon; walking up the Champs Elysee to get to the Arc of course.

Posted by
12 posts

Thank you all for your wonderful advice. We have worked out our itinerary based on Rick’s current Paris guidebook itinerary suggestions.

Arriving early to major sites is a good reminder. How are the crowds for Cluney, Rodin, Orangerie museums in the afternoons?

Our hotel is on the Isle St. Louis. Again Merci!

Posted by
763 posts

Other posters have good suggestions, using Rick’s walking tours is helpful. I find museums busy in the afternoons, I have not been in the evening but have heard here that arriving in The late afternoon and staying into the evening is a good idea. They do close larts much earlier than the posted closing time, so something you wanted to see may close.

I make sure to give myself permission to chane my plans if I am itred, for instance, have a long sit down coffeebreak mid morning for another caffeine hit and to rest the feet. I always have a thin journal with me to keep up with my trip journal, I use something similar to a paper covered moleskin, ensuring the size fits in my purse.

Other times I get an ice cream and sit in a park for a while to people watch if I need a breather. Sometimes the break is needed from the crowds so a park, even a large one like Tuileries or Luxembourg is nice if you can find a chair! Be sure to sit on a bench behind the Notre Dame Cathedral, the little park is lovely. Sometimes musicians are near a bridge or on it, I try to have some coins in a pocket to give them instead of opening my purse.

Enjoy! Take time to eat dessert and smell the roses.

Posted by
3892 posts

I echo the Midnight in Paris movie. Also I watch whatever videos I can find. RS's are all on this website. I also like "I'll have what Phil's having, Paris". There are also many others on Amazon or probably at your library. You are in a handy place to get an early start on the Notre Dame roof tour which is wonderful for views of Paris and the gargoyles. Included in the Paris pass. Find out when it opens (for me its usually been 10am) and get in line about a half hour before. You could do the same with St. Chapelle. The Paris Museum Pass allows you to skip the line for the Louvre, Orsay and Orangerie. I recommend picnic lunches as a time and money saver. There is a nice little park at the end of the Île de la Cite. I also like Luxembourg Gardens and the Place des Vosges. Pick up a baguette, wine, cheese, fruit and you are set. Or some of the markets and boulangeries have a sandwhich like a sub that can be split, or a favorite of mine, buy a piece of roasted chicken, take some of the meat off and make a sandwich with a croissant. I haven't gone up the Eiffel tower but I always go to the Champ du Mars to get both a day and night view of it. I'm told a way to reduce lines if you want to go up it, is to get the ticket to walk up the tower to the first level. There you can use the elevator to go back down or to ride to the top. A favorite restaurant close to St. Germaine is Cafe St. Victor's on 11 rue Monge. It's just a friendly bistro/brassiere with outdoor seating that we've always enjoyed.

Posted by
166 posts

What an awesome trip! You two will have a great time, plan to spend 1/2 day at Versailles because the gardens are amazing.

Posted by
289 posts

i agree with CJean. Take a Seine River cruise in the evening. You will see all the famous buildings and the fronts of the beautiful bridges. Try to "time" your tour so that you are going by the Eiffel tower when the lights are twinkling (on the hour, after dark). It is a great way to see this gorgeous city. Enjoy your visit and this special time with your daughter.

Posted by
2 posts

Get the Museum pass, worth every penny (Euro?). We wanted to just see a particular work by Monet at the Orsee, and the line was horrendous. But with the pass, we walked around to the side and right in the door. Plus, it allows you to get to the top of the Arch de Triumph. HINT: There is a tunnel that goes under the road to get to it. DO NOT TRY to cross the roundabout road. But once you get to the top, watch those that do. It is like a human game of FROGGER (am I dating myself?). Enjoy your trip.