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Paris before the Tour

In June, my daughter and I will arrive in Paris several days before the actual start of the Paris and the Heart of France Tour. On Sunday, we plan to travel to Versailles, (We have purchased passes.), but we wonder what would be good bets for Monday and then Tuesday morning. It sounds like many of the museums and sights not covered by the tour itself are closed on Monday and Tuesday, so would it be better to enjoy a picnic at the Eiffel Tower, hang out at a cafe and watch the people going by, and just explore the neighborhood surrounding our Montmartre area hotel? We have booked a dinner cruise on the Seine for Tuesday night. And if there are enough sights open to make it worthwhile, should we buy a Museum Pass? Can you buy those at CDG? I sure would appreciate your help on these perplexing questions! Thanks!

Posted by
6795 posts

If you want to go up the Eiffel Tower, that would be good time to do it. I don't think its part of the tour.

Posted by
3656 posts

Paris is a place to be slowly savored -- not a place to be gulped down. So your idea to hang out at a café and do some people watching is a great one. Slowly meandering around your neighborhood (and others) is also a wonderful way to get a feel and appreciation of that great city. As is just sitting in and maybe picnicking in Tuileries Gardens, Luxembourg Gardens, or Champs Du Mars Park. I say maybe because I think I read somewhere a couple of months ago that picnicking is now frowned upon in some of those areas. Perhaps someone who has been there in the last couple of months can let you know for sure.

Posted by
6511 posts

Regarding the museums on Mon or Tue, the best thing to do is research the ones you might want to see and when they are closed, normally those closed on Mon are open on Tue and vice versa. Then go online and check to see how many are covered by the museum pass, do the math and compare the entrance fees for the ones you want (and are able) to see on those two days with the cost of a pass, keeping in mind the fact that the pass usually allows you to skip lines. It is usually a good deal if you want to see at least 2-3 major museums in your 2 days, but not always. If you do decide on a pass, you can buy it at the first museum you visit, preferably one that doesn't always have an extremely long ticket line.

Posted by
7991 posts

You can visit Musee Rodin, just the sculptures outside in the Garden, for a very small fee. Lovely experience.

Posted by
2576 posts

You've gotten good advice from previous posters. In my many trips to Paris my most memorable days involved doing little but wandering neighborhoods, cafe's, people watching. The Eiffel Tower- if you want to do it book way in advance or you'll waste half a day in line. I enjoyed the view from Arc d'Triomphe as much or better. You'll have museum time with the tour but Orangerie is great. You see the famous Monet water lillies and a great but manageable collection downstairs. You can actually see it all in a few hours. Then you are in the Tullieries for a nice stroll or picnic. The Pantheon is rarely mentioned and underrated. It is in the Latin Quarter. Foucault's pendulum is there, and there is a great tribute to the French Revolution. But the crypts of the famous down stairs are really worth the visit. Another great site , mixing indoors and out is Invalides. Napoleons tomb is there and is quite something. There is also a great military museum if you like that sort of thing (I do). To all of this I'll add: you are getting over jet lag, have a busy tour ahead of you. Pace yourself, try not to squeeze in too much. Enjoy Paris!

Posted by
8410 posts

TC's post and advice is excellent, exactly what I would say. Paris is best enjoyed slowly and leisurely. Sitting outside at cafés, exploring neighborhoods, walking along the river, and the Luxembourg Gardens. Also, as TC said, the ET is not on the tour so plan on that if you're interested.
The Orsay is closed on Mondays which means the Louvre will be packed, the Louvre is closed on Tuesdays so the Orsay will be packed.
Versailles will be super packed on a Saturday or Sunday. RS recommends getting there very early to tour palace, or see the grounds first (min 4 hrs to do them justice) then tour palace in the late afternoon. Renting bikes to see the grounds is really fun and the best way imo unless you enjoy walking for hours. 19 Euros for the day for bike rental.

Posted by
4 posts

I am blown away by all the kind and expert replies! Thank you, so much. It really helped. I did love the idea of just taking it easy and soaking up the atmosphere, (as well as recovering from the inevitable Jet Lag), We do have an early slot reserved at Versailles and plan to get there early, so hopefully that will all work out. Again, thanks for all the help!

Posted by
8410 posts

Barbara, I hope you have a fabulous time in my all time favorite city!

Posted by
7 posts

Versailles is an excellent choice. As for your days in the city pre-tour, I second the idea of wandering the city at a leisurely pace. I recommend the crypts for sure, perhaps taking in a noontime mass at Notre Dame Cathedral if you are so inclined (open to the public - check times - very cool experience to be there when they are having mass), and if you like champagne, there is a lovely 17th century champagne bar in the 6th arrondissiment at the Radisson Blu (check times - opens around 6 pm - this was one of my favorite things). Bon voyage!

Posted by
449 posts

Try to see the Marmottan Museum for a great collection of Monet & Berth Morisot. Voltaire is buried in the vaults of the Pantheon.

Posted by
2148 posts

I went on this tour in 2014, it was my first RS tour and I loved it! I also arrived early to Paris, 3 days and it helped me recover from jet lag. You mention taking a Seine River boat cruise on Tuesday evening - that's the evening of your welcome dinner. Something to keep in mind, it would have to be a late hour. I think Monday evening might work better.
I went to the Carnevelat Museum, which covers the history of Paris, a fascinating place. I am not sure if it is closed on Monday or Tuesday. Also, I visited the Cluny Museum, a wonderful place with medieval art, stained glass and the Lady and the Unicorn Tapestries, an old Abby built on top of a Roman ruin. Also, try the Jacquemart-Andre Museum, a home filled with art - not the real draw - but elegant interior and a fabulous tea room. I had one of the best desserts of my life there.
Paris is a moveable feast as Hemingway said, and you will love exploring it.
Enjoy your trip in France!

Posted by
2073 posts

Barbara, on Mondays the sights closed that accept the Paris Museum Pass are the Orsay, Rodin and the Archeological Crypt. The sights not covered by the Pass are the Marmottan, Victor Hugo's home, the Catacombs and the Deportation Museum.

The Carnavalet is closed until 2019.
Sights closed on Tuesdays covered by the Museum Pass are the Louvre, Orangerie, Cluny, Musée de l'homme, Guimet and Versailles.
Sights not covered by the Pass are all open on Tuesdays.
Hope this helps!

Posted by
920 posts

Hi Paris now- been lovely. It has been a little warmish for me. Monday when we arrived it was hot. Yesterday was lovely weather. Went to Montmartre last night. Eiffel Tower at night with twinkling lights was just gorgeous. Off to Giverny in a moment.

Hope you have lovely time.