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Paris/Heart of France pre trip ???

Headed to Paris/Heart of France in October; it's a first for me and my gal pals and we can't wait! I'm looking for suggestions from those who have already taken this trip. We are arriving only one day early and not staying beyond the tour. What does the tour NOT INCLUDE that you think are must dos?
I know that's a wide open question, so let me say that my friends and I, all women over 50, love history, museums, and food. We travel a lot in the US and are equally happy going out on our own or taking organized sightseeing tours.
We plan to take a taxi from the airport, drop our bags, look for a bite to eat, and then head out for the remainder of the day.
Suggestions? Thanks in advance!

Posted by
3198 posts

I just took this tour as my first Rick Steves Tour in June and had a wonderful time!
Pre-Tour: If going up the Eiffel Tower is important to you, you need to get tickets in advance. This could be for the arrival day or one of the first afternoons of the tour when you also have free time. Other pre trip places that people on my tour went were River cruises, canal cruises, and Sacre Couer. One couple went to Versailles on an extra day. You will have free time on your arrival day and free time up until 5pm on the first day of the tour. The following two days you will have the remainder of the day free from about 1 pm on. I didn't realize before the trip how important it was to have some personal plans in place for this free time.

The only museum that the group arrives at as a group is the Louvre. You will be given a 2 day museum pass at the very first meeting on day 1 as well as several metro tickets. I held off on the museums until I had the museum pass and then focused on them on the afternoons of day 2 and 3.

I would also like to point out that packing light will make a big difference on this tour. You will be bringing your bag up and down stairs and walking down narrow, sometimes cobblestone streets from your hotel to the bus and back. On Mont St. Michel it was 5 flights up a sprial staircase. It was worth it and I loved staying on Mont. St. Michel. Packing into just a small overnight bag and leaving the rest on the bus was important for that part of the trip.

I know you and your friends will have a great time!

Posted by
1140 posts

I took this tour a few years ago and it was a blast.

Arrival day options

  1. If the weather is nice I’d go do the Montmartre walking tour and Sacre Coeur. Or walk through some of Paris’ many parks. Staying outside and exposure to light is often suggested to help with adjusting to jet lag.
  2. If it’s rainy, pick your favorite museum that’s not covered by the tour

The tour doesn’t meet up until 5PM so you pretty much have a full day. This is the day to head out to Versailles if you have a desire to do so.

Posted by
964 posts

Do check the itinerary on the tour page. There is also a section that makes suggestions for early arrival. I second the suggestion to have some ideas for your free time--I wasn't quite prepared for the amount of free time, but came to appreciate it.

Posted by
8065 posts

I loved this tour as well!

Are you staying at Hotel l'Empereur? That's where I stayed so my suggestions are based on that location. I agree that if Eiffel Tower is important go ahead and book for either your first afternoon or the morning before the tour starts. Even if you are not wanting to go up in it, I always walk down to the Champ de Mars by Ecole Militaire and walk the length up to the Tower on my first afternoon. It gets me out in the sunshine and fresh air and makes me feel I am in Paris! Watch for the petition girls along here and just ignore them, have your valuables stowed and keep going.

I'd been to Paris a number of times when I took this tour so I opted to do the Musee Marmottan Monet on the morning before the tour started.

Other suggestions for ahead of the tour or during your free time, visit the Orsay (Impressionist galleries are wonderful!), Orangerie (Monet's Water lilies), Cluny (Lady and the Unicorn tapestries - they have been on tour to Australia but should be back up by Oct if not by now), Napoleon's Tomb and the Army Museum (I've an interest in WWI and WWII altho your group might not) and the Rodin Museum.

If you are at l'Empereur, Napoleon's Tomb and the Army Museum are right across the street and the Rodin Museum is on the other side of the complex.

I'd second the suggestion to downsize to an overnight bag for MSM. Think about it ahead of time so perhaps you'll only have to take a change of unders, pjs and basic toiletries. I wind up wearing my clothes for more than 1 day so if I've got an overnight stay like this I tend to plan to wear the same clothes both days and just change out underneath! I've emptied out a packing cube into my suitcase and then put my overnight stuff in there and popped it in to my purse or day pack.

Posted by
5740 posts

We regret not doing Versailles and/or the Eiffel Tower before the tour. If you don't do them before or after the tour, you'll be tempted to try and squeeze one of them in during your free afternoon, and it will be difficult. Read the details of how to do those in your guidebook carefully. Or, perhaps you should target going shopping as there is little to no time on the tour for that.

Experienced with jet lag? Tends to interfere with the best of plans.

Posted by
815 posts

Thanks all for excellent suggestions. Saving thread. We are doing this next May 2019

Posted by
60 posts

So many great suggestions already, thank you so much!
I feel like we are going to be much better prepared, especially knowing about the free time in Paris those first 2 days. I would not have expected that much free time.

I also appreciate the tip on packing an overnight bag for Mont St Michel, I think that might be one of the most useful tips we receive.
Our Paris hotel is the Hotel Lenox Montparnasse, which I believe it not too far from the catacombs. Has anyone done the catacomb tour? It sounds delightfully creepy!
We do want to see the Eiffel Tour but don't really care to spend the time going to the top since we don't have that much time. We do want to go to Versailles but weren't sure if we should attempt that the day we arrive or the day the tour starts at 5PM. Can anyone comment on that or suggest a tour company?

Posted by
3198 posts

If you are not planning on going up the Eiffel Tower, then your best view is going to be across the river at the Trocadero. The area directly under the Eiffel tower is going under major changes. No longer is there free access or the ability to ride your bike through this area. There is major construction and access to the area is limited by a security checkpoint.

For a good view of the tower, go to Trocadero. One very scenic way is to ride bus 30 from Gare d'EST to the Trocadero. It will take you through the edge of Montmarte, around the Arc De Triomphe and directly to the Trocadero giving you a nice view of Paris on the way. Sometimes it is good to get above ground level :)

Posted by
8065 posts

I would not try Versailles on the day you arrive on an international flight. If you haven't traveled before you don't know how jet lag might affect you and you may be too tired to struggle thru the crowds in the Palace. This is just me, but I don't like to get that far from the hotel on arrival day. I do fly from the Intermountain West so have hours and hours of flight and airport time to get to a hub for an international flight and since you're flying from Chicago you might have an easier time. I tend to be able to stay awake until after lunch then have a sinking spell. I'm one that takes a 1.5 hour nap altho if I am with others I can sometimes stay awake until dinner. With the group of you, you may be able to keep each other going thru a sleepy patch.

I probably would not want to do it on the next day because the last time I went I stayed from the opening time until after 5, getting back to Paris after 6. I was pretty pooped and was not under the influence of jet lag, lol!!

I am not much of a Versailles fan - too crowded for me so take this for what it's worth but you'll see such wonderful things on this tour that you might not miss it if you skip this one. Your call, though!

You ARE near the Luxembourg gardens which are a neat place to walk, particularly if it is sunny. Once you drop your bags at your hotel you can head out there and then find somewhere for lunch, or the other way around depending on what time you get in. The Eiffel Tower is about 1.5 miles on foot but easy enough to take the metro to the Ecole Militaire stop. You could also take it to the Trocadero stop and walk back to it as someone else suggested. Or the Cluny is about 1.2 miles on foot thru the Luxembourg Gardens if that appeals to any of you.

Now see?? Spending all this time looking at the Paris map, I want to go back!

Posted by
3580 posts

There are a couple of historic cemeteries in Paris. If you are interested, visit one of them.

Posted by
695 posts

We are thinking about this tour in 2019 so I'm paying attention. On our 21 day tour we stayed an additional 2 days in Paris. Rick's Montmartre walking tour was an excellent way to battle jet lag and Sacre Coeur was gorgeous! Do you go inside Notte Dame on this tour or stay outside? I would make sure to get inside! Rodin museum has a nice outside area too but it is small and doesn't take terribly long to go through. I cant wait to go back (The Orsay was my favorite and the Orangerie was excellent as well).

Posted by
87 posts

We did this tour two years ago and also stayed at the Lenox Montparnasse. All the options mentioned by everyone are good ideas, depending on your interests. I'll add that you can go to the 56th floor of the Montparnasse Tower and watch the sunset over Paris if it's a clear evening. Lovely views of Eiffel Tower, and all of Paris at night. This is a short walk from your hotel. Also a few blocks from your hotel is a street with many creperies to choose from. A nice selection of cafes and such specializing in crepes. The hotel can direct you to the area. Have fun on your trip!

Posted by
60 posts

I can’t thank you all enough, your comments are slowly helping us make a plan. We don’t have much experience with jet lag, so staying in the fresh air makes good sense. I also really appreciate the tip on the Trocadero, we would have missed out on our photo op!
Hearing all the tips and positive comments about the tour makes me wish we were going sooner!
Keep the tips coming !! Cafes, pubs, patisseries??

Posted by
1792 posts

I went on this tour in 2014 and loved it! It was my first tour and a great itinerary for a first time introduction to Paris and France with its variety of spectacular sights, chateaux, museums, Mont St. Michel, Normandy beaches, Monet’s house and gardens in Giverny.

Pre-tour: I arrived 3 days early and saw the Cluny Museum, several cathedrals, walked through rue Cler near my hotel. Rodin Museum and gardens are lovely.

I returned to Paris this April and we went up to the 2nd floor of the Eiffel Tower. I enjoyed it. One afternoon we spent time on Trocadero Square people watching and admiring the Eiffel Tower and taking pictures, of course. Probably the best place to view the Eiffel Tower!

Posted by
5740 posts

JKL, we stayed there too. If you go a short block left, then right from the hotel, you'll find a small street named Rue de Montparnasse (not the Larger Boulevard de Montparnasse). On that street are several Breton créperies (at least one mentioned by RS) that are convenient for a casual meal. Keep going left from hotel and you'll hit an area of several restaurants. If you go to the right from the hotel for a couple of blocks, you'll hit an intersection with three hangouts of Picasso and Hemingway - La Coupole, Le Select and Routonde (apologies for misspellings) that are what you imagine Parisian cafes to look like.

Posted by
60 posts

Once again, thank you for the posts. Kathy, I can't tell from the itinerary whether or not we go inside Notre Dame on the tour, but we will definitely return if we don't. Ellen and Stan, you have me craving crepes already and we have a couple of months to wait! Merci for the tips on local establishments.
I'm wearing out the RS tour book...thank goodness for you and the book!
Oh, a quick question...is The Trocadero a mob scene in the evenings? I would imagine it has spectacular nighttime views.

Posted by
1792 posts

Yes, Trocadero is a happening at night, I hear. We were there in the afternoon in April and it was not overly crowded. I imagine it is more crowded at night. Great people watching as well as amazing view of the Eiffel Tower.

Posted by
8065 posts

Just a tip on Notre Dame...sometimes the line to get in the front door area will be all the way across the plaza BUT it moves really quickly. The hold up is security so just a quick peek in your purse and you're on your way.

This also is where the Roma petition girls will approach you and ask "do you speak English" then try to thrust a petition a clipboard into your stomach while talking. They will try to see if you've got anything unsecured in your purse or have you sign a bogus petition and then try to get money from you. Your best tactic is to not make eye contact or react if they say Do you speak English or if they get to close - hold up a hand and firmly say No.

I'm not saying this to worry you unduly. I'm saying this so you are ready when it happens and can watch in astonishment as others in the line get targeted! You will also have your valuables in your money belt under your clothes and only enough Euro in your purse for the day. You will also keep your purse in front of you and your hand holding the zipper and strap.

Your guide doubtless will also talk about security from pickpockets. I have no worries about personal safety other than pickpockets.

Do try out some of the creperies near your hotel! You ~may~ have a lunch stop on Day 7 in a Breton town where you can also have crepes for lunch so I'm certain you need some comparison, lol! My tour stopped in Fougeres but not sure if that is a call on the guide's part or not.

Also...make yourself keep at least a little bit of a journal. You'll be tired at night but take a small notebook or use an online program and at least jot down some impressions from the day for 5 minutes before you turn out the light. Try not to let yourself get behind on this! I usually write down my major stops, I keep track of my expenses (in general - not down to the penny but rounded to the Euro or pound), where I ate, sometimes what I had, anything memorable. You ~think~ you'll remember but you'll see so much you will forget some of it.

Also...type out or print out the name and full address of your hotel (including the 75014 zipcode type number). Tape that to a 3X5 card so you can just hand that to the taxi driver when you come in from the airport. With several of you it will be just as cheap to take a taxi which will have a base rate of 55€. At the airport you'll ignore anyone who comes up to you and asks if you want a taxi and you'll head to the line at the taxi rank. Ignore anyone who says the taxis to Paris are in a different place. Stand in line and the guy at the front of hte line will signal you to a taxi. They pull up 3 or 4 at a time and he'll point to the one he wants you to take. Will there be more than 4 of you? Official taxi is the easiest - do not book a shuttle especially a pre paid one. Just go with a taxi.

Siiigggghhh....now I want to take this tour again!

Posted by
3198 posts

Regarding Notre Dame. We ended up here after we had walked through the area for awhile on a walking tour. The guide shared information with us outside. It was at this point that we were done with the "guided" portion of the tour for the day. It was easy to go in and see Notre Dame. You have the entire afternoon and evening free to do as you wish.

The Paris part of the tour has day 2 and day 3 with lots of free time.

Posted by
40 posts

Suggest a Seine River evening cruise to see Paris lit up at night and a concert at Sainte Capelle to experience the light coming through the stained glass windows while enjoying a somewhat intimate concert. We found both to be breathtaking! Highly recommend the Musee d' Orsay; it is our favorite art museum. Encourage you to take time to roam the streets, poke into interesting shops, and enjoy a glass of wine at an outdoor cafe.

Posted by
815 posts

Judy & Pam - Did you all go to Versailles on your own? I have already have been there but my husband has not and wants to go. How did you get there? Took a tour with another company ie Viator, or on your own, how did you get there? Etc. Etc.

I think we have the date pinned down. After the 7 day London tour, Eurostar to Paris and we will have 3 1/2 days before the start of the trip.

Thanks

Kim

Posted by
8065 posts

Kim, I had done Versailles previously on a Best of Paris tour. On that one the guide had us take RER C out with her, then gave us tickets to return on our own. It was pretty easy to do that altho if I were doing it on my own I might take that early King's apartments tour which I think might get you in early before the lines. Not 100% sure about that.

If you do go on your own, from the train station walk across the street to the McDonald's. Buy a cup of coffee so you can get their bathroom code, hahaha!! On the way back before you catch the train, get an iced tea for the same potty privileges. Best RS tour guide tip ever!

Posted by
1792 posts

Kim,
I went to Versailles years ago with an independent group- we took a bus to get there. It was crowded then but not like now from current reports. Actually I would like to return and see the gardens and the little hamlet, things we didn’t do. Sorry, I have no advice to offer.

Posted by
60 posts

Pam, thank you for the heads up on the petition girls! It seems every locale has a version of this...Chicago included sad to say.
I appreciate the tips. I purchased some pants from Clothing Arts that anyone worried about pickpockets should look into; they are very PPProof and not so "hiking pants" looking that I'll be embarrassed to wear them while out and about in Paris. They take quite awhile to get though, so order early! Now I just need to figure out the shoes situation...:(

I think we've def decided to pass on Versailles this trip and just spend our time walking, wandering, and enjoying the city in a more relaxed way rather than trying to do everything in a short time. We will have to return!
Kim, I'll post when we return in October and if you think of any specific tour questions maybe I can answer them when we get back.

My continued thanks to all!

Posted by
408 posts

How fun a group of friends going on this tour. How many people? I know others have said no to going up the Eiffel Tower but to go to Paris for your first time & not go up? I didn’t on my first trip as a poor HS student & regreted it for two decades. Now have been back three times to Paris & yes have gone up each time.

As for museums the pass included is great. We went into many museums when we were in Paris on RS tours. Faves includes all the ones mentioned above with highlights being Rodin & Orsay. Enjoy!!

Posted by
10 posts

There is another reason to view the Eiffel Tower from Trocadero: the Warsaw fountains, a set of 20 or so huge water cannons. They aren't always on, and I don't believe there is a fixed schedule, but I have had good luck going there in the early evening and being there when the fountains came on. It is an awesome display!
I took this tour a few years ago, and loved it! Enjoy!

Posted by
60 posts

LA, I'm fortunate to have 3 great friends that love to travel, and we have been traveling together in the States for years. This is our first trip out of the country together and we're super excited! We should have booked ET tickets long ago, and we didn't, and we probable won't want to wait in a long line for tickets...our loss we know. But hey, it's a good reason to return one day.
Robin, I hope we get to see those canons, that sounds like quite a sight!

Posted by
815 posts

Thanks JKL - I booked my two tours today. Already making list of things to do! We will have 3 3/4 day before the tour starts and one day afterwards. Booked 5-21 to 5-31. Headed back to states on 6-1. What is your Paris hotels?

Posted by
60 posts

Kim, 2 tours? Wow, where are you headed other than France? Our Paris hotel is Hotel Lenox Montparnasse.

Posted by
8092 posts

As mentioned before, the area under and around the Eiffel Tower is a construction nightmare. The Trocadéro is much better for a photo op. My suggestion is to get there just before sunset and try to stand in the front. Once it is dark be sure to stay until the top of the hour. If you have a video option on your phone or camera, start it up before the top of the hour. You'll be very happy you did. Doing this on your arrival day will depend on how tired you are. There is always the next day if it's too late for you.

I've been to Paris (my favorite city) twice in October. I enjoy traveling there that time of the year. There aren't as many tourists. I just spent 12 nights there last month, my 6th visit. I had a great time, but it was too crowded for my taste. Don't worry if you can't devote the time to Versailles. You have limited time and there is so much to see in Paris. Assume you will go back some day.

I hope you and your friends have a great trip!

Posted by
815 posts

JKL

7 day London, then catching the Eurostar for Paris & HOF. Our hotel is Hotel B Montmartre then the return trip back at Hotel Waldorf Trocadero.

I was in Paris for a river cruise May of 2017. Our hotel was Pullman Montparnasse. I liked the area.

Posted by
4485 posts

JKL, I recommend the Marmottan museum in Paris, if you like Impressionist art. It's a bit off the beaten path, but well worth the trip. We also enjoyed the Rodin Museum, which is near the Eiffel Tower.

I'll be following your posts; my DH and I are on the same Heart of France tour as Kim! Be sure to post a trip report when you're done. Happy travels!

Posted by
60 posts

Kim, that sounds like quite a couple of weeks! You will have a great time I'm sure. Jane, thank you for the museum tip. I love the Impressionists. This is a bucket list trip for me; I've wanted to go since HS French class which, believe me, was many moons ago :)
Also, one of my friends was born outside of Paris while her parents were in the service, and she too has wanted to go, so we are both fulfilling a dream on this trip. I will definitely post and update you on how it goes!

Posted by
60 posts

Andrea, thank you as well! We are going to try for our first night, but if not we will most definitely get there one of our free tour nights. Fingers crossed the crowds aren't too bad in early October!

Posted by
21 posts

Going on my 3rd RS tour, The 7 days in Paris, in September. This will be my 6th trip there but first tour. Looked at the itinerary and realized that wandering the city I have probably missed lots, not having used the RS audio tours. So, I am really looking forward to returning to my favorite city. Your hotel, the Lenox Montparnasse is lovely. Stayed there with my sister and brother-in-law at the beginning of our My Way tour of France in 2016. Excellent location for everything. An earlier poster mentioned the Rontonde (sp?) which is right around the corner. Lovely cheese shops and patisseries on the same street. We had to drag John out of each one!

Versailles is okay, in my opinion, however it will take time away from the sights in Paris. I wish I could remember which day the market was open near our hotel. Check his book to see if there is a list of which street markets are open when. Those are amazing to wander and items for sale are more reasonable that in the stores.

My favorite museum is the Muse d'Orsay, tops the Louvre for me any day.

Taxi for a large group is best. I always wander the Champs Elysees on my first day for helping with jet lag. If you see a crepe stand get a standard crepe jambon, which is to die for, kinda like a Chicago dog, only in Paris!

Posted by
60 posts

I hope you post after your September trip, I will watch for that. I have to say, much as I enjoy a good Chicago dog, a crepe jambon sounds much, much better, especially when you compare possible backdrops...the ET or the L train? I'll take the ET every time :)

Posted by
60 posts

Our France trip draws near ! I have a Paris museum question...can we take day packs into most museums?

Posted by
1708 posts

Hi JKL, I haven’t been to France in many moons, but read this forum a LOT! My understanding is there are ticket lines and security lines. So, even if you have a ticket, you still have to have your bag checked in the security line.
Have a great trip, I look forward to your trip report!

Posted by
8065 posts

I don't carry a day pack but I know some Paris museums don't allow them. At the Orangerie, for instance, right after you go thru the security there is a bag check that you must use if you have a day pack. I'd try to do without if you can.

I carry a LeSportSac Everyday bag which is 9.25" X 13.5". I've never had it questioned in a Paris Museum BUT in a museum in Munich they wanted to make me check it. The guard finally held up a piece of A4 paper and the bag was just barely bigger than it's dimensions. He wasn't happy but he let me thru. I wouldn't have had a problem if I had expected that and had my valuables stowed differently so I could just pull them out.

I'm sure you are getting excited about your trip!

Posted by
60 posts

Thx for the responses. Knowing how security lines can delay a person we wanted to be prepared. Our Chicago museums are surprisingly lax about purses and bags which to be honest I don’t see as a good thing.

Posted by
192 posts

We are doing this tour in May 2019. We arrive on Saturday for a Tuesday tour start. We’ll be doing a food tour “Eating Paris” from 12:30,- 4:30. We did the same thing our first day in Italy. Keeps you out in the fresh air, lots of walking and gives you and idea of places to eat during your free time!

Posted by
60 posts

Bonjour everyone! We are back from France and still a little jet lagged, but what a wonderful trip! I don't even know where to begin. We had a spectacular guide who made me love France because she clearly loves it. I will say this was a nonstop tour with not a lot of free time, but that was absolutely fine with me as I wanted to see as much as I could in the time I had.
If anyone has any specific questions regarding this tour, feel free to PM me and I'll happily answer if I can. Otherwise, for now, I'm going to muscle through the jet lag and settle back into my ho hum everyday life again...while planning my next RS tour! I will try to get a trip report together and report back more thoroughly.
Best part of the trip? Hard to say because it was all spectacular. I can tell you seeing Monet's garden was like walking onto an impressionist canvas...stunningly beautiful!

Posted by
8065 posts

Glad you had a wonderful time! Do your trip report in some kind of WORD document, then you can put down random thoughts as they happen and organize things later. Don't wait too long, especially for notes to yourself on what worked clothes-wise/equipment-wise and what didn't work. I find just starting to put stuff down makes it less intimidating.

I love that you had such a positive experience!

Posted by
1708 posts

So glad you came back to tell us how wonderful it was. My first RS tour is next year, 2019. Greece!
Would love to read a trip report!

Posted by
815 posts

Just - glad your back. Please do a trip report.

Can you give me a short experience of mont st michel? I am on rehab for my left knee replacement. Trying hard to get that knee in shape

Kim

Posted by
4485 posts

How great that you had such a wonderful time - not that I doubted that you would. We're looking forward to taking this tour next spring, along with Kim and her DH.

Posted by
3198 posts

Mont St Michel involves a lot of stairs. The guide will take into account the mobility factors for the tour members and seek to put those with the greatest need in the lower rooms. I think you can still plan on at least two flights of stairs up a spiral staircase.

Some of our tour members opted to walk outside the wall on the relatively flat ground while the rest of the group climbed up the ramparts to the Abbey for the tour. There are some lovely views both from the area outside the wall and from the hotel rooms. I think you will enjoy Mt. St. Michel, but you may not want to try climbing to the top.

Posted by
60 posts

Kim, I think you will be fine. We had someone in our group who had significant foot issues. There were many times in the 11 days when she talked to our guide and then just went on ahead of us, meeting us somewhere along our walk. She sat when she could and that seemed to help her greatly. Mt. St. Michel was probably her greatest challenge. The paths are crowded, narrow, cobblestone, and on a fairly significant incline/decline. The walk to the top includes many stairs. For those reasons, we really didn't hurry to get anywhere and our guide stopped many times to share info about the Mt. The tour of the Abbey itself was extensive but again, we weren't rushed.
Our buddy with the foot issues set out early and met us at the top and then took the tour with us. We were on a bit of a time crunch to get down, but she did fine. Don't rush past St. Peters on the way down, it's worth the time to walk inside and there's also a toilette (not the best though) right outside.
As for your room, any room will include walking and stairs but I'm sure your guide will place you in the most convenient place. Know you can avoid the main street by walking along the ramparts on the outside.
I hope your knee rehab is going well! Just keep at it and you'll probably end up stronger than before your surgery, it seems most people do!
PS Should I post my trip report here, or move over to that section on the site? I'm a newbie to this...but loving this community.

Posted by
8065 posts

Actually, I'd do a new post in this RS Tours forum as tour members are invited to "share their candid tour experiences" here. Do keep all your parts in one thread as it's easier to follow. That's why it's easier to do it in a WORD document first as there is a word limit and it's easier to break your report up to post sequentially.

Don't let this be too hard for you!

Posted by
60 posts

I started a new post, rather lengthy I fear...

Posted by
815 posts

Thanks for your info. Got! Read your report. Fantastic!

Posted by
3 posts

First, I'd re-think taking a taxi from CDG because you're going to spend a lot of money and get stuck in the morning traffic. Look into taking the RER from CDG. Most importantly, about money,. The best exchange rates will be from ATM machines. Make sure you have a debit card tied to your bank's checking account and that the PIN is 4 digits only. The keypads in foreign ATM's won't have letters on them like telephones, so memorize the numbers themselves. You'll find lots of ATMs in the CDG airport so it isn't necessary to get lots of euros in the states before you leave on your trip.

Posted by
21 posts

A hint about visiting Notre Dame: go at 7:45am when the doors open for 8am Mass.

Why? In order to experience the grandeur of the cathedral in relative quiet and solitude. The midday tourist crowds are loud and don’t respect the sacred nature of the place. I’ve been caught up in the mob and propelled along the ambulatory and out the exit. My early-morning visit was quite different: I could walk back and forth among the various chapels without encountering much of anyone. The few visitors were subdued. I could clearly hear the Mass being chanted by the priest and sung by the congregants. Truly a much more spiritual experience than the usual tourist hustle.

Posted by
4485 posts

Anne, that's a great tip. I once attended Mass at Notre Dame on a religious holiday, and the crowds of tourists wandering the church were appallingly disrespectful. They weren't allowed in the main section where Mass was being held, but still they were loud and kept spilling over into the nave.