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Paris & the Heart of France in 11 Days Tour - After Paris, what tickets should we pre-book

Hey Travelers,

We are booked this fall on the Paris and HOF tour and we are all set for touring attractions not covered by RS in Paris proper (arriving a few days early, plus we have been to Paris before).

Q1: At stops after Paris, are there any must see sights that we need to pre-book tickets for our free time?

Q2: At Mont St-Michel, how difficult is it to walk to the top? I can walk miles, but my knees hate stairs/steps :-(

Thanks in advance!

Posted by
248 posts

I was on this tour earlier this year and also have knee issues :-( I can tell you that it is doable to climb the stairs to the top of Mont St-Michel - there are handrails or walls to use for assistance and it goes in sections. It is definitely worth the effort for the views and to see inside. I also climbed other stairs the evening before to cover parts that we weren't going to cover on the tour and some sections were more of an incline vs stairs. Take your Advil and take your time and it's definitely worth it. Plus staying on the island at night was pretty special once all the day trippers left.
Also in Paris if you haven't been before, the Opera Garnier is worth a visit for the gorgeous interior. The Paris Sewer Museum was worth a short visit if nothing else than to see the evolution of an amazing system over its long history.
The HOF tour was terrific, especially the day spent learning all about the D Day events in the Normandy region. Enjoy your trip!!

Posted by
1724 posts

I took this tour a few years ago and loved it. I reviewed the itinerary to refresh my memory and I don't think there are any 'must see' sites other than what is included on the tour that need to be prebooked. On my free time, I did alot of walking around and exploring wherever we were. Guedelon was a pleasant surprise to me. I'd like to see again to see what progress has been made.

Posted by
85 posts

Thanks Plumeria54 and Laurie Beth for your helpful replies, Feel much better about Mont St-Michel. I walk and bike, but stairs cause me issues :-)

Looking forward to the Normandy region. My father was in WWII but served in Germany and Northern Italy.

Much appreciated!

Posted by
8 posts

In Paris I would pre-book a tour of the Opera Garnier. It is incredibly beautiful and they do give you an excellent tour in English. If you want to visit the Eiffel Tower you also need to purchase tickets ahead of time for this and if you want to go all the way to the top make sure you get a ticket for this.

The other places I visited on my own without the Rick Steves Tour in Paris and did not require pre-booking. Some places you might want to consider if you have extra time are:
Napoleon Apartments at The Louvre (stunning!!!)
Galleries Vivenne
Les Invalides
Rodin Museum
Picasso Museum
Conciergerie - very informative, you will learn about Marie Antionette's last days)
Pere Lachaise (Amazing!)
Cluny Museums
I loved Paris!!! Have a great time. You should do fine in Mont Saint Michel. Just take it slow and give yourself extra time to make it to your appointed entry time at the abbey.

Posted by
85 posts

Thanks anaflynn,

All your suggestions are great. We have our Paris schedule down. Thanks everyone for the great suggestions.


Posted by
82 posts

All the suggestion so are have been spot on. My wife, daughter, and I were on this tour in April and had a wonderful time. If your tour guide is either Julie or Louis you will be in for a wonderful trip. My only suggestion for a pre or post tour visit would be the Pere Lachaise cemetery. Get the Rick Steves audio guide and follow his directions for the gravesites of many famous people. I loved Napoleon’s tomb which was very close to our final hotel and you can purchase tickets in advance. The one thing I did miss was getting tickets to the Catacombs. If that is something of interest start looking now as they do go very fast. If you’re starting your tour in Montmartre then I would highly recommend the Eating Europe Food tour. We had a wonderful guide and great food.

Posted by
12 posts

We are booked for the October 4 Paris and HOF tour. We are going to be in Paris six days before the tour starts, and will stay at the B.Montmartre. I have concerns about the walk to the top of Mont St.Michel too, but I am going to take it slow! We are going to be in France for a month - starting in Aix on a Road Scholar tour. We've never done a European vacation for this long before, and I haven't packed in a carry on before either! That part is my only big challenge - LOL! Have fun on your trip.

Posted by
4 posts

Definitely go to Versailles, and I would even stay in the town for 1 night. It looked quite cute. Just a 45 min train ride and 10 min walk to the Palace. Need to get tickets in advanced for Versailles.

Also book the elevator up the Eiffel tower in advanced to get your preferred day and time. Eat at the nice restaurant (not cafe) too. Get a table overlooking the Trocadero.

Posted by
8194 posts

I would talk to the tour leader before you get to MSM and ask them for a room with minimal stairs, that is, low on the hill. Due to the way the whole village is laid out in a way ascending the mount, our group's rooms were scattered among multiple locations along the long pathway up the hill. And if you want to get up early for the morning prayer service (chanting) there are definitely stairs involved. A walking stick helps the knees, IME.

Posted by
85 posts

Thanks for all the great advice. We've been home for two weeks now. It was a great 9th RS tour. We did go to Versailles and Mont St-Michel was not difficult at all. Tip for Pere Lachaise cemetery - Use Google Maps walk mode. Just plug in the name of the tomb and the walking directions are very good (not 100% but close) - much better than the paper map from RS or the PL website.