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Museums, museums, and more museums with a little bit of Paris thrown in

We, my husband and I, just returned from our first visits to Paris and London. I will report first about Paris. We had 8 full days to explore and explore we did. With the exception of one taxi ride to Sacre Coeur, we walked everywhere. We stayed at the K+K Hotel Cayre in the St. Germain (7th) area. The hotel was lovely, we had a nice size room, and the location was quiet. FYI, we arrived on a Saturday.

Our first full day, Sunday, we had a walking tour with Paris walks booked for 2:30 so we decided to walk to the TI to purchase our Paris Museum Pass (PMP). The gentleman at the office helped us make reservations for St. Chapelle and L’Orangerie. We already had our Lourve and Versailles dates booked.
After the tour we had a lovely dinner. We then took a Seine River boat ride and caught the Eiffel Tower at it’s twinkling best. (We did not prebook this and had to wait for the next cruise as the one we went for was booked - just an FYI)

Museums - armed with our 6 day Paris Museum pass, we didn’t start till Tuesday which meant we were covered till Sunday, the day before we were leaving. We definitely saved many euro by purchasing the pass.
Definitely read about the special exhibitions some of the lesser known museums have going on before you rule them out. The Decorative Arts museum, steps from the Lourve with no line, had a fascinating exhibition about Hair. They had videos showing the process of women, from Louis IV’s time, having their hair done. Not wigs, which I always thought they were. Nope. They added some hair extensions and curls (I kept thinking about poor Fantine from Les Miz) and teased and manipulated their hair into those styles. They had one for the men too. The Conciergerie, right next door to St. Chapelle, again, no line, had a fun exhibition about food.
After visiting many famous, must see museums in various cities (ex - the Prado in Madrid) we have decided that we like the smaller, less visited ones. The Lourve for us was too crowded, lines too long even with timed entrance, too confusing to get around, and just too big. I will admit we were kinda disappointed with our visit to Versailles. The Hall of Mirrors was exceptional and amazing, but the rest of the chateau just okay for us. Another FYI, the PMP only gets you into the palace, not the gardens. It’s only an extra 10€ but just be prepared. Our 2 favorite museums were the Cluny and Carnavalet.
Markets - we only made it to one, the Marche Bastille, but it was a very nice mixture of food, produce, meat, clothing, and knickknacks. I purchased a lovely scarf and shirt. And we purchased a nice sweater for my husband.
Tours - we did two walking tours with Paris Walks, The French Revolution and Medieval Paris and the Templars. Both were interesting and fun. But our best tour was the Les Mysteries de Palais Garner at the opera house. It was at 5:00 when the day visitors are gone. It was magical being there with no other people to crowd you. We sat in the seats by the stage, we walked up and down the grand staircase, we visited the private boxes, and learned all about when Opera came to Paris. Our guide was a lovely Frenchman who was informative and funny. It was one and half hours and a don’t miss.
Food - we did not have one morsel of bad food. Everything we ate was delicious. The French really do take their food seriously and it shows and was appreciated by us. We did splurge and eat at the Le Jules Verne restaurant at the Eiffel Tower. To say it was magical and beyond delicious is an understatement. From the moment you go through their doorway and up their personal elevator, you feel special. It is white glove service all they way. It is one the second level, and after you finish eating you can go outside to take pictures. We had a lovely view of Paris. We ate lunch, all the dinner reservations were booked. We booked about 4 weeks out. I will let you know that it was very expensive but being older travelers and my husband has a heart

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3990 posts

Condition, we now splurge when we can. Whether it be a first class train ticket, a private tour, or a special dinner. We, and no-one else, knows when a trip might be our last. I don’t want to sound morbid, but we have friends that keep waiting till (fill in the blank) to travel then end up with a stroke or heart attack or (fill in the blank) which prevents them from going. Luckily we saved some money for our retirement and we are spending it.
Final thought - we loved Paris, more than we thought we would. We had cool weather, even cold a few days, but no rain. We were there from April 15 - 24 when we took the Eurostar to London. Every person we encountered was nice, and we speak no French, just your basic hello, goodbye, and thank you. We never felt unsafe anywhere we went at any time. We did not use the Metro or buses cause it was so nice just walking around. In my head I am already planning a return trip!

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3352 posts

So glad you enjoyed your time in Paris. My favorite thing also is just walking around. Did you go to JacqueMart-Andre museum? That is my favorite small museum (so far) in Paris. I did not care too much for the Carnavalet, too big and confusing and unfortunately, the Cluny was closed last April when I was there. And the food, totally agree!
Can’t wait to hear about London, we go in the fall!

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489 posts

Thank you for the great trip report. Sounds like you had a terrific time. I’m firmly in the I❤️Paris club too and can’t wait to go back. I love the Cluny as well. It was having major renovations done when I was last there in November of’19. How does it look? Work done as far as you could tell? Love the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries.
I agree the Louvre is very big and busy now. It’s sort of sad, it is being loved to death it seems. I went 3 different trips way off season, like January and February, some years ago and it was so much better then. You could spend the day and go from section to section and back again but now it’s quite different. Still Paris is an amazing place. Thanks for sharing.

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6670 posts

I really enjoyed this report, and admire your energy. The six-day Museum Pass is an inducement to "see it all," and it seems like you made great use of it. Interesting that your two favorite museums were the ones most recently renovated after long closures. Well worth the wait.

We took a tour of the Opera Garnier years ago and thought it was terrific. It sounds like your tour was more comprehensive than ours, with more time in the theater itself. Sometimes these tours are restricted because of rehearsals, but you and we lucked out.

It's nice to read a trip report that has no complaints or descriptions of glitches. Maybe you were lucky, maybe you just have the right attitude about travel. So many posts now focus on strikes and demonstrations in France. I wonder if you experienced any disruption, or need to change plans, or discomfort from things like these. Hopefully not. And hopefully this won't be your last trip to Paris and Europe. As you know, there's much more to see and do. Looking forward to reading about London.

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9855 posts

So glad you had a wonderful time, Barbara. Good for you for doing what felt special for you ! And I am amazed that you walked all those places !!

Looking forward to hearing about London too.

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755 posts

Wonderful trip report, Barbara! Looking forward to reading your London trip report!

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418 posts

I enjoyed your trip report. I was surprised at how much I loved Paris. It is so beautiful. They didn’t just built a bridge, it was a beautiful bridge. All the architecture was beautiful. I loved the museums, especially D’Orsay. Thanks for sharing.

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244 posts

Great report. I agree that I love Paris. We were just there April 27-30–a time zone recovery before our RS tour of the Loire Valley. The weather was great. One thing I wanted to do was to see Giverny in the spring. Since I was afraid of Saturday crowds, we skipped the museum pass as we did not have 2 full days together. We landed on a Thursday and got the combo ticket for the Orsay and L’Orangerie. We visited the Orsay Thursday as it was open late. No line if you had a ticket. Saturday we went to L’Orangerie with minimal line with a ticket. The rest of the time we wandered. Can’t wait to go back.

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4921 posts

Thanks for your report, Barbara. I think I would have enjoyed the hair exhibit at the Decorative Arts Museum, but the process of doing their hair, not so much! I am creating a list of sights for my next Paris visit - whenever that may be. I've added the Decorative Arts Museum and the opera house tour to my list!

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3990 posts

The Opera House tour was fun and not too long, I think it was about 1.5 hours, no longer. I keep a list now too for different cities cause scrolling through all my bookmarked posts is taking too long, lol.

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2495 posts

Barbara,

What a great trip and trip report. I stayed at the K+K Hotel Cayre in the mid 70’s when I was young and broke. The hotel rooms had psychedelic wallpaper but I had a balcony and a view of Sacre Coeur so it was perfect to me. I’m glad to see it’s been updated since then and I would love to stay there again. Plus it is in a very convenient location right next to the metro stop although like you we walked almost every where in heels no less. I agree that you should splurge. That Eiffel Tower meal sounds fabulous. As you say we don’t know which trip will be our last. Good for you! I am looking forward to your London report. My all time favorite city

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3990 posts

Mary, thanks for reminding me, I forgot all about it. Will work on it this weekend.

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10340 posts

Lovely, Barbara.
I saw the Hair and Body hair exhibit last week; it offered a lot to think about. If anyone is interested, the panels are all French -English bilingual.

The Louvre can be tough. I have multiple entry rights, so I popped in to trace the way from the Pyramid to the beginning of the Egyptian rooms, to prepared a trip with a grandchild. I got lost; never found Egypt, even with 20+ years of visiting the Louvre,

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4292 posts

The Carnavalet is the museum that catches my attention when I finally make it to Paris. How much time did you spend there?

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3990 posts

Allan, we spent about 2-2.5 hours there. That is about our limit for standing and reading. I was looking at our pictures and we are not wearing audio guides so they must not have had them Ava cause we always rent the audio guides. It is very eclectic and fun. The exhibits range from a 5” commemorative vase from the 1924 Paris Olympics to fully decorated rooms to a model of the Bastille. While we were there they main floor was exhibiting shop signs from years and years ago. They were fun to try and figure about before reading the descriptions. Also, in these small museums the buildings are just as magnificent as the exhibitions. The Picasso Museum is in a beautiful setting.

Bets, we took a Paris Walks tour of the Lourve and he took us to the Egyptian exhibition first. After the tour we wanted to back but couldn’t find it. After walking around following signs, we decided to leave. The tour was over 2 hours so we were okay with leaving.

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The song “April in Paris” was written for good reason. My wife and I were there in April of 2014, then again last year before a RSE Loire tour in July. Both trips were fantastic, but seeing Giverny in April was truly magical.

Our favorite spots also include the Rodin museum, the Musée Marmottan, where there are so many great Monets; and of course Ste. Chappelle. We were lucky to have seen the Notre Dame before the fire, and look forward to getting there again in a couple of years; walking around the structure last year was a bit sad.

The museum pass is well worth the cost; on our last visit, we walked right into the Louvre, the Eiffel tower, l’Orangerie, the Musée d’Orsay, the Rodin Museum, and Ste. Chappelle, with almost no waiting. And of course, no trip to Paris is complete without a tour of Giverny.

Low on our list: Versailles, although the garden is impressive.

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1528 posts

Thank you for your trip report!

I can't wait to get back to Paris.
My strategy for my second trip to the Louvre was to literally plot out a course. I made a list of what I wanted to see and then sat down with museum maps. Also Pam helped by checking out a route for me as she was going to the museum.

It was a very successful trip as we efficiently saw exactly what we wanted to see.

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3990 posts

I took home the brochure from the Lourve with includes a map. Will keep it for our next trip and try to do as you are - map out a route of what we want to see. I’m thinking next time we go will be later in the year, maybe October. So many trips planned in my head, so little time.

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2112 posts

This has me thinking of starting my research for our Paris trip. Sadly, it’s booked for October 4, 2024. I don’t know how I’m going to wait that long. You’ve given me some ideas of museums I’ve yet to visit.