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1 week in Paris, Versailles, and Normandy

1 week in Paris, Versailles, and Normandy

Jun 19th, 2011, 03:11 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 58
1 week in Paris, Versailles, and Normandy

My husband and I are planning a trip to Paris, Versailles, and Normandy. We will only have 1 week. For Paris we would like to see the "big" attractions. Normandy is a must for my husband. He's a WWII buff. My questions are:
1. In what area should we stay. (we would like to rent an apt.).
2. Any suggestions for a "doable" itinerary would be appreciated.
3. From reading these forums, Versailles seems to be a must. Do you agree?
4. Is October a nice time? Maybe not as crowded?

We are not very interested in fashion and shopping. We love history, art, food and wine.
Thank you so much for your suggestions,
wittmann2020 is offline  
Jun 19th, 2011, 03:19 PM
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Do you mind walking up 4 flights of stairs? Seriously; if not -- we stayed here and it was a great apartment, in a perfect location and at a great price with a wonderful owner. At 99 euros a night, it is a bargain.


We spent a Saturday at Versailles and it was an easy train ride to and from and we absolutely think it is a must at least once in your lifetime.

As far as an itinerary, just make sure you know what days each museum or site is closed and plan around that so you won't be disappointed.
DebitNM is offline  
Jun 19th, 2011, 04:43 PM
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Well - you're saying a week - but I don;t know how many days tht really is. If you attach to a holiday you can get 10 days (5 work days plus 2 weekens plus a holiday - giving you actually 8 days on the ground). If you mean 7 days - then you really only have 5 days on the ground - and won;t have time for much -if anything - in Normansy.

Best idea is tosee paris first(not sure what to reco - since I think 5 full days is an absoluteminimum), then rent a car and hed for Normandy. Stop and see Versailles with the car and continue to Normansy. I would stay in Bayeux - so you can see the tapestry as well as several invation beaches and cemeteries. But you really need 2 full days there - in addition to the day you arrive from Versailles - to see much of anything.

Not sure you have enough time for this.

(And for what YOU should see in paris - hae a look at seeral guide books as well as destinations above. If you can cut to fewer than 5 days I will be amazed.)
nytraveler is offline  
Jun 19th, 2011, 08:14 PM
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As much as I know Kerouac will disapprove, if you want to see the main attractions in Paris then choose an arrondisement that is centrally located and a hotel/apartment close to Metro station. (1, 6, 7 and 8 are probably the best for proximity to great shopping and Paris attraction).

I love the 6th but we are renting in the 7th this year (from Paris Perfect and the building has an elevator).

I am sure October is a great time to visit. We will be there in November...less crowded and not hot!

Versailles is spectacular and an easy RER train ride out.

As far as what to see, everyone has such varying opinions on that...for me, it is Musee D'Orsay because I love Impressionistic art. The Louvre is just too massive for me.

It is Paris and you will never see it all-even in multiple trips! So, a great reason to go back. Enjoy and don't try to do too much.
denisea is online now  
Jun 19th, 2011, 08:24 PM
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"We will only have 1 week."

Before anyone can give you useful advice we need clarification on how long the actual trip is. As nytraveler explains -- it makes a HUGE difference.

If the whole trip (home to home) is a week -- then you really only have about 4.5 free days. If it is 7 days on the ground - then you will have about 6 free days (accounting for jetlag day 1 and packing/traveling day 7)

To have a full week free for touring -- you need about 10 days total.

So which is it?
janisj is offline  
Jun 19th, 2011, 09:25 PM
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> From reading these forums, Versailles seems to be a must. Do you agree?

IMO, the only "must" see things are the ones that most interest YOU. Your time in the area is extremely short, whether you have 5 or 8 days on the ground. Spend it seeing the things that most capture your interests.
kja is offline  
Jun 20th, 2011, 10:53 AM
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Ok...good points by all. We will most likely travel on a Saturday from the US to Paris and return on a Sunday. However, we can extend our trip to 10 days if needed. Having never been before, we would like to see Eiffel Tower, Louve, The Champs-Elysees/Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, and a friend suggested Rodin's home and gardens. Will we need 2 days in Normandy? Is it too far for a day trip? According to nytraveler, we should rent a car and see Versailles on the way to Normandy. Any thoughts? We would like to use the train system if possible but will rent a car if that is a better option.
kja, you are exactly right. thank you.
Thanks again for all of your imput.
wittmann2020 is offline  
Jun 20th, 2011, 11:27 AM
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So you arrive on Sunday (morning ?) and leave next Sunday, isn't?
Normandy is too far for one day trip and there are many things to see : tapestry , beaches, places re. war, etc. Maybe you will go till Mont St. Michel, which is an unique place. We stayed in Normandy for 6 days.

In Paris there are so many museums, churches to visit! And to walk, to sit for a coffee, to enjoy a good meal...

I would add to your list at least Musee D'Orsay, Petit Palace, Orangerie, St. Chapelle, Montmartre & Sacre Coeur Church, a stroll in St. Germaine, in Cartier Latin, in Marais...(oh, there are too many place !!)

October is a very nice month to visit Paris. Walk along Seine in a sunny day and see all the tree with red & yellow leaves.

Have a nice trip!
valtor is offline  
Jun 20th, 2011, 11:29 AM
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I would definitely extend the trip to 10 days or forget about Normandy. Yes, you can do a "daytrip" to Normandy on a tour bus, but it's a very long day and all you'll do is a drive-by of several places, which to me totally defeats the purpose of going - you have to stand in that cemetery, gaze out at the landing beaches, lean over the cliffs, imagine the shoreline awash with bodies...And yes, you'll need a car. Trains don't go to the D-Day sites. Stopping in Versailles on the way is a good idea.

You will be amazed at how much there is to see and do in Paris. Five days will barely give you a broad overview.
StCirq is online now  
Jun 20th, 2011, 11:49 AM
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Seriously try to extend your trip to 10 days. It is the only way you can accomplish your itinerary and actually enjoy it.

Why not start by renting a car at CDG and heading straight for Normandy. Stay two nighs, stop at Versailles on the trip back to Paris and then spend a week in Paris. That way you won't have to break up your Paris stay and renting an apartment will be easier.

We stayed in Bayeux which has a marvelous tapestry, is a charming town with good restaurants and has easy access to WWII sights. Early October would be a good time - the Normandy beaches can be quite blustery and get chilly as fall progresses.

Have a wonderful trip!
mamcalice is offline  
Jun 20th, 2011, 12:16 PM
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mamcalice: Your idea is brilliant. Thank you.
wittmann2020 is offline  
Jun 20th, 2011, 04:17 PM
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> Why not start by renting a car at CDG and heading straight for Normandy

Since the OP is coming from the US, jet lag could be a factor. Speaking only for myself, I wouldn't want to try driving right after a trans-Atlantic flight.
kja is offline  
Jun 20th, 2011, 07:39 PM
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We made an 11-day trip to Paris a little over 10 years ago, and booked 9 nights in a Paris hotel. About 3 weeks before we left we decided to visit some of the WWII sites in Normandy. So after a couple nights in Paris we left our bags in our hotel room, took small overnight bags and caught a morning train to Caen. Picked up a rental car across from the station and visited the Memorial Peace Museum. Onto the Hotel Churchill in Bayeux for one night. We visited the cathedral in Bayeux and spent the next day at Colville for the cemetery and Omaha Beach as well as a few other spots before returning by train to Paris. We were very happy we were able to visit. A few years later when we could afford it we made a longer trip to Normandy.
Scootoir is offline  
Jun 21st, 2011, 05:11 AM
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We often drive on our first day in Europe. The drive from CDG to Normandy is not a very long one and you can stop for a nice lunch along the way. Another alternative would be to take the train to Caen and rent a car there. The drive to Bayeux is very short.
mamcalice is offline  
Jun 21st, 2011, 07:04 AM
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To catch train to Caen, you'll have to reach "Gare St-Lazare" (St-Lazare station) with all your luggages : not very funny, and secure. Try to rent a car in CDG for the first days.

During week-ends, many parisians are driving each morning to Normandy, even on october's sunny sunday. Queues could be very long at each toll on A13 motorway !(4 from Paris to Caen)

Don't waste your time : from CDG take N104 west to join Cergy-Pontoise.
Then, follow N14 to Magny-en-Vexin, follow D86/D37 to La Roche-Guyon along the Seine river (German Marechal Rommel Headqurters in 1944), and really charming village -lunch time ?). (about 1h30-45 from CDG).
Cross the Seine river at Bonnières/Seine, and take A13 motorway.

In 1h15 hour, you'll reached Honfleur (scenic harbour + old town/church)....or keep it for the return.
45 min more, you're at your hotel in Caen (or 1h15 to Bayeux : great WWII "battle for Normandy" museum).

October is a good period to travel
Beloo is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2011, 10:56 AM
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We completed a similar trip in March. Our trip included one day in London due to the airline tickets with a stopover in London. My trip report is here: http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...-london.cfm?25

I'd recommend extending to 8 days. Just a few tips/recommendations: With two in your party, make sure you limit the number of bags you bring with you. (For a 7 day trip, you do NOT need to bring 7 changes of clothes). If neither of you have been to Europe or know if you are susceptible to jet lag, don't risk it by driving straight to Normandy. I'd rec that you put Normandy at first or last days of trip, but if first, train to Caen and rent car there. If you're only interested in WWII stuff,Sunday afternoon and Monday will likely be enough time based out of Bayeux. Return car and train back to Paris either at last train Monday night or first train Tuesday. You'll be in Paris in around 2 hours.

Your arrival in Paris will be at St. Lazare, and can transfer to Metro to your apartment from there - IF - you remember to pack one bag each (including carry-ons). The bags you lug will really impact your itinerary as lugging bags around train stations and airports at the beginning and end of your trip isn't fun and can be stressful if you have more than one bag each.

Versailles is a thirty minute train ride from Paris. about 20 minutes longer than an average metro ride. Recs: catch train early that gets you at Versailles Rive Gauche about 30 minutes before it opens. That'll give you time to walk to palace, get tickets and tour the Palace before any tour buses arrive. The standard tour of the Palace proper takes about two hours or so. At the end of the Palace tour, you can then go out to the grounds. I personally recommend going out to the Trianon and Marie's Hameau if they are still open in October. My wife found them very interesting. Buy a tram ticket to get to Trianon and hameau, it's quick and eliminates much walking. You can be back on the train by 3 or 4:00 and in Paris before dark.

Good luck and enjoy.
apersuader65 is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2011, 07:00 PM
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As long as you don;t have hideous jet lag renting a car and driving for an hour or two if not a terrible idea - IF you have been to europe before (less culture shock) and preferably have driven there before. We have done this many times - but won;t do more than 2 hours - and have been driving in various countries in europe for more than 20 years. It helps if you are a competent and confident driver. This is not something to do if you are at all tentative about any aspects of driving. Expect cars to be small, local roads narrow and parking spaces (almost all parallel) just bigger than the car. (If you're not an expert at parallel parking - practice before you go.)
nytraveler is offline  

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