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3 days in Paris

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Jan 13th, 2015, 04:33 PM
  #1
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3 days in Paris

We're making a first trip to Paris with our young adult sons (18, 20) and will be in the city (Montparnasse area) for 2-3 nights in March. We are trying to piece together some 1/2 day activities for our trip. We will have a 1/2 day orientation tour of the city by minibus.
1. We're wondering about a Versailles tour and whether to find a tour company to drive us and tour us from our Montparnasse hotel.
2. We're considering a food tour - any recommendations? We have stumbled upon "Gourmet food tour in Central Paris - Les Halles/Montorgueil quarter" which sounds like a decent introductory tour.
3. Thinking of a Seine tour and we do wish to go up into the Eiffel Tower. Do we need advance tickets for a March weeknight?
4. Will try for a French restaurant for a fixed price menu adventure.
5. Other thoughts or refinements to the above?
Thanks!
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Jan 13th, 2015, 04:42 PM
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Seems a lot of tours for such a short time frame. There is a whole tour to Giverney and Versailles which is excellent-has lunch at a lovely French café in the countryside.The one I am thinking of does pickups at hotels. You can book when you get there.
You could a Seine tour at night which gives you more time for the day activities. If you do the mini tour when you first get to Paris that will also give you ideas of when /where you want to go back to.
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Jan 13th, 2015, 05:35 PM
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Isn't March too early for Giverney?

And I think way too many tours. On of the joys of touring european cities is wandering the streets and becoming familiar with the street life - in between major sights.

Also you sone will probably want to head to some student pubs.cafes/clubs in the evenings - and should check out the Let's Go guide for info on where to go.

Do NOT buy euros in advance - the rates will be dreadful.l Pul cash from yuor checking account at a bank ATM in CDG
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Jan 13th, 2015, 06:44 PM
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As a fifth-timer to Paris, may I suggest that (unless you've never been higher than the second floor of a building) you appreciate the Eiffel Tower more from a Batobus ride at 9:00 PM on the Seine (15.00€), and/or from the Trocadero plaza across the river from the tower (FREE), than from going up in it (15.50€).
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Jan 13th, 2015, 06:54 PM
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Go to Tour Montparnesse to see the Tour Eiffel and have a lovely prix fixe lunch at Le Ciel de Paris. We did this last month and it was great!

http://cieldeparis.com
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Jan 13th, 2015, 10:38 PM
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Monets gardens are not open in March, so theres one thing eliminated ... thank goodness as you are cramming a lot of tours in.. lol

With young men I would avoid doing so many tours.. more wandering. My then younger teen boys both loved the Invalids Army Museum.. I even enjoy it..


Versailles is the easiest daytrip to do on your own from Paris.. train there is about 45 minutes, then less then 10 minute walk to palace. Cost for train is 8.10 return, and palace is 18 euros. Compare with tours which will start at 100 euros IF you insist on hotel pick up .. if you meet at tour office they start at about 50 euros.
Pariscityvision does both big bus and van tours. They are a reliable and established bus tour company.. look at their website for ideas.

If weather is decent send boys on a Fat Tire Paris by night tour.. they will have a blast, and it will give you some time apart. Of course you could go too, I did a Fat Tire bike tour at the urging of my friend.. I am not sporty and hadn't been on a bike for DECADES,. but it was a blast.. very fun, and safe.. Anyways.. show the boys the website.
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Jan 14th, 2015, 12:23 AM
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Monet's garden opens on March 28 in 2015 .
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Jan 14th, 2015, 03:17 AM
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I agree with those who say exploring Paris on your own is better than the bus tours. I do know many people have enjoyed the Hop On/Hop Off bus tours but central Paris is very compact and very walkable. Many of the main sites (certainly not all) are within a 10 minute walk from either side of the river between Île-Saint-Louis in the east and the Pont Alexandre III in the west (this excludes the Eiffel Tower and Champs-Elysées).

Versailles is only a 35 minute train ride on RER C from central Paris and as pointed out, doing it on your own is far less expensive than a tour. They give you audio-guides with the admission price and unless you are intensely interested in the history of the palace this is adequate. For an extra 7€ you can do a private tour of the King's Apartments that allows you to skip the lines and then go explore the rest of the palace and grounds on your own after the tour. Look at the official website for further details.

It is generally a good idea to book tickets in advance to go up the Tower but then you can't be flexible or predict the weather. It is impossible to predict when lines will be long there so you can also just go and see what it looks like if you don't want to reserve.

There are a few companies that do boat tours on the Seine and they don't require pre-booking. Just show up and buy your ticket on the spot.

Certainly you can do some sort of food tour but really you can visit any of the many street markets/covered market halls or any of the market streets (such as rue Montorgueil) in Paris on your own. The covered market halls of the Marché Saint-Quentin or the Marché des Enfants Rouges are always worth a visit. Google them for more info. The Sunday street market on the Boulevard Richard Lenoir is extensive and popular. The website below will list all street markets in Paris broken down by arrondissement and give addresses and times:

http://www.paris.fr/pro/commercants-...004_port_23615

With only 2-3 nights in Paris you're merely going to scratch the surface of what Paris has to offer so don't try do see it all, which is impossible in that time span, but enjoy those places you do visit at a leisurely pace and learn what else you might want to do when you can return for a longer visit.

I can give you some pointers on how to research your trip to Paris, such as the how to use public transport to get around, the need for a good map and using the tourist office website to learn what to see and do (and find tours of all kinds):

To learn how to get around Paris by métro/bus/RER use www.ratp.fr. Here is a link to a route planner:

http://www.ratp.fr/itineraires/en/ra...herche-avancee

Here is an interactive map of the system:

http://www.ratp.fr/plan-interactif/carteidf.php?lang=uk

Since parts of this website are only in French you can also use www.transilien.com or www.vianavigo.com. Via Navigo probably has the most complete English website. Keep in mind that all these sites are time and date sensitive and they will use Paris time, not your local time.

Another thing to keep in mind is that they all default to the next available departure. So you may get one route that looks very complicated (multiple métro/bus connections) but scroll forward through the next few departures and you'll often find the simplest connections for your journey.

To learn about the various types of transport passes look here:

http://vianavigo.com/en/tickets-and-fares/

A good website to learn how to use public transport in Paris is www.parisbytrain.com. It will likely answer any of your questions about what is the métro, what is the RER, what kinds of tickets you need, how to buy tickets, what kinds of passes are available etc.

Buy a good detailed map of Paris of around the scale 1:12,000 and it will show all streets and street names, museums, monuments, gardens, parks, sites, attractions and the location of all RER and métro stops. A handy booklet to buy is called ''Plan de Paris par Arrondissement, L'Indispensable''. It is available in the Relay bookstores you'll find in the main line train stations and RER stations. It can be bought in many other places as well, such as bookstores, magazine/news stands, many touristy souvenir stores, larger supermarkets, tabac stores etc.

In any métro or RER station with an information booth you can get free maps of the Paris transport system and use those in conjunction with your street maps to figure out how to get around and determine where you are.

You can figure out walking times and distances between sites by using a mapping website like www.mappy.com or a similar website.

You can look at the Paris tourist office website for info about what to see and do in Paris as well as learn about the various passes for visits and public transport: http://en.parisinfo.com/
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Jan 14th, 2015, 03:46 AM
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For that short a period of time don't try to do any trips outside of Paris.
And as mentioned, just enjoy seeing the Tower from the ground. You might get some sandwiches and go to the champ de Mars for a picnic at the base (even in March).
Do a Seine River tour (it's an hour).
Your "half day orientation tour of Paris by mini-bus) will be a drive by of places and basically a waste of your short time and probably a good bit of money.

"Will try for a French restaurant for a fixed price menu adventure" This ought to be fairly possible. LOL

Food tour? Such a short time to SEE Paris. Go to the Bon Marche and just enjoy the food offerings there.

Where are you coming from --and then going to--that this is a 3 day layover.
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Jan 15th, 2015, 03:19 AM
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Vedettes de Pont Neuf is the only boat tour operator that (as far as I know) has advance ticket discounts without a date/time commitment -- which is important IMHO since you want good weather for your boat ride. You buy online, print out your invoice and present it at the dock to get your ticket and board whenever you want.

http://vedettesdupontneuf.com/accueil/

SS
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Jan 17th, 2015, 07:36 AM
  #11
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We are going from Rome through Paris onto London. 3 to 4 nights in each city. We are joining out oldest son for his spring break time. That is why we have just a few days in Paris itself.
Thanks for the lovely ideas. We will look into the Versailles "do it yourself" tour and the Seine/Eiffel Tower recommendations. I'm fine with a sampler of French food without the tour. I'll look at those recommended places, too.
Thanks!
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Jan 17th, 2015, 12:59 PM
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All these links have been helping us find some interesting options for Paris. Food tour at the top of our list right now is through "meeting the french" website for their Chocolate & pastry food tour.
Off now to read about the Fat Tires tour.
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Jan 17th, 2015, 05:29 PM
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Just to reiterate, you have 3 days in Paris. You may not have time for Versailles--it's a big house!! LOL
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Jan 17th, 2015, 06:17 PM
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I'm still trying to understand the french food tour. What other kind of food would you eat in France? That's what most restaurants, brasseries and cafes will serve - although different menus depending on what part of the country the owners come from (French cuisine is very regional - and food from Normandy will be completely different than that from Provence).
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Jan 17th, 2015, 09:44 PM
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I think a food tour is a good idea for those interested. Not everyone knows a lot about French food.. many people actually think all the French eat is stinky cheese, frogs legs and escargots.
Many people do not realize that food preparations and specialities are very regional. /
A food tour can include a visit to the markets,, and that in itself is a cultural experience for many!
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Jan 18th, 2015, 07:23 AM
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I would not try to do Versailles this time. Too much to do in Paris.

A food tor was great for us...we learned so much about the amazing French cheeses and how they are made and aged. It also gave us access to things we would not have been able to sample at a restaurant. We got more variety and explanation than you would get in a restaurant and since we only speak a few words of French, we could not have done it on our own. We are really glad we did it and I would probably do another one to try more cheeses and charcuterie.

To the OP, Paris by Mouth offers a number of tours and while some think they are expensive you get a lot of food and it's very fun and informative. You also learn your way around just a bit. We did the St Germain tour but they offer many different types of tours and locations. there calendar for March is open now, if you want to take a look....http://parisbymouth.com/upcoming-food-tours/
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Jan 18th, 2015, 07:58 PM
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Thanks, denisea, we'll check that one out. We, too, have Spanish and Italian language skills but are lacking in French. So, I thought a food tour would get us out there...more so than guessing on our own.

And, for those who commented - I think we will skip Versailles this trip. We just don't have time.

If anyone has a recommendation for a good experience with a fixed price restaurant near area 14, please recommend. I know the term isn't "area", but that is what it means, I think.
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Jan 18th, 2015, 10:02 PM
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I have been to Paris many times, once with a group of first timers. They found the Hop on, hop off bus to be a very good orientation to the city at a very reasonable price. You see a lot in a short time. Get the route maps ahead of time and plan to start where the two routes intersect. Stay on the bus all the way through a route to the end, then get on a bus for the second route. This will give you an overview, then you can decide where you might want to go back for a longer visit.

I also enjoyed a walking tour with Paris Walks. The one I went on was the tour of the Marais, but there are others.

There are several different boat companies for cruises on the Seine. We like to take the metro to the Trocadero and walk down through the Palais Chaillot to the Eiffel Tower. That will be the best place to take your family photo with the Eiffel Tower in the background. Then walk down to the Eiffel Tower to visit, etc. We like the boats below the Eiffel Tower (you'll see stairs down to the river as you cross the bridge toward the tower). The view of the Eiffel Tower and on the river cruise are magical at night. All the important landmarks are lit up. There is a narrative in several languages along the way.

Enjoy!
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