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Miki2621 Feb 25th, 2015 07:18 PM

3 Full Days in Paris... What are the must sees?
We'll be arriving on Thursday from Amsterdam via rail. We'll then have 3 full days to explore before departing on Monday for London - also via rail.

This is our first trip to Europe and I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed at the thought of planning this. I would appreciate any suggestions on what to see, day trips, tips for using public transit and recommendations on places to stay for a family of 4. I'm traveling with two teenagers and I expect I will need to either rent an apartment or two hotel rooms.

Also - is there more than one type of rail service from Paris to London?

Thanks -

FrenchMystiqueTours Feb 25th, 2015 08:20 PM

For Paris to London by rail use Buy tickets up to 6 months in advance for the cheapest prices.

For Amsterdam to Paris by rail use and buy tickets up to 3 months in advance for the cheapest prices.

For "must see" sites in Paris you can look at the tourist office website.....

....or google "must see sites Paris" or "top 10 paris attractions" or some such combination of words and you'll get loads of results.

For day trips you can look at the thread below;

I'll let others give you hotel recommendations as I know nothing about hotels.

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

Here is an interactive map of the system:

Since parts of this website are only in French you can also use or 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:

A good website to learn how to use public transport in Paris is 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 or a similar website.

Miki2621 Feb 25th, 2015 08:28 PM

FrenchMystiqueTours - Thank you so much for the detailed information!

sandralist Feb 25th, 2015 11:36 PM

Try a google search for "visiting Paris with teenagers"

Gretchen Feb 26th, 2015 02:15 AM

For 3 days and a first trip, just plan for 2 hotel rooms. You'll have the hotel desk to help with advice and reservations--and not a hassle of an apartment for a short time.

Gretchen Feb 26th, 2015 02:16 AM

This is feeling like a whirlwind trip--3 days and 3 days--where else are you going and how long?

Miki2621 Feb 26th, 2015 03:43 AM


It is a bit of a whirlwind trip! We are planning on Amsterdam, Paris and London.

Days 1 - 3 Includes arrival in AMS.
Day 4 - Is travel from AMS to Paris via rail
Days 5 - 7 is in Paris
Day 8 - travel fro Paris to London via rail
Days 9 - 12 are in London (or therabouts)
Day 13 is travel back to US

Does this sound like too much? our teenagers are 14 and 17. We've traveled pretty extensively in the US and they do well.

Any tips about either Amsterdam or London and/or traveling between them would be appreciated.


KTtravel Feb 26th, 2015 05:34 AM

Have you looked at Rick Steves' guidebooks? He gives lots of information particularly helpful to first time travelers.

With only three days in Paris, I wouldn't take any day trips. Highlights for me in Paris include:
Notre Dame, St. Chapelle, the Louvre, the Gare d'Orsay, L'Orangerie, the Rodin museum, the Eiffel Tower, strolling along the Seine and various gardens, and enjoying french food. You might consider the Pompidou, Montmartre, walking along the Champs Elysees, a boat ride on the Seine. I am sure I missed quite a bit you might enjoy.

Gretchen Feb 26th, 2015 05:46 AM

I'd do just Paris and London. And even with that, no day trips probably. Just too much to do in these great cities. Make it a memorable trip for the destinations. They'll be back.
In Paris I would greatly recommend hiring Michael Osman for at least one day and better two--one for sightseeing and one for the Louvre and Orsay. It will maximize your time and give you SO much more information/enjoyment. He is a superb teacher--and an artist himself.

Bitter Feb 26th, 2015 07:09 AM

I've done this itinerary, but included the Rhine/Mosel in maybe one less day, so it is doable and a lot of fun. However, to make it work, you need to know what you are doing and where, so you can group sites for minimum travel in between, and to book your CENTRALIZE lodging before you leave so you aren't spending valuable time checking out hotels.

I second Rick STeves, he gives opinionated advice as to what is worth seeing. You are free to disagree with him, but if you don't have an opinion (yet) you can take his advice.

annhig Feb 26th, 2015 07:12 AM

yes, i think that this is one too many places when you factor in all that travelling in between which just eats up time, along with the checking in, checking out, getting from and to hotels, finding your bearings, understanding the new transport system, working out where the nearest nice bar/cafe/supermarket is, etc .etc.

there is so much to do in all these 3 places, you will just be stretching the surface by the time you leave.

that said, have you bought the plane tickets yet?

Mimar Feb 26th, 2015 07:58 AM

If you haven't yet bought those tickets, think about reversing your itinerary. You avoid the tax for flying out of the UK, and you'll start your European trip in an English-speaking country. That's an easier intro to foreign travel.

I don't know the details of your flight, but you're likely to arrive jet-lagged and sleepy. I usually add a day or two at my first stop to get over jet lag. Another reason to start in a place where they speak English.

Miki2621 Feb 26th, 2015 10:12 AM


Great idea. My logic was to make it easier as the trip progressed. But you bring up a great point!

What is the tax for flying out of the UK? I have not book our tickets yet and in fact, when I checked on reversing the trip, it was slightly less expensive. Although, the return still has us flying through LHR to changes planes if I stick with AA (UAL offers direct AMS to ORD - so I may check that out).

Great points about not over doing it. While this is our first trip to Europe, it won't be our last. So scratching the surface

annhig Feb 26th, 2015 11:12 AM

miki - so long as the ticket prices aren't too different, I would opt for the combination of places that pleases you most with the easiest flights. Paris -London, Ams - Paris.....whatever.

as you say, you'll be back,

Gretchen Feb 26th, 2015 11:22 AM

As your time is now you have 11 days excluding arrival and departure days. The arrival day is for jet lag--if you do a bit that day and go to bed early we are usually up and going well the next day.
If you only do two destinations, you have most of a day in the middle to check out of hotel, get to the train, travel, check in at second hotel, so it is not much of a sightseeing day.
As you see, your actual time to enjoy your choices (assuming two) is a bit different and a chance to really see more. As you say, you'll be back.

TisforTraveler Feb 26th, 2015 04:16 PM

I've done many trips, often with approximately the same amount of time in each place. It's definitely do-able to do all three.

Try to book your tickets so that you arrive early in the morning like 7 or 8 AM. Then drop off your stuff and get out of the hotel! Fill your day with sightseeing even though you're tired, then go to bed a little earlier than normal (but not too early). Three full days in each city will let you see the highlights. Plus, your train rides won't take all day. If you get on a train the AM, you'll have a lot of afternoon and evening time to explore Paris and London on those "travel days."

I've spent a lot of time in Paris, so it's really the only city I'm able to speak to for what to see in a short time, most travel websites (like Lonely Planet) give you the high lights. You can also good things like "3 day itinerary for London," and if you sift through enough sites, you're bound to find some good starting points. I recently planned a trip to Vienna like this.

For Paris-- On your first afternoon there, assuming you get there around 2-3 PM you can get started seeing things. Unless you are ABSOLUTELY dying to do it, I wouldn't go up in the Eiffel Tower. The lines are terrible, and in my opinion, what is a view of Paris that doesn't include the Eiffel Tower?! Instead, on your first day, you could go to the Musee Rodin (one of my favorites and often missed on quick visits--amazing sculpture garden). After an 1.5 hours or so there, you are able to walk by (not go inside) Les Invalides. You could grab some dinner around there if you want, or you could go to a grocery store and buy some stuff for a picnic. Then walk on over to le Champ de Mars (park in front of eiffel tower), and have picnic there! People hang out there all night drinking wine and snacking, and then when it gets dark, the tower sparkles. It's a great way to experience the Eiffel Tower without the long lines waiting to go up. You can also walk all around the Eiffel Tower and get different views for photos while you are there. If you do this, you will have seen three big sites in Paris before you even start your 3 days!

For the three days--

Great views of Paris:

-top of l'Arc de Triomphe, Sacre Coeur, top floor of the Pompidou and Notre Dame (my preference)

Museums: one per day (not including the Rodin from travel day):

-The Pompidou, plus it's in a great area of paris to roam around a bit. The Hotel de Ville is nearby and worth walking over to see.

-l'Orangerie (the huge water lilies by monet). You can see the Louvre from there (as well as Place de la Concorde and the Tuilerie garden) and have a much more manageable museum experience, especially considering the teenagers ;)

-Musee d'Orsay. This museum is worth going to just to see the inside! It's in an old train station, and it's gorgeous. There you will see Degas and Van Gogh, in addition to the other impressionists you also saw at l'Orangerie.

The four museums I've listed are all very different from each other as well as doable at one-a-day.

Other sights:

-The Opera Garnier-- It. Is. Fantastic. You can do a tour doing the day for fairly good price. The ceiling is a huge painting by Chagall, not to mention the rest of the interior is beautiful. Opera is an easy walk down from Montmartre and also up from the Tuilerie Garden area.

-Montmartre-- Nice place to spend a few hours walking around. Walk up the steps to the Sacre Coeur for a great view. If you need some souveniers for people, there are plenty around here. You can see the characteristic steps of the neighborhood, as well as the old windmills. You can walk down the hill a bit to Abbesses (deepest metro stop in Paris). Further down from there is Pigalle, where you will see the Moulin Rouge. If you wanted to do that before the Opera house, you could continue walking south from Moulin Rouge, and you will end up right there!

-Le Jardin du Luxembourg: Absolutely worth seeing. You can grab a sandwich from a shop nearby, and have lunch in the garden with all the parisians who work in the area.

-Pantheon: If you go to the Luxembourg Garden, it's worth the short walk east to see the Pantheon. Going inside, well that depends on your interest in Foucault's pendulum.

-Canal St. Martin: slightly less touristy but very Parisian. You can walk along the canal and look in affordable shops (especially if the teens like shopping). It's very picturesque, and a nice change from the huge tourist attractions. Easiest it to just get off on Republique metro stop.

-Marais: a good idea to go here if you hit up the Pompidou (Metro Rambeauteau). La Rue des Rosiers is great for some falafel and for seeing the Jewish part of town. As I mentioned earlier, L'Hotel de Ville is also quite impressive. You could easily make your way from Pompidou to Hotel de ville to St. paul metro area to walk around the marais. You can finish up your walk in the Marais by continuing on to the Places des Vosges. This would make for a really nice afternoon.

-Notre Dame/Walking the Seine: It took me years and several trips to Paris to finally go to the top, and it's now one of my favorites! It's a spectacular view! Right around there, you can go Shakespeare & Co (old english bookstore, if you have a fondness for Paris' literary history). You can also walk along the Seine very easily from here. Make sure to walk by the bouquinistes (book sellers along the seine). You can get some nice prints, post cards, and stuff. You can also grab a crepe for a snack while you walk.

-St. Chapelle: nearby Notre Dame, so very easy to squeeze both in during the same outing. The stained glass is incredible, and there's really not much to compare it to. It's a quick visit. If you want, you can also attend a concert here in the evening. Just google classical concert St chapelle and you'll find it no problem.

Overall, your trip could go something like this:
1-rodin, invalides, eiffel (afternoon/evening)

2-montmartre--moulin rouge, sacre couer (morning)
opera (lunch)
orangerie--tuileries, louvre, concorde, walk up to arc de triomphe (afternoon/evening)

3- pompidou—hotel de ville, marias (rue des rosiers), Place des vosges (morning)
musée d’orsay (afternoon)
canal st. martin (evening)

4-notre dame- st chapelle, bouquinistes, seine (morning)
luxembourg- pantheon (lunch/afternoon)
canal st. martin (evening)
eiffel tower picnic (a nice way to end the trip, back at the eiffel tower to watch it sparkle)

I definitely got on a role, but I just recently planned out a friend's trip there, so it was all fresh in my mind! I hope this helps!

TisforTraveler Feb 26th, 2015 04:18 PM

P.S. DO NOT BE AFRAID OF THE METRO! It will save you so much time and money. Of course, walk to places nearby, but the metro is a good experience to have in Paris, regardless. It's super easy to navigate, too.

happytotravel Feb 26th, 2015 05:55 PM

For Paris with teens I recommend doing activities over just visiting sites. Why not do a paris bike tour , a 1/2 day cooking class at and then stroll over to Sacre Couer and enjoy Monmartre, a evening at ( a fun mystery game), a boat ride on the Seine, Hop on hop off bus, falafel in the Marais and then walk to Place to Vosges to eat, you could also do a skip the line tour for the Eiffel tower with fat tire bikes or your kids may want to walk up and skip the line, or you could do lunch at, ask your kids, the opportunities are endless. You can also easily use buses just type in the address. Taxis are very convenient for 4 persons, around 8-12 Euros anywhere in town. Have fun, go with the flow and enjoy.

TisforTraveler Apr 23rd, 2015 09:58 AM

How was your trip?

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