6 days, first timers in Paris

Nov 19th, 2018, 05:17 PM
  #41  
 
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Originally Posted by apersuader65 View Post
We went to Versailles three of our four trips to Paris. Each time, we caught the first train out to Rive Gauche, walked to the queue. Upon opening, were some of the first in the Palace (well before the buses of tourists arrived 30+ minutes later) and took a leisurely pace to the Hall of Mirrors. By the time we left that Hall, the crowd began to catch us, but it wasn't horrible. IF you want to see Marie's Hameau, or the Grand and Petit Trianon, you can make most of a day of it. If not, it is about the same as a trip to the Louvre (assuming you see more than the standard top 3 at the Louvre). If you make it back to Paris proper by 1:30 or 2:00, you still have plenty to see or do in the p.m.
About 20 years ago DH and I made the trip to Versailles. We strolled the gardens, had a lovely lunch outdoors at La Flotille then rented bikes for a few hours and rode to the Hameau, the Grand and Petit Trianon and made a quick visit inside the palace before heading back to Paris. We had a wonderful time and avoided much of the crowds.
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Nov 19th, 2018, 06:22 PM
  #42  
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If we visit Versailles, I know we want to include the King’s Apartments and the fountains (for which we need to go on a Sun). The King’s Apartments are apparently not included in the Museum Pass, but I can’t figure out where/how to buy that additional ticket.
Are the King’s Apartments by guided tour only? Or can we visit on our own, with just an audio guide?
Then there is the Musical Fountain Show… which we don’t care for (I think), but that’s a separate ticket too. Do they allow entrance to the fountains in between the musical shows, which I assume run on a schedule, then kick people out who don’t have musical show tickets?
I’m very confused.
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Nov 20th, 2018, 12:25 AM
  #43  
 
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The official website of the chateau has detailed information about all the available tickets and tours. For example, to answer one of your questions:

Visite Guided tour : The Private Apartments of the Kings (english) à VERSAILLES @ Château de Versailles
StCirq is offline  
Nov 20th, 2018, 01:55 AM
  #44  
 
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Some additional thoughts:

Vedettes du Pont Neuf -- I just went to their website. They have changed their reservation system. They still offer an "open" reservation at a 2€ discount, but now also offer a timed reservation at a 4€ discount.

Dining -- We, too have used La Fourchette for restaurant reservations, with great discounts (up to 50%), especially mid-week. They have a phone app, too.

Buses -- I am another one who enthusiastically recommends using buses in Paris. You'll have to do some research, but you'll be able to find two or three routes near your hotel that take you to many of the main sights as quickly as the Metro while letting you see beautiful Paris as you ride. The RATP site has individual PDFs for each route that you can download to your phone.

Navigo Card -- You don't get the 5€ back with the Navigo card, but even using it Mon-Fri, it should be a good deal (26€/5 days = ~5€ per day, equal to less than four regular tickets per day), not to mention the convenience of not having to buy and keep track of tickets. If you also use it to get to the airport on your travel day, it equals about 3€ per day. You can buy some individual tickets for your Sunday arrival day. You can also use my "Never Get Lost in Central Paris" system without worrying about using extra tickets: Hop on the first bus you see, regardless of its direction. Keep your eye out the window and get off at the first Metro sign you see. Once in the Metro system, you'll easily be able to find your way back to your hotel.

Walking -- Be sure to download Google maps of Paris before you go. GPS does not use cellular data (though it will use your battery). It's great when walking, and a lifesaver when exiting the Metro and trying to figure out which direction to go. (There is also a phone app called Metro Sortie that shows the locations of the Metro exits on the map of Paris.)

ssander
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Nov 20th, 2018, 04:46 AM
  #45  
 
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<Buses -- I am another one who enthusiastically recommends using buses in Paris. You'll have to do some research, but you'll be able to find two or three routes near your hotel>

If you want a slightly less smartphone dependent mapping function, get "L'Indispensable," a map book with all the arrondissements, Metro routes, and bus routes, in a handy small size or a somewhat larger size for the eyes of persons of age. Available at almost all bookstores and magazine stands, if I remember correctly.
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Nov 20th, 2018, 05:16 AM
  #46  
 
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St Eustache it was I was referrring to Swan, you're right. I never went inside of St Sulpice actually, so my remark is without substance.
thibaut is offline  
Nov 20th, 2018, 04:26 PM
  #47  
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@StCirq, thanks for the link. I don't know how I missed it, but I really looked. I am still very ton about Versailles: part of me wants to go, part says to leave for a future trip. And this feeling is the same for the other parts of France we plan to visit. Who would've thought that 3 weeks in France is actually so little? And I keep being asked "3 weeks - all in France? You're not going anywhere else?"

@ssanders, great tips, much appreciated. I knew that Paris fas a very good metro network, I was not aware of buses. Need to look into that, look into all the apps I need to download, and also download some maps.

@thibaud, I find churches, cathedrals of all styles an denominations fascinating. We will definitely visit some on this trip, but I need to be very selective as the list of places I want to see/visit is very long. You should see the amount of churches we visited in Rome
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Nov 21st, 2018, 02:04 AM
  #48  
 
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<<Who would've thought that 3 weeks in France is actually so little? And I keep being asked "3 weeks - all in France? You're not going anywhere else?">>

HAHA! That made me laugh. For at least 10 years people kept asking me "You're going back to the Dordogne? Don't you get tired of going to the same place?" Well, NO! Even after living here permanently for close to 4 years, there is always, always something new to discover, often just a few kilometers down the road.

I admit to having an uneasy relationship with Versailles, which is the result of, years ago, being a tour guide who every year had to shepherd 25 14-year-olds through the place every Spring Break. It got old pretty quickly, despite the majesty and the overwhelming sense of history. Plus, I'm pretty short, and standing in lines at armpit level shuffling through endless halls just seriously diminished the enjoyment. The gardens are lovely. Marie Antoinette's hameau is perversely endearing; the fountains, if you catch them, are spectacular.

But all in all, I would never consider Versailles an absolute must-see on a trip to France. Heck, go to the Chateau de Vincennes. It's just at the end of a métro line. Or go to St-German-en-Laye, a nice little daytrip outside the city, and see the kings. The Louvre is a palace, too, you know? If you have some sort of special relationship with Louis XIV and that period of French history, I can see thinking Versailles is special, but frankly, most people don't. I don't, and frankly, that sort of opulence, like that in the Vatican, disturbs me more than it pleases me. But that's me.
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Nov 21st, 2018, 07:08 AM
  #49  
 
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The tours helped make Versailles more interesting. DH and I took a garden tour on one of our visits and were enthralled by the planning and imagination that having use of all of your country's money could afford. StCirq, I agree about the disturbing aspects of V. and Vatican but I would still strongly recommend visiting.
TDudette is offline  
Nov 21st, 2018, 03:58 PM
  #50  
 
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Originally Posted by StCirq View Post
<<Who would've thought that 3 weeks in France is actually so little? And I keep being asked "3 weeks - all in France? You're not going anywhere else?">>

HAHA! That made me laugh. For at least 10 years people kept asking me "You're going back to the Dordogne? Don't you get tired of going to the same place?" Well, NO! Even after living here permanently for close to 4 years, there is always, always something new to discover, often just a few kilometers down the road.
.
My boss once asked me why I keep going back to Paris. I responded with a knowing smile (at least that's what I hope it looked like). If you have to ask you just don't get it.
Scootoir is offline  
Nov 21st, 2018, 04:07 PM
  #51  
 
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DH and l love to visit churches and cathedrals in our travels. I was underwhelmed by St. Sulpice but loved St. Etienne du Mont near the Pantheon. The best part of St. Sulpice was when a gentleman who worked there invited us into the beautiful carved wood sacristy. Perhaps it would be better on a sunny day or if I was a Dan Brown fan.

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Nov 21st, 2018, 04:53 PM
  #52  
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StCirq, I'm used to these type of comments. We always travel to 1 country at a time, and we know that some of them will get return visits. We know already that France is one of such places, as is Italy. Every time people seem surprised that we're going to spend 2-3 weeks in a single country, and even more surprised that we are only visiting 1-2 areas. But how can you visit an entire country in that amount of time???

If you had asked me yesterday, Versailles was (again) on the schedule. Today is off (again). We'll see how I feel tomorrow...but I have a feeling that we'll leave it for a future trip. Maybe one in the summer when they have the fountains running on a weekday... This way we can take our time in Paris. 6 days really doesn't seem that long...I was there long time ago, maybe 20 years ago for 2 weeks, all in Paris and had a blast. But DH has never been and my visit was so long ago, that it will feel like the first time.

Scootoir,
That wood sacristy is truly a work of art. I bet your boss might have a place where he (she?) goes over and over again, but you're too nice and polite to question it. Or you just get it

TDudette, interesting point about tours. I would've never thought about a garden tour. The interior, yes. But the gardens? I'll keep that in mind, I think spring time in the gardens must be fantastic.
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Nov 22nd, 2018, 02:40 AM
  #53  
 
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If you are into churches, you should not miss Basilique de St-Denis.
  • One of the first Gothic cathedrals in Europe.
  • Tombs of most of the French monarchs going back to the 6th century.
  • IMHO more mystical than Notre Dame. Brightly lit on the inside.
  • Easy to get to -- a couple of blocks from the Metro #13 stop of the same name.


ssander
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Nov 22nd, 2018, 04:15 AM
  #54  
 
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I can't believe all these people are telling you that your original itinerary is too rushed. I don't think it is at all. I do agree with dropping Versailles - there is so much to see in Paris itself that it's not worth the time.
Your itinerary does seem to be grouped at least sort of geographically which is the key to efficient use of time. If you haven't already done so though I'd get a good map of Paris and get it photocopied on legal size paper. Get several copies. Then highlight the places you want to see. Then you can visually see where things are and how to group them (and also add in all the other places people have suggested). And also what else might be near someplace you are already planning on going to that you might want to add.



Here's my photos of Paris - they are grouped (sort of) geographically and everything is labeled if you hover over the image. https://andiamo.zenfolio.com/p460980929
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Nov 22nd, 2018, 06:29 AM
  #55  
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@ssander, I did not realize that Basilique de St-Denis is so close to a metro stop...that really changes things Thanks.

@isabel, as always, amazing photos. I had seen them before, bookmarked the site and used them for planning. I use the same visualization method you describe in Google Maps, and keep adding and moving things around. List keeps getting longer and longer...and I'm happy to hear that this draft itinerary seems doable. I need to re-work it, and have a second version for all 6 days in Paris, without Versailles. I'll definitely be back with a 2nd itinerary. Thanks.
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Nov 22nd, 2018, 07:06 AM
  #56  
 
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Originally Posted by isabel View Post
Here's my photos of Paris - they are grouped (sort of) geographically and everything is labeled if you hover over the image. https://andiamo.zenfolio.com/p460980929
Isabel--stunning photos, they really capture Paris. Are they all from one trip? It took me several visits to see all of the places you have pictured.
Scootoir is offline  
Nov 22nd, 2018, 07:36 AM
  #57  
 
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Thanks. That's about 7 or 8 trips. Different seasons including several March and July and once in November.
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Nov 22nd, 2018, 08:09 AM
  #58  
 
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Hi
I'm not a scaremonger but do pay attention in St Denis. keep Iphone hidden, pay attention to your bag etc.)
thibaut is offline  
Nov 22nd, 2018, 11:36 AM
  #59  
 
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Yes Saint-Denis is part of the dread northern suburbs (banlieues sp?) with lots of low-income housing projects which translates to problems thibaut alludes to - once on a train platform in a station near there I was standing each a pain au chocolate and a tough looking guy asked me if he could have part of it - I said no and he gave me such a threatening look I gave the thing to him. That said you will be safe if you don't wear family jewels and be leery of anyone coming up to you.
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Nov 22nd, 2018, 10:59 PM
  #60  
 
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Originally Posted by thibaut View Post
Hi
I'm not a scaremonger but do pay attention in St Denis. keep Iphone hidden, pay attention to your bag etc.)
St Denis, the station, and the bit you walk to the basilica aren't more unsafe than central Paris is. Always good to keep an eye on your belongings.
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