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Can you stand one more "Itinerary Help" post?

Can you stand one more "Itinerary Help" post?

Aug 8th, 2017, 05:36 PM
  #1  
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Can you stand one more "Itinerary Help" post?

I'm currently planning a 16 daymother/daughter trip to Europe with my teen for next May. Well be cramming a lot into those 16 days, and part of that will be a short time in Paris. I'm in the very early planning stages, so I don't have my bearings of the city (distances, layout, etc.) but I'm hoping to narrow down the planning. Here's what I know:
1. Arrive Paris on a Monday, around noon, by train from Zurich
2. Check into hotel - Note that I don't yet know where I"m staying, because I can't figure out the best area to book. I'll be using Starwood points for the hotel, and there are properties all over the city. Any suggestions of a good, not-out-of-the-way neighborhood?
3. Fast forward to Wednesday, where we'll be boarding the train again, this time to London, sometimes in the late afternoon.

About our travel style:
We're really comfortable being "drive-by" travelers. Meaning, we don't tend to immerse ourselves in a place for an extended period of time We're very comfortable (and actually prefer) picking some highlights and optimizing whatever short period of time we have in a place. So for everyone who would say "skip the Louvre because you won't see any of it anyway," we likely won't skip it, but will not spend much time there. For example, we did the entire Field Museum in Chicago in less than 2 hours this summer. We picked specific exhibits we knew we wanted to, kind of wandered through the rest, and it was perfect for us.

In addition to the main sights (whatever those are), we like to go a bit off the beaten path, where possible. For example, you'll never find us at a chain restaurant in a city that's new to us, if that makes sense.

What we wnat to do:
1. The Louvre - "quick" (I know there's nothing really quick about it) wander through. This is tops on the teen's list, so we'll go there.
2. Eiffel Tower - Unsure if we want to go up in it or not. I don't know enough to have an opinion.
3. Boat ride down the Seine
4. Notre Dame
5. Orsay - I think? This is an "if we really have time without killing ourselves" thing
6. Arc de Triomphe - Again, not sure if we want to climb it, but we want to see it.
7. Some garden - Tuileries?

Above all, we want to sit at cafes, eat croissant, drink coffee, have a cheese plate and some great wine. Listen to music. Find a good place to watch people. Really just soak the place in.

I know we don't have much time there, but if you've read this far, I'd appreciate any adivce or feedback about all of these things, especially 1. What neighborhoods should we most consider staying in/definitely cross of the list? 2. What are your favorite places to do the wandering/eating/drinking/listening/watching stuff? 3. Opinions about the things we want to see.

Thanks!
Quincella is offline  
Aug 8th, 2017, 06:21 PM
  #2  
 
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Hi Quincella, nice to make your acquaintance. I do have a suggestion, and that is that I don't think it's possible to do all of your list in the time you allot, even if you are speedy. Are you flying into Zürich? Because if you are, you probably won't be doing much on the Monday afternoon other than sleeping or basically not operating at full function. If you aren't jetlagged then maybe you can fit in one or two activities (for example, see the Eiffel Tower from a distance and do the bateaux-mouches). Tuesday might be a museum day (one in the morning, one in the afternoon), and Wednesday you are off again. Maybe time for a quick seeing-type activity in the morning - a walk past Notre Dame (?). It sounds like you want to spend some time lingering in - and enjoying - cafés and doing a bit of people watching, and you won't have much time for that, so allot yourselves a bit more time, at least an extra day (dare I suggest 2), and give yourselves the opportunity to relax a little more between sights. Other people I'm sure know Paris better than I do and might link your sights in a better order than I have. But do consider a little more time, you do sound like you want that down time too.

Lavandula
lavandula is offline  
Aug 8th, 2017, 06:54 PM
  #3  
 
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You're spending only two days in Paris? I travel faster than average compared to others on these forums, but even I think that's not enough time for Paris. It's a huge city. You will be able to fit in lots of sites but not much time to absorb the beauty and charm of Paris. I think you should add at least an extra night, minimum.

One true "must see" that should be on your list: Jardin du Luxembourg (Luxembourg Gardens), one of my very favorite spots in Paris. It's a beautiful garden and perfect for people watching! (Then again, in Paris, it's not hard to find a good spot to people watch.)

I think it's worth going up in the Eiffel Tower once. I did on my first visit. I don't think you need to go up in both the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe - pick one. (Arc de Triomphe is sure going to be easier to go up in! And you'll get a distant view of the Eiffel Tower from there.)
Andrew is offline  
Aug 8th, 2017, 10:40 PM
  #4  
 
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I find your itinerary quite doable.
Get a hotel in the 8th or 7th - use booking dot com and select the neighbourhood or type 'paris 8' it will work.
Download a map of paris.

I would do Arc de Triomphe walk a bit Champs Elysées then turn right and aim fir Eiffel Tower.

There you climb to first floor (get familiarised : ground floor is zero in civilised places). Don't take elevator - too much queuing.

From there go to avbridge and take a bateau mouche on the Seine.

Then rally and see your options ! Some museums open laye in the evenings - you could do one in an evening.

Do notre dame and walk along the seine - great walk.

Gardens ? Do the Tuileries after le Louvre. I find nothing spectacular about gardens in Paris. Nice yes. Tuileries Luxembourg monceau i like butte Chaumont and I like jardin des plantes you might want to do the Père Lachaise instead of a garden : cemetery has a lot of shade.

Eat once in the 6th and get lost there.

Tell us what food/budget and we can give some refs for hotels and restaurants.

Be prepared to come back. 2 days will only scratch surface you'll want to return.
Whathello is offline  
Aug 9th, 2017, 02:19 AM
  #5  
 
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Mondays city museums are closed.

Tuesdays national museums are closed. So you won't see the Louvre on Tuesday.
StCirq is online now  
Aug 9th, 2017, 02:37 AM
  #6  
 
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I think it would be wise for you to ask the "teen" if she can narrow down that "must" part for the Louvre given your limited time in the city. Why? The Louvre is the largest palace IN Europe and is crammed with stuff and I suspect when you go in May you need to be prepared for the typical Louvre mob scene, too.

That said, are the "musts" actually the usuals such as the Mona Lisa, the Venus, the Winged Victory, etc., or are there others? If you are willing to be specific you can make your way TO those things and then be done with it as much as absolute outrage doing so will seem to a bunch of people around here but they aren't you.

The Tower? Going up? I agree with at least once.

Those Starwood places: yes there are plenty but you can eliminate that place out at the airport for sure.

How are you going to get around? Metro? Uber? Taxi?
Dukey1 is offline  
Aug 9th, 2017, 03:37 AM
  #7  
 
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The only problem with doing that list in the time you have is the waiting on lines. With that short amount of time I would not 'waste' any of it standing on a line.

I'll disagree with the others and say don't bother going up in the Tower. I didn't till about my 5th trip to Paris and still don't consider it a highlight. But I would suggest seeing it twice - one daytime and once in the evening, preferably at dusk just as the lights are getting turned on. Magical.

Same with the Arc de Triomphe - certainly take a short walk on the Champs Elysées and see it, but that's enough.

I totally agree with spending only a couple hours in the Louvre (and the D'Orsay is even better, I think) but you could end up spending a couple hours just waiting in line to get in. It used to be that getting off at the Louvre metro stop and using that entrance (not going up to the pyramid entrance outside) was quicker. There also used to be an entrance on the side that was faster. I haven't been in several years so don't know if either of those techniques still work. But the other thing you could do, if you know you will be satisfied with only two hours, is go two hours before closing, lines will be shorter then. But as stated above, closely check closing days and times.

I would stay in the 5th or 6th, especially for your daughter, it has more of the ambiance she may be wanting. If she is into art also consider the Cluny (much shorter lines, and the building is magnificent as is the art).

Put together some walking tours (there are ones in most major guidebooks such as Frommers, Rick Steves, etc.) so your wandering around will be past the 'best' stuff.

Here are my photos of Paris: andiamo.zenfolio.com/p460980929

My first trip to Europe was a mother/ daughter trip when she was 16. We both got bitten by the 'bug' and now go frequently ( and she did study abroad in college twice, once Paris and once London, and then went back to each of those cities to live for a year after graduation). Have a great time.
isabel is offline  
Aug 9th, 2017, 06:12 AM
  #8  
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Thanks, everyone, for such great and thorough responses!

To address a couple of things:

1. I'm not able to expand the time in Paris. I know it isn't enough. I guess that means I'll have to go back.

2. Jet lag shouldn't be in issue, as we will have been in Switzerland for several days before we get to Paris.

3. Food/Budget: We love food! Daughter eats fish, no other meat. Other than that, we're good. I haven't really considered food budget. I don't tend to skrimp here, but I don't go out of my way to eat at the most expensive places, either. Not very helpful, I know.

4. One person recommended staying in the 7th or 8th, the other in the 5th or 6th. Anyone else care to weigh in on that? We definitely won't be staying at the airport, for sure.

5. Getting around? Not sure! We're pretty big on public transportion, but given our short time there we need to optimize time. I've read some strong opinions both for and against the HOHO bus. What would you recommend?

6. In the Louvre, her "musts" are the typical "musts."

7. What about "skip the line" passes for any of the main attractions?

8. Any recommendations for your favorite cafes?

Thanks again!
Quincella is offline  
Aug 9th, 2017, 07:06 AM
  #9  
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Also, isabel your photos are lovely! Thank you so much for sharing them.
Quincella is offline  
Aug 9th, 2017, 07:21 AM
  #10  
 
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The HOHO bus is not a means of "getting around." Not to mention it's slow and expensive. There is also the Batobus, a sort of water taxi that plies the Seine and stops at the major tourist areas, but it's also slow and expensive. The métro and buses are faster and cheaper. Investigate the RATP site aned learn your way around and print out a map of Paris. Get a carnet of tickets and supplement with individual ones as needed.

I'm not sure what the "typical musts" in the Louvre are. It's such a vast place everyone's musts are surely different. Can she specify what she actually wants to see?

Skip the line tickets are deceptive, as no one can skip security lines, but skipping the ticket lines certainly saves time. May will already be busy in Paris.

Naming people's favorite cafés is not a really useful exercise, especially on such a whirlwind trip to the city. There is no point at all in trying to seek out a particular café and making a special trip to find it when there is a usually perfectly acceptable café about every 200 meters or less in Paris. If you want to visit some famous ones, that's another story, but you don't have time to go out of your way to get to one.

I no longer stay in the 5th, 6th, 7th, or 8th, but I used to stay frequently in the 7th and loved the seafood at La Terrasse on the Place Ecole Militaire.
StCirq is online now  
Aug 9th, 2017, 07:39 AM
  #11  
 
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I have visited Paris with Teens, and while I appreciate the intent, I personally suggest skipping the Louvre given the short time frame. Then the rest of your schedule is reasonable. In a visit with a mid-day arrival and departure two days later, you could JUST visit the Louvre and still come away regretting not seeing all of what they have to offer. Not seeing the Louvre will give you more motivation to schedule the return trip!

Excellent panoramic views of Paris are from 1. Sacre Coere 2. Eiffel Tower 3. Arc 4. Montparnasse Tower and 5. Top of Notre Dame. Any two of the five are reasonable items on a short agenda. My personal rec is Notre Dame and the Arc, only because the lines and crowd crush at the Eiffel was onerous on our visit. There is actually a mini-museum inside the Arc concerning items from Napoleon's time and this makes it a very interesting visit. Timing the visit to the Arc for dusk makes a very enjoyable scene of the evening rush hour and the lights of the city illuminating. People joke the main attraction of view from the Montparnasse Tower is that the Montparnasse Tower is not in the view.

I really enjoyed the Orsay and recommend it. The architecture of interior of the building is worth the visit just by itself.

Any arrondissement in Paris is lovely. Perhaps the 5th or 6th with it's proximity to the Sarbonne and other schools is recommended as there will be a bit more young folks in the crowds, but this is relative. Strolling in the St. Germaine area in the evening and seeking out good creperies is always a nice experience. I think you'll have no trouble accommodating a pescatarian.
docdan1 is offline  
Aug 9th, 2017, 07:55 AM
  #12  
 
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Choosing the location is up to you. Typically people will recommend staying in the 3-4-5-6-7 for a first visit.
I find these areas too touristy or boring but still go from time to time.

If you have aboslutely no idea, I slept 2 days ago in Hotel Britannique, a very good one right in the center of Paris.
Usually above my budget but in August, you have everything nearly for free. In the first arrondissement.

For seafood, well I don't eat much fish or seafood in Paris, I prefer to eat those closer ot the sea and I have been disappointed by several restaurants when it came to fish. For example I had lobster last week and it was correct, nothing more.

If you daughter likes sushis, she'll have a lot of choce but pay attention as most of these sushi shops are held by the former chinese who were selling glutamate based products disguised as cantonese food a few years ago. Beware, I had 2 sushis last week and one got me sick. Which one ? The good ones I know are more int eh 18th, 14th etc where there are less tourists and where you should not lose your limited time on a first visit.

I had an excellent dinner at Il Fico rue Coquillière in the first and they had some fish.

Mvg
Whathello is offline  
Aug 9th, 2017, 11:29 AM
  #13  
 
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I haven't been in some time, but our travel styles sound similar, so wanted to pipe in just to say I think your schedule is doable. I generally don't love museums either. I know that sounds like sacrilege to many on these boards but they're just not my bag. I like to spend as much time as I can outside, absorbing the city. Most of what you want to see will allow for that - walk as much as you can and you'll find the "lingering and absorbing" happens then. Skip anything that has long lines. A view from the top of the Eiffel Tower is wonderful - but not if you're cranky from having waited hours to do it. I don't remember waiting long, but then, memory can be a tricky thing.

Anyway - my favorite place to stay is Rue Cler area in the 7th, but I doubt you'll find Starwood properties there. I'd suggest just scrolling through Trip Advisor and seeing which starwoods get high marks. If you don't get to stay in a great location, just make sure are close to a Metro.

Your original list of the top 7 "want to do" is perfect . Skip the "gardens" - you'll pass through some in your wanderings anyway. Add Sacre Coeur / Montmartre. And yes, if you have time, Musee D'Orsay is worth it. I'm not into art museums, but I enjoyed the Impressionist works and the interior architecture is unforgettable.

I don't eat meat either - I do eat fish - and I don't remember eating much fish / seafood in Paris. It just didn't appeal. Salad du Chevre Chaud (warm goat cheese salad) was on just about every menu, and to me is the classic "taste of Paris" along with pain au chocolate and almond croissants. And crepes at the ubiquitous crepe stands. No particular restaurant reco's to speak of .

Someone noted the closings of certain venues on Mondays and Tuesdays, so plan accordingly! Also the walking tours from Rick Steves guidebooks are excellent.

Oh! Skip the HOHO bus. I almost never use these, they are a timesuck due to traffic. Getting around Paris couldn't be easier with the Metro. Walking as much as possible also will guarantee you the best scenery. Hop in a cab when you just can't make it another step
4sammy is offline  
Aug 9th, 2017, 11:51 AM
  #14  
 
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Oh! If you can, try not to miss out on Sainte - Chapelle. Absolutely beautiful, gothic - style church with the top level made almost entirely out of stained glass. IT IS STUNNING. You don't read a lot about it, but it is a don't-miss, and your 16 year old will never forget it. It was built to house the Crown of Thorns - yes THE Crown of Thorns. Goosebumps.
4sammy is offline  
Aug 9th, 2017, 04:06 PM
  #15  
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Thanks for the additional input, everyone, and particularly 4sammy. Changing up our list now.....

Very much appreciated!
Quincella is offline  
Aug 9th, 2017, 06:51 PM
  #16  
 
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On a sunny day the Ste-Chapelle is stunning, the world's best setting of stained glass. The windows of Notre Dame also require sun.
Cluny has the Unicorn Tapestries.
The Louvre can be done very quickly, according to Art Buchwald:
http://www.deseretnews.com/article/1...R-TO-FALL.html
The Rodin Museum has indoor and outdoor sculptures.
The Eiffel Tower cannot be seen from the Eiffel Tower.
The view from the top of the Montparnasse Tower is excellent, especially at sunset.
The Museum Pass saves time, but probably not money, but your time is limited, so . . .
The side entrance to the Louvre, the Lion's gate, is now only for group visits, or so they say.
My favorite pastry is the barquette aux marrons.
AJPeabody is online now  
Aug 10th, 2017, 04:32 AM
  #17  
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"The Louvre can be done very quickly, according to Art Buchwald:
http://www.deseretnews.com/article/122855/6-MINUTE-LOUVRE-IS-A-RECORD-NEVER-TO-FALL.html"

This is hilarious! That's fast, even for me.
Quincella is offline  
Aug 10th, 2017, 05:08 AM
  #18  
 
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I looked at the list of Starwood hotels in Paris, and if I had to choose one, it would probably be Les Bains -- a former bathhouse and at one time the most chic club in Paris. It is in the busiest nightlife section of Paris (and yet on a quiet street), so it would be teen heaven.

As for your list of things to do, it is totally doable as long as you are 'morning' people. I see so many reports where people did not get out the door of the hotel before 10 or 11 a.m. in which case don't bother.
kerouac is online now  
Aug 13th, 2017, 01:38 PM
  #19  
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Thanks, kerouac. We're definitely morning people, so that won't be an issue.

But...because we're morning people, we're a bit concerned about the noise at Les Bains I've read about in so many of the hotel reviews.
It's defintely under consideration, though.
Quincella is offline  
Aug 13th, 2017, 05:51 PM
  #20  
 
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Is the Westin Paris Vendome a Starwood Hotel? It came up in a search I did for such. If so, that would be an incredibly central choice. Friends stayed there in February and were pleased.
tuscanlifeedit is offline  

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