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First timers to Paris - 5 days early November

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Jan 2nd, 2012, 06:50 PM
  #1
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First timers to Paris - 5 days early November

We will be taking a transatlantic cruise leaving from Barcelona on November 15, so decided we we'd fly into Paris pre-cruise for 5 days, then fly to BCN for a couple of days before boarding (we've been to Barcelona several times, but this is our first venture to Paris. We are active 70 somethings and do a lot of walking. I'm aware of the typical Nov. weather - we've never let weather keep us from doing the things we want to do, so that's not a problem.

Fortunately, I was able to get a room at the Renaissance Paris Vendome using Marriott points (includes breakfast which is a plus for us) and we're thrilled to be near the Louvre and many other points of interest. What I need from the wonderfully knowledgeable people on this forum are ideas for how to plan the itineraries for our time in Paris.

We arrive at 8:50 AM and plan to arrange transportation with a shuttle from the airport since we'll have quite a bit of 'cruise luggage' with us and don't think we could manage on public transportation. Our typical plan on arrival day is to get into our room as early as possible - or check our luggage and go to a local cafe for an early lunch until it is ready, then shower, take a quick nap (short) and walk around the Jardin des Tuileries and along the Seine until we find a place for dinner. We hope to go to bed close to a normal time (depending on how much sleep we get on the plane) so that we can begin a full day of sight-seeing the next day.

Ideas for grouping the sights so that we can do separate areas each day?? We, of course, want to visit the requisite museums, churches, monuments, but are most interested in local areas, small restaurants and shops frequented by Parisiens and places you are familiar with that might not be on the typical tourist itinerary.

I have not made my flight reservations to Barcelona yet, but hope to get a flight early afternoon on our last day that would have us leaving the hotel late morning or a bit later. So..we will have 4 full days in Paris plus the day we arrive and a few hours on the day that we leave. I would be ever grateful for your thoughts, ideas and tips. Thank you!
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Jan 2nd, 2012, 08:25 PM
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Others will say do not take time from Paris, but since you have not been there before, I suggest you take one day and go to Versailles. Visit the Chateau and have lunch or dinner in the little town there. It is quite pretty and a nice change from the city.
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Jan 2nd, 2012, 08:32 PM
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Sounds like a great trip. I looked up your hotel location and you can walk to many of the major sights. You might walk to the Ile St. Louis the first night for dinner or on the right bank near the Pont Louis Phillippe. Others on this board will probably have specific restaurant suggestions for you (DH and I tend to eat very simple and inexpensive meals rather than gourmet).

We love the Musee Jacquemart Andre near the Parc Monceau. The mansion houses the personal art collection of the couple who built it in the 19th century. It might be a 30 minute direct walk from your hotel but of course there will be much to look at along the way. You could detour to the square around the Madeleine church for a stop at Laduree for macarons, the Maille mustard shop or Fauchon.

One morning you could visit the Orangerie and spend the afternoon in the Musee d'Orsay. Or combine the Musee d'Orsay with Invalides and the Eiffel Tower. The Pompidou, Musee Carnavalet and Place des Vosges are all near each other and could make a pleasant day.

Some of the museums will have evening hours and depending on the days of the week you are in Paris you could stretch your sightseeing into the evening.

If time is short you might make an outside visit to Notre Dame but be sure to visit inside the Sainte Chapelle on the same island. It is stunning especially on a sunny day.

Wandering the left bank is very pleasant. You can stop at Shakespeare and Co, the Cluny museum, and just explore.

We like using the Batobus rather than the Metro so we stay above ground in this beautiful city. It is slower than the Metro or one of the hop on/off buses. You could take it to the Eiffel Tower then walk along the rue de Grenelle to Invalides or rue St. Dominique to the Musee d'Orsay. You can buy a one day or mult-day pass and use it as your Seine river cruise for that day.

So many options in such a wonderful city.
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Jan 2nd, 2012, 09:13 PM
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Forgrouping...
day 1..Louvre, Tuilerie Gardens, Place concorde, rue Rivoli, Place vendome, palais royale, champs elysee, elysee, arc de triomphe. All are near and can be seen in a short time. To visit inside louvre, could go on night stays open late. Might consider Metro to go from place de la concorde to arc, walk is not particularly scenic.
also in this area are the covered passages...indoor walkways form 18th/19th with shops,restos..kind of like first indoor shopping

day 2...
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Jan 2nd, 2012, 09:16 PM
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Great suggestions in the previous replies. If you don't already have one, do buy a good Paris (or France) guide book -- Fodors, Rick Steves, Frommer, etc. There is usually a self-walk or two outlined. We took two guided walks with New Paris tours and they were enjoyable and informative.
We always enjoy watching the Eiffel tower light up on the hour after dark. There are several outdoor cafes just across the street from the Trocadero metro station where you can enjoy a drink (or a meal) while watching the tower. We enjoyed a simple lunch at the outdoor restaurant in Luxembourg gardens - interesting people watching, locals and tourists alike. There is much more to do than you'll have time for, so you'll have to decide and plan your itinerary.
Have fun!
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Jan 2nd, 2012, 09:23 PM
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Day 2..Notre dame, sainte chapelle, flower/bird market..rest of ile de la cite..perhaps nice garden of square du vert galant. Walk over to Ile St Louis, nice amin street, good place for lunch or dinner. Afterwards walk along Seine on Left Bank, down below then back up near St Michel. Batobus here. After dinner, there is a good Seine cruise line at square vert galant..Vedettes du Pont Neuf. Can get discount coupon online. Best after dark.
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Jan 2nd, 2012, 09:30 PM
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Day 3..left bank. Start at Seine and head down blvd St Germain. Cafes, nice museum (Cluny) built over ruins of roman baths. Rue ancienne comedie is really old, Procope resto is where Ben Franklin ate, couple of doors away is building where Dr. Guillotine tested his invention..Buci market is a pleasure, st Sulpice nice church, you would probably enjoy a detour to Luxembourg Gardens..fountains, statues..

as another idea..have a look at Paris Walks..nice 2 hr walking tours
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Jan 2nd, 2012, 09:41 PM
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Day4..Right Bank...Place des Vosges is a must, nice place for lucnh too. Rue des Rosiers for a falafel, rue des franc bourgeois, Carnavalet is musuem of history of Paris..housed in old mansions. Head over to Village st Paul..antiques and old bldgs.

I'd then metro to Trocadero, and walk between the two Palais Chaillot bldgs and get a superb view of Eiffel across river. For going up, either first thing in morning or later in day.

time is up..but Rodin museum nearby is small and worth a visit.


day 5..leftovers..Sacre Coeur, montmartre area...
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Jan 3rd, 2012, 09:10 AM
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Wow, you guys are wonderful! Never dreamed I'd get so many terrific suggestions so quickly. I noticed that Monmartre and the Marais were not included...any particular reason? We were thinking of doing the Sunday market in one of those areas since museums will be closed. We arrive on Thursday AM so will be there over the weekend. Merci beaucoup!
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Jan 3rd, 2012, 09:18 AM
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My Day 4 is Marais. Place des Vosges is a charmer, The area is also home to quite a few old mansions. last trip I did the two Paris Walks tours of the area, and it was quite worthwhile.

Montmartre's main tourist attraction IMHO is the view from Sacre Coeur, the funicular ride up to it, some of the strairways up the hill,etc.. If you've seen Paris from top of Eiffel, Tour Montparnasse, tower of Notre Dame, Arc de Triomphe is it worthwhile...maybe.
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Jan 3rd, 2012, 09:25 AM
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Good luck with your planning, spengle

Michel_Paris, I'm taking notes for my summer trip!
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Jan 3rd, 2012, 09:26 AM
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Another way to see Montmartre is the Monmartrobus:

http://www.ratp.fr/en/ratp/r_28131/montmartrobus/

Could catch it at Metro Abbesses.

Also, bit kitchsky(sp) but behind Sacre Coeur is Place du Tertre where the sketch artists congregate.
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Jan 3rd, 2012, 01:26 PM
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I LOVE Paris. Have been there in March, November and love it so agree with all of the above responses. In addition: Saint Chappelle--see if they have a concert during the time you are there and go no matter what is being performed--it is fabulous. The Orangaire is spectacular. Might be interested in the sewers, not smelly but very interesting. Interested in Kings--go to ST. Denis where I believe most if not all are buried. Try to take a cruise on the Canal St. Martin, try to walk and find the Passages the 19th century shopping centers and absolutely, positively must see "Midnight in Paris' before you go. I would almost wait until Sept or Oct to see it or you will never make it until November!

I amy be a bit anal but I'm a detailed tripper--not to check off sights but make sure I see what I want. So my map of Paris is colored coded by day. So when you mark all you want to see on a Paris map, you'll probably find enough to do in that area of Paris for the day.
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Jan 3rd, 2012, 02:03 PM
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don't forget to give yourselves sitting down and watching the world go by time. As i get older i find that i need more of it in order to be able to keep up the sightseeing - or am i just re-adjusting my priorities?

BTW, if you get to the Place des Voges, don't miss the house of Victor Hugo. We happened upon it 25+ years ago and I still remember the impression it made on me - as if Victor had just popped out for a few minutes.
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Jan 3rd, 2012, 03:20 PM
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Wish we had a few more days... Guess we'll have to go back another time . Thanks again. I know I'll have more questions as time goes by. Have Rick Steve's Paris book and have printed all the tips which I will organize and take with us.
Any airport shuttle service that you recommend? We may fly Vueling to Bar Leona and I think they fly from Orly.
I always post a blog so will definitely post it here when we return.
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Jan 3rd, 2012, 03:32 PM
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You will get lots of conflicting advice (all well meaning), so I encourage you to go where you are most interested. I second that you should take time to enjoy the cafes and let Paris take you where it wants!

One important tip: Know which days the museums/sites you want to go to are closed!! (Louvre-closed on Tuesdays). The Paris Museum Pass will provide not only a listing of museums/monuments covered, but will also provide hours of operation, etc...

http://en.parismuseumpass.com/

You don't need to buy in advance...just purchase it at a tabac or less busy museum once you get there (if you decide to buy one)

My favorites: Musee D'Orsay, L'Orangerie, Sainte Chapelle, and St Denis. We were there over Thanksgiving and the weather was fine (and no lines). If you can, the towers of Notre Dame give a wonderful view of Paris.

The climb is not that bad. Go early to avoid long lines (we were first in line and got there at 9:40. Ste Chapelle is another place that you will want to to go early, as you have to go through security and the lines can get long...try to go on a sunny day to really appreciate the stained glass.

For wonderful macarons/pastries....Un Dimanche a Paris (the strawberry and ginger-lime macarons are terrific). It is just down from Cafe Procope (mentioned in an earlier post).
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Jan 3rd, 2012, 04:37 PM
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The Air France buses are comfortable coaches with multiple pick up points in central Paris, then off to airports.
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Jan 3rd, 2012, 06:53 PM
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We've used Shuttle Inter about 5 times now and have always been very happy. It is a private car service, you do not share your trip with anyone else. The driver is waiting for you in the arrivals area, with a sign with your name on it, after you've picked up your luggage. He knows where you are going so you don't have to struggle to give him an address or worry that he will take you the long way around. Since it's a flat rate of 55 euros from CDG to Paris, there are no worries about being stuck in traffic with the meter running.
You pay the driver in cash AFTER he's delivered you to your destination, so no shows are a non issue.
A lot of people like to recommend the taxis, which we've done once, but I really like getting off from an overseas flight, very tired and not so alert, to see my name on a sign and my driver taking my luggage and directing us to his car. It's a very stress free way to start a vacation.

We'll be using them again in May when we bring our grandson to Paris.

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Jan 4th, 2012, 12:23 AM
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If you are there at the beginning of November, Skip Village St Paul and go to the huge Brocante atBastille. It runs along both sides of the Seine with laods of dealers and lots to see, You can also get a good lunch there!! rigister at the Joel garcia site and they send you free tickets.

http://www.joel-garcia-organisation.fr/
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Jan 4th, 2012, 06:00 AM
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Here is a Google Map my daughter put together of about 30 sites in Paris...(using a tinyurl)

http://g.co/maps/8ajsn

dave
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