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For someone first trip to Paris, do you have a plan or do you wing it?

For someone first trip to Paris, do you have a plan or do you wing it?

May 31st, 2007, 04:27 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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My first time was so long ago and had only plane ticket. No hotel, no restaurants but we were lucky, but today is different, the options aren't there and the hotels, high and low, fill quickly with reservations months in advance.
cigalechanta is online now  
May 31st, 2007, 04:35 PM
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Your list looks doable, but I agree that I don't much like the idea of dividing the day into thirds. I'd pick one thing per day - or sites that are located near each other, and leave everything else (except special restaurant reservations) open. Paris is a walking city and the pleasure of discovery is one of its great charms.
ninasdream is offline  
May 31st, 2007, 04:43 PM
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You are very smart, especially if you are jetlagged, to get on the bus and take a look around to get your bearings. A map of a city when you have never been isn't going to show you what each area really looks like. Our first visit to Paris we stayed on the hop-on-hop off bus for the full circle (at least a couple hours). You might feel like it is a waste not getting off right away, but we were very glad we listened to the entire commentary at one sitting. We felt like we really got the lay of the land that way and had an overall feel for the city. You will have plenty of time to see everything on your list if you really want to. Don't worry about too much pre-planning. I over-plan with the idea that things are always subject to change (for example, don't bother with St. Chapelle if there is no sun ,imo-)and if I love a city and miss something on my list, it just goes on the list for the next time we visit! The one mistake I recall is not checking out museum days and hours opened (they vary), and we sort of squandered a day of the museum pass. I have been to the Louvre twice at night and it was not crowded at all. Your picnic idea works well. The department stores have amazing food courts. I am going to stop I am rambling and think you are going to get many, many replies on this! Have fun!
wondering is offline  
May 31st, 2007, 05:00 PM
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I honestly don't remember what I did on my first trip to Paris as I've been vacationing there almost annually since the mid 70s. But, one way to take on the city...and especially since you have 9 full days... is to divide the city up by districts. You can do certain districts on certain days. I do remember back in the beginnings trying that system out. By doing it that way, I really was able to wonder around a lot in each of the districts and really get to know them well. Then another time, I just jumped on buses and took them to the end line and took notes along the way of interesting places that I came across. That way I really learned the bus system very well. It's nice to take the bus instead of constantly being underground in the metro not being able to see anything. Plus, you can jump on and off the bus at any point and with the bus/metro pass, not pay anything extra. Happy Travels!
Guenmai is offline  
May 31st, 2007, 05:11 PM
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madamepetunia is offline  
May 31st, 2007, 07:57 PM
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bookmarking, moi aussi...
rex is offline  
May 31st, 2007, 08:51 PM
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I use a one page map of Paris to highlight the places we want to go. I color code the highlighting (yellow - closed Monday, blue - closed Tuesday, pink - open every day, etc.), and plot must-do restaurants, shops, etc.

Then, we proceed, more or less, by neighborhood.

Like to save L'Opentour for our last two days - so as to really enjoy all the scenery all about, but on a first trip you may want to do this right away.

I divide days into before 4PM (last entrance to museums, etc.) and evenings.
djkbooks is offline  
May 31st, 2007, 09:21 PM
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One factor that has to be considered when travelling to France are the frequent work strikes ( en greve). There is even a daily website that lists the strikes for that day. One of my best trips was during a rotating museum strike. Each morning we would check to see what was open. We saw things that we did not have on our list that were great, e.g. The Carnavalet & the Marmottan. Although there may not be English language tours during October I would strongly recommend a guided tour for Pere Lachaise. It is so vast that it is hard to do on your own.
With a proper tour you will get a great histoy of Paris. We went on a private tour that was planned for us. It still is my favorite memory of Paris. I would suggest the same for a first visit to the Louvre. They have regular guided tours.
ita is offline  
Jun 1st, 2007, 03:57 AM
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My two cents:

I agree with most of these posts - have a general goal but allow for wandering. No one else can really tell you how to approach Paris because the beauty of the city is in its variety and everyone has to make it their own.

No plan, however, doesn't mean heading out aimlessly! Do your research and know what the possibilities are. I learned this over time; on an early trip to Paris I did the tourist sites and pretty much stayed on the run. At the time, it worked for me and I fell in love with Paris enough to read, read, read about it when I got home. That's when I found out great little things that I would have loved right around the corner from where I was (like the store that sells antique cork screws)!
All I'm saying is read, read, read FIRST and then make Paris your own.
go2paris is offline  
Jun 1st, 2007, 04:56 AM
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My first trip doesn't count, it was three days at the end of a student tour in 1967 and everything was planned for us.

My second trip was in 1972. I showed up in Paris with two friends and we went to the tourist office on the Champs Elysee and asked for the most inexpensive room possible. The bathroom was outside and down the alley. My only concrete plan was to find the address 10, place d'Italie, which was the home of the fictional Thibeau family used in the French method I had studied in school for five years.

I ended up going to the opera, the Comedie Francaise, the Louvre, the modern art museum, Sacre Coeur, Notre Dame, a jazz club in the Latin Quarter, and yes, 10 place d'Italie.

I "wasted" lots of time walking around the city, getting tickets to the various events, searching for stuff to eat in local markets, fending off unwanted attention from men who followed me through the Tuileries telling me they had a serious problem: "le sexe trop enlarge".

Those were the days.

More recently, I went back for four days with a friend for the first time in thirty years. We each had a list of must-sees and put one or two on each day: the Louvre, the Musee d'Orsay, the Eiffel Tower (where my friend's brother had proposed, and she wanted to stand on the spot), Sainte Chapelle, a Seine cruise, the flea market at Place de Vanves, shopping on the little streets in Saint Germain.

The stuff in between, we played by ear. It was wonderful, and I have been back several times since then, with fewer concrete plans each time.
Nikki is online now  
Jun 1st, 2007, 05:47 AM
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Good ideas so far.

A suggestion I might have is to take a few walking tours. Paris Walks is one I've used four or five times. Someone posted this week a list of other possibilities.

I recommend them because they will take you places that are not in the guidebooks, you will hear stories related to those neighbourhoods, and you will get a chance to walk "off the main street".

Perhaps you could plan on one of these on alternate days?

Michel_Paris is offline  
Jun 1st, 2007, 06:06 AM
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I did not do this myself, but I think taking one of the shorter organized tourist bus tours to get an overview of the city highlights and layout would be an excellent thing to do one of your first days.
suze is online now  
Jun 1st, 2007, 11:28 AM
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There's little I can add to your other responses except to consider in your planning that the fountains at Versaille don't run during the week. I found that out the hard way and believe me, going early on the weekend is a much better idea. It's just not the same. Have a great time.
eileandona is offline  
Jun 1st, 2007, 11:39 AM
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I like to plan ahead so that I don't spend my vacation planning my vacation. It also helps if you need to do the appropriate research. I really enjoyed Pere Lachaise Cemetery and seeing Chopin's grave - awe inspiring.
jbass is offline  
Jun 1st, 2007, 11:56 AM
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em_axo is offline  
Jun 1st, 2007, 12:45 PM
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I've been to Paris four times, most recently in April. Though it sounds touristy as all get out, have an evening picnic dinner under the Eiffle Tower. Go to one of the outdoor markets for bread, chesse, olives, pate, etc. There's a great on Thursday mornings right near the Bastille Metro stop...(Robert Lenoir is the street name I think.) And don't forget the wine and corkscrew! I always pack some plastic plates, utensils, glasses, napkins...something to sit on...just for this purpose. And ziplock bags are handy too.
Jun 1st, 2007, 12:46 PM
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Forgot to say that we were surrounded by Parisians, so it really wasn't that touristy. One even came over to borrow our corkscrew.
Jun 1st, 2007, 05:00 PM
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The biggest risk is planning too much. Leave yourself plenty of time for exploring cute neighborhoods on foot and sitting in a cafe with a coffee or a glass of wine and watching the world go by.
nytraveler is offline  
Jun 1st, 2007, 05:45 PM
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Although I haven't been to Paris, I'll be there in three weeks and I've planned my ass off. Whenever I travel, I like to get as much info before I go as possible - what is there to see? what will appeal to me the most? what's the best way to get around? Opening times, closing times, costs, etc.. I divide up the city into areas, the number of which usually corresponds to how many days I have. I plan to go to each area with a list of "must-dos" and a list of "maybe-dos" but I also have the attitude that I will NOT see everything - I accept that I might even miss something on my "must-do" list. I always leave my last day without ANY plans whatsoever either to do something I've missed or to re-do what I've really enjoyed. I usually try not to fill up every evening - for free time or for an early-to-bed night. As I'm wandering, I rest whenever the mood hits me (my list of "dos" usually includes places that are perfect for some down time (like a park or a bar, or something). The more planning I do beforehand, the better things work out while I'm there and the more satisfied I feel when I return home.
ValCanada is offline  
Jun 1st, 2007, 06:39 PM
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My first trip was with my sister. Our first day we walked and walked and got our bearings. We did the Louvre per Rick Steve's book that took about 3 hours. We did Versailles, Musee D'Orsay, Marais, shopping, Opera house, St Chapelle, Notre Dame, Sacre Cour, Pompidou.
Remember you can't see everything. I have a chart that I made by arr. and each night we would cross off what we saw.
KARIME2 is offline  

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