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Heavens Mar 21st, 2006 08:59 AM

Heavens top five in Paris...what is yours?
OK, never been to Paris, but after doing quite a bit of research on here, talking with friends, and lurking on Fodors, this is what I have made my top five must-do's on our first trip to Paris for our 25th wedding anniversary at the end of April:

1. See the Eiffel Tower during the day and during the night. It is not so important to go up in it, but to see it from many angles.

2. To go visit a street market and shop for fruit and flowers and just enjoy the scene.

3. To see the Mona Lisa and the Louvre (don't know why I HAVE to do this, but I do)

4. Sit at a very well positioned cafe (Cafe' de Flore?) and sip wine in the afternoon and watch the world go by...maybe munching on bread and cheese, a little pate...

5. Take a river boat ride on the Seine, during the night, I think, or day and night.

We are traveling with another couple, and my DH, and they probably have different ideas. I just know that on our trip, I must do these five things, at least, to feel that I have been in Paris.

Anything you would add or take away?

JJS2006 Mar 21st, 2006 09:20 AM

I leave for my first trip to Paris in 6 days and must see:

Louvre & d'Orsay, for many reasons but I am most looking forward to admiring
The Wedding Feast at Cana and Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette, two works I've admired from afar for many years.

Walking the river Seine

Choucroute garnie

Picnic at Jardin du Luxembourg

Trying as many different wines and cheeses as I can and deciding my favorites :)

mvor Mar 21st, 2006 09:31 AM

Hard to limit it to five so I'll list the things I do on most of my vists:

1. Wander around a new (to me) neighborhood.

2. Visit Sainte Chapelle in the late afternoon on a sunny day.

3. Visit my Kandinsky at the Beaubourg.

4. Visit the Rodin Museum and Gardens.

5. Sit at Café Mabillon sipping a Kir Royale whilst on people/puppy watch.

mamc Mar 21st, 2006 09:46 AM

After 8 trips to Paris and looking forward to many more, I think the following are my top 5:

Walking through Paris in almost any direction and stopping at a cafe for coffee or wine. Our favorite cafe is the Cafe Bonaparte just around the corner from the Cafe Flore. Sit outside if you can.

Walking through a beautiful park; my favorites are the Jardin du Luxembourg, the Tuilleries and Place des Vosges. Sit on a bench, have a picnic and watch the people.

Ste. Chapelle - to me, it is the most magnificent sight in Paris. Go when the sun is shining to appreciate the beautiful stained glass.

A boat trip on the Seine. Go late in the day so you see the Eiffel Tower both in the daylight and after dark.

The Musee D'Orsay both for the building and for the Impressionists.

laughingd2 Mar 21st, 2006 10:01 AM

Heavens, I wouldn't change a thing! I could add 100, but here's a couple. Picnics: on a bench along the Seine, in the Luxembourg Gardens, on a bench in Pere Lachaise, in your apartment or hotel room at midnight. Get lost walking in the 5th, 6th & or 7th, and stop for some coffee or wine at a cafe only after several hours of simply wandering. Shop/browse at supermarkets and Monoprix-type stores, just to get a feel for the different rythyms and tastes of this amazing city. And when you're at the Louvre, stand ourside in the middle of the Cour Caree or at the Pyramid, and just look around, and soak in the history.

suze Mar 21st, 2006 11:18 AM

If the weather is nice I would add Luxembourg Gardens.

muskoka Mar 21st, 2006 11:29 AM

Hello Heavens: We spent our 25th in Paris and Provence, and have truly enjoyed everything mentioned here as favourites. Here are mine:
1. Having early morning coffee and croissant on arrival day, just sitting in the sun at a small cafe and breathing in Paris;
2. Watching fathers in the Jardin du Luxembourg play with their children;
3. Watching young couples power-walking in the parks, her hand to his elbow;
4. Checking out the produce arm-in-arm with the local greengrocer, who loved to find me fresh fruit;
5. Streetlamps casting an amber glow as we walked back to the hotel after a fasionably late bistro dinner;
and, of course, all of your suggestions.
Hope your celebration is wonderful!

everittp Mar 21st, 2006 12:07 PM

Only 5?

Food: of all the places I've gone, France is my epicurean heaven.
Cafe au lait anywhere, but especially in the morning, outside

Cold melon and iced tea in late afternoon in a cafe, outside

Cold white wine and biscuits in a cafe in the evening (outside of course)

Crepes in a little cafe on Rue Cler, outside.

and putting together a picnic by browsing:
bakery for fresh crusty rolls,
fromagerie for cheese, and
grocery for bottles of cold fruit drink,
stop in a wine shop for wine,
stop at a market for fruit in season
Then go to the grassy park by Eiffel Tower and sit, sip, nibble and watch Parisian families (grand parents to nursing babies to frolicking dogs to courting couples) until the tower lights up!

Heavens Mar 21st, 2006 04:23 PM

These are all great ideas. I do have a question about the picnics. If you go to a public park, can you take a bottle of wine and some glasses and drink it then and there? And how about on the boats? Thanks all for your ideas. My list is growing...

cigalechanta Mar 21st, 2006 06:09 PM

Your lists are exellent. I have sipped wine in parcs with no problems.
I love walking in the rain in Paris and it's an excuse to pop into a new place you may not have noticed til you were soaking and wanted to dry off a bit.

birthdaygirlstrip Mar 21st, 2006 06:14 PM goes,...

Get a journal, find a reasonable cafe on the champs de lysee, and just write and write and write while enjoying a glass of wine.

Drink as much parisian coffee as possible. Eat as many croque monsieurs as you can handle.

See the Mona Lisa.

Visit the Notre Dame.

Find a nice pharmacy and stock up on your fave skin care products. I got a bunch of weleda for pretty cheap.

Marsha Mar 21st, 2006 06:25 PM

I think everyone needs to see the Mona Lisa at least once, but I want to caution you not to be too disappointed. It is not the largest painting in the Louvre, it is in a glass case and it is surrounded by a crowd of people, all of them jostling to get a better view. I personally enjoy the Egyptian antiquities, the David paintings, and the excavations under the Louvre. Then I would go to the Musee d'Orsay and see Degas' Little Dancer.

mvor Mar 21st, 2006 07:16 PM

PICNICS: ok to bring wine but don't sit on the grass (find a bench). You may wish to buy glasses once you arrive and use them as your picnic glasses--they make a great souvenir.

BOAT RIDES: We've only ever brought Champagne on the Vedettes boats and it was never a problem. Don't forget to use the coupon:

Another great place to enjoy a glass of wine whilst the sun is settin is on the pedestrian bridge, Pont des Arts.

suze Mar 22nd, 2006 07:42 AM

mvor beat me to it! Heavens, yes you can bring wine to the park, just don't walk or sit on the grass (in most places) often that is even posted. sit in the metal chairs or on a bench. I don't know about boats.

Hefeltraveler Mar 22nd, 2006 08:12 AM

Paris is our favorite city and we have visited often. Thinking back to our first trip I would list these top 5:

Eiffel Tower - not only see it but go up to the top. It is a tourist spot but it is not to be missed

The Louvre/Musee D'Orsay - Spend a half a day at each and enjoy all the different art (my favorite, the Raft of the Medusa)

Champs D'Lysee/Arc D' Triumph - walk down the promenade from the Ferris Wheel to the Arc D' Triumph and then go up inside the Arc and view the city from the top

River tour at night with all the buildings and monuments lit up plus the Eiffel Tower shimmering on the hour.

Finally, the Rodin Museum. What a beutiful place. View The Kiss in the early morning with the sun shining through the window. It will bring a tear to your eye.

Enjoy your trip and be prepared to become a lifelong Paris lover...

RonZ Mar 22nd, 2006 08:35 AM

Have coffee and take pictures of each other atop the Au Printemps [Maison] roof deck, mornings with the Eiffel Tower in the background.

See Paris Story, then tour the Opera Garnier and have lunch at Le Grand Cafe.

Walk southerly through the passages of the 2nd [from the Le Pelitier Metro], hang out for a while in the Gardens of the Palais Royale, where the tulips will be in full bloom. Stop along the way at La Creperie, right inside the Passage des Panoramas, and have a "Coupe Amarena." Make a dinner reservation at Le Vaudeville.

Relax with others relaxing and people watching on the Pont des Arts, the little pedestrian footbridge below the Ile de La Cite.

Take rides on the Batobus and follow the sightseeing suggestions in their brochurre.

Heavens Mar 22nd, 2006 08:48 AM

All sounds great. Yes, if we get to 6, 7, and 8, will do the park at Luxemburg for a picnic (or some other park) and the Orsay, and also the Rodin has been strongly recommended.

We are just not big museum people. I would rather be out enjoying the energy of the city and the people. I can be amused for hours just watching the people come and go, what they are wearing, where they are is fascinating, IMO.

Thanks again for your wonderful Paris expertise. I think I will be very happy just to "be" in this amazing city...

laughingd2 Mar 22nd, 2006 09:18 AM

Just to add to the picnic/wine/bench concept...

This may seem intuitive, but we've found ourselves with the wine, cheese, bread, fruit, pate, tapenade, etc at the perfect bench in the perfect location - only to have forgotten the corkscrew, or cups, or knives. So always remember and never forget to include among your food purchases a trip to the Monoprix or other store to pick up les couteaux et tasses en plastiques (plastic knives and cups), and a corkscrew if you didn't bring one or if it was confiscated(!)

By the way, our two favorite benches in the Luxembourg Gardens are in the children's playground, and adjacent to the mini-Statue of Liberty. But we have many more to try out!

suze Mar 22nd, 2006 10:53 AM

Heavens, Hey don't feel bad about the museum thing (or lack thereof). For many people it is just not their cup of tea (me included)... I am so bad it is a well-known joke among my traveling friends about trying to get me into museums (let's just say it's not an easy thing to do)

cigalechanta Mar 22nd, 2006 11:08 AM

I feel the same way about chateaux after seeing several I feel like I ate too much cake.

laughingd2 Mar 22nd, 2006 12:30 PM

Ah yes, the old post-chateaux-gateau syndrome...

Heavens Mar 22nd, 2006 03:46 PM

What about churches? I know there are some that are a must see like the Vatican, but kind of feel like seen one seen them all. My Mom took a friend of mine and me on the Mission Trail in San Antonio TX one time and I think that did it for me. Seen one mission, seen them all.

I think if I was to see one church in Paris, I mean, go in, it would be St. Chappelle and the stained glass windows. And Notre-Dame from afar. Sacre' Coeur from afar.

wug Mar 22nd, 2006 04:00 PM

Heavens, you've never been to Paris and you already have the right idea. Good for you! Paris is for absorbing, taking it all in and just enjoying. Your list is wonderful and you'll appreciate Paris even more because of our ideas.

If the weather is good, walk everywhere you can. You'll find so many treasures that you never knew were there. Unique shops, beautiful buildings, wonderful parks and charming people. Enjoy!

julies Mar 22nd, 2006 05:34 PM

We're just back and the weather was crummy, so my choices don't reflect what it is like in nice weather.

Musee Jacqemart Andre

Pere Lachaise Cemetary

Visiting a lot of the different neighborhood street markets.

Garden at the Rodin Museum.

Attending a service at a beautiful church so you can see why the churches were originally built and hear the music composed for them. Try St. Eustache.

Interestingly enough i see many of my choices are outdoor oriented even though we visited in bad weather. I guess this must mean they are really great places if I enjoyed them so much even in bad weather.

parisonmymind2 Mar 22nd, 2006 05:55 PM

I love Paris in the Springtime...

1. Picnics on the Champ de Mars

2. Walking anywhere and everywhere

3. Walking down the Champs Elysees on a Sunday afternoon

4. Pistachio and Pine nut oils from Jean LeBlanc

5. Shopping!

In the future, I hope to add a Segway tour

I can't wait until Spring Break to refresh my soul and renew my spirit (I await April 8 as much as my middle school kids).

Heavens Mar 22nd, 2006 05:56 PM

Julies, can you tell me which street market you enjoyed the best. That is my number two but haven't really researched them yet. Is there one, two three, that you would recommend? Just want a lively, fun one. Not really shopping for anything in particular...thanks.

RonZ Mar 22nd, 2006 06:29 PM

Rue Montorgueil is a nice market street. Home of Stroher, the oldest patissiere in Paris. Sentier Metro. Walk from here through the Place des Victoires [with the statue of Louis IV astride his horse]. Visit Gallerie Vivienne and Gallerie Colbert and then the Palais Royale.

cigalechanta Mar 22nd, 2006 06:34 PM

Ron, someone told me that Stroher made the first macaron. I loved that market and the area is the new "In" place to live, so said my friend.

Heavens Mar 22nd, 2006 06:42 PM

Excuse my Paris ignorance, but what district is this in, RonZ? Sounds perfect for us...

cigalechanta Mar 22nd, 2006 06:48 PM

It's the remains of the original Les Halles..the 1st arr.

Travelnut Mar 25th, 2006 07:59 AM

You -can- picnic on the grass in some areas of Champ de Mars, nearer the tower. You'll see other people lazing about, kicking a ball, or sharing champagne... then you'll know that area is ok to be on.
I don't think there is anywhere within Jardin de Luxembourg that you can be on the grass...
Other fun places for a picnic:
- on the steps at Sacre Coeur
- in Parc Montsouris (south 14th)

katzen Mar 25th, 2006 08:11 AM

great thread. bookmarking

RonZ Mar 25th, 2006 03:17 PM


Actually most is in the 1st and the 2nd.

The map I like to carry is the Paris Mapguide--very reasonable purcase from amazon. Lots of detail.

Walking south through the Palais Royale [or via another route], you can make your way to the Rue de Rivoli and the Palais Royale Musee du Louvre Metro stop. Then enter the Louvre directly across the street Richileu Wing]. Go past the pyramid into the next courtyard, then go right and to the Pont des Arts.

RonZ Mar 25th, 2006 03:37 PM

Here's another ideal.

Walking south on Rue Montorgueil, go left on Rue Etienne Marcel a little ways and board the 29 city bus. This will take you into the Marais. Get off at the Place des Vosges. Walk down through the center exit to the corner [Rue Saint Antoine], go left to the 69 bus stop. Ride the 69 to the Eiffel Tower, passing many attractions along the way.

DiG Mar 25th, 2006 08:53 PM

Well I haven't been there yet but going early May. These are mine and DH top 5, not in any order of significance.

1. Ile de la Cite
2. River cruise in evening
3. Adopting a cafe, sipping something
very french, and watching world go by.
4. Eiffel Tower
5. Walking around in a neighborhood, getting lost there on purpose, and discovering all it's charm and beauty.

Heavens Mar 27th, 2006 07:23 AM

Thanks all for your input. We are adding Ile de la cite to our list, so I guess it is now six. I figure by the time we get there, it should round out to about ten. I was just being careful not to be too ambitious. Thanks again for your help and suggestions.

lucielou Mar 27th, 2006 08:47 AM

I would rather be out enjoying the energy of the city and the people. I can be amused for hours just watching the people come and go, what they are wearing, where they are is fascinating, IMO.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Heavens!
My sentiments exactly, I love people watching, you learn so much about humanity.:)

wyatt_w Mar 27th, 2006 09:16 AM

If you have only a day and a half - two nights, and it would be my wife & 11 year old daughter with me, and they have never been to Europe, would it be preferable to go to Versailles or skip it & spend more time in Paris proper? My daughter has to see Opera Garnier, & of course the Eiffel Tower, but otherwise I think they are open.

mamc Mar 27th, 2006 10:28 AM

By all means, if you have only a day and a half, skip Versailles. Although I have seen Versailles a couple of times, the last 4 times we have been in Paris for a week at a time, we haven't had time or inclination to leave the city for Versailles.

Suki Mar 27th, 2006 10:39 AM

Heavens, I do understand about the aversion to museums. I like museums, but my husband spends way more time than me going through one, so it drives me a little crazy. The Rodin is really nice though since a large portion of the experience is strolling outdoors through the gardens. You can even stop and have coffee there if you like. I would definitely add it to your list.

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