Help on Paris itinerary?

Sep 6th, 2008, 07:41 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2008
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Help on Paris itinerary?

We are two overworked 23yo guys looking to spend a relaxing, educational, and a little bit of fun holiday in France. Although I've been to France before, my friend has not, and I am struggling to get the perfect itinerary for us both. Practically everything I did in France (Rouen, Normandy, Mont St. Michel, Chartres, Paris, Loire chateaus), I would do again. But we are on a limited schedule and I want the best highlights for my friend with maybe something new for me as well.

We will be taking the train into Paris on the evening of the 23rd. In our larger itinerary, we have pretty much until the 31st in France, where we will then go to Amsterdam for New Year's.

I know you can spend an eternity in Paris alone, but given the amount of time we'll be there, what's a good ratio staying in Paris vs. excursions. And what recommendations do you have for us to see given the time of month and weather. I am unsure of what attractions may be closed or on limited hours (but slowly doing the research). We are more than willing to brave the cold/rain for this adventure, but we are also human and don't want to be miserable for no reward.

My idea for an itinerary is as follows:

23rd-27th in Paris, but with the 27th being a day trip to Versaille (so 4 nights).
-Some things we intend to see that I've seen: Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Arc, Latin Quarter, Pompidou/Orsay, Notre Dame, Sacre Couer
-Some things I missed last time (and would like feedback on if it's worth it):
St. Chapelle, Paris Catacombs, Rodin

28th - 30th, Overnight excursions around Paris. What are some places we should visit that would be on the way to Amsterdam or close to Paris?
Nornny is offline  
Sep 6th, 2008, 07:53 PM
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You arrive the evening of December 23? Three days in Paris including Christmas day is certainly too short to see anything. I'd drop the excursions and keep the whole week for Paris.
MademoiselleFifi is offline  
Sep 6th, 2008, 08:36 PM
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Yeah, the Christmas Eve/Christmas days specifically concern me, but why is it exactly taking the full week to see Paris? I've seen a lot of posts suggesting against going outside of the city for anything less than a week, and I'm confused by it.

I guess I need a more specific itinerary of how to fill out the entire week in Paris.

I'm torn because I found surrounding towns like Rouen, San Malo, Tours, etc. much more fun and affordable last time I went. I think we only spent 2-3 full days in Paris, and while amazing, it was kind of expensive.

The only "must-sees" are the Louvre and Eiffel Tower. Everything else could probably be seen in passing.

I'm wondering what are everyone else's suggestions for must-sees in Paris, and why other areas closeby to Paris should be ignored/compromised? If we had one overnight excursion instead, where would you recommend (Normandy beaches, Mont St. Michel, Loire valley, another place)?
Nornny is offline  
Sep 6th, 2008, 09:12 PM
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All 3 sights you missed last time around (Catacombs, Rodin & Saint Chapelle) are absolutely worth seeing - but with limited time and a holiday in the middle of your visit, you do need to pick and choose based on what your interests are.

If you are looking for a few nights after Paris and on the way to Amsterdam, why not head to Belgium? Bruges, Ghent, Antwerp, Brussels - each is very different, but all enjoyable for a quick trip.
Ceidleh is offline  
Sep 7th, 2008, 04:32 AM
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In Feb DH & I spent a week in Paris. It was my 4th trip & his first time.

I made sure we hit all the highlights & we still missed things or wanted to stay longer or see them in more depth.

I also think with only a week you should spend it all in Paris. Besides to me a large part of the attraction of Versailles is the gardens. I don't think there will be much to see in the gardens in the winter.

Just to show you how easily you can fill a week in Paris here is what we did -

Day 1 arrival - wander around Ile de Cite. Saw the inside of Notre Dame. (did not take the audio tour or climb the towers - we'll do those things next time), lunch & nap. A night time ride on Vendettes de Pont Neuf.

Day 2 - we went to Sacre Couer & walked by the Moulin Rouge. Later, a night time trip to the Trocadero to see the Eiffel Tower sparkle.

Day 3 - St Chappelle (not to be missed on a sunny day) & the Conciergerie. We had ice cream at that ice cream place everyone loves, Berthillon.

Day 4 - We spent the proverbial 3 hours at the Louvre & walked from there to Place de Concorde. I was exhausted by the time we left & we had missed the Flemish masters! (oh well, next time) DH saw the Arc de Triomphe from P de C & said,'We are walking there, right?" I said,"No way! It is 4 miles away & all uphill!" Another night time trip to the Eiffel Tower. DH kissed me at the top. (This is one of my favorite memories.)

Day 5 - morning at the Musee D'Orsay. (Thanks to a tip from this website we ran up the back stairs at soon as the museum opened & had the impressionists to ourselves). Next visit I'll have to see the rest of the museum! We spent the afternoon at the Invalides. We saw Napoleon's Tomb & the war museum (The church was closed for a funeral so we have to see that next time). DH could have spent all day there. We got kicked out at closing! We only managed to see the exhibits from WWI & WWII so we'll go back there also.

Day 6- We finally made it to the Arc de Triomphe. Walked down the Champs Elysees. Stopped for macaroons at Lauderee & headed over to the Rodin Museum. I loved the Rodin. I would go back there in a heartbeat.

To cut expenses we ate a crepe on the street most days for lunch. Actually we LOVE crepes so it wasn't just to save money that we ate them! We stayed in the 6th which was loaded with inexpensive restaurants ~ 20€ for a 3 course menu. We had the museum pass & really got our monies' worth.
We still never made it to the Cluny and never did any shopping. Oh, well, next time.

DH fell in love with the Parisians & Paris. He is now as big a francophile as I am!
cheribob is offline  
Sep 7th, 2008, 04:42 AM
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You say you are puzzled by people saying that 3 days in Paris is not enough--and maybe not even a week. I find it so over and over when we go. There is a day of "settling in"--yours is Christmas Eve which will have a charm all its own, but won't be a great sightseeing day. Good walking around, and sitting in cafes for people watching. Christmas DAy--church, more walking. Plans for eating? So NOW maybe your 3 days really starts--26,27,28. I don't know the days of the week but I think some of these are on Monday and Tuesday this year, which will affect the museum schedule.
If you are interested, you then do a day trip to Chartres, comig back to Paris for the night (29th). I think the idea of Brugges en route to Amsterdam is good. You will be pretty much tied to trains just for convenience so renting a car for Chartres and the Loire might not be as attractive.
Gretchen is offline  
Sep 7th, 2008, 05:09 AM
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So you will have 3 days in Paris - 24 to 26. You want to see 3 large museums, 2 churches (opposite ends of the city from each other), 2 monuments, and walk around a large area during the 3 days. And then possibly add 3 more sights to the list.

You could go to the 2 churches and then walk around the Latin Quarter on the 25th when the museums are closed.

That leaves 3 large museums and 2 monuments (plus any other sights you add) for your other 2 days.

The Rodin Museum is only worthwhile if you like sculpture. If you don't, then no need to go there. If you do like sculpture, it's a fabulous small museum with garden containing further works. If you really like sculpture then see the Maillol Museum immediately before or after the Rodin for a completely different view of the human form.

Ste-Chappelle is a spectular chapel and always at the top of my sightseeing list.

It wouldn't be my choice to travel this way but I am no longer 23yo and don't have the same desire to sightsee as I did then.

You've chosen a forum where the majority of people are much older and will have different views than you do so most will tell you that you have too ambitious an itinerary.

Since you've come for advice that says that you are not comfortable with your itinerary. I would ask your friend what type of art he is interested in and focus on that museum. In other words, choose one of the three depending on what era of art you want to see. Do the Arch and Eiffel Tower; add Ste-Chappelle and then go to Versailles.

Head to Belgium and see Brugges and Antwerp on the way to Amsterdam.

Have a great holiday!
adrienne is offline  
Sep 7th, 2008, 05:38 AM
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I don't quite agree that the Rodin is only for sculpture. Camille Claudel's art is quite worthwhile. However the garden and its sculptures can be seen separately from the main building. Definitely worth a walk around. The Rodin is one of my favorite museums. (I know, all a matter of opinion). Another favorite from the "biggies" is the Cluny for Medieval art, and the Carnavale for seeing the history of Paris through its art. The floor for the French Revolution is particularly good.
Another possibility en route to Amsterdam would be Rouen. We particularly like their Beaux Arts museum's Impressionist wing. And it's an interesting city for other sites as you know (OP).
Gretchen is offline  
Sep 8th, 2008, 06:06 PM
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Thank you all for the great ideas and suggestions. Thanks to your comments and for pacing and apartment rental sake, we are going to spend an entire week in Paris, up to the 30th, before heading to Amsterdam. If we get bored along the way, we can certainly fit in a few closeby excursions, but like you all have proven to me, there will be plenty to do at our home base.

Any more suggestions would be greatly appreciated nonetheless.
Nornny is offline  
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