Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

I would love some advice on how to prioritize my (too quick) trip to Paris in November

I would love some advice on how to prioritize my (too quick) trip to Paris in November

Jul 1st, 2005, 08:52 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 6,025
I would love some advice on how to prioritize my (too quick) trip to Paris in November

My husband and I are going to Paris, for the first time, in November for a short 3 nights. I know this isn't a lot of time but we were already on a two-week vacation last month and are trying to save up the vacation time for the next big vacation, hopefully in March.

I have a few travel guides for Paris and have been reading a lot of Paris info on this boards. My problem is this: We have about 3 whole days in Paris and I have a list of about 20 places/areas that I want to visit! I am in the beginning stages of planning what we would like to do but I'm getting overwhelmed in trying to figure out what should be "priorities". The other thing is that we don't want to spend the whole trip on a tight time schedule and really want to leave some time for strolling and exploring some of the neighborhoods.

Obviously there is no way I can do everything that I have written down, which will give me a good excuse to plan another (longer) trip for the future. But in the meantime, can anyone, especially those who've taken shorter trips, give me some advice on how to balance out the days? I'm thinking of maybe spending the mornings doing some of the sights and leaving the afternoons for strolling. Does this sound like a good idea? I was also considering a couple of Paris Walks tours of some of the neighborhoods but still not sure about that.

I would appreciate any and all advice!

tcreath is offline  
Jul 1st, 2005, 09:02 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 189
It is tough to only have three days in Paris - but just remember that you can come back. Even though I've been there 7 times, there are many things that I haven't seen - and I don't obsess about it.

That being said, I would advise that you narrow down your list of your must/sees and then group them so that you can see what is in close proximity.

Since you haven't been to Paris before, the get on/get off bus tours are a great way to get oriented to Paris and see many of the major sites - at least from the outside. The bus tours are also good to do when you are tired on that first day.

I usually identify a few things that I really want to do, find out open/closed days and opening and closing times and have that available. Then I wait until I get there to see what the weather is like. For example, on one trip, I spent much more time walking outside, going to parks, etc. because the weather was so pleasant. If it hadn't been so nice, I would have spent more time in museums. I enjoy being flexible - others like to have every hour accounted for. You'll have to decide what you style is.

Have a wonderful time reading about Paris - that is a large part of the fun. Have a great time!
Lynn_Gibson is offline  
Jul 1st, 2005, 09:05 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 1,942
Trying to see Paris in 3 days is difficult unless you are willing to make choices. Your "must sees" are different from those of others. There is a "Best in 3 Days" on the Fodor's Paris page but, good though it is, it omits my favorite sight in Paris - Ste. Chapelle.
The wonderful thing about Paris is that it is a walking city - you can walk between sights and see lots that is on your list. Get a good map of Paris, try to prioritize your list and come back with questions. How lucky you are to be going to Paris, even for three short days.
mamc is offline  
Jul 1st, 2005, 09:08 AM
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 7,142
Pick three "must" - one for each day.
Plan to highlight one neighborhood each day - hopefully your three "must" are not all in the same neighborhood.

For example: You could combine the Latin Quarter walk with a visit to Musée de Cluny. After walking the whole area with stops in parks, cafes, a museum and lunch at a restaurant you've spent one day just in the Latin Quarter.

You could also spend a day in the Marais and include a visit to the nearby Louvre museum.


The other 17 items on your "to do" list may or may not present themselves in the course of your walks - decide then whether you think you have time that day or not.

Relax and enjoy!
bardo1 is offline  
Jul 1st, 2005, 09:24 AM
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 202
Like others who have responded here, I would say that you don't want to "cram" in items just for the sake of going there. Doing Paris in 3 weeks is a challenge in itself- 3 days is really pushing it. You may think it's not possible - but once you've seen the City of Light-- chances are great that you'll return. Therefore, I recommend that you eliminate some of those 20 "must-sees" and concentrate on 4 or 5 of your top choices.
Suggestion: head for the central areas close to the Seine (on or around Ile St Louis and Ile Cite) on any given day- perhaps start at Notre Dame, spend 1/2 day there and then walk through the Latin Quarter where you can enjoy dinner and perhaps a little evening entertainment. On another day, start at the Louvre (this could take up a lot of time- plan) then maybe head for the Marais in the afternoon and later. A trip to the Eiffel Tower should be done in the evening of a day when you have leisurely explored the Champs Elysee by entering or examining the shops and restaurants on either side or substitute a visit to Sacre Coeur in Monmarte for some of the hours on the boulevards. What one suggested- the on-off bus tour- is a good idea as well. You'll see more (if that's your object)and understand it better if informed about the sites. The Fodors 3-day walking tour provides you with information and priorities as well. It certainly can set some structure for you. In any case, I still would caution against trying to do too much. You'll only spoil the experience. Paris is one of the most wonderful cities in the world and needs to be savored.
zola is offline  
Jul 1st, 2005, 09:27 AM
Posts: n/a
I feel your pain! We recently returned from a 4-night stay in Paris, and we were barely able to visit our must-sees. If you click on my name above you will find my London-Paris-Amsterdam trip report with specific recommendations for hotels and restaurants.

Looking back, I wish we had skipped the Arc de Triomphe and Champs Elysees, in favor of seeing Montmartre and Sacre Coeur. It was so commercial there near the Arc, and not the elegance I'd expected. But you simply can't see it all.

Also not wild about the Trocadero neighborhood, over the bridge from the Eiffel Tower, which we visited late one night because its restaurants serve late. We ended up walking back over the bridge and eating a very over-priced omelette somewhere near the Champs de Mars. It was the only place still serving at midnight!

We really liked staying in the 7th, for its more quiet atmosphere at the beginning and end of our busy days. Also Rue Cler is there for a nice breakfast.

Loved the Louvre, more than I'd expected. The building itself is amazing and as gorgeous at the art on the walls. We saw our must-sees there in 2.5 hours, ate a quick lunch in the food court underneath, then walked to the Musee D'Orsay for 2.5 hour visit, followed by a stroll in the Tuileries to the Opera quarter.

So much to see in Paris, and still we missed the Sorbonne and the Latin Quarter. We walked to the Musee Carnavalet (sp?) in the Marais area, but maybe should have done the Latin Quarter instead.

The Batobus hop-on-hop-off boat cruise is fun, too. It stops at eight of the sights along the Seine, and you can take it after dark till about 10:00 p.m. A two-day pass is 13 EU/apiece.

You will love Paris. We walked and walked. Loved it.
Jul 1st, 2005, 09:28 AM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 8,862
Why not post your list of 20 here and see what people say about them?

I tend to divide the things I want to see the Michelin way -- ***, **, *.

That doesn't mean that *** is always preferred to **.

But it helps set the priorities. Usually there's always a list of things I must see (not necessarily each is ***) for historical importance or for personal reasons, and I concentrate on crossing those items off the list first.

111op is offline  
Jul 1st, 2005, 09:36 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 45,844
What days of the week will you be there? I'm often in Paris for just three days, and I've gotten pretty good (if I do say so) about planning those short stays. I always have one absolutely wonderful thing I MUST do no matter what (something I've never done before), and I do usually divide the day up between sightseeing and strolling/shopping/hanging out at cafés, though I usually like to do the museums/sites in the afternoon (that way I get a good dosage of just milling around both in the morning and before and after dinner.

Anyway, if you can post the specific weekdays, it might help.
StCirq is offline  
Jul 1st, 2005, 09:38 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 654
My advice is to consult a map, and then make a list of all the sites in each arrondisement. Then wittle it down to what you absolutely must see, what can wait for another time based on your interests, and what is close to each other for maximum time usage. For example, I saw the Eiffel Tower, do I really need to go to it and go up (long lines = long wait=wasted time). A half day bus tour is a good idea as you will get to see everything, maybe not up close and personal, but you can say "I did see......" As for the Louvre, you can spend a whole day and more there, so get the map and hit the highlights - Winged Victory, Venus De Milo, Mona Lisa, and maybe if time permits Napoleon's apartments (awesome). Take a cruise on the Seine at night, and make sure you save some time to shop and soak up the atmosphere at a cafe.
LoriNY is offline  
Jul 1st, 2005, 09:42 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 19,000
I see a basic conflict between wanting to see a lot of sights and walking. Not that there's anything wrong with either - you just can't do much of both on a short trip. You can get around faster by using public transport, and I recommend the buses for short hops rather than the Métro because a) you get to see more from above ground, and b) all that climbing up and down and changing lines is rarely worth it unless you're going clear across town. With the daily pass called Mobilis you can take as many rides as you like.

See how you like this: print out the Bus touristique map from the RATP (Paris Transport) site and plan your days around the "clusters" of sights that present themselves. Save your strength by riding during daylight hours and you can still do some strolling in the evening without impinging on open hours at the attractions.


The RATP bookstore at Châtelet has an excellent bus tour book titled Découvrir PARIS avec les lignes de Bus for 10€.

Robespierre is offline  
Jul 1st, 2005, 10:00 AM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 2,148
Try looking into what is current and won't be on later. On a recent 3-day trip to London I looked into special museum exhibitions, short run theater, some holiday events and planned around those kind of things. For example, you won't have time to do the "whole" Louvre but you can get a taste by spending an hour or two in a special exhibit.
laurie_ann is offline  
Jul 1st, 2005, 10:06 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 6,025
Thank you everyone for your help! We will be in Paris on Friday, November 4th through Monday, November 7th and are staying in the Rue Cler neighborhood.

Some of the places on my list won't take very long, and a few, such as Laduree (I have to see for myself what the macaroon fuss is all about!) and Berthillion are food related.

I'll be honest; there are a few things I wouldn't mind seeing in the Louvre (the Egyptian section) but my husband and I aren't real art lovers so we are considering skipping it for this trip. Would this be a huge mistake?

We definitely want to see the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Saint Chapelle, and Sacre Coeur, and possibly the Pantheon and the Opera Palais Garnier. Also on my list are Le Invalides and the Cluny Museum (we are history lovers), although these both may have to wait.

The bus tour sounds like a great idea. We did one in London and it was very helpful. We would also like to do an evening cruise on the Seine.

I can't believe we were actually contemplating a daytrip when we first booked the trip because we weren't sure how much there was to do! Somehow I don't think that is going to be a problem...

Thanks again!
tcreath is offline  
Jul 1st, 2005, 10:21 AM
Posts: n/a
If you're in Paris the first Sunday of November, admission is free to the Louvre, the d'Orsay, and some others. We went to both on the free Sunday in June, and it wasn't as crowded as I'd expected. If you enter the Louvre underneath, where the metro stops, it's a bit less crowded I believe. The d'Orsay had a longer line with just the one entrance. That way you won't feel guilty about paying a lot just to zip in and see a handful of pieces.

Staying near Rue Cler, you will be close enough to see the Eiffel Tower and Les Invalides just about anytime, so they may be your easiest goals.
Jul 1st, 2005, 10:38 AM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 8,862
I still haven't been to Cluny and Sacre Coeur. If I've been to the Pantheon it must be nearly 10 years ago.

I think that I'm in the minority when I say that you should go to the Louvre and see "Mona Lisa." Granted it's probably really overrated, but that's the perfect touristy thing to do. But it's your trip. And it has a new home!

[Hm.... Maybe I'll try to squeeze it in myself on Sunday. ]

And the Louvre is on such a grand scale that you'll probably be overwhelmed. It's the sort of sight that I don't think you can see anywhere. So, why miss this even if you're not interested in art? The experience itself will be rewarding.

I'm hoping to make to the Opera tomorrow.

Would you be interested in Versailles? Granted, I've not been there in a long time either, but it also seems like such a major attraction that even with three days, I think that you should see it (unless you've plans to visit Paris again in the future).

I happen to think 3 days is a lot of time.

Pack it in. [I only counted 10 things. ]

By the way, check when Berthillon is open. I remember that on one trip I missed it completely. If memory serves, it's open W-Su until 8 pm. I was stupid enough not to realize this on that trip.
111op is offline  
Jul 1st, 2005, 10:40 AM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 8,862
Sorry -- I should have said "Louvre is the sort of site...." (I think.)
111op is offline  
Jul 1st, 2005, 10:50 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 45,844
In November, there shouldn't be long lines at the Tour Eiffel - I'd do that first thing on Saturday morning. Then I'd métro/bus to Notre Dame, then Ste-Chapelle, hop over to the Ile Saint-Louis for your ice cream. That'll take the better part of the morning. Spend the afternoon on the right bank moseying around and take a tea break at Ladurée.

Sunday I'd start with brunch at the Jacquemart-André, then hightail it over to the Musée d'Orsay and the Louvre, which as someone mentioned are free that day. You could hit Les Invalides on your way back to the rue Cler area.

Monday you could métro/bus to the Pantheon and then go to Montmartre to see Sacré Coeur. You should have enough time to do that before heading for the airport.

StCirq is offline  
Jul 1st, 2005, 11:01 AM
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 9,232
Well, here would be my top choices for a quick trip to Paris:

The Louvre (do the highlights) and the Tuileries.
Notre Dame and St Chappelle. Climb to the top at Notre Dame.
An evening boat tour.
Cluny museum and Rodin Museum. (I like those places.)
Luxembourg Garden.
Eiffel Tower, but I will not wait in the line to go up though.

I'd skip Arc de Triomph and Champs d'Elysees. I found the Champs to be not much more than hordes of tourists walking along miserably (but I'm not a shopper). Also Napolean's tomb and the Military Museum are not very interesting to me anyway.

I'd spend all the rest of my time walking around, sitting at cafes, sitting in parks, and going out to dinner. I would ride as little public transportation as possible, that way you see a lot more. (And I just hate those double decker buses.)
wliwl is offline  
Jul 1st, 2005, 12:47 PM
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 202

Aren't you the one who in April posted a note that said you got airline tickets to Paris from St. Louis for $330 per person? Where did you get those fares? Did they include taxes, fees and surcharges, and was it- or -was it not part of a package? That's an exceptional price, if you are indeed the same person who obtained them.
zola is offline  
Jul 1st, 2005, 12:54 PM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 8,862
Yes, she's the one. She said so here:

111op is offline  
Jul 1st, 2005, 01:30 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 6,025
Thank you, 111op, for posting a link!

To everyone else, thank you again for your advice and help. It will be invaluable, I'm sure. I printed off all the responses and will use the suggestions to help me figure out some sort of itinerary.

tcreath is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 10:07 PM.