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lhenry Jun 9th, 2013 12:47 PM

London and Paris; Christmas 2013!

I am planning my first trip to Europe with my mom (been to Italy, France, and England), and Dad (never been to Europe) around Christmas time. I am going to London and Paris and plan to spend around 12 days total (including travel time), spending Christmas in Paris. Currently, I do not have either the airfare nor the hotels, but I will be buying the airfare (at least the flight over there) by the end of this month. Also, I know the general area of where I will be staying. I just wanted to have this itinerary confirmed by experts before I finalize my plans.

Day 1~

Depart Seattle to London Heathrow airport. Take the tube to nearest station to hotel (plan to stay in Mayfair). Check-in and unpack. Walk to lunch nearby and then go the London Eye. Spend the rest of the day walking around the Thames. No Dinner planned, and return to hotel for the rest of the night.

Day 2~

Early tour of Westminster Abbey, then Afternoon Tea at the Ritz. Then tour the Churchill War Rooms. Dinner at the Golden Hind.

Day 3~

Lunch at Pollen Street Social. Then shopping on Bond Street and Harrods. Dinner at Locanda Locatelli.

Day 4~

Lunch at Gauthier Soho. Visit the National Gallery, then the Tower of London, and lastly the Top of the Shard. Dinner nearby.

Day 5~

Lunch at L'Atelier de Joël Robouchon. Then visit the British Museum and Victoria & Albert Museum. No planned Dinner.

Day 6~

Taxi to St. Pancras for a train to Paris. Late lunch at Café de Flore. Visit the Église de Saint-Germain des Prés, then Sainte Chapelle and Notre Dame. Dinner at La Régalade? Then a river cruise on the seine.

Day 7~

Quick lunch at café. Then shopping at Avenue Montaigne, Boulevard Haussmann and Rue de Faubourg Saint-Honoré. Dinner at Frenchie?

Day 8~

Lunch at Le Jules Verne. Eiffel Tower observation after. Then visit the Palais de Tokyo + maybe the Musée Baccarat? Lastly, visit the Louvre. No Planned Dinner.

Day 9~

Lunch at l'Arpège. Then visit Musée Rodin. Dinner at La Maison du Jardin?

Day 10~

Visit Versailles

Day 11~

Lunch at l'Astrance. Return to the Louvre and Musée Picasso if it's open. Dinner at Le Chateaubriand or Joséphine Chez Dumonet.

Day 12~

Return Home

lhenry Jun 9th, 2013 12:52 PM


I also wanted to visit the Catacombs and Centre Pompidou but don't think I'll have time for them. Also, I plan on staying in the 8th.

janisj Jun 9th, 2013 03:05 PM

Just a few quick comment right now:

>>Early tour of Westminster Abbey, then Afternoon Tea at the Ritz. Then tour the Churchill War Rooms. Dinner at the Golden Hind.<<

Double check w/ the Ritz but generally non-residents in the Hotel get tea times quite late in the afternoon.

>>Lunch at Gauthier Soho. Visit the National Gallery, then the Tower of London, and lastly the Top of the Shard. Dinner nearby. <<

There is not enough time after lunch to squeeze in the Nat'l Gallery and Tower of London. You'd have to do the Tower in the morning, a late-ish lunch and then the Nat'l Gallery afterwards. If you flip these and do the Gallery in the morning and don't do the Tower until after lunch - the crowds at the Tower will be pretty bad.

>>Lunch at L'Atelier de Joël Robouchon. Then visit the British Museum and Victoria & Albert Museum. No planned Dinner.<<

Same concept - Not nearly enough time after lunch to manage both of these massive museums. You could fit the V&A in the morning - but not see all of it of course, then lunch, then 2 or 3 hours at the British.

stokebailey Jun 9th, 2013 03:32 PM

Sounds fun, ihenry. We spent past Christmas time in those two cities, and loved it. For my money I'd skip Versailles and spend the day in Paris instead, if nothing else just hanging out in the streets.

lhenry Jun 18th, 2013 10:41 AM

What would you recommend cutting out on our packed days?

@stokebailey we might skip Versailles and go to Lyon for 2 nights, but we'll have to see when we get our airfare

tailsock Jun 18th, 2013 10:51 AM

day 5: The British museum is HUGEEEEEE. you've got this down and then the Albert Museum afterward. I see that's the only two things on your list but for the sake of some variety maybe space them out on different days?

Tulips Jun 18th, 2013 10:56 AM

You have certainly thought about this, and the restaurants you want to go visit! A lot will depend on how long your lunches are going to be. V&A and British Museum close before 6 pm unless it's a Friday, when they are open late.

Day 2 >>Early tour of Westminster Abbey, then Afternoon Tea at the Ritz. Then tour the Churchill War Rooms. Dinner at the Golden Hind.<<
Go to the Churchill War Rooms after Westminster Abbey. And check what time tea is. I wouldn't want dinner after a late afternoon tea. You can always see if you still want to go to Golden Hind (don't think they take reservations).

I don't think your days in London are too full. You haven't planned anything before lunch.

janisj Jun 18th, 2013 11:00 AM

>>What would you recommend cutting out on our packed days?<<

I recommend getting an earlier start. Not hitting any major sites until after a fashionable lunch means only visiting one site a day. Go at opening time to places like the Tower or the V&A or British. Then book lunch at 1PM or later. Then squeeze in another major site after lunch. That is the only way to manage.

As for tea at the Ritz - double check the website but usually non-residents get time slots after 5 or 5:30 PM, sometimes as late as 7PM-ish. Once in a while they can cadge an 11 or 11:30 AM seating but those usually get taken. The Christmas teas (late Nov through Dec) are more expensive and book up far ahead but may have more slots for non-residents.

lhenry Jun 18th, 2013 11:20 AM

I will think about getting an earlier start, but does jet lag make you want to get up earlier or sleep in? Also, I just checked the Ritz for the christmas tea and yes it is more but it includes a glass of champagne. Also there is a 1:30 time available

Surfergirl Jun 18th, 2013 11:23 AM

You also need to have a Plan B since the weather at that time of year, especially with all of the outdoor places you plan to visit, can be anywhere from mild to awful, so Plan A may not work.

One more thing -- walking down Regent Street at Christmas time with all of the decorations is, in my view, a must.

dunia123 Jun 18th, 2013 11:53 AM

I tend to agree with others, in that I'd recommend scheduling things in the morning. You'll have a better sense of how everyone is impacted once you're there, but I think you'll want mornings to get out there. Lunch at some of these lovely places will be a 1.5 - 2 hour affair, which means you don't have much time after.

Other thoughts: so much about Versailles is about the gardens, which will obviously not be realistic given the time of year you're visiting. Also, having been to Lyon and other places outside of Paris, I'd pick something closer. I didn't find Lyon particularly interesting despite it being "the gastronomic center of France". If you've not been to France before, it would be way down my list. If you want a day trip, consider Chartres. Or perhaps a closer overnight, consider Strasbourg.

Day 7~ Depending on your jetlag, I would think you could add something in the morning on this day. I like some window shopping too, but this seems a little light on content. You have a number of art museums on your list, but you don't have Musee D'Orsay or Musee de l'Orangerie (to see Monet's Waterlilies). I'd add these at some point.

Day 8~ I'd move the Eiffel Tower observation to before your lunch, so you can have more of the afternoon available, if possible. Frankly, after this lunch and the Eiffel Tower, I can't imagine going to Palais de Tokyo, M. Baccarat, and then the Louvre. I might cut all three for the day, and maybe pick the Orsay.

As for the Louvre, there's so much to see, you might not want to have this on a day when you're planning on another museum.

Good luck!

mamcalice Jun 18th, 2013 12:43 PM

Your jetlag should be under control after one or two mornings. I suggest that you plan two major activities for each day - one in the morning and one in the afternoon. I also think you may tire of all the fancy heavy meals. When we are traveling in Europe, we like a light cafe lunch and a special dinner. You often plan two major restaurants in one day. Move Ste. Chapelle and Notre Dame to the morning of Day 9. You haven't included the Musee D'Orsay or the Orangerie in your itinerary. Both are will worth a visit.

Make a list of all the things you want to see and using a map of each city, arrange them in each morning and afternoon.

Consider moving the Seine River cruise before the dinner at Le Regalade (I assume you mean Le Regalade St. Honore). Considering that it will be dark early and cold this time of year, it will be nice to spend time in a warm restaurant after your river cruise. If you use Vedetters du Pont Neuf for the cruise, it will be fairly near both the restaurant and your hotel.

You haven't planned the theatre in London. That would be a good addition to your itinerary.

BigRuss Jun 18th, 2013 12:51 PM

You should be able to get past jet lag in a day or two, even the elders, not have to suffer with it for 10+ days.

<<I don't think your days in London are too full. You haven't planned anything before lunch.>>

First, your parents are older than you and likely wake up earlier and go to bed earlier. Wouldn't they want to go somewhere before what seems like a sizeable lunch (every day)?

Second, talk to your old man about the Imperial War Museum - he may put that atop his list. Note that a better place for shopping for him (unless he's just there to hold bags for you and your mom) would be Jermyn Street. Bond, Oxford, Regent streets have a lot of chains, all of which produce items that you can purchase for less in Seattle.

Third, does your family generally eat in this manner - reservations required, $300-400 lunch, extensive dinners? Sounds like a tour of foodie sites more than the cities. But de gustibus non est disputandum.

Patty Jun 18th, 2013 01:45 PM

Many restaurants in Paris close around Christmas. I don't know if you'll be able to find out the dates for this year yet but you can use last year as a rough guide

lhenry Jun 18th, 2013 04:26 PM

I can try to visit a portion of the sights in the morning, but eating is one of the main focuses of the trip. I chose more expensive lunches because that is when we eat the most and they are usually easier to get to during the day. Also, I feel that by moving and adding some museums I will have to add days to the trip which I don't really want to do. I do want to see the Musée d"Orsay and possibly l'Orangerie but I don't know where to put them. If there are things on my list (besides food and shopping), that I could eliminate for must sees, please advise.

lhenry Jun 18th, 2013 06:33 PM

So far, I have scheduled to visit the War Rooms before tea, planned to tour the Tower of London before lunch and National Gallery afterwards. And on Day 5, I have removed Victoria & Albert Museum, and moved The Shard from day 4 to day 5 after the British Museum. Is this good so far? I am still re-working the rest.

denisea Jun 18th, 2013 06:53 PM

Overall it's a good plan, although you first day in Paris might be a bit rushed.

I understand the restaurant's always a big part of our trips. If you read my T/R from our Christmas in Paris a few years back, you'll know! One question, why go to Joel Robuchon in London? Go in Paris (the original in the 6th). It is a favorite of ours...I would just do it in Paris!

We love D'Orsay amd L'Orangerie also, so they would be on my list. Sainte Chapelle is propbably better in the AM...get there early to avoid long security lines (t is part of the Justice complex). If you can swing it on a sunny day....even better.

We will also be in Paris at Christmas this year! Can't wait!

lhenry Jun 18th, 2013 07:22 PM

I will consider going to the original Robuchon instead, I picked the one in London for its relative convenience to the British Museum (Maybe I can go to Alain Ducasse or Gordon Ramsay instead). I will also think about Sainte Chapelle as well as Notre Dame in the morning.

denisea Jun 19th, 2013 03:33 PM

We LOVE L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon! If you can go when the line isn't awful, the view from the Towers at Notre Dame is a terrific (and you work off the foie gras).

lhenry Jun 27th, 2013 09:38 AM

Thank you for all of your wonderful insights, however we have decided last minute to not go to London this trip, and instead go to Lyon and Switzerland. Please stay tuned for an updated itinerary.

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