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mrkindallas May 17th, 2007 05:46 PM

London/Paris Itinerary Review
I'm asking for input on this itinerary for my upcoming London/Paris trip, but want to start out by explaining a little about me.

I am a (just turned) 30-year old female traveling with my 18-year old sister to London and Paris May 26th thru June 4th. We have both extensively traveled in the US; I have been to Russia (St Petersburg & Moscow) & the Baltics (and Canada); Neither of us have been to London or Paris before. We live in Dallas, so we have easy access to museums, musicals, etc., so I prefer not to do/see things in London/Paris that we could easily do/see here (many of the London musicals fall in this category - in fact, I just saw Wicked here in Dallas). We enjoy a little bit of everything - visiting museums/attractions, admiring architecture, experiencing the city/culture, and seeing/doing the things considered "must see/do." That being said, we are not huge history buffs or experts in art, so we tend to get bored with things that are only valued because of historical reference and get tired of viewing art for extended periods of time. I tend to be ready to leave a museum after about an hour or hour and a half of time spent there. Maybe it will be different in the museums in London and Paris, but it wasn't for me at the Hermitage, so I doubt it.

As for how I plan trips:
I do a LOT of research and read this board for insight/opinions. I then list and prioritize the things that I want to see and TRY to create an itinerary that includes as many of those items as possible while leaving time for enjoying the vacation. I say "TRY" because this is a balance that is hard to judge, so I tell myself that the itinerary is just a guide that I can follow loosely as we decide to linger at some places, leave others early, or get delayed somewhere.

As for food, I'm really trying to keep this expense as minimal as possible because I am closing on a house 2 weeks after we get back and I need to save as much as possible for closing. We are not going to Europe for the experience of eating gourmet food and I feel that we have so many options locally that we don't need to dine out somewhere special every night - although 1 or 2 nights in Paris at no more than 50 euro per person is not out of the question. We mostly drink tap water, so soda/wine expenses are not much of a concern, except every so often.

Please comment on the following keeping in mind that we know that we may not get to everything on the itinerary each day and some things on the itinerary are meant to be enjoyed/explored at a leisurely pace. An overbooked day or two is ok with me as long as the entire trip is not like that.

Day 1 - Sat. May 26th
Overnight flight leaves DFW in the late afternoon.

Day 2 - Sun May 27th
- Arrive LGW at 8:05a.
- I cannot fathom not taking a shower in the morning and I found that there are showers at LGW, so I plan on showering and changing at LGW to start the day.
- Train from LGW to Victoria Station
- Staying at the Cherry Court Hotel, which is withing walking distance of Victoria Station (and they provide a little breakfast basket, which we'll probably use as breakfast/snacks).
- Stop by the hotel and drop the luggage
- Lunch somewhere nearby (pubs in this area? other recommendations?)
- London Eye (wanted to do an after dark ride, but with the late sunset at this time of year and hours not being extended yet, it doesn't look like a possibility)
- Dali Universe (next door to London Eye - and I enjoy Dali)
- Walk around the area a little - Westminster Bridge, Parliament Buildings, up Whitehall to Trafalgar Square
- National Gallery
- Dinner somewhere? Depending on time and jetlag, possibly stop at a couple of pubs - Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese & The Black Friar??
- Back to the hotel

Day 3 - Mon May 28th
- Arrive at Westminster Abbey at opening time
- River cruise from Westminster Pier to Bankside Pier (I assume we'll be able to just show up at the pier and take the next boat that will be stopping at Bankside Pier??)
- Walk across Millennium Bridge
- Lunch possibly at Yo!Sushi near St Paul's Cathedral
- St. Paul's Cathedral
- Covent Garden for walking around, shopping, dinner, and "Woman in Black" at Fortune Theatre. Anyone know how long the show is? Dinner recommendations?

Day 4 - Tues, May 29
- Arrive at Tower of London at opening time (Crown Jewels first, Beefeater tour later)
- Lunch ?? I see a Wagamama somewhat nearby...Anything else closer/easier?
- British Museum
- Explore St. James Park/Hyde Park area, walk by Buckingham Palace, dinner at Inn the Park Cafe?
- "Othello" at the Globe Theatre (How long is this?)

Day 5 - Wed, May 30th
- Early (6:45a) Eurostar to Paris (Best way to get to Waterloo at this time? When should we leave the hotel to be there in time for security check-in?)
- Arrive Paris Nord at about 10:23a
- We are staying at a small apartment in the Latin Quarter (the "Charming Studio" on located at 11 Lacepede), so we'll first go there to meet the owner and drop our bags.
- I'd like to grab some groceries: laundry detergent and probably some other items. Is there a store nearby?
- I'd like to explore the Latin Quarter a little, but need a little guidance here. Lunch?
- Rodin Museum
- Possibly Invalides (may skip if too late)
- Stroll through the Tulleries and dinner at Cafe le Nemours ??
- Stop at Louvre for a little while (open late)
- 10p-11:30p - Paris Illuminations Tour with Cityrama - leaves from near the Louvre. (Concorde Square, Champs Elysees, Arc de Triomph, Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Notre Dame)

Day 6 - Thurs May 31
- Rick Steves' "Historic Paris Walk" - includes Notre Dame (plan to be there first for short lines to climb stairs), St. Chapelle and area - will probably modify quite a bit for own tastes.
- Catacombes (sister's requirement)
- Explore Montparnasse a little - Any guidance?
- Musee de Cluny (maybe...a possible skip if need/want)
- Orsay is open late, so plan to stop in after 7p. (If we choose one of these, do you recommend Cluny over Orsay or vice versa??)
- Seine boat tour

Day 7 - Friday June 1
- Early at Louvre if we didn't get to see everything we wanted on Wednesday. Otherwise, may fit in Cluny here. Or possibly something else...?
- Shopping in the passages nearby until we get tired of it (Galerie Vero-Dodat, Galeries Vivienne and Colbert, Galeries Lafayette (have reservations for 3:00 fashion show), possibly tour the Opera Garnier???, Passage des Panoramas & Passage Jouffroy (surely we won't get to all of these - and perhaps some aren't worth the effort???).
- l'Orangerie (open late)
- What time would be need to be where to see the Pari Rollers? Somewhere to eat dinner and watch at the same time?

Day 8 - Sat June 2
- Purchase Forfait Loisirs Chateau de Versailles day passes at train station
- Early train to Versailles & explore as much as possible. What are the lunch options at Versailles?
- Stay at Versailles until 3ish.
- Back in Paris, spend the evening in Montmartre (first a self-guided walking tour of the area before it gets too late, then perhaps dinner somewhere on Place du Tertre???)
- Late visit to Eiffel Tower to try to go up??

Day 9 - Sun June 3
- Day Trip to Loire Valley (early train to Tours, time to explore a little, meet minibus tour at tourist office, tour all day to Azay le Rideau, Villandry, Chenonceau, Amboise, Clos de Luce). I am aware of the time constraints placed on us at each of these places and the loss of time to spend in Paris, but we chose to do this anyway.
- Arrive back in Paris at 9:15
- Dinner somewhere???

Day 10 - Mon, June 4
- Plane leaves CDG at 11:40a. What is our best way to get to CDG at this time without spending a fortune? I imagine we need to leave by 7:30a..?

Comments/advice/recommendations welcome. By the way, we are packing light with carry-ons only, but packing extra bags in our suitcases in case we need to make extra room in our suitcases on the way back. We may end up checking luggage on the return.

If you make any meal recommendations, please try to state an estimated cost and whether reservations are needed. By the way, how does one who speaks VERY little French who is staying in an apartment (no concierge) make dinner reservations?

Thanks in advance for your time and thoughts!

lennyba May 17th, 2007 06:42 PM

Woman in Black is a bit under two hours. You might like Belgo Centraal for dinner after - fun spot, fairly inexpensive, and close by.

lennyba May 17th, 2007 06:45 PM

Oops. Belgo cost - maybe 12 to 15 GBP without alcohol. I don't know if they take reservations but I've been there a couple of times without and the wait hasn't been long.

mrkindallas May 17th, 2007 08:03 PM

Thanks...I think I've seen a few recommendations for Belgo Centraal...Since it continues to be recommended, I may try it.

Travelnut May 17th, 2007 08:44 PM

Whew, I'm kind of a 'trip nazi' but you are very energetic! I don't think you will fit in everything each day, as it does seem to take more time than you'd think...I'd put a * on 1-2 sights on each day's itinerary, and make sure those were visited first.

You can make reservations in person at places as you pass by them on your journeys. If you begin to accumulate a list of recommended restaurants, see if any are in the area you're visiting on a given day, make a reservation for that evening or the next evening.. Often, if you go to the brasseries and large cafes around 7:30-8:00, you can be seated without a reservation.

There aren't a lot of 'first tier' sights in Montparnasse - it's an interesting area due to its 'literary history'. The catacombs are interesting and you could pair that with a walk through the Cimetiere de Montparnasse

It costs around 10euro to go up to the 59th story viewing platform of the Tour Montparnasse.

From there, it's about a 10-15 minute walk to the southwest corner of Jardin de Luxembourg, my favorite large garden in Paris.

As for catching the Pari-rollers, the Friday route is published by Thursday (and not much sooner) at:
Look under 'randonees' then 'parcours', scroll down to see a list of the places they'll pass by but not times, so you'll have to judge. The group gathers by the Tour Montparnasse and start skating at 10pm, until 1am...

blightyboy May 17th, 2007 09:16 PM

OMG I am worn out !!!!

Just a smalll point, the trip must be costing quite a few $ and you have commented that you want to keep the cost of food to a low level - fine. What my thought is , if cost is a serious factor as you are closing on a house within a couple of weeks when you return, should you get your priorities right and move into the house first and then travel with any funds that are left

mrkindallas May 17th, 2007 11:16 PM

"should you get your priorities right and move into the house first"

I appreciate that you seem to know what my priorities are not and what they should be. I included that bit to make my posting more personable. I have no reason/desire to spend a great amount of money on food on this trip. If I wasn't closing on a house soon after, that might be different. However, the fact that I CHOOSE not to spend $100 or more per person per day on food alone does not mean that I have placed my priorities in an incorrect order. In fact, my personal opinion is that those who spend that much on food when they have other things to pay are the ones who have their priorities out of order. There is no reason for me to postpone a trip simply because I don't care to spend $2,000 on meals and would prefer to use that money on furnishings for a new home.

If I have $2,000 allotted for spending in June and decide to spend it on new home related costs rather than food in Europe, why is that so wrong and why would it require that I postpone my trip? Especially when I would be losing all of the money that I've already put into travel and reservations. Just about everything is already pre-paid -- all I'll need to pay while there will be food, entrance fees mostly in London (already have the Paris Museum pass), and extras (souviners, etc). I have chosen to keep those costs down as much as possible - and it's easier to cut costs on food than it is on entrance fees.

I posted looking for advice on the itinerary - not for financial advice from strangers who don't know the whole picture - Please don't give financial advice to people when they haven't asked for it and you don't know their financial story. If you choose to hold off on all travel until you can splurge on food, that's your perogative. I prefer to eat infrequent nice meals at home and occasonally on trips, but find that I could take a second trip (or buy furniture/jewelry) with the money that some people prefer to spend on food on their trips. To each his own.

yk May 18th, 2007 03:28 AM

Hi fellow Dallasite!

Your trip is packed with action, but given you and your sister are young and energetic, I think you guys will be ok. A few comments:

Day 2:
Having flown DFW-LGW quite a few times, I think you'll be tired and jet-lagged. It's very difficult to get decent sleep on the plane. I think you'll pass out by the time you're done w/Dali Universe. I would not imagine going to National Gallery at the end of a day, let alone after an overnight flight. Save NG for another day. Even though you said you're not a big art person, you won't enjoy any paintings at the NG when you're that tired. (Go there either afternoon of Day 3 or Day 4)

Day 3: Not sure if I'd go with Yo! Sushi. The only time I've tried it was at LGW waiting for our plane. The portions are small and the plates add up fast. Definitely not a cheap place if you have a healthy appetite.

Day 4: Wagamama is fun, there's one not too far from British Museum.

Day 5: I'd suggest a cab to Waterloo station. You should aim to get there by 6am the latest.

Day 6: Definitely Orsay over Cluny.

Unless you're dying to see the Loire Valley, I'd suggest you cut that out and spend Day 9 in Paris instead. I think you and your sister will be thoroughly exhausted by then and will enjoy more with a leisurely pace. SAve Loire Valley for next time.

BTW, most art museums have free docent-guided tours (eg "highlight tours"). They're listed on the museum website, and is a great way to see the important works with limited time. I've take ones at Orsay and the Louvre and enjoyed both.

Enjoy your trip!

yk in Dallas

blightyboy May 18th, 2007 06:40 PM

"I included that bit to make my posting more personable" - you have

twk May 18th, 2007 08:36 PM

I'm not much of an art fan, but I'd take the Orsay over the Cluny every day of the week and twice on Sunday. Besides having what is probably the most interesting art to non-aficianado's, the converted train station that is the Orsay is a sight worth seeeing on its own merits.

If you want a visually stimulating museum that you can sort of rip through at a brisk pace, the Napolean wing of the Army Museum at Les Invalides is a visual treat. Just seeing all the old uniforms, ordinance, and whatnot (including Napoleon's stuffed horse), is pure fun. The captions are written in French, so if you don't read French, or don't read it well, you can just walk through without getting too bogged down in the details of what you are looking at. If you're going to see Napoleon's tomb, I'd say its worth 30 minutes to tack this on. You can do that and the Rodin in a little over two hours if you feel like it (you can, of course, take longer too and enjoy it).

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