No Itinerary for Paris

Old Mar 13th, 2005, 12:57 PM
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No Itinerary for Paris

We are leaving for Paris April 5, and will be there through the 10th. I have researched and planned and have had a room booked at the Jeanne d'Arc since August. However, reading all of these posts, I have become SO overwhelmed that I CANNOT come up with an itinerary. However, it seems to me from what I have read that Paris in itself is the itinerary and that I should just take time to "stop and smell the roses" and just take it as it comes. I have the main things, like the ET and the Louvre planned, as well as a trip to Sacre-Coeur (sp?) and Notre Dame, but other than that, I dont really think I want to plan. Is that a mistake?

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Old Mar 13th, 2005, 01:12 PM
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I highly recommend starting off with a one- or two-day bus and river tour just to get you oriented, and familiar with at least the outside of some of the major landmarks. The day you land and the next day, your body thinks it's still the middle of the night, so the less rushing around, the better.

Then take some time to go back and focus on a small number of sights each day, with strolling in the neighborhoods and café-sitting/rose-smelling in between. Check out the Fodor's mini-guide for some ideas.[email protected]

And don't be overwhelmed by the expanse of places like the Louvre, where you could spend a month and not see it all.

Your dates are perfect for a Carte Orange transport pass. You can get on any bus, train, or Métro in Paris any time for €3.08 per day.
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Old Mar 13th, 2005, 01:15 PM
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I don't think you have to have a planned itinerary, but you should have a list of things that you would like to see/do and also match that listing up with opening/closing times as well as days that the event is closed. That will help you plan once you get there, get a feel for the weather, etc. If this is your first time in Paris, I would recommend that you take one of the hop-on/hop-off buses so you get a feel for the location of various museums, sites.

You are right that Paris in itself is the itinerary items and you will want to have time to walk around the city and just take in the city itself - to say nothing of having time to sit and watch people.

Have a wonderful time and don't get obsessed about having to do everything on this trip. You can't - I'm planning my 7th trip and can't wait.
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Old Mar 13th, 2005, 01:18 PM
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Just my opinion...I don't think it's a mistake at all. You don't have to decide every day before hand. I love walking down the streets, finding interesting shops, cafe's..I found one of the passages before I knew they were "passages". Didn't find out about all the passages until after I got home. You can decide when you are there if you want to go to say Versailles and possibly Geverney..don't know if it's open yet..but personally, I agree with you.
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Old Mar 13th, 2005, 01:25 PM
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I am one of those who are obsessive-compulsive and like to plan my itinerary ahead of time. If you read my trip report (click on my name and you'll find it), you'll realize even I had planned it, it didn't completely work out the way I wanted.

You should at least know which museums are closed on which day(s) so that you won't waste your time. I had planned on taking guided tours at both the Louvre and the Orsay, so I researched ahead of time to see what time those were being offered.
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Old Mar 13th, 2005, 01:37 PM
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I don't follow an itinerary slavishly but I don't like to not have a sort of overview. That is one reason I like the DK guides--they are arranged by areas so you can sort of spend time in one area, see what you want, do some cafe people watching and then go on to another area.
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Old Mar 13th, 2005, 01:44 PM
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You're my kind of traveler, starry. My wife and I spent a week in Paris last fall; she wanted to go to Chartres and shop at Dehillerin and I wanted to take some photos of whatever. That was our itinerary. Whenever we got to a point of not being sure of where we wanted to go or what we wanted to eat, we fell back to our research.

In the end, we both agreed that a lack of a schedule/itinerary was very much liberating.
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Old Mar 13th, 2005, 02:11 PM
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My attitude is that if I wanted virtually every moment of my vacation time planned I would have joined a group tour. Instead, and this works especially well in Paris, I come up with a brief list of things to see/do along with a general sense of what it takes to accomplish each (location/transportation/opening hours, etc.), then use the list to plan as we go along. Some things will quite naturally fit together (e.g., Tuileries and Angelina's) while others may take the better part of a day (trip to Chartres or Versailles.) Also, if the weather or just being worn out becomes an obstacle, you can go with a "Plan B".
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Old Mar 13th, 2005, 02:40 PM
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i definitely don't think you need to plan exactly what to do each day. in paris especially, a lot may depend on the weather.

i usually end up with a list of things i'd like to do, and then we fit them in as time permits. though it's also a good idea to know what things might be near each other. the access guides arrange things by neighborhood - including site, food, shopping.

that said, i find that i get more out of sightseeing if i know something about what i'm seeing. since you've done research already, just make a list of possibilities and you're set!
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Old Mar 13th, 2005, 04:30 PM
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Well, you darn well better group attractions you might want to see by area or you will walk yourself into the sidewalk.

A friend of mine, not too bright about travel, had a list in alphabetical order.

And that was how he went at it.
Ste. Chapelle to Sacre Coeur to St. Denis. I guess it makes sense. Cross them off his list as he arrived.

Wonder what he did with Versailles and the Tuileries Gardens?

He also had Giverny and Fontainebleau on his list. I was afraid to ask how he did those two. Helicopter?
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Old Mar 13th, 2005, 05:14 PM
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Heather, for me a planned itinerary works well. I don’t slavishly stick to it, but it gives me a starting structure. Depending on weather (or druthers), I switch days or leave stuff out.

I do try to group sights, as Bob said, and give myself freedom to roam in that area, a much more efficient way to “experience” Paris and still see the things you want to see. (Bob, I love your alphabetical friend!)

I guess the reason for my itinerary is that I don’t want to waste time researching and deciding when I am there--I want to be seeing and doing!
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Old Mar 13th, 2005, 05:48 PM
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starry, we went last year with a list: I had sorted the places we wanted to see by arrondisements, and that worked well for us. We also figured out which days would work best for the 3 day museum pass and which day to see Versailles. We are going back in a couple of weeks with a list of the things we missed the first time and some things we didn't know about. I think we will have a more relaxed trip this time, but we really enjoyed our first trip, frenzy and all!
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Old Mar 13th, 2005, 06:44 PM
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No, it's not a mistake. With Paris, especially if you are going for the first time, which I gather you are, just get a list of places not to be missed. You've done that, so you are fine. That's what I do with any new place. I hate having to be tied into a specific schedule when I'm on vacation, especially when you don't know if it's going to rain or be sunny. For example, go to the top of the Eiffel Tower on a sunny day or mild evening, when you can actually go to the top (wind often prohibits the ability to do that). The Louvre is daunting, and that can be done on a rainy day. Sacre Coeur can be done on either sunny or rainy day, but I think it's more fun when it's not raining so the trip around the corner to the Place du tertre. Clump your sightseeing together so you aren't traveling all over Paris back and forth. For example, if you're going to the Notre Dame, go to Ste. Chapelle, and have ice cream (weather permitting -- oh, to hell with it, have it anyway). If you're at the Eiffel Tower, look at a map and see what's close by, like the Trocadero (great shot of the Eiffel Tower from there!) or go down to Bateau Parisiens and book a trip along the Seine. I guess what I'm saying is get a map and then decide!
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Old Mar 14th, 2005, 08:54 AM
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Each time we go to Paris, we go with less of an itinerary than the last. The first time, you ought to at least have a list of the things you want to see (with the days they are open) and a good map. I recommend the Paris Streetwise map. Then you can do each day what you want.
Paris is definitely about enjoying the moment and it is a wonderful city to just walk around and people watch. In April you should be sure to see Ste. Chapelle on a sunny day and stroll through the parks and gardens.
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Old Mar 14th, 2005, 09:24 AM
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..I have always had a non-itinerary..which doesnt mean I havent done my an explanation, I have a list of things that I just dont want to miss..(and never more than 1 a day in this catagory) and another list of would be nice. I then make sure where I know where these are in relationship to where I am staying and in relationship to each other. I also know which days thing are open (or have extended hours..I then get up each am and decide which one must do I will hit..this gives me freedom to wander and make my own discoveries (..and some of the best have been when I get lost)..this is an approach which allows flexibility bases on my energy, my mood, and the weather. I do this for any destination..not just Paris! That being said, I think it is a good idea to take a half day bus tour just to get an orientation if a city is completely new...with this method I do bring a guide book..specifically Michelin as when I wander I can actually read about what I have stumbled on..This method works for me but I am a do less see more sort of person..
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Old Mar 14th, 2005, 10:22 AM
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If the idea of a self-conducted meandering tour has any appeal, the Bus touristique map from this site is a good place to start:

Just pick a route, get off anywhere you like, and walk around. Notice that many of the "must see" monuments are marked with brown legends. The dotted lines are the routes of a commercial sightseeing bus called l'Open Tour, and are not covered by your RATP transport pass. Note that a public bus to Pigalle is not shown; that stop is served by the #67 from the Louvre, the #30 from Trocadero (across the river from the Eiffel Tower), or the #54 from Gare du Nord. Maps of individual bus lines can be downloaded at

(Drop down the list titled Lignes de 20 à 96, click your selection and OK. When each map opens, click Ouvrir ce plan en PDF for a scalable image.)
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Old Mar 14th, 2005, 10:26 AM
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I will agree with those who suggest that you organize your must-sees by neighborhood and by day (what's open, what's closed), just so that you are not literally all over the map. Then each day you can go to your #1 priority (or not) and see how the rest of the day turns out.

Most guidebooks have suggestions for organizing your time over several days, as does fodors (click above on Destinations). also has really good itinerary suggestions

In my experience, don't save anything really important for the last day--it could end up being closed, the weather could be bad, you might not be feeling well,etc

On the last day I schedule at most one optional activity, and leave the rest of the day for strolling, browsing, having a great long lunch, etc.
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Old Mar 14th, 2005, 11:02 AM
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Oscar Wilde said that when he was depresed he would go to Paris and watch the world go by which qickly liftly his depression. I would suggest yoy do as Oscar Wilde but also buy a guide book before you go and sit on psvement cafe and decide what you want most from this wonderful city.
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Old Mar 14th, 2005, 11:49 AM
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You can throw a rock in the air and hit 3 different "must-sees" in Paris. Do what you want. Just don't miss The Louvre, Notre Dame, St. Chappelle or Sacre Couer. Or the Opera Garnier. Or walking in Montmartre, or the Left Bank. Or the Musee d'Orsay. Or the Pantheon. Or the Arc de Triumph. Or...wait, you know what? Go back to what I said originally, and do what you want!
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Old Mar 14th, 2005, 12:37 PM
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You definitely do not need an itinerary for Paris - just a good flip open laminated map. And - this is my most important piece of advice - if you are taking a coat - make sure it is shorter than your knees. You will do so much climbing and the longer coats get in your way. You do stairs up and down the metro - there are an unbelievable number of stairs coming out of the metro at Sacre Couer. I did those stairs with my 20 year old daughter and a guy who kept up a running commentary in Spanish. I could not understand a word he said but my daughter did and was laughing all the way up the stairs. I was laughing because of my daughter and the whole thing made me pathetically breathless. You also climb stairs at the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame and at your hotel if it has a tiny slow elevator. Great fun. Have a good time.
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