Paris first-timers


Apr 8th, 2011, 02:32 PM
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Paris first-timers

We'll be taking our first trip to Paris for 10 days in early May. We land at CDG airport at the hotel on Ile St Louis by 10 (?)...and that's when our first day adventure begins. We are thinking about spending the remainder of the day as follows:
- walk about the islands, grab a light lunch, then head back to the hotel to organize
- by mid or late afternoon, walk or take the Metro to the Louvre/Marais area, hoping to
enter the museum (avoid the crowds?)
- finally, before we crash from jet lag, we'd like to find a wine bar or bistro in that
general area where we can relax and enjoy some charcuteries, fromage, and wine

Any opinions on our first day tentative plan? And, more specifically, any good suggestions on a wine bar, bistro, etc in that general area? Thanks for any input....
wjb485 is offline  
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Apr 8th, 2011, 03:05 PM
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Actually you have a really good eating and drinking place within blocks of you. I think it is Brasserie en I'le de St. Louis. Anyway it is just across the bridge from Notre Dame on the left. Great food, beautiful place to sit on the terrace and look at Notre Dame. Their onion tart is delicious.
Gretchen is offline  
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Apr 8th, 2011, 03:06 PM
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Let me start by saying you are not likely to get to the hotel by 10 if you land at 8. 11 would be more realistic, at least that's always been my experience. A lot depends on how busy the airport is.

Overall I like your plan with one exception: I wouldn't take on the Louvre on your first day. Save that for another day when your brain is fresh and you can really enjoy it. I always plan a full day for the Louvre, but even if you are not a huge art lover I still think it's a bad idea on your first day.

You will be very tired from the flight and the time change so make your first day very mellow and unrushed. I think your best bet is to walk around and get oriented. I like to walk around some gardens on my first day. Get some info on the Metro and look at train schedules for any day trip you plan to take. And of course enjoy a nice cafe and watch the world go by. I can't offer a specific suggestion for a cafe but I hope someone else can.

Try to resist the temtpation to have a midday nap. I always make myself stay up at least until 9pm (later if possible) that way you will get adjusted to the time faster.

Have a great trip, Paris is truly one of the world's best cities.
P_M is offline  
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Apr 8th, 2011, 03:13 PM
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Another restaurant suggestion on the island is Le caveaux d'Isle Excellent, small, quiet, reservations recommended.
gh21 is offline  
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Apr 8th, 2011, 03:21 PM
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Let me start by saying you are not likely to get to the hotel by 10 if you land at 8."

Hope you are lucky, but most hotels will not have a room for you until the afternoon.
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Apr 8th, 2011, 03:53 PM
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Both Danon and P_M are right. You are going to land at CDG, which is a congested, inefficient dump. Then you need to take a cab (serious overcharge) or RER B to central Paris and find your way to your hotel. Good luck getting there by 10!

And good luck avoiding crowds at the Louvre. Actually, it's possible to do that -- don't see the smiling lady and don't worry about the armless goddess or anything painted between 1450 and 1860 and you may be able to stroll through there with ease.
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Apr 9th, 2011, 12:05 AM
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Re the Louvre - we were there before opening time, so that once we had our tickets we could go straight up to the Mona Lisa. Saw her in all her glory without any crowds at all - then proceeded to wander through the rest of the Louvre at our leisure. Di
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Apr 9th, 2011, 05:15 AM
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With ten days you have plenty of time. If you don't make it to the Louvre that first day, you will find another time to go. Just stay flexible so if you are exhausted from an overnight flight you do not have to stick to a strict schedule. Everybody responds to jet lag differently.

For myself, I find it impossible to stay awake and happy after an overnight flight without a nap. Then I can stay up later that first couple of nights than otherwise because, having not adjusted to the time change, I think it is earlier than it is.

For me, flexibility is the key.
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Apr 9th, 2011, 05:49 AM
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After suggesting the restaurant, I will second what many have said. No museums on the first day. A Seine boat ride at dusk is our first day regimen often. You will be close, so walk around Notre Dame, have lunch somewhere. If you are buying a Navigo pass, get that done. Buy your museum pass--in other words, do "housekeeping". We also do not nap the first day, and go to bed early. Then we seem to be fine the next day, ready to go.
Your hotel room will probably not be ready but they will undoubtedly have a place for you to leave your luggage and to freshen up a bit upon arrival--later than 10 for sure!!
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Apr 9th, 2011, 06:42 AM
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Hi wj,

Good advice above.

You will be very jet lagged. Don't do anything the first day that requires remembering or thinking.

Your hotel will hold your bags for you and put them in your room when it is ready.

Wander around, take a boat ride. Look at the ET. Visit the book shops along the Seine. Find a wine shop. Have a gelato at Amorino. Buy a carnet of metro tickets. See the Tuileries. Save the Louvre for another day.

Enjoy your visit.

ira is offline  
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Apr 9th, 2011, 10:59 AM
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You will be too fatigued by jet lag the first day to appreciate anything. Usually, during the first day you will feel like you're dreaming (but not in a good way), and anything you see or visit will not be very clearly remembered. Save all important sights for some other day.

You don't need to take the Métro to get from the Ile Saint-Louis to the Marais. You can just walk there. There are no Métro stations on the island, anyway, so you don't have much choice.

The best gelato is arguably on the Montmartre butte, at Tutti Sensi.

The Louvre usually isn't that crowded; the wait is much longer at the Orsay Museum. Save both for some other day. If you go the first day, it will seem unpleasant. Make sure you go to bed at an appropriate time (not before 9 PM, not after midnight), and try to sleep for a good 7-8 hours.
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Apr 9th, 2011, 12:26 PM
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You will find lots of charming restaurants on Ile Saint Louis. Also, Bertillon is on Ile St Louis and is worth the wait for ice cream. (Salted butter caramel is to die for).

Agree, skip museums on day one or go for something less crowded and more leisurely like Musee Rodin. Maybe just stroll through Notre Dame or Luxembourg Gardens, in good weather. Just stroll and orient yourself to Paris and your surroundings. There is a great shop for scarves on the main street of Ile St Louis (Dinali, I think) and a great chocolate shop called Cacao et Chocolat across from it. I still crave the chocolate we brought home from there.

Take the RER if you really want to get to your hotel to drop your bags early. Traffic can be bad in a taxi.
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Apr 9th, 2011, 01:20 PM
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On our first visit to Paris, once we dropped our bags at the hotel (they gave us a room, sometimes they will simply take your bags and hold them until they have a room for you) and went out for a stroll and to get familiar with the area. Pick up a copy of "Time Out" in the lobby of the hotel. We walked around the block of our hotel, noting possible places we'd "need" during our, wine shop, Metro stop, Bus stop, etc. We bought a carnet of Metro tickets (ten tickets - although there may be better options if you are going to be in Paris for 10 days.) We walked to the Picasso Museum in the Marais, and picked up a Carte de Musee (the famous museum card). You don't have to start visiting museums that day, I think the first place you visit marks the date the card starts "counting" the days -- but check on that before you buy. It just seemed it was easier to get it at a minor museum, and then you already had it so you could bypass the worst of the wait lines at the Louvre or d'Orsay later in the week.

As you are walking, taking care of this minor business, find a good place for lunch (preferably where you can see plates in front of people that are loaded with food you would be interested in eating!) and take your time. Look over Time-Out and your map of Paris. You CAN go back to your hotel for a shower if you want - particularly if you weren't able to get into your room earlier, but resist the urge to nap.

After that - your plans for a simple dinner are perfect. There will likely be street performers around Notre Dame -- we always enjoy watching the roller skaters. Head back to the hotel and a good night's sleep when you feel ready for it.

Have a terrific time in Paris.
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Apr 10th, 2011, 06:27 PM
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If you haven't done it already contact your hotel and ask them if they will let you check in early. I ask every time I travel in the US and Europe. I have never been refused an early check-in and the longest I ever had to wait was 45 minutes. The typical response was that they would accommodate me if they could and it was dependent on what time the other guests checked out. No guarantees, but it never hurts to ask.

I hope you have a fantastic trip.
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Apr 11th, 2011, 09:15 AM
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Thank you to all of you- absolutely great advice and suggestions! Three weeks and much to do and little time!
wjb485 is offline  
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Apr 11th, 2011, 10:11 AM
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this is a great little wine bar on the island, open all day too so if jet lag sets in and you need to eat and drink at an odd time this is the place to go...nice wine selections and the food is actually good and inexpensive
La Taverne Henri IV

13 Place du Pont Neuf
75001 Paris, France
01 43 54 27 90
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