Paris in May First Visit

Old Mar 16th, 2022, 03:15 AM
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Paris in May First Visit

This will only be my second trip to Europe and might be my only chance to visit Paris. I'm planning to add 4 or 5 days after a trip to southern France on a small group tour that will include watercolor lessons. I will be by myself for the Paris visit. I think I have found a good small hotel in/near the Marais district after finding a cheese making class nearby that I'd like to take.

Friends have recommended a boat ride on the Seine which is also nearby. Another said she preferred the Musee d'Orsay, also nearby, better than the Louvre. Since I love French Impressionists this might be a good choice for me as well as seeing the building.

a few years ago I added 4 days in Rome by myself to a similar trip so I should be fine in Paris, too. I don,t have a lot of walking stamina so doing something like the boat ride is perfect but not climbing steps in the Eiffel Tower. I would like to wander the Marais district which looks very interesting. This is what I did in Rome one day aiming for a particular shop. If you have visited this area of France did you have a favorite shop? I'd like to get a kitchen gadget or even a small ceramic dish as a souvenir.

I'm used to eating early. Will I have a problem getting a reservation for one person? Would it be better to dine at lunch time and then maybe getting take away for dinner?

I was very disappointed in the double decker hop on/hop off bus in Rome but someone recommended some public bus routes in Paris that go thru scenic areas which sound good for me.

Did tou have a favorite outdoor market?

There is so much to see but I will only have five days. What was your favorite thing to do in Paris? If I sit at an outdoor cafe table how much am I expected to buy and how long would sitting there be considered rude?

Is there a guide book or blog you found helpful?
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Old Mar 16th, 2022, 05:14 AM
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I'm so happy for you, dfrosty. Have to give a friend a ride to pick up her car but will return with some specific things. In the meantime, what is the hotel you like? You can sit with a café au lait all day.
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Old Mar 16th, 2022, 07:35 AM
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If you have your evening meal early (19:00), you probably don't need reservations unless you are planning on fancy restaurants which often don't open until 19:30 anyway. If you want to eat earlier than 19:00, you can go to a brasserie or a non-stop service restaurant ("service continu") and then you definitely don't need to make a reservation.
You are sure to enjoy the Orsay, closed on Mondays. You should make a reservation online. None of the boat cruises on the Seine require a reservation, except for the overpriced dinner cruises.
You will never get bored just wandering in Paris.
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Old Mar 16th, 2022, 07:36 AM
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Hi TDudette. The hotel has the charming exterior of an old building and two small hotels have been converted to a single hotel but still small, only 50 rooms. The rooms are small but according to reviews I've read they are actually larger than typical Paris hotel rooms. In room coffee/tea but no fridge. Close to bus stop. Decor is trendy modern but that's ok. Staff speak several languages. They will arrange my ride to airport to go home. There seems to be many restaurants within walking distance according to the map and trip advisor reviews. But, I was a bit surprised that one restaurant that is open for lunch closes at 3 and then doesn't reopen until 7pm. I better check hours before I make any plans. And breakfast is included. My hotel in Rome had breakfast included and it was nice to see other faces in the morning before I set out for the day.
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Old Mar 16th, 2022, 07:55 AM
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small staff restaurant hours are "controlled" by labour laws, brasseries as kerouac says are set up to have enough staff to not find labour laws so controlling hence you will find some places open for a long time and others pretty tight.
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Old Mar 16th, 2022, 07:56 AM
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I am happy for you. How exciting to be going to Paris! I do recommend a guidebook (Rick Steves's book comes to mind) for ideas and tips for a first visit.

The Musee d'Orsay is wonderful but I my favorites are the Musee de l'Orangerie and the Rodin Museum. The Musee de l'Orangerie has stunning Monet watercolors and doesn't take long to go through. If you like Rodin's sculpture, his museum is lovely and also not too large. Another must for me is the Sainte-Chappelle - a little jewel of a chapel with amazing stained glass windows.

If you decide to go to the Eiffel Tower, you don't have to climb steps but can take the elevator. I prefer to go at nighttime when it is illuminated and the lights on the tower sparkle for 5 minutes every hour on the hour. It also seems less crowded in the evening. If you decide not to go up the tower, you can just walk around the base.

I found this article about buying kitchenware: https://www.thekitchn.com/best-place...e-paris-254957. I bought a small item at E. Dehillerin on my last visit and would like to visit some of these other shops.

Happy planning!
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Old Mar 16th, 2022, 08:27 AM
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We like to walk and walk. I struggle with getting overwhelmed in museums, so I try to target certain sections and spend an hour or two on the things I want to see. I like the Orsay, and will head directly to the Impressionist floor and start there then see what else I feel like I have the stamina to see.

I also like the Sainte Chapele, especially on a sunny day.

You can get a great view for free by taking the escalators to the rooftop of the Galerie Lafeyette.

It's fun to see the Eiffel Tower lit up at night.

We usually cover 10 miles or more walking during the day and like to have lunch out, then maybe just pick up some stuff to bring back for dinner. Favorite lunches: Buvette, Septime, Chez l'ami Jean, Huitrerie Regis.

I find the Metro to be easy to use and efficient for getting longer distances. I also like to walk a lot, too, so we tend to walk a lot all day and then use the Metro more in the evenings. A few years ago, we rented an apartment for ten days in the 14th near Parc Mountsouris, and we used the Metro daily to get closer to the city center and back to the apartment. It's so easy and convenient. But when we stay closer into the city center, we tend to just walk most places.
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Old Mar 16th, 2022, 08:34 AM
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  • is Michael Osman still guiding? I'd highly recommend him for the 1st day of dfrost's visit; he took us thru a typical market as well as lots of other stuff our first day, and we weren't exhausted at day's end. That way you know what you'd like to go back to on subsequent days.
  • if you get the batobus on the Seine that arrives at Eiffel Tower at 8:45 PM, you don't need to walk up. You get off the boat, the tower lights light up just for you, ....wonderful Of course, you could simply arrange to just BE there at 8:45; the boat ride isn't THAT special; you can appreciate its prominence from the ground just as well as the air but the light show is grand
  • try to look up "passages" here on the Fodors site....plenty of posts about them, and the interesting shops that populate them
  • agree D'Orsay 1st, Orangerie 2nd cuz it's fast,
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Old Mar 16th, 2022, 09:07 AM
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I think a lot of this stuff is just hype or bad info like a lot of tourists give. Such as that you can't eat dinner "early" etc. I suppose that depends on your definition of early, though, if it is 5 pm, yeah, that might be a problem. I sometimes reserve for a place I really like and want to be sure I get it when I want, but I don't eat in expensive restaurants ever, so it's a different thing, I suppose. I have reserved at Bofinger's, for example, as I really like that place and it does open at 7, as I recall, so if I'm going to be in that area for a performance or something and want to make sure I can dine when I want, I reserve. I haven't been to Paris in two years, unfort8unately, due to COVID and usually went in summer, so sometimes restaurants did get booked up, though, in popular areas. For example, I really like Le Relais de l'Entrecote as they have profiteroles (few places do any more) and I do like their steak. That is not an expensive place but given I stay in Montparnasse, that one right on the bd does get busy on certain days of the week (mostly weekends) They open at 6:45 pm and don't take reservations anyway. They have one in St Germain also.

As for just sitting at a cafe forever, well, you do have to order something and that might get boring anyway to just sit somewhere doing nothing. YOu have to have a drink or something. It really depends what kind of place you are talking about and time of day as to whether it is ok for you to just sit someplace for long periods and buy nothing. I wouldn't ever do that but I could nurse a glass of wine maybe an hour. In the morning, I may go out for coffee and sit and read the newspapers (the cafes I go to have them for patrons) and spend an hour doing that, but never hours on end. But I don't go to places in the Marais. Some cafes will not allow you to do that during dinner hours especially, at least not at some tables.. And cafe au lait is not good when cold.

I think you can decide from descriptions what museums you want to go to. The Louvre does have some Impressionist works, by the way. So does the Petit Palais which I really like.
https://www.petitpalais.paris.fr/en/.../chefs-doeuvre

A lot of restaurants close after lunch and then reopen for dinner, a restaurant can't be open 24/7. That is pretty normal where I live in the US, actually, for a regular restaurant.

I don't like the Marais much myself, so have no favorite spots there except I do like Bofingers. Actually, I like Cafe des Phares on the place but that's nothing special, just a place to hang out if I'm waiting around for a show at the Bastille Opera or something. Bonfinger isn't super cheap but it is a beautiful restaurant and they do cook well, and the service has always been really nice whne I"ve been there.
https://www.bofingerparis.com/en/
You can reserve online for them, including for one, beginning at 6:30 pm.

Seine cruise takes about an hour, I guess. It's ok, I never loved it as you are down low but it's something to do. The ones I've used do require a bit of tricky steps down to the boat.






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Old Mar 16th, 2022, 09:59 AM
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Just going through your and others’ comments:

The Impressionists at Musee d’Orsay are worth it and are my preference. If the Orangerie is a convenient stop, the Water Lilies are incroyable—so huge. A lovely, intimate gallery in the lower level there also. Non-dinner Seine boat ride also nice…ours was just before dusk so sundown and the lights were lovely.

Eiffel Tower has elevators. When we were there, they stalled. On a subsequent trip we took a Paris by Night tour that included dinner in the middle-range restaurant.

Here's a bus map link: https://www.ratp.fr/en/plan-bus
ETA, Rick Steves has some good down to earth info!
If you see an inviting restaurant, ask your hotel clerk to call to see about dinner reservations. At lunch, we never made them.

The Paris HOHO bus will give you a nice tour. The secret is to stay on the bus and return to any area that looked good. If things are busy, there are delays. Rhody and I first took metro everywhere; as my asthma and knees got worse, we switched to busses. I’ll check a previous TR for the bus map. Also, many of the busses have electronic signage.

One of the oldest food markets is on Rue Moufftard…others can say if it’s still as vibrant was in the past. Edgar Quinet does had various types of sales during the week.

As I wrote above, when you are ready for the check, ask for it; until then, no one will bother you except for refills.

DK was our ‘goto’ book for travel. So much more is online now.

Other posts: Your hotel sounds nice. What is its name please? Or what is the name of the bus stop?

I agree with KTtravel about Sainte-Chappelle. Rodin if you like sculpture but… Dehillerin has been THE place but Kerouac can make other reccos.

Also a yes oui to kureiff about the rooftop resto at Galerie Lafayette. Pompidou Center had one also when we were there. Windy but great views.

I don’t know Michael Osman, but tomboy’s note that he won’t tire you out but you’ll still get a good view sounds nice. The passages tomboy mentions are covered shopping areas…others can help with particularly interesting ones.

As a tourist, I never put sitting in the cafe all day to the test, so I’m sure Christina is correct. But yes, you do need to order something. FWIW, I love cold coffee…cold pizza and fries too…but that’s another thread. We/I often just stopped to eat when we were hungry…during the day I don’t remember it being a problem.

Here are two TRs for your looking. Of course, everything is pre-covid, and pre-uber. In 2016, the G7 taxis were popular…many but not all took credit cards.

This was our first to Paris. We took metro all the way:

Paris 1997-Only read for history.

Rhody and I stayed near the Quinet market in this trip:

Trip Report: A Provence Sandwich

When I went by myself in 2016, things were different. I didn’t have a phone but it would have been more convenient. Giverny was very special. I beat the crowd from the train station in Vernon by taking a taxi…did the same for return.

April in Paris...with a Side of Bordeaux

I loved the Montparnasse area more than le Marais but getting around is pretty easy no matter where you stay! We've all poo-pooed the Louvre but it too is worth it...just go early and get tickets in advance. There used to be a museum pass...this or any pre-bought ticket gets you in a shorter line. AND, go as early as possible. To all, if I've made mistakes, please let me know nicely so dfroshnh can have a more enjoyable trip!

Last edited by TDudette; Mar 16th, 2022 at 10:05 AM.
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Old Mar 16th, 2022, 10:37 AM
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Random recs:

The Metro is fast and gets you far, but you will know Paris only as unconnected random spots. The bus system will show you the city, more slowly of course.

The Ste-Chapelle has the most amazing stained glass. They are stunning in sunlight, otherwise, meh.

The Louvre is overwhelming if you want to see it all or even just the major highlights. For an astounding museum, go to the Branly for an unmatched collection of non-western non-oriental art.
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Old Mar 16th, 2022, 11:16 AM
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Outdoor Market:
Le Marche des Enfants Rouges. Outdoor farmers market with places to eat. Not far north of Le Marche des Enfants Rouges, you can visit Jacques Genin, a chocolate shop that looks more like a jewelry store. There is a tea salon inside, An Only-in-Paris experience. In the Marais, go to the tea shop, Marriages Freres.

If you are in Paris on a weekend -especially on Saturday or early Sunday, then the old flea market, Les Puces de St Ouen, is a tremendous site. It's actually a collection of a dozen or more flea markets. The oldest one, Marche Vernaison, is quite an experience and the shops are stunning. My favorite place in Paris.

There is a lot of walking to be done in Paris, even taking metro and bus involves walking. So do yourself a favor and grab a taxi when you need to. It can be a life saver.




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Old Mar 16th, 2022, 11:55 AM
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I would just like to point out that there are no farmers' markets in Paris. There are covered markets, the uncovered Enfants Rouges market, street markets and market streets, and just about everything sold at any of them comes from the huge national central market in Rungis. The sellers are just vendors, not farmers (with of course excessively few exceptions).
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Old Mar 16th, 2022, 12:27 PM
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kerouac, is Moufftard still active? Thanks.
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Old Mar 16th, 2022, 01:07 PM
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Yes, it is still a market street, but not worth a detour. It's all right for anybody staying in the area.
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Old Mar 16th, 2022, 02:28 PM
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Here’s an article with suggestions of public bus routes to use for sightseeing—

https://www.eurocheapo.com/blog/pari...ghtseeing.html

(Verify routes with RAPT. The article is from 2013. Some routes have changed.)

And here’s one on the 87 bus, updated 2020–

https://www.parisperfect.com/blog/20...-bus-87-guide/

More bus info (but I’m not seeing a publication date, probably 2019, when we visited in November)—

https://www.eutouring.com/paris_bus_route_maps.html

When I was younger, the Metro was the way to go. Now, I’m finding I miss seeing where I’m going and the Metro correspondences (transfers) between lines can be a lot of walking and quite tiring. Using the bus may take more time but I find the bus to be more relaxing and interesting.
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Old Mar 16th, 2022, 02:49 PM
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I heartily agree about taking the bus. Very easy to navigate and a sightseeing trip to boot. Take the 69 bus and you get a wonderful tour of Paris.

Out of curiosity, what is the name of the hotel you have chosen?
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Old Mar 16th, 2022, 04:55 PM
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I'm pro-Louvre, myself. You don't have to go and try to see everything.

Since you are staying in the Marais, you might want to consider Carnavalet, which has recently been restored (I've haven't been since they re-opened).
https://www.carnavalet.paris.fr/musee-carnavalet

There is of course the Picasso museum, also in the Marais. Victor Hugo's house. And much more.

I don't have problems walking, so leave it to the bus experts to guide you on that front.

I agree with visiting the Petit Palais.
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Old Mar 16th, 2022, 05:23 PM
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None of us mentioned Place des Vosges!
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Old Mar 16th, 2022, 06:38 PM
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Originally Posted by TDudette View Post
None of us mentioned Place des Vosges!
Victor Hugo's house is on Place des Vosges.
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