Paris Itinerary for 4.5 Days

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Aug 25th, 2003, 05:34 PM
  #21
 
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In Montmartre, you might try to find the only other surviving windmill ('moulin') left in Paris (besides Moulin Rouge)... And, since you are on your honeymoon , you might get a kick out of the Musée de l'Erotisme, which is a bonafide museum with exhibits ranging from the humorous to the macabre (listed in Frommer's).Ok, only if you're really out of things to do...
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Aug 25th, 2003, 06:12 PM
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We just returned from 13 days in France, the last 7 of which were in Paris. We scoped out the major works we wanted to see in the Louvre and Musee D'Orsay and it still took 1/2 day each. We did a lot of walking, took the metro as well. The lines for the eiffel tower can be 1-2 hours long for the elevator and they stop taking people up around 10pm. We took the stairs and the elevator when we had to - still waited in line about 40 minutes...you can also find long lines to get down! Our highlight was the night tour with Mike's Bikes on Segways. We saw all of the major sites lit up in about 4 hours and had a blast on the segways as well. We did not go with specific restaurants in mind and just stopped at various cafe's that all turned out to be good. Versailles was OK - a full day in 105 degree heat. If I only had 5 days, I'd skip it and go back another time. We did buy the museum pass which was not for economic reasons but saved standing in line at the louvre, versaille and Musee D'orsay. In retrospect, we saw a ton of things - really liked the Pantheon but its not for everyone; took the train out to Roland Garros stadium for a tour since my son is a huge tennis fan. That was outside the 'box' tourists tend to get in. The trip was exhausting but fun. You'll have a great time.
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Aug 25th, 2003, 07:14 PM
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So much Paris, so little time!

A few tune-ups that will improve your trip:

Remain flexible so you can change plans as needed. For instance, the St Chapelle is always amazing but the splendor of the stained glass will really knock the breath out of you on a sunny day. So, of course, go when it's sunny!

Cluny, on the other hand, is all inside. In addition to the unicorn tapestries, it has some remarkable illuminated manuscripts and a collection of Roman antiquities. Part of the structure is a Roman bath. The last few times we were in Paris, we got one more plus: On Fridays and Saturdays there is a one hour concert on medieval instruments in the Roman bath. I think it was around noontime, but check for yourself. Rest your feet and relax your mind. Ticket is cheap for a concert and includes admission to the museum.

If you want a nighttime view of illuminated Paris, the Eifel tower is not the optimum place. For one thing, you can't see the Eifel tower! Better bets are a night cruise on the Seine (but not the one with food, which is undistinguished at best) or a Paris by night bus tour (which will include the old Opera bathed in light), or, if you don't want to be just another tourist, the view from the top of the Tour Montparnasse at 11PM. Explanation: The ugliest desecration of all of the Paris cityscape is the Montparnasse Tower. If you are on top of it just before it closes at 11:30 PM, you can see all of Paris, illuminations and all, including the Eifel Tower, but you won't see the Tour Montparnasse! They charge admission!

For a free daytime view of all of Paris, Tour Montparnasse included, go to the observation deck of Samaritaine department store. Only one bank of elevators goes to the very top, just ask. They have a cafe up there with light food -- haven't eaten it but it looked pretty good, and the view!!!

I love modern art, so I always go to the Pompidou Center. There are always a few special exhibits in addition to the permanent collection. Personally, I like the Picasso Museum also.

The best time I had in the Louvre was following a rapid (2 hour) tour of the highlights from an old issue of Conde Nast Traveler magazine.

With the high concentration of museums in your short trip, you are at risk of what my wife and I call Louvre Sickness. The main symptom is the sudden realization that viewing one more work of art will cause your head to explode. The only tratment is a coffee or citron presse at a sidewalk cafe. Or wine.

Three other restaurants to consider, for food and wine, but not for tourism or history: Au Buisson Ardent, La Cagouille, and L'Argenteuil. You'll need the correct spellings, not my strength, to look them up.

If you do half of what you plan, you'll still have a great time!
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Aug 25th, 2003, 07:28 PM
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oops... only TREATMENT
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Aug 25th, 2003, 08:32 PM
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Agree with AJPeabody "So much Paris, so little time!"

Excellent advice throughout this thread!

Just a couple of other points:

1) Pompidou Center - be aware that major pieces of modern art are not there but away on tour - San Francisco has numerous pieces for its Marc Chagall exhibit and New York had its Picasso-Matisse exhibit, altho the latter pieces may be back in Paris by now.

2) Two hours for the Louvre is good advice. Focus on the Denon Wing which has the Mona Lisa, etc. Save the rest for another trip, otherwise, your eyes will truly glaze over.

3) The Orsay is a wonderful visit. Maybe you could do one museum a day.

4) The Pantheon is the model for the U.S. Congress building. It is the final resting place for "Les Grands Hommes" of France - Voltaire, Victor Hugo, etc. but not Charles de Gaulle. Interesting whom the French consider their great men!

5) The idea to visit the nearby church, St. Etienne du Mont, is a good one. This is Paris' own church, built for the patron saint of Paris, St. Genievive.
Inside, it has the only surviving rood screen (like a bridge) in Paris. All the other rood screens in Paris were destroyed during the French Revolution. The surviving one in St. Etienne is a beautiful, delicate structure.

6) Les Deux Magots is a bit expensive, resting mostly on its fame rather than the quality of its food. If you are interested in Les Deux Magots, perhaps, you should just stop by Shakespeare and Co. You get a nice view of Notre Dame from the adjacent St. Julien Le Pauvre. You can't go into St Julien but you can see the acacia tree in its garden, the oldest tree in Paris.

So many other places in Paris - hope this will be the first of many trips for the two of you together!

Have a great honeymoon!
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Aug 25th, 2003, 09:02 PM
  #26
 
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I think your itinerary sounds wonderful...You're on the right track..
We stayed at the Balzac,too, and I can highly recommend it...Pierre Gagnaire's wonderful restaurant is right there...Don't skip Versailles..Like me, it sounds like you like museums...one of Paris's best options...You can do the Cluny and the Musee d'Orsay in a day...a long half day is plenty for the d'Orsay, my favorite museum...the Rodin isn't that far away..another little two hour visit that will cover it..Yachts de Paris is a luxury dinner cruise company...pricey...food is excellent...with cruise thrown in..only seats 42 on the boat...just another thought if that is what you'd like to do for the cruise...Happy Honeymoon!
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Aug 26th, 2003, 06:25 AM
  #27
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So I have altered our schedule and I think this may be the final draft...

Tuesday Afternoon - Notre Dame, Deportation Memorial behind ND, St. Chapelle and Concierge. In the evening, go to the Ile St. Louis for a stroll and dinner.

Wednesday - Arc de Triomphe, wander down the Champs Elysses, walk through Place de la Concorde, Jardin des Tulleries, Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, and then the Louvre (which is open until 9 PM on Wednesday). Go to the Eiffel Tower on the way back to the hotel, approach via Champs de Mars.

Lunch and Dinner ideas near the Louvre -Café Marly in the Richelieu Wing of the Louvre and Juveniles (tapas) 47 Rue de Richelieu.

Thursday - Pantheon, St. Etienne du Mont, Musee Cluny (aka Musee National du Moyen Age), Luxembourg Gardens, St. Germain des Pres, and Musee d?Orsay (open until 9 PM).

Lunch idea - Picnic in the Gardens.

Friday - Pompidou Centre, wander through the Marais area and walk through the Place des Vosges, then take the Metro to the Blanche station and go to Sacre Coeur and wander the Montmartre area (Rue St. Vincent/Place des Abbesses).

Dinner Reservations - Taillevent at 8 PM

Saturday - Versailles (EARLY) and perhaps book to see the King?s and Queen?s private apartments via a guided tour.

Dinner idea - Go the Opera Quarter so we can walk past the Opera House at night (go early enough to do some shopping).

One evening go to Fouquet?s (99 Champs Elysees) or Laduree (75 Champs Elysees) for macaroons or tarts. Both are open until 1 AM.
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Aug 26th, 2003, 06:30 AM
  #28
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Oh my...I almost forgot.

Thanks to all of you who took the time to comment on my itinerary. I think you helped me really improve my trip.

Thanks so much.
Dawn
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Aug 26th, 2003, 06:54 AM
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I don't see that anybody has suggested you try to see a performance at the Opera house instead of just walking past it. In my opinion it is not that interesting just to walk past the opera and that area is not as full of restaurants and nightlife as some other areas might be. I have seen the ballet at the Opera Garnier twice, and that was really nice. Tickets were easy to order online through FNAC. (Also saw an opera there in 1972, but that was in another lifetime and hardly counts.)

I believe there are tours inside the opera house during the day. At the Musee d'Orsay there is a cutaway model of the opera house which is pretty interesting.
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Aug 26th, 2003, 07:47 AM
  #30
 
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I see that you are planing a dinner on Ile St-Louis. I had a wonder lunch at the Auberge de la Reine Blanche a couple years ago and you might want to look over there menu when you are there. They also have a web site: www.aubergedelareineblanche.com

If you do go to the Opera, try to visit the interior. It is open during the day, but I do not know about the evening. The interior is exceptional.

Laduree also has a location on rue Royal near le Madeleine and if you do get in this area, be sure to visit Fauchon's, it is behind Le Madeline. Their address is: 26, Place de la Madeleine.

Here is the web site for Laduree: http://www.laduree.fr/
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Aug 26th, 2003, 08:30 AM
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Dawn, You mentioned the King's Apartments at Versailles, they are great, you see as much there as in the rest of the place. You don't need to book a tour, though, there is an audio guide included with the entry fee, which was around 4 euro last year. Enjoy!
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Aug 26th, 2003, 08:48 AM
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DR,
Since you like the Orsay, maybe you might want to add the Marmottan museum. It has a great selection of impressionists, especially Monet lilies. It is in the "vicinity" of the Eiffel Tower (west end)

http://www.marmottan.com/uk/sommaire/index.htm

By Opera House, I assume you mean the Opera Garnier? This is no longer used for opera, I believe they do use it sometimes for ballet. The "new" opera house is near Bastille is a "modern" building. The Garnier is a fantastic building, worth a visit.

The Rodin Museum is also near the Eiffel, and recommended.

Mike

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Aug 26th, 2003, 09:03 AM
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Any chance of switching Versailles to a weekday? Weekends there are a mob scene. Either way, getting there as soon as they open is a great idea.
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Aug 26th, 2003, 09:18 AM
  #34
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The reason that we chose Saturday is because according to the Versailles website it is the only day during our time in Paris that the fountains will be operating.

I assumed that it would be busier than usual on the weekends, but I thought it would be worth it to see the gardens in "full fountain splendor".
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Aug 26th, 2003, 10:20 AM
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I agree that if you have the time, taking a tour inside the Opera Garnier building is worthwhile, but it is magnificient to see at night, so think that's a good idea if you can't fit a tour or performance in. They do indeed have opera there still, quite a bit. It's a smaller venue than the Bastille, so they can't do the real big opera works there, but they do smaller operas there through the entire season (eg, Rameau in Sept, Strauss, etc). They have a double program of Puccini's Gianni Schicchi and Ravel's l'Heure Espagnole in March/April 2004 which sounds wonderful. They do a lot more ballet there, it is true, but there are also simply musical concerts at times. Entire schedules are on www.opera-de-paris.com
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Aug 26th, 2003, 10:40 AM
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Two more suggestions for your time in Montematre - we visited the Dali museum up there, if you enjoy his work, its worth the time. Also you might consider a walking tour, there is one on Fri afternoons at 2:30. You can check out www.paris-walks.com. I have taken several of their tours including the Montmatre one, saw lots of things I might have missed on my own and it included lots of little tidbits of history and biographic gossip on the famous neighborhood residents. Have a wonderful time! SueC1
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Aug 26th, 2003, 12:17 PM
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I thought you had a fine itinerary to begin with by taking advantage of the late openings of the Louvre and d'Orsay and am glad to see you didn't change that in your latest iteration.

As long as everyone else is remaking you in their own image, I'll mold the clay too.

Forget the Pantheon and Sacre Couer - neither worth the trouble to get there. Add back the Picasso and don't miss the Pompidou. The fountains outside are the Stravinsky. If you can spare even a half hour go to the Rodin, the gardens contain The Burghers of Calais, The Gate of Hell, The Thinker and Balzac just inside the entrance. The Metro stop Varenne is closest.

Do go into the Opera. The Chagall ceiling is awesome. If you do go to Rue de Richelieu notice the fun Metro entrance in front of the Comedie Francaise and pop into the Palais Royal, some intriguing shops in the arcades.

It is a long walk from the Arc to the Louvre so you might reconsider that since you expect to have a beverage or some such at Fouquet and will do some of it some evening anyway.

Enjoy.
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Aug 29th, 2003, 02:01 PM
  #38
 
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Sweet thread. We're leaving in 2 weeks for a 5 days in Paris too! She's never been, but I've done many of the great museums already. Thanks to you guys, we'll be seeing the Jaquemarte (sp?) Museum for sure. I forgot how great the Rodin Museum was, AND the Marmotten. I won't go back to either, but if you've never seen them, they're incredible. You can do them in 30-40 minutes each!

I'm downloading this for our own trip. Trying to decide which guidebook - I'm almost definitely taking Rick Steves France (we'll also be in Provence and the French Riviera for 11 days) and this cool colorful thin one that fits in my back pocket - Eyewitness Top 10 Guide - with the top ten things to do in each category and museum. It's life just like I like it - cut down to the essentials. I'd LIKE to bring the huge Lonely Planet France too, but it weighs a freakin' ton! I think we'll just leave that home.

Which guide books will be in YOUR back pocket? I WISH I had a guide book last time I went. I only brought Rick Steves Paris and it was decent, but not all that historical.

Steve
Excited as all get out,
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