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Paris Itinerary for a First Timer - Feedback and/or suggestions welcome!

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Dec 21st, 2012, 02:19 PM
  #1
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Paris Itinerary for a First Timer - Feedback and/or suggestions welcome!

Hello Fodorites and Merry Xmas. Love this time of year!

Thank you to all of you who offer such wonderful and supportive advice. I have been able to plan the time we will take in each place due to this excellent forum. I turn to you again for some advice and feedback on what will be the busiest part of our itinerary being Paris. I am so excited to be visiting but have found there really is just so much to see. I guess a return visit will be on the cards.

We will be staying in an apartment in Marais arriving Sat 11 May and can drop off our bags at 10 am so will have most of the day on our first day. Please note, we are arriving from Amsterdam by train so it will be an early start around 5 am however we will be over any jetlag by then. We leave for Rome on Thurs 16 May and have transportation booked for the airport at 5 pm.

I appreciate that our itinerary could be seen as ambitious so am keen for any feedback. I am mindful though that this is truly the busiest part of our trip and plan for the remainder 5 weeks to be more relaxed. Therefore we are open to trying to see what we can achieve while here without busting ourselves in two or diminishing the feel or magic that I am sure Paris has to offer. While I love art and will visit quite a few museums, we are not going to study each and every piece in detail. Although, I won't just run for the most popular pieces either just to say we have seen them so I have tried to give adequate time at each. Here goes.

**Sat 11 May
Arrive Paris Nord, taxi to accommodation and check in at 10 am (ish)
Walk to Notre Dame & Saint Chapelle
Lunch
Latin Quarter Bike Tour @ 1 pm (to acquaint ourselves)
Musee de Cluny (open til 5.45 pm) & Jardin Du Luxembourg
Evening: Seine River Cruise
Picnic at Vedettes de Pont Neuf to watch sunset before going on cruise

**Sun 12 May
Visit ST Ouen Flea Market (opens at 10 am so intend to be there by this time)
Lunch (I imagine at the market)
Return and wonder around Marais (no huge plans)
Streets to go to: Rue De Rosiers, Ru de Escouffes, Rud Vielle du Temple & Rue Saint Paul (for antiques)
Place des Vosges (maybe Centre Pompidou - see how time goes)
Dinner (researching good dining options currently)

**Mon 13 May
Trocadero & Eiffel Tower (early to avoid lines)
Champs Elysee (must go to Laduree for Macarons!!)
Le Cinq Tasting Menu Lunch (12.30 pm)
Arch de Triomphe
Musee Guimet (Mon open 10 am - 6 pm)
Lourve (mon open 9 am - 6 pm) first visit, have planned a second visit if needed

Question - not sure if this is the best order to minimise unneccessary wondering, I did look at a map though so hoping not to bad. Naturally, if can do Arch de Triomphe before lunch, will do so more time for museums in the afternoon. Any thoughts?

**Tues 14 May
Versailles Day Trip
If not already done so - Centre Pompidou followed by dinner

**Wed 15 May
Montmartre Walk Tour
Sacre-Couer (Montmartre surroundings)
Musee de l'Orangerie
Jardin des Tuileries
Opera Garnier (looks so stunning!)
Evening - Lourve (opened late) if needed (if not do whatever) and picnic near Eiffel Tower

Question - again, any thoughts on order?

**Thurs 16 May
Musee Carnavalet & Archives Nationales
Musee Rodin (picnic lunch)
Afternoon: Musee D'Orsay
Pont de Arcs Bridge (do the padlock thingy with my love)
Return back to apartment for booked bus to airport (booked for 5 pm)
Fly to Rome

I am still research dining options but have a few good ones on my list but am certainly open to any suggestions you may have for lunch in Montmartre and dinner in Marais.

Again, thank you for any suggestions or advice you can offer. I do feel this is achievable and I think I have made room for a little impromtu wondering rather than having every second planned. I hope you feel the same

Many thanks, Stacey & Len

ps this is my first trip Europe and Paris will be a pre-wedding honeymoon as we will be getting married in Tuscany while there. A week in a gorgeous villa. I am so excited!! Love is in the air {la la la}
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Dec 21st, 2012, 02:31 PM
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I would recommend being flexible, as you seem to be pretty ambitious on your daily itinerary. You may not be able to get to all the things you are wanting to see, but generally not too bad. Things seem to be grouped by areas, or fairly close to each other with metro.
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Dec 21st, 2012, 02:43 PM
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@apersuader65 - Thank you for your comments and I agree with you totally and probably should have mentioned that in my post. If we just don't get to some of these places, we will just save it for the next trip. I am totally open to being distracted by anything that interests us as well along the way. I suppose this is our wish list and we will see how we go. I used a map to group them so good to know it worked
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Dec 21st, 2012, 03:08 PM
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Dinner in Marais:
http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restauran...de_France.html

We have eaten there twice each trip!
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Dec 21st, 2012, 03:42 PM
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Make sure to visit Saint Chapelle on a sunny day.,,if the weather is not nice when you arrive go a different day. You have to pass through metal detectors, there may be lines.. im not sure if the security is for the church or because its at the edge of the courts courtyard.

the arc de triomphe open until 11pm that time of year so you can go late in the day or at night and see the lights of Paris

The eiffel tower.. last spring and summer only one elevator was working, people spent hours on line.. hopefully that wont be the case when you are there, but if it is.. decide whether you need to go up, or just see it.

The Louvre and Musee D'Orsay both have evening hours.. less crowded then.

too many museums on one day..Carnavalet, Rodin and D'Orsay.. There is a lot to see in the D'Orsay.
the Rodin is relatively small with a lovely garden with sculptures, and is not all that far from the eiffel tower. You can go to the Carnavalet when you are wandering around the Marais.

if you like felafel, the place to go on the rue de Rosiers is L'as du felafel.


have a great trip
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Dec 21st, 2012, 04:14 PM
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I applaud Maxima for excellent observations.

For me (and I'm a museum rat) the Musee Carnavalet & Archives Nationales are a "meh."

I really want to emphasize that enjoying a view OF the Eiffel Tower is far more important than any view FROM IT. There are many places with neat views of Paris--l'Arc de Triomphe, the towers of Notre Dame, the top floor of the Pompidou, Sacre Coeur, just to name a few--so traveling to the far end of your general sightseeing parameter and then waiting in line isn't necessarily the big payoff you might want. We waited until our 3rd trip to Paris to go up--and we think that was about right in our priorities.

One other observation:

Musee d'Orsay has most of the paintings you WANT to see; the Louvre has the paintings you feel obligated to see (though I revisit the Louvre often because I have about 15 paintings I particularly love that no one else does, so I never have to put up with a crowd in front of my fave paintings). With that in mind, I would combine a first-stop of l'Orangerie (Monet) with a next-stop, close by d'Orsay. It's a good art sequencing, and they are really close.

You have put thought into this, and that is great!
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Dec 21st, 2012, 05:03 PM
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I like what AlessandraZoe and Maxima suggest. I would just add that I wouldn't personally ever think that messing with a beautiful Parisian bridge by putting one of those locks on it was a good idea. And the Parisian police regularly remove them (as they should).

But kudos for a thoughtful plan.
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Dec 21st, 2012, 05:09 PM
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IMHO you are really rushing - and not leaving much time for meals of for just sitting in a cafe and having a drink for an hour.

As for the Louvre - while it has a lot of great art - for me there are other departments that are much more interesting (crown jewels, egyptian department).

For all of the museums I would go to the web sites and:

Check on specific opening days and hours

Check on which specific areas you want to see and map them out for the larger museums (I often like things other than art in the "art" museums)
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Dec 21st, 2012, 06:52 PM
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I would wager that you will not be able to complete all of your plans, so I will regard your daily lists a possibilities of which some may be accomplished. That said, I strongly agree that the Ste Chapelle and Notre Dame be reserved for tumes when there is sun, as their stained glass require light. The Ste Chapelle has what is probably the best stained glass you will ever see.

As you are trying to fit many things into little time, I suggest getting the Museum Pass to save yourself line time. At the risk of adding to a crammed schedule, if the Picasso Museum has reopened from its renovations by the time you are there, it would be great to see.

You may wish to save Versailles for your next visit.
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Dec 21st, 2012, 07:48 PM
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I would suggest going to a concert at Saint Chapelle - what a moving experience and the acoustics are amazing! We attended a performanc of Vivaldi's Four Seasons and were blown away! Only about an hour, so it wouldn't take up too much time.
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Dec 21st, 2012, 11:25 PM
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Wow! So many great suggestions so thank you so much for your time. I have now tweaked my itinerary. @maxima - I will definitely note going on a sunny day. These are details you just don't think of so very grateful for this info. I have also changed days of some museums and Arch de Triomphe based on your observations - fabo! As I have also based on yours as well @AlessandraZoe. I had read somewhere about the excessively long lines to the Eiffel Tower and had always had in my mind just to the 2nd level but now might not even do that. I had factored in Pompidou and Sacre Coeur for the views so great to have this confirmed. I had no idea about the locks and the insult passed onto Parisians with this activity and after research, this will be wiped. It was lovely to read an article about what love really means to a parisian which was prompted by reading your comments @StCirq so thank you for opening my eyes on this. What a great suggestion to map out what I want to see so will be definitely noting this. I will be getting the Paris Museum Pass and I have also cut out a museum and the bike tour based on all comments, I feel it is looking much better. Day 1 & 2 still the busiest - revised itinerary below:

**Sat 11 May
Arrive Paris Nord, taxi to accommodation and check in at 10 am (ish)
Walk to Notre Dame & Saint Chapelle
Lunch @ Les Papilles
Musee de Cluny (open til 5.45 pm) & Jardin Du Luxembourg
Evening: Seine River Cruise
Picnic at Vedettes de Pont Neuf to watch sunset before going on cruise

**Sun 12 May
Visit ST Ouen Flea Market (opens at 10 am so intend to be there by this time, I am someone who gets through a market quickly generally but do love them)
Lunch (I imagine at the market)
Return and wonder around Marais (no huge plans)
Streets to go to: Rue De Rosiers, Ru de Escouffes, Rud Vielle du Temple & Rue Saint Paul
Musee Carnavalet (open to 6 pm) & Archives Nationales (these could be missed if necessary but will try)
Place des Vosges (to people watch, coffee)
Dinner in Marais

**Mon 13 May
Musee de l'Orangerie (open at 9 am)
Musee D'Orsay (open at 9.30 am)
Le Cinq lunch (12.30 pm)
Champs Elysee (must go to Laduree for Macaroons!!)
Jardin des Tuileries
Dinner (not sure where yet)

**Tues 14 May
Versailles Day Trip
Centre Pompidou (for views) followed by dinner

**Wed 15 May
Montmartre Walk Tour
Sacre-Couer (Montmartre surroundings)
Lunch in Montmartre
Opera Garnier (guided tour at 2.30 pm)
Evening - Lourve (opened late)
Picnic near Eiffel Tower
Arch de Triomphe at night (open to 11 pm)

**Thurs 16 May
Lazy morning, pack and some impromptu whatevers
Musee Rodin (picnic lunch)
Pont de Arcs Bridge (no lock)
Wonder and take in Paris
Return back to apartment for booked bus to airport (booked for 5 pm)
Fly to Rome

Phew! It is just so helpful to have this forum. Please let me know if you think the tweaks make for a better and a tad little more relaxed itinerary. Thanks again to all who took the time to offer feedback
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Dec 22nd, 2012, 06:12 AM
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Your statement about getting through a market quickly is an oxymoron with St.Ouen!! Are you searching for something in particular? If you are thinking this is a typical "flea market" then you will be shocked. IF that is what you are looking for you might like to go to the Porte Vanves market on your first day--Saturday. You could indeed cover that in a few hours, and might have more fun. Just a thought.
The Orsay and Orangerie in a morning is well.....
I'll offer taking your picnic ON the vedette, and go at approximately sunset to see the lights along the river begin to come on, and then by the time you get to the Eiffel Tower, its lights will be on.
I think there are other "branches" of Laduree for macarons if you really "must".
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Dec 22nd, 2012, 06:34 AM
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Cluny has a concert of medieval instruments Saturdays at 4pm. There is a reasonable fee. How's your French? http://www.musee-moyenage.fr/homes/e...vite_event.htm

You will need to choose between the Orangerie and Orsay, as you can't do both before lunch. You might move one to the afternoon that day. The Champs has an iconic name but no great reputation as a place to see, unless it's just as a bus ride on the way to the Arc de Triomphe.

And, to see where you will be going:

http://www.paris-26-gigapixels.com/index-en.html
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Dec 22nd, 2012, 07:58 AM
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I know Laduree has the name for macarons, but just off Blvd St Germain is a stunning shop for all things sweet. Un Dimanche a Paris has my fav macarons without the lines. The shop and restuarant are gorgeous and all the desserts are works of arts? The ginger/citrus macarons are unbelievable and the strawberry and salted caramel ones are close second and third.

The Laduree shop on the CE, i believe, had a fire and has not re-opened yet. Most likely will be open when you get there, but I never go there anymore for macarons.

Agree with above post, D'Orsay is worth a whole morning....my favorite museum! Also agree that Carnavalet is nice but not a must....I know it is close to where you are staying. But I would try to work in the L'Orangerie over Carnavalet.

Tye bridge with the locks is just behind Notre Dame, so you can hit that while you are there.

Good luck!

Le Cinq is an incredible experience. Pretty much dining perfection.
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Dec 22nd, 2012, 08:41 AM
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Actually the draw of the Carnavalet for me is that it is a history of Paris in art of the time the art was created, and has some gems. I particularly like the French Revolution "floor", and the room with "cartoons" of that day depicting the Revolution.
Paintings of the bridges of Paris when they weren't just "bridges", the streets of Paris in the 20's with the autos of the day. Just a thought but agree it isn't a competition with the Orsay, Orangerie,or Rodin.
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Dec 22nd, 2012, 12:53 PM
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The Louvre has an entrance at the metro stop/underground shopping called Carousel du Louvre. It is also accessible from the street, and this entrance is generally not as crowded as the entrance via the pyramid shaped glass building in the court yard.

Montmartre:take the metro, and then walk over to the finicular.. its a separate fee but it is much easier to walk down than up the staircases.

D'Orsay: I always start at the top floor and work my way down. Nice view from the cafe on the top floor if its clear you can walk outside and see Sacre Cour; Well worth a morning.

if its cool or rainy you may not be able to have a picnic lunch or dinner. You can picnic near the Rodin but most likely not on the museum's grounds.

Laduree has several shops in Paris. check their website and see which is the most convenient.

Remember that the Arc D'Triumphe is also the site of a very big traffic circle.. look for the entrances that lead down to the underground passages to the monument.
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Dec 22nd, 2012, 01:06 PM
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"You can picnic near the Rodin but most likely not on the museum's grounds. "

There is a cafe in the garden of the museum w/ outdoor seating.
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Dec 22nd, 2012, 02:23 PM
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"You can picnic near the Rodin but most likely not on the museum's grounds."

"There is a cafe in the garden of the museum w/ outdoor seating."

I believe there is a beautiful picnic area, too. It's past the cafe.
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Dec 22nd, 2012, 02:43 PM
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Just thought I'd mention a very interesting cemetery close by
Monmarte called Pere Lachaise which has so may famous people
resting there. Oscar Wilde ,George Bizet ,Fredrick Chopin
Even more recent like Edith Piaf ,Maria Calis and Jimmy
Morrison
Had been to Paris several times so this was a new place for
me.
And the best hot chocolate in Paris (possibly the world)
Angelina,s close by to Turellies Metro
Have fun in a magic city
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Dec 22nd, 2012, 02:57 PM
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Père Lachaise is in the 20ème, not all that close to Montmartre, which is the 18ème.

http://tinyurl.com/cve7ozp
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