Paris Itinerary - Two Days

Jan 13th, 2011, 11:23 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
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Answered my own question: the DLP site says to take RER A.

For day two:
- RER A to Gare de Lyon. Either: get off at Chatelet-Les Halles and walk. OR do as the day before, getting off at Gare de Lyon, change to M1 direction La Defense and this time get off at Palais Royal-Musee du Louvre.
- Enter the Louvre using the Carrousel entrance I described in that other museum thread. Visit the museum, of course taking time to take in the main glass pyramid from both below and above.
- There aren't a lot of cafe or bakery spots that I can recall in the area of Louvre/Tuileries. The adjacent rue de Rivoli is one of the major arteries and business streets of the city, so you should be able to find something. A good fast option are the crepe street carts, though don't forget to let them cool a bit before digging in! (And dare I say it, there are plenty of McD's in the city, along with local chains like Love Burger.)
- Wander Tuileries to Place de la Concorde (which is another traffic circle, being the confluence of rue de Rivoli and the Champs Elysees). If you have time/inclination, the Monet Waterlilies in the Orangerie are worth visiting.
- Since you will have walked along the Left Bank in this area the day before, a walk along the Right Bank brings you closer to the Grand Palais and the Petit Palais. However, I tend to find most of this stretch unremarkable. You could instead cross the gorgeous Pont Alexandre III. Then either: walk down the Esplanade des Invalides, onto Ave la Motte Picquet. OR take the Metro ligne 8 direction Balard three stops to Ecole-Militaire. Both will have you enter the Champs de Mars "behind" the Eiffel Tower.
- If you're looking to do the boat tour on this day instead, you'd take the option up-thread for the cruise near the Eiffel Tower.
- The one thing is, there aren't great options to get back to RER A from here. IMO the most straightforward is to take RER C to Gare d'Austerlitz, exit the system and walk across the river to Gare de Lyon for RER A - you're paying for the system twice but you sort of would be anyway b/c of exiting the Paris zone. Otherwise, options are: (1) RER C to St. Michel, change to RER B one stop to Chatelet-Les Halles, change to RER A; (2) M8 direction Creteil Soleil to Charles de Gaulle-Etoile (the Arc de Triomphe stop), change to M1 direction Vincennes, change to RER A at Gare de Lyon.

Note that within Paris, the RER and the Metro are included in the same price and the lines do connect. However, there can be a fair amount of walking underground to get between one and another (especially true at Chatelet) because they are in fact separate systems. To get between Metro/RER, you will need to reuse your ticket in the turnstile. (You need to hold onto them for the duration of the ride no matter what, in case you get stopped by the transit police - being a tourist doesn't work as an excuse for not being able to show you paid the fare!) The RER is the much faster way to get between places, so when possible take it instead of a Metro.
ggreen is offline  
Jan 13th, 2011, 11:44 AM
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jtw, you are very very welcome! I'm sure the transit system seems quite overwhelming, what with the different lines, French language, etc. Once you get the hang of it, it's pretty cool.

Of course, a bus is much more scenic. But given your short amount of time, I wouldn't bother with the bus. (Metro tickets work the same on them too, though, if you do decide to take one.)

Another thing I meant to mention about the transit system is that one navigates it by looking for the direction of the end point on the line. In the stations near the platforms, signs are posted showing all the stops between your current location and the final one in that direction, so you can always take a sanity check by confirming on the sign! (You'll notice above that I've listed them where I know them for the Metro.)

Central Paris has Metro stations *everywhere* - it's usually only a few blocks' walk from any sight to a station. (Whether or not that line will get you where you need to go is another matter entirely!!) The system has a few quirks:
- Being so old, there are plenty of stairs. You'll be happy not to have your luggage with you LOL.
- The ticket goes into the slot in the turnstile, then you retrieve it before the gates will open. In the RER, you might need it to exit as well. (Watch others go through in front of you and you'll get the knack.)
- With a few exceptions, doors in the cars are opened by the passengers, either with a lever on old Metro cars, or a button on the RER. I believe the M1 and possibly some other lines have done away with this, though, for expediency. You'll see impatient locals swing the lever open and exit the train before it's even fully stopped in the station!
- In some cars, there are fold-up "jump" seats near the doors. As the train gets more crowded, the passengers seated there are expected to relinquish the seat and stand up to make more room.
- Know your stop and as the train enters the station, get ready to stand up. You don't have to be too over-eager about it though, as there should be enough time to make your way to the door. There will be a beeeep sound before the conductor closes the doors.
- In the Metro stations, the curved walls and even the smell of rubber from the rails are unique to the Paris system.

Just think, what an adventure to ride the Paris Metro! I hope I didn't scare you about the pickpockets: just a reality as in any urban setting to be aware of yourself and your surroundings, especially where it's crowded. When traveling to a new place, it's inevitable that we stand out as "newbies", and managing a family of five might give someone the idea that you're distracted. But I'm sure you'll be fine!
ggreen is offline  
Jan 13th, 2011, 12:26 PM
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Thank you so much, ggreen!
Tell me if this makes sense...
What if we go to the Eiffel Tower right after the Place de Concorde (and having some crepes!). We would likely take the bridge route you suggested (I saw pictures online)Then after the Eiffel Tower, we could take the batobus back to an area that is better for the train? That would still get us on the boat cruise, but might be more helpful in redirecting us to where we need to go?
I'm not sure how the Batobus works though. Do we just "hop on" at the Eiffel Tower and go to a determined stop?

I'm not sure if this makes sense at all . I'm basing it on mapquest!
jtw999 is offline  
Jan 13th, 2011, 12:47 PM
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hi jtw,

we just got back from a weekend in Paris, so I can visualise quite a lot of what you want to do. i agree with ggreen that the metro/RER will be your friend, but having stayed up by the jardins du luxembourg on a previous occasion, i certainly wouldn't want to be walking up there [and it is at the top of a hill] on a hot afternoon in August.

to answer one of your questions, you can get a boat back from the eiffel tower to notre Dame, [yes, you do just hop on, it's just like a bus] and from there pick up the RER B to the Luxembourg stop [which is right by the gardens] - well worth it to cut out that hill.

if you definitely want to go up the Eiffel tower [and why wouldn't you?] I would certainly pre-book tickets, to avoid the august queues. I do think that there are likely to be queues as well at the Musee D'Orsay especially on a free sunday. if you are determined to go there and to the Lourve, be prepared for a long wait!
annhig is offline  
Jan 13th, 2011, 12:54 PM
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The Paris Metro is very easy to navigate, so don't worry. It makes life very convenient while you are there and it is inexpensive.
Another tip-pay attention to where you want to be when you exit. Many stations have multiple exits and knowing where you want to be when you get outside, will help you choose the correct exit (sortie)and will save you extra walking

You do need cash to buy tickets at a machine or a chip and PIN credit card, which most Americans don't have. The machines are not hard to use and do have English as a language option.
I have never had a problem at all with pickpockets and thieves....

If you are worried about pickpockets and purse snatchers try not to stand right in front of the door and keep your purse close-I always have both hands on it and I hold it front of me and not off my shoulder. If you are right in front of the door, thieves can more easily snatch and jump off as the door closes. As always, be aware of your surroundings and you will be fine.
denisea is offline  
Jan 13th, 2011, 02:08 PM
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Thank your for all the transit advice!! It's incredibly helpful!
We will be in Barcelona previous to Paris and so we will have travel belts. I've heard the pick pockets there are really bad.

How steep and long is the walk up the hill to Luxembourg Gardens? We are big walkers, but I don't want to be unrealistic.

jtw999 is offline  
Jan 13th, 2011, 05:51 PM
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Hee is my two cents worth of advice:

You will be spending a lot of time traveling into Paris. Bear that in mind if you plan on getting to things at opening time, that you will have to leave very early in order to get there on time. Even though we also had a packed schedule, there were some mornings when we just didn't get up that early in Paris.

Once you get to the place, chances are there will be long lines. At least in June there was a line for everything. We had purchased the Paris Museum Pass which is a multi day pass that allows you to skip the general line in most cases and go on the passholder line. It was well worth it for us. I think they sell them as either 3 day or 5 day passes.

Even though we had the pass we had to stand on line to get a zero ticket for son so they can count him at Napoleon's tomb even though kids go free. At the Orsay though we just walked right in with the pass.

We spent 3 hours at the Louvre and barely even scratched the surface. But we managed to see the highlighted things we wanted to see. You just can't imagine how huge the place is until you are standing outside of it.

We loved the Pont Neuf boat ride and if I recall it was cash only.

When we were at the Orsay last year it was under renovation for the impressionist area. A large collection of impressionist paitings from the Orsay are on loan to the De Young Museum in San Francisco. They still show a fair amount in a lobby area on the ground floor. It still is a spectacular collection. The clock is fabulous too. The Orsay is an old train station and the architecture is just as wonderful as the collections they have inside.

Just like for London we suggested you go to the travel website, for Paris go to the RATP tourist site and use their journey planner. It also tells you how to get from point A to point B in English if you are on the tourist version. Then you can map out your day and whether or not to take a bus or metro. Buses are hot and crowded but for us they were very useful for MIL.

We didn't go to disneyland Paris so can't comment on it other than to say isn't it supposed to be smaller than either disneyland in CA and disney world magic kingdom in Florida? Do you really need two days for it in Paris? Or can you use one of those days to explore more of Paris or at least take a half day to see Versailles?
europeannovice is offline  
Jan 13th, 2011, 07:44 PM
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europeannovice -
Thank you for your info. I will check the journey planner site.

I know it seems rushed. The true purpose of our trip to Europe is our Med cruise. We just thought while we were there, we'd spend a few days in London and Paris on either end. Yes, the two days at DLP is set in stone . I do wish we could go to Versailles, but it will have to be another trip!!
jtw999 is offline  
Jan 13th, 2011, 08:41 PM
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While I wouldn't usually encourage first-time visitors to Paris to stay out by DLP, I understand all your reasons to do so and I don't think it's unfeasible by any means. At most, that transportation leg should take you about an hour and a half. (DLP's site says 35 min from them to the Nation RER station, which could be optimistic since it's a marketing site LOL. Nation is the stop before the one I suggested, Gare de Lyon, so add another 5 or so minutes to that.) And since DLP is the last stop going outbound, you can doze after your busy days and not worry too much about missing your stop! Again, DLP makes it seem as if the station is mere steps from their door - great if that's accurate and not too terrible if it's not.

Oh, and lest you ever forget: it's Paris! No matter what, you'll be there breathing in that air, eating those croissants, seeing the Haussman architecture first-hand. (I was thinking of this as I typed the Day One transit suggestions above. Get off at Tuileries and cross the park?! How cool is that?!! Tuileries not even being your destination on that day-!) And this is just the beginning, the first taste. I fell in love with Paris on my first visit, age 12. With young sons becoming steeped in the French language, who knows what's in store?
ggreen is offline  
Jan 14th, 2011, 01:33 AM
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The walk from the Seine to Jardin du Luxembourg isn't difficult or steep. We stayed in an apartment opposite the jardin and would often walk down Blvd Saint Michel. However, I think the suggestion to catch the RER to the Luxembourg stop is a good one and then you can explore the gardens and then stroll back to the Seine when you are finished in the garden. There are also buses that go up and down Blvd Saint Michel constantly, so if you are tired just find a bus stop and wait for a bus.
cathies is online now  
Jan 14th, 2011, 04:56 AM
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I don't see that anyone answered your question about the Orsay, but yes, it is under renovations at least until March, and the "heart" of the collection, the Impressionist works, is on tour around the world. I didn't see in this thread when you are going, but I would consider that and check the museum website to confirm they are fully operational again before going. IMHO without the Impressionists, it's not necessarily a must-see if you only have 2 days.

I'd recommend doing the Eiffel Tower early. Be there well before it opens, even if you have tickets. We went up mid-morning a couple years ago and it was so crowded on the top two decks it was thoroughly unenjoyable.

I'd walk from Place de la Concorde up the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe and then take Avenue Kleber on the left of Charles de Gaulle Etoile down to Trocadero. I don't even know that you can "see" the Arc from Place de la Concorde, other than a speck on the horizon. I am always rendered breathless by the enormity of the Arc (plus the view of the Eiffel Tower at the top of it is my favorite in the city) and then approaching the Eiffel Tower from Trocadero is pretty stunning. In addition, you would be walking up the world's grandest avenue; it doesn't get much more Parisian than that!
amyb is offline  
Jan 14th, 2011, 06:29 AM
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<< I don't even know that you can "see" the Arc from Place de la Concorde, other than a speck on the horizon. >>

At Place de la Concorde looking up, the Arc is far from a speck on the horizon. Indeed, the sight lines run from the Louvre, through the Arc du Carrousel, up the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe and beyond to the "arc" skyscraper at La Defense. Quite beautiful to see them all in a row. The only thing that might obscure the view is that if it's a hazy, humid day, they won't be as "crisp".

Of course it's up to you what direction to take! The route I suggested was based in part on the OP itinerary not actually going past the Place de la Concorde, and in part of course on my own bias (borne of experience since I always end up spending time there).

- The Champs Elysees and the other avenues of the "star" emanating out from the Arc de Triomphe are the pinnacle of Haussmann urban planning.
- The Champs Elysees in particular is broad, leafy, urbane, lined with upscale shops and cafes - everything you've seen from the movies, the liberation of Paris, or the end of the Tour de France.
- If you do walk up it, you can splurge at Laduree, famous for its macaroons.
- If instead of going all the way up to the Arc, you cut down Ave Georges V or the smaller rue de Bassano, you'll see a bit of these posh neighborhoods, though still IMO there's not much to see. The famed Hotel Georges V is on the avenue of that name. You'll also pass the museums adjacent to Trocadero.
- The view of the Eiffel Tower from Trocadero is again the thing of movies and newsreels, definitely something to do and certainly the most impactful approach to the tower. If you do approach the tower from behind, you see it more as part of a neighborhood and can always and easily cross the river to Trocadero afterwards.

- Neither the C-E nor Ave Kleber are residential (the latter being a bit more so), and the walk up the C-E really is *up*. (Not a deal breaker type of uphill - it's no Montmartre - but certainly more than you'd find on Blvd Michel to the Jardin de Luxembourg, for example.)
- The lower part of the C-E (in the 8eme) doesn't have the panache of the upper, so you're walking for quite a ways without anything of interest - even the Petit Palais and Grand Palais IMO are more interesting from the river.
- As a girl, I always enjoyed looking in the shop windows on the C-E, but I'm not sure there's much for boys to be interested in! The one exception would be the Renault showroom (with a cafe inside!) but I just read that it will be closed from this week until June for renovations.
- Other than the view of the tower, Avenue Kleber is not remarkable.

However, that said, it's not like the buildings of the 7eme are wildly more interesting than the 8eme/16eme. It's a quiet neighborhood known as a place for diplomats. The difference is that you'd get to walk down the Esplanade des Invalides and see Napolean's resting place at least from the outside. I suggested this route because it would be more direct and thus take less time.
ggreen is offline  
Jan 14th, 2011, 07:56 AM
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OK, just throwing in my two cents here, but if you only have two days, for me, IMO, the Champs-Elysee is a bit disappointing. Depending on when you are there, it is amzingly crowded and lined with many commercial shops that we have in the US. I think it looks pretty from the end (Place de la Concorde, especially at night), but walking it is not that great, to me.

Maybe it's just me, but it wouldn't make my short list.
denisea is offline  
Jan 14th, 2011, 09:39 AM
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>>At Place de la Concorde looking up, the Arc is far from a speck on the horizon. Indeed, the sight lines run from the Louvre, through the Arc du Carrousel, up the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe and beyond to the "arc" skyscraper at La Defense.<<

Sightlines? Sure you don't mean "maplines"? Having just returned from my last trip there mere weeks ago, there is no way whatsoever you can see La Defense from Place de la Concorde, let alone Carrousel or the Louvre. Let's not even pretend that. Standing at the Christmas markets at the lower end of the C-E but before the Place de La Concorde, we could just barely make out the AdT. The only place along the C-E that I've seen the arch at Defense from is AdT.

This is actually how the AdT looks from Concorde. A mere speck, if you ask me, and not the only view I'd want of it. But definitely no Defense:
amyb is offline  
Jan 14th, 2011, 09:53 AM
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Don't bother going to Berthillion if you are going in August. They are closed for thewhole onth of August. And I totally disgree that the view from the top of the isn't worth te trip. It is the same as the view as the Eiffel Tower, ecept in the Arc's view you get to SEE theTower!
avalon is offline  
Jan 14th, 2011, 10:03 AM
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We enjoyed climbing the Arc de Triomphe because once at the top you can see the spokes or avenues and you have a great view of the top of the Eiffel Tower from there. We then walked down the Champs de Elysees a bit to see the wide leafy streets and we took the George V metro station back to the Louvre area. We agree that the Champs de Elysees is just like the miracle mile in Chicago with big box stores and some restaurants but the Arc is worth seeing. In the evening they light the flame for the unknown soldiers and they perform a ceremony.

We also enjoyed the view of the Eiffel Tower from the park Champs de Mar.

In my opinion Orsay is also worth seeing although some of the paintings are in San Francisco at the moment. By the time OP gets there in August, it may be re-opened. The architecture and the clock are great. The restaurant upstairs is also beautiful and the food was good too.
europeannovice is offline  
Jan 14th, 2011, 10:06 AM
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Looks like Avalon and I posted near the same time and had the same opinion about the Arc
europeannovice is offline  
Jan 14th, 2011, 10:24 AM
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A lot of good info so far.
I would do the Seine Cruise at night, the City is beatiful and lit up at night. As others, I like Vedettes.

Is there particular artists or periods that interest you? There are some great smaller 'bite size' museums. For example, some great Monets at the Marmottan, some nice medieval items at the 'Cluny', hiostory of Paris stuff at Carnavalet, blend of many artists at the Jacquemart...etc.

I would approach the Eiffel from the Right Bank. Take Metro to Trocadero, then walk between the two Palais Chaillot buildings and bam...the best view of the tower in the city. Then walk across bridge to visit,

Near the Louvre is Angelina's, famous for its hot chocolate, and some good deserts (i liked the Mont Blanc).

Champs Elysee is something that, with the time you have, I would skip. Go to Place de la Concorde, take some nice pics of the Arc, and then move on. Since you will have done the views from Eiffel, no need to walk and go up the Arc.

If you are going to go to Notre Dame, you really should try to see the stunning stained glass at Sainte Chapelle. I also like to cross bridge over to Ile St Louis, a nice little Paris neighbourhood. I'd also walk along Seine, check out bouquinistes,etc. And then Vedettes is an easy walk,
Michel_Paris is offline  
Jan 14th, 2011, 10:26 AM
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The Musee Grevin, the wax museum, is a very fun place to visit. Right across the street, inside the Passage des Panoramas, La Creperie serves elaborate ice cream "coupes"--sundaes and parfaits.
RonZ is offline  
Jan 14th, 2011, 10:31 AM
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RonZ is offline  

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