Paris July 2012 Trip Report (7 days)

Jul 23rd, 2012, 09:28 AM
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Paris July 2012 Trip Report (7 days)

I returned a little over a week ago from my first trip to Paris with my mother. It was an amazing week! Thanks to all the posters who provided itinerary tips and were so patient with all of my questions!

We took the Eurostar from London. The train moves so fast that we weren't even sure if we had gone through the Chunnel until I started to see signs in French. A bit of an anticlimactic moment entering France for the first time, but the train was fast, on-time, and clean. No issues there. Arriving at Gare du Nord was a bit overwhelming, but my motto on this trip was often "follow the metro M!" which never failed us.

We rented this apartment from VRBO:

and it was wonderful. We loved staying in the Marais and much preferred being in a quieter area than in a bustling, more touristy one. We were never more than a 30 minute metro ride away from any of the sites and could walk to Ile de la Cite in 20 minutes. The apartment was perfect for our needs and we loved having a proper "home" for the week. The two gentleman (brothers) who rent this apartment also have several other listings and I would recommend their services. We were met at the apartment and were assisted with our luggage up the 3 story walk-up. All appliances were explained. When we ran out of things during the week someone would stop by to restock, and they were there to help us out at check-out and put us in a cab to the airport. This trip was my first time renting an apartment and they were so nice and helpful and responsive that it was a great experience.

The itinerary:

Day 1 - Vedettes du Pont Neuf, brasserie dinner

Day 2 - Notre Dame, Deportation Memorial, Sainte Chapelle, Jardin du Luxembourg, Le Bon Marche/La Grand Epicerie, Boulevard Saint-Germain des Pres, Rue des Roisiers, L'As du Falafel, Tour Montparnasse

Day 3 - breakfast at Pain & Chocolat, La Tour Eiffel, Trocadero, L'Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysees, Angelina's, Jardin des Tuileries, Musee du Louvre (caroussel du louvre entrance - no lines), dinner at Olio Pane Vino

Day 4 - Versailles

Day 5 - Musee d'Orsay, Pont des Arts, Ile St-Louis, cafe dinner

Day 6 - Musee de l'Orangerie, Place de la Concorde, Laduree, Maille, Opera Garnier, Galleries Lafayette

Day 7 - Shopping in the Marais, Musee Rodin, Invalides, Pont Alexandre III, cafe dinner near la Tour Eiffel, sparkle time at la Tour Eiffel

Day 8 - Paris Walks Montmartre tour, Sacre Coeur, cafe lunch on Rue des Abbesses, Montmartre cemetary, Moulin Rouge, Promenade Plantee, Place des Vosges

Random tips:
- Be flexible! I had done so much research and planning that it actually made last minute changes that much easier to make. We originally planned to go to Montmartre on a Sunday but the forecast was not in our favor so we went to Musee d'Orsay that morning instead. It was a very good decision.
- Wear supportive shoes. Seems like an obvious one, but somehow I mistook "comfortable" with "supportive." I have never done so much walking in my life and my body was hurting so badly that I had to buy an ace bandage and wrap up an ankle. So please forgive being stylish and wear supportive shoes.
- Hold onto your metro ticket! I have not done much international traveling up until this trip and I didn't realize we needed to hold on to our metro tickets after swiping through. I held on to most of them, to the point where they were all over my bag, in my pockets, etc., and so on our last night (on our way to our final dinner) we tossed them. And then we hit the metro police and were fined. Not the ideal way to celebrate our week in Paris.
- Take to the culture. One of our favorite things to do, and what became part of our daily routine, was to stop for a 4pm coffee and dessert at a cafe. We loved a. resting our feet! b. people watching and c. a little afternoon pick me up.
- I used the Paris2Go and Metro apps on my iphone and never once got lost. The offline GPS worked amazingly well, and we liked being a bit more inconspicuous as tourists (though I'm sure the huge camera around my neck helped!)

And finally, here's a link to some of my pictures:
Sloane_428 is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2012, 09:40 AM
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Your photographs are really exceptional! Some day I will read my camera manual and learn how to take proper photos of stained glass and night time scenes.
kerouac is online now  
Jul 23rd, 2012, 09:46 AM
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Slaone_428 Wow, you really got around and accomplished so much.

Did you have a tour of the Opera Garnier? That's the one place I reget missing on my recent trip.

Lovely pics - easily arranged for viewing. Merci.
latedaytraveler is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2012, 09:55 AM
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We planned on going on the English tour at the Opera Garnier, but their box office confusingly didn't open until the time the tour was slated to start. When we showed up 20 minutes before, it was completely sold out (apparently they always sell out in advance because tickets are sold online). Fortunately, you can pay to enter and walk around at your leisure which was what we did. It's an extraordinary building in and of itself and they also have a very interesting costume exhibit up at the moment.
Sloane_428 is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2012, 10:31 AM
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You certainly made the most of your week in Paris. Your tips are good for helping others make the most of their time there. And, your pictures are beautiful! Thanks for sharing.
MaineGG is online now  
Jul 23rd, 2012, 12:36 PM
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Sloane_428 Did you find out where to by the tickets online for Opera Garnier tour?
kelsey22 is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2012, 02:30 PM
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Great pictures...what kind of camera did you use?
NewbieTraveler is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2012, 02:48 PM
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"I didn't realize we needed to hold on to our metro tickets after swiping through. I held on to most of them, to the point where they were all over my bag, in my pockets, etc., and so on our last night (on our way to our final dinner) we tossed them."

You only have to hold the ticket until you exit the metro; then you can toss them. No need to hold onto them beyond that so you won't have them all about.

Great itinerary, by the way!
DebitNM is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2012, 03:17 PM
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Excellent photos, glowing with atmosphere.
Southam is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2012, 03:34 PM
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Great trip!!!

We just returned a month ago from Provence and ended with 4 days in Paris.

Many of your photos remind me of what we saw.

You can see our trip at

Thanks again for the excellent memories your report brought back.
Myer is online now  
Jul 23rd, 2012, 03:48 PM
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Beautiful photos! Truly captures a the wonderful flavors (literally!) of Paris.
progol is online now  
Jul 23rd, 2012, 04:38 PM
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What great pictures. Thanks for sharing them .
I am so glad tha you and your mother had such a great trip.
I have just started planning next years trip to Paris and the pictures just remind me why I love the city so much.
tdk320n is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2012, 05:27 PM
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Great pictures and great trip report!
europeannovice is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2012, 08:04 PM
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kelsey - I think you can purchase them from this page:

newbietraveler - I used a Canon Rebel T2i with the kit lens and a 50 mm f1.8 lens.

I was happy to share so thanks all for the feedback!
Sloane_428 is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2012, 09:35 PM
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Thank you for your report and the beautiful photos.

I have had my eye on that vrbo apartment for a number of years. I've always wondered about the bathroom. Is there a door or just curtains or what? And what do you think about the street/block for a solo traveler?
Leely2 is offline  
Jul 24th, 2012, 05:12 AM
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And is there a place to sit other than the bed? Thanks for your report and pictures.
Micheline is offline  
Jul 24th, 2012, 05:30 AM
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Thanks Sloane_428 - I loved your pics too.
kelsey22 is offline  
Jul 24th, 2012, 05:38 AM
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Leely2 and Micheline - We were admittedly concerned about the apartment in general having never rented before, and I did specifically ask about the lack of a bathroom door before we signed any sort of agreement. We figured if the apartment had 60+ reviews on VRBO and only 1 or 2 mentioned the curtain as a semi-issue, we would be fine. And we were. There is a very thick curtain instead of a door because there is a second window in the bathroom. Without that the apartment would be rather dark. I was with my mother and it was never a problem so for a solo traveller I wouldn't let it stop you. As for the street, we returned a couple of times around midnight and there were always people on the street en route to the metro. The apartment is a straight shot (4 small blocks) from the metro. We always felt safe, and the Rue de Bretagne is 1 block north. Tons of cafes and restaurants, one night there was an outdoor concert in a park, etc. The Rue de Bretagne being there pretty much guarantees that there are people around.

There is a ledge/desk/table and there are 2 high stools to sit on. No proper chairs, but we didn't have an issue with that. The bed was also much larger than we thought it would be, so if all else fails, you can just sit on the bed!
Sloane_428 is offline  
Jul 24th, 2012, 06:38 AM
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Sounds like a super trip. Excellent shots. What did you do for the low light ones? Gorgeous.
TDudette is offline  
Jul 24th, 2012, 07:12 AM
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From the sound of your report, it won't be your last trip to Paris. It's nice that you took the plunge on a first trip and stayed in an apt. You obviously are confident travelers, did extensive research, and took advantage of all Paris has to offer. It's a place that draws you in and doesn't let you go easily.

Excellent photos and I like the format with several photos across that are of a nice size. Love,love the pastry shots. Looking at your photos makes me want to be there NOW! But I'll have to wait until Sept.

kelsey22---This is the site that we used to purchase our Opera Garnier tickets for an English tour. It was the highlight of our 8th trip to Paris.
TPAYT is offline  

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