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Paris - What to do the first day (May 1) w/ jet lag?

Paris - What to do the first day (May 1) w/ jet lag?

Apr 2nd, 2008, 11:24 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 487
Paris - What to do the first day (May 1) w/ jet lag?

For those of you who have arrived in Paris early in the morning from the East Coast of the USA, what were you able to accomplish on your first day without crashing? We leave Dulles at 5:20 pm and arrive in Paris at 6:30 AM (6 hours difference in time) so it will feel like midnight to us. We don't want the day to be wasted (even though we'll be there a week), so what suggestions do you have for the first day? Also, you should know that our first day will be May 1 (a holiday) so there will be some limits as to what is open. Suggestions, please.......
dolciani is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2008, 11:39 AM
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Here's what I found worked for me in a recent trip taken to London. I slept as much as I could on the flight over (not much more than a couple hours, but better than nothing). When I woke up, I had a coffee and throughout the day continued to either have more coffee or pop a No-Doze caffeine pill at intervals. Was able to stay up to about 10 PM or so and do a full sightseeing day. Whatever you do, keep active and resist the urge to fall asleep.
bachslunch is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2008, 11:41 AM
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As with most days in Paris....walk, walk everywhere. Pick an area, say Louvre, St Germain or Marais, and then just wander, stop at cafe for lunch and cafe, then more walking. Find the restaurant you want to have dinner that night. You could also possibly do a walking tour. e.g. Paris Walks has tours starting at 2 PM.

I, contrary to some opinions, don't believe you should rest when you get there. Sunlight will help your body start adjusting, having a nap IMHO just undoes that.

And, if you can (I do), try going to bed earlier and getting up earlier before leaving. I usually get 3/4 hours "back" that way (every nigth go bed an hour earlier than night before). I also somewhat sucessfully try to sleep on plane, or at least zone out.
Michel_Paris is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2008, 11:41 AM
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I recommend that you keep moving. Likely, your room won't be ready so drop your bags at your hotel and start getting to know your neighborhood.

Have a coffee and some pastry but don't sit down and have a big breakfast or lunch or you'll crash. We never plan anything specific for our first day, just wander around seeing whatever we see and familiarizing ourselves with our neighborhood, snacking as we go.

If we're exhausted, we might take an hour nap after checking in at 2 or 3 but usually we don't bother. We eat an early dinner and go to sleep by 8 and wake up refreshed and ready to go.
plafield is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2008, 11:58 AM
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My plan is to scout the area of the hotel we're staying at. I usually identify several restaurants in the area that might work for dinners nearby and try to find them to determine which ones we'd like to eat at--and even make reservations if they're open. Also find the locations of the nearby markets, etc. Maybe take the metro or bus to one sight. Don't nap. Have early dinner and get up the next day ready to roll.
JulieVikmanis is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2008, 12:09 PM
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Where in Paris will you be staying, and is this your first trip to the city?

If you are staying anywhere besides the area around the Eiffel Tower and this is your first trip, one of the activities I enjoy with "newbies" is to take the metro to the Trocadero and walk down toward the river. The view of the Eiffel Tower from there is breathtaking both day and night, and you know that you are really in Paris. From there you can walk down toward the Eiffel Tower. Just below the bridge you can catch the boat ride on the Seine (about 1 hour) that is another easy activity on your first day there.
Leburta is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2008, 12:15 PM
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We arrived at the hotel at 7:30 AM when we flew to Paris in November and our rooms were not ready. We were allowed to leave our luggage. We stayed on the same street that the Saxe market is held and were able to kill a lot of time there. I think May 1st is on a Thursday, which is a market day, so you might want to find one to explore.

We actually didn't have any jetlag and were too excited to sleep...we were in Paris!
nolefan1 is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2008, 12:18 PM
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Presuming you are more like me, and need to rest for at least some time on the day of arrival, I'd suggest a low exertion activity such as a ride on a river boat. Have some lunch. Return to hotel for well-earned nap. Shower, get out a bit for a walk in the late afternoon. Enjoy your dinner and try to keep your eyes open until about ten. Conk out. Tomorrow will be better.
Fra_Diavolo is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2008, 02:16 PM
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Hi D,

A: Don't do anything that requires thought.

B: Don't do anything that requires more than 10E.

C: Stay awake until bedtime.

Drop your luggage off at the hotel - room won't be ready for some hours.

Walk around the neighborhood to orient yourself.

Buy a carnet of metro tickets.

Go somewhere and stroll around.

Just enjoy being in Paris.

ira is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2008, 02:37 PM
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As already mentioned, outdoor activities are the best. Also, churches, which don't usually take a lot of thought or time, and you can't sit down much. Notre Dame and its towers would be a good option.

I would not recommend a boat ride on that first jet-lagged day - you don't want to be lulled to sleep!
Lexma90 is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2008, 02:39 PM
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I never do any major sightseeing on my first day in Europe after an overnight flight, regardless of country or city. I don't nap, I've learned that doesn't work for me, so I do manage to stay awake until 10 pm or so, even if I'm kind of out of it a little. Which is why I don't sightsee, as I can't concentrate that well, I'm not really sharp.

I walk around and check out the area near my hotel, I first usually stop in a cafe and have some coffee and breakfast. I try to find some local newspaper or entertainment info, sightseeing brochures, etc. (might drop by a tourist office) to browse for planning. I go to a metro/train station to buy tickets or passes sometimes, if I'm in a city where I need to do that, or check out train schedules for day trips.

That's about it, I just walk around a lot in between the sitting at cafes, and look at things. I may drop in a drug store or shop if I figure out I forgot something I need, or just to browse. If I run into an outdoor market, I may browse that.

I never go to museums or major things like that.

Every day of the week is a market day in Paris in some area, but I don't know if they have them on that day because it's a major holiday.
Christina is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2008, 02:50 PM
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I agree with everyone above, with the exception of taking a nap. If I took a nap that would be it, I would sleep a good eight hours and wake up in the middle of the night and be out of it for the next day.

We usually walk around the neighborhood of our hotel and check out what is in the area. Stop at a cafe for a caffiene fix and stay outside in the fresh hair and sunlight as much as possible. If we have a mini fridge in the room we stop and pick up bottled water at the market as well as cheese, bread, meats such as sausage or ham and an absolute must is to pick up a box of macroons from Lauderee to consume in the room over the next few days. Stop at a flower shop and pick up some flowers to brighten up the room even if you have to stick them in the glass left in the hotel room.

After all of that we have a light lunch, go back to the hotel and check in, take a shower (totally rejuvinating, change clothes and then head out again for a bit of mindless wandering and window licking. We then find someplace for dinner around 7:30 and head back to the hotel for a good nights sleep. We drop right off and start the next day well rested and ready to go.
jdraper is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2008, 04:04 PM
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Well, I don't know how you guys do it. By two in the afternoon I'm in a walking dream. More than that and we get into sleep deprivation interrogation mode.

But, an hour or two napping and I'm good to go -- for another four or five hours.
Fra_Diavolo is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2008, 04:22 PM
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Wow - great responses - Thank you all - especially for the encouragement to "carry on" thru the day. I was thinking about buying a 2 day ticket for the open-air buses/boats and spending some time listening to an overall tour which could help us plan for the upcoming week. The museums won't be open (mostly) on the 1st day (May 1st - National Holiday), but will be open on the next day.
We are staying at the Marriott right in the middle of the Champs Elysee for the first few days so I like the idea of scoping out a restaurant nearby for dinner (I've heard to avoid the main drag and check the nearby neightborhoods....any suggestions?
dolciani is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2008, 04:31 PM
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I second (actually about tenth or twelfth) the above suggestions to basically drop off your bags, stay in the fresh air, don't over do but keep moving until a reasonable bed time.

Be sure to stay aware of the news though. May 1 is a holiday - but sometimes it is also a day of major demonstrations. Happens in several European cities but especially in Paris. Nothing much to worry about - but maybe stay clear of the 5th/areas near the Sorbonne.
janisj is online now  
Apr 2nd, 2008, 05:33 PM
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We are going in June and I have thought a lot about the arrival day. I don't sleep on planes. It would be great if I could take a two hour nap, but my teens would never wake up. So, I plan to try to stay awake and hope and pray that we all can get a couple of hours sleep on our flight over... DH is a great sleeper and will get a full rest and be ready to go on arrival. I wish I had that gift!
Keep the ideas coming. I am listening as well.
girlonthego is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2008, 08:16 PM
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Those who are able to force themselves to stay awake have my admiration! I take an Ambien on the plane, which totally fails and I never get a wink of sleep. The pill seems to kick in about the time I arrive at my destination and by 2 or 3 pm, I'm so exhausted that I'm at the point of tears at the slightest little hitch. I take a nap for a couple of hours in the afternoon, shower, and head out for dinner about 8:00. Take another Ambien about 10:30 or so, and am ready to hit the ground running early the next morning. Ambien is my friend.
theflock is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2008, 05:39 AM
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Just a funny story about what can happen...

I took my sister to Amsterdam last year, her first overseas trip. My goal was to keep her outside and moving at least until 8 p.m., which is what I always do. At 6 p.m. she got cranky and demanded to sleep, so I let her. She went to bed, I sat in the reception area and read and surfed the internet and went to bed around 10:00. I heard her stirring a short while later and she says "Man, I feel incredible, that was the best sleep I ever had, why is it still dark, it's got to be about 5 or 6 a.m., right?" I look at my watch and declare that it's 11:30 p.m. She had a LOOOOONG rest of that night and her second day was just as long and jetlagged too!

She vows that when we're in Paris this month, she'll follow my lead. That first day can be painful, but WELL worth the effort if you just push through. We are planning to eat lunch, walk around the Latin Quarter where our hotel is, see the Cluny and Pantheon, and walk to Notre Dame and stroll the islands (we arrive around noon). Have a light dinner and Berthillon and then off to bed.
amyb is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2008, 06:29 AM
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I found that diet, hydration, and exercise before travel are the key. I used to take Ambien before I boarded the plane. Would sleep but still tired and grumpy 1st day. Then I got promoted and had to work the late shift. I would sleep from 5-11 PM. Go to work 12-8 AM the night before I would leave. Go home leisurely pack, take a shower, and then leave for airport. During the hour+ wait before departure, I would eat my lunch/dinner nothing heavy (skip the plane food). Drink a Chi tea or hot chocolate right before boarding (warm milk the key). Be the first to use the STILL clean bathroom on the plane. Within minutes after the plane took off I would be sleeping (bring own travel pillow/blanket and wear comfy clothes). Also drink plenty of water the day of flying. Dehydration is common while flying. Hit the ground running first day. Routine worked great. Now that I am working day shift, I get up around 2 AM, clean my house (bonus because my house is clean when I return from vacation) and follow above routine.

Try going to Monmatre the first day. Walk the steps up to the church that will keep you awake.
parisnow is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2008, 06:42 AM
Join Date: Mar 2008
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dolciani - I'd recommend NOT doing the bus tour your first day. We did this and we all fell asleep! We were fine when we were walking around but the minute the tour started...so did the z's!

Since you are staying on the Champs, I'd use that day to walk up and down the Champs. Go see the Arc and the Place de la Concorde. My favorite part of the Champs is the non-store area right before you get to the Place de Concorde. Tree lined and peaceful. And if you need a snack, stop by Laduree and pick up some Macaroons! On second thought...stop by there every day!

Also, before I went to Paris, someone told me to see Paris by day from the Eiffel and Paris by night from the Arc. That is what we did and it was perfect!
off2CU is offline  

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