Go Back  Fodor's Forum > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page > Planning Out What to Do for 5 Days in Paris... Advice?

Planning Out What to Do for 5 Days in Paris... Advice?


Jun 6th, 2010, 06:51 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 611
Planning Out What to Do for 5 Days in Paris... Advice?

My sister and I (both in our early 40s) will be in Paris for 5 days, starting June 25. I was in Paris 20 years ago, but my sister has never been. I'm trying to roughly plan out our days in the city... knowing that every time I do this, things always change (due to weather, spontaneous ideas, etc.) but I always feel better going with some sort of plan! Here's what I have so far... can anyone let me know if any days have too much or too little? I usually jam-pack my days when traveling, but for Paris, we definitely want to be a little looser since we have plenty of time in the city... time to eat, drink, hang in cafes

Day 1 (Saturday) -- we will be arriving from the U.S. East Coast this morning, so I didn't want a super crazy day... more relaxed. We're staying in the Latin Quarter. I figure we'll take a taxi to the hotel, have them hold our bags, and explore the Latin Quarter, St. Germain de Pres, shops, see the Pantheon. (Maybe Luxembourg gardens?)

Day 2 (Sunday) -- Notre Dame, Saint Chappelle, MAYBE a little bit of the Louvre (was here many years ago and know how overwhelming it can be... might even skip it altogether, or just do a little bit... suggestions?) Then quick walk through Tuilleries, quick visit of Place de la Concorde, Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower. (Day is probably the busiest.)

Day 3 (Monday) -- Ile de St. Louis, Pompidou Center, explore Marais. (Add something to this day? Montparnasse area?)

Day 4 (Tuesday) -- Museum d'Orsay, Napoleon's Tomb, cruise on the Seine (advice on doing this???), Montmartre area and Sacre Coeur.

Day 5 (Wednesday) -- Pere Lachaise, then I was thinking of renting bicycles... has anyone used the Velib system? I was also gonna keep this day more open in case we ran out of time on any of the other days.

Maybe I'm cramming more into these days than I think! If anyone has suggestions, please let me know. I don't think we're interested in visiting Versailles, which is why I omitted doing this. But I'm open to hearing more about that. Thanks!
CarolM is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 6th, 2010, 07:10 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 11,190
I think your overall plan looks good. Do you have a list of sights to see in each area so you know what is there? I usually block out the sights in a matrix and list more than I can see so I have options in case something is unexpectedly closed or I'm not in the mood for another museum, etc.

One of my favorite things to do on Sunday is the rue Mouffetard market, wander along the shops and stalls. At the bottom of the street, starting about 11:00, are accordion players and people sing and dance - it's a great thing to watch or join in. It really gets going about 12:00.

You could see the Pantheon on the way (check opening hours) and St-Etienne-du-Mont (just to the left and behind the Pantheon).

In the Marais is the Cognacq-Jay Museum (free), housing the collection of Ernest Cognacq and his wife, Louise Jay. The collection consists of paintings, furniture, carpets, objects d'arts and is quite interesting. There's also the Carnavalet (also free) with its delightful garden in front.

I would do the Seine cruise that leaves from the Pont Neuf (descend the stairs to the boat) and would try the night tour to see the lights along the river. Print the internet coupon or book on line for a discount.

I haven't done the velib but search here as I think there is a problem with US credit cards. You would not want a bike there as it's fun to walk among the tombstones, looking for your favorites. The bike would be a hinderance in the cemetery.

Get a free map before going in - they're available from either the conservatory building or a building close to it. If you come out of the Pere Lachaise metro, enter the cemetery and then walk along the wall to the third entrance and walk slightly up hill to the building for the maps - follow the sign for conservatoire or toilets.

At Notre Dame, take a few minutes to admire the garden behind it (they have purple roses!) and then walk across the street directly behind Notre Dame to see the Deportation Memorial. Enter the wrought iron gate and descend the steps (there's a plaque describing the memorial).
adrienne is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 6th, 2010, 07:16 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 611
adrienne, this is fantastic info -- thanks! I haven't yet gotten into the nitty-gritty of what we want to see in each area -- i was still roughly blocking out the days, but of course I have guidebooks, and will add your input as well!

I think I had also read something about the Velib bikes and U.S. credit cards -- maybe I can find another bicycle rental place? By the way, my post was unclear... I didn't mean that we'd rent the bicycles while at Pere Lachaise... It was just the next thing we might do that afternoon.

Anyway, all great info adrienne... thanks!
CarolM is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 6th, 2010, 07:30 AM
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 6,623
You might want to check out the batobus service--not really a cruise on the Seine but they run until after 9:00 pm in the summer and stop at 8 points associated with major sites such as the Eiffel Tower. A day pass is 13 euro. It's a good way to get around and rest from walking, you can get on and off as much as you want. Here's the url: www.batobus.com

I think you have a good plan with some great suggestions from Adrienne.
Cathinjoetown is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 6th, 2010, 07:34 AM
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 2,598
Your itinerary for five days looks very busy to me. I took my daughter (in her 30s) with me one year and after a couple of days rushing around she said she just wanted to slow down and enjoy Paris.

You might be able to do it all, but I think three museums, the Eiffel Tower, Montmartre, Seine Cruise, etc is really pushing too hard. If you run out of time, save the Arc de Triomphe, Place de Concorde and Montmartre for another trip.

Have a great trip.

Adrienne's advice is good, make a matrix and be flexible. You can return.

My top favorites on your list: Musee d'Orsay, Sainte Chappelle, Notre Dame (and the Deportation Monument), Ile St Louis.
Luisah is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 6th, 2010, 08:06 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 11,190
You should also check the Paris Walks schedule. I love their walks and have taken about a dozen of them. They have some good ones during your stay. I've taken all of the walks shown during your 5 days except the Louvre (need to reserve) and Medieval Paris and liked them all. Perhaps you could rearrange your scheduling to coincide with their walks to give you an overview of the area and then continue your sightseeing.

If you have to choose I would recommend the Marais and Montmartre walks.


When you're in the Mouffetard area visit the mosque (I think it's closed to visitors Fridays), then exit to the left and walk around the corner to their tea garden behind the mosque. Sit under the trees and sip mint tea and a few cookies.

Where in the Latin Quarter are you staying?
adrienne is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 6th, 2010, 09:31 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 611
Thanks for all the good information, everyone. Cath, I'll check out batobus for sure.

I know I said i wanted to take it easy, but I think I'm lying to myself Or perhaps my idea of taking it easy is different than others! I guess I'm a very on-the-go, high energy person, and my sister is the same. I'm thinking we'll get enough cafe sitting and wine drinking after dinner. Also, we'll most likely skip the Louvre, and just do the d'Orsay and Pompidou center). I'm into photography, and really enjoy running around capturing stuff. So I also think I'll keep that last day relatively open in case we're too tired one of the other days.

I checked out the Velib system, and it seems that American Express cards are the only ones that work -- unfortunately, neither of us has an AmEx card (don't want to get one and pay an annual fee just to rent bikes in Paris, though!) Has anyone rented bikes anywhere else in the city?

The Paris walks look really cool -- thanks for that adrienne. We're staying at the Hotel Agora St. Germain (rue de Bernardins between rue de Ecoles and Blvd. St. Germain).
CarolM is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 6th, 2010, 10:06 AM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 13
It's not on your itinerary, but a great day trip is the train out to Versailles. Bring your own picnic lunch and wine. It's a nice way to take it kind of easy for a day yet still see some amazing sights. Maybe a day 5 activity? Also, I'm sure you know this, but get the museum pass from the tourist desk before you leave the airport, and purchase you metro tickets by the carnet. We took the metro to our hotel on Rue Cler, it was fast, inexpensive, and a great introduction to Paris for our first visit!
fright_attenadant is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 6th, 2010, 01:25 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 1,541
These are all great tips!
amelie is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 6th, 2010, 01:36 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 34,393
I second that suggestion .. Get a Museum Pass! and then you can go to the Louvre, the Rodin, the Picasso and all the museums you wish .. I cannot imagine going to Paris and not seeing these museums !

I like the area where you will be staying.
For 5 days, I would concentrate on seeing as much of as many of the top sites in Paris as you can.

And I agree about the carnet for the Metro. You will find plenty of photo ops in the Metro too lol.

We always stayed on rue Jacob in the 6th, I liked seeing an arrondissement a day if possible.
And whatever museum is in that area.. ..
Scarlett is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 6th, 2010, 02:00 PM
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 9,614
Try to fit Musee Rodin (perhaps on day 4 if you don't spend too much time at Napoleon's Tomb), I loved it! Especially the sculpture gardens which are beautiful - the roses will be in full bloom when you are there. It's only a small museum and you don't necessarily have to spend hours and hours there.

Musee D'Orsay is undergoing renovations and I'm not sure how much of it is off limits at the moment. I do know that a substantial part of the collection is on tour - it was here in Australia until not long ago.

Definitely go to Jardin du Luxembourg on the first day. It is a lovely garden and being in the sunshine will help with the jetlag.

If the queues at the Eiffel Tour are too long, then lovely views of Paris are available from the top of the Arc du Triumphe.

Sounds as though you have a great trip planned.

Don't forget that twilight lasts until about 10.30pm so there is plenty of time to stroll.
cathies is online now  
Reply With Quote
Jun 6th, 2010, 02:50 PM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 1,233
Another suggestion for a bike tour would be might be Fat Tire Bikes: http://fattirebiketours.com/paris

I think especially for first time visitors, bike riding in Paris can be a bit daunting so a tour is a nice way to go and gives you the chance to meet like-minded travelers. Also, with the tour they have helmets and know the good bike routes, which is a good thing with urban cycling. They also offer a range of stuff-A Versailles tour and Monet Garden tour. Next time we are there we want to try a segway tour because friends who have done said it was a blast It is a great company-started by an American out of Austin I believe.
jpie is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 6th, 2010, 03:39 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,525
If I were to do the Seine cruise (and I agree with the Vedettes du Pont Neuf suggestion), I'd do it at night. There is a reason it's called the City of Lights! The buildings are lit up, the bridges, etc..Do the last one of the day. The location of this cruise is good in that you can easily have dinner at 7:30 and walk over for the last cruise.

The Musee du Moyen Age is on the Left Bank nad is bite size. It has medieval objects, with a famous tapestry and 'chunks' from Notre Dame. It is also built in an old convent, over ruins of Roman baths. If you like roman ruins, the Arene de Lutece is also on the Left Bank, and it is the ruins of a roman arena. INteresting place to have your lunch.

Paris Walks are a great idea. Last trip I did the two Marais tours. The morning pone finishes at Place des Vosges, which to me is a mandatory stop for a Paris visit. Since tour finishes there, perhaps lunch? I ate at Cafe Hugo last trip, at an outdoor table. There are plenty of old mansions and such in the Marais, perhaps a visit to the Carnavalet Museum, built in one such mansion, and details history of the city. Movie moment, Kirsten Dunst as Marie Antionette filmed outdoor scene here.

Sunday and Monday might need reworking. Notre Dame/St Chapelle are a short walk away from Ile St Louis. Combine?

Eiffel tower, Napoleon's Tomb and Orsay are also in same general area. You can also now buy Tower tickets on-line.

If you want to venture away from the centre, consider the Marmottan in the 16th. Great Monet paiintings, old building. You'll also get to see a bit of how the (well-off) locals live.

In the Louvre area, go to Palais Royal, a nice old square nearby. If you like upscale antiquities, for sale, across from the Louvre is the Louvre des Antiquaires... And Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore is also nearby.

Perhaps a glimpse, or a tour, of Opera Garnier?

I'll think of some more...
Michel_Paris is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 6th, 2010, 04:15 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 5,228
A Fat Tire Bike tour is a great first day/evening activity. I like the way you kind of get a "lay of the land" from doing this early in a trip to Paris. It is easy, easy easy as they go super slow and mostly stay on sidewalks and through parks.

I also love walking through Jardin du Luxembourg on Day One when I'm jetlagged and just need to keep moving a bit but without alot of thought needed.

On Sunday, while in the area of Notre Dame and Sainte-Chapelle consider visiting the open air bird market at Place Louis-Lepine on Ille de la Cite, Metro: Cite. Held Sundays only 9am-7pm, the rest of the week it is a flower market from 8am-7pm, Great photo op any day of the week.

Instead of going to the Louvre and heading to the other side of town to the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe you might go to Centre Pompidou as it is fairly close to Notre Dame. (on museum pass) Metro: Rambuteu, Hotel de Ville, or Chatelet des Halles Modern art including Mondrian, Kandinsky, Chagall. Giggle at some of the crazy art installations.

Marais area is fun and busy on Sundays. Stroll along rue des Rosiers, a lively street for Kosher Jewish food treats. Metro: St. Paul. Be sure to visit Sacha Finkelsztajn Jewish Deli at 27 rue des Rosiers for gorgeous east European breads, cakes, aubergine puree, blinis

Place de Vosges is considered the most beautiful square in Paris. Victor Hugo, who wrote Les Miserbles lived at #6 from 1832-1848. Hugo's house contains an exhibition of mementoes, books, ornaments, and more that illustrate the life of the writer. Hugo lived here for 15 years until the revolution in 1848, which forced him to flee. All the rooms have been restored in exactly the way he furnished them. Everyone has heard of this literary giant, who wrote 'Les Misérables' and 'Notre-Dame de Paris,' but few people know of his other artistic talents. The museum reveals a number of drawings, pieces of furniture and photographs by Hugo himself.

Then wander Ile St. Louis.

I would group visits to the Eiffel Tower (go 15-20 min. before opening to avoid lines or book online) Invalides and D'Orsay (closed Monday) on the same day.

Then walk across the bridge and visit Place de la Concorde, Place Madeleine, and possibly pop into Opera Garnier. Head west to Printemps Dept store, 64 blvd. Haussmann to check out the stained-glass dome at the Café Flo on the 6th floor where you can have a coffee a drink or a meal.

Continue west to Musee Jacquemart Andre 158 bd. Haussmann, Metro: Miromesnil or Saint Philippe du Roule. Open daily throughout the year, without exception, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.http://www.musee-jacquemart-andre.co...mart/175-home/
The 19th-century town house contains the best small collection of 18th-century decorative art in Paris. The building & contents were a bequest to the Institut de France by the late Mme. Nelié Jacquemart-André. Check out the café at the musee.

Follow Blvd Hausmann to the Arc de Triomphe (on museum pass) Metro: Charles de Gaulle-Etoile

I'm not a fan of the Champs Elysees but this is a perfect opportunity to stroll the world famous street.

Ann Marie
amwosu is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 6th, 2010, 04:25 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 5,228
If you go to the Louvre I would group it with visits to L'Orangerie and the Palais Royal historic shopping arcade (Thomas Jefferson was a former customer). Be sure to peek into Didier Ludot’s famous vintage store where Reese Witherspoon purchased the (I think, Dior) dress she wore to accept her Oscar. Many celeb clients.

Then stroll the nearby passages-
Galerie Vero-Dodat, very well preserved from 1824, headliner tenant Christian Louboutin

Galerie Vivienne Mosaic flooring, wrought iron staircases, glass roof, rotundas & Empire period decoration, probably the most elegant shopping arcade of all. Inaugurated in 1826, it was the Parisians' favourite until the Second Empire. Headline tenant Jean Paul Gautier

Galerie Colbert (Le Grand Colbert from “Somethings Gotta Give” for drinks or lunch) Parallel to Galerie Vivienne, Galerie Colbert was built shortly afterwards on the site of the former Hôtel Colbert. To equal its neighbour, Galerie Colbert had to feature architectural feats, which explains the 15 metre diameter, glazed dome. Between Galerie Colbert and Rue Vivienne, you will appreciate the old-fashioned charm of the brasserie Le Grand Colbert in which the friezes dating back to 1830 have been registered by the Monuments Historiques. Open seven days a week, this Parisian brasserie par excellence is also well known for its beef tartare, home-made chips and rum baba.
amwosu is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 6th, 2010, 04:52 PM
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 41,257
When on Rue des Rosiers look for the plaques dedicated to the schoolchildren who died at the hands of the Nazis.
jubilada is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 7th, 2010, 04:55 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 611
Thank you ALL for such wonderful input... I'm taking plenty of notes from everything you've said!

It might not make sense (money wise) for a museum pass for us, but definitely a good idea for others (I like the idea of not having to wait in line!) In my first trip to Paris I did visit the Louvre, as well as the Rodin Museum (which I LOVED!) so anyone reading this who hasn't been... yes it's great!

cath, again, great suggestion about going to the top of the Arc vs. standing in line for the Eiffel Tower. Do they even line up just to climb the stairs? It's been so long, so I don't recall...

Regarding a night cruise -- does anyone know what time it gets dark in Paris in late June? I'm thinking it won't be dark until after 10pm... If we're up for a semi-late night (after all our running around) I guess we could do this. If not, we'll do the day cruise from the Pont Neuf on Day 5.

Michel and Ann Marie -- thanks for the great suggestions!!! Wonderful details!!

Does anyone recommend visiting the Montparnasse area? If so, is it good to visit during the day, or mostly a nighttime cafe experience?

Thanks again everyone!
CarolM is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 7th, 2010, 07:24 PM
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 110
Bookmarked. Good stuff.

DaveMM is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 7th, 2010, 07:34 PM
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 59
Yes, it would be light until about 10:00 in late June but it would still be a magical boat ride as the sun is setting and the lights are coming up....
cjbpjb is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 7th, 2010, 08:03 PM
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 17
Hi Carol,

I just got back from 6 days Paris in March. I was there with my sister and 31 year old daughter. It was a fabulous trip. In looking over your itinerary, I think you may be doing too much. My daughter and I walked everywhere. It is the most perfect city to just walk. Of course you want to see as many sights as you can, but you don't want to get over whelmed either. Your day two is crammed with way too many things. Take day two and add a day three. Notre Dame, St. Chapelle and Ile St. Louis are all in the same area. My daughter and I spent a lot of time there just walking the streets on Ile St. Louis and going into the beautiful shops. There's a specialty store that sells breads, olive oils, vinegars, olive tampinade and other wonderful foods. We spend an hour in there just sampling all the goodies. it was the highlight of our trip.

A few thoughts. . . . . .

You could do a Bateau Mouche ride down the River Seine then walk over to the Eiffel Tower.

If you have to choose between the Louve and the Musee d'Orsay, I would pick the d'Orsay. My daughter and I lasted less than two hours in the Louve. It was crazy.

I don't care for Montmartre. I saw it once years ago and said I would never go back. Not an especially pretty part of Paris.

I purchased a Map Easy guide to Paris before I left. I circled the places I wanted to see and planned my days according to where sights were located. We got the most out of our days that way.

I hope you have a terrific time in Paris. Walk and enjoy. My daughter called it a trip of a lifetime.
cadmom is offline  
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 03:58 AM.