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Planning the arrival day of a first (short) trip to Paris (also first trip to France, Europe) - putting it all together for a group of "veterans" with one or more novices...

Planning the arrival day of a first (short) trip to Paris (also first trip to France, Europe) - putting it all together for a group of "veterans" with one or more novices...

Old Jun 4th, 2007, 03:09 AM
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rex
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Planning the arrival day of a first (short) trip to Paris (also first trip to France, Europe) - putting it all together for a group of "veterans" with one or more novices...

I posted this elsewhere, but the thread continues to get answers, mostly to the original question (rightly so).

This is a new wrinkle on the question of planning a first trip to Paris... how to plan (if at all), the _arrival_ day in Paris, on a first trip (also a first trip to Europe, ever).

Not _my_ first trip, of course, but we are traveling as a diverse foursome this September, as follows:

me: 7th trip to Paris, moderately fluent in French; still many places I have never been (or visited inadequately) - - Louvre (visited inadequately, and decades ago), Pompidou Center, Rodin Museum, l'Orangerie, Musee Marmottan, Musee Carnavalet, les Invalides (less than ideal this year because of renovations indside?), Sainte Chapelle, the sewers, Fontainebleau, Vaux le Vicomte, Chantilly. My list alone is too long, since we only have a smidge under 72 hours. Probably _no_ trips outside the city make any sense; we later have four days in Burgundy (after two days in le Piemonte).

my wife - 3rd trip to Paris (once without me), sparingly fluent in French.

my wife's SIL - 2nd trip to Paris; first trip was not all that great (weather, and she was one of several chaperones to way too many teenagers, on a very rigid schedule); now a wine enthusiast, eager to see the "real" Paris, in a more relaxed, adult fashion.

my wife's brother - first trip to Paris/France/Europe ever; not so much the traveler, but eager to be a good sport and enjoy anything and everything. I suspect that he does not appreciate the assault on one's senses of a first trip to Europe (true of most first-time Europe travelers?)

The _arrival_ day is always a challenge anywhere in my opinion because of:

* fatigue/grumpiness from sleep deprivation on transatlantic flight, and time zone change.
* excitement; want to do it all
* blurred memories, because it is that first, bad/fatigued day
* vivid memories, because it is all so new...

We have one of the very latest flights (best for sleeping, in my view), depart Louisville 6:55 pm, with a 55 minute connection in Detroit, the depart 9 pm for 11 am arrival. Getting into the city is a little bit hard to predict - - 1 pm? (a challenge to make, say, a lunch reservation for Altitude 95, for example).

I think we should pick one thing, and maybe Altitude 95 for an early supper? l'Orangerie? Pompidou Center? It may be inevitable to choose Arc de Triomphe (I have never climbed the thing... maybe this time) - - it seems to be such a magnet; first-timers can not wait to go see it and Eiffel.

My own list of prospective places to go is rather skewed towards museums - - too many museums is almost surely a problem for many first-time visitors - - wouldn't that be true? Seems likely to be true for non-French speakers even more so, I would think. Still... the museums that I have listed are probably all very English-speaker-friendly, aren't they? (maybe not Carnavalet?) After all, art is art, right? what about Pompidou center? interesting for a first-timer? I need to read up on it.

Thanks in advance for all replies... and...

Best wishes,

Rex
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Old Jun 4th, 2007, 03:13 AM
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Just to confirm, you are asking what to do on the first day in Paris?
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Old Jun 4th, 2007, 03:30 AM
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If you're all going to be jet-lagged, I would say, don't plan.

Just get to where you're staying, settle in to your room, and take a stroll around your new neighbourhood. If it's lunchtime, look at local cafés and restaurants for something light to still any pangs of hunger, and browse around to see where you might fancy eating and spending the evening (if you're all awake that long).

Get a feel for where you are in relation to the rest of Paris, let people work out where they can buy a local map, postcards, stamps, use the internet. Take an exploratory ride on the metro or a bus, just to get used to it, and/or to get to a park where you can all get a breath of fresh air - maybe the Luxembourg, or perhaps the Tuileries. Find another café to sit and people-watch, and/or to go over maps and guidebooks, and compare notes on how the jetlag's going. You may have to be ready to let people crash at almost any moment.

You're on holiday. Take your time to let people settle in, or they'll all be fractious and grumpy the whole trip.
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Old Jun 4th, 2007, 04:05 AM
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Rex, here's a thread looking for you:
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...p;tid=35009432

On arrival day we like to get a lot of sunlight and exercise so that we reset our clocks and sleep well. I'd vote for an outdoor activity that involves lots of walking.
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Old Jun 4th, 2007, 04:05 AM
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Salut Rex!

It will all depend on how your group reacts to jet lag so I would plan for a couple of little events so that the ones that are really tired can take off whenever. If they take a nap (I NEVER do) they might be ready to go out in the evening. If they decide to stick it out until dinner time (always my choice) they might need to combine active & passive things.

If they are not hard-core museum goers, I would not attempt the Louvre on an arrival day.

I would pick a single small museum, like the Rodin or the Jaquemart-Andre. History buffs would get a kick out the Moyen Age / The Cloisters. Something close to your hotel.

That can be followed by a stroll in a park. If they are still cooperating you could maybe take a SHORT ride on the Batobus? (You don't want them falling asleep on the boat ). If it is timed well they can see the Eiffel Tower twinkle for the first time

End the evening with a nice early dinner but don't go for a culinary experience when everyone will be feeling tired (and grumpy).
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Old Jun 4th, 2007, 04:07 AM
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Everyone is different but with your flight schedule I don't see jetlag as an issue. I would check in, have some lunch, walk and see l'Orangerie - it's small so it's not overwhelming like you were trying to "do" the Louvre. Have a casual dinner, and call it a day early so everyone gets a good nights sleep and can hit the ground running so to speak in the am.
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Old Jun 4th, 2007, 04:10 AM
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What day of the week do you arrive and where will you be staying?
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Old Jun 4th, 2007, 04:21 AM
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In my experience rooms in French hotels are never ready for early arrival, which has forced us to occupy ourselves for a few hours before taking a much-needed nap and shower.

You are arriving near lunchtime so that may not be an issue for you, but if you do rest and then want a gentle but worthwhile activity, a boat ride on the Seine fits the bill. We used the boats which leave from the Pont Neuf.

Out of your list of places to see this trip, all of which are of considerable interest, I'd choose Sainte Chappelle as the one you really do not want to miss. It may be the single most glittering remainder of the middle ages.
 
Old Jun 4th, 2007, 04:27 AM
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In terms of the full or close to 72 hours in Paris...with the folks who are traveling as much as I think you would enjoy Vaux le Vicomte and as important as it is I would NOT even think about trooping out to Melun and then going onward from there, etc. Too many things in the city itself to be seen, even if again IMO

I agree with PatrickLondon about keeping things loose and trying to NOT BE the "tourmeister" that first day...gentle possible suggestions rather than absolute musts might work better although i realize sometimes you simply have to "motivate" folks however possible.
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Old Jun 4th, 2007, 04:32 AM
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I would vote for something exactly like Arc de Triomphe, Place de la Concord, Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower. All of those require little thought to comprehend and appreciate and they are a nice appetizer for what's to come. Plus, they're outside, so you're guaranteed fresh air, daylight and if you climb the Arc, some leg-stretching exercise after a long flight

As ideal as the flight schedule is for sleeping, I wouldn't count on the newbies (or even the veterans) sleeping...excitement is a powerful drug!
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Old Jun 4th, 2007, 05:23 AM
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I wouldn't plan too much or go to a museum on the first day. I would stay outdoors if the weather permits. I would walk, heading towards the river and see some sights along the way (depends on where you are staying). I would take an early evening ride on the vedettes du pont neuf and then head over to Brasserie Isle St. Louis on Ile St. Louis for dinner. My husband loves the choucroute and beer and I always get the omelette mixte with pomme frites and beer. You can go across the street for the berthillion icecream and stroll back to your hotel. That way you get to bed at a reasonable hour and should wake up feeling pretty good.
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Old Jun 4th, 2007, 05:37 AM
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Our first day we go to hotel and then we take care of "housekeeping" things--get the Carte Orange, museum pass (if we are doing that). Stop for a lunch of soup and salad in a cafe, preferably where we can do some people watching. When we took allour kids we took the boat ride at dusk as the lights were coming up (October, so it was a little early). Then we have an easy dinner somewhere and go to bed early. Next day we are very ready.
Doing "one" thing is good. Notre Dame takes little energy or concentration. Walking up the Champs to the ARc--or the bus ride DOWN the Champs from the Arc to Pl. Republique.
For the first timer--a ride on the l'Opentour bus?
I would never choose a "special" place for dinner upon arrival day--I am TIRED by 6PM--actually more sleepy--and want to head it in.
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Old Jun 4th, 2007, 05:42 AM
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I like the idea of fitting in a view of the Eiffel Tower lit up as the highlight of the first evening. It can be seen from plenty of vantage points across the city, it'll have a wow factor for the first-timers, and in September it may not be too late in the evening for the jet-lagged (and even if it is, it'll be there another evening).

And if you're there on a Friday evening, don't forget the rollerblade rally for a free spectacle.
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Old Jun 4th, 2007, 06:04 AM
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Where is your hotel?

I would guess you could be at your hotel by 1. I landed my last trip at 10AM, and was at hotel by 12, after stopping at airport for the first of many french coffees and a sweet. I took the RER from CG, then Metro to my hotel. That worked out well for me. I returned by Metro to Montparnasse, then Air France bus. There are many threads here on to/from CDG access.

I wouldn't schedule a first day restaurant, nor go to a museum, nor a bus tour, nor a Seine cruise. Sitting still, or deep concentration items make people "zone out".

I could see a nice walk down the Champs Elysee, starting at Arc de Triomphe, see Place de la Concorde, Place Vendome, Tuileries gardens, outside of Louvre, and Palais Royal gardens would be a nice afternoon, early evening excursion. Then go for dinner and sweet sleep.




I recommend, if possible, to try and adjust for the time zones before you leave, by going to bed earlier, and rising earlier...and lseeping on the plane. It's a hassle, but in my case I tell myself that I want to maximize my quality time on overseas trips, and not be groggy or sleeping during the day. A recent report here had a couple sleeping for 4 hours on arrival, and sleeping in to 1:30 next day.

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Old Jun 4th, 2007, 06:38 AM
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Here is another museum for your list: the Musée Marmottan (near the Bois de Boulogne, in the 16me). It has the world's largest collection of Monets and a lovely collection of illuminated manuscripts. It's relatively small, but set in a nice mansion with a pretty view. It's very close to La Muette subway stop (on the 9 line) and between La Muette and the museum is a nice park (Jardins de Ranelagh). No picnics allowed, but a relaxing place to hang out. You're also close to the lakes in the Bois de Boulogne.

If you are staying on the western edge of the 8th or in the 16th, this would be an option for your first day's visit. If not, save it for another day.

You might consider two plans: a) the no-sleeping plan, for those of you who prefer not to sleep on your arrival day; and b) the nap plan, for those of you who need a nap. Divide into two groups, preferably with each group having someone who has been to Paris before. One group can have a more energetic day, and the others can have an easier day. (Or plan a day that permits the nappers to join later, or skip out and go back to the hotel for a nap.)

Make a latish dinner reservation, e.g. 9 pm (and possibly do it before you go home). Since you'll be tired, even if you do some sightseeing on your first day, you will still have time for a late afternoon nap and then a later dinner. That will help get you onto Paris time.

If the group doesn't want to nap and can't stay up late, then plan a special early evening cocktail somewhere nice, e.g. cafe Marly, the champagne bar at the Sofitel, Place des Vosges, etc. (One of my favourite Paris experiences was the trip I took where my friend, who lived in Paris, escorted me, at sunset, across the bridge that goes into the Louvre and took me to Cafe Marly for a drink before we continued on to dinner.)
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Old Jun 4th, 2007, 06:45 AM
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Wow, what a quick outpouring! Thanks all!

And yes, alanRow, I am asking about _first_ day in Paris (which for my BIL is also first day in Europe ever).

In answer to amwosu, we arrive on a Thursday, 11 am, with (tentative) plans to fly onward to Milan on Sunday morning; in case you are curious about the rest of the itinerary, it goes generally like this:

Thu/Fri/Sat - Paris
Sun - fly to Milan, "day" (afternoon) visit ther to see Last supper, Duomo, then onward to Turin (80 minutes by train) at supper time for two nights
Tue - train to Chambery or Lyon, rent car
Tue/Wed/Thu/Fri - Burgundy
Sat fly home from CDG

So far, the idea of Margo_Chester comes closest to my thoughts (but struggling over l'Orangerie vs Rodin Museum - - looks <i>awfully</i> attractive to me... or Musee Marmottan, since my inlaws are very much Monet buffs; Musee d'Orsay also not in the plans since three of us have been there as well). Does Altitude 95 count as a &quot;casual dinner&quot;? We may try to go the next night to Ciel de Paris (Tour Montparnasse) for the ooh-la-la view of the Eiffel Tower at night (from their lofty perch).

The suggestion to consider Vaux le Vicomte is interesting because - - while it seems crazy to even consider an &quot;out&quot; trip with only 72 hours, I am intrigued by the fountains running and &quot;illumination by (2000) candles&quot; on Saturday at Vaux le Vicomte. I don't really think we will do that, but I will keep it up my sleeve, as an alternative in case my BIL and SIL do not take all that much to the urban &quot;busyness&quot; of Paris. We are increasingly thinking that our last night (nominally planned to stay in Burgundy or Champagne since our departure is not until 2 pm) might ne in or near Fontainebleau instead. So, Vaux le Vicomte on night three and Fontainbleau on day nine might be too much of &quot;the same thing&quot;. I regret not working Versailles into the plan, but three of us have been there, and a Sunday visit does not work for us - - and you can't do <i>everything</i>!

For those who asked the question about our hotel choice - - ee haven't made it yet, and I am actually considering making the choice based on what we should plan for this first day - - or is that a case of mixed-up priorites? For example, if we are thinking to go to Musee Marmottan, then Hameau de Passy in the 16th (near the Trocadero, close to the Seine) might make sense for its proximity - - but maybe too far removed from the center for the two next days. What location would you recommend if we are headed to l'Orangerie or Rodin on day one? (I know, I know, not realistic to do both that first day). None of my previous stays are hotels I care to repeat this trip.

Last of all, the comments to _not_ be the &quot;tripmeister&quot; (especially not so much the first day) are self-evident, but I still appreciate them being repeated here. Worthwhile for anyone and everyone to read. I probably _will_ try to &quot;enforce&quot; the &quot;no napping&quot; _recommendation_ that first afternoon - - as I am on the same page as marigross - - but you can only _say_ what you think people should do, not boss them.

Thanks again for the quick and excellent replies so far. Keep 'em coming!
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Old Jun 4th, 2007, 06:48 AM
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Kate W - - I was composing my follow-up post as you were posting. Glad to hear that Musee Marmottan does not have too much &quot;overwhelm factor&quot; for day one. Just makes my decision harder though!

On the other hand, l'Orangerie could make a reasonable little &quot;punctuation break&quot; on otherwise jam-packed days two or three, couldn't it?
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Old Jun 4th, 2007, 06:49 AM
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I vote for no museums on the first day. I am guilty of doing that myself many times, and I seem to have no recollection of what I actually saw in those &quot;first day museums.&quot;
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Old Jun 4th, 2007, 06:51 AM
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Small comment. I took the train from Lyon to Chambery and it was very interesting and scenic. Base of the Alps, passed through small villages, old buildings, at times the train was 15' from people's backyards, castles/mansions in the background.
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Old Jun 4th, 2007, 07:00 AM
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Hi rex,

Don't know if this plan will be useful to you, but in the chance that it might, I'll post it.

I lived in Paris while a college student, but subsequent visits have been ruined by my own state of mind &amp; other factors. So, for my next visit, I wanted to really plunk myself down into the best &amp; most beautiful of the city to get started right. I also wanted to get the right balance of activity and rest. My hotel is in the 1st. This is what I came up with:

Walk a circle from Louvre along Rivoli to Pl. Vendome to Concord, then along Quai des Tuileries to Pont Neuf.
Lunch at Le Fumoir, 6 rue de l'amiral Coligny (parallel to &amp; west of the Louvre, before Pont Neuf). Lunch from 12.00-15.00, dinner 19.30 - 23.30
Do &quot;The Quays&quot; tour (Green Michelin guide), 3 hrs, start at Pont des Arts, end at Louvre. Dinner: Le Vieux Bistro, 14 rue de Cloitre Notre Dame, 4th, 12.00-14.00, 19.30 - 22.30

Anyway, hope it helps!

s
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