Solo Paris Trip-What to book in advance?

Jan 31st, 2009, 03:51 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 302
Solo Paris Trip-What to book in advance?

Hi All,
I will be in Paris from May 15-21. I have never been and am overwhelmed with planning. I was wondering what should be booked in advance? I have seen many passes on line, but don't know if they are worth it? I plan on getting to all of the regular stops..i.e. Louvre, Orsay, Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, St. Chappelle etc. Any input/advice is greatly appreciated. Also, with 6 days, I would like to go to versailles. Do you need tix in advance? also, what's the best day/time to go to avoid major crowds? If it helps, I will most likely be staying near the Sorbonne. Thanks!!!
elcon is offline  
Jan 31st, 2009, 04:25 PM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 667
My daughter and I went to Paris for the first time last spring, and the things that we got tickets for in advance were an evening ballet performance at the Opera Garnier, an evening performance of an instrumental group at Ste. Chappelle, and a noontime cooking class/lunch at the Ritz.

You should get a museum pass, but you don't need to get that until you get to Paris. There is a booth at CDG that sells them.

Also, if there are specific places to eat where you are sure you want to go, you might make reservations for those either several weeks before you leave for Paris (if they're really popular), or otherwise, as soon you get there.

We walked a lot. We just bought a group (10, I think) of metro tickets and used those.

We were there for 10 days and went to Versailles. I was underwhelmed. Maybe it would have been better later in the spring. It was fine--I'm glad we went--but with only 6 days, I'm not so sure that it's a must. Unless you really want to see it, of course. In that case, you certainly can see it and still do a lot in Paris in 6 days.

maryanntex is offline  
Jan 31st, 2009, 06:16 PM
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I've only been to Paris once, but didn't book anything in advance. The places you mention in your post you can just go to.

The Sorbonne is a fabulous area to stay (that's where I was) very convenient.

You don't mention, but I would add, particularly solo, see some of the parks. At least Luxenbourg Gardens and the Tuilleries for sure.
suze is offline  
Jan 31st, 2009, 06:24 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
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The only things you'll need to book in advance are:

1) hotel or apartment for your stay
2) any tickets to opera, concert, ballet, theatre
3) dinner reservation at Michelin 2 or 3* restaurants
4) PREM train tickets on sncf if you're doing any day trip (Versailles doesn't count)

For museum pass, wait until you get there to buy - but buy it at a smaller museum with no/fewer crowds. Familiarize yourself with what's covered and not covered by the museum pass.

For transportation, you can look into a Navigo Découverte weekly pass, but since you arrive on May 15 which is a Friday, the ND may not work out as well for you. See this website for more explanation and options:

For Versailles, you can get there by RER train, and it is covered by the Museum pass.
yk is offline  
Jan 31st, 2009, 06:25 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 24,134
BTW, for regular restaurants (ie, not Michelin starred), you can easily call up the place the same day or a day before to make a reservation. No need to do it weeks in advance.
yk is offline  
Jan 31st, 2009, 07:16 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 91,606
I encourage you not to be "overwhelmed". I found Paris one of the easiest cities, even without detailed advanced planning. Just get a good street map once you arrive, and plan out a daily itinerary in the morning (or in your room the evening before), starting walking from your hotel. the things you particularly mention are mostly around the Sorbonne area. Eiffel Tower is easily reached using the metro.

suze is offline  
Jan 31st, 2009, 07:41 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 14,578
Hi elcon

Our first trip together, in 2000, was pretty easy. We visited all the big sights, and had a grand time. Other than some restaurants, we didn't have anything prebooked.

But now, on our 5th trip to Paris since then, I am overwhelmed, too! Who would have thought it?

I think it's because the more I go, the more I know. If you know what I mean. I want to go to lots of places that I have missed. I want to go to lots of places that I've been to before.

I am working on a spreadsheet, listing all the museums and galleries that I want to see, their opening times, late evenings and I think I'm going to add whether they are covered by the museum pass.

If you would like a copy, I will email you one. I'm not done yet, but will be by the time I leave here next Saturday morning.

Try me at elvis mom 2002 (no spaces) at yahoo dot com.

I will surely get it to you before May.

I think you can easily fit Versailles in on your 6 day visit.

Of our 5 visits, none has worked out for a weekly transport pass. We just buy a carnet (book of tickets for Metro and bus; see the link given above) and go. We didn't have a museum pass on our last trip, because we were visiting a bunch of places that weren't covered, but will probably get a two or four day pass on this trip.

I hope this is helpful.
tuscanlifeedit is offline  
Feb 1st, 2009, 12:19 AM
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I think Versaille is worth the trip. Last time we spent an entire day in the gardens and didn't bother to even try to go inside. I've done it before and I think it's a nightmare unless you get there before the tour groups, in which case go for it.

Napoleon's apartments in the Louvre will give you a good taste of the interior of Versaille, except for the Hall of Mirrors which is stupendous. I was extremely irritated at Versaille that such a lot of it seemed to be unavailable unless we paid for a guide.
cathies is online now  
Feb 1st, 2009, 01:15 AM
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 3,654
Hi elcon,
May is one of the loveliest months in Paris and we will be there from 22nd May - I would have loved to have a GTG if we overlapped!
I have visited Chateau de Versailles before with my elderly mum.
We took a tour with ParisVision which included:

The transport to and from Paris.

The entry into the chateau but can't remember if it included all the apartments but we started in the Hall of Mirrors which is the most important bit (I think).

A lovely lunch in a garden restaurant.

A guided tour of the gardens Grand & Petit Trianons.

For a first time I think this could be a wise way to go. Now that I know the ropes I will be taking my husband whilst we are in Paris but will travel on the RER - Line C.

It is impossible to see everything at the chateau in a single day.
There are several entrances depending on which part you want to visit. Entrance A admits you to the star attractions - The Hall of Mirrors, the King's Apartments, and the Queen's apartments - which can be visited either individually (with rented headsets) or as part of a guided tour. Be forewarned:
There are often long lines here, so it may be worthwhile paying slightly more for one of the other entrances, which sell tickets to these rooms combined with a tour of other rooms in the chateau ( for example, the Dauphine's Apartments, the Opera, the chapel or the Petits Apartments).
A combined ticket can also be purchased for the Trianons ( a small train runs between the chateau and the Trianons), for those who prefer not to walk.

The gardens are free except during the "Grandes Eaux" performances, when the 32 pools and fountains are turned on as part of a musical display.

Remember....Chateau de Versailles is closed on a Monday!
tod is offline  
Feb 1st, 2009, 01:37 AM
Join Date: Jan 2009
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tuscanlifeedit, I would love the spreadsheet you have mentioned. I have emailed you. We have ten days in Paris in early September, Lissa
Lissa2905 is offline  
Feb 1st, 2009, 02:11 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 67
"...the things that we got tickets for in advance were an evening ballet performance at the Opera Garnier..."

maryanntex, now why didn't i think of that?! and so glad you mentioned it. i toured the gorgeous opera garnier last time and would love to see a ballet there when i visit in april. think i'll try to do that right now

kahern is offline  
Feb 1st, 2009, 06:06 AM
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Great info! Thanks everyone. Tuscanlifeedit, I will e-mail you. Thank you for the offer. Tod, a GTG would have been nice, perhaps next time!
elcon is offline  
Feb 1st, 2009, 06:46 AM
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 51
Hi Tuscanlifeedit,

Would you mind if I emailed you for a copy of your spreadsheet as well?

We're going to Paris in mid-April and that would be a huge help!

tatdenning is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2009, 07:45 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 14,578
Yes, of course, to everyone. I have the honor of presenting my first spreadsheet child to you as a gift.

All closing are red, special exhibits are marked, hours for every day of the week. I tried in a few spots to group things together by area. If anyone wants to improve on it, I would love that. I shall finish tomorrow and get on with mailing it out. My daughter told me that this just goes to prove that I am the Vacation Nazi.

It was fun.

For dining, I have La Gaigne for Sunday when we arrive. Wednesday is prix fixe day lunch at Table su Joel Robuchon. Friday dinner at Le Pamphlet.

I need to choose from my short list to fill in the others.

A bientot
tuscanlifeedit is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2009, 08:19 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,849
There are trade-offs to consider which days you want to visit Versailles.

Monday: closed.
Tuesday: because many other museums are closed, Versailles can get more crowded.
Saturday/Sunday: Les Grandes Eaux Musicales (fountain) days. Info at:

Unfortunately, avoiding major crowd = avoiding fountain days.
greg is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2009, 08:39 PM
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 3,184
could you please add me to your list of beneficiaries.
thanks so much for the effort and for offering to share.
i just e-mailed to you.
abranz is offline  

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