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Itinerary for Paris in 3 days

halifax, ma
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Itinerary for Paris in 3 days

Hi! I'm hoping to tap into your collective wisdom. I will be arriving in Paris with my 16 yr old daughter and her best friend on Friday morning, the 13th and staying until Monday the 16th. There are, of course, some things we feel we must do with our three short days there and I'm hoping you can help us be as efficient as possible with our time. Would you comment on how best to accomplish all or most of the following:

* I'm assuming that our room will not be ready when we first arrive, but hope to drop our luggage off at the hotel first. We are staying at Sully St. Germaine near the Sorbonne. I thought we could then take a bus tour around the city to help orient us a bit. Does anyone know how early they start?

* We'd also like to take a river cruise along with Seine - would you recommend having lunch on the cruise?

* Eiffel Tower, Champs d'Elysse, and l'Arc de Triomphe - are these all in close vicinity of each other, and can we do them in half a day?

* Highlights of the Louvre, Place de la Concorde, Bastille, Sacre Coeur, Notre Dame, Luxembourg Gardens, Rue Mouffetard are all other sites we'd love to take in.

Any advice on how to arrange an itinerary? Do you recommend a museum pass given the sites listed here?

Thanks so much for whatever information you can share!

Victoria, Canada
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1. Re: Itinerary for Paris in 3 days

Museum pass would be a total waste of money.

Do Eiffel Tower on your second day, first thing in the morning to avoid having to wait in long line. If you are willing and able, consider

taking the stairs to the 2 nd level, I did with my 14 yr last year, he enjoyed it, and the line was way shorter, he then took the elevator to the top level( you have to board the elevator to the top level from the second level)

Avoiding line up in Lourve is not too difficult, do not enter through the Pyramid entrance, instead, enter from the shopping mall entrance, which is off Rue Du Rivoli. I did twice last summer and line ups were very small, maybe 5 minutes to get through security. Buy your ticket from the machines, simple and quick. Your daughter and friend are free!!

Los Angeles
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2. Re: Itinerary for Paris in 3 days

Hi wanderin',

I had roughly the same amount of time in Paris as you during my trip in May. My girlfriend and I opted to take a Seine cruise at night for a couple of reasons. (1) Cruising during the day means a little less time to visit some of the sights and (2) seeing the dramatically lit bridges and Parisian landmarks was a real treat that may be lost during daylight.

We used Vedettes du Pont Neuf near Notre Dame and took their 10:00pm cruise after visiting the Louvre. I believe another company (Bateaux Parisien?) operates near the Eiffel Tower, so you might be able to combine a tower visit with a cruise.

If you use Vedettes, check their website for an internet coupon that you can print out and present at the ticket window.

Hope you have a great time!

Ohio, USA
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3. Re: Itinerary for Paris in 3 days

1. Skip lunch on the Seine boat. Just take the tour, and if it is not warm and sunny dress warm. It can be chilly on the open deck of the boats and on the upper deck of the tour buses — which is where you want to be. Maybe do this in the evening when the buildings are illuminated. With effectively only three days you need to save all your daylight hours for other things.

2. On your first morning I'd suggest a look at Notre Dame, close to your hotel, and a stroll round the islands rather than the bus tour. I'm a big fan of moving after a long flight and I think I'd probably fall asleep on the bus. Skip the climb up the towers. You don't want to waste valuable time standing in the line, and you'll have plenty of other "view" opportunities. IMO the nearby Sainte Chapelle is an absolute "must see" — perhaps the single most beautiful building in France. A light lunch after you've walked a bit. There's a nice little place, Pom' Canelle, on rue des Deux Ponts on the Ile St. Louis that does good quiches and salads — and Berthillon ice cream so you can get your fix there.

3. Do the bus tour in the afternoon and if you feel the need have a nap at your hotel before an early dinner.perhaps at Pré Verre on rue Thénard close to your hotel. (Might be out of your budget range though it is EXCELLENT value, and might be a bit sophisticated for the kids, depending on their tastes. Check the menu.) Get an early night and an early start the next day.

4. I'd get to the Eiffel Tower early in the day, then cross the river and walk through the Trocadéro to av. Kleber. Walk up av. Kleber to the Arc de Triomphe, about three-quarters of a mile. I prefer the view from the top of the Arc to that from the E.T. but if going up the E.T. is a must, I'd skip the climb to the top of the Arc. Now walk down the length of the Champs Élysées to Place de la Concorde, about a mile. (Take the métro if you get bored/tired.) That should make for a good morning.

5. After lunch take the métro up to Montmartre to see the Sacre Coeur and have a stroll round Montmartre. Perhaps have dinner on Place du Tertre, the big tourist square. Check ArrowCapet's recent posts for a recommended restaurant there, I think called Eugène.

6. In the morning walk to the Louvre and visit following the excellent suggestions you have been given.

7. Then cross the Pont des Arts and walk through St. Germain des Près to the Luxembourg Gardens. if you walk up rue de Seine you could have lunch at La Palette, one of my favorite Paris cafés. Farther up rue de Seine at the corner of rue Lobinau is Gérard Mulot's boulangerie/patisserie with windows to rival any jeweler. Perhaps get a macaroon or two or a fruit tart to eat in the park. (Hmmm.... This is Sunday isn't it? Might be closed...) Wander through the Gardens and then head past the Panthéon to rue Mouffetard for a quick look. Have an early dinner here or perhaps walk back down the hill through the Latin Quarter to rue St. André des Arts for a dinner in a crèperie along the street. I thnk Crèperie St. Germain is probably the one you want. The kids should love both the street and the crèperie.

8. If you're not exhausted walk to the river and at the west end of the Ile de la Cité find the Vedettes Pont Neuf for an evening cruise on the Seine.

9. Don't know how much time you have on Monday, but the only thing left on your list is the Bastille. I'd skip it. There's really nothing to see there except a vast empty space with a column that has nothing to do with the Revolution and the new Opera building which is either ugly or boring depending on your point of view. if you do have time this morning, walk down to the river, cross the bridge behind Notre Dame cathedral, and then cross to the right bank. You are now in the 4th arrondissement. Wander through it finding rue des Archives then rue des Francs Bourgeois. (You do have a good street map do you not?) Make your way to Place des Vosges, one of the loveliest squares anywhere, and the oldest in Paris. You will pass the Carnavalet Museum (history of Paris) in a splendid old mansion with beautiful gardens. The museum is free so if you have time pop in even if only for a quickie. If you still have time find your way back to rue des Rosiers and have a falafel from L'As du Falafel (The Falafel Ace) for lunch before heading back to your hotel.

If you have more time on Monday than I have allowed for I'd suggest either moving the rue Mouffetard stroll to your last afternoon OR seeing the lovely Cluny Museum in a wonderful medieval mansion very close to your hotel. The kids would love the Unicorn tapestries.

If you have the stamina I think I'd probably switch the Saturday afternoon and Sunday afternoon because places will be open in St. G. des P. on Saturday that might be closed on Sunday. Montmartre is ALWAYS open — at least round the S.C. and the Pl. du T.

This is a VERY full itinerary but the best I can do to get you round all the places you want to see in such a short time. BTW, if you do the Marais walk you'll only be a short distance from Place de la Bastille when you are at Place des Vosges if you REALLY want to see it.

As suggested, forget the museum pass. Waste of money in your case...

Feel free to ignore any and all of my suggestions...

san francisco bay...
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4. Re: Itinerary for Paris in 3 days

excellent replies, this site is a wonderful resource. I too am heading to France, will be landing in Paris in the evening this Tuesday the 3rd and taking the train to Avignon on Saturday the 7th mid day. We are staying at Hôtel des Grandes Ecoles and would love any suggestions or ideas given the days and location.

halifax, ma
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5. Re: Itinerary for Paris in 3 days

Thank you all so much for your suggestions. They are so helpful. I actually think I will follow them to a "T" given that I have little time to pour through travel books and plan my own itnierary.

Thank you again!

Ohio, USA
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6. Re: Itinerary for Paris in 3 days

wanderin' -

I hope you won't take offense at this, but PLEASE take at least a couple of hours to familiarize yourself with the layout of Paris, the métro stations and lines covering the areas you want to visit and so on before you leave. Your itinerary as I outlined it is really very tight and you need to hit the ground running (so to speak...) almost from the moment you land at CDG. You can't afford any time trying to figure out how to get from A to B. In any case an itinerary is only a starting point...

Second, my suggested itinerary really depends on fine weather which you certainly can't count on in mid-October. If the weather is cold and rainy and/or foggy, much of what I suggested would not be a lot of fun. (I don't see much point in going to the top of the E.T. for example if you can't even see the ground when you get there.)

If I were you, in addition to doing a bit of homework yourself, I would have the kids thoroughly research the itinerary I gave you. After all they are missing a couple of days of school I assume, so this could be an excellent educational exercise for them. For example, you need to know the exact location of your hotel and how to get there fromm CDG by public transport, worth knowing even if you think you might take a taxi. You need to know how to get from there to Notre Dame cathedral, where exactly the Sainte Chapelle is, what its opening hours are (It is closed at lunchtime for security reasons but I'm not sure exactly when), where rue des Deux Ponts is, where to get the L'Open Bus and how much it costs — and so on.

How will you get from your hotel to the E.T. by métro? When does it open? (You want to be there a good half hour before it opens.) How long does it take to walk from there to the A. de T? And from the A. de T. to Place de la Concorde? How far is it? (My distances are at best only guesses...)

They can use www.mappy.com to figure out walking times and distances, www.ratp.fr to get transportation times and routes etc. but a couple of 16-year-olds shouldn't need any help from me in using the 'net.

Also a "Plan B" for bad weather would be a REALLY good idea. There are literally over 100 museums in Paris, some of which they should surely find interesting. They can find all of them on the 'net if they use their no doubt considerable search skills. (And of course there are always the big department stores. I have a hard time imagining two young American women who would have no interest in shopping while they are in Paris. If you walk the Marais (3rd/4th arrondissements) as I suggested they will pass many trendy small shops and boutiques in that area also.)

Last, despite the detailed itinerary I suggested, some flexibility will almost certainly be needed for all kinds of reasons including weather. If you have a general idea of where things are and how the métro works and so on, it will make life a lot easier when you have to switch things around.

For carrying with you, the Knopf Mapguide to Paris ISBN # 0-375-71098-1 would probably work very well for you. The kids might be persuaded to spend some of their allowance on a pocket map of Paris also, the StreetWise map being a good one. Get a (free) métro map as soon as you arrive in Paris too. I would urge you to have them check a couple of guidebooks out of the library and spend some time getting an idea not just about where everything is but about the history of Paris and the places they will be visiting.

Hope you don't mind all this advice. The two biggest mistakes most visitors, especially Americans, to Paris make is (1) trying to do too much and (2) not doing enough research and planning before they arrive. With your very short visit and packed itinerary the latter is REALLY crucial IMO.

BTW, I *think* the festival of the vendange (grape harvest) takes place in Montmartre on the second weekend in August. (Yes there really IS a vineyard in Montmartre!) There will be parades and so on happening up the hill and no doubt a more than usually jolly atmosphere. Lucky you! Enjoy!

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7. Re: Itinerary for Paris in 3 days

Wow, Irish Rovr, just exactly what I am looking for, all this great advice. I have some cramming to do. Am leaving in the morning for a week in New York but have a week at home before coming to Paris and London on the 17th, this makes my planning much simpler. My only problem is having to use a wheelchair most of the time, but am sure I can do a lot of these things anyway, just a little slower.

halifax, ma
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8. Re: Itinerary for Paris in 3 days

Your point is well taken, IrishRovr. Planning (and the anticipation) is actually the most fun for me, and I bought guide books hoping to be able to do all that. Unfortunately, my schedule has changed dramatically from the time I booked this trip to now and I have far less time than I used to. That's why your suggested itinerary is so helpful to me.

But I certainly will take your suggestions to heart and spend some time figuring out logistics, etc. Honestly, though, I'm not much good with maps and will probably have to figure out the transit system as I go.

And if all this planning falls apart, and we spend our days at a cafe watching folks go by...that doesn't sound too bad, either. We'll be in Paris!

Thanks again for your thoughtful posts.

Athens, GA
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9. Re: Itinerary for Paris in 3 days

I took my (then) 15 and 17-year-old daughters to Paris summer 2005. Here's our itenerary and some hints.

* Arrival Day (1/2 day) - drop bags at hotel, Notre Dame, bouquanists on the Seine and Latin Quarter wander. Rest at the hotel w/ snacks from the grocerie.Picnic dinner (rotisserie chicken, baquette and side veggies from Asian deli) on the Champ du Mars. It was magic when the Eiffel Tower lit up and twinkled on the hour.

Day 1 - Arc de Triomphe (didn't go up, took too long), shopping on the Champs Elysees (Promod - left side of Champs - has cute young fashions at rvery reasonable prices. (Can check it out online), 2 hours in Louvre - it doesn't take my girls long to see a museum :), [quick run back to the Champs for a skirt that just HAD to be bought!], a yummy nutella crepe at a street stand before resting for a couple of hours in the room. Cafe dinner and evening Seine cruise.

Day 2 - St. Chapelle and the flower market on the Ile de la Cite. Gyros for lunch in the Latin Quarter (5.50 for large gyro, frites and soft drink). A little more shopping at Etam in the Latin Quarter. We checked out the now-closed La Samaritaine dept. store before heading to the Orsay. Rest at hotel for an hour or so. Cafe dinner and Eiffel tower at dusk. Since you're going when the sun sets earlier, you may want to switch these and go up the tower first and eat later.

Day 3: Since it was Sunday, we hit the street market at the Bastille metro stop (really cool) and took the Rick Steves walk through the Marais. I have to say that my girls didn't really like the Marais as much as some of the other areas. We wasted the rest of the day (kind of a dreary day) having their portrait drawn - it was OK, not great, they split the 50 euro price between them and had a joint portrait drawn - and sitting on the quay by the Seine before leaving that evening by train for Nice. When we returned to town at the end of our trip, we went to Sacre Couer and Montmartre, which they preferred to the Marais.

My biggest suggestions - Take a rest around 4:30 or 5 in the afternoons so no one gets too cranky. Let them shop so they will be happy. Have at least one leisurely cafe breakfast and at least one Nutella crepe! If they don't want to do something, don't make them - they will just be miserable and you will waste your money. I also laid out my proposed itenerary broken into morning and afternoon sections and let them choose what we did in what order. That way they felt like they had some say-so.

Raleigh, NC
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10. Re: Itinerary for Paris in 3 days

I think you can do it all if you don't get bogged down too much at lunch or at the Louvre.

I am sure others would diagree but I would skip the Bastille area, and possibly Montmartre and Sacre Coeur, especially if it is not a bluebird day.

The jump on-jump off tours are a good way to hit the highlights and you can do Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel tower, and champs Elysee, and Place de la Concorde in a single swing.

I would recommend a museum pass for head of the line priveleges. If time permits, I would try to see the Carnavalet Museum and the Orangerie as well as the d'orsay and Louvre. Take some time to watch the people and notice how much nicer they have become. Don't worry about seeing it all-you will be back!