Salut tout le monde,
My parents are planning to travel to France this May, and are taking me (21) and my little brother (11) along for the ride. We all have diverse interests when it comes to travelling. My mom likes charming little towns, shopping and gardens, for this reason she wants to minimize the amount of time in the City, and devote more time to exploring the countryside (Provence, primarily Luberon.) My dad likes history, but mostly enjoys relaxing during vacations because of his hectic work schedule. Because of this, he would also prefer we take it easy in le Sud and devote less time to hectic Paris. There's my little brother; unfortunately at his age, his opinion doesn't count ;) As for me, I am a lover of cities: I love the architecture, the streets, the people, the buzz. I want to feel a city's pulse. I love to observe and take part of the city myself, so naturally I am inclined to spend as much time in a city like Paris as possible. And well, we all love good food, so we can agree on that at the end of the day.
Well, suffice to say, the decisions are made by those who are footing the bill. I have been entrusted with providing a rough itinerary, and to balance everyone's wishes, it seems that we will only have a maximum of four full days in Paris. As one of my hobbies is making up itineraries for trips that I may or may not ever take, I have been scrutinizing every detail of this itinerary. Below is the basic plan for Paris that I have come up with, and I'd like opinions. I figured we'd have to take at least one day trip, and Versailles seems to be the natural choice. However, I think Chantilly, Chartres, or the Fontainebleau would be awesome as well.
Anyway, after making this plan, it still seemed to me that we were missing so much. Did I leave any destinations off? Should I remove some from this itinerary? Oh, it should be mentioned that none in our party has been to Paris before. Actually, we've never left North America!
Day 01 : Assuming we are staying on the Île Saint-Louis, we wake up and locate the best pâtisserie for breakfast on the run. Head over to l'Île de la Cité to check out the Notre Dame from the outside and then take a tour of the Sainte-Chapelle. From here, we explore the Left Bank on foot and seek out the landmarks (Panthéon, Jardin du Luxembourg, St-Germain de Près, Sorbonne) Later, we will also want to see Les Invalides and perhaps, if there is time, go up le Tour Montparnasse (such a grand name for this part of town, is there a story behind it?)
Day 02 : This will be the day of Paris clichés. We arrive for the opening of the Musée d'Orsay. Afterwards, we grab crêpes on the way to the Jardin du Tuileries. After my mom gets her flower fix, we march up the Champs-Elysée; mom will shop while my dad, brother and I mope (she should have had daughers!) If time permits, we will ascend l'Arche de Triomphe before heading to the Montmarte for a late afternoon/evening stroll. After a great meal somewhere, we return to our île to indulge in a scoop or two of Berthillon.
Day 03 : In the morning, we take the RER to Versailles to spend the morning in the palace and around the grounds. In the afternoon we might split up. I would love to check out La Défense, but I doubt it would be of much interest to my family. As an alternative to La Défense, I would also like to visit a working-class and/or ethnic neighborhood to see the real Paris. (Anyone have recommendations on where to go?) I'm sure my mom would love to use this time to faire des achats. We'll meet again for a dinner in the 7e. This would also be a great night to make a twilight visit to le Tour Eiffel.
Day 04 : We've done the Left Bank, and today we traverse the Right. We'll spend the better part of the day walking through the Marais until we find the perfect café. In the afternoon a visit to the Pompidou will be mandatory. After that, we head over to see the Opéra Garnier and to tour the grands magasins. We'll have dinner someplace that puts my mother's fine cooking to shame (but I won't tell her.)
Well that is all. I feel like I have crammed in too much in these four short days, but there is so much to see. What sayeth the Paris addicts?