In response to my trip report ("December in Paris: magical trip report"), I received a private message request for our "Menu of Possibilities". I am going to post it here so that others can reference it and perhaps other TripAdvisors may want to add to it.
Here's the context: We have a “peaceful exploration” travel style. In planning our trip, we made a list of main museums/sites we wanted to visit and then chose one main destination for each day being careful to consider the days the sites are open. We also created a menu of possibilities for day and evening experiences that we could spontaneously choose from after visiting our main destination for the day. With this list along with a detailed Paris street map, we had no shortage of “possibilities” and each day was at our own pace, full of discoveries!
Please keep in mind that this menu of possibilities was a springboard for us to make choices based on the weather, personal energy and interest at the time. It was developed by reading posts here on TripAdvisor, reading Rick Steves' Paris 2011 book, and reading a variety of websites. If you would like to see a more structured plan for Paris check out this link to Rick Steve's site: ricksteves.com/plan/…parisitin.htm
I hope this serves as a starting point for developing your own menu!
MAIN DESTINATION LIST FOR EACH DAY - with notes of adjustments made
SUNDAY: 9 AM arrival at CDG. Our Paris Museum Pass had been delivered to our hotel. Plan: After leaving our luggage at our hotel, explore the Marais area. Include the Place de Voges, Jewish Museum, side streets and if the weather is good take in the view from the 6th floor of the Pompadou Museum. Actual: not good weather, so didn't do the Pompadou.
MONDAY: Louvre After Louvre: Orangerie, Champs-Elysees
TUESDAY: Orsay After: Rodin Museum, Napoleon's Tomb. Dinner at wine bar and restaurant and concert at Notre Dame & see night lights.
THURSDAY: Monet exhibit at Grand Palais Actual: walked several neighborhoods - Montmartre, Cite & Notre Dame & a bit of Left Bank, Ile St Louis, Eiffel Tower
Other Main Sites that were on our list:
Arc de Triumphe - walk up
Notre Dame - walk up tower (closed because of weather)
ACTUAL MENU OF POSSIBILITIES
• Champs-Elysees – 2 miles, 3 hours; also, definitely do this at night for holiday lights! Arc de Triomphe, Musee Jacdquemart-Andre.
• Historic core, including walking along the Seine – 3 miles, 4 hours. Use our Museum Pass. Note the Ile de la Cite’s flower market (Monday - Saturday), place Louis-Lepine. On Sundays, the area has rare birds.
• Marais – lively on Sundays, Jewish quarter, tea shop - 2 miles, about 2 hours
• Rue Cler – – traditional Parisian neighborhood – street is lined with essential shops like bank, post office, wine, cheese, chocolate, bread, etc. – 2-3 blocks, allow 1 hour and pop into a café. Tues-Sat 8;30 – 13:00 or 15:00-19:30, dead on Monday
• Left Bank – allow 2 hours, evenings are pleasant and may art galleries are open until 19:00 or 19:30.
o St Sulpice Church has a free organ concert daily 7:30 – 19:30
• Montmartre – 2 miles, 2 hours. Weekday, busiest on Sunday, best with clear skies for views. Come for sunset and stay for dinner.
o Seine cruise (1 hour)
o Patisserie. Either have at a cafe or buy & bring back to hotel.
o Bertillon ice cream
o Afternoon tea at a tea salon
o From a street vendor - chestnuts roasting over coals as we walk
o Sit in a café – warm up with hot chocolate or hot wine
o Atmospheric wine bar: Beaujolais Nouveau is end of November with cafes and bistros featuring dishes with glass of it
o Department store – Printemps - view from the top in all directions with reasonable café
Fauchon has opened a takeout store near their other shop on Place Madeleine. There are tables upstairs because it won't be possible to eat outside. Great for a fast, delicious lunch
o Window shop with holiday displays:
o along boulevard Haussmann
o department store Printemps
o department store Galeries Lafayette – have picture taken with Santa Claus
o Boutiques around Sevres-Babylone
• Trocadero & Eiffel Tower (twilight)
• Champs-Elysees & Arc de Triomphe – holiday lights
Hike up Arc de Triomphe (twilight)
• Ile St Louis and Notre-Dame
• Montmartre featuring the Sacré-Cœur basilica (twilight)
• Left Bank – St Sulpice Church as a free organ concert daily 7:30, many art galleries are open until 19:00 or 19:30
• Lights of Paris! Note: Eiffel Tower twinkles for only the first 5 minutes of each hour after dark. New Foxity (night) siteseeing tour (1.5 hrs) 18:30 & 20:00 http://www.foxity.com/en – maybe on our arrival day
• Seine river cruise
• Find a romantic spot
• Western tip of the Ile-de-la-Cité (M° Pont Neuf) At any time of the day. Settle under the weeping willows, and enjoy the stunning view of the Institut de France, the Louvre and the Pont des Arts, reputedly the city's most romantic bridge.
• Western tip of the Ile-St-Louis (Mº Pont-Marie) By night... You are surrounded by the amber magic of street lights and their reflection in the water, while the ancient stones of Notre-Dame tell you tales of passion, of les amours d'Héloïse et Abélard, and other Esmeraldas...
• Concert - in a church would be great
• Late night people watching café
• French apertifs
• Atmospheric wine bar – Beaujolais Nouveau is end of November with cafes and bistros featuring dishes with glass of it
• Ice skating at Hotel de Ville or at Eiffel Tower on the 1st level
• Christmas markets on Left Bank (St Sulpice and St Germain-des-Pres) and on Champs-Elysees. Christmas tree at Pompidou Center
• Eat at a brasserie
Please feel free to add other winter ideas!