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Menu of Possibilities for a December trip to Paris

Miami Beach, Fl
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Menu of Possibilities for a December trip to Paris

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.

WEDNESDAY: Versailles

THURSDAY: Monet exhibit at Grand Palais Actual: walked several neighborhoods - Montmartre, Cite & Notre Dame & a bit of Left Bank, Ile St Louis, Eiffel Tower

FRIDAY: Normandy

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

DAY WALKS

• 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

o Sometimes there is a wine & choose open house to inaugurate a new exhibition check www.paris.artalog.net or www.vingtparismagazine.com

• Montmartre – 2 miles, 2 hours. Weekday, busiest on Sunday, best with clear skies for views. Come for sunset and stay for dinner.

DAY EXPERIENCES

o Seine cruise (1 hour)

o Patisserie. Either have at a cafe or buy & bring back to hotel.

o Chocolate

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

o Place de la Madeleine, comparing Fauchon’s festive incredible food and holiday displays with Hediards.

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 Marais

o Boutiques around Sevres-Babylone

NIGHT WALKS

• 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

NIGHT EXPERIENCES

• 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

• Jazz: timeout.com/paris/features/27/20-great-thing…

• 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

ENJOY!

Please feel free to add other winter ideas!

Ireland
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1. Re: Menu of Possibilities for a December trip to Paris

This is wonderful - I do a similar thing though I'm afraid I'm not half as organised as you!! I realise this will be anathema to many book lovers, but I read through my travel guides the night before, and then fold over pages of places I think I may dander to. To be honest, I often times make none of them, but no matter, something for the next trip!!

Loads of information in your post, many thanks!

Ocean City, MD
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2. Re: Menu of Possibilities for a December trip to Paris

Enjoyed reading your TR and the 'menu' ideas, I've put both in my Paris folder for my husband & my trip in May. Thanks

(hi Kathleen)

Grapevine, Texas
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3. Re: Menu of Possibilities for a December trip to Paris

I am interested in how you reached Normandy and what your trip there was like. Any info would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Miami Beach, Fl
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4. Re: Menu of Possibilities for a December trip to Paris

We went on the D Day Tour offered by The Caen-Normandy Memorial Centre for History and Peace. We took the 7 AM train from Paris and arrived at 9 AM. Our guide met us at the train station along with other people in our group. There were 6 guests in the van plus our well informed personable English speaking guide. The tour include a tour of the Second World War exhibition area, an excellent way to revitalize our minds of the events leading up to the war and the war itself. As a group we had lunch at the musem and then headed out for a 5 hour tour of the beach heads and American cemetery, including a drive through the countryside to get to each location. At about 6:15 we were dropped off at the railway station. This gave us enough time to catch a bite to eat and our train, which I think may have been at 7 PM - arriving back in Paris around 9 PM, I think. All in all, it was a really full day but well programmed, professionally presented, thought provoking and well paced and all four of us were glad we did it.

Here is the website link. They offer several day tours - we took the D-Day Tour. www.memorial-caen.fr/portailgb/index.php…

Here is a write up of the museum and D-Day Tour from Rick Steves: ricksteves.com/plan/…dday2.htm

Grapevine, Texas
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5. Re: Menu of Possibilities for a December trip to Paris

Thank you so much for your quick reply!

Originally, I thought that my husband would go to Normandy alone and I would go to Giverny. Now, I think that we both will make the trip to Normandy. Don't know if we will have time to make it to Giverny this time.

Did you make train reservations to Caen before your trip or were you able to take care of that after arriving in Paris?

Miami Beach, Fl
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6. Re: Menu of Possibilities for a December trip to Paris

We made our reservations & got our tickets the day before. Our hotel concierge had offered to guide us through on the computer ordering the tickets and seats on-line, but we wanted to make a dry run on the metro from our hotel to estimate how much time it would take to get to the SNCF train station at St Lazare - so we purchased roundtrip tickets ourselves from the ticket counter at the train station. That way we weren't possibly stressing out or missing our train. There is a 1st and 2nd class choice when you make reservations. Maybe someone on TripAdvisor can describe the difference between the two. We chose 1st class figuring that we would have more comfortable seats and might be able to nap on the way out, which we did. The tickets were 47.90 Euros per person each way. Before you board the train, at the beginning of the platform/gate for the train there is a machine where you insert your ticket and it gets stamped - you will see others doing that. Also, we had gotten to the train station about 20 minutes before departure - to find the platform for your train, look at the display boards which will list all the departures by number (similar to a flight#) and your gate/platform - this information is posted about 20 minutes before departure. On your ticket will be the train destination # (similar to a flight#), which car of the train (voiture) and seat number (place assise). Once you are on the platform, you will see that each car is number. Get on board your car number, find your seat, sit back and relax! Hope this helps.

Our trains were:

To Caen # 3314: 7:07 AM from Paris St Lazare, arrives 8:55 AM

Return to Paris # 3301: 18:58 PM from Caen, arrives Paris 20:45

New Hampshire
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7. Re: Menu of Possibilities for a December trip to Paris

winepourer: Please note that you can book (and print at home) train tickets to Caen online with TGV-Europe or SNCF and get prem fares as low as 15 euros each way.

Grapevine, Texas
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8. Re: Menu of Possibilities for a December trip to Paris

Thank you both for all of your help! This is our first trip to Paris and I need all the help that I can get!

New Jersey
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9. Re: Menu of Possibilities for a December trip to Paris

Journeyer, how did you arrange to have the Paris museum pass delivered to your hotel? And isn't it more expensive to purchase before you arrive in Paris, or am I mistaken? I am on my way in 3 days, would love to know!

Miami Beach, Fl
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10. Re: Menu of Possibilities for a December trip to Paris

When we were at the ticket counter at the train station, the different departure times had different fares, and there was a senior discount also. I don't know if it's cheaper if tickets are purchased in advance (and how far in advance). Maybe one of our TripAdvisors know.