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Critique my 5-day itinerary in Paris

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Critique my 5-day itinerary in Paris

Hey all, first time in Paris for my wife and I! We will be spending 5 days in Paris this March and a few days in Barcelona after that. We are pretty adventurous, so we don't mind being on the go. However, we would like to stop and enjoy the Parisian way of life as well here and there. I'm an urban/landscape photographer as well, so I'd love to capture some of Paris' beauty.

Here's my first stab at a 5-day itinerary. I'm doing my best with limited knowledge trying to group sight-seeing together based on location so it's more efficient.


AM: Marais Walk - Place des Vosges, Hotel de Ville, Palais Garnier, Galeries LaFayette

PM : Musee d’Orsay?, Seine River Cruise, Le Crazy Horse Cabaret show


AM: Left Bank Walk/Shop, St. Sulpice Organ prelude

PM : Historic Paris Walk - Ile St. Louis, Saint-Chapelle, Notre Dame, Deportation Memorial, Luxembourg Gardens, Latin Quarter



PM : Lunch @ L'Affineur' Affine, Montmarte Walk - Sacre Couer, dinner @ Chez Toinette


AM: Rue Cler Walk

PM : Eiffel Tower (tickets purchased,) Arc de Triomphe, Champs-Elysees?, Madeleine area shopping?


AM: Louvre

PM : Montparnasse (sunset)



Edited: 19 January 2014, 15:50
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1. Re: Critique my 5-day itinerary in Paris

Saturday and Sunday are overly ambitious IMO. I think you're underestimating how much time it takes to get from one place to another. Also, you'll have time to walk by these places, not stop to admire them or explore them.

Take some things from those days and put them in Monday and Tuesday morning. Delete rue Cler which is simply a market street, and, unless you're in the area, isn't worthy of a special trip. There are market streets all through the city.

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2. Re: Critique my 5-day itinerary in Paris

Bonjour, Danzaman,

I agree with HappyGoin about the Rue Cler.

I am curious about your walks: Are they guided walks or walks that you have planned? I am asking because of the Marais walk. To my knowledge, the Hotel de Ville, Palais Garnier and Galeries Lafayettes are not in the Marais.

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3. Re: Critique my 5-day itinerary in Paris

I've got the same reaction as HappyGoin. A walk around Marais (which is, arguably, one of the most beautiful areas in the world) is not just Place des Vosges and Hotel de Ville - in between them, whether you go down Rue Francs Bourgeois or Rue François Miron, there is much to see and admire. Carnavalet, even if you don't go inside (which is a shame, as it is free and it is the home of Mme de Sevigny and still contains her furniture) is amazing. Some of the oldest houses in Paris are on Miron. On Francs Bourgeois you will see the rounded turrets of medieval castles, near Miron, you can see one of the surviving Medieval Palaces (Hotel de Sens, a magnificent building even if seen only from the outside).

There is much more. The old walls of Paris are visible in the neighborhood behind Saint Paul. Here's an account of a day's wanderings in Marais from last summer:


As it turns out, we missed entirely many things we saw on our most recent trip.

You could plan to use public transport or taxi to go see the exterior of Palais Garnier lit up at night after a full day in Le Marais, but I think that's about all of the Opera district one can reasonably expect to see in a day like that one. Galeries Lafayette is open until 6 pm on Saturdays, I really don't think you have time for it unless you really give up the idea os *seeing* Le Marais. The way you have it planned, if you take the most direct route between Vosges and Hotel de Ville, you'll see a little of Le Marais, but mostly you'll just see broader streets and shops. You will miss so much.

Is the D'Orsay open late on Saturdays? If so, after the quick trip to see the exterior of Palais Garnier, I suppose you could try to go to the D'Orsay. You don't have time for both the museum and the Seine cruise, IMO. You barely have time for what I just mentioned. When are you going to eat? Buying just one thing at Lafayette will take you some time (allow an hour once you've arrived if you intend to purchase something - and if it's a popular something, like a Longchamps bag, it will certainly take an hour; if you grab the very first scarf you like, maybe you can be in and out in 30 minutes - but you will have missed the view from its roof). If you're going to the D'Orsay, though, skip the view at Lafayette and just see the view from the D'Orsay - it's breathtaking.

If you are able to get reservation at Crazy Horse for around 11 pm, and can survive staying up until 1 a.m. to go there, I suppose that's possible. I can't even imagine it. If you're using public transport, you are going to need buffer time for that - even if you are very fast walkers, you aren't going to leave the D'Orsay at closing and arrive at Crazy Horse much before 11 pm. Maybe you won't need reservations on a Saturday night - you should inquire at their website, but I think you will.

Sunday is much more doable. Unless you are very interested in war history, and have never seen a Holocaust memorial, I'd substitute the Cluny (again, magnificent architecture, not repeated anywhere else on the planet) for the Shoah memorial, but that's just me. Our first trip to Notre Dame was two hours and that didn't include the towers, but since then, we're in and out in a much shorter time. You probably won't have time for the towers. Allow an hour for Notre Dame, then, not forgetting to see it from behind (which you will do from Ile Saint-Louis). The Pantheon is also a glory and while it has an older sibling in Rome, it is world class architecture (and its paintings and its crypt are also very interesting; next door to it is Saint Etienne du Mont, where you can still see Paris's patron Saint - Saint Geneviève and the last remaining carved stone scrood in Paris; it is a delightful church).

The organ concert at Saint-Sulpice will be a highlight. Check out Rue Guisarde (a bit hard to find, but not if you have a map) for excellent lunch (you might need reservations; L'Enfance du Lard is a personal favorite - recommended to me by several here on TA, but if you are a regular reader here, you will know that nearly every restaurant on Guisarde is recommended here on TA; and if you don't have reservations, La Grille Saint Germain at the very end of Guisarde away from Saint-Sulpice is charming, has a warm welcome, and seeks to serve French basics in correct style all day long). It will, however, take you time to eat lunch. People in Paris do not walk around eating pizza or hot dogs in their hands like we do in many places in the States. In some neighborhoods (but not so much near Saint Sulpice) you'll find street crêpes or falafel/shwarma but it does take some stopping and standing to eat falafel in your hands without spilling it all over - I recommend taking time to sit down to eat).

Again, there's so much to see wandering Latin Quarter that I would stick to the main sights, but if you are really into WW2 history or Jewish history or sad moments in history, then of course, do the Shoah. It will be crowded.

I agree about Rue Cler. Totally skip it. It is very disappointing. See Rue Montorgueil instead and your trip to Latin Quarter is on a Sunday, when Rue Mouffetard will not be at its most vibrant (and you'll be there in the afternoon).

See and shop the Champs if you want to say you've done it, otherwise head to Le Marais or Saint Germain for great shopping. Ask for shopping tips if you really are looking for something in particular. If you're wanting high end designer shopping, particularly Louis Vuitton or Chanel then yes, it's the Champs. Otherwise, amazing products made in France and boutiques abound in other, more scenic parts of the city.

Taking a whole day for the Louvre is, of course, the best idea and you can decide once you're done whether you still want to go to Montparnasse. Just walking down the Seine to a viewing spot where you can see the tower twinkle is nice, and of course, you can plan a nice dinner that night. Maybe that's the night to do your boat cruise. If you prefer a hop on, hop off boat tour, Batobus has a stop near the Louvre...it does not cruise past the little island with the miniature statue of liberty though, and the other cruises do, I believe. The other cruises are shorter, too.

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4. Re: Critique my 5-day itinerary in Paris

And, to my knowledge, Hotel de Ville is indeed in the 4th/Le Marais.

(You sound as if you might also like to stroll as far as the Stravinsky fountain - and you can take the escalators up and down the Pompidou for another iconic view of Paris, I believe the escalators by themselves are free; the restaurant at the top (Georges) is considered overly pompous by some, but we have had only delightful service there and enjoyed it very much.

BTW, a meal in the dining room at the D'Orsay will not soon be forgotten. I must have about 30 pictures of it over 4 visits to it.

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5. Re: Critique my 5-day itinerary in Paris

danzaman, I think before we can give you advice, it'd be good to know more about how you chose these sights and what is a priority for you (and are these walks guided? how did you come up with these lists?)


- I think your Saturday is very ambitious. Personally, regardless of how late museums are open, I like to hit them first thing in the morning - otherwise, I'm just not in the mood.

- If you are adventurous and enjoy walking, I would skip the river cruise and just walk around the Seine - much more romantic and intimate, in my opinion.

- Do you think you would enjoy Pere Lachaise cemetary and a visit to the Promenade Plantee? Given your interest in urban landscapes, these would be good options.

- If these walks are guided, then I wouldn't do so many. Paris is small and compact, and you will be just fine navigating it on your own!

- I like Champs-Elysees & Arc de Triomphe! I think it's a really quintessential part of Paris!

- When you are exploring the area around the Louvre, you may want to stop by the gardens of the Palais Royal, take some pictures of the Palais Royal metro station, and have lunch around rue Montorguiel.

- Pompidou center is very photogenic too, as is the plaza behind the museum

Try to read more about the sites you have picked out, to see what you really *need* to see!

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6. Re: Critique my 5-day itinerary in Paris

Orsay Museum is open late on Thursdays. Saturday it is closed by 6pm so you won't have time.

IF you plan to climb the Towers of Notre Dame, then it's best to go first thing in the morning (like a half hour before opening) because later the line can be very long and slow. But, just to visit inside of church, there is another queue in front that moves very quickly so won't take more than maybe 10-15 minutes.

It's good that you got your tics for the Eiffel Tower, and it is a good idea to visit the nearby market street rue Cler. Another street of interest in the area is rue St-Dominique, that's lined with shops and restaurants.

7. Re: Critique my 5-day itinerary in Paris

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