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Must dos in Paris

Hong Kong, China
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Must dos in Paris


We are going to Paris in June for 10 days (including doing some side trips). We are an oldish couple (first time to the city) and start now somehow to work on our trip itinerary.

However when we start, we are somewhat overwhelmed by so much we should do in Paris. The classic problem is still too much to do in too little time. As such, we are looking for some inspirations from other travellers as what they usually "must do" while being there.

Of course, what we do all depends on our interests. Hmm..We like historic buildings; not much into art, but love to see one or two museums; not foodies but are happy to try some authentic French foods.

We welcome so much your must dos list. We were overwhelmed in Rome a few years back, we find we are are even more so when we come to Paris.

Many thanks for any help:)

Denver, Colorado
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1. Re: Must dos in Paris

Sounds like the beginnings of a wonderful trip :-)

Some ideas:

- Daytrips! Versailles is a must, for historic buildings and just gorgeous architecture. Also Loire Valley for castles that take you back into children's fairytales

- Place du Trocadero for picture-perfect views of the EIffel Tower

- Montmartre and the Latin Quarter neighborhoods for beautiful side-streets, small cafes, and hidden alleyways

- In June - Parks! LIke Tuileries, Luxembourg Gardens, Vincennes, Promenade Plantee, etc...

Read some of the trip reports here, might give you some ideas:


New Hampshire
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2. Re: Must dos in Paris

When there is far more to see and do than time, it's really best to determined your own "must-do's" based on what you would find most appealing to you, personally.

You can start with the "Things to Do" (and their reviews) here on TripAdvisor.

My advice is always to NOT include anything on your list just because it's popular or just so you can say you've been there.

The Eyewitness "Top 10 Paris" is excellent for first-time visitors.

los angeles
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3. Re: Must dos in Paris

Where are you staying? What day of the week do you arrive?

Vancouver, Canada
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4. Re: Must dos in Paris

We're not "museum people", either. However, we generally try to see at least one museum when visiting a city.

The first time in Paris in 2010, we visited Sainte Chapelle with its extraordinary stained glass windows (don't forget to take a look at the floor as well) and L'Orangerie with Monet's water lilies. Last spring, we really enjoyed the Musee d'Orsay for the impressionist works on the 5th floor and the garden at the Rodin Museum. (You can pay a Euro that just allows you entry just into the garden. When having lunch or just a cup of tea/coffee at the outdoor café, it is hard to believe that you're in the midst of a big city.)

Metro Vancouver
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5. Re: Must dos in Paris

Do have a look at all the areas you are interested in on Google Earth....it you aren't familiar with it you will have to get used to it, but it is a great tool....

Hong Kong, China
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6. Re: Must dos in Paris

Thanks everyone who has responded so fast. Most apprecaited. Will surely check out your suggestions.

In reply to mca13k, we are likely to stay at the 6th arrondissement arriving on a Sunday morning in June. Are there any must dos around the area and the time? :)

New Jersey
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7. Re: Must dos in Paris

We also stay in the 6th. One a nice sunny Saturday morning we walk to the market and buy the ingredients here for a picnic ---> tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g187147-d2…

We usually walk to the Champs de Mars near the Eiffel Tower to actually have the picnic as there are benches there.


Calgary, Canada
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8. Re: Must dos in Paris

Read couple guide books and make notes of sites that you think you will want to see. Then check for opening days and hours. Identify location on map and group your sites by closeness to each other- that will help to plan your days without going back and forth across the city. Learn about transit system, so you know how to get there.

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9. Re: Must dos in Paris

agree with Tesa, find out what interests you, not what you are supposed to like. To paraphrase - "When I hear the word 'must-do', I reach for my revolver" :)

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10. Re: Must dos in Paris

Here's the list I give to first-timer friends. They are not "must do's", but an outline of things I think are of interest for a first visit. Pick and choose as you wish (in no particular order):

1. Eiffel Tower (go to the top! 14.50€ Buy your ticket online so you don’t have to wait in line) …toureiffel.fr/lift-entrance-ticket-sete-set… Arrive by metro at the Trocadero stop to ensure that you get that absolute "WOW" postcard view.

2. *Arc de Triomphe (cross thru the tunnel under the street and buy a ticket to the top—in my opinion, a better view than from the Eiffel) 9€ After visiting the Arc, take a stroll down the Champs Elysées and stop at Laudurée (75, avenue des Champs Elysées) and buy some macarons (my favorite flavors are pistachio and caramel au beurre salé)

3. Notre Dame—go inside and take a look around (free, enter on the right) If you’re there on Sunday, there’s a free organ concert at 5:30 pm, and the Gregorian Chant service at 10:00 am is interesting too. If you have time and the line isn’t too long, the climb to the top is worthwhile (the line forms on the left corner as you’re looking at the front—they only let 20 up at a time. 8.50€). Also nearby is *Sainte-Chapelle (8€)—if it’s a sunny day, the stained glass in the upstairs chapel will be glorious! Afterward, cross the bridge behind Notre Dame, enjoy the street performers on the bridge, and take a walk down the main drag of the Ile St. Louis. Have an ice cream cone at Berthillion’s (31, Rue St Louis en l'ile; if the line is too long or they’re closed, many places on the island sell this brand exclusive to Paris, and very good!)

4. *Louvre—Closed Tuesday; 12€. If you mostly want to see “The Big 3” (Mona Lisa, Winged Victory, Venus de Milo) you can follow this route to save time: www.louvre.fr/en/routes/masterpieces-0 If you won’t have time on this visit to see Versailles, then you’ll also want to visit Napoleon’s apartments in the Louvre to get a taste of that Versailles is like (skip it if you’re short on time). Take a walk in the Tuilleries when you’re done in the museum, and if you want a snack, head across the street to Angelina’s for a cup of their famous hot chocolate (226 Rue de Rivoli). If you’re not “museumed out” go to one of my favorite museums, the nearby *Orangerie (7.50€; Monet’s huge water lilies). See the Obelisk at Pl. du Concorde (on the sidewalk on the Champs Elysées side of the obelisk, you will see the bronze plaque indicating where Marie Antoinette was guillotined)

5. Jardin Luxembourg—(free) the gardens are beautiful Spring thru Fall! If you’re there on a weekend or Wednesday afternoon, you can watch the children sail their boats on the big pond. Nearby is the *Pantheon (7.50€) which is quite interesting.

6. *Musée d’Orsay—9€ My husband's favorite museum in Paris. Not as overwhelming as the Louvre. Closed on Monday. (You can buy a ticket for 16€ to see d’Orsay and the Orangerie on the same day)

7. Sacre Coeur—(free); After your visit here, head to the right before going down the stairs to the Pl. du Tertre, which is an area frequently shown on TV. Artists, very touristy, but still fun. If you're interested in fabric, check out some of the fabric shops in the area below Sacre Coeur (Dreyfus is huge and the best one—6 floors of fabric! 2 Rue Charles Nodier) The street at the base of Sacre Coeur also has some of the least expensive Paris trinkets to bring home (rue de Steinkerque). Don't succumb to the scam artists doing the shell game!

8. *Musée Nissim de Camondo—7.50€; 63 rue de Monceau (closed Monday); another of my favorite museums—this was the home of the Camondo family, a Jewish banker and collector of fine art and furniture. He willed the home and it’s contents to France, and not long after he died his only surviving child, a daughter, and her family were transported to Auschwitz and were never seen again. His only son lost his life serving France in WWI as a fighter pilot. Tragic story, but it’s a gorgeous home that gives you a feel for how the wealthy lived at the turn of the century. One of the few places where you can see the kitchen. Take a walk thru the nearby Parc Monceau afterward and see the Roman colonnade around the pond on the northeast end.

9. *Musée Rodin & Gardens—9€ (1€ for gardens only) Closed Monday. This is where The Thinker, The Kiss, Gates of Hell, etc. are located. Love this museum! If you’re pressed for time, it’s worth just going into the garden—you can see a lot! Combo ticket for Musee Rodin and Musee d'Orsay is 15€.

10. River Cruise—We’ve done several and they’re all about the same. This one gives a discount if booked ahead online (8€ morning cruise, 9€ afternoon or evening, vs. 13€ regular price). You can understand the English commentary, and is easy to find docked on the left bank of the Seine at Pont Neuf www.vedettesdupontneuf.com/billet_en.php# They leave every 30 minutes, last cruise at 10:00 pm or 10:30 pm, depending on the time of year.

11. *Opera Garnier—(10€) Worth a visit to see the opulent interior! There are English tours on Wed., Sat. & Sun at 11:30 and 2:30 I believe, but we’ve never been able to catch one. It’s just fun to wander around inside on your own tho! While you’re in this area, walk behind the Opera and down Bl. Haussmann and see Galleries Lafayette and Printemps, two of the “grand magasins” (huge department stores). Go inside Galleries Lafayette if you have time to see the gorgeous stained glass dome above the cosmetics department. You can also go up onto the roof for a great view over Paris (free). If you have more time in this area and want to do something “girlie”, visit the Fragonard Perfume Museum (9 Rue Scribe, free).

12. Stroll along the Seine—cross the bridges, enjoy the quais. Pont des Arts is nice at sunset—you can see the Eiffel twinkle from here (5 minutes at the top of each hour after dark until 1 am).

13. Bakery Tour—I’ve been on several of these and they’re great! A good one to start with: Gérard Mulot patisserie tour on Thusdays (22€; you’re shown macaron making and chocolate making, and get lots of samples) en.meetingthefrench.com/search/?texte=gerard+mulot

14. *Les Invalides & Musée de l’Armée—Military museum and Napoleon’s Tomb (9.50€)

15. Explore a market street—Rue Montorgueil, Rue Mouffetard, Rue de Levis or Rue des Martyrs—don’t be afraid to go into a cheese shop, watch the butcher, etc. If you can take food back to your room (or rent an apartment), buy the iconic dinner of a rotisserie chicken and roasted potatoes cooked underneath in the drippings!

16. Explore a street market—A few good ones are held at Bastille (Sun. & Thurs. 7:30 am – 2 pm); Ave. du Pres. Wilson (Wed. & Sat 7:30 -2:00); Grenelle (Wed. & Sun 7:30-2); Pick out a few things for a picnic! Cheese, baguette, olives, fruit, pastries, etc!

17. Must try: Crepes from a street stand (try Nutella with banana or Citron Sucre [lemon sugar]); almond croissants; macarons; raisin snails; croissants; pain au chocolat; Suisse (sometimes called Pepito), lemon tart; Berthillion ice cream; Amorino gelato; thick hot chocolate (Angelina’s, Les Deux Magots, Amorino); …hmm, can you tell I’m all about the sweets?!!

18. Grande Epicerie at Bon Marché—this is one of the world’s most amazing grocery stores! A great place to find unusual gifts to bring home. Fleur de sel and herbes de Provence are usually appreciated by the cooks in your life and are inexpensive and easy to pack.

19. *Versailles—Take RER C (should say VICK or VERO on it) toward Versailles and get off at Versailles Rive Gauche. After exploring the chateau, be sure to take time to see the charming Hamlet! See the Petit Trianon and/or the Trianon if time permits. There’s a little train you can board to ride to the outer regions of the grounds. Chateau and trianon closed Monday. To save time in line, purchase your tickets online here …chateauversailles.fr/online/index.aspx… To skip the line entirely, book one of the tours of the King's private apartments (16€) online at the Versailles website.

20. St. Denis—Nearly all the kings and queens of France are buried here. Take metro line 13 direction St-Denis/Unversité (be careful, as the line splits at La Fourche—make sure you’re not on a train to Asnieres-Gennevilliers). Get off 1 stop before the end at Basilique de St. Denis (exit the metro and head to the right, then another right at the city square). 5.50€ entrance and 4.50€ for an audioguide that is worth listening to.

21. Shoah Memorial Museum--17 rue Geoffroy l'Asnier (metro Pont Marie) Open 10-6, Closed Sat. Free. This Holocaust museum is incredibly well-done and every visit for us has been a very moving experience.

Misc. Info:

*Museum Pass—if you plan to do a lot of museums, it’s worth blocking them all together over a few days and purchasing a museum pass. You save money and time waiting in line. All the museums with an * above are covered on the museum pass. www.parismuseumpass.com/en/home.php There are other visitor passes people will try to push on you, but I don’t think they’re cost effective.

Metro—The best (and cheapest) way around the metro is with a Navigo Découvert pass which is available for purchase Sunday-Wednesday, and is good for a week of travel on the metro, bus and RER within Paris (zones 1 & 2) from Monday – Sunday. Costs 18.85€ (19.15€ if paid by credit card), plus 5€ one-time fee for the card and plastic holder. Load with hebdomadaire ("hebdo"—a week). If you think you’ll be doing more walking than metroing, just buy yourself a carnet of tickets (pack of 10) for 13.30€ (but remember you need one ticket each time you enter the metro, so 2 for a round trip). Remember to save your ticket until you exit. Here’s a video that shows you how to navigate the metro: geobeats.com/videoclips/…how-to-ride-metro And a detailed article with step by step photos: parisbytrain.com/paris-metro/

RER from CDG--The cheapest way to and from the airport is to take the RER (regional train). Make your way to the station at the airport by following the "Gare" signs (and the picture of a train). If you don't have cash euros for the machines, go inside the ticket office (billet) to buy your ticket, which is 9.75€, and board the train. If your plane landed at Terminal 2, you're at the end of the line and you don't need to worry about which direction the train is going, as it can only go straight to Paris from there!

A word about Beggars/Scam artists--Ignore the "deaf and mute" kids wanting you to sign a petition—they are just creative beggars (and they speak and hear just fine). Ignore anyone who claims to have found a gold ring and asks if it’s yours. Ignore anyone loitering in the metro or around tourist attractions asking if you speak English. Ignore anyone wanting to tie a string bracelet on your arm! The best way to deal with these people (some can be a little aggressive) is to just ignore them and push on past. Say “non” in your best French accent and keep walking. Pickpockets can be a problem in crowded tourist areas and the metro—keep your purse in front with your hand on it; wallets in an upper jacket pocket or front pants pocket with your hand on it when you are in crowds; backpacks best left at home.

Edited: 18 February 2014, 17:44