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Our proposed itinerary - discuss! Plus shopping for teens?

SF, CA
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Our proposed itinerary - discuss! Plus shopping for teens?

We are two architects on our 2nd visit to Paris (1st visits were separately, and 20+ years ago) with two girls, ages 10 and 13, visiting 4 full days, and 2 part days in August. We're staying in an apartment in Le Marais. We definitely want to soak it in, rather than dash about, but we're young-ish and energetic. Breakfast generally in the apartment, with another meal each day on the casual side (boulangeries, fromageries, creperies, picnics), and perhaps a cafe / bistro / brasserie for the 3rd meal, not necessarily dinner. We're foodies, but neither wealthy nor fancy, and even the girls love good cheese. This is a first pass, and we're open to switching things about:

Monday: Thalys train from Amsterdam arrives around 15:00. Get settled in apartment, then walk about, maybe to Paris Plage nearby, and/or Place des Vosges area for dinner.

Tuesday:

Notre Dame (the church only, no tower climbing)

Ste Chapelle (a highlight for me!)

Wander Ile St Louis, get lunch and/or ice cream

Wander over to l'institut du monde arabe (for my dh the modernist), 15 minutes, just to look at the exterior

Perhaps a shop or two for the girls (which leads me to a major question - where can we take them, that will stay at the H&M / Forever 21 price level, yet be a new and exciting brand for them? The 10 year old is even more fashion oriented than the "teen". They don't "get" vintage, at least not this month. We could work a shop in here and there, over the course of the trip.)

Wednesday:

Walk past the courtyard au Louvre, just to peer at the pyramid (skipping the museum!)

Walk through the Tuileries to L'Orangerie, visit this one

Lunch in the vicinity

Walk over to Musee D'Orsay, visit this one too

(These two could trade places, or trade with Rodin below)

Thursday:

Eiffel Tower (taking the stairs, and it's fine if we only get to the first level, this is mostly for the kids.)

Rodin museum and gardens. Cafe stop

Or, we might do a little shopping, then Rodin, then the tower in the late afternoon. If we shop this day, DH may step out to the Cartier Foundation, in Montparnasse, also for the modern architecture. Or we could all go if there is teen shopping nearby, as a lure.

Friday: a chateau!

My other big question - which one? My first Versailles experience, even 25 years ago, was overcrowded. So, we could go to Versailles, but try to visit the Palace late, at 3:30. Or, we could go to Fontainebleu (or Chantilly.) Not so much worried about the slightly more complex travel (my French is very rusty, but should be improving by this point), but I've only been to Versailles, so can't quite tell from the photos if my girls will be adequately impressed with the "chateau-ness" of the other two. It will be their first real "castle", more or less. A secondary aim will to be to see a bit of a smaller French village.

Saturday:

Mostly packing up, checking out, heading to CDG around 1:00 pm (how long should we allow to metro / Les Halles train to CDG? Int'l flight is 4:30) but we could maybe have a last little walkabout.

We're skipping a Seine cruise (taking a canal cruise in Amsterdam is enough), the Louvre, don't really care about Champs Élysées or Pantheon (it might be nice to catch sight of it at some point.) Not interested in giant department stores unless we get a big heat wave, and are in search of a/c. But if you have specific recommendations for food near any of the above, or feel we're missing out on something major, please chime in!

Oh! One more question - I don't think a Museum pass really calcs out for us - either the 2 or 4 day. But we could spend an extra 5ish euros each on the 4 day pass, for the 2 adults, to skip most lines. Or, we can buy most of these tickets online or elsewhere (from home? doubt the apartment has a printer.) We definitely want to eliminate lines to the extent possible - thoughts? Thank you in advance!

Florida
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1. Re: Our proposed itinerary - discuss! Plus shopping for teens?

My only contribution (hoping you get more!) is a suggestion to reverse the order of Wednesday. Get advance tickets for Musèe d'Orsay and then show up first thing for entry. Note that there is a combo ticket for Orsay + Orangerie.

the big blue marble
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2. Re: Our proposed itinerary - discuss! Plus shopping for teens?

For teen budget shopping not too far from the musée Rodin, the rue du Commerce just out the Motte Picquet metro stop is ideal. There is a GAP and H&M, but also more unique places selling clothing you'll only find in Paris.

I was surprised to read the Fondation Cartier is worth the trip for an architect. I'd have thought Quai Branly or the Cinemathèque. But I am not an architect, so its not really my expertise.

Versailles really is the most impressive chateau. But if you want to avoid the crowds, Vaux le Vicomte is my runner up.

Finally, the Seine cruise is very different than the Amsterdam ones. At night they through flood lights on the bldgs and it is fairly magical. Even the locals are impressed, if the number of times I've been invited to a corporate event on one is any indication.

I recommend lunch be your main meal for the day. This is when you'll all be tired and wanting a break.

los angeles
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3. Re: Our proposed itinerary - discuss! Plus shopping for teens?

I'm thinking that you will want evening/night activities for children of that age (but of course they are not old enough for "night life"), so I suggest you make the most of your later evenings by scheduling museums then (instead of during the day when you can be walking and exploring and, to use your perfect expression, "soaking it in." The Rodin is open on Wednesday until 9. Unfortunately, the Orangerie doesn't have evening hours, but the Orsay is open late on Thursday, and the Louvre open late on Wed and Fri. The Pompidou is open late most evenings.

The Eiffel Tower can also be experienced later, and so can the Seine cruise. (It's beautiful after dark.)

You mention not needing to see the Pantheon, yet you will not want to miss an exploration of that area. I can't imagine not getting a glimpse of the Roman arena, the Cluny baths, the ruins of the Clovis wall, the winding streets of that part of the Latin Quarter.

Speaking of that (exploration of areas), I'd like to see your itinerary include more than specific destinations (like buildings and museums). You ask about Les Halles--yes, get to that area! See rue Montorgueil and St Eustache, at least. Montmartre? The old mansions of the Marais? The church of St Germain des Pres--and other churches?

As you wander (within some structure), you are bound to find all sorts of things of interest--including shops for the girls (although make sure to take Phread's recommendations).

Edited: 17 June 2014, 16:20
Paris, France
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4. Re: Our proposed itinerary - discuss! Plus shopping for teens?

To get a château almost for yourself on the close outskirts of Paris, you could also try Sceaux, with its nice garden. Bonus points for the nice journey getting there on Velib / bike.

…hauts-de-seine.net/english-section/

5. Re: Our proposed itinerary - discuss! Plus shopping for teens?

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Calgary, Canada
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6. Re: Our proposed itinerary - discuss! Plus shopping for teens?

The girls are free to enter most museums, but adults may use Museum Pass (2 or 4 days) at least for Orsay or Versailles.

On Tuesday you may want to start with Sainte Chapelle and on Wednesday with Orsay.

Seine river cruise is nothing like Amsterdam's canal cruise - I strongly recommend it, especially after sunset - its like magic, very romantic.

Jersey City, New...
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7. Re: Our proposed itinerary - discuss! Plus shopping for teens?

How about this for a chateau? www.musee-chateau-fontainebleau.fr/spip.php…

SF, CA
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8. Re: Our proposed itinerary - discuss! Plus shopping for teens?

I really, really appreciate all of you, for reading my lengthy post, and chiming in with all manner of fabulous suggestions! You are right, that we should check out the Roman ruins, and it is true that I'm pointing out the specific buildings and museums as touch points within a more meandering journey. True about the evenings - I think the girls may get too tired to put up with museums, but the Seine cruise, or some relaxed wandering in the Latin quarter or Marais would be perfect. Leisurely lunches sound great, and perhaps easier for us than a restaurant at night. Thanks for the shopping pointers, and I'll take another look at all the chateau options. We'll definitely take a ride to the top of the Institut Arabe. Tip of the hat to each of you!

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9. Re: Our proposed itinerary - discuss! Plus shopping for teens?

We are staying in le Marais right now with two teen girls. When you go to the musee D'Orsay, be sure to make a stop at the cafe on the fifth floor and order two chocolate eclairs. One is good for two people. They are awesome and the sit-down cafe is stunning.

California
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10. Re: Our proposed itinerary - discuss! Plus shopping for teens?

Your itinerary probably doesn't allow for much extra, but if your husband wants to venture off on his own rather than shop or something, here are a few more ideas along the modern architecture lines:

The Louis Vuitton Foundation building, by Frank Gehry--it's out by the Jardin d’Acclimation and should be nearly complete by now (if it's not already finished--I haven't heard of it opening to the public yet tho)

designboom.com/architecture/…

Pathé Foundation Building by Renzo Piano Building Workshop @ 75 Ave. des Gobelins. It's another that's under construction and due to be completed soon.

www.rpbw.com/project/81/pathe-foundation/

Pavillon de l’Arsenal--21, Blvd Morland; Dedicated to Paris architecture and urban planning; three floors of exhibits, a library, video and photography collections, bookstore. They have guided tours Sat. & Sun. at 3pm (closed Mon.). My husband checks this place out every trip and they always have something new. The other architecture museum, Cite de l'Architecture et du Patrimoine, is all about old buildings so if he prefers modern, he may be disappointed there.

Edited: 18 June 2014, 21:59