Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Paris Planning

I tried to forget about it so I wouldn't get too excited and wish time away, but, it's now less than two weeks til we're in PARIIIIIIIS for the weekend! 
Which means, we need some plans, and I need some advice. And where better to ask than here, on Travel Tuesdays?
I've done some research with how far things are etc, and I think it's walkable and doable, but if anybody out there knows better, please tell me? Also, we're very much doing the tourist thang and want to tick off some sites (or sights), but if there's something you know of that's just amazing and we've missed, lemme know? Please? 

Okay, so here goes! 

We arrive on Saturday at the station at 10am and our hotel is really close (1star, but good reviews, I hope it's true!). We're hoping to get to our hotel and get out again by about 11/11:30, so we have the afternoon to walk around Montmartre. We're wanting to see...
- Place du Tertre : to watch the artists at work,
- The Basilique du sacre coeur : where we can climb the steps of the dome for 5euros each, but apparently there's a pretty great view from somewhere up there and the dome isn't necessary. (True? False?)
- A walk down rue Lepic, passing by the Virage Lepic.
- A walk around the cemetery... there are some graves I want to see, particularly of some ballet-greats. (is that weird? creepy?)
- The Moulin Rouge. Long story, but I've wanted to dance here for at least the last 10 years, so I'm thinking a dance-about on the pavement is in order. (Ok, maybe just a photo.)
- Les Deux Moulins: the cafe featured in the movie Amelie - come on, I studied this movie, I can quote parts of it. I'm a tourist. We're going!

From there, we'll probably head back to our hotel, hopefully past a grocery store to buy midnight snacks food for the next day so we don't blow our budget on bakeries.
Anything else in Montmartre to see?

The grand-tourist-day! Hooray!
- We are about 4km from the Notre Dame Cathedral, so we'll head there first. We'll see what time we get there, and might go in, depending on whether there's a service going on or not.
- The Louvre : I know this place is huge and neither of us are too clued up on art, so we're not sure if it's worth paying to go in for just a short while. We might be just as happy to see it from the outside. (I can get in for free, but it's 12euros for Malcolm) (Ideas?)
- The Opera House : SO. EXCITED. The Phantom of the Opera increased my love for this place. It's 6euros each to get inside and see the interior. (Yes?)
- Tuileries Garden: a walk through... looks like a beautiful place for a walk?
- A stop by the Place de la Concorde and then on to...
- The Champs Elysees: There's a song we had to listen to as a listening comprehension that always springs to mind when I hear this name. So we at least want to walk along it.
- Crossing over the pont des invalides and then a stroll along the Seine, ending at la Tour Eiffel. We have no plans to ascend it, but rather to do the lovers-in-Paris-thing and sit romantically near by.
Depending on our route, we're about 5-6km away from our hotel... so we'll see if we take public transport or if we walk.

is that a realistic amount to do in one day? Anything else we could do?

We've still got Monday (MY BIRTHDAY!) open... though our train leaves at 4pm. I considered going to Versailles, but it's closed on Mondays.
So maybe we'll go to Versailles on Saturday and do Montmartre on Monday. Or we're considering the Catacombs over Versailles. (are they over-rated?)
Or, we'll leave the day open to wandering around, eating icecream, relaxing in parks and enjoying the vibe.
Any other ideas of what we could do on Monday? (my birthday!!!! yes, I'm excited)

To sum it up... 
1. Have we planned a realistic amount? Could we add or take away (bearing in mind we intend to stroll, rather than march.)
2. Is there something we should know about any of these places? (like really long ques or something?)
3. Is there somewhere you'd recommend we go?
4. For those of you who haven't been to Paris, any suggestions for picnic-food we can buy in advance so we don't need to go to restaurants? (have you seen the rand-euro exchange rate?!) We're thinking we may live off love and fresh air... and cheese and bread ;)

Hope somebody has ideas for us :)


  1. Hi Guys

    You've obviously done some internet search but their is a site www.timeout.com that might help. Click on Paris and then you can even search by area!

    1. Thanks! That's a great resource! I just went on and am excited by the markets they list! :D

    2. I'm so envious of all these people who seem to know Paris so intimately. All I got to see was the inside of the Gare du Nord for a couple of hours while we waited for our connection to La Rochelle! Oh well maybe one day!

  2. I think you have a great plan. I would recommend Versailles- I really enjoyed going, and the catacombs are great as well. If you are not set on the Louvre, I would suggest looking at what is there and if you would be interested in any of the pieces. I enjoyed the Orsay more but that is because I like impressionism and they had a lot of artists I wanted to see. If you have time at Norte Dome I would encourage you to climb to the top because the views are beautiful and you can see the bell. You will have a blast on your trip. Make sure to eat plenty of Macaroons and see the Eiffel Tower at night (and I would go up, but just cause I am a sucker for great views). The Arch de Triumph is also great! Good luck! I am jealous!

    1. Ah thanks for such a great response!
      I'll have to check what Malcolm wants to do about the Louvre - although I like paintings, I really have no favorite artist or style, but maybe he does, and then we can see :)
      Somehow I missed that one can climb the stairs at Notre Dame - I'll look into that too, I'm glad to see there are just under 400 steps, I enjoyed the view from the Koln Cathedral but the stairs were SO tiring!
      I'm SOOO keen to see the eiffel Tower at night, but I'm wondering, is it safe...? We'd take the metro and not walk if it's dark... maybe I'm just a scardy-cat but I'm a little concerned about cities at night. We're about 300m from the gare du nord so it should be ok, right? :)
      Thanks so much!! :D
      p.s. SO keen for macaroons!

    2. I went at night with my girlfriends and it was perfectly safe. Plus you don't want to miss the light show.

    3. Ok great! Then I say we're DOING it! :D Thank you!!!

  3. My Oma lives in Paris so I have been there a bajillion times! I'd say that you can get a great view of Paris from just outside the Sacre Coeur on the steps. There are a lot of people, but free! :) Montmatre is so cool, factor in time to just walk and take pictures.

    Sunday sounds a little intense, but if you're speed travelers and get started early, you can probably do it! If you're by Notre Dame, there is a small English bookstore called Shakespeare and Co. that is pretty cool.

    The Louvre is very cool, but if you're kind of blah about art you might want to skip it and spend your time sightseeing (and eating pastries!). You can easily walk around the outside and even enjoy the gardens which are lovely. Opera House is totally worth it-absolutely magical!

    As you make your walk to the Eiffel Tower, try to do some walking along the river and enjoy the Sunday market, it's very romantic and beautiful :)

    Versailles is gorgeous, I'd say it's worth a visit! And everything in Montmatre will still be open on Monday. Just factor in lots if time for trying treats, strolling hand in hand, and enjoying Paris, it's magical, and make sure you see the Eiffel Tower at night when it sparkles (usually on the hour)!


    1. Ah what a lucky girl you are!!!
      And what a lucky girl I am for getting such a cool response! Thank you for your ideas!
      I think I'm most excited about Montmartre, so I'm looking forward to little streets and small details.
      Hmm, now that I think over it, Sunday is pretty intense but we're definitely keen to get up early and get going - though I'm thinking maybe we'll pass up on the Louvre so that we can enjoy getting between places and enjoy the moment rather than rushing onwards.
      I'm so torn in two about Versailles - and thinking maybe we should go to Luxembourg instead, which means less traveling and we can kind of just see what happens, and go back to anything we missed on Sunday. And eat lots of treats! (love, fresh air, cheese, bread, pastries, macaroons.... )

    2. If you're up early you could do it! You'll be tired but good tired ;)

      I can't wait to see the pictures from your trip! :)

  4. Woohoo--a trip to Paris sounds like the perfect birthday! I think whatever you end up doing (despite plans that fall through) you will have a wonderful experience. When I studied abroad in Paris, I loved just walking around, getting lost, and taking in everything. I would definitely pick up a baguette and roast chicken at the bottom of Montmartre and eat lunch on the steps of the Sacre Couer while looking at the city. Go to Laduree for macarons and get croissants aux amandes from pretty much any bakery for breakfast :) Have fun! Oh, and yes the six euros is totally worth it to go inside the opera house. Chagall painted the ceiling and the chandelier is stunning.

    1. Ah thank you! I'm BEYOND excited :) Only having a few days there makes me want to do so much, but I also don't just want to rush site-to-site without taking anything in :) And fortunately, we're great at getting lost...
      Thanks for the ideas on yumminess, I'll be sure to keep my eyes open!

  5. Oh my goodness how exciting!!! That sounds AWESOME!
    (ps: I notice you are replying beneath people's comments, and I don't say this to be rude at all, but I typically don't go back to blogs to see if people have commented back, so if you'll respond via email I'll be sure to see your response!:) )

    1. I hope it will be!
      Thanks for the head-up about the email thing... I copy and paste the email reply onto the thread so I actually reply twice.... this is because
      1. SO many people are no-reply-bloggers and I want to reply!
      2. I really like to post my reply on the thread so my answer is there in the future for future-readers :)
      But I'm, with you there, I hardly ever remember to go back and check a response to a comment on another blog! :)

  6. Sounds really exciting, I'm so jealous! When we went to Paris, it was December so queues weren't a problem. One of the things I loved most about Paris was the Musee D'Orsay (over the river from the Jardin de Tuilleries). It is much smaller than the Louvre but, I think, more accessible. The Louvre is so huge that, if you try and see all the 'must-see items' in one day like we did, you just get overwhelmed and exhausted. In the end we were walking past masterpieces by the old masters without even a glance. The Mona Lisa is also really small so if there are lots of people, you won't get a good view. The Musee D'Orsay has a large impressionist section which I really liked. There is also a spectacular piece called Cain. It's on the first floor I think. I still remember it, it was mind-blowing. If you go, you must see it. We also visited the Pompidou Centre but it was a bit of a let down and more interesting to see it from the outside. I also really enjoyed just walking around the Left bank area. It's so quaint and so French. You should also go into the Shakespeare and Co. bookstore on the left bank of the Seine. It's famous and really interesting. You can also get some nice photos from the stalls on the left bank of the Seine. Notre-Dame is also amazing. You should go and just spend some time sitting there and enjoying the space or even better, go to the Sunday service. We went on a Seine cruise which was nice but you don't see much more than you do on land, although I've heard the sunset cruise is amazing (but pricey). And you must walk around Paris at night, with all the sparkling lights, it is so pretty! We also visited Montmartre (which I loved) and Sacre Coeur. We didn't go in but there are lovely views over Paris from the hill, especially if it's a nice day. The day we visited Versailles, it was awful with bucketing rain and a howling gale so we didn't spend much time outside. I wish we could have been to Marie Antoinette's 'estate' at Versailles and walked around the town of Versailles more as I've heard it's really nice. In Paris, there is an interesting shop called Colette. I think it's in Rue de Rivoli. We could't buy anything but it was interesting to look. Another shop to visit is Gallerie Layfettes, especially for their window displays! We took a day trip to Chartres where they have an amazing cathedral. It wasn't too expensive and nice to see the countryside and a smaller town. You also have to buy some baguettes! There is no comparison to the French bread here! I'll be looking forward to having a holiday in Paris through you so send lots of pictures!

    1. Hmm I'm hoping we'll also have shorter queues because of it being September :)I think after all these musee D'Orsay reviews we might check it out! Definitely sounds like a better option than the Louvre, because as you say, one ends up so over it that one walks past masterpieces without a thought.
      The second mention of Shakespeare and co means we'll most certainly keep an eye out for it and have a look :)
      We considered a service in the Notre Dame, but I'm not sure... it would be pretty epic but I think it's just a time-thing.
      And seeing as my mind is now made up that we WILL try see the Eiffel tower sparkle, I'm keen to see some other sparkly bits of Paris too :)
      I'm still in two minds about Versailles - I really love Marie Antoinette's estate, but then I'm thinking we'll maybe just keep monday open so we can go back to anything if we missed it on the Sunday... and try get to the Galeries!
      I'm sooo looking forward to the food and specialties available there, and, rest assured, there will be photos! LOTS! :D
      Thanks Kristen :) :)

  7. Montmarte has some really cute vintage shops around the Sacre Coeur area, I'd definitely recommend having a wander around the other side of it to the Moulin Rouge! Also, right by the metro stop is the love wall which you should definitely check out. When you come out of the station, if you face the direction of the Sacre Coeur it will be behind you!

    Have a lovely time :)

    Kate @ fattofitgeek.com

    1. Ah thanks! I'll definitely keep an eye open for that love wall <3

  8. Your plan is awesome - aim to do as much as possible and then do as much as you can! I also recommend an evening glass top boat ride down the river seine - travelling beneath the lit up Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame is priceless - trust me!! I also LOVED doing a Da VInci Code tour and seeing the rose line. Oh, you have just read my post - so you know how jealous I am!!

    1. Yay, thanks for the positive feedback - really don't want to go there and come back with regrets! I have heard those boat cruises are fantastic... I'll check out their prices or we might end up being stow-aways ;)

  9. How fun! It is definitely hard to choose because there is so much to do in Paris! My favorite, with any city, are the simpler moments like buying cheese at a farmer's market or having coffee and watching the locals.

    1. I'm definitely looking forward to that part too! I'm SO looking forward to actually using French to buy stuff - all those role-play exercises we did in class can finally be real! :)

  10. You're going to have so much fun!!!! I have to echo what a couple of people said: the Louvre is awesome (I especially loved their Egyptian collection) but Musee D'Orsay really won me over. The building alone is beautiful. We did both during our trip and loved it (only a couple of hours here and there).

    1. Ah thanks! We may just be heading to the musee D'Orsay then! :D

  11. Oh, there's so much I have to say to this topic! :D Where do I start?

    First of all: You can enter the Sacre Coeur free of charge and just look at the pretty interiors. Climbing the stairs up the tower inside isn't a necessity in my opinion because you will already have the best view ever when you're standing in front of the church.

    Second: I don't really like the Tuileries Garden, but the Jardin de Luxembourg is really beautiful. In a different part of town, but if you can find the time, I would definitely recommend it. The Louvre is very impressive, even for non-art lovers, but it's so huge that you should have a game plan before you go, especially if you only visit one part. I'd say it's a Paris necessity, but not the biggest one and there are just so many 'necessities' that they can't all be done on the same trip anyway. In any case, if you do decide to go, don't take the main entrance, but the one in the shopping centre 'Carousel Louvre', otherwise you have to wait forever.

    If you change your mind on ascending the Eiffel Tower, then my recommendation is to (first) go up at night (11 o'clock is good - the tower only closes at 1 in the morning anyway) and (second) take the stairs. It's not that hard, you avoid the queue and you save a lot of money. You can't go up to very top, but I don't think that's a necessity. I would really recommend to go up at night, though: I've done it a couple of times and it was magical every time! :) Also really not all that expensive, especially if Malcolm can apply a student discount.

    And if it's at all possible, please go to Versailles! It will be a mind-blowing experience for you! It even is for me and I've been a couple of times and have seen my fairshare of palaces around Europe, but this one is a masterpiece. You can just walk in (don't need to get a ticket), but since Malcolm needs a ticket, I would advise to arrive early or late - but it will be pretty packed at noon. You can also go to the Gardens first and then later visit the interior.

    You're going to have so much fun! I wish I could come as well! I'm a bit jealous! ;)

    1. Ah Melanie, I was hoping you'd come by, I know your love for Paris!
      Thanks so much for all this advice!
      I'm so glad to know we can go in the Sacre coeur for free - I hate that feeling standing outside wandering if there's a trick to going in and not wanting to look silly if I haven't paid!
      I think we'll probably just walk through Tuleries Garden, and I'm quite determined to get to the Luxembourg gardens too!
      We're probably going to skip going into the Louvre, (at least this time!) but that's SUCH valuable info about the entrance - queuing is no fun at all!
      We'll see about the Eiffel Tower... depending on what time we get there etc, we might go up, especially seeing as I'm now sold on seeing it twinkle at night... and how cool would that be as my last evening as a 23 year old?! :D
      As for Versailles... I REALLY want to go... but I also REALLY want another whole day there! So we'll see what we finally decide to do :)
      I'm so excited, and I'm so glad I asked for advice on this - I've learnt SO much!!!

  12. I went to Paris in July for only one day and wrote a post about it. My only advice is don't do it in a day, which you aren't, so you already have me beat there! Good luck, have fun and tell us all about it!

    -Brittany Ruth

    1. Haha, I remember reading that and thinking "well at least I've done something right so far!"

  13. I love how excited you are about the trip! What a great list of things to do. I need to get back to Paris and I have not seen everything on your list yet. ;) Thank you for linking up with me for Travel Tuesdays!

    Bonnie Rose | A Compass Rose an expat lifestyle blog