Plan your trip well. But let Paris surprise you.
Considering 14 days is quite a long time in Paris (although nowhere close to long enough), we decided it’s better we have a rough idea of what we want to do during this time. While I do believe it’s exciting to not plan everything out and let the city surprise you, I think it’s essential to do a bit of homework before you leave. So while we made a rough itinerary for our trip, we were open to throwing away our schedule if we discover something else to do on any particular day.
There’s lots Paris has to offer travelers and drawing up a schedule without understanding the city is like walking into a Parisian toy store like the one above and picking up just one piece! And that’s why it’s important that you orient yourself to Paris before you decide to explore it (there’s more on that over here). Besides helping you getting around easily, it’s also helps you build your itinerary, letting you club places that are close to each other. Most museums or monuments are also closed on particular days, so it’s also important to get as much information before you set down an itinerary. [A brief list is at the bottom of this post, along with links to most places.]
We discovered that buying the Museum Pass for 6 days (the Pass is also available for 2 and 4 days) is a great option because of two primary reasons – it’s much more economical and it also helps you beat long queues. Invariably, there’s one long line to the ticket counter and another one that you get into to enter. With the Museum Pass, you will only need to stand in line for entry. If you’re planning on visiting quite a few museums and monuments, I strongly recommend the Museum Pass, which gives you access to over 60 museums and monuments multiple times. The only hitch with the Pass is that you need to use it for consecutive days following your first use. So to make best use of the Museum Pass, we had to club as many museums together on our itinerary.
The Museum Pass comes as a handy booklet. On the reverse, you add the date you first use it along with your name. Open the booklet to find a listing of places you can use it along with a short description.
After a little planning and shifting around, we finally settled on a schedule.
The 14-day Itinerary
4th Dec, SUNDAY
Musée du Louvre (This was the first Sunday of the month, so entry was free at Musée du Louvre. Which meant we didn’t have to use the Museum Pass on this day.)
5th Dec, MONDAY
Musée de l’Orangerie
Arc de Triomphe
6th Dec, TUESDAY
7th Dec, WEDNESDAY
Walk: Left Bank booksellers, Shakespeare & Co., St. Severin, Place St. Andre-des-Arts, Place St. Michel, Sainte-Chapelle
8th Dec, THURSDAY
9th Dec, FRIDAY
Versailles (Since we were only buying Navigo Passes for Zone 1 & 2, we’d need to buy tickets to get to Versailles.)
10th Dec SATURDAY
Catacombes de Paris
11th Dec, SUNDAY
Les Puces de St. Ouen (The flea market is also active largely on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, so it had to be fit into the only proper weekend we have.)
Canal Saint Martin
12th Dec, MONDAY
Free day, ride the Batobus, hop on-hop off
13th Dec, TUESDAY
Champ De Mars
Jardins du Trocadero
14th Dec, WEDNESDAY
Jardins du Luxembourg
15th Dec, THURSDAY
La Cemetiere Pere LaChaise
16th Dec, FRIDAY
A free day to catch up on anything we might’ve heard of or missed during the previous days.
17th Dec, SATURDAY
Flight back home.
Over the next few posts, I’m going to try and recap some of the big highlights of the trip. Of course, I will never be able to capture the magic that was Paris but hopefully, while trying to do so, I might just be able to re-live some of those moments.
TIPS WHILE MAKING A PARIS ITINERARY
1. Museum Pass: Consider getting one of these and plan your schedule around it. Remember, the Museum Pass is to be used on consecutive days from the first time you use it.
2. Holidays (it’s best to also check on the site directly for additional information and other National holidays when they might be shut):
- Musée du Louvre: Free first Sunday of the month, open every day except Tuesdays
- Musée de l’Orangerie: Open every day except Tuesdays
- Musée d’Orsay: Open every day except Mondays (open late until 9.45 pm on Thursdays)
- Musée Rodin: Under renovation until April 2012
- Musée Cluny: Free first Sunday of the month, open every day except Tuesdays
- Catacombes de Paris: Open every day except Mondays
- Musée Marmottan: Open every day except Mondays
- Centre Pompidou: Open every day except Tuesdays
3. Leave a day free. There’s lots that can happen to change your schedule. You can skip a crowded museum and push it to the free day. A fantastic lunch might just spill into something you’ve planned. And don’t be worried about what you’re going to do on that free day if everything goes as per plan. A free day is the best thing to have in Paris!