On our tour, there are three days where we have purposefully left upon large blocks of time for you to see things on your own. We did this by design so that you can see/do the things that are most important to you. In this post I want to give you some options and recommendations for how to fill that time. It is important to consider now, as some places require advance tickets or reservations, and if you wait until the last minute you might not be able to do what you want.
Tailoring the Tour to You
First, why did we do it this way? The fact is that you cannot see everything in Paris in a week. You really shouldn’t even try, as you’ll just create stress and make yourself miserable (and you still won’t see everything).
As to the things we won’t see, people will have different priorities. One may love the idea of going down in the Catacombs while another may hate it. The Pompidou Center may be high on one person’s list but not another’s. And so on. In addition to that, there may be places that we visit that you would like to spend more time in, so we want to give you the space to do that. In all, we want to build in flexibility for you to see what you want.
Things We Will Already Be Doing
Before we talk about filling these blocks of free time, you should first know what we are already doing. That way you won’t make plans to go see something we already have on the itinerary.
Below you will see a list of what we plan to see while we are in Paris:
|TripAdvisor||Rick Steves||Photo Potential|
|Eiffel Tower and Champ de Mars||2||3||Great|
|Notre Dame (outdoor)||4||3||Medium|
|Sainte Chappelle and Conciergerie||6||3||Very Good|
|Champs Elysses||21||3||Very Good|
|Arc de Triomphe||7||2||Great|
|Luxembourg Garden *||5||1||Very Good|
|St. Sulpice and St. Germain-des-Pres *||20||1||Great|
|Latin Quarter||24||1||Very Good|
|Pantheon *||33||1||Very Good|
|Seine Cruise||11||n/a||Very Good|
|Jardin des Tuileries||16||n/a||Very Good|
|Bir Hakeim Bridge||98||n/a||Great|
|Printemps (store and overlooks)||193||n/a||Very Good|
Before you dive into the list, let me explain it. There are three columns next to each attraction. The first is the TripAdvisor ranking for that attraction. If you are not aware, TripAdvisor ranks the attractions in each locale. The second column is the rating from Rick Steves. He uses a 0-3 scale with 3 being the best.
The third column, labeled Photo Potential, is just how much the attraction lends itself to being photographed. It is just my own thoughts and it is purely subjective. The best rating is “Great,” which is for things like the Eiffel Tower and Opera Garnier. The lowest rating is “Low” and that is for some museums and the like that, while they may be nice to visit, don’t lend themselves to good pictures.
One more note about this list. A few of these places on the list above are places will visit on the “pre-tour” day. If you won’t be there that day (or choose to do something else) you won’t see them. Those places are: St. Sulpice, St. Germain-des-Pres, Jardin and Palace du Luxembourg. More about that in a second.
Your Free Time
As mentioned, we have three blocks of free time. The first is on day 3. We will spend the morning and early afternoon in Versailles, but once we get back we purposefully left the rest of the day open. That will be your first block of free time.
The second block of free time will be the day we get back from Mont Saint Michel. We anticipate driving back that morning and leaving the rest of the day free. We’ll have our Seine Dinner Cruise that evening, but it will leave several hours in between.
The final block of time stems from the fact that most people are not leaving immediately when the tour is over on Sunday, May 28. Some are, but most are not. Therefore, that is an additional block of time that you may want to plan for.
Your Best Options
Below is a list of the top attractions we will not be visiting on our tour. As with the prior chart, I have columns for the TripAdvisor ranking, the Rick Steves rating, and my own Photo Potential rating. Take a look at the chart and decide if any is something you would like to do:
|TripAdvisor||Rick Steves||Photo Potential|
|Marmottan (Monet) Museum||27||2||Low|
|Pere Lochaise Cemetery||25||1||Low|
|Hotel de Ville||43||n/a||Medium|
|Saint Martin Canal (area)||158||n/a||Medium|
Of course, there are a million things to do or see in Paris. If you come across a place on your own that isn’t on this list, feel free to go there instead.
As mentioned above, the idea is that you get to do whatever you want. I really don’t want to steer you in any particular direction. That said, you might want recommendations. If that is the case, here is how I would proceed:
Day 3 Free Time (After Versailles): I would go down to the Latin Quarter, where there are several places you could see in a very short period of time. I would start at the churches of Saint Germain-des-Pres and Saint Sulpice. They are only a 7 minute walk apart, and a half hour at each would be more than enough. After that I would make my way down to the Jardin du Luxuembourg. It is only a few blocks away from Saint Sulpice. Check out the gardens and palace and from there, time permitting, I’d move on to the Pantheon, which is only a few blocks from that. You will want at least an hour there. If you find yourself with yet more time, I’d move on to the Cluny Museum, which is a museum on medieval France.
Day 6 Free Time (After Returning from Mont Saint Michel): Here is would go to the Rodin Museum, which is a museum dedicated to the sculptures of French sculptor Auguste Rodin. What is different about this museum is that there is also a large French gardin in the back, also filled with sculptures. There is even a little café.
Day 7 Free Time (Post-Tour): I would check out the Catacombs. These are the underground tunnels with the bones of thousands and thousands of people. It will require an advance ticket, so if this is something you want to do either go to their website to buy them or let me know if I can help.
And, of course, you don’t have to do any of these things. I is perfectly reasonable to spend the day in a French café or reading in a park.