Planning an Itinerary in Paris

When I found out two of my sisters wanted to spend a couple of weeks with us in Paris, I first asked them where they wanted to go and then set about writing up a schedule of activities. As on any trip, visitors can wear themselves out by overdoing the number and type of daily sight-seeing excursions. Having the advantage of several days to enjoy the city, I decided to plan an itinerary interspersing places requiring high amounts of energy with those that are less taxing.

Take museums, for example, which are both wonderful and exhausting. Two in a single day—or even on successive days—can lead to extreme fatigue and crankiness…something to avoid with family members living in close quarters! The French capital is, of course, packed with impressive arts centers: from the Musée Picasso in the Marais to Rodin’s sculptures at the Hôtel Biron to the Centre Pompidou with its modern art exhibits, to name but a few. Simply standing in line to get in can sometimes take an hour or so, unless you’ve paid extra for a museum pass. Our day to see the Impressionist art at the Musée d’Orsay was sandwiched between days stopping by Notre-Dame and the Tour Eiffel. (Luckily, no one in the group actually wanted to ascend the tower which would have been quite a hassle, struggling with long lines and crowds of people.) The Louvre, one of the world’s largest museums, deserves at least a half-day visit to appreciate a small portion of the art works and its remarkable setting, a former royal palace. After all of that walking through galleries, what could be a better treat than crossing the street to the Jardin des Tuileries. Here, you can find a chair or a bench and give your poor feet a rest. Besides the important relaxation factor, from this vantage point you can appreciate views of immense, manicured flower beds, fountains, statues, and that all-time favorite, people-watching. You could even have something to eat or drink at one of several cafés in the garden.

Destinations outside the city, like King Louis XIV’s Palace of Versailles and Monet’s Giverny, also need to be spaced well apart if you have the time. Both visits take the better part of a day since they entail train rides and then either a long walk or a bus or taxi trip to get you to the front door. Just to give you an idea of the amount of time involved, getting into the château necessitated waiting to buy tickets then snaking around the cobblestones outside the entrance for an hour and a half! These two visits are highly recommended, though, especially on a nice, sunny day when you can appreciate the impressive rooms and gardens.

Travel is fun and exciting. In order not to need “a vacation from your vacation” it’s nice to do sight-seeing at a reasonable pace. Remember to factor in the days the various locations are closed and you’ll have the time of your life. Bonne visite!

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