Paris w/ Giverny & Versailles

Paris, “City of Light,” is a global center for art and culture. The city houses iconic museums, from the Louvre, home to the Mona Lisa, to the Musée d’Orsay, with its extensive collection of Impressionist masterpieces. The Eiffel Tower stands tall as an iconic symbol of Paris…one of the most recognizable landmarks in the world. Notre-Dame Cathedral and Sainte-Chapelle sit on the larger island in the river, with the ever-present Batobus and Bateau Mouches floating by.

The Champs-Élysées, a grand avenue lined with shops and theaters, leads to the forceful Arc de Triomphe, symbol of French national pride. And peering down upon all this loveliness is the artist’s enclave, Montmartre, topped by the wedding cake Sacré-Cœur Basilica.

Paris is a culinary paradise, renowned for exquisite cuisine. From charming bistros to Michelin-starred restaurants to lively historic markets, savor French delicacies, pastries, wines, and cheeses. Cruise along the Seine for a unique perspective of Parisian landmarks illuminated at night. A haven for writers, artists, and intellectuals throughout history, Paris has been home to famous literary figures like Hemingway and Fitzgerald who frequented the city’s cafes and bookshops, contributing to its rich intellectual legacy. And as a global fashion capital, Paris is synonymous with haute couture and chic style.

Paris is Paris. You are here to make it yours. And you will venture out from Paris on two wonderful day trips… venturing north to wander Monet’s gardens at Giverny and second visiting the over-the-top grandeur of the palace of Versailles.

Where you will stay

Citadines Saint-Germain-des-Prés Paris

Stay at Citadines Saint-Germain-des-Prés, a prime location on the left bank, only steps from the Seine. This will put you immediately across the river from the lovely St. Chapelle on the big island, Ile de la Cité, and a 10-minute walk from Notre Dame Cathedral. You will be able to step out your door and hop on the Batobus, cruising the river to where you want to go. So getting there will be as enjoyable as arriving… efficient, picturesque and fun.

Your studio or apartment will be air-conditioned and serviced by an elevator, not always givens  in these historic Parisian buildings…also satellite TV and free Wi-Fi. Since you will have a kitchenette with microwave, refrigerator and toaster, you will be free to make good use of wonderful finds at the nearby markets and shops, And you will be surrounded by many great restaurants and cafés.

A small kitchen for Market Day & wine

Near Notre Dame & the Seine

How you will get around

Most of your comings and goings in Paris will be by Batobus, traveling from your stop (beside Notre Dame) down river towards the Eiffel Tower, then back up river, hopping on and off along the way to visit museums, monuments, parks and neighborhoods. By using the river for transportation instead of the underground Metro, the getting there will be as enjoyable as the arriving.

Much of historic Paris was built along the river. By using the river for transportation, you will quickly develop a sense of what is where and on which bank, left or right?

Day-by-Day Trip at a Glance

Arrive, Walk About, Flower Market & Saint Chapelle

Arrive early morning at CDG airport. Taxi to the Left Bank, your “home base.” Orient yourself to your “neighborhood.” Walk across the bridge and past Notre Dame for LUNCH at Brasserie Esmeralda on the larger island, Ile de La Cité (“Island of the City”), behind the buttresses of the Cathedral.

Walk a full circuit around the larger island. Stop at the Flower Market to pick up flowers for your flat. End your walk at the Sainte-Chapelle (you may be returning here this evening for a concert). Across the street from Sainte-Chapelle at Souvenirs and Services (5 Boulevard du Palais; open Saturday 10 am to 7 pm), redeem your voucher for your 6-day Paris pass that will give you skip-the-line access to museums. Activate your pass with a visit inside Sainte-Chapelle to view the stunning stained-glass windows with daylight shining through.

DINNER outdoors at Le Flore en L’Ile on Ile Saint-Louis (the small island). This evening, take a night cruise to the Eiffel Tower and back on Bateau Parisiens or Bateau Mouche, with all of Paris and its bridges aglow. Or attend a concert at Sainte-Chapelle. Consider doing one of these this evening and the other tomorrow night.

Bookings for Day 1

ARRANGE DRIVER FROM AIRPORT

  • Your driver arrives at specified time or checks your flight arrival time and meets you with a name plaque.
  • Pre-arranged transfers between airports and hotels save valuable vacation time and reduce stress as there’s no need to search for buses or taxis.

purchase Paris Museum Pass

Purchase a 6-Day Museum Pass (€92). You will activate this pass on Day #1 and use it whenever you wish to enter a museum without waiting in line. Since most museums will be covered by this pass, feel free to stop in even when you have very limited time to visit. Having this pass will eliminate the struggle to decide if the time you have for a visit will be worth the cost.

Book Lunch at Café Esmerelda

When you know your arrival time in Paris, make lunch reservation at l’Esmerelda (2 Rue de Cloitre Notre Dame) to ensure you will have a table. Open 8 AM to 8 PM, 7 days a week. +33-43-54-17-72. Book an outdoor table. This will be your arrival meal. Make it special.

Purchase Batobus Pass

Purchase an Annual Bateaubus Pass (€73). Activate this pass on Day 1 and use it the whole time you are in Paris. Yes, you could use the Metro instead. But then you would be underground and miss the experience of seeing where you’re going. Also, consider the Bateaubus to be a convenient resting spot when you need one–a place to sit down and drift along whenever you are tired.

book St. Chapelle Concert or evening seine cruise

Classical performances such as Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Category 1 (Rows 3 to 10): €60. Category 2 (Rows 11 to 20): €50. Concerts at 6 PM or 8:30 PM. Arrive early to pass through security. https://www.classictic.com. OR book a Seine Cruise on Bateau Parisiens or Bateau Mouche to the Eiffel Tower and back.

Book Dinner at Le Flore en L’Ile

Book dinner at an outdoor table at 6 PM at le Flore en L’Ile (42 Quai Orleans; (0)1-43-29-88) on the little island (8 AM to 2 AM), in view of the back of Notre Dame across on the big island. Toast each other and the amazing sights and atmosphere that surround  you.

D’Orsay Impressionists, St. Germain & the Latin Quarter

Batobus downriver to the turn around at the Eiffel Tower, then back upriver to hop off at d’Orsay. Use your skip-the-line Paris Pass for immediate entry. Start with the Impressionists, then wander at will. LUNCH in elegance at the restaurant of the 1900 Expo Grand Hotel that once stood beside d’Orsay train station.

Take the Batobus back to St. Germain for a walk through this fashionable neighborhood, with pauses to window shop. Walk towards Luxemburg Gardens. If you split up to shop, meet up at an agreed time at an outdoor table at Au Petit Suisse for wine or a snack.

Then walk through the Gardens, passing the Palace and pond, and over to the eclectic Latin Quarter. Stop in at Shakespeare & Company and nearby Café Procope, hangout of Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin.

Book DINNER in the Latin Quarter at Le Jardin du Roy. After dinner, stroll along the eclectic streets, listening out for music. If you pass by an inviting piano bar, stop in and enjoy.

Bookings for Day 2

Lunch at Musee d'Orsay Restaurant

In the heart of the former train station, glittering with frescoes and chandeliers.Tuesday through Sunday from 11:45 am to 2:35 pm. Thursdays from 11:45 am to 2:35 pm and from 7 to 9:30 pm.

Book Dinner at Le Jardin du Roy

Typical French cuisine at moderate prices. Escargotscheese salads and cheese fondue. Nice house wine 28 Rue de la Huchette. Open 7 days a week, from Noon to 1AM. Phone: +33 1 43 26 10 08.

Louvre, Tuileries Gardens & Cluny Museum

Batobus downriver to spend an eye-popping morning at the Louvre. Walk in the footsteps of kings who lived here when this was a palace, and walked these halls, admiring their priceless collections of paintings and sculpture. Winged Victory. The Mona Lisa. Venus du Milo. The Gallery of Apollo.

Take a break at Café Mollien on the terrace overlooking the courtyard and the glass Pyramid. Use the “12-Point Masterpiece Treasure Hunt” (link below) to view a good range of world-class work without becoming overwhelmed.

Leave the Louvre via the Pyramid and walk over to Napoleon’s smaller arch, Arc du Carrousel, with the Venetian horse sculpture on top (originals were captured by Napoleon and later returned; these are copies). Look through this smaller arch towards the much larger Arc to Triomphe at the far end of  the Voie Triomphale (“Triumphal View”). You’ll visit the big arch later in your stay here in Paris.

Walk through Tuileries Gardens. Pause to admire and puzzle over the sculptures. Join the locals sitting in the sun around the octagonal basin. Make a brief stop at at L’Orangerie to the left of the pond to view Monet’s massive and remarkable water lily murals, painted as his eyesight began to fail. Tomorrow you will see his inspiration when you visit his idyllic gardens at Giverny.

Then walk out the garden gate to hail a pedal cab in the square that once was the scene of royal beheadings. Catch a ride to the Grand Palais next to the river (built as an exhibit hall for the 1900 Paris Expo) for LUNCH on the terrace.

Catch the Batobus back to the St. Germain stop and walk over to visit the  the Cluny Museum of the Middle Ages, housed in the sumptuous 1485 mansion of the wealthy Jacques d’Amboise, Abbot of Cluny.

Built to incorporate the remains of the “frigidarium” (cold baths) of ancient Gallo-Roman baths, this museum is a treasure trove of unicorn tapestries, stained glass and elegantly opulent formal clothing worn as a visible sign of wealth. AND the original heads of the Kings of Judah from the facade of Notre Dame, loped off by rebel mobs during the French Revolution who mistakenly thought these were sculptures of French Kings, then buried for two centuries to be rediscovered in 1977.

DINNER outdoors at Beaurepaire Café. Then find a Boat Bar along the river for drinks and live music.

Bookings for Day 3

Book Lunch at Minipalais restaurant

Located in the Grand Palais, magistically set on Avenue Winston Churchill, built to prepare for the Universal Exposition of 1900. Book a table on the pillared terrace overlooking the gilded bridge, Pont d’Alexandre III. 3 av. Winston Churchill (01–42–56–42–42)

dinner at Beaurepaire Café

Book an outdoor table at Beaurepaire Cafe, a small but charming haven on a quiet street, just a 12-minute walk along the Seine from your apartment. Browse the book seller kiosks along your way. If you love it here, make this your go-to restaurant. 6 rue Beaurepaire (+33 6 47 73 83 78) 

Monet’s Gardens at Giverny

Discover the village of Giverny on this outing from Paris. Explore Monet’s world with a ticket to Monet’s House and dive into the artist’s life with an audio guide app to download on your device.

 Explore the scenic village of Giverny, former home of Claude Monet.

  • Visit Monet’s house and explore his gardens.
  • Devote a day to Impressionism at Giverny and the Museum of Impressionism.

Departure will be at 8:15 AM from a centrally located meeting point. It will take about 1 hour and 15 minutes to reach this idyllic location, the lovely Norman village of Giverny.

Discover the place of inspiration where Claude Monet, master of the Impressionist movement, created his most beautiful works. By visiting the artist’s house and gardens, still in its original decor, let yourself be carried away by Monet’s imagination. Enjoy the vibrant colors as you listen to your audio guide on an app to download on your device and make your way through the two gardens which are an exceptional work of art in themselves.

When crossing the Japanese bridge inside the water garden, don’t miss the famous water lilies and the majestic weeping willows that decorate the charming pond. The flower beds will dazzle your eyes with their endlessly varied colors and will lead you to daydream and romanticize.

Stride along the streets of this charming little village, and stroll through the painters’ and sculptors’ galleries. Complete your day by visiting the Museum of Impressionism that has one of the most beautiful collections of Impressionist works.

Bookings for Day 4

Book DAY TRIP TO GIVERNY

  • Departure will be at 8:15 AM.
  • Full day devoted to Impressionism at Giverny and the Museum of Impressionism.

Maubert Market, Champs-Élysées, Arc de Triomphe & Eiffel Tower

Walk to the delightful open-air Maubert Market (open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday). Or visit the wonderful permanent shops: Fromagerie (cheese), Charcuterie (cold cooked meats), Vin (wine), Patisserie (pastry), Boulangerie (bakery). Find and outdoor table for BREAKFAST at Metro Café across the street from the market, and try a mushroom and cheese omelet. After shopping the market, carry your purchases home to lighten your load.

Then catch the Batobus to the Champs-Élysées stop at the Alexander III bridge (decorated in gold). Walk over to the Champs-Élysées, passing between the Petit Palais (another impressive 1900 Expo building) on your right and the Grand Palais on your left. Pause for coffee in the lovely interior garden courtyard of the Petit Palais. Your Museum Pass will allow you free access. 

Walk to the Champs-Élysées, then shop and window shop your way along this famous mecca of fashion and style. Or maybe “pretend” shop, pointing out or photographing what you would buy here if you happened to win the lottery. Meet up for LUNCH at Bistro des Champs Elysées, overlooking the throngs. You will have made reservations for an outdoor table.

After lunch, walk all the way to the Arc de Triomphe at Place de l’Étoile (“star”)— the juncture formed by 12 radiating avenues. Take the tunnel on the right side of Champs-Élysées to cross under the craziness of the traffic to visit the arch. Do NOT attempt to cross at street level!! Napoléon I commissioned this magnificent triumphal arch in 1806 to celebrate the victorious French Grande Armée for its success conquering most of Europe.

Then taxi or Uber to the Tour Eiffel in time for your scheduled visit. The Eiffel Tower was built as the entrance to the 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the fall of the Bastille—the event that launched the French Revolution. Standing 984 feet tall, the tower far surpassed the height of the world’s tallest structure at the time, the 555-foot tall Washington Monument. It remained the tallest man-made structure in the world for the next 41 years.

First, view it from in front… Walk up to the tower’s massive legs, oriented with the four points of the compass. Look up into the intricate geometry of the tower’s angles and braces, a total of 18,038 pieces, joined together by 2½ million rivets. Next, view it from beneath… Walk under the tower and out the other side, as visitors did when they entered and left the spectacular fairgrounds of the 1889 Expo. Now, view it from partway up… Your pre-booked tickets will give you priority access to the 1st and 2nd floors (or to the Summit, for an additional cost) at your appointed time ONLY. Once you are inside the tower, you will be free to stay for as long as you like.

You may have added DINNER at Madame Brasserie on the 1st floor of the tower to your visit. Otherwise, you will have made dinner reservations at Beaurepaire Cafe.

A Note About Your Eiffel Tower Plans for Today

You will have made your Eiffel Tower plans well in advance of your trip since access is limited and the tower is very popular. Making advance  arrangements online will allow you to skip the 2-hour ticket lines.

Bookings for Day 5

Lunch at Bistro DES Champs Elysées

The Bistro des Champs Elysées is the unmissable Parisian address. Located on the most beautiful avenue in the world, the current BISTRO 25 and its 2 terraces offer you an exclusive experience in a chic and cozy atmosphere, both modern and traditional, in a historic building dating from the 19th century. Book an outdoor table so you can watch people strolling by. https://bistro25.com/

6:30 or 8:30PM dinner at Madame Brasserie (1st floor Eiffel Tower)

Collect lift tickets at the welcome desk of Madame Brasserie. Take entrance 1 (South) to access the Eiffel Tower’s esplanade. You will pass through the first security check at this entrance. Skip the line of this security check; there is a sign with the Madame Brasserie logo where you have direct access to the restaurant. Elevator ticket to the first level of the Eiffel Tower is included in the price of your meal.

OR dinner at Beaurepaire Café

Book an outdoor table at Beaurepaire Cafe. 6 rue Beaurepaire (+33 6 47 73 83 78) 

Day Trip to Versailles by Train w/ Marie Antoinette's Petit Trianon

Enjoy a full-day trip from Paris to the lavish Versailles Palace. Meet your guide in downtown Paris and relax on the ride to Versailles aboard a local train. With its lush State Apartments, glittering Hall of Mirrors, extensive gardens and Marie Antoinette's private haven, Petit Trianon, this was the final residence of King Louis XVI and his spoiled wife, Marie Antoinette, before the sequence of events that ended in their beheadings.

  • Visit the Spectacular Palace of Versailles, including the Hall of Mirrors, using pre-booked entrance tickets that guarantee you direct access..
  • Enjoy a guided tour of the gardens where lavish parties once were held.
  • Visit the charming hide away of Marie Antoinette, Petit Trianon (Trianon refers to a small elegant villa on the grounds of a larger establishment).
  • Board a comfortable train for the ride to and from downtown Paris.

Once you reach the Chateau, begin your trip through time as you gain a vivid understanding of the royal personalities who inhabited the site. Find out how Versailles was the most splendid capital in the world during the 17th century reign of Louis XIV. Hear about how the royal family was continuously on display here and how they subjugated the proud nobles to recapture preeminence in fashion and art. Listen to astonishing anecdotes about the lavish lifestyle of Marie Antoinette and understand how uncomfortable she was at this very public palace, preferring to retreat to her private domain.

Upon completing your tour of the royal apartments, walk through the luxurious gardens, lush setting for promenades, performances, and pyrotechnics. If the fountains are active, appreciate the elegant bubbling jets of water.

Work up an appetite and take a break for LUNCH in the gardens after the morning tour, with a choice of restaurants or sandwich bars. Or choose to add on a gourmet 3-course lunch with wine in the Palace restaurant run by Chef Ducasse.

Meeting point: Café Regalia, 1 rue de la Convention, 75015 Paris

Directions: Meet your guide outside Café Regalia, right next to the metro entrance/exit for Javel André Citroen (line 10). Your guide will be waiting for you by the café on the corner. If you come by taxi ask the driver to drop you at Café Regalia. Your guide will be wearing an orange cap and an orange badge. Please arrive at the meeting point 15 minutes before your tour departure time. We have to take a train to Versailles and we cannot wait for any late arrivals.

NOTE: If you arrive by RER train please note you will need to cross the main road on the left as you exit and go to the café on the corner of the rue de la Convention.

 

Bookings for Day 4

BOOK DAY TRIP TO VERSAILLES

  • Meet your guide in downtown Paris who will accompany you on the local train to Versailles.
  • Full day visit to the splendid palace and Marie Antoinette's charming private haven, Petit Trianon.

Montmartre, Vintage Shops, Stravinsky Fountains & Moulin Rouge

Today, before you head up to Montmartre, you will have a chance to stop by the Post Office (16 Rue Étienne Marcel) to mail home a box and lighten your load, the better to make room in your luggage for one final day of shopping. Then set off to experience three additional neighborhoods of Paris, Montmartre, the Marais and Beaubourg.

First, the arty and village-like Montmartre, known as a creative breeding ground, as well as for its bohemian lifestyle…home to many famous artists, including Monet, Van Gogh, Dali, Modigliani, Picasso and Pissarro. Second, back to river level for a stroll through the Marais, with its eclectic vintage and fashion clothing shops. Then over to the Beaubourg to take in the modern and startling Pompidou Center and Stravinsky Fountains.

In Montmartre, have your driver drop you off at the “Low Station” (Gare Basse) of the Funiculaire for the ascent up the steep hill to Sacre-Coeur Basilica. Or, if you would prefer, climb the 220!! steps to the top.

Visit the working artists in Place du Tertre, watching artists at work and perhaps sitting for a portrait or caricature of youself. Then walk back over to the basilica steps to sit awhile and admire the view looking down over Paris. Step inside the basilica for a look at the gilded interior.

Lunch at the nearby l’Eté en Pente Douce, at the brightly colored tables, away from the bustle around the basilica.

Taxi or Uber back down from Montmartre to the level of the river to Bis Boutique Solidaire ( 7 Boulevard du Temple) in the Marais neighborhood to begin your Marais shopping. Wander the twisting streets of the Marais, pausing at vintage and fashion clothing shops including these:

1.       Bis Boutique Solidaire: 7 boulevard du Temple

2.      Vintage Désir: 32 rue des Rosiers

3.      Mam’zelle Swing: 35 rue du Roi de Sicile

4.      Free ‘P’ Star: 52 rue de la Verrerie

5.     Kilo Shop: 69-71 rue de la Verrerie

Your quest will be to uncover mementos of Parisian style. When you wear your finds after you return home, you will be transported back to this, your final day in Paris.

Set a meet up spot and time at Le Relais de l’Hôtel de Ville (50 rue de Rivoli) to pause for drinks and to share your stories and finds.

Exiting the Marais, walk to rue du Renard and turn right, heading away from the river into the Beaubourg area. It will be impossible to miss spotting the avant-garde Pompidou Center up ahead on your left with its internal structure exposed and brightly color-coded—green for plumbing, blue for climate control, yellow for electrical, and red for circulation and safety systems.

Walk over to and around the quirky Stravinsky Fountain and claim a seat to watch the antics of the street performers. Circle the fountains to puzzle at the garish but engaging Niki de Saint Phalle sculptures and pick your favorite.

Dinner will be at Bistro Beaubourg, a local favorite in this neighborhood. And tonight, head back up to Montmartre for a 9 PM performance at the Moulin Rouge. Arrive early enough for drinks or dessert at the rooftop bistro.

Then taxi back down to river level for a final pause to soak in the glittering views from the bridge across from your apartment as you bid “au revoir” to Paris—“until I see you again.”

Bookings for Day 7

Lunch Reservations at l’Eté en Pente Douce

Classic dishes, veggie options & beers at a relaxed brasserie with multi-colored sidewalk tables.

8 Rue Paul Albert.  +33 1 42 64 02 67. Hours:  Noon to 11 PM

TICKETS FOR 9 PM SHOW AT MOULIN ROUGE

  • DRINKS – Optional:½ bottle of champagne or wine per person, or other drinks with or without alcohol.
  • DOORS OPEN: Welcome from 8 PM.
  • Rooftop lounge.

Dinner Reservations at Bistro Beaubourg

Brasserie food & drinks in a cutting-edge space with terrace seating for Pompidou Center views.

43 Rue Saint-Merri, +33 1 48 87 63 96.  cafebeaubourg.com

CONFIRM AIRPORT DRIVER FOR TOMORROW

  • You can book transfer to the airport to be in time for your flight or to get to your destination with comfort after wearisome travel.
  • Transfers between airports and hotels are the most popular bookings saving tourists their valuable vacation time as there’s no need to search for bus stops or taxi.

Tapestries at Cluny Museum

Orsay Impressionists

Batobus on the Seine

Louvre Palace

Saint Chapelle Windows

Flower Market

Latin Quarter Hangouts