Are you thinking this is the year to take a trip to Paris?

You’re about to discover the secret of how to have a well-planned trip abroad without giving up your freedom to a group tour.

First for some answers to important questions and challenges every traveler faces:

  • Do I need to take a group tour to have a stress-free trip to Paris?
  • Will I be able to travel independently in France?
  • How would I get around and can I manage it?
  • What would I do and see each day and how?
  • How much would my trip cost and how would I keep to my budget?

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How to Travel in France Without a Group Tour

And now you are off to Paris, a city that is beautiful and romantic, as well as fascinating. You will quickly discover why Paris is unique, the city most visited in all the world, and why the consensus is that Paris still “sets the standard.”

By the end of the day today, you will have gained an overview of Paris, and will know your way around your own neighborhood. You will have cruised the Seine, from Notre Dame to the Eiffel Tower and back, noting key sights along the river, many of which you will return to later.

As the lights on the bridges come on this evening, you already will have begun to love this incomparable city and to make it your own, with hopes, or even plans, to return to it again and again.

Your Trip at a Glance

Day 1

Arrive early morning at CDG airport. Taxi to the Left Bank, your “home base.” Orient yourself to your “neighborhood.” Lunch at Brasserie Esmeralda on the larger island, Ile de La Cité (“Island of the City”).

Walk a full circuit around the larger island, with Notre Dame, the Flower Market and the incomparable Sainte-Chapelle. Dine outdoors at Le Flore en L’Ile on Ile Saint-Louis. Night cruise the Seine to the Tour Eiffel, with all of Paris and its bridges aglow.

Day 2

Batobus downriver to the Eiffel Tower, passing the 1/4-scale replica of the Statue of Liberty on Ile des Cygnes (“Island of Swans”), then back upriver. Hop off to visit the Impressionists at d’Orsay. Lunch in the elegant restaurant of the 1900 Expo Grand Hotel that once stood beside d’Orsay train station.

Batobus back for a walk through the fashionable neighborhood of St. Germain, with pauses to window shop. Walk towards Luxemburg Gardens, meeting up at an outdoor table at Au Petit Suisse for wine or a snack. Then through the Gardens, passing the Palace, and over to the eclectic Latin Quarter. Stop in at Shakespeare & Company and nearby Café Procope, hangout of Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin. Stroll through the Latin Quarter to dinner at Le Jardin du Roy, followed by a stop in an inviting piano bar.

Day 3

Batobus downriver to spend an eye-popping morning at the Louvre. Walk the former palace in the footsteps of the kings as they viewed 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 Pyramid.

Look through Napoleon’s smaller arch, Arc du Carrousel, and down the Voie Triomphale (“Triumphal View”), towards the larger arch, Arc to Triomphe, at the far end. Walk through Tuileries Gardens, admiring the sculptures and pausing to sit in the sun beside the large octagonal basin. Make a brief stop to view Monet’s remarkable water lily murals at L’Orangerie. Then out the gate of the gardens to hail a pedal cab for a ride to the Grand Palais (built for the 1900 Paris Expo) for lunch on the terrace. Catch the Batobus back to St. Germain to visit the Roman Baths & Unicorn Tapestries at the Cluny Museum. Find a Boat Bar for drinks and jazz before dinner outdoors at Beaurepaire Café.

Day 4

Visit Maubert Tuesday Market. Batobus to Champs-Élysées stop. Pause for coffee in the interior garden of the Petit Palais, another impressive 1900 Expo building, across from the Grand Palais. Walk to the Champs-Élysées. with an optional stop to visit the Museum of Discovery in the Grand Palais.

Shop or window shop your way along Champs-Élysées, stopping at 1 PM for lunch at Pizza Pino, overlooking the throngs. Walk to Place de l’Étoile (“star”)— the juncture formed by 12 radiating avenues. Then through the tunnel, passing under the chaos of traffic, out to the Arc de Triomphe in the center.

Taxi to the Tour Eiffel in time for your scheduled visit, followed by dinner (optional) in the elegant 58 Tour Eiffel Restaurant.

Day 5

Taxi to the base of the funicular in Montmartre. Visit the working artists in Place du Tertre, then back to the steps and interior of Sacré-Coeur Basilica. Lunch at l’Eté en Pente Douce.

Taxi down to the Marais to cruise the vintage clothing shops. Then meet up at Le Relais de l’Hôtel de Ville for drinks and to share your stories and finds.

Walk to Stravinsky Fountains beside Pompidou Center. Study the striking Niki de Saint Phalle sculptures and pick your favorite. Watch the antics of the street performers. Ride the glass-enclosed escalator in Pompidou Center, catching a view of Sacré-Coeur, where you stood earlier today.

Dinner outdoors at Bistro Beaubourg. Then back to the river for a final pause to soak in the views from the bridge, and one final stop at your favorite Boat Bar to bid “au revoir” to Paris—“until I see you again.”

“Your Great Trip to France”

A detailed trip plan for confident, independent travel to Paris.

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