Middle Age Miles

Trip-That-Wasn’t Report – Paris in May – Our Itinerary

trip report paris may 2020 itinerary
Back in the Fall of 2017, Middle Age Miles visited Paris and Notre Dame Cathedral (pre-fire)
on a crisp, beautiful day – Too bad we couldn’t return this week!

Introduction & Background

This morning, Philly and I were supposed to wake up in Paris after spending our first-ever night at the famed Park Hyatt Vendome. And earlier this week we would have spent our mornings running on the exquisitely-kept grounds of the Palace of Versailles. It’s been a lovely weather week in Paris too.

Our planning was great, but the world had other plans. Our hearts go out to those whose lives have been impacted far worse than missing out on a nice getaway to Paris.

Still, we like thinking about what might have been, and our travel adventures to come once travel is feasible and reasonably safe again. Our “itinerary” and “how we did it” trip report articles tend to be popular, so we thought we’d at least share those portions in a “trip-that-wasn’t” report on Paris in May.

In this article, we’ll cover our general planned itinerary (which we never really finalized). And soon (hopefully tomorrow), we’ll publish a second article covering how we booked our trip and got great value, or at least value that made sense to us!

Overview of Our Thinking in Planning Our Itinerary

We had several motivations for planning this trip to Paris in May, including:

  • The timing worked out well with Philly’s work schedule
  • It would probably be a beautiful time to be in Paris
  • We’d be a few weeks ahead of the busy summer holiday season
  • We wanted to visit friends who are in the midst of spending several months in Paris before returning to the US later this year
  • Last summer at the end of our Switzerland-France trip, we spent our last night at the beautiful Waldorf Astoria Trianon Palace in Versailles (see How We Used Amex Hilton Card Benefits for an Incredible Stay & Experience in Versailles), and when we left there, we had vowed to return soon and stay longer
Lobby of the Waldorf Astoria Trianon Palace in Versailles

All of these things impacted our trip planning and itinerary. In addition, we’ve had the good fortune to visit Paris a couple of times before. During those trips, we’ve experienced many of the “big” Paris touristy things, like visiting the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, walking the Champs Elysees, admiring the magnificent Arc de Triomphe, climbing the stairs all the way to the top of the Sacre Coeur, and marveling at the pre-fire Notre Dame Cathedral.

Middle Age Miles on the Champs Elysees, with the Arc de Triomphe in the background

Since we’d done these things before, this trip would be more relaxed and could have a more open agenda. We could be less tied to a fixed schedule, we could wander more, and we could spend time with our friends. Still, there were a few things we wanted to do on this trip that we hadn’t been able to experience on our previous visits.

Another part of our itinerary would be a couple of day trips. For us, it’s become a favorite activity on our international travel to take a couple of day-trip excursions outside the main cities, to see a different side of life in the countries we visit. Sometimes our day trips have been to places that are destinations in themselves, like taking a day from your Paris holiday to visit the Palace of Versailles. But often, they’re to less-traveled places. For instance, on our Fall 2017 trip to Paris, we took day trips to the towns of Amiens, location of a spectacular cathedral as well as being the home of Jules Verne, and Reims, the city at the heart of the champagne region.

The Weeping Angel of Amiens, inside Amiens Cathedral
Middle Age Miles at the G.H. Mumm champagne cellars in Reims

General Plans for Our Itinerary for Paris in May

Here’s our rough itinerary for our week in Paris in May:

Day 1 – Saturday 5/16/2020

  • Flight from DFW to Paris CDG
    • AA 48 – depart DFW 5:00 pm – arrive CDG 9:25 am (Sun 5/17)

Day 2 – Sunday 5/17/2020

  • Transfer from CDG to Waldorf Astoria Versailles using our favorite European transfer service, Welcome Pickups
  • Check in to the Waldorf Astoria Versailles – Trianon Palace (3 nights)
  • Explore the town of Versailles
    • When we visited the Palace in November 2017, there was a farmers’ market in the town center that we really enjoyed – it would have been fun to return
    • The Versailles City Hall (Hotel de Ville) is impressive and beautiful
    • And I’m sure we could have found a very nice place to eat dinner there!
Versailles farmers’ market

Days 3 & 4 – Mon/Tues 5/18-19/2020

  • Each morning, Philly and I would have gone for a run on the grounds and amidst the gardens of the Palace of Versailles
    • The WA Versailles is immediately adjacent to the Palace grounds, through the Queen’s Gate (“Grille de la Reine”) which is literally only a few steps from the hotel entrance
    • When we did this in July 2019, it was a wonderful, special experience. We had the grounds and gardens almost to ourselves. There was a window from 8:00 until 9:00 am where you could enter the Palace grounds for free through Queen’s Gate, even on days where they would otherwise charge admission (some days are completely free; others require paid admission).
    • You can go right up to the Palace, and if the King were there, you’d be close enough to share a croissant (as my friend and Middle Age Miles commenter HS once said).
Middle Age Miles taking a break from our run for a photo op
just outside the famed Hall of Mirrors at the Pal
ace of Versailles
Middle Age Miles and the grounds of the Palace of Versailles
  • After our run, we’d have had a great breakfast, complimentary as a Hilton Diamond member, while watching the goats graze in the adjacent field
The sitting room for breakfast at the Waldorf Astoria Versailles
Goats grazing in the field adjacent to the breakfast sitting room
  • On one of these days, we were planning to take a day trip to Chartres to visit Chartres Cathedral and otherwise explore the town
    • This would have been an easy train ride, direct from Versailles, a little less than an hour each way
Chartres Cathedral (image courtesy Brittanica.com)
  • Another day, we probably would have relaxed by playing some tennis on-site at the WA Versailles and spent some more time in the town there and on the Palace grounds
Tennis, anyone? – court at the Waldorf Astoria Versailles
  • Last time we stayed at the WA Versailles, we indulged in a Michelin-star dinner at the on-site Gordon Ramsay au Trianon restaurant. The meal was amazing, but we probably wouldn’t have done it again for the price and in light of our under-refined taste. For those who haven’t done this, though, it’s certainly a memorable experience.

Days 5, 6 & 7 – Wed/Thurs/Fri 5/20-22/2020

  • Wed 5/20 – Check out of the WA Versailles and head into Paris
  • Check in to the Park Hyatt Vendome (3 nights)
    • The Park Hyatt Vendome has legendary status among points-and-miles enthusiasts as one of the finest and fanciest city hotels where you can stay on points
Park Hyatt Vendome, Paris (image courtesy Hyatt)
  • For most of these days, we would have simply explored more of Paris
    • We’d already visited many of the main tourist attractions of Paris, but we had 2 more places in mind as “must-do” activities for this trip – visiting the Musee d’Orsay and visiting Place de la Bastille
      • We would have loved the impressionist art housed at the Musee d’Orsay, including Philly’s all-time favorite painting, Van Gogh’s Starry Night Over the Rhone
      • I also would have gotten a kick out of seeing the American classic painting, Whistler’s Mother
      • I wanted to visit Place de la Bastille for its historical significance, although I’m not entirely sure what one can see there today aside from the July column and presumably a historical marker or two
Starry Night Over the Rhone, by Vincent van Gogh
Whistler’s Mother, by James McNeill Whistler
Place de la Bastille and the July Column (image courtesy French Moments)
  • One of these days (probably Thursday (today!)), we planned to take a day trip to Orleans, to walk in the footsteps of Joan of Arc and otherwise explore the town
    • As I look now, the train ride from Paris to Orleans looks like a difficult, multi-stop journey. My best recollection is that there was a direct Paris-Orleans train back in the pre-Covid days
    • In any event, if Orleans was too difficult, we could have replaced it with a trip to Rouen, or a longer day trip to the Loire Valley for an afternoon of wine
Joan of Arc statue, Orleans (image courtesy C. Mouton – CRT Centre-Val de Loire)
  • From our earlier trips, we knew of 2 “must-return” restaurants in Paris where we would have had dinner on 2 nights, the Saint Germain and Chez Ly
    • The Saint Germain, on Boulevard Saint-Germain near the Rue du Bac Metro station, was a must for us entirely because it’s the professional workplace of our favorite restaurant server in all of our international travels, Kevin. Quick story here – In summer 2015, we wandered in to the Saint Germain for a nightcap one evening, as it was close to our hotel. That night, we met Kevin, and we had such a good time we returned to the Saint Germain the next 2 nights. Now, fast forward 2½ years to November 2017. A few days before our return to Paris, Middle Age Miles daughter Maria pinged Kevin on social media to tell him that Craig & Philly would be in town the next week with her brother. She didn’t even give him a specific date, just that we’d probably drop by sometime in the next week. One night on our trip, we had barely set foot outside the Rue de Bac Metro, still across the street from the Saint Germain, when Kevin spotted us, yelled “Phyllis and Craig!” and welcomed us into the restaurant with open arms to a premium table. Yep, Kevin is the best.
    • Chez Ly is an upscale Asian restaurant located on Rue Lord Byron, near the Arc de Triomphe and about a block and a half off the Champs Elysees. Sure, it’s a bit pricey, but for us it ranked right up there with Mr. Chow as our favorite upscale restaurants ever.
    • We’d also leave a night or two in Paris for dinners at new places, probably recommended by our friends there
We returned to the Saint Germain later that week to bring Kevin a small gift
for the daughter he was expecting shortly thereafter
With apologies for the dark picture, the atmosphere and food at Chez Ly were superb

Day 8 – Saturday 5/23/2020

  • Saturday would have started with one more fantastic breakfast, complimentary as a Globalist, at Park Hyatt Vendome, perhaps preceded by a run along the Seine
  • It also would have involved more strolling and exploring Paris, including hitting any of the spots we’d wanted to see but missed so far
  • Check out of the Park Hyatt Vendome
  • Check in to the Hotel du Louvre, from The Unbound Collection by Hyatt (1 night)
    • Moving hotels within Paris was dictated by lack of availability at the Park Hyatt Vendome when we booked, but we were certainly looking forward to experiencing another great-looking and well-located Paris hotel that’s available using points through Hyatt
Hotel du Louvre (image courtesy the Hotel & Historic Hotels – Then and Now)

Day 9 – Sunday 5/24/2020

  • Breakfast at the Hotel du Louvre, complimentary with Hyatt Globalist status
  • Transfer from the hotel to CDG airport, again using Welcome Pickups
  • Flight from CDG back home to DFW
    • AA 49 – depart CDG 11:25 am – arrive DFW 2:55 pm

Wrap-Up

We realize that there are much bigger problems in the world, but we’re missing our week in Paris. The weather there this week has been excellent and conducive to a lot of outdoor sightseeing and activities. We’ve certainly enjoyed putting together this article on the week that could have been, and it makes us look forward even more to the time when we can travel and have international adventures again. We hope that you’ve found it to be a nice diversion from our current quarantined and travel-restricted days.

What do you think about the itinerary for this trip and our planning style? What other tips do you have for travel planning for Paris and the surrounding area of France? Please share with us and other Middle Age Miles readers in the Comments!


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10 thoughts on “Trip-That-Wasn’t Report – Paris in May – Our Itinerary

  1. Karen

    Craig and Philly,

    Beautiful pictures and memories! I’m saving your itinerary to plan for a trip hopefully by 2022.

    1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

      Hi Karen – Many thanks for the comment and kind words. I sure hope you’re able to take an awesome Paris trip within the next couple of years! I’m glad you enjoyed the itinerary and pics, and we appreciate you reading Middle Age Miles. ~Craig

  2. Connie Cerne

    Love your itenerary! We were supposed to be in Paris right now too. I’m going to save this for when we reschedule. Really enjoy your blog!

    1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

      Hi Connie – Great minds think alike on travel to Paris in May 🙂 We both would have had a terrific week there, I’m sure. I’m really glad you enjoyed the itinerary and are liking Middle Age Miles! Have a great Memorial Day weekend. ~Craig

    1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

      Hi Sue – This is a great tip. It’s perfect for us. The Marmottan is a definite “yes” when we’re able to return to Paris! Hope you’re doing well. ~Craig

    1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

      Hi quasimodo – You will definitely enjoy getting out of the bowels of the cathedral in Paris and out to Versailles 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the article, and thanks for the comment! ~Craig

    1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

      Hi Chris – Thanks for reading and thanks for the comment. I think you misunderstood. We didn’t actually get to go. This is about the trip that we planned but unfortunately didn’t get to take because of Covid-19. ~Craig

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