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Help plan our trip to France!

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Replies to: Help plan our trip to France!

  • zeebamomzeebamom 1364 replies3 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I’ve been to Versailles twice, so opted out on our trip last year. I suggested that my sister and her daughters take the King’s Apartment tour, though, and they loved it. Timed ticket and they were able to see everything without standing in the awful lines.
    The timed tickets to the Eiffel Tower were new to us, and we went up in the evening having bought tickets that morning. The c
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  • zeebamomzeebamom 1364 replies3 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    This new version is driving me nuts.
    The construction under the Eiffel Tower made things a mess.

    June and July are fine months to go.. It’s a big country and places are open for business. Websites for shops and restaurants will usually give summer closure dates (typically beginning the last week of July). Weather is weather, plan for heat, rain, and everything in between.

    We’ve been renting apartments from Paris Perfect for years now. They are pricey, though, but our experiences have always been good. Having the freedom to have a quick meal, drink coffee, and lounge on a sofa is important to us. Pulling up a duvet and putting dishes in a dishwasher is no biggie. Under no circumstances should you rent an apartment/Airbnb that does not have a registration number. The number has to be in each listing and without it, high likelihood it is an illegal rental. Citadines aparthotels are a less expensive alternative.

    We’ve taken day trips on the train from Paris to Reims and Strasbourg, and used the Metro to get to a couple of chateaux. We spent a week in Alsace a couple of years back and would return in a heartbeat. The small towns and vineyards are beautiful.

    Normandy is still on our list as are the Loire and the Southwest. Maybe 2020 or 2021.
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  • KemmommaKemmomma 24 replies3 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    If anyone is a military buff the Musee de l’Armee des Invalides was awesome. They had everything you could think of. Things belonging to Napoleon, his tomb, suits of Armor, furnishings. It was quite awesome. All around there where shops, patisserie's, street cafe's. We had taken a Viking River Cruise that started in Paris it was great!
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  • sylvan8798sylvan8798 6647 replies140 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    We need a tentative working budget. Assume 10 days, 6 people (4 males, 2 females), flights to/from. Apartments/rentals as much as possible. Modest dining, in-house where possible.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 6953 replies48 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Your biggest budget hit will be the airfare. I would budget $2K each for airfare in the summer months depending on where you are flying from.

    Don't forget to factor in sight seeing costs. They can add up quickly. I would make a list of what you want to see and look up the costs.

    You can do some snooping on air B&B to look up prices for apartments that can sleep 6.

    Food, IMO, is the biggest wild card. You can easily get croissant and coffee in the morning, baguette sandwiches for lunch, and eat dinner at home and keep costs low. However, I think part of the charm of Paris is sitting in a cafe and people watching. There will be a pull to do that at least some of the time. I can't even imagine trying to guess for you!
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  • coralbrookcoralbrook 7817 replies24 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    For summertime high season you can look at the nightly rate for apartments, and don’t forget all the fees. That will give you an idea for budget. 3 bdrm apartments run $400/ night and upwards.

    Norwegian Air is the cheapest, no frills way to get to France, depending on where you are based in the US. You will not find their fares on most search engines such as Expedia. Be careful because the fares do not include checked bags. A way to save money in a group is to share one checked bag per couple. It is my understanding that the best time to buy air tickets to Europe is about 4 months out. Recently (as I was buying tickets to Paris) I noticed that American Airlines was competing with Norwegian pricing and I was able to snag Orange County, CA to Paris round trip for only $495, and that was the upgraded main fare with seat reservations and one checked bag. You need to be near an American hub to get the good pricing. I noticed all the ‘basic economy’ lower priced tickets (which were about $50 less) are seated in the back of the plane. But if you book 6 tickets you will be seated together. I don’t think they just randomly spread 6 people out.

    Immediately after I purchased, as soon as the 3 1/2 months out came, the tickets on American went up past $850 and now sitting at $1300. I tell myself that’s a lot of great meals and glasses of wine I saved☺️
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  • coralbrookcoralbrook 7817 replies24 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    My opinion is that Paris Perfect and Paris For Rent have beautiful apartments, some with Eiffel Tower views. But they are ridiculously expensive although they provide the hand holding some people need. You can find good apartments as long as you book far in advance because the good ones get booked up early.
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  • coralbrookcoralbrook 7817 replies24 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited July 17
    Versailles now sells timed tickets. This is a huge improvement. For your limited time in Paris of 3 days, you really cannot squeeze in Versailles because it takes a whole day. Not to mention extremely hot and crowded. Alternatives to view the Versailles splendor are the Napoleon Apartments inside the Lourve (separate ticket) and the Palais Garnier Opera House. They are both over the top gold gilded
    edited July 17
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  • International DadInternational Dad 299 replies7 threadsRegistered User Member
    edited July 18
    I recommend you one night in bruges, (Belgium) is a beautiful town. You can take a cheap train from Paris, if you buy it in advance, you can get really good prices.
    Paris- Brussels - Belgium, is like 3 hours ride.
    We stayed at:
    Hotel Het Gheestelic Hof,
    an excellent place in the middle of the town (with very good rates).

    The next day you can spend a couple hours in Brussels and visit
    The Grand Place or Grote Markt is the central square of Brussels, an amazing place, and few places nearby, then take the train to Paris or to other country, we went to Amsterdam and Cologne and come back to Paris.
    Enjoy your trip.

    * We bought in advance tickets to Versalles palace, and the line took like 50 minutes, No regrets.
    we had a great day there.
    edited July 18
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  • taverngirltaverngirl 884 replies20 threadsRegistered User Member
    @sylvan8798 In 2017 we scored airline tix from Boston to Paris for $800 each roundtrip (flew into Paris but out of Rome). We could've paid less, but I hate to fly and wanted nonstop. I used Google flights to track fares and booked around 6 months out. Air France, Alitalia, and Delta are partners, so you can fly on any of them and book all together. Our very nice 2 br apartment in Paris was less than $200 (all in) a night, and this was in mid June. Food, museum passes, Eiffel Tower tix, etc. all depend on what you want to do. We ate most breakfasts at our apartment, and maybe one lunch. Otherwise we ate out. I personally did not find the restaurants to be expensive.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 6953 replies48 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I would be very wary of flying one of the discount airlines to Europe. We know people who had horrible experiences with Norwegian. They cancelled their flight for no apparent reason and couldn't get them on another flight for two days, and out of a different airport. It took them nearly a year to get some compensation back and it obviously didn't bring back the lost 48 hours of their trip.
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  • greenwitchgreenwitch 8717 replies41 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I wouldn't trust AirBnb. We stayed at a couple of their places in Belgium last July and there were problems. In one place we ended up with 1 working bathroom for 7 people. Hotels are professionals and can switch your room if something comes up. Of course, with 3 couples you'll want to stay together, but be very careful if you rent an apartment. Read all the reviews with a critical eye.

    We also traveled with 2 other couples but our favorite places were hotels or staying at a vineyard inn, where there were better services and wonderful breakfasts. If you're out touring all day you don't need so much time together at night.
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  • sylvan8798sylvan8798 6647 replies140 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    It looks like we will be flying from Toronto, which seems remarkably cheaper.
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  • Momof3kidzMomof3kidz 109 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    We are just wrapping up a 16 day European tour as I type this. We spent the last 7 days in Paris with our group of 6 people (2 parents, 20x2, 18 and 13). We stayed in an Airbnb in each city with lots of success. We saved a lot over hotels but finding a place with a/c in Paris was not very easy. That said, it’s been a high of 80 degrees all week with most days feeling very cool (very lucky for us). I would be happy to answer any questions that you have. There’s tons of great advice on this thread. My biggest piece of advice would be to get up early as lines are not long first thing in the morning. We were here for Bastille Day so we thought everything would be crowded. It turned out the opposite. Crowds did not come until later. We have visited many of the major sites and enjoyed a day at Chiverny, Versailles and the Loire Valley castles. The catacombs were a family favorite. You can really keep your food budget down if you have a kitchen. We are staying in Le Marais which has been wonderful and prices are not as high as they are around the major sites. Feel free to ask any questions.

    We did not do the Paris pass that includes admissions to museums. For us it was not worth it especially because we wanted time specific tickets to avoid lines for things like the Eiffel Tower and Catacombs.
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  • natty1988natty1988 626 replies8 threadsRegistered User Member
    We flew nonstop from Los Angeles to Paris on Air Tahiti Nui when H and I went a few years ago. The price was much better then Air France or American and the service was great. We got a hot meal and the flight attendants were very attentive and friendly. We were not charged to check bags. The flight goes from Tahiti to LAX, stops and refuels and cleans the plane and then continues to Paris. I sat next to a woman who was flying all the way to Paris from Tahiti! We went in April and it was a great time to go. No crowds, decent weather (aside from a few days of rain), and good prices. Sure, it wasn't too warm, but H hates heat so it was a good time to go.

    We stayed at a hotel that was part of the Kyriad chain of hotels. It was a smallish reasonably priced hotel chain. Rick Steves recommends charming reasonably priced hotels..you could look in one of his guidebooks or on his website! We didn't go to Versailles. We bought our tickets for the Louvre and other museums ahead of time and because it was low season, we didn't have a ton of crowds to deal with.

    When we went to London and Spain with D and S, we went in early June. Perfect time to go. Good weather, good prices, and early June is before it starts to get real crowded and hot.

    One place I would recommend or more like my D would recommend is Annecy. Annecy is located at the foot of the alps not far from Chamonix and Geneva, Switzerland. I haven't been, but my D spent a month there and loved it! The pictures she took, don't do it justice! I'd check it out...
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  • artloversplusartloversplus 8538 replies247 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited July 18
    We went to see the "Quarry of Lights", it was a memorable jurney. Not too easy to get to unless you have a car and get there early, parking is a major problem at the site. You can park afar and walk a mile or so. We hired a car to drive us around, that was expensive.
    https://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2019/03/photos-a-quarry-of-lights-southern-france/585766/
    edited July 18
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