<p>My daughter is studying abroad this semester. So, a good excuse to visit Paris for the first time. Any tips on buying airfare, where to stay, what to see? Thanks!</p>
<p>If you are going to be there for over 5 days, find an apartment. The Marais is a good place to start looking. Airfare bargains will depend on what airport you are departing from. And what to see? It’s your first time…so everything. :-h
Paris is a wonderful place and contrary to popular opinion , full of lovely people.</p>
<p>Go to all the toursity places if it’s your first time. They really are awesome, and you definitely should see them. On later or longer visits you can go off the beaten path.</p>
<p>If you can only choose one museum, Musee D’Orsay is my vote. The Louvre is awesome, too, but best seen in small chunks of time or it’s too overwhelming.</p>
<p>A few years ago we rented an apartment on Ile Saint Louis through VRBO. We walked just about everywhere from there and it was wonderful to be able to pick up food at the neighborhood boulangeries and fromageries. (My one museum pick would be The Musée de l’Orangerie.)</p>
<p>There were at least two paris threads here in the past year - search for them. I stayed recently at the Hotel Brighton near the Louvre - my favorite place to see is Musee D’Orsay (greatest museum in the world) and I highly recommend you do a night bus tour to see the lights.</p>
<p>I escorted a group of students to Paris last summer and we stayed at the Hotel Adagio at the base of Montmartre. It’s a little studio apartment room so you can make breakfasts or simple dinners and is conveniently located for sightseeing with metro stops on two different lines within a couple of blocks.</p>
<p>My brother was there over Christmas. I agree you need to see the main sights, but they raved about <a href=“http://www.marmottan.fr/uk/”>http://www.marmottan.fr/uk/</a> - especially the illuminated manuscripts. I’ve always been very fond of the <a href=“http://www.carnavalet.paris.fr/”>http://www.carnavalet.paris.fr/</a> Also if you go to Versailles when the weather is warm, go on a day when they turn on the fountains. And finally eat ice cream at <a href=“http://www.berthillon.fr/”>http://www.berthillon.fr/</a></p>
<p>Go when airfares are down- probably means well before May. Ask your dau to ask around about good deal hotels or pensions. See if you want to be near her or treat her to a different location. We rented a (small) flat in the 7th, near the Eiffel, an open market and some grocers, through Vacations in Paris- a company located in, I think, NJ- no language issues, reputable. But I think next time I’d go for the Marais. We had a super deal on Icelandic, which we found through a local travel agent with connections to a consolidator. </p>
<p>Mstee, I’d go with you if we hadn’t just been on a big trip.<br>
<p>Thank you for the suggestions, everything sounds wonderful! Hope to buy the airline tickets today. I am looking at renting an apt. for a week, then a side trip to Brussels and Brugge. And then maybe a couple days hotel back in Paris at the end of the trip. But still figuring it out! I would like to go to Versailles, too. </p>
<p>That’s a lot of side trips in a week… I’d skip Brussels and Brugge, concentrate on Paris and really see as much as you can. (But that’s just me, I’m more about quality rather than quantity.) If you want to get out of the city, Chantilly, Senlis and Vaux-le-Vicomte (chateau that inspired Versailles) are lovely day trips from Paris. </p>
<p>I plan to stay longer than a week – a week in Paris, then Brussels/Brugge, or maybe just Brugge for a couple of days, then back to Paris for a day or two (three?) before coming home. My husband has to come back by a certain day to get back to work, but I could stay a few days longer. The Brugge thing is for my daughter. She wants to get away for a couple of days. We could probably leave that part up in the air – get the air fare and the one week rental, and then think about whether or not to go to Brugge for a little longer. Thank you for the day trip suggestions. I really don’t have a clue. But I know it is going to be great! It has been a long cold winter. Looking forward to Paris in the spring!</p>
<p>Go in off season which means before late April and May. It will be cold but worth it. Much shorter lines for everything, lower pricing on lodging and lower airfare.</p>
<p>How exciting. There’s no place more magical than Paris. I’ve been several times, and of course it depends on your tastes and interests, but if I were advising myself, I would say: Skip the Eiffel Tower. The wait is too long. Sure, it’s a nice thing to do, but it isn’t the best thing to do. So touristy. It should be about maximizing wonderful things in the time you have. I would also skip Versailles for the same reason. Now, the day I went there it was raining, so we didn’t get to see the grounds, which I hear are lovely. But definitely don’t go on a rainy day. Love the Musee D’Orsay, the Orangerie, the Louvre. Also loved the Musee du Quai Branly! Fascinating museum of indigenous art. Cool vertical garden on the outside of the museum. I would skip St. Chappelle–again, too crowded and time consuming for what you get. Oh, also definitely go inside the Pantheon. Incredible. Picasso Museum is also good. Most of all, just walk around the city and eat a lot. Wake up in the morning and go to the bakery.
We always got wonderful apartments through Paris Attitude. I have heard, though, that Paris is now cracking down on short-term sublets. I think it’s now illegal.
As far as Belgium goes: Ghent would be my first choice: It’s an incredible, beautifully preserved medieval city, and less touristy than Brugges. Brugges is lovely, gorgeous, I love it, but it is extremely touristy. I preferred Antwerp to Brussels. If you do go to Brussels, stay around the St. Catherine area. Buy lots of chocolate, eat lots of waffles. Figure out which kind of waffles you prefer, the lighter Brussels waffles, or the heartier Liege waffles. Belgium has the best food in Europe IMHO.
I’ve often found myself there the last week in March (school vacations) and it’s always much much colder and rainier than I expected. Bring lots of layers and an umbrella.
Have a fantastic trip! </p>
<p>Oh, PS: The lines at the Musee D’Orsay are insane. Get there before it opens–there will even be a line then, but it will move faster than it does later. I think many people pre-order tickets online to save time. A good idea if you are organized.</p>
<p>Oh, now I am going to go to Ghent. Maybe? I have to taste the best food in Europe, so will definitely figure something out. Thank you everyone for such wonderful insights and suggestions!</p>
<p>You’re so lucky! And so is your D.</p>
<p>Sorry, OP, I misunderstood your time frame. You’ll have a wonderful trip. Enjoy! </p>
<p>Having just seen “The Monuments Men”, I want to go to Ghent now!</p>
<p>Skip going up the Eiffel but do go to it, see it close. Are they still running the colored lights at night, on the hour? If so, try to catch that. You can also get the city view from the tower at Notre Dame. Train runs out to Versailles. </p>
<p>Redpoint, last time we finally got to the sewer museum. I’d always heard it was a pretty neat thing to do- and it was.</p>
<p>Does anyone have any experience with VRBO? There are some nice looking apartments on the site. </p>
<p>I have used VRBO many times in the US, but never in Europe. I have always had really great success with the places we stayed out all over the country through VRBO.</p>