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Trip Report A Wander Through France

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We have just returned from a 6 week trip which started in Nice and ended in Paris. The idea of the trip began in December of 2011 when my niece announced that she was going to Paris in March. I gathered together info that I had amassed from our trip earlier that year to share with her. In doing so, I got very nostalgic and mentioned to DH that was should go back for another look-see. We had spent 8 days in Paris in May and loved it, but felt we had barely scratched the surface. What emerged was a trip that covered Nice, The Luberon area of Provence, Montpellier and finally Paris.

Through the help of folks here, on Tripadvisor and a lot of research on the Internet, we had an absolutely wonderful trip. I haven’t done a trip report in a long time, but wanted to do one as a way to journalize our trip as a reminder to me as well as to pass along any information that might be helpful to others. I am not the great raconteur so I hope that it will provide you with a bit of a look into our trip.

The flights and transit -
I wanted to try and take advantage of Optiontown’s low cost upgrades to Business class. We had used it last year when we flew on SAS to pick up our Volvo in Göteborg, Sweden as part of an Overseas Delivery Program . I began watching airfare in January and by March when the prices looked like they were going to go higher; I booked economy tickets on SAS from ORD to NCE [via ARN] and the return CDG to ORD [via CPH]. We flew from ABQ to MDW using points on Southwest. Of course, in mid-July, the airfare to Europe on all airlines dropped like a stone, but we weren’t able to rebook to take advantage of the savings. Oh well, what are you going to do?

We did get our upgrades and it was really nice to be able to stretch out [170°] and get some sleep. IF you are not familiar with Optiontown.com - you pay for upgrades at about 25% of the cost of what you would pay to airline. You pay optiontown and then wait to find out if you have gotten upgrades. You are notified between 4 days before departure and 4 hours. When we did it last year, it was pretty close to departure time when we found out [12 hours ahead on outbound and 6 hours on return]. This time we found out 4 days ahead on outbound and 3 days on return. IF you don’t get an upgrade, they refund your money. The biggest drawback is that they only deal with a limited number of airlines, mostly carriers in Asia. SAS is the only European airline they currently deal with so it really limits using them but we are more than pleased as we saved close to 50% of the cost of Business class tickets.

We took No Jet Lag on both transatlantic segments and we had no jet lag eastbound but are still having some since returning home. Having to deal with 2 different ends to Daylight Savings time hasn’t helped at all. {France went back last weekend}.

On the way to Europe, we spent the night at a friends’ house in Chicago and on the way home we also spent the night in Chicago at the Marriott Renaissance on West Bryn Mawr. I got it through Priceline and it worked out perfectly. We took the hotel shuttle from ORD to the hotel [a phone call to them and the shuttle picked us up right at Terminal 5], and in the morning, we took the “L” to Midway as we had lots of time till our flight to ABQ. The “L” station at Cumberland on the Blue Line was a 2 minute walk across the hotel parking lot. We switched to the Orange Line at Clark/Lake and arrived at Midway with plenty of time to spare.

More to come….

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