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1 week in Paris- on our own, or with a tour group?

1 week in Paris- on our own, or with a tour group?

Mar 2nd, 2008, 06:49 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 343
1 week in Paris- on our own, or with a tour group?

we'll be meeting up with our daughter in mid-July, in Geneva (she'll end up there on her college program.) DH and I want to go over before that and spend a week in Paris. (And where else- but that's another question!)

Figured we'd stay in a hotel or apt for the week- but I see the benefit of being in a tour group- no wasting time figuring out how to get to a particular museum, getting in with the group vs on our own, figuring out the logistics of seeing the sights around the city, etc.

For first-timers- what do you all suggest? We have navigated NYC and London, but haven't been in a European city on our own. Thanks!
nvl325 is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2008, 06:56 PM
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I can see absolutely NO benefit/advantage to being w/ a tour group for a 1-city visit.

Getting around Paris is VERY easy. And there are hop-on-hop-off tour buses you can take to get your initial look at the main sites and see where they are.

Do you really want to be up and out the door at 8 a.m. to march w/ a tour group - and pay extra for the privilege?
janisj is online now  
Mar 2nd, 2008, 07:04 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Do tour companies actually do a day-by-day in one city for a week? I know they'll 'host' you, like an air/hotel package with one or two 1/2-day tours but the rest of the time you're on your own anyway.

If you know what week, you should start booking the hotel and also keep an eye on the airfare. Hotels may offer a summer rate promotion, usually around/after July 15.

Next, a nice good book like Eyewitness or Knopf to whet your sightseeing appetite. Start a list of the most interesting things or places; group them 'geographically' and note the open/closed day.

If you can get that far, you're almost done!
Travelnut is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2008, 07:10 PM
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if you click on DESTINATIONS above on this page you will find all sorts of info about Paris.
janisj is online now  
Mar 2nd, 2008, 07:28 PM
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There are so many excellent guide books to Paris that I see no reason to pay someone to guide me about like I had no brain.

I have visited Paris 4 times without a multi day tour guide. I do, however, think that you need to be prepared.

That said, I did take one guided day tour that went to Vaux le Vicomte and Fontainebleau. The tour was a bargain because it provided bus transportation and a guide for less than we could have done it on our own. (No bus service from the Melun train station to the estate at that time. Taxi fare to and fro plus admission charges and train tickets were equal to or more than the cost of the tour.)

In that particular case, the trip was highly cost effective.

Despite it all, I returned to Fontainebleau on my own so I could see it at my pace.
bob_brown is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2008, 07:34 PM
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You'll do great on your own. If you can navigate NYC this will be a piece of cake. Or a piece of pain au chocolat.

The eyewitness guide will be very helpful and I recommend you buy a good map at the bookstore. Once you see the map it will make sense - it's so easy and relatively small. I usually walk everywhere but the metro is super easy.

We like apartments and there are some very nice ones for rent. I prefer to stay on the right bank and personally really like the Marais/Beaubourg areas (2nd, 3rd, 4th.) Others really like the left bank and the 5th or 6th.

Paris is such a nice city to simply hang out in, sit at a sidewalk cafe, windowshop, that you'll be so glad to simply wander on your own. Good luck with your planning, and with figuring out where else to go!
rosetravels is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2008, 10:35 PM
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The Rick Steve's tour company has a one week Paris city tour. The website is www.ricksteves.com. I did the one week tour of Rome and really enjoyed it.
nwtraveler is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2008, 02:50 AM
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Another vote for sight-seeing on your own with a good guidebook (Michelin green would be my choice). If you could do NYC and London you can do Paris even if you don't speak French. A tour will tie you into someone else's time schedule and set of "must sees."
Vttraveler is online now  
Mar 3rd, 2008, 05:00 AM
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The benefits of doing it on your own would include being able to pick your accomodations, be it a hotel near the sights, or an appartment. With a tour, you most likely would be in a tourist class hotel away from the centre.

On a tour, you will be following their schedule, not yours. If you want to spend the morning at a market, or just sitting at a cafe people watching, it may not be part of their plan for you.

Yes, it's a benefit to have someone get you around, get you in, explain and entertain you. But that's not to say you can't get the same experience doing it your way.

There is the Paris L'Open bus route that goes around multiple locations. You pay once, get on/off wherever you want. Parisvision and Cityrama are two companies that offer multiple tours of the city and sights outside of the city e.g. Versailles. English one of the languages they support.

For walking tours, one I've used on multiple occasions is Paris Walks. They have twice daily (or more), 2-2.5 hour tours of neighbourhoods of Paris. And there are also Seine cruises (tour only or dinner/tour). Paris Vedettes I like, there is also Bateaux Parisiens and others. All of the above have web sites.

I think you would find Paris to be quite manageable. The public transportation system is efficient and widespread, you are never really far from station. Language wise, most people who visit do no speak the language. Learning a few of the "formality" words and phrases will help you get by.

People here will help you understand your options to get from CDG to the city, your choices for public transit, what appartments to rent or hotels to select,restaurant recommendations, touring itineraries, and cultural hints.

Michel_Paris is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2008, 09:36 AM
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I don;t think there is any such thing as a week's tour of Paris. Tours work by rushing you from place to place.

You might get a one week package to Paris - which would be air, hotel, airport transfers and a 1/2 day city tour. Otherwise you would be on your own.

I would simply do it on your own. If you want a 1/2 day city tour (I think they're a waste) any hotel can sign you up for one.

What I find much more interesting are the theme tours - often walking tours of a particular area or topic - which your hotel can also sign you up for.

Otherwise, Paris is a GREAT walking city - and if your feet get tired the Metro goes everywhere.

And this way you see what interests you - not least common denominator of what others may like.
nytraveler is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2008, 01:04 PM
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Hi N,

I would go completely bonkers if I had to spend a week with a tour group.

My Lady Wife would quit after 2 days.

You are going to 1 city.

Why join a tour?

>figuring out how to get to a particular museum,...

See www.ratp.fr, www.mappy.co.uk

ira is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2008, 01:07 PM
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>We have navigated ... London, but haven't been in a European city on our own.

When did London move from Europe?
ira is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2008, 04:06 PM
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Many people in the UK do not consider it part of europe (as in the continent). Although, what continent it is then a part of is a mystery to me.
nytraveler is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2008, 04:09 PM
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Rick Steves has a one-week tour of Paris (and some other cities too, I think). From what I have read, these are good tours. It's most definitely not necessary, as Paris is easy to do on your own, but I can see why it could be sort of fun, if you don't mind paying twice what you would to go by yourself. (That's how I have approximately priced it, but others might price it differently.)

Paris Walks are a fun thing to do, though, and only take up a couple hours of your day.
WillTravel is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2008, 04:19 PM
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absolutely on your own--very walkable or via the metro wherever you want to go and there is so much that one week is TOO easy to fill! Just make sure to buy a Carte Musee--the museum pass that allows no wait entrance to museums and also to many other attractions that you would not normally think to go to.
These passes can be purchased at the larger metro stations(at least all the times that we went they could) and come in different duration options. also, do some different things like going out to Pere LaChaise cemetary(beautiful) and the catacombes--look that up on the internet for exact location/metro stop.
has250 is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2008, 04:27 PM
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I can see the benefits of a tour group under certain conditions and/or to particular destinations (I'm going to a new place myself in a few days, and it will be my first travel with a group, godhelpme and them) but Paris is not one of those destinations. Really, it's an easy place. Almost everyone you will have to deal with will speak English, or can call over someone who does. The center of the city is walkable, and relatively compact (not small, but compared to say, London, or New York, relatively compact); the metro system is excellent and easy to learn; and you have so many options in where to stay and where to eat. Mid-July, you'll want a hotel with a/c. What will your budget be like (per night,or for the week.)?

I have a long travel file on Paris; if you'd like to see it, email me at
[email protected]

Put together a general itinerary of things you'd like to see and do, and you'll find lots of people here ready to pick it apart/enhance it.
elaine is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2008, 06:36 PM
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Posts: 4,129
Go on your own. I sent a friend off to Paris, on her own, for the first time, and not really knowing the language, just Americanese. She did fine. She had a list of things she wanted to see, I advised her on what worked best, and voila, she had a blast. And got to see most of the items on her list, and then some.

An alternative to being in a tour group is going on the L'Opentour bus. It has 4 routes that take you through most of Paris, peripherally, and as long as you're on the bus, there's an audioguide playing in the language of your choice. It's a hop-on, hop-off bus, so as long as your ticket is valid, you're free to come and go. It used to have a website, but there's something funky going on with it right now.

Here's the Paris tourism board, which can give you lots of information to start with. http://en.parisinfo.com/

Enjoy. I did.
mcnyc is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2008, 06:45 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 343
thanks to all of you for your responses. Great ideas for walking tours and various guidebooks. I guess the vote is in- no tour group! Now to decide hotel vs apt- I see this has been discussed in other threads...

So now a very broad question: as I said, we are meeting up with daughter in Geneva. We would like to come 7-10 days before that, and then travel after with her about the same. Where to go??

Besides Paris, some ideas from relatives are: Lausanne and nearby areas, Brussels/Bruges/Ghent, Berlin. How about 2 locations before, and then 2 with our daughter so we can settle in a bit and not spend too much time traveling around.

I know there are so many possibilities- but where are some places you all have been and loved? And which might be good locations to do with our daughter vs the two of us? Thanks for your input!
nvl325 is offline  

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