1st time to Paris

Jun 27th, 2007, 11:58 AM
  #1  
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1st time to Paris

I am planning a trip to Paris in Sept, my first time to France. Is it best to go as part of a tour group or on our own? Can you recommend a tour company? I would like to go to two or three cities while there over about 10 days. Besides Paris, what would you suggest? London? Any help would be greatly appreciated!!

Thanks
travelkey is offline  
Jun 27th, 2007, 12:42 PM
  #2  
 
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I personally do not like guided tours because I find them rushed, and I do not mind doing advanced research before travelling. If you are able to do the research, you can have a very good trip solo. Otherwise, a tour might be an option for you.

When booking a tour, do not book a trip where they only stay one night per destination. Those are the most exhausting tours, because your luggage has to be packed and in the hallway by 7 a.m. Try to aim for a tour where you would stay in a place for about three nights.

While touring Italy, we met with tour guests of Rick Steves and Tauck tours. Both sets of tourists were very satisfies with their experience--quality of hotels, meals, tour guides, and pace of tour.

I did a Collette tour for Paris, Provence and the Riviera. It was a decent tour. I did not like the tour guide because she was careless and planned to leave to company in 6 months when she married. Also, the meals included in the tour had to be eaten indoors, even if it was a lovely night to eat at an outdoor cafe. I also get motion sickness, and you have to rotate seats on the bus every day. So, days that I was further back, I was sick. Also, so of the budget tours will take you to factories and pay toilets on the road, and the tour guide will usually get a kickback. As you can tell, I purchase guidebooks and plan to have a better trip.
FlyingMaltese is offline  
Jun 27th, 2007, 01:00 PM
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We stayed in Paris for 12 days last summer and I still wish we'd had more time to see it better. It will take most of a day just to go to Giverny or to see Versailles if you have these two spots on your list, and I hope you do. We coupled these day-trips each with a less energy activity like going to the Eiffel Tower or climbing the Arc and then enjoying window shopping down the Champs-Elysées. The Louvre can take a big part of anther day. We paired smaller museums and one day even did three! You'll save a lot of time if you are not a big museum fan. The metro lets you get to all these attractions without much work at all. As far as tours, I like planning everthing ourselves with the help of a great guidebook or the Internet sites. I like the freedom to linger or hussle a bit more, which you don't get on a tour. You didn't mention if you were going alone, in which case, you may want a tour just for the companionship but I don't have any names to pass along. I've been to other European cities but because each is so beautiful in it's own way, I hope you will take time and just do one city this time. I hope you will have opportunity and money to make several trips and visit all the places you have on your wish list. Bon chance
turista is offline  
Jun 27th, 2007, 03:16 PM
  #4  
 
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Paris is an easy city to do on your own. If you are interested in the services of a guide to learn more about the city you can use companies like Paris Walks or Classic Walks and for about $14 (current exchange rate) you get a 2-2.5 hour group tour of a specific area of the city.

You could easily spend 10 days in Paris and not get bored, but since you want to add at least one other city London would be a great choice. I don't know if you've been to England before, but you could fly into London, take the train to Paris and fly home from Paris. London is also another great city that is easy to do on your own.

If you really want to take a tour I can recommend the Rick Steve's tour company. The website is www.ricksteves.com. I have taken tours with this company and really enjoyed them
nwtraveler is offline  
Jun 27th, 2007, 03:35 PM
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I have done a good bit of independent travel so that might color my opinion. I would do it on my own. With 10 days (not counting air travel) you could have a great visit to London and Paris. Both cities are easy to get around with the Metro, tube and bus systems.

I suggest you get Rick Steve's London and Paris books and look especially at the front of the book that shows what to do if you only have 1, 2, or 3 days so you will be sure to visit the highlights of each city. You can tailor it to your own tastes, whether you like museums, monuments, theater, walks, etc. Both cities have hop-on hop-off tours that give you a lay of the land and a drive-by of the biggies. It is a good way to get your orientation.

If you decide to take the Eurostar train from city to city via the chunnel you can find a discussion on how to save money on a one way ticket by doing a search on that above. The good part of the train is you go from city center and you don't have to go to and from the airports and mess with all the security.

If you decide to do London/Paris fly open jaw, into one city and out of the other. Even if it costs you a few dollars more you will save a lot of time not having to go back just to catch a plane.
AisleSeat is offline  
Jun 27th, 2007, 03:41 PM
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I went on a tour of France in 2003 but before the tour, I did Paris on my own for two days and then another two days after the tour. I was a single female (still female!) and was very comfortable touring Paris on my own. I will say that the jet lag was more than I anticipated so factor that when planning. I would suggest maybe Paris as a base to a few sites in Normandy or down to the Loire Valley. I visited both on the tour but again, I would feel comfortable visiting those areas on my own now. Happy planning!
coldwar27 is offline  
Jun 27th, 2007, 04:15 PM
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Most osters on this board are advocates of independent travel.

The cities you're talking about are easy to organize yourself - and IMHO half the fun of a trip is doing the research and planning.

So - I always reco doing it yourself unless

1) you're elderly or not in the best health or for some other reason want someone to deal with luggage for you

2) you don;t have the time or inclination to do the research yourelf (if you're going to hate doing all the work you can just do a little and pick out a tour - realizing what you're giving up by letting someone else make all the decisions)

(Persoanlly I don;t EVER want to get up at 7am while on vacation - never mind every day. Nor do I enjoy all those stop for tschotke-shopping.)
nytraveler is offline  
Jun 28th, 2007, 10:58 AM
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I did my first trip to Paris in May solo, 12 days. I am trying to plan another one in September solo also. To be honest, I was a little worried about it at first, but now I know I'd never have it any other way. By the way, that 12 days barely scratched the surface, there is just so much to see and experience.
khermann is offline  
Jun 29th, 2007, 05:15 AM
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We took a tour of Paris, Provance & Nice about 7 years ago. We stopped at places for a great deal of time that we had little interest in (like the water bottling plant) and little time at places we loved. We haven't used an escorted tour since. With the help of this site plus tour books you can easily plan a vacation going to the places you want to see and spending as much or as little time as you like. Likewise, you can find hotels that fit your style and budget as opposed to having the tour company select it for you. In many places we have been we have booked private tour guides who customized a day or two to the things we wanted to do or see. The cost is not much greater (for 2 people) than booking the stock day tours. We have taken trains extensively in western & eastern europe, as well as scandanavia with little to no hassle. ENjoy whichever way you go
joeyrm7 is offline  
Jun 29th, 2007, 06:27 AM
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I like to travel on my own. Paris and Venice go nicely together for a 10 day trip. Fly into one, and out of the other. Take the night train in between the two cities. I've done this and it was fun and relatively easy to plan. Then you could sign up for a city day tour in each place if you like.
suze is offline  
Jun 29th, 2007, 02:26 PM
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You might consider spending a day with Michael Orsmond, a local guide that is highly recommeded here. I have not used him but a lot of people swear his 100 euro fee (plus lunch) will really enhance your visit to Paris. Type in his name in the serch area and you will get lots of info.
AisleSeat is offline  
Jun 29th, 2007, 02:27 PM
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I have seen him listed as Michael Osman also.
AisleSeat is offline  
Jun 30th, 2007, 05:00 AM
  #13  
ira
 
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Hi T,

With 10 days, you can easily plan a visit on your own to Paris with several side trips - Chartres, Versailles, Giverny, Malmaison, Fontainbleau.....

Alternatively, you might want to fly into London for 4 nights, take the www.eurostar.com to Paris and fly home from there. See www.kayak.com

September is high season for Paris hotels. Make your bookings now.

Enjoy your planning.

ira is offline  

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