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1st trip to Paris, but Boyfirend has been many times and wants to mix it up

1st trip to Paris, but Boyfirend has been many times and wants to mix it up

Oct 26th, 2012, 07:39 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2012
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1st trip to Paris, but Boyfirend has been many times and wants to mix it up

My boyfriend and I are joining his parents in Paris the day after Christmas. They are staying through New years and we've been invited to join them. I have never been to France/Paris, though my boyfriend has been several times and to be honest he is not THAT excited to go. We live in the east village of NYC, so are no strangers to city living & navigation. An ideal trip for us is going to be NON-touristy, authentic, and personal. Please HELP.
1st question: I'd love suggestion of things to do and see in Paris that are not the main tourist attractions
2nd question: To make the trip more exciting for him, Ive suggested we take 3 or 4 days at the end of our trip and go somewhere else. Perhaps the south of France? Perhaps the countryside? Maybe Italy? I realize this is a broad question, but I truly have no idea where to start. The weather, since it's December/January, is of course a consideration.

OH..... We love train rides as well.... and of course great food.

Other info: We are both in our late 30's, but neither of us speak French. We love food, but find B&B's a little creepy (ha).

I'm a very experienced traveler, but to random destinations.... never been to France, Spain, or Italy!.... and it's a real sadness for me.

Thank you in advance for any advice!
Ernormous is offline  
Oct 26th, 2012, 07:52 AM
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An easy addition to your trip would be London on the Eurostar www.eurostar.com

Rome might be another.

For that time of year generally the countryside is not at its best and if there is snow or ice driving (best to have a car in the countryside) may make driving not that pleasant. Its best to stick to cities so you can duck into a museum etc if it is raining or snowing.

Another option would be a place like Strasbourg which may still have some xmas markets going. http://www.noel.strasbourg.eu/index....ge=1&id_lang=2

Provence is not at its best in Dec/Jan and can get really cold with the Mistral.

3-4 days isnt much time when you consider it will eat up 0.5+ days to travel to get to and from the other destination.

You could fly into Paris and home from say London or Rome and that would save the cost/time in getting back to Paris.

Hope this helps!
jamikins is offline  
Oct 26th, 2012, 08:02 AM
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Okay I will get the ball rolling. Many first time visitors like to stay in the either the Latin Quarter (Paris neighborhoods are numbered and the LQ is 5 &6) or the Marais the 4th) but these are also pretty "hyper" tourist areas. At your age and given where you live in NYC I would still suggest you consider the Marais-it is one of the"hip, artsy, gay" neighborhoods of the city. But you also might want to look further afield from the center of town. Some areas you might like could be Montparnasse, Montmartre, and the Canals area around the Bastille, which kind of strikes me like the East Village. You will get tons of advice about people's favorite neighborhoods, and if your bf has been there then he may be able to help you compare.

In terms of trips, if you are into food and love trains, if you really have 3-4 days then a trip to Lyon might fit the bill, especially in winter since there cuisine can be on the hearty side. If you want to rent a car then you might also consider the Burgundy area: http://www.beaune-tourism.com/

You could also just consider staying in Beaune if you don't want to bother with a car. It is a smallish place (without a car to visit other villages to eat) though so you might prefer a larger place like Lyon. Another thought is Bordeaux, which is a town that is much improved in terms of a place to visit in the last 10 years or so. The area is much more tourist savvy, and the city itself a lot cleaner and more pedestrian oriented.

Anyway, there are tons of other ideas with 3-4 days but for kind of a winter food/drink oriented trip, these are some that come to mind for me.

Have a great trip! And PS I am totally with you about B&Bs
jpie is offline  
Oct 26th, 2012, 08:46 AM
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Why don't you ask your boyfriend where he might like to go to add excitement to the trip? I suspect London might be a good call. I would forget rural destinations, southern France, etc. if you want him to get excited about things. It is the dead of winter, you know. How would you like to tour Iowa in mid-winter?

As for Paris, I also don't think you can ask others to tell you what to do if you want something personal. And if you don't speak French or know anything about the place, you cannot have an experience that is going to be authentic or non-touristy, just won't happen. You can't be authentic in Paris and not speak French IMO. But if you don't want to do typical tourist sites, just don't do them and spend your time walking around neighborhoods and doing nothing special, I guess.
Christina is offline  
Oct 26th, 2012, 09:14 AM
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like Jamikins mentioned London is a short ride away on the Eurostar. You told us that you are both used to the "big city" life so i'll throw Belgium in the mix for you. Brussels is linked to Paris via Thalys. From there you have options. Many people continue to charming Bruge. There's also the medieval city of Ghent. Leuven and Antwerp are also very gorgeous
tailsock is offline  
Oct 26th, 2012, 09:15 AM
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^ sorry... meant to say "Bruges". and just FYI, there are far less English speakers there than in Paris
tailsock is offline  
Oct 26th, 2012, 09:57 AM
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Probably rule #1 would be to lose the parents or you might have a "Midnight in Paris" experience with them.
kerouac is online now  
Oct 26th, 2012, 10:19 AM
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Thanks for all the suggestions.
Asking the BF what he wants to do is tough because he is just not a traveler or planner. He will go along for the ride, but I definitely need to take the lead.
I think the comment about avoiding rural countryside in the winter is probably a good one. Plus the language barrier.
He is fluent is Spanish and I can get by on a little Italian, so now I'm considering that we take a short flight either of those. I was going to look into Seville, Rome or Bologna. Thoughts? Again, I have the seasonal concern.
Not really into London. I studied at Oxford once upon a time, and got my fill of London/England. I want a new adventure!
Ernormous is offline  
Oct 26th, 2012, 10:29 AM
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As often comes up here, since the weather will probably not be good anyway, you should consider a trip to some cities that don't care how bad the weather is: Strasbourg, Metz, Nancy, Lille, Bruges, Brussels -- all of them just short train rides away from Paris (but try to book low fares as soon as possible -- the www.voyages-sncf.com site shows you the cheapest days of the week if you click that option).

Don't count on flying south to get better weather at the end of December. You would not believe how often cities in the south of France, or in Italy or Spain, are buried in snow during the winter while northern Europe can be relatively mild. France has the Gulf Stream to keep the weather mild -- Italy and Spain do not have that protection.
kerouac is online now  
Oct 26th, 2012, 10:54 AM
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ok. that makes sense. Can i keep picking your brain?
So which of the above mentioned cities do you like best for New Years time? We don't love crowds and prefer charm.
Ernormous is offline  
Oct 26th, 2012, 11:28 AM
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If your boyfriend hasn't been to Paris WITH you, he might see it differently with you. I find it a little difficult to believe that he is so jaded at 30 or has seen so much of the world/Paris that he couldn't dredge himself up to show YOU Paris.
I'd play it entirely by ear, and if you decide once you are there that a jaunt to one of those places would ALSO be fun, do it. Paris has enough ''charm''.
Gretchen is offline  
Oct 26th, 2012, 11:58 AM
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Been reading fodor's forums ALL DAY!! What a website. Im very overwhelmed, but learning a lot.
That said, I think I've narrowed it down to 2 options.

1) Paris from 26th - 31st, with an excursion to Bruges from the 1st - 5th (and fly out of there)

2) Paris from 26th - 30th. Then fly to Venice on the 31st, and stay through the 5th.

Is there a good website for cheap airfare for Paris - Venice and a cheap train for Paris to Bruges?

Feedback or suggestions welcome!
Ernormous is offline  
Oct 26th, 2012, 12:13 PM
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I don't think that anybody would want to stay in Bruges for more than 2 days.
kerouac is online now  
Oct 26th, 2012, 12:21 PM
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You might find the weather in Rome to be better than Venice at that time of the year. And you can get direct flights to NYC - a bonus for many. And I agree, while Bruges is lovely (at least in the spring), a day or two is plenty.
mamcalice is offline  
Oct 26th, 2012, 01:52 PM
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I am kind of with kerouac-I think 2 days is plenty in Bruges. You could add Amsterdam on pretty easily by train-it is a nice winter destination with lots of snug coffee shops.
jpie is offline  
Oct 26th, 2012, 01:59 PM
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Two days in Bruges is more than enough. I'd second the suggestion of Brussels. If you love food, my experience is that their food is just as good as Paris, if not better. It's a fantastic city with lots of things to do, and if you're planning on flying anywhere, this is where you will fly into/out of in Belgium. Trains are easy to get though from Paris to Brussels on the high-speed Thalys trains. Maybe take a day trip to Bruges or Ghent, another small town that is filled with charm and is quite lovely.

Venice can be quite cold at that time of year. I've been before then, and it doesn't have the same type of charm under overcast and misty skies. And being that it's a city where you either travel around on foot or in a boat, you can't avoid being outside if you're moving about. I'm with Kerouac-- stay north!

Bon voyage!
Kyliebaby3 is offline  
Oct 26th, 2012, 02:17 PM
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Great article about Venice in the winter

Ernormous is offline  
Oct 26th, 2012, 03:01 PM
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I hope that your boyfriend will find a way to be enthusiastic for YOU since it's your first trip. And, FYI my first and second trips to Paris were very different. I hope he won't have the " been there, done that" attitude.

Less touristy but interesting for us was St Denis, burial place of French kings. Just a longer ride on the Metro to get there but we really enjoyed it.

Drinks at Tour Montparnasse for great views of the city.

We got ice cream at Berthillon and ate it in the snow in the park behind Notre Dame!

Maybe a wine tasting at O Chateau, or a day trip to Reims to visit Champagne houses and the magnificent cathedral there (coronation place for most French kings).

The passages for shopping and exploring in cold or bad weather.


We still enjoyed Promenade Plantee in winter.

Ste Chapelle is so gorgeous...yes, it's a tourist spot but I didn't get there until my 4th trip to Paris. Another way to see it is an evening concert....very small and intimate.
denisea is offline  
Oct 26th, 2012, 04:18 PM
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I really have to disagree with the '2 nights in Bruges' is enough. I spent 3 nights, site seeing al day long, and still didn't see every thing I wanted. And I was going at a much faster pace than I enjoy!
joannyc is offline  
Oct 26th, 2012, 04:36 PM
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My wife & I have visited Paris on many occasions, starting in 1977. Those early trips were the typical 3-5 days in Paris at the end or start of a 3 week trip to Europe. When we retired early in '99 so we could travel more, we started to spend anywhere from 1 week to 3 weeks in Paris - renting apartments. These trips were anywhere from April to Sept, and we moved around in various locations - 7th, 15th, Marais, etc.

In '09 we decided to spend pre-Christmas in Paris. It was our best trip by far. Paris is totally different at Christmastime than it was any other time we had been there. We spent many lunches at famous brasseries around the city - La Fermette Marbeuf, Julien, Mollard, etc. We really enjoyed Galleries Lafayette & Printemps all lit up at night - and wonderful decorations inside the stores (in the early am) & fantastic window displays. The Champs Elysees had hundred of white Christmas booths that we enjoyed during the daytime & at night also.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  

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