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lauraf19751432 Mar 12th, 2021 02:59 PM

Driving and parking in Paris
I sm planning a car trip from Copenhagen to France this summer (july).
i am planning to go by car for the following reasons: I am trying to find a more climate friendly way of transportation, than going by plain. I want to show Europe to my children - and when I was I child my parents took us all over Europe by car. They don’t get the same sense of distances when they fly.
My son just started to have French in school - and is very much into history, so I was planning to visit 4 different places (bayeux, Paris, Nimes, strasbourg) - and do some day trips from these bases. I was planning to spend around 3 weeks on this. I don’t see this kind of vacation without a car.
Finally, it is easier to stay in a social bubble within the car, compared to train or plain.

These things combined makes the car seem like the logical choice this summer.
I do realize the pandemic is still on - and I will only be booking hotels that I can cancel free of charge.

Planning this trip is almost as much about our mental health and happiness as it is about actually going. I find huge joy in allowing myself to dream and plan for a future beyond lock downs and homeschooling. I tell myself that if I have to cancel this year, at least I’ll have great plans ready for next year.

Bayeux, Nimes and Strasbourg all seem doable. But I don’t know what to do about Paris?
i would prefer to stay in the center. But I don’t like the idea of driving into the city. I am used to driving in the Centre of copenhagen - but Copenhagen is a different beast than Paris. And then there’s the trouble of parking. It seems costly and stressful I have read posts about leaving the car outside Paris, but it seems both unsafe and stressful.

Could we stay outside Paris (Versailles eg) and do day trips by train in to the city? Or should we skip Paris all together - and return some other time by train or plain. Or is there an option I haven’t considered? Perhaps a suburb which would make for a nice base - but would be easier and cheaper with the car?
i looked at Camping Paris in Bois de Boulogne, and thought that might be an option. But they won’t refund a booking. So if the danish authorities still recommend not going to France in July, then that money is just lost.

Do any of you, have any suggestions?

Michael Mar 12th, 2021 08:38 PM

For the environment, the train might be better than the car unless you are driving a hybrid or electric car. Or are you using your own car, in which case the following comment is inapplicable.

Take the train to Paris. Visit Paris. Rent a car to visit the other areas, doing a grand loop (and consider what is there besides what you mention) to return the car in Strasbourg and take the train home. Autoeurope and Kemwel would be brokers that can give you an idea of rental costs, and if choosing Autoeurope as the rental agency (the brokers offer the choice of different agencies), there usually is no one way charge within the same country.

BTW, I had a hell of a time trying to get out of Copenhagen by car.

KayF Mar 12th, 2021 10:19 PM

Is it your own car that you are bringing with you? If it's a hire car, you could drop it at a depot near Paris, spend some time in Paris, then collect another car for the second bit of the trip. If it's your own car, maybe try and find somewhere secure to store the car while in Paris? Don't know what exists but maybe secure parking or storage or somewhere near the airport with secure long term parking? Sadly, I think July is very optimistic but as you say, you'll have fun planning.

kerouac Mar 12th, 2021 10:47 PM

I think that Michael's suggestion seems quite reasonable.

lauraf19751432 Mar 13th, 2021 12:12 AM

Thank you for your quick replies.
I was planning to drive my own car from home. But I agree that Michael has a good suggestion and I’ll consider it.
We did an Interrail in Italy two years ago - so I know how much planning can go into traveling by train as well - especially travelling alone with two children. There is also an allure to the freedom of travelling by car.

Secure parking is an idea. But from other posts I have read here it sounds as if there is no such thing - and that one should always be prepared for a break in. Maybe that threat is exaggerated?

john183 Mar 13th, 2021 07:11 AM

I googled long term parking in Paris and these two options stood out as possibilities if you decide to drive your own car. You could pick one close to where you are staying and take all your luggage leaving the car empty. You would have to drive in to and out of Paris which should be doable using google maps or Waze.

I chose a random week in July and lots of options seem to be available in several locations. Most are covered and several advertise being secure (some with cameras and guards), open 24/7 and unlimited in and out allowed. Prices vary from about 100€ to 200€ for the week. Does anyone have any experience with these?

Michael Mar 13th, 2021 08:19 AM

Check out airport parking and make sure that the car is empty of everything as the foreign plates would make the car a more likely target.

kerouac Mar 13th, 2021 10:12 AM

I would say that foreign plates are the biggest risk for parking in the big cities.

Michael Mar 13th, 2021 12:12 PM

You mention 3 weeks as the length of the trip. Total or just the French part? Keep in mind that it takes 13.5 hours according to Google to drive from Copenhagen to Paris, and that is being conservative. With rest stops, possible traffic jams, the time can be stretched out to more. Thus two days of driving on just super highways (not very scenic or interesting). This represents a total of 4 days of your planned vacation just to get to France and back. Is it worthwhile? How will the children take those hours in the car? But the same can be said of your planned drive through France; there are a lot of hours spent in the car watching or not the scenery whizzing by.

tomboy Mar 13th, 2021 04:02 PM

Parking (your own car) outside Paris, and taking a train in, sounds best to me.
After 5 trips including Paris, I'd find a car there to be an encumbrance.

When in Nimes, consider a stay in St. Remy, where you can walk among the Roman ruins; Vaison la Romaine also has them, altho fewer

Sarastro Mar 14th, 2021 12:26 AM

I would say that foreign plates are the biggest risk for parking in the big cities.
Foreign plates would include just about any plate that did not have 75 on it; special allowance for 91, 92, 93, and 94.

Indigo is the largest parking lot operator in Paris. I would simply reserve a spot at the lot nearest to your Paris arrival. If it is via A4, there are lots just as you enter into the city limits. Remember, once you see the Paris sign, the speed limit drops to 50km (unless the mayor has it changed to 30km by then) and there are speed cameras everywhere.

balthy Mar 14th, 2021 01:34 AM

I've driven from Copenhagen to the UK through Europe several times, passing through Germany, Netherlands, Belgium and France. I've never had an issue getting out of Copenhagen or driving around it, where exactly is the OP starting their journey from in Copenhagen? There can be significant traffic on the ring roads in the rush hours, even during the pandemic, aside from that it is an easy run from Copenhagen to Rødby for the ferry to Puttgarden, it takes about 7-8 hours to drive through Germany without stops. There are plenty of places to stop on the autobahns, you need a EUR coin for the bathrooms. There can be alot of traffic on the autobahns esp around Hamburg and always alot of traffic in Belgium it seems, day of the week seems to make no difference. Maybe as I've done the drive many times I don't see it as a big deal, it would never have to take you 2 days to get to France unless you want it to, however together with long drives from north to south France with kids in tow might be a bit much.

Currently for Danish nationals and residents, they are banned from travelling abroad until 6th April but this could be extended.

You might want to read up about the environmental zones in France and the Crit'Air sticker for your car.

Michael Mar 14th, 2021 09:19 AM

The OP is probably based in Copenhagen, and ViaMichelin confirms a 13 hour drive from there to Paris. I do not recommend such a lengthy drive without an overnight stop for anyone. But the OP, in addition to the issue of staying in a bubble, thinks that the car would be better than the train as experienced in an Italy trip. Given the amount of time (3 weeks), isn't 4 days to get to and from the destination an issue?

The train takes 19 hours from Copenhagen to Paris, which can be done in one day. That saves two days of vacation time.

lauraf19751432 Mar 14th, 2021 12:02 PM

Thank you all once again for all your replies and suggestions.
Yes I live in Copenhagen - and have no problem getting around here. :-)
We do have a summerhouse on the west coast though, and maybe we would leave from or return to this - this is very much off the rail-grid. And one of the freedoms we would like to enjoy is that we wouldn’t have to go straight to or from Copenhagen.
We are planning a stop both on the way down and the way home. We like listening to audiobooks, music and podcasts together. So the plan was so organize some playlists before leaving - and to find some good places to stop both ways.
I am not planning to drive longer than 7 hours on any day.
I have travelled by train with the kids before. Even by night train. This was a great experience. But as I said, when I was a child I was used to my parents driving us all over Europe by car, and
i had a dream of doing some of the same.
Originally I wanted to go only to northern France. But my son read the count of Monte Cristo and was very excited about seeing marseille and the island of If. That is how Nimes originally got on the list.
Also - my son will turn 12 just before this summer - which means he will have to pay full price for train tickets. And they are expensive - and have to be booked well in advance. And I probably wont be able to get a full refund if I can’t travel. Which is another argument for going by car - that as long as I only book hotels where we can cancel without fee, then I won’t suffer a huge economic loss if we can’t travel. Booking anything that we can’t cancel on our own terms seems too risky at the moment.

I appreciate the safe parking suggestions in Paris very much. I hadn’t been able to find these on
my own. The reduced max. speed in Paris suits me well - I was worried about very fast, aggressive drivers and a very complicated grid of streets. Slower speed helps.

balthy Mar 14th, 2021 01:03 PM

I was asking which part of Copenhagen eg Hellerup, Virum, Lyngby, Charlottenlund or another place in Greater Copenhagen etc or is it west Copenhagen eg Ballerup etc. Any way makes no difference if the OP is starting from a summer cottage then CPH is irrelevant. Is the summer cottage on the west coast of Sjælland? Or Jutland? From Sjælland you can drive to Rødby and take the ferry, it is only 45 mins to Puttgarden. 7 hours won't even get you through Germany, it is a really long drive so perhaps you can stop somewhere around the German/Dutch border. As I said, I've done a similar (longer) journey several times, I prefer to get the trip out of the way as it is neither scenic nor enjoyable. There are plenty of stopping points on the autobahn, picnic areas which is good. A good thing to know is that lorries are not allowed on the autobahns on Sundays.

lauraf19751432 Mar 14th, 2021 01:40 PM

I dont know why the exact part of Copenhagen would matter either way? I never said I had any requests for help with this part of the journey. I actually wrote the exact opposite. It would be København K, though.
Also - I never planned to go straight to Paris. But wanted to start the French part of the journey in Normandie.

tomboy Mar 15th, 2021 07:39 AM

It's been decades since I was 12 years old, but if I imagine myself back then, I would have been fascinated with:
  • castles at Beynac, and across the river, Castlenaud
  • roman ruins at St. Remy, Nimes, Vaison-la-Romaine
  • prehistoric caves at Lascaux and Pech Merle
I would have been bored with:
  • Strasbourg
  • the chateau in the Loire (after 2, they all look the same; and, some are not furnished)
  • Bayeux (UNLESS you preceded it with history of the tapestry, which of course is presumably of greater interest to an English kid than a Danish kid)

lauraf19751432 Mar 15th, 2021 08:30 AM

Ay yes. The kids are not looking forward to The tapestry - but to the beaches with all the stories of d-day. And to a day trip to Mont saint Michel. And maybe to go for a swim in the ocean and to see some of the nature.
They have both been really into a cartoon-series about France during the German occupation - with the resistance movement. The English titel is “a long long vacation”. It takes place in Normandie. So that’s also part of the lure there. We might have to go and see the tapestry while we are there though :-)

With Strasbourg it is more about ww1. And the Middle Ages - with Haut-Koenigsbourg. And then I used to work in the European Parliament. And then it is also about having as last stop in France before we go home - so the home stretch to Denmark doesn’t become too long.

I have also decided that we are not going to the Loire valley this time. :-)

jpie Mar 15th, 2021 08:32 AM

We have done the drive from Denmark to France two years ago and although we love the freedom of having the car, the traffic stood out both in Germany due to roadworks and then in Paris. I have lived many years in Paris and am very used to driving there, but the past 2-3 years have become really difficult to drive into and in the city itself as they have been changing rules to limit more traffic-closing the rapid route along the river to cars and increasing the bus lanes (so narrowing down the lanes for cars). So even though I am a confident driver in Paris I would try to avoid it these days. Generally in the summer the paid parking lots have pretty good discounts, so if you can find a good rate then I would opt to put my car there in a lot somewhere near the peripherique (the ring road around Paris). Montparnasse train station has pretty good covered parking as well but don't know if their rates are competitive.

Alternatively you might look at staying outside Paris in Saint Germain de Laye. You can park you car in the RER station underground there. The town itself is a lovely walking town with lots to see and do and your children might enjoy its castle and park. And that way you can hop on the RER A suburban train into Paris easily from there.

We also have stayed at a the Holiday Inn Saint Germain des Pres near to the center of Paris. We had to have a van because we were accompanying a handicapped relative. They have paid underground parking and they have good deals for families with kids. From their website:

Kids Stay and Eat Free

Kids ages 17 and under stay for free when sharing their parents’ room. Up to four kids ages 12 and under eat free any time of the day in any Holiday Inn® on-site restaurant.

So if you think you can manage to drive into Paris this might be worth costing out. There is also a paid indigo parking lot just down the street that I believe will be less expensive to park.

Les Mar 28th, 2021 01:15 PM

We spent 5 weeks driving through France (with a rental car), and we stayed at the Sheraton at CDG Terminal B in Paris. We were flying home from there, so we dropped off the rental car at Hertz (right there in the same terminal as the hotel), although I think the hotel also has parking if you bring your own car (not sure, though). Then we took the metro whenever we wanted to go into the city center (the metro terminal is just down a flight of stairs from the hotel - very convenient). CDG is north of the city, so depending on the direction you're coming from, you might avoid most of the city center traffic.
Note that when driving in Paris, you'll find that it's similar to driving in any big, crowded city (i.e., slow and annoying), but the real issue will be finding parking. Don't drive in the city if you can avoid it!

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