Eight ladies to France...Ideas, Please!

Old Jun 25th, 2001, 10:28 AM
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Eight ladies to France...Ideas, Please!

Bon Jour!
Paris and the Loire Valley for 7 days, not including travel time over and back in October of next year. I have been to France a couple of times, and spent several weeks in Paris. I liked Rue Cler, but, am open to other ideas. The group would spend between $100 to $125 a night for a double (price to be shared between the two). I hope to find some nice little hotel. I have done several searches but would appreciate anecdotal information.
I am also interested in hiring a van that would get us to Amboise, and also take us to the chateaus in the Valley.
I would love your imput!
Old Jun 25th, 2001, 11:43 AM
Book Chick
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I'd recommend the Grand Hotel Leveque right on Rue Cler. (Some of you may even be able to share some of the triples they have.) Rooms are nothing exceptional, but are clean & dorm-like, with ensuite bathroom. Price is in your range. PariShuttle may be able to arrange your transportation, as they state on their web site. Call toll-free at 888-426-2705 to see if they can assist you. (And remember the time difference when you phone--during "regular" French business hours you may be more likely to get someone fluent in English.)

Good Luck & Bon Voyage,
Old Jun 25th, 2001, 11:46 AM
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for the group logistics, you need elvira!
maybe put out an apb for her if she doesn't chime in here.
Old Jun 25th, 2001, 12:07 PM
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Hotel Taylor near Place de la Republique :

$ 69 for a double + breakfast, basic but very clean, absolutely noiseless at night, 1 minute from metro Republique, bus no 20 direct from Gare de Lyon.
Old Jun 25th, 2001, 04:01 PM
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When you say you want to hire a van, I'm not sure whether you want a driver, or plan to drive yourself. If the latter, I can tell you that we recently rented a 9-passenger mini-bus in Italy through Auto-Europe (a Fiat Ducato). We also reserved a second car, thinking that the mini-bus would not hold all 9 of us plus luggage. However, to our delight, it did so comfortably, and we used it for 5 days in the country and the city. The same make might not be available in France, but if you ask for an equivalent, it should be roomy enough for 8 of you. By the way, plan carefully and well in advance for such a big group--that was the best advice the folks on this forum gave me last year, and they were right!
Old Jun 25th, 2001, 07:40 PM
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Thanks for the input! I have been the navigator on several trips to Europe when we rented cars. I really think one of these many capable women could drive, actually. And, what nice flexibility we would have! The drive to Amboise is fairly simple and short...

I will check into these hotels, many thanks, Ladies!

I am thinking we will do the opera, perhaps a ballet, depending on the schedule. We will certainly visit the Musee d'orsay, Louvre, Versailles, Fontainbleu, City of Paris museum, Chapel of Marie Antoinette, and The Orangerie. I think for this group, many of whom have never been 'cross the pond before, the basics of Paris will be enchanting and enough for them. I think we shall try for a flea market, and take some time getting lost in the city.

My sister feels we should bring our easels along and paint in that heavenly, magical light that is so famous in Paris. That sounds like a trip maker right there!!!

Other ideas? Many thanks!!!
Old Jun 25th, 2001, 08:41 PM
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Sounds like alot to fit into Paris in a short time, say 4 days in Paris and 3 in the Loire Valley, total of 7? Nonetheless, don't forget time to see the Eifel Tower, Napoleon's Tomb, Arc du Triomphe, Notre Dame and Sacre Couer in Monmartre. Or a cruise on the Seine? Is that wonderful gourmet store near L'Opera still there, Fauchon is the name? Also, in Amboise, there is the Clos Luce, home to Leonardo Da Vinci in his later years...fascinating. Bon Vacance!
Old Jun 26th, 2001, 03:03 AM
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At the just under $120 level I would recommend Hotel Bersoly's. I', not sure how many twin bedded rooms they have though. Their web page [with phone numbers] is: http://www.france-hotel-guide.com/h75007bersolys2.htm

I, and several other "fodorites" have stayed here. It is charming -- and within 3 blocks of musee d'orsay, the louvre and St. Germain. Plus there are loads of very nice little restaurants in the area. I do need to note that one woman lost her ticket/passport from her locked luggage in the hotel and according to her the hotel was not helpful. However -- it is never wise to leave that stuff in the hotel unless in a safe.
Old Jun 26th, 2001, 08:37 AM
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I recommend Grand Hotel des Balcons, in the 6th near Luxembourg Gardens and Blvd. St. Germain. This area is a little livelier than Rue Cler, with lots of cafes, shops, etc., but the hotel is on a quiet sidestreet. My single (#406) with private bath (which had a tub with shower attachment but no separate shower stall) was 544FF or about $75/night (probably costs more as a double though) & had a small balcony, two twin beds, phone & TV. The hotel is very close to the metro and has very helpful English-speaking staff. They also offer a great breakfast for an additional charge (about $8 or 9 U.S. I think) with eggs, bacon, pastries, fruit, pate, juice, coffee, etc. They have a website at www.balcons.com. If you do a search on this forum you'll find many favorable recommendations.
Old Jun 26th, 2001, 11:18 AM
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I can't help with the hotel in Paris; our budgets are always a bit lower....

Rather than one van for 8 people, I suggest two cars. There's more room, and parking is easier. It means the group can split up (4 girls want to see another castle, 4 girls want to shop). Big time caveat: whoever drives, doesn't drink - not even a sip of wine. If there's just one driver for each car, make sure you spend at least one evening where everyone takes a cab so the drivers get to enjoy wine with dinner.

Make reservations for lunch and dinner as much as you can; small restaurants might not be able to seat you if you just drop in (not an issue with a large brasserie). ditto for your hotel: make your reservations as soon as you can so you get the hotel you want.

In your enthusiasm to show off Paris, you're going to run the group ragged. Lunch will take 1 1/2 hours unless you opt for grabbing sandwiches on the run; most things don't open until 9:30 and close before 6; allow 1/2 hour travel time between each location, longer if you're going further afield - that gives you at most 6 1/2 hours of sightseeing per day - a museum is going to take at least three hours to see, so at best you're going to get in two things a day. You can add a third, like the d'Orsay, on Thursday evening - but that's a lot to do in one day.

You need to delete Fontainebleau (you're going to the Loire, remember?), the l'Orangerie, and the Carnavalet and add in a boat ride (do at night, you sit, no energy required), Notre Dame, shopping and the Eiffel Tower (do at night, take the elevator, no brainer, lots of oohs and aahs).

Take it from me, trying to get everyone at the same place at the same time takes more time than you think.
Old Jun 26th, 2001, 12:03 PM
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When you're done visiting the Conciergerie, where Marie Antionette's Chapel and cell is located, go around to the main street just past the Iron gates of the Law courts for the entrance to the Sainte Chappelle. A sight that you'll never forget.
Old Jun 27th, 2001, 01:51 PM
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Great ideas, as usual. Many thanks for all your kindnesses.
I did lead another group a couple of years ago. Elvira, you are quite right about getting everyone together and keeping them on track. I did book the boat tour at that time and you are so right about needing that down time.
I have to laugh when I think of these women in two cars. Did your drivers have any experience driving in Europe. I love the idea of two cars, but can't imagine the look on their faces when I suggest this! LOL Please tell me more!
We are all between the ages of 35 and 50. I think they are capable, I don't know that they will agree.

While this appears to be a full itinerary, on the previous trip, the group moved through places much more quickly than I ever do. I would rather have too much to do and cut things out than have them feeling as if they hadn't seen enough. I would spend all day at the museum, they would not.
I did have each person select a place they wanted to know more about, research it, and report back to the group. Interestingly enough, that site was always their favorite.
I would love to hear any more thoughts on this trip and how I may make it the most enjoyable possible for these women.
Many thanks!

Old Jun 27th, 2001, 10:18 PM
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Our gang of women (same age group as yours) with questionable grips on reality have driven in Northern Ireland and in France, and found the two cars are no problem. Each car has a navigator with a good map; we don't worry about "following" each other. If we lose sight of the other car, we know they'll find us. I'm like you - I always have too much planned, just in case. As you're going to the Loire, I'd suggest skipping Fontainebleau and see more of Paris.

And decide before you leave how you'll handle money: we use a kitty, everyone puts in x amount of francs each day, and one person, in charge of the kitty, pays for the gas, food, entry fees, etc. Another poster used the credit card method: each meal, one person pays for the whole thing on their credit card, then tally up at the end of the trip to see if money is owed to anyone. On one of our trips, one member had trouble getting money with her ATM (solved the next day), so she charged a meal on her credit card and the kitty gave her the money so she had cash.

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