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First-time International Travelers to Paris

First-time International Travelers to Paris

Old Jun 13th, 2015, 11:19 AM
  #81  
 
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If the OP and her family want a vacation, they need to make things as uncomplicated and stress-free as possible. Regardless of the current rental kerfuffle in Paris - and yes, it is serious, and yes, it is far from over - being responsible for a family on their first trip to a foreign country is hard work and it is extremely stressful - and that's if everything goes as it should. Which, by the way, it won't - even if someone is completely fluent in French.

A hotel or apart'hotel is the most reasonable solution. People have been using these establishments with no problem until the recent explosion in short-term rentals began. Many hotels serve breakfast, many offer coffee set-ups, and no one will blink an eye if you want to picnic in your room, as long as you clean up your trash. This business about "hotel rooms in Paris are tiny" is just nonsense. Hotel rooms in Europe have always been small, and tourists coming from somewhere else have always adapted. It's not like you will be living there for all eternity, after all.

Does this mean apartments are better? No. They can be less expensive, but they are not any more convenient (and many times are much less so), are not any better located, are much less comfortable (especially regarding actual size, bedding, plumbing and lack of air-conditioning), there are no fire and safety provisions (apartments are illegal, so are not regulated or inspected), and the client cannot depend on the level of customer service and support provided by the front desk staff of even a modest hotel.

Apartments in Paris are a largely a pipe dream, and most of them are nowhere near as nice as the photos lead you to believe. Some people with fat budgets manage to rent their "dream apartment" from the same owner/agency year after year - but that's them - this won't happen for everybody. I would love for all those people who routinely recommend certain "infallible" agencies, owners or websites to take responsibility for re-locating the unfortunate people whose reservations get cancelled at the last minute - or who are dismayed to see what they actually got for their hard-earned vacation money and want to move to someplace else that resembles what they believe they paid for.

It's not only the Mayor's crackdown, either - it's the other residents in the building who have had enough of tourists invading their homes. They are the ones who complain, they are the ones who force the owner to cancel reservations, they are the ones you need to worry about. Do you really want to stay someplace where it's obvious that you are not welcome?

Make things simple. Book a hotel or apart'hotel if you need kitchen facilities. What you need is a comfortable place to sleep and wash up - the rest of the time, you'll be out and about enjoying the locals, the art, the tout ensemble. You have enough on your plate trying to get all that organized, without worrying about having to deal with the logistics of renting an apartment.
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Old Jun 14th, 2015, 07:11 AM
  #82  
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I wouldn't mind staying in an apartment, but the possibility of it being shut down is worrisome. A hotel will, most likely, not be shutting down. But, a hotel room is smaller, especially for four people. I highly doubt my parents would buy two rooms. We'd end up having two double beds & a cot most likely, thus further decreasing the size of the room.

I don't believe we have completely swayed towards one side or the other when it comes to accommodations. Believe me, it's very difficult managing to get a very busy family of four to sit down & actually discuss!

I do believe since it is our first time on a vacation in years & it's to a foreign land, my parents are more inclined to book a hotel.

Also, I have been looking at topics that included day trips to Normandy. Some posters had decided to do a tour while others attempted to experience Normandy freely. Is Normandy easy to maneuver? And if we decided not to do a tour, would it still be as meaningful?
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Old Jun 14th, 2015, 08:11 AM
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Your all staying in one room is unrealistic. You probably cannot even find a room that size (I know someone will come along and say yes--here). Just the problem of space and use of the bathroom will give you that idea. Your parents need to get used to the idea that travel for 4 adults requires space--and expenditure. You all may be much too used to the Holiday Inn concept here that many can pile into a room--the number is very controlled in Europe.
There are budget hotels--the Ibis chain--that have squeaky clean rooms for very little ($100 maybe). They are small but 2 and 2 staying with bath facilities is what you will have. They also have nice breakfast rooms and the cost of breakfast is quite reasonable. (Do not carry food out!) The apartment hotels will be more money than that--but you should look into them to see if that is what you want to do. Citadines is one such.

I think if you are going to Normandy it needs to be guided bus tour from Paris--let them do the driving and the tour. Yes, it "can" be done independently but at a good bit of planning and the need for a car.
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Old Jun 14th, 2015, 12:07 PM
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Pascale Zytomirski, previously mentioned on this thread is an agent for a number of rental units. He is smaller than the big actors and, therefore, cheaper. I have no doubt that he is totally legal. Some of the comments on this thread about renting apartments are totally misleading. Renting an apartment is fine.
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Old Jun 14th, 2015, 12:42 PM
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An <u>aparthotel</u> solves your problem. They offer various size units so you don't have to book two separate rooms.

All the advantages of both a hotel (desk staff, concierge, etc.) AND and an apartment (kitchen, more space, etc.) w/o the disadvantages of small hotel rooms and the riskiness of an apartment.
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Old Jun 14th, 2015, 03:00 PM
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Re: airfare..use matrix.itasoftware.com to see an exhaustive list of possible flights.
input your departure airport, destination, dates and whether flexible, how many stops enroute are acceptable, whether you are willing to transfer between airports to save bucks, and how many nights in France.
This is the airline industry travel site. You can then narrow down by carrier, connecting cities, day of week to travel on, etc.
You can not purchase your tix directly from this site, but you clearly know which airlines site to go to.
I start checking this site 3-4 months in advance of travel, then jump on a price that you can live with. After that, don't look back (OCCASIONALLY, the price falls more...no regrets though!)
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Old Jun 14th, 2015, 03:27 PM
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Wow! ! A quick check on matrix finds a bunch of options, including:
1) via AerLingus-thru Dublin-
$915 RT pp
2) via Turkish Air - thru Istanbul- ?$795
3) via SAS (Singapore...I really liked their cabin service and attire)...thru Copenhagen going over and Stockholm returning-$1057 pp
4) on Lufthansa direct to Paris (lucky you guys!), home
thru Dusseldorf, Germany

and this was just a cursory glance. So nice that you have many reasonable options;
however, consider whether you 'mind' learning a 'new' connecting airport on the way home, on-time %ages (is the connecting time enough?), etc
Happy planning!
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Old Jun 14th, 2015, 03:45 PM
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If you MUST travel with United, the best price I see for your November dates is $1151 per person, though you CAN fly direct to CDG. But you must travel thru Munich, Toronto, Brussels or Montreal home. Is a stop in Istanbul looking better ;-) ?
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Old Jun 14th, 2015, 03:56 PM
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Citadines Maine Montparnasse is an aparthotel with a few one bedroom suites. The rates may be a bit less, as it is located in the 14th. I stayed there in January and I liked the location. Excellent transportation links, both metro and bus. The living room has a sofa bed that opens to two twin mattresses. I am a "princess and the pea" type and found the sofa bed mattress to be very comfortable. The bedroom has a regular bed. The front desk staff all speak English and were helpful.

http://www.citadines.com/en/france/p...o_gallery.html
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Old Jun 14th, 2015, 04:26 PM
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One of the things that I do <u>not</u> like about some Citadines is that some units only have sleeper sofas, and I find them to be extremely uncomfortable. (Flaneur5 might be the only person who claims to enjoy sleeping on them.) I like the Citadines chain, but I make sure to stay only in units that have real beds.

mokka5 needs to brush up on using the software that s/he suggests. SAS is not the excellent Singapore Airlines, but instead is the ok Scabndinavian Airline System based in Copenhagen and Stockholm. And Lufthansa flies "direct" to Paris only from Germany, not from North America. And while there's nothing particularly wrong with flying Turkish, it will add many hours to your trip because you need to change planes in Istanbul, as Istanbul is about 1400 miles east of Paris.
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Old Jun 15th, 2015, 12:06 PM
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Well okay, Don, Mokka4 stands corrected on the SAS airlines, but I must correct YOU in mis-stating that Lufthansa does not fly direct from ORD to CDG (they do), leaving 6pm EST, arriving France 9 a.m. Local time.
Both I and the OP realize that Istanbul adds hours, but costs >$300 less per person. All a matter of personal priorities of course.
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Old Jun 15th, 2015, 01:01 PM
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There are two other good choices for apart'hotels -
In Montparnasse, there's the Helzear and near the Cluny Museum, there's the Residence Henri IV - both are very nice and don't feel at all like "chains".
http://www.helzear-montparnasse-rive-gauche.com/
http://www.residencehenri4.com/en/
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Old Jun 15th, 2015, 02:20 PM
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I think I read an article on fodors.com that walking down the Champs Elysees is one of the top ten things NOT to do in Paris. I agree. You will be walking past a Mcdonalds, Starbucks, pizza parlors, and a few luxury stores, but this is a pastime popular something like thirty years ago. Today it is a waste of time.

My perfect week in France would be to rent a car for three nights and go to La Roche Guyon, the ruins of the Abbey at Jumieges, Honfleur, hike the cliffs at Etretat at low tide, and back to Paris for four nights, This way you get to see village life, an historic port town, dramatic nature, and you can even drive part of the 'Route des Chaumieres,' The Thatched Roof Cottage Trail through some beautiful Norman scenery. Back in Paris you still have time to walk the Marias, Montmartre, Les Puces de St Ouen, and see many great sites, especially the walk up the spiral staircase of the Basilique du Sacre Couer so you can walk along the rooftop for the best view of Paris. Good exercise and great fun.

If you are not really into art, then the museums can be overwhelming. In some ways Paris can be a trap, where you can spend so much time in one line after the other.

The best deal in a Paris hotel for four people will be the mini-suite at Hotel Delambre. I like this place and the location because there are three differnet metro lines near the hotel, so it is super convenient. It is in Montparnasse, a historically Breton neigborhood because the Gare Montpanasse is where trains leave for Brittany. The railroad workers form Brittany used to live here, so there will be tons of creperies on r. montparnasse as part of their legacy.
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Old Jun 15th, 2015, 03:30 PM
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mooka4, the 6pm ORD-CDG flight you refer to is a United flight, operated by United Airlines. Lufthansa codeshares the flight, but has nothing to do with its operation.
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Old Jun 15th, 2015, 04:43 PM
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In some ways, I think we need to go back to the OP's original post and perhaps help or maybe even torpedo the possible budget for this trip.
"For hotels, our budget would be around $200/night. We might be able to go higher if the nearly perfect hotel pops up. We would also be open to the idea of an apartment rental."
This is not a realistic price for 4 people--except "maybe" in an Ibis level hotel--which IS perfectly acceptable for budget travel, and we have done this in Paris. Getting 2 rooms.
I don't know, but I don't think an aparthotel can come under that price.
We may need to ask Miss Ditto what the overall budget is for this trip in order for there not to be crashed dreams in the end.
There needs to be what is going to be spent--Versailles/Normandy/etc. hang in the balance, let alone just getting around Paris. So, the talk of the airfare price and the possible sacrifices of time for money (going via Istanbul) is coming into play.
Ditto, what IS the overall budget? You are doing the planning, communicating with this board--and you are opining that your parents will not spring for 2 hotel rooms (which, by inference from your original $200 figure would be $400). As said before, French hotel rooms are not Holiday Inn size, and 4 people would be difficult.
Air fare is up to about $4400 at best. Hotel/apartthotel? Maybe $1400 (Ibis), double that for a basic aparthotel. Time to do the math. ;o)
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Old Jun 15th, 2015, 04:55 PM
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Thee Citadines Bastille Gare de Lyon, for example, offers a 1-bedroom that sleeps 4 for €149/night in November.
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Old Jun 16th, 2015, 02:43 AM
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THAT is great news!! I haven't looked at them for a while (bad on me), but the prices I always saw were much more than that!! And the dollar is so good now for travel.
Since that price has come up--she might look at the one that faces the Seine (can't call the street). We visited that one and it is lovely.
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Old Jun 16th, 2015, 10:03 AM
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If you want an apartment hotel, I have not stayed at the Citadines in Paris but I did stay at the Citadines in Montpellier. It was fine. I assume the one mentioned in Paris would be fine too. It's a chain.
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Old Jun 16th, 2015, 12:42 PM
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There are lots of three star hotels in Paris that would fit the budget, especially in the late fall when you don't need air-conditioning. The one I mentioned upthread I think is the nicest and the best deal, but there are many others.
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Old Jun 16th, 2015, 01:12 PM
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If you are open to other places, I know someone who recently got an open jaw ticket from ORD to CDG and then flew out of Brugge back to ORD. I think they had about as much time as you did, spent 5 days in Paris and 1 in Brugge. This routing, for whatever reason, was significantly cheaper than flying roundtrip ORD-CDG. They took a train from Paris to Brugge.
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