Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

First-time International Travelers to Paris

First-time International Travelers to Paris

Old Jun 16th, 2015, 01:36 PM
  #101  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 73,059
Likes: 0
Received 50 Likes on 7 Posts
>>I know someone who recently got an open jaw ticket from ORD to CDG and then flew out of Brugge back to ORD<<

I don't think so . . . there are no flights from Bruges to anywhere in the US, nor for that matter to almost anywhere in Europe.

(AFAIK the Ostend/Bruges airport only has service to resort areas in Spain, Turkey and Greece)
janisj is online now  
Old Jun 17th, 2015, 03:50 PM
  #102  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 183
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks for the responses & I'm sorry for the late replies! First of all, I think we are leaning towards more of an Aparthotel. The problem is, I'm just worried about location! I've looked at all the ones you guys have posted, and we really like Hotel Residence Henri IV. That one is near Notre Dame, which is pretty central. That should be fine, right?

I'm looking at that website you posted about, mokka4, thanks!

I'm also researching tour guides in Normandy so we can start planning our day trip out there.

Everything is coming along well, thanks for all the help!!
ditto97 is offline  
Old Jun 17th, 2015, 04:04 PM
  #103  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 73,059
Likes: 0
Received 50 Likes on 7 Posts
>>Hotel Residence Henri IV. That one is near Notre Dame, which is pretty central. That should be fine, right?<<

That is a pretty good location -- near several Metro stations
janisj is online now  
Old Jun 17th, 2015, 06:00 PM
  #104  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 183
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Perfect! That's what we want.
ditto97 is offline  
Old Jun 18th, 2015, 12:06 AM
  #105  
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 428
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
The Henri IV is a terrific location and a very nice apart'hotel at the end of a quiet little street. You are right near several Metro and Bus stations, so won't have problems getting around. You can also walk to many attractions, too - the neighborhood streets here are very interesting, and of course it's safe either night or day.

There is Maubert-Mutualite outdoor food market nearby, plus many grocery stores, etc - you can do a Google Map search for these or ask the hotel.
manouche is offline  
Old Jun 20th, 2015, 06:56 AM
  #106  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 183
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Okay! I think we are leaning towards that place!!

Thanks for all the help.
ditto97 is offline  
Old Jun 20th, 2015, 07:06 AM
  #107  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,876
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
That really looks great.
Gretchen is offline  
Old Jun 20th, 2015, 09:04 AM
  #108  
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 2,567
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Ditto!!!!

You done well re Henri IV. Great plus--we love the Cluny.

Plus we did a Paris Walks Hemingway tour from that area and then we used a do-it-yourself from there to repeat it.

Sidenote: I'm less a Hemingway fan than a George Orwell fan. It worked for both.

I'm not a food market junkie, but hey, it works.

Now--I'm tired of wading through all the posts--I STILL recommend getting the MOST direct flight you possibly can. ANY delay ANYWHERE in a system costs you $$ and also your time, which is more $$.

I had to learn this the hard way.

Champs Elysees.

I hate the street normally.

Heck, I even hate the people who want to stay there (sterile minds!!!)

Somewhere in December, it becomes magical. We typically get the Metro to the l'Arc de Triomphe and walk all the way down to the Place de la Concorde then.

The Xmas markets? I still find them "meh" BUT...

the Ferris Wheel usually set up in the Place de la Concorde we have always enjoyed more than going up to the Eiffel Tower at night.

Other fun thing? Xmas windows in the right bank shopping district--look for Galleries LaFayette etc. Buses give you great connections along there.

I'm getting major "Trip Envy" now....

Hugs to you guys,
AZ
AlessandraZoe is offline  
Old Jun 21st, 2015, 06:17 PM
  #109  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 183
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks so much for the extra advice, AZ.

I'm getting really excited! Here's hoping nothing goes awry from now until then.

Trust me, we will be attempting to find the cheapest, most direct flight! Few and far between I'm sure.

I'm so happy I have had so many great posters give advice! Each piece of advice has been so helpful.
ditto97 is offline  
Old Jun 22nd, 2015, 03:35 AM
  #110  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,876
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
After looking at all the flights for a period of time, when you see one that you can live with, jump on it and DO NOT look back. It will be off your list--and the possibility of saving another $50 is not worth the possibility of paying $200 more.
Gretchen is offline  
Old Jun 22nd, 2015, 03:38 AM
  #111  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,876
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I asked a while back but will again--do you have a daily budget in mind? You've done well with the hotel, and got your target there. It could be helpful in folks suggesting ways to meet that budget.
Food can be quite economical--but you have to plan for it. Entries are what they are. Transport. Taxi from airport, etc.
Gretchen is offline  
Old Jun 22nd, 2015, 07:48 PM
  #112  
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 604
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We just returned from France and stayed in the Henri IV Residence Hotel for 4 nights. The room was spacious and comfortable and the very modern bathroom was the nicest we've had in Europe. The room had a small frig, microwave, one burner for cooking and a small sink. Wifi was excellent. Staff was very friendly, helpful, and spoke English well. In fact, everyone in France was friendly and helpful during our travels. The location was perfect - close to several Metro stations, the RER train station at St Michel, and the 87 and 63 bus lines. The Latin Quarter is home to thousands of university students and was a fun and interesting area in which to stay. Many of the "must do" sights in Paris are within a 10-15 minute walk, and all are easily reached by public transportation. There are some very god restaurants in the area and several markets as well.

I am a huge supporter of foreign travel by young people and admire your desire to make this trip with your family. Try to include a semester or two abroad while you are in college if you can. It will change your perspective on the world.
drchris is offline  
Old Jun 23rd, 2015, 06:38 AM
  #113  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 183
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Our daily budget, Gretchen, would be around $220. Obviously, we would splurge for day passes and other items posters here have recommended!

drchris, how many people stayed in the room? It sounds like a great choice for a room! I think we will be very content if we do choose to stay there.

Trust me, I plan on studying abroad! I want to learn numerous languages too.
ditto97 is offline  
Old Jun 23rd, 2015, 06:56 AM
  #114  
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 2,567
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
You are getting a leg up by being the major trip planner.

When this stuff becomes tedious, do remember that every inch you plan creates a mile of confidence for the future.
AlessandraZoe is offline  
Old Jun 23rd, 2015, 07:00 AM
  #115  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,876
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I think your daily budget is quite good--and "day passes" (not sure what they are) shouldn't be a splurge. With the return of a favorable dollar/euro exchange, you should do well. It is very much in line with ours and we feel we are not scrimping!
Gretchen is offline  
Old Jun 23rd, 2015, 07:16 AM
  #116  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 183
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Gretchen, by day passes I meant the week-long museums passes, etc!

AZ, you're right!! This has definitely been difficult, but I'm feeling more confident for when I must plan other vacations in the future.
ditto97 is offline  
Old Jun 23rd, 2015, 07:26 PM
  #117  
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 604
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
"drchris, how many people stayed in the room? It sounds like a great choice for a room! I think we will be very content if we do choose to stay there."

There were just two of us and it wouldn't fit more. They do have a quad apartment available but it is quite expensive. Do check their website as I just did and their own website listed no availability for your dates but Booking.com listed availability. I had assumed the prices would be less off season than in May but they were actually more, so it may be out of your budget. I hope you can find a place to stay that you like. When I'm looking for a room, I start with recommendations on Fodors and Rick Steves, and read lots of reviews on Tripadvisor and Booking.com. If you find something on Booking.com, try to book directly through the hotel as the hotel has to pay a hefty fee if it's booked through Booking.com However, I like their map that allows you to look at properties on a map in areas you're interested in.

The possibility of an apartment has been mentioned, and you might also check B&B's though I don't know how many there are in Paris. You might also check out home stays through www.homestay-in-paris.com, www.homestaybooking.com, or other sites. We talked with a family In Rome last year who were doing a home stay and they loved it.

Don't worry too much about your accommodations. We spend so little time in ours (mainly to sleep) that I should probably be less picky about where we stay.

I haven't read through all the posts but has anyone warned you that the Eiffel Tower needs to be booked ahead online? Check the website but I think the tickets go on sale 60 days in advance at 8:30 am Paris time. (double check that). I had to be up before 1:30 am my time, get registered, pick my time slot, and have my finger hovering on the purchase button when the ticket sales started. By the time I printed them out, they were all sold for the entire day.

Glad to hear that you plan to study abroad. My daughter did a semester in Athens, Greece and traveled throughout Greece, Turkey, and Egypt and took an Aegean cruise during the semester, then traveled through Europe with a rail pass on her way home. My son has a degree in Spanish and went to Spain last summer. Students can travel so cheaply as you can stay in hostels, and students under age 25 or 26 get lots of discounts on admissions. Check the discounts out for your current trip, too.

By the way, older adults can stay in hostels, too, and many have private rooms and are very nice.

Happy planning!

Good luck!

We bought a Paris Museum pass so that we could skip the lines but we are heavy museum goers, so you'll need to decide whether you will want to get that.
drchris is offline  
Old Jun 23rd, 2015, 08:31 PM
  #118  
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 604
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I just read through most of the posts. On our return from Paris, we flew United to ORD (and then connected to our home airport), so there are direct flights betwen ORD and Paris. If you must book a connecting flight, I always try to have a 3-4 hour layover as we have seldom made a trip that did not have a delay somewhere. Our trip form Paris to ORD was delayed an hour leaving Paris, and by the time we got through customs and immigration and the security, we would have missed our connection if we had not had the 4-hour layover. Last year our flight from Rome was delayed and we were able to get on an earlier flight but then had a 10 hour delay at Dulles. A direct flight would be great but we use frequent flyer miles so must take what we can get.

I agree with the advice to sign up for frequent flyer accounts on any airlines you might use. Currently, Delta's miles don't expire. For those that do, sign up for their dining or shopping programs, link them to a credit card, and if you use it once every year or so, it will keep your miles active.

The United Visa card sometimes offers 50,000 free miles if you sign up for their credit card, which is almost enough for a free ticket to Europe. It is fee free for a year and $95/year after that but gives some good perks, like extra free bags, United club passes, priority boarding, etc. We use a credit card for almost every purchase we make and it is amazing how quickly the miles add up.

By the way, no one has mentioned packing light. We travel with one carryon bag and one small backpack each, though that would be more difficult with heavier winter clothes. There is lots of info on the forum and on Rick Steves about how to pack light.

Make sure each of you has a money belt to wear under your clothing (we use the ones from Rick Steves) and you will worry less about pickpockets. We found the warnings about being robbed highly over rated. We were in France for 24 days and saw none of the scams that people mention on the forum but we are very alert. That said, we talked with a man in Nice who was robbed on the train.

As for being fit, we worked out for several months beforehand and were glad we did. We walked 8 1/2 to 11 miles each day we were in Paris even though we used the Metro and buses.

We did enjoy walking down the Champs Élysées, even if it is very commercial.

We had great views over the city from the Orsay Museum, Montmartre, the view terrace on the top floor of Printemps department store, the Arc de Triomphe, and the Eifrel Tower.

I'll add more as I think of it.
drchris is offline  
Old Jun 24th, 2015, 12:24 AM
  #119  
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 428
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
You mentioned school photos - here's a great idea, if you want to look like a French movie star and don't mind the photo being in black and white. You'd certainly stand out in the yearbook, and for only 10 euros, too.
http://www.studio-harcourt.eu/en/studio/actualite/26

I can't remember if anyone mentioned Citadines Apart'hotels, but they are a nice alternative, and frankly will give you the same amenities as an apartment of the same price - but with a lot less trouble and the benefit of a front desk staff to help you with daily logistics.
Republique and Les Halles are both good locations and both have special rates during your dates in Oct. - less than 200 EU.
http://www.citadines.com/
manouche is offline  
Old Jun 24th, 2015, 02:55 PM
  #120  
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 604
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
When you responded that your daily budget was about $220, did you mean just for the room? If you plan to eat at least one meal a day in a simple restaurant, you will likely need to budget about $50 per day per person for food. We got by on this in Paris by buying a couple of pastries for breakfast, eating sandwiches, fruit, and yogurt for liunch, and ordering a main course each for dinner and sharing the appetizer (called an entree in France) and/ or dessert. You can get by more cheaply eatng pizza, sandwiches, personal sized quiches, and McDonald's and Subway, but one of the pleasures of Paris is the food. If you have an apartment, you can, of course, fix your own meals. We always stuff the nooks and crannies of our suitcases with granola bars, which often came in handy when we were on the run. Most restaurants are only open from about 12-1:30 or 2 and reopen at 7 for dinner, so you have to plan sightseeing around those hours if you want to eat at a restaurant. That said, there are some cafes and takeout places that are open throughout the day.

I'm not sure how much student entrance fees are to the museums but your parents wil be paying about $8-11 for each one they visit. You indicated that you likely won't visit a lot of museums so a museum pass may not be of value to you except to be able to skip the lines, which may not be as ong when you will be there. if you want to see beautiful art without paying, visit the churches. I visit all of the "big ones" when I travel but also at least peek into almost every church I pass as there are often unexpected treasures to be seen. Note: there is a charge for Sainte Chappelle but the stained glas is amazing.

Your other expense will be for transportation. We took the RER B from Charles de Gaulle to the St Mixhel/Notre Dame station and back again for $10 per person each way and found it easy and safe to use but with four of you, a taxi might be a good choice. The Easy Bus now runs from de Gaulle to central Paris for a few dollars each way but you have to book a specific time so if your plane arrives early or late, that could be a problem. You could use it to return to the airport, however. To get around Paris using the Metro or bus, you can buy carnets of 10 tickets for about 14 euros and they can be shared among you. You will need to put your ticket through the machine at the Metro station to validate it before getting on the train, Be sure to keep it until you get off as you will be fined if an inspector comes to check and you can't produce it (though we never saw one). You may also need it to open the gate to leave some of the Metro stations. If you ride the bus, make sure that you validate your ticket in the machine on board and keep it until you get off the bus for the same reason.

You might also want to consider checking to see if someone in your family has a mobile phone that is unlocked or can be unlocked and consider buying a SIM card and a data plan when you get to Paris. I bought mine at an Orange store - 10 euros for the SIM card and 30 euros for 2 gb of data good for one month, but for a week you could get the $20 plan for less data. It's handy to have to be able to use Google maps to walk yourself around the city, to use the interactive Metro maps, and to call and make reservations at restaurants. Be sure to put all of your mobile devices on airplane mode as soon as you leave the U.S. and keep it on until you return (unless you buy a data plan of course).

Have you gotten your passports? Allow ample time as waiting until the last minute incurs significant additional charges.

I think that someone already mentioned having at least two different credit cards and debit cards (VISA or MasterCard, not American Express as not many places accept it.). Be sure to call in advance and let them know the dates that you will be out of the country so the account isn't shut down for suspected fraud while yo're away. See if your bank has an international partner in Parsi to avoid bank fees at ATM's. In Paris, no one asked us if we wanted "dynamic currency conversion" when we charged something, but if they do, say "NO" as there is a fee associated with this. Order some euros from your bank or AAA before you come or plan to get some from an ATM as soon as you arrive.

We copy the picture page from our passport, our driver's license (which we also carry for additional ID), and the front and back of each credit and debit card onto paper and carry it in our money belt in case they are lost or stolen. (I carry my husband's and he carries mine). Some people keep this info on their mobile phone or email it to themselves or leave it with someone they trust back home.

Check with your health insurer to see if you have any coverage outside the U.S. for an emergency. If not, consider buying some. France has perhaps the best health care system in the world so you will be well cared for

We don't buy travel insurance but many people do to cover airfare, hotel deposits, etc in case the trip must be canceled. Read up on this thoroughly and read any policy carefuly to avoid getting ripped off.

That's enough of "Foreign Travel 101" for today. I guess once a teacher, always a teacher!
drchris is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Your Privacy Choices -