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Help in Paris/Loire - Book 2 months early for Notre Dame, Chateaux, etc?

Help in Paris/Loire - Book 2 months early for Notre Dame, Chateaux, etc?

Old Apr 23rd, 2012, 02:59 AM
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Help in Paris/Loire - Book 2 months early for Notre Dame, Chateaux, etc?

I am planning to go to Paris and Loire with friends in early July, travelling from Amsterdam. It seems everything is so tense when booking hotels, car, tickets during the peak tourist season. It kind of forces me to plan and book all visits now with no chance for impromptu, relax vacation. Do I need to book now (2 months ahead) for:

Train ride from Amsterdam to Paris?
Tickets to Notre Dame, Versailles and other Paris Museums?
Tickets to Chateaux in Loire to avoid the lines?

Or can I wait till 2 weeks prior because many tickets are non-changeable in terms of date, maybe time slot?

If early booking is needed, is the venue website better or those third party ones?



I have already booked the Firework Show at Versailles for July and all hotels for the entire trip. It kind of seem silly to book so early but I get worried when hotel rooms are disappearing every few days!!

Thanks
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Old Apr 23rd, 2012, 03:56 AM
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I wouldnt bother buying tickets in advance to those sites, but the generally the earlier you book the Amsterdam - Paris train tickets the cheaper they are. Check out the Paris museum pass though, I believe you buy it at the first mueseum you go to and then it allows you to skip lines at others. So buy it at one of the lesser known museums so you dont have to stand in line somewhere like the Louvre.

If you want flexibility in booking the train tickets you likely can buy them a few days before or on the day but will pay a lot more.
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Old Apr 23rd, 2012, 04:37 AM
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No need to buy in advance the tickets for castles, churches, museums.

Buy train tickets in advance to save some money.
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Old Apr 23rd, 2012, 05:18 AM
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>>>Train ride from Amsterdam to Paris?

You can save 50% by booking ahead. Since your hotels are
already booked no sense waiting... get the tickets now.


>>>Tickets to Notre Dame, Versailles and other Paris Museums?

No tickets in advance for ND tower anyway. By all means get advance tickets for other venues as it will save time lining up for tickets when there.

>>>Tickets to Chateaux in Loire to avoid the lines?

I haven't found lines that long. But again... why not if you can?

>>>If early booking is needed, is the venue website better or those third party ones?

Why not check the venue's themselves? You seem to be a good advance planner so since your hotels are booked why not get the rest done and you can relax when you get to France?
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Old Apr 23rd, 2012, 07:16 AM
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Thanks. I will get the train ticket early (Thalys)with 1 allowable change, just in case. I think it is about 20E more.

Car rental questions:
I want to get the smallest car. Would a car listed as 2 small case capacity be able to fit a 1 large + 1 small luggage?

Is it too tempting for break-in to leave one piece of luggage in the back seat while sightseeing because most hotel check-in are 3-4pm. I want to save time and do some sightseeing while enroute to hotel.

Is a GPS good for Paris and around Loire? Are they reliable enough for the money?
I am planning to pick up rental in Paris and drive out to Versailles, Loire (staying in Ambroise and Saumur).
I am renting an Auto (had some stressful moments driving a manual on twisty roads on an incline, going thru arches in Montepulciano and Tuscany last time and a Fiat Bravo is not the easy Toyota) and getting all insurance because I don`t have an CC that covers insurance. So, it final bill will be steep. So, I wonder if an GPS will give good peace of mind to warrant the cost.
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Old Apr 23rd, 2012, 07:46 AM
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I would not leave anything in the car visible (and not at all if you can help it!) My friend just had her suitcase stolen out of her rental car in France 2 weekends ago. And it was in the trunk of the car and out of sight. Always place things in the trunk at your hotel, not in the parking lot or someone will know its there!

We used GPS in Loire Valley last year and found it very helpful. It is always good to have a map though, just in case. I would not recommend driving in Paris.
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Old Apr 23rd, 2012, 08:07 AM
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I can't speak for the train issue but I just booked a ticket to Versailles Palace last night for next week and there seemed to be no issue in terms of limited space or anything. No need to book it 2 months in advance especially since you will want to double check the weather forecast or have some flexibility in your schedule.
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Old Apr 23rd, 2012, 09:21 AM
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While you do need to sort out hotels and car rentals in advance there is absolutely no need to book tickets for Notre Dame, Versailles or Loire Chateaux in advance. As long as you don;t arrive at the same time as several tour buses there should be no wait - or at most a couple of minutes - to get tickets and enter.

Can't comment on trains - since we didn;t use them in France (except Metro) - but I imagine you need to book discont tickets as soon as possible - and if you are a large party and want to sit together perhaps get seat reservations in advance.

As for renting a car - a good set of maps will do you much more good than a GPS. Buy Micehlin maps for any areas you will be in and download very detailed street maps for any cities you will be entering - to be sure you can see one-way streets, pedestrian only areas etc. (I don't trust GPS based on how inacurate they are here in NYC and on LI - where I drive the most.)
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Old Apr 23rd, 2012, 09:36 PM
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I want to get maps too but Michehlin maps are not sold in Asia, or at least I don't see them in bookstores. Can I get them in Paris bookstores or Tabac shops?

Will google maps printout be good alternative? Back in 2007, Mapquest direction was not very good. Over the years, I notice a lot of improvement has been made to online maps.
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Old Apr 24th, 2012, 02:02 AM
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Google maps and any other maps are not an alternative to the Michelin maps, which are the best maps you can get for France.

You want the ones of the scale 1:200,000 (regional maps) or 1:150,000 (departmental maps, more detailed, cover slightly less area) for whatever regions you visit. A nice feature of the 1:150,000 maps is they show the starred attractions in the corresponding Michelin Green guidebooks. The Michelin maps have icons for all kinds of historically/touristically interesting things such as châteaux, ruins, churches, abbeys, scenic view points, caves, Roman sites, megaliths, designated scenic roads and many other things. Usually when I'm exploring various regions in France I just look at the map and I am able to plan interesting and scenic drives just reading the map. For instance, I usually look for a designated scenic road, which are highlighted in green, and I especially look for towns with the historic church and/or château icon. I also try to make sure the route goes through as many small villages as possible. Usually putting all these things together I find interesting and scenic drives without even knowing where I am going and with no assistance from a guide book. Often these places are never mentioned in guidebooks and remain completely unknown to many tourists.

You can buy the Michelin maps from their website and here is a link to the page that shows all of the maps of France: http://tinyurl.com/4bt96ev

The above link takes you to the page showing the scale 1:200,000 maps but you can search the site for the 1:150,000 scale.

You could also buy them here but then you can't do research beforehand. The maps can be bought in many places such as bookstores, news stands, magazine stores, larger supermarkets, department stores, hypermarkets and in the full service rest areas on the autoroutes, just to name a few.
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