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Help with lodgings to access most of France

Help with lodgings to access most of France

Jan 20th, 2011, 09:10 PM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 1,056
Hi cbaird

I too would spend the entire time in Paris - there is just so much to see and do there, you won't even have scratched the surface by the time you have to leave.

I enjoy staying in an apartment rather than a hotel; it gives you so much more freedom with meals, and you do get to feel as though you are living like a local!

Our apartment in 6th arr. was rented through VRBO website with no problems, although it would be too small for your needs. This area is very convenient for sightseeing, and has a lovely atmosphere. There are plenty of other apartments of varying sizes on this site.

I would suggest doing a Hop-on-hop-off bus tour on your first day. This would give you an idea of the layout of the city, some of the sights, and information. Your ticket lasts 24 hours, so if you start say 3pm one day, you can use it up until 3pm the following day.

Just put 'Paris' into the search box at the top of the page, and you will see vast numbers of postings about this delightful city. No need to have a hotel to find out what to do.

Happy planning, Di
di2315 is offline  
Jan 21st, 2011, 05:59 AM
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Hello again all, thank you for continuing to give great advice from many perspectives. I will give you a little background on the reason/ability for this trip. My husband was from England and what there is left of his family all lives there. He passed away last summer at 57.We (myself, adult daughters, new husband and boyfriend) are taking this trip with life insurance money and it was his wish that we do so, however of course it is very expensive and we want to make the most of it as realistically it may not happen again. So we are trying to spend half of it seeing what we can in France (two are splitting off to Germany and meeting us back in Paris) and then spending the next week in England with family. So given that I may well not get to go back again, at least for many years, I am trying to "maximize" my time in France so to speak. The apartment idea seems to make sense as my daughter and I are vegan and it will help to be able to make our meals.

I am having a travel agent work with me to also give me some ideas on what is doable and what not. I am not sure how much time I have to find accommodations as I know we will be there in peak season so I am rushing a bit on that aspect.

Will keep plugging away and asking questions if you don't mind
cbaird is offline  
Jan 21st, 2011, 06:10 AM
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Sounds like a lovely trip. The easiest and most affordable (unless you want to spend a lot of time on the bus) is taking the Eurostar train from Paris to London. To get the best deal book as soon as you can (4 months from your date) as the most the train fills up the more expensive it gets.
jamikins is online now  
Jan 21st, 2011, 06:15 AM
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At the risk of offending you and travel agents in general, people here on Fodors generally know a lot more about planning trips to France than a travel agent, who may not have even set foot in the country and just be going on business connections.

As for trains in France, it's 3 months out, not 4.
StCirq is offline  
Jan 21st, 2011, 06:22 AM
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I was looking at this apartment in Paris as a possible place to stay for a week for myself, daughter and BF? It seems reasonable and close to access to airport and train stations, and has a kitchen and a little laundry. What do you think, are there other things I should be looking for? And re apartment rental details, what are important things to look for on deposits, refunds, cleaning fees etc., what is typical and what might be a red flag?
cbaird is offline  
Jan 21st, 2011, 06:25 AM
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Just getting to this conversation, and cbaird, I'm joining the chorus of opinions stated (and I'm singing loudly!):

1) Stay in Paris! Daytrips only! Live.breathe and enjoy your time there instead of spending needless and fruitless hours driving or on a train.
2) This board knows a LOT more than 99% of travel agents--trust these posters.
3) Athough it may be hard to believe us now, if you fall in love with France or in love with travel, you WILL find a way to travel again. I promise!!!!
AlessandraZoe is offline  
Jan 21st, 2011, 06:33 AM
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StCirq - trains IN France yes, Eurostar is 4 months out. I just booked my May 20 London - Lille train yesterday. www.eurostar.com
jamikins is online now  
Jan 21st, 2011, 06:39 AM
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cbaird: I wouldn't rent an apartment in the 8ème near the Champs Elysées - for one thing, it's probably expensive because that's a boring but ritzy neighborhood. Look for places in the 4ème, 5ème, or 6ème for a first visit to Paris so you can be in the thick of things.

Thanks, jamikins - I didn't know that!
StCirq is offline  
Jan 21st, 2011, 06:40 AM
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Given that the best way from France to London is by the Eurostar train from Paris through the Chunnel, you could start your trip in the south of France, then take the train up to Paris for several days before continuing to London.

Open jaws plane tickets into one city, out of another are the most efficient. And no more expensive when you consider you don't have to spend money (and precious time) backtracking. So you could fly into Nice and out of London. Nice is a lovely city, with great options for daytrips by public transportation (including a nip into Italy).

Do book your train tickets as soon as possible. Makes for great savings.

Once you settle on your itinerary, give us your budget per night and we can suggest hotels in Paris and elsewhere. Much as I like renting apartments, I think a first-timer is better off in a hotel as Gretchen says. Look at the website www.tripadvisor.com for hotel reviews.

And what StCirq said. Fodors is a far better source for information about traveling in France than almost all travel agents, who are a dying breed except for the high-end, special services kind. There is also good information on the Tripadvisor forum.
Mimar is offline  
Jan 21st, 2011, 06:58 AM
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For a week, please stay in Paris. And a travel agent will NOT save you money or even have much knowledge to advise you. They are remarkably poorly travelled in most cases.
I agree with St. Cirq about the area of that apartment. It is basically the most sterile part of Paris, and difficult for metro connections, in my opinion.
Gretchen is offline  
Jan 21st, 2011, 08:21 AM
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Quick thoughts: (1) airport access is meaningless to your apartment in Paris, especially if you're taking the Eurostar to the UK (you should) -- why stay near that craphole of an airport (CDG) when you want to explore central Paris, which is miles from it? And CDG is a complete dump, be prepared for that and don't judge the rest of the country by the abscess that is its major international airport.

(2) "eme" is an abbreviation for arrondissement, which refers to a municipal district. St. Cirq's references to 4eme, 5eme, etc. are to the 4th arrondissement, etc. Also abbreviated as 4e, 5e, and so on. Here's more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arrondissements_of_Paris

(3) If you're trying to "maximize" your time in France by seeing more areas, spend more time there so you can comfortably go to more areas of the country. As I said before, it's not a small nation even by the standards of someone who lives in Texas. Otherwise, content yourself with Paris, its surrounds and a possible pair of day trips because as a leading cultural and historical city, Paris alone can fill up your week with ease.
BigRuss is offline  
Jan 21st, 2011, 08:44 AM
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FYI "eme" is not an abbreviation for arrondisement. It is a French abbreviation for words that end in the suffix "eme" in this case, I think it is always for numbers. It's actually just putting the suffix onto the number instead of writing out the number here. You see that in lots of cases that are not arrondisements (ie, 4eme edition of a book or the 4eme anniversary of something). It is often seen just as "e". The abbreviation for arrondisement is actually "arr"
Christina is offline  
Jan 21st, 2011, 10:53 AM
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Just an FYI for those responding: cbaird really wants to get to Manchester (info from her other thread) so the Eurostar really isn't the best way to travel to the UK. If it was Paris to London -- of course, no question. But it seems she is now looking at Paris > Manchester > then ending up in London. So flying from CDG to MAN would be much more convenient/faster/cheaper than her first idea of Eurostar, staying the night in London and the train to Manchester.
janisj is online now  
Jan 21st, 2011, 01:24 PM
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I agree about eme. It is not for arrondisements. I thought it was like the "rd" in 3rd or "st" in 1st? I've seen is used for the floor number of a building, as part of a street address (as in 5 eme for a 5th floor apartment).
suze is offline  
Jan 21st, 2011, 03:03 PM
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Yes, suze. It's the adjectival form of all numbers except one (un(e) 1ère, for première).
StCirq is offline  
Jan 21st, 2011, 08:46 PM
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"eme" in French is the equivalent of "th" in English.

The way we would say "fourth" "fifth" "sixth".

In French it's deuxieme, troisieme, etc.

In Paris, you can translate the numbered arrondissements loosely as "The First District", "The Second District", etc. Each district-administrative division has its own mayorial office, etc.

The arrondissements (districts) curl around in a snail like fashion:


The Seine River flows through more or less the middle of Paris. Everything "north" of the Seine is also referred to as the "Right Bank" (Fr: Rive Droite), everything south of the Seine is referred to as the "Left Bank" (Fr: Rive Gauche). The Left Bank consists of the 5th, 6th, 7th, 13th, 14th, 15th arrondissements; all of the rest is the "Right Bank".

Most of what you want to see is in the center of the snail on both banks of the Seine, that's why St Cirq advised you to stay in the 4th, 5th or 6th Districts.

The public transportation in Paris is awesome, you will not need a car. In fact, when I'm with my friends in Paris, we always travel around Paris by public transportation, even though they own two cars.

There's so much to do in and around Paris that you're well advised to spend your time there rather than "wasting" it dashing about the country trying to see "everything".

Besides Giverny and Versailles in the outlying areas, there's also the Loire Valley with all those historic castles.

Hope you'll fall in love with Paris as some of us have! Enjoy Europe! What a great gift your husband left you and your children!
easytraveler is offline  
Jan 21st, 2011, 09:55 PM
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I echo everyone's thoughts above - stay in Paris as your base for the week. You can easily spend 4-5 days sigthseeing in Paris and can spend the remaining 1-2 days doing day trips to Versailles, Reims (for champagne) or Giverny. In my opinion, I wouldn 't bother going to the south of France to see Nice as your schedule is really tight. Enjoy Paris, take time to have a coffee on the patio, picnic on the seine, etc. Don't bother rushing around!

Someone mentioned that tripadvisor is great for looking at reviews for hotels and etc. I also recently discovered booking.com and have been booking all my hotels from there (eg: Australia, new zealand, Cambodia, france...) Great website with reliable reviews and the best part is that only your credit card is needed to guarantee most of the rooms (check the cancellation policy) and you pay the hotel directly when you are there. Most hotels on that website have flexible cancellation policy up to 24-72 hours prior to arrival. I usually have booking.com and tripadvisor opened on the computer so I can read comments on tripadvisor while searching for prices on booking.com.

You will love Paris!
Piccolina is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2011, 04:00 AM
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I agree with StCirq that staying in the 8th wouldn't be my first choice either. The apartment you found also seems overpriced for a 1Bedroom. Other direct-by-owners sites that I use frequently are homelidays and abritel (Home Away). A quick search on homelidays brought up much nicer, better-located apartments for cheaper.

If you need to fly out of CDG to Manchester, then I would look for an apartment in central Paris along RER B, from north to south the stations are Gare du Nord, Châtelet-les-Halles, St-Michel, Luxembourg, Denfert-Rochereau as it's the fastest and cheapest way to get to the airport 8.70 € per person, 30 mins); Any métro stop on a line that connects with RER B would work too as long as you have little luggage to drag around. Limit yourself to one carry-on suitcase on wheels + a small backpack or messenger bag per person. The first RER from Paris arrives at CDG at 6 am so don't book your Manchester flight too early in the morning if that's the route you are going to take.

Being vegan you definitely need to rent an apartment. It's easy enough for a non-strict vegetarian to eat out in Paris but nearly impossible for a vegan unless they are extremely well-prepared with the addresses of the few restaurants that will cater to their needs. You will have to research that anyway as you'll probably be eating out at lunch time and may not want to pack lunch every day.

FrenchMystiqueTours2 is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2011, 04:27 AM
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Well, I guess there's no edit function on Fodor's. Sorry about the weird punctuation. Also I forgot the Port Royal stop on RER B between Luxembourg and Denfert-Rochereau.
Here is an interactive map of the métro and RER network. RER B is the thick blue line that runs north south through the very center of Paris. Paris is all of zone 1, with a lighter background color. Unfortunately the district map function seem to be disabled right now.


One thing you need to know about rentals is that most will run from Saturday to Saturday on a weekly basis only. But not all, and July not being the busiest month for Paris it is always possible to negotiate.

FrenchMystiqueTours2 is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2011, 09:27 AM
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A bit of clarification maybe . . . "One thing you need to know about rentals is that most will run from Saturday to Saturday on a weekly basis only."

That is often true for country properties -- but not in Paris. many apartments will rent starting from any day of the week.
janisj is online now  

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