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-   -   I need a push in the right direction for a visit to Paris (https://www.fodors.com/community/europe/i-need-a-push-in-the-right-direction-for-a-visit-to-paris-150767/)

Margaret Jul 26th, 2001 08:16 PM

I need a push in the right direction for a visit to Paris
 
I think I'll finally take the family to Paris, probably next summer. I know, it's early, but there are 2 adults and three kids, so we'll need a good flat at a good price. <BR> <BR>I've been looking on the web sites I got from doing some searches (thanks, everyone!), but I really don't know what I'm doing. Everything looks fabulous from the photos. <BR> <BR>So can anyone tell me how far ahead I should book? <BR> <BR>Which district would be the best for a group like us and offer the best value for a one-week stay? <BR> <BR>We speak no French, so are we insane to try to do an apartment instead of getting two hotel rooms? <BR> <BR>Just as a sanity check, if the kids will be 10, 7 and 5 (with the youngest having the strongest legs and best disposition), am I insane even to attempt this? Has anyone given it a go, and how did it go? <BR> <BR>Thanks.

Carla Jul 26th, 2001 09:29 PM

Go for it!! The kids will never forget it. <BR> <BR>I saw Paris at 7 and again at 10, and it started me on a lifelong love of history and art. I took my daughter at various ages, and saw Europe anew through her eyes. (She's now an International Affairs major.) <BR> <BR>Sorry I can't help you on specifics, but with kids I'd chose an apartment over a hotel (grocery shopping abroad is half the fun) and I'd go for the Left Bank, maybe the 5th or 6th, for street interest. Near a park like the Luxembourg Gardens would be a plus. <BR> <BR>Tips: <BR>Prepare to have at least one child wide awake and energetic at 3 a.m. the first day or so -- a tv in a separate room is a blessing for jet lag issues. <BR>Get a beginners' French tape and practice together for fun through the year. Books and movies featuring French history might be fun preparations too. <BR> <BR>Don't hesitate to do this -- your memories will last a lifetime! <BR> <BR>

top Jul 27th, 2001 04:24 AM

Top

elaine Jul 27th, 2001 05:33 AM

Hi Margaret <BR>Some of my family (sister and b-in law) have been traveling abroad with kids for a number of years, starting when the younger child was 6 <BR>(to London). This year they were in Paris, with the kids at ages 10 and 13. <BR> <BR>Think about your budget, and get as much space as you can in your flat. After so much concentrated togetherness each day, every day, everyone will need a little <BR>space of his/her own to chill-out in periodically. Don't plan too much for each day, and allow time each afternoon <BR>(perhaps after lunch) for relaxation and some tv or reading. Then go back out again later in the afternoon for a few hours more activity before dinner. <BR>My Paris file has some suggestions for kids in Paris, but so do many guidebooks, including some that are wholly geared toward family travel. <BR>If you want my file, email me. If you want to look for books, do a search on Amazon for family Paris or kids Paris or children Paris. <BR>My sister and spouse are right-bank-hotel- stayers when they are <BR> by themselves, but when they took the kids they chose the left bank because there are more non-tourist-trap but kid-friendly <BR>restaurants to choose from, and more that have continuous service during the day to allow for early lunches and dinners. <BR>They stayed in rooms at the Lutetia hotel (border of 6th and 7th), which is the only really large hotel on the left bank. They were very pleased, but it is pricey. <BR>I think staying near the Luxembourg Gardens is a great suggestion. Some of the outer districts will no doubt have less-expensive options, but I think <BR>being able to easily and quickly stop back at the hotel or flat for a minute, or an hour, is worth quite a bit as well. <BR>Reliable short-term flat-rental agencies are used to people who don't speak French. When you pursue this, compile a list of questions for the agency and see how you like their responses: Here are just a few suggestions: <BR>How, WHERE, and during what hours can the keys be picked up and returned? <BR>(When you're arriving you'll all be tired, and burdened with luggage. You don't want to go all over town to pick up the keys, or get there and find the office isn't open yet, as happened to some friends of mine) <BR>How, when, and where can you call the agency in case of a problem or emergency? <BR>Where are the closest laundry facilities,grocery store, pharmacy, etc. <BR>Is maid service provided during the stay, or is this option available? <BR>What supplies and utensils are provided?--toilet paper, pots and pans, plates and cutlery,towels, basic cleaning supplies for wipe-ups, radio, clock, tv,etc. (Personally I'd invest in disposable plates, even bring a stack from home, so that you don't find yourself doing much post-meal clean up--it's the grownups' vacation too!) <BR>Is a telephone available, and how are charges arranged? Will you need to use a phone card for local as well as long distance calls? <BR>If air conditioning and an elevator are important to you, then ask. <BR>Also ask about the nearest metro stops and bus lines. <BR>good luck <BR>

Margaret Jul 27th, 2001 06:39 AM

I asked a friend about this today, and she said there is a business district in Paris that isn't very convenient, but the hotels are never full and you can get good deals. They aren't quaint at all, but they have big rooms and would be good for a family. Does anyone agree, and what area is she likely talking about? <BR> <BR>One more thing. I've been to Paris, so I "get" the left/right bank issue. Why is the left bank better for kids? <BR> <BR>thanks so much; you guys are the best!

Gigi Jul 27th, 2001 06:53 AM

While looking at the apartments for let in Paris, I learned the deposit is sometimes $5,000 US. Is this common? <BR> <BR>

Christina Jul 28th, 2001 04:44 PM

I tried to post on this yesterday but couldn't even after I shortened note considerably--I had more info but saved it at work (in email) so won't repeat all that now, but from having done this and researched it a lot, I'd advise you book in Fall for next summer. I've tried booking in Jan-Feb for July and the best apts are already booked by then, and I don't have as narrow requirements as you might (amt of space, for example, there are fewer apts for 5 people, most are studios/small 1 bedrms for two people in this market). I don't think you're crazy to do this, I think Parisian ST rental apts are overpriced and I'm not so keen on them for singles/couples and short stays, which I've commented on before, but I think for families it makes more sense. Many firms are used to English speakers, so I wouldn't worry, just don't choose ones that aren't; many are American, in fact, you could stay with them, there are a lot of brokers in this business (www.vacationinparis.com is one I've dealt with, www.drawbridgetoeurope.com is another good one, www.paris-sleeps.com is another but very small, I think; Chez Vous if you're willing to pay their rates and if they have stuff that big, not sure). As far as area, who knows, I think someone might say the Left Bank is better for kids because it has some cheaper, more residential areas closer=in than the Right Bank, and safer. That's what I would think, maybe that was not the reasoning of the person who said that. In fact, I don't think the 6th arr is the answer for everyone and am not so crazy about that area as a lot of people on here--I think it's expensive and very touristy. I also would not choose the 5th myself, except in areas that are probably not what others are suggesting, as I don't like the 5th in the more touristy parts and the parts I would like are not going to be close-in so you could stop in during the day (eg, Drawbridgetoeurope has a 2-bedrm on rue de Descartes which is an area I like and would recommend). You might like it, though, it's hard to predict. I think you will have trouble finding a cheap apt. for 5 people in St-Germain, anyway. I myself would suggest maybe the 7th arr, as it is quieter, more residential, and has a big park, also (Champ de Mars). I would probably also consider the 14th-15th arrondisements as they are cheaper and more residential but most people on here would disagree with that as they like the areas near the Seine. In fact, I suspect you are not going to be able to pick and choose that much as apts for 5 will be limited. Since you say you want a good price, I'm wondering what you are expecting there as this won't be cheap, but if you are enthusiastic from what you've seen, I guess they are in your budget. I'll see if this posts and if you do not respond in any way, I won't get the rest of my info on Monday from work, it was more on mechanics of what to look for and ask about.

Margaret Jul 28th, 2001 05:10 PM

Thanks, everyone. I'm still here. Christina, I'd love to see your info if it is not too much trouble. Also, someone asked about deposit size. I'd love to hear the answer to that. <BR> <BR>Thanks again.

xxx Jul 28th, 2001 08:22 PM

While you may get good hotel rates in business areas it may mean always needing to take the metro to get to palces of interest, or perhaps even retaurants. I've never stayed in an apartment in Paris, but have friends with families that wouldn't do it any other way. <BR>There are books written specifically about traveling to Europe with kids, (as mentioned earlier). As far as traveling with them, I think its a a matter of building time into each day that revolves around an activity they want to do, the Scinec museum, Luxembourg Gardens amusement ride, playgroundds. As a teacher I find kids really like museums if they have background beforehand. Seeing the Mona Lisa in person after seeing it in many books and learning about it, is kind of like seeing a celebrity to kids when veiwing the painting for this first time. But you know that expecting 4 hours in a museum with them will not work. And at the risk of being shot by others, if you don't live near a Disney park in your hometown, consider taking a day at Eurodisney. You'll aactually save the cost of going there seperately once in U.S. and the kids will love it. I have had a couple of friends save that trip as a surprise until the day they went.

cindy Jul 29th, 2001 03:26 AM

A website that i have checked out for Paris apartments is rentparis.com. They have apartments mostly in the marais (which I prefer). The prices seem very reasonable. Good luck.

$.02 Jul 29th, 2001 05:14 AM

If you're not going until NEXT summer, you have time to learn some French. I think you should, if you'll be staying in an apt. It will be much more fun and interesting and easier if you do.

MarkJ Jul 29th, 2001 06:11 AM

Gigi\ Margaret: I just sent a deposit for an apartment in Paris ( we are using www.vacationsinparis.com) our deposit was only $200 US. The last apartment we rented in Paris required a deposit of 50% of the total (I think our deposit was about $450 US)through a different company (sorry I can't remember which one). Hope this helps.

Christina Jul 30th, 2001 11:16 AM

Okay, here is the rest of my prior post that wouldn't take: &lt;&lt;Try to get specifications on roomsize, size and <BR>type of beds, bathroom and kitchen equipment, rather than relying just on <BR>photos. Photos can make a place look a lot bigger than it is which is why <BR>you should get room dimensions. Beware if key photos are missing (like <BR>bedroom, kitchen or bathroom)--I was very interested in a 1-bedrm apt that <BR>looked nice from the agency's website, but mysteriously omitted bathroom and <BR>bedroom photos. As this was a considerable investment over equivalent a quality hotel room, I asked for a photo of the missing bedrm and bathrm. <BR>Never got one so I did not book it only the agency owner told me that they <BR>would be adding one to the website later on--I finally saw it when they did <BR>and it became very clear why the owner didn't want it on the website, the <BR>bedrm was nice but literally only a few inches larger than the bed, with no <BR>closet and no other furniture. They still did not have a photo of the bathrm on the website, so I am suspicious of that. When laying out <BR>thousands of dollars for these apartments in advance, I think it is <BR>reasonable to expect to be given photos of all important rooms. Anyway, <BR>there are lots of questions to ask, of course, regarding extra fees <BR>(utilities, phone calls, cleaning, etc), deposit and prepayment <BR>requirements, and what, if anything, will be in the apt upon arrival (toilet <BR>paper, soap, etc). Be clear on linens--most apts I've looked at give clean <BR>linens once a week and provided plenty of them (sheets and towles), but some <BR>charge a lot for that, so ask. I specifically chose my apt to be close to a <BR>large general discount store and at least one larger supermarket food store <BR>(you will find smaller stores most anywhere), as well as near bakeries and a good fromagerie, but if you don't know the area, maybe you can't do that <BR>(you could, actually, as I did it online with the France Telecom yellow <BR>pages). If you do need to buy a lot of stuff (dishwashing liquid, paper <BR>towels, etc) you will be glad if you are near a supermarket. If I were you, <BR>I'd narrow down my choices simply by size and cost and you will probably not <BR>have a lot to choose from after that, sticking to 4th through 7th and <BR>13th-15th arrondisements (others will not agree with these latter ones, I <BR>just think they are cheaper and more residential and might be good for your <BR>needs and they will have more shops around them and be more family-oriented, <BR>you will get disagreement on that recommendation, though, from others on <BR>here). Then, I would ask more specific location advice on here or from <BR>others you trust when you have a few actual addresses pinpointed. As I <BR>said, unless money is little object here, I'll bet you won't have that many <BR>to choose from that you like which are suitable for 5 people.&gt;&gt; <BR> <BR>Finally, on the deposits, I thought Gigi was talking about a longterm regular apt, not a vacation ST rental, which is why I did not respond. ST vacation rentals do ask for about 50 pct deposit upon booking, usually, it seems to me or at least within 60-90 days ahead; they want the remainder sometimes 30 days ahead, sometimes upon arrival. So it could be a US$5000 deposit if your total expected fee was $10000. The good websites have deposit info on them (www.yourhomeinparis.com does, I think www.chezvous.com does); I believe www.vacationinparis.com was a little remiss on the contract/legal requirements on their web site and later even in emails with me, which was one thing that bothered me about them.) <BR>


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