Just back from London and Paris

Nov 13th, 2001, 10:15 AM
  #1  
Ali
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Just back from London and Paris

Just returned last night from 5 days in England and 6 days in France. Had an incredible time! For anyone debating on going or not - GO! It is wonderful over there. Everyone was very friendly and nice. We experienced cooler, but very sunny conditions in both England and France.
Highs were mainly in the mid to upper 40's.
In England went to Salisbury, Stonehedge, Bath, Winchester, Nottingham and London. Bath was amazing - very beautiful drive. Salisbury cathedral is a must see. Stonehedge is an amazing area. In London the London Eye is a must- we got right on with no wait. The Tower Bridge Experience was also very well done. The H.M.S. Bellfast battleship, next to Tower Bridge, is also an incredible experience.

France was wonderful. Used Paris Vision tour company for a day trip to Normandy and the d-day beaches. We would highly recommend this tour - we did a 6 person mini-van tour which was perfect. The lunch that was included with the tour was one of the best we had all trip! Went to Versailles Palace only to find that they decided to strike that day, but at least we got to see the grounds and the beautiful walking paths. The leaves are turning color right now and it is absolutely gorgeous right now.
Louvre, Orsay, Picasso and all other museums were not on strike while we were in Paris.
The food, wine, people, buildings were all amazing! Just strolling at night over the bridges along the Siene was worth the trip! We will definately be planning another trip back!

In Paris we stayed at the Hotel Britannique
in the 1st. Would highly recommend it. Very quite and clean with an amazing staff. They can book any tour right through the hotel. All of the staff speaks English and are very helpful.
 
Nov 13th, 2001, 10:54 AM
  #2  
Wendy
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Welcome home Ali, thanks for your post. I might look into that Paris Vision day trip to Normandy. My boyfriend would love that! He is a big history buff. How long was the tour?
 
Nov 13th, 2001, 11:04 AM
  #3  
Ali
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The tour lasted about 13 hours total. They pick you up at your hotel and it's about a 2 1/2 drive from central Paris to the first stop at Pegasus (sp?) bridge. It's a little over 3 hours drive back from Port de Hoc (your last site) to Paris. It really was a fantastic tour and our guide was very good too. I'm sure you would love it - especially if you're interested in any WWII history. We were hooked on the HBO series Band of Brothers before we left and it was amazing to see the areas
they fought in and around.
 
Nov 13th, 2001, 05:35 PM
  #4  
Anna
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Ali,

Was the neighborhood around the hotel safe? I'm trying to find a hotel for a trip next year...was it noisy?
 
Nov 14th, 2001, 06:29 AM
  #5  
Ali
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Anna,

It was very safe around the neighborrhood we were in. We walked all over Paris after dark and felt very safe. As long as you stay in the "touristy" areas you will be fine. There are always people walking around those areas and we did see police patroling those areas too. The hotel we were in was very quiet. We requested a room facing the courtyard (which was actually the building next door) and we never heard a sound. It was very relaxing.

Hope this helps! It was our first time in Paris and we'd definately stay at the Britannique and in that area again.
 
Nov 14th, 2001, 08:40 AM
  #6  
Wendy
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Ali thanks for the info! will definately look into this!
 
Nov 14th, 2001, 09:20 AM
  #7  
Tammy
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Ali, I'm glad you had a wonderful time. I'm planning a trip similar to yours in May. How did you get from London to Paris, chunnel, plane, or cross the channel by boat? I'm leaning towards the chunnel, just so I won't have to deal with the airports, but I'm wondering about the cost of a one way ticket. Thanks. Tammy
 
Nov 14th, 2001, 11:59 AM
  #8  
Adam
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Wendy,

If you really want to do something different in Normandy, take a Battle Field Tour of the WWII sites in Normandy with Colonel Chilcott. He is a retired British Army officer who now lives in Normandy and gives these private tours. You can find his contact info on the web. You can also search this site for other information on the Col.
 
Nov 14th, 2001, 12:12 PM
  #9  
Wendy
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Adam, great suggestion thank you!
 
Nov 19th, 2001, 07:56 AM
  #10  
Ali
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Tammy,

Sorry for the late response. As far as getting from London to Paris, we took the chunnel. It was fun to say we did it, but it was quite expensive. We have been on the Eurostar trains many times before on our last trip to Italy, so we were use to the train. For 2 one way tickets during mid week in 2nd class we paid just over $500 US. I think they were 180 pounds a piece. I believe if you travel on a weekend the price goes down considerably. You can check prices on www.eurostar.com and they have the trains schedule on there too. The train doesn't go all that fast in England, but once you get into France you fly! I beleive they get up to around 200 mph- it's fun!

Hope this helps!
 
Nov 19th, 2001, 11:10 AM
  #11  
Tammy
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Thanks Ali!
 
Nov 19th, 2001, 11:17 AM
  #12  
Suzanne
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Ali, What is the London Eye? And how much per night was your hotel in Paris, if you don't mind me asking.
 
Nov 19th, 2001, 01:05 PM
  #13  
Ali
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The London eye is British Airway's huge ferris wheel they built for the millenium. It is right on the Thymes (sp?) river next to County Hall. There are "pods" you go in, that are inclosed, and they hold about 12 people and it's just like a huge ferris wheel you go up in that overlooks all of London. The ride takes about 25 minutes and I think it's around 8 pounds per person. You get an amazing view from the top and you are right across from Big Ben too. There is also a web site for it (I can't remember what it is just search for the London Eye.

As far as our hotel in Paris - it was 950 francs per night - ao around $140 US. It was well worth it for the location.

Have fun!
 
Nov 19th, 2001, 05:07 PM
  #14  
Walt
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Ali-Wife and I plan to be in Paris over New Years. Timing is for another reason but we will stay 6 nights. First trip to Paris. Did you get around on Metro,bus or other public transport. I saw where they have a 5 day tourist pass with unlimited travel. Is this a good deal? Also any thoughts on eating on a budget?
 
Nov 20th, 2001, 09:22 AM
  #15  
Ali
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Walt- We used the metro a few times and it was very easy. I believe 2 tickets cost 17 francs and there are easy to use Metro ticket machines that you can select English to buy your tickets. We enjoyed walking most places, so we only ended up using the Metro a few times. We used it to get up to the Montmarte ((sp?) area to see Sacre Coure (sp? - as you can see I lack understanding the french spellings). The main line that runs along the Seine from east to west is always very crowded - almost anytime of the day. You are still able to squeeze onto most trains though. As far as the 5 day pass - it may be a good deal - I think it worked out to having to use the Metro at least 3 times a day to make it pay off. If you feel you will use it that much - then yes it'd be the way to go.

We also used the SCNF trains to go out to Versailles for the day. It was easy to buy tickets from the person at the station and I think the cost was around 70 francs for roundtrip tickets for 2 people. Of course once we got out there we found that they had decided to strike that day! You've got to love France - striking is their nation past time!

As far as eating on a budget - it may be a little tough. We definately spent more on food than we thought we would. The food is amazing though - I think it'd be hard to find a bad meal. Every resturant (yes- even McDonalds) will post their menu outside their front door. Many times it has English translations included to descride each item. The prices are listed on the menu's, so I would suggest walking around and just looking at the menu's and deciding what you like to eat and if the price is right. We had no trouble getting in anywhere without reservations. Also ask your hotel for recommendations - they may know of a cheaper, family run resturant that will be easier on the wallet.

Have a great time!
 
Nov 20th, 2001, 11:37 AM
  #16  
Keith
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My wife and I are going to Paris for New Years, and staying until 1/6. Since this is our first trip, we wanted to do one thing in in particular, see a show at the Moulin Rouge sometime during our stay. First off, is it worth it? If so, do you or anyone else know if I need to purchase tickets now (before leaving) or should I wait and purchase them and/or make reservations when we get to Paris on 12/29? There are several websites which allow you to but these tickets online. Would you suggest using them, they charge $119pp for 1/2 bottle champagne and no dinner for the 9PM show and around $100 for the 11PM show. Has anyone used a website for purchasing tickets to Paris attractions? If so, which ones in particular.

Secondly, what boat tour company would anyone recommend for a night boat ride?

Lastly, is France using the euro or franc?

Any comments are greatly appreciated.
 
Nov 21st, 2001, 06:04 AM
  #17  
Heidi
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Regarding the Euro or Franc...I'm just back from Paris as well, and the Franc is still the basic form of currency with the exception of credit card charges. You can't get Euros from the cash machines (ATMs) yet, although I believe this is supposed to change with the beginning of 2002 (January or February)? Most places post prices in francs and euros, but that's for other EU visitors who are already using euros--I think most non-Europeans are expected to pay in francs. Oddly enough, one Cityrama "Illuminations" tour we took insisted on euros for our credit cards, which did make me wonder. I think Cityrama is an intl. tourist company that probably prefers euros for bookkeeping purposes..

With regard to cheap restaurants, there are some great little places in the St. Germain area (which is where I stayed and would highly recommend for safety and quiet and convenience--although, beware of quiet weekend courtyards that open up into schoolyard playgrounds during the week. Screaming french schoolchildren on recess at 10 am are adorable, but not always welcome after a late night). If you can pay with cash instead of credit card, you can often get a good meal for about $15 US with wine!

This was my fourth trip to Paris, and the people were the nicest and friendliest ever.
 

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