London / Paris in January / February

Apr 21st, 2007, 07:25 PM
  #1  
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London / Paris in January / February

Boss denied request to take 2 weeks this fall (late October- first two weeks of November-ish, around our wedding anniversary) for first-time trip to England and France. Suggested we go in January or February instead, when things at work are slower. Yippee and freezing in Western Europe. Lovely.

Would you recommend continuing our plans and go in January (Feb isn't real likely- work starts to pick up again in Feb.)? Have you vacationed in London/ Paris in January?

It's my first time,
lynnejoel1015 is offline  
Apr 21st, 2007, 07:26 PM
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sorry-- accidentally hit post--

first time. Should we still go to Europe or try for somewhere else on our "list" this winter instead?

Many thanks,

L
lynnejoel1015 is offline  
Apr 21st, 2007, 07:37 PM
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London and Paris are 12 month a year destinations. You can have a great winter visit to either or both. (Nov. can be cold in both places BTW)

And airfares can be 1/2 what they are in Oct . . .
janisj is offline  
Apr 21st, 2007, 07:45 PM
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I'm having a hard time identifying with an employer who controls the weeks you can take for vacation. I mean I can understand if you're a tax accountant and you want the middle of April, or a department store Santa and you want the week after Thanksgiving, but how busy is your job that there is no time in late October or early November when they can't do without you -- especially with six months notice?

Being from Florida, I would NOT like two weeks for a first trip to England and France in January. Frankly early November wouldn't be my first choice either, but it's sure more likely to be better than January.
NeoPatrick is online now  
Apr 21st, 2007, 08:35 PM
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Bad bad boss... Seriously, it does seem more than a little unkind to force you to take your vacation in Jan/Feb.

Anyway, I went to Paris and London last Feb. Weather was drizzly both places, temperature cool but not freezing (maybe 50-55F or so during the day, as I remember).
travelgirl2 is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2007, 12:50 AM
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Daylight hours are short, but think of that and the weather as another excuse to visit indoor things - museums, cafés, shops, whatever takes your fancy. Parks and gardens will be less interesting, but there's still plenty to see and do.

Plenty of people from elsewhere in Europe will be making weekend trips to both cities, but it will be less crowded than in the high summer.
PatrickLondon is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2007, 03:40 AM
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Paris in January is different, but still well worth the effort. When we were there last year all the fountains were frozen like giant popsicles. A little snow, but no freezing rain or sleet.

Where we would normally walk miles and miles every day, we made extensive use of the bus, metro and a few cabs. But we still walked a lot.

If you go prepared for the cold you'll be fine. Silk long underwear is a must. You'll need more than just the typical winter "driving" gloves. I bought some Gucci knockoffs that are more like padded ski gloves---they worked fine. We each had 2 wool scarves: one for the neck, one to wrap around head and face when the wind picked up (mostly near the river).

Our day plans weren't a lot different than on other trips---museums, shopping, etc.---but we probably lingered a little longer over lunch. At night, we usually eat late so there isn't time for concerts, etc. But with it getting dark at 4:30 we tended to eat earlier and then find some entertainment. We did the Seine cruise one very cold night...still beautiful and well worth it, though.

Given that it's your first trip, I think you'll probably do the same things you'd do if you were going in summer: Louvre, Orsay, other museums, landmarks, shopping, etc. On sunny afternoons, despite the cold, sidewalk cafes set out their tables and the parks filled up quickly with Parisians taking their moment in the sun.

So, by all means, GO! Research bus and metro before you go...it's really not hard at all. Pack appropriate clothing (you can actually pack less because the radiators/towel warmers make excellent drying racks for your clothes!). Paris is beautiful...regardless of the weather. You'll love it.
JeanneB is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2007, 04:52 AM
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I am sorry about your boss, but don't feel alone. Many of us work in industries with busy seasons, myself included.

It really depends on the two of you but I would go in January without a second thought. Patrick is correct that you will have fewer daylight hours but I assume since you mentioned your anniversary that you want a little romance, I can't think of a better setting. Have fun and do enjoy!

Patrick please! I really do not mean to be disrespectful but I've read enough of your posts to know you are much more informed than this! -LOL

I work for an aluminum foil mill. We supply to Boeing for example, their busy season is April thru November. Our customers in the window coverings business are seasonal too, March thru September ) Our trade shows are often just before the season starts for obvious reasons. By the way, a close friend of mine works for Sears corporate, not just Santa has to work the holidays, no one at Sears (any level) may take vacation November 1 - January 2nd.
LilyLace is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2007, 04:59 AM
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Although it's a shame you can't go on your first choice dates, but Paris in January can be very romantic unless you really, really hate cold weather.
Try and pick a hotel with a nice fireplace in their salon or a hotel with a nice nighttime view.
You could look at the bright side: postponing your trip will give you extra time to save up for shopping during the January sales in London and Paris. And you might find better hotel and flight deals.
BTilke is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2007, 06:12 AM
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Hey, obviously (I hope!) my Santa line was meant to be a little facetious, but giving you two months to choose from for your vacation -- the two coldest, bleakest months of the year? Sorry, I think that's just plain unfair.

After many trips to London always in the summer, last year we finally went for 10 days at Christmas. We were prepared for the cold and we had a good time, but if that had been my first visit, my impression of London would have been far different from what it is. My favorite thing about London is being out and wandering for hours in the summer, not running from the tube station to the nearest place to get inside while having a scarf over my face and a little slit to look out from during the record cold wave. In Paris I love strolling the beautiful gardens and sitting in outdoor cafes. I'm sorry, but London and Paris in January are a LOT different from London and Paris in warmer months.

Don't get me wrong. If you HAVE to go at that time, then go -- it's far better than NOT going. And you can have a good time.
NeoPatrick is online now  
Apr 22nd, 2007, 07:18 AM
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Could you go earlier in October or even late September before things heat up at work?

I understand work constraints but it seem a bit cruel that your boss ditctates you can only take a vacation for 2 weeks during a 2 month period out of the entire year. And those 2 months are hardly "choice" for traveling to England/France. Sure places will be less crowded, airfare may be cheaper, etc. but as Patrick said it IS a different experience in the winter.

If you're stuck, its better to go and in Jan/Feb than not at all.
Margo_Chester is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2007, 07:30 AM
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some people make it sound like Stalingrad during the war w/ blizzards etc.

I used to live in the UK and have traveled back to London in every month of the year. And have been to Paris in every season.

London works no matter the month. If the weather gets nasty, there are sooooooo many indoor things to do/fill your time. I spent 8 days in London this Feb and the weather was decent - heavy rain one day, drippy a couple of days, overcast a couple of days, and sunny the rest. But next year it could be better -- or worse. The main thing is to have the right clothing - not lots of heavy things but ones you can layer, a decent coat, gloves and scarves, that sort of thing.

I have a bit harder time in Paris in the dead of winter simply because I usually walk EVERYWHERE when I'm there and only take the metro/buses for the longest journeys. So it does cramp my style a bit - but is still a decent time to visit.
janisj is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2007, 07:32 AM
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Honestly? I think I'd go somewhere else on my list. And I love both cities, but just think there's so much wandering and exploring to be done that cold, messy weather would really make it a less than perfect first visit.

I'll probably get bashed for this, but I do think there's something to be said for visiting when it's more pleasant out. We were back in Paris last March, and even then it didn't feel quite the same as a spring or fall visit when you can spend hours wandering about and not freeze your butt off in the process.

I would rarely recommend first time visitors to NYC to come in Januray/February!
nycgirl1 is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2007, 01:13 PM
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jansis I understand what you are saying but Lynn has NOT had the opportunity to travel to London every month of the year - this is their first trip! I think NYCgirl made a great comparison, NYC (like London) is ok in the winter for a first visit but more enjoyable (for a tourist) in warmer, dryer months.
Margo_Chester is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2007, 01:31 PM
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lynnejoel, are there destinations on your list that would be warmer in those months? Is it conceivable that you will be able to travel in warmer months in the forseeable future, when you might be able to visit London/Paris?

I will say that my first visit to London was in very cold and rainy weather. We loved it anyway, but it was more wonderful during my two subsequent visits where the weather was sunny and pleasant!
noe847 is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2007, 01:45 PM
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Of course a lovely two weeks in May or June would be better - but if this is the OP's career, June is probably not in the cards in the foreseeable future. And I'd definitelty choose Jan/Feb over August.

There are some things I actually prefer about London in the winter. Much smaller crowds. Much lower airfares. Roasted chestnuts from sidewalk vendors. Easier theatre tickets . . .

Even having been to London in every month - I still choose to go in the winter now and then . . . .
janisj is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2007, 01:46 PM
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My daughter and I will be in Paris next January. This is our second trip to Paris together and her third trip. I'm looking forward to the off season. The "sales" and fewer tourists make this seem like a great time. Also, we are from Minnesota so the descriptions of the winter in Paris sounds very like spring to us.
Danna is offline  
Apr 24th, 2007, 07:46 PM
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Thank you all so much for your sage advice- here or there. All is appreciated and will help us make up our minds.

A couple of considerations:

-we're trying to use our frequent flier miles- we have enough for off season travel (after Oct. 15 and presumably before April or May?), but not enough for peak season travel.

-when the boss says "no" for november, that basically means all of the fall. my old boss (same company) was not like this, so i feel a little disgruntled, but what can ya do? it's a job like any other.

- other places on our list includes thailand (was slated for 4th year anniversary) and africa (was slated for 5th year anniversary). it really irks me to break the 5-year plan but we could substitute new zealand perhaps...

- we live in LA and thus do not own heavy scarves, gloves, etc. honestly, it costs money to make investments in winter clothing, sweaters, etc., and i'm not too keen on spending money to buy clothing just to accommodate the weather for our 2 week vacation

-it's our first two week vacation ever. even our honeymoon was only 8 nights. i'm excited!!
lynnejoel1015 is offline  
Apr 24th, 2007, 08:52 PM
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"heavy scarves, gloves . . . ."

You really don't need "heavy" clothing. I live in CA too and don't have to buy special things for winter travel to the UK. Any old gloves - unlined isotoners for instance. You don't need wool/cashmere lined gloves or snow gear. As for scarves - most of my friends in LA own pashminas or a blend scarf of some sort - and that is all you'd need. You must own some sort of sweaters - light sweaters you can layer w/ other things are better than thick, heavy cable-knit wool ones.
janisj is offline  
Apr 25th, 2007, 02:03 AM
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My first trip to Paris was in mid-December two years ago. Our first time to northern Italy was also in January. We live in the midwest (US), so we are accustomed to the cold. Some random thoughts:

- We used FF miles to get to Paris (and Italy). We were restricted to winter travel due to a business trip (Italy) and limited FF miles (Paris).
- Paris was cold, windy, & damp when we went. Temperature varies. We obviously hit Paris during an unusual cold spell.
- Major upside: Museums, churches, restaurants, shops, etc. are less crowded, making sight-seeing much more enjoyable. I don't recall seeing a line anywhere.
- Eating outside....frankly, it was too cold even for the Parisians. We always ate inside.
- Major downside: I have no concept of the experience of wandering along the Seine, lounging in a park while drinking a bottle of wine & eating a delicious baguette, aimlessly wandering the streets, etc. It was too cold & windy. Mostly we hopped on and off Metros & buses and made our way quickly to our destination.

We are going to Paris this May, so I'm looking forward to experiencing that other kind of romantic, wandering Paris. That being said, it really is up to you and how you define a great vacation. It's great to see major sights without battling huge crowds. It's easier (& cheaper) to get good hotel rooms. If you're really into museums, churches, etc., there is no better time than winter to see the sights. It's great to go a second time when it's warmer, knowing that you've "been there, done that" and now just want to wander the neighborhoods and parks, relax, and have a good bottle of wine!

We had the same experience in Italy. Our second trip there was in July. It was a completely different experience. More people, but more lounging outside at cafes.

Good luck with this decision. And bad, bad boss!
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