London/Paris/Loire Valley questions

Old Aug 5th, 1999, 10:16 AM
  #1  
kristi
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London/Paris/Loire Valley questions

We're heading to London, Paris and the Loire Valley at the beginning of September and I had a few specific questions.

1) we wanted to take the Eurostar from London to Paris, but I can't seem to find any of the internet deals available in the US. Can I wait until I arrive in London on Friday to purchase tickets for the following Monday or I am risking not getting a seat to save a few bucks?

2) our time is short in London, but since this is a return trip, I've seen a lot of the highlights already. I was considering a trip to Windsor Castle and to Blenheim Palace, on separate days of course, and was wondering if they were worth the effort. I've already been to Leeds and Hampton Court.

3) we wanted to be less rigid about our travels in the Loire Valley and just find hotels as we go along. Is that advisable in the early part of September or will we risk sleeping in the rental car?

4) I've reserved the Stuart Hotel in South Kensington in London and the Dupleix Suffren near the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Anyone stayed at either? All we really care about is a comfortable bed, a private bath and close proximity to a metro stations.

Thanks for your help!
 
Old Aug 5th, 1999, 11:06 AM
  #2  
elvira
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www.eurostar.com is the website. There are deals, but they seem to expire the first week of September. Someone (Vincent?) said it goes to 15/9. Under international bookings is a phone number for britrail in the U.S.; I'd give them a call to see what's what.
Eurostar runs a boatload of trains everyday, so I wouldn't worry about getting a reservation UNLESS you have a specific train in mind. With my luck, that would be the train that had SRO, so I always book ahead.
An FYI if you're a Di fan - some of her gowns that were bought at auction will be on display at Kensington Palace for a short time.
Early September in the Loire is still sort of touristy; if you have a general itinerary, I'd recommend makiing a list of hotels and guest houses/b&bs for each night. There are chateaux in the Loire that rent rooms (sounds so unlike what that really is!) but I'd make reservations for that. Do a search under Loire Valley on this forum for some recommendations/experiences for chateau-staying.
Can't help with London, as Blenheim and Windsor haven't made the hit parade yet. Have you been to Bath or any of the dolmans? (Stonehenge, then there's Aylesbury/Ashbury or something like that that's near Stonehenge but not so touristy). Ditto on the hotels; if we had private baths, we'd figure were dead and in heaven.
 
Old Aug 5th, 1999, 11:24 AM
  #3  
Dawn
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Last year while in London, my husband and I took the train out of the Marlybone)sp station to Warwick Castle. It was fabulous! The town of Warwick is adorable and the castle is the top rated medievel castle in England. At the Marlybone Station you can buy a package train ticket and entrance into the Castle, for I think 18L. The train ride is just under 2 hours and the scenery is breathtaking. A great day trip!
 
Old Aug 5th, 1999, 01:04 PM
  #4  
kristi
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Thanks Elvira and Dawn!

Elvira-I called the Brit Rail number on the Eurostar site yesterday and they could only advise me of the same prices that I found out on Rail Europe's site ($109 2nd class one way). I think on another post you said you were able to get a 20% traveling together discount for your up coming trip. Was that through the Brit Rail # at www.Eurostar.com? How much did you pay for your tickets?
 
Old Aug 5th, 1999, 01:35 PM
  #5  
elaine
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Hi kristi
I will give strong recommendations to
Blenheim and Windsor, either or both.
Windsor was restored fairly recently after a disastrous fire. I was there in March 98 and it was more impressive than ever.
I haven't been to Blenheim for several years, but I loved it. Amazing that it belongs to one family and not to a monarch. Again, there is much to see inside, and the grounds and nearby village are charming. The advantage of Blenheim is also its proximity to Oxford, which I love,and which is well worth spending the rest of your day in.
 
Old Aug 5th, 1999, 01:36 PM
  #6  
elvira
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My error - synapses aren't firing like they used to.

We paid $109; the 20% was for individual tickets on another train. Please forgive me: I am trying to get 11 women to and from France, 4 different arrival/departures, plane tickets for the lot, chunnel tickets, r/t tickets Heathrow/London....and that's about 1/10 of everything so far.
The few grey cells that are working are under severe pressure...
There is some deal, I think, if you hold a train pass, like Eurail/pass or French/Britrail...of course, I could be delusional...
 
Old Aug 5th, 1999, 01:39 PM
  #7  
toom
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I think you can book the tickets from the internet. My friends will be there in 10-day time, their tickets are only 59.00 return. I think it would not be so expensive if you travel on Monday, but i don't really know the price i told you whether it has to include sat night or not.
 
Old Aug 5th, 1999, 02:04 PM
  #8  
kristi
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Sounds like quite a project Elvira! Did you reserve through Eurostar? Rail Europe has several fees attached, a $10 handling charge and something additional for reservations. Is it cheaper to call the BritRail number or are they all the same?

Thanks Elaine and Toom. I think all the internet deals on the Eurostar expire before I will be traveling and they also are not available to those of us in the US.
 
Old Aug 5th, 1999, 07:21 PM
  #9  
drbob
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Just back from France incl a few nights in the Loire Valley - - we made reservations a day or two ahead of ourselves & had no trouble. Found that a good resource is the "LOGIS" group of hotels - - sort of a French Best Western (independent operators). We got a booklet and map of their properties, and could choose exact location and amenities whenever we wanted. The "trois chiminees" (three hearths) lodgings were spacious, modest but fully appointed, and quite reasonable ($67 - $100), in wonderful buildings and locations; managements seemed all to be family-run. Don't know if they have a website. We liked the "Croix Blanche" in Fontevraud - near Saumur, and across the street from the Abbey where Eleanor of Aquitaine and Richard the Lionhearted are entombed in the transept of the church. BTW, car travel is VERY SLOW in the Loire Valley, since there is no Freeway thru most of it. (Grace a Dieu!)
 
Old Aug 5th, 1999, 07:25 PM
  #10  
drbob
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Just checked; the website is
http://www.logis-de-france.fr/

 
Old Aug 6th, 1999, 12:54 AM
  #11  
Vincent
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Kristi, I quite didn't understand whether your Eurostar ticket is a return one or one way. Because if it is one way, there unfortunately aren't many deals to be found and $ 100 or so seems a good price. Of course, if it's return, there is a whole maze of specials that you have to navigate. But since you are leaving on a Monday, it should be no big deal to find two seats. The problem with the rock bottom fares is that their allotment is very small. But for 10 more you'll hop to the next fare without problem !
 
Old Aug 6th, 1999, 05:38 AM
  #12  
kristi
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Thanks for the website address Dr. Bob-I may go ahead and reserve in advance just to be safe once I figure out where we're going. I've had trouble finding hotels in Toledo (Ohio, not Spain) and Kalamzoo, MI of all places!

We are just traveling from London to Paris, no return. However, if a return ticket is cheaper than one way, I assume you could purchase the return and just not use it.
 
Old Aug 6th, 1999, 06:38 AM
  #13  
elvira
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Kristi:
We used our travel agent, who booked through Rail Europe. With this gaggle of girls, I was willing to pay the $10 fee so that the tickets are in hand. There was another post about this, and someone got tickets through the internet.
Anytime we've used the Chunnel, we've bot the tix ahead, just so we have one less thing to worry about (it was a real bonus when our plane landed 2 hours late in Gatwick, and we had just enough time to get to Waterloo to catch the Eurostar. If we'd had to buy tix, we would never have made the train).
I would love to know the definitive here: can you get tix thru BritRail w/no fee? does the internet booking work with no hitches?









 
Old Aug 6th, 1999, 09:00 AM
  #14  
rose
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I agree with the earlier posting by Dawn re: Warwick Castle, I had a fantastic time there - if you hit it on a certain days during the month (sorry I don't know their schedule) you'll see jousting and medival "comedians", as well as falconers and "ghosts"..I laughed so much my cheeks hurt. It is a big recommend - the only issue is when do they have these special days..perhaps the English tourist board would help.
 
Old Aug 6th, 1999, 09:29 AM
  #15  
Kristin
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In May my husband and I went to both Windsor Castle AND Blenheim in one day. Of course, it depends on how much time you like to spend in a place. We started out so that we were in line when Windsor opened (I think it was 10 a.m.) The rest of the day went smoothly. I think Blenheim closed at 5 or so, so we did have to keep moving. But it was OK for us. The evening could be spent in Oxford. We used trains and busses. The walk from the train station to the bus station in Oxford was not long, but the bus station was a little hard to find. If you're driving, I would think it would be even more possible to do both in one day.
 
Old Aug 6th, 1999, 01:14 PM
  #16  
kristi
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Warwick looks absolutely lovely, but it may have to wait for my next trip (which gives me a reason to return!!!). I found a web site with listings for special events there and although the summer is full of the things Rose describes, there doesn't seem to be anything in September. I think I'm set on Blenheim/Oxford but wavering on Windsor. If you've seen the most recent "Hamlet" with Kenneth Branaugh, Blenheim is the place they filmed it at and it looks magnificent.
 
Old Aug 6th, 1999, 07:12 PM
  #17  
Kylie
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Have just returned from London/Paris. Went to Paris via Eurostar and booked this two days before travelling in London. Could have got a fare for 109 pounds return but ended up getting accomodation included for 4 nights for 189 pounds pp twinshare (accom was in 6e with private bath). We travelled out on one of the busiest days of the year and also a Saturday (the beginning of the school holidays in the UK) and had no trouble getting tickets.

I looked at the internet deals before we left and enquired with the internatinal Eurostar ticket sellers but their best price was 109 pounds pp each way.

I would wait until I have arrived in the UK as quite often they have last minute specials (the one that was advertised as we were leaving London was a day trip to Brussels for 49 pound pp return).

We purchased through a travel agent - not through BritRail and did not have to pay any fees (this would even have been the case if we had only booked the train fare). The only thing that we would have had to pay was 5 pound for a courier for the tickets if we didn't pick them up at the Eurostar station at Waterloo.

Hope this helps. Have a fantastic time.
 
Old Aug 8th, 1999, 01:54 AM
  #18  
karie
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Hi, Kristi, Blenheim IS magnificent. See it also in the movie Entrapment...remember the house they attend the party at and later steal the art object from, that they access by boat underwater? That's Blenheim. Try to have lunch or dinner in the little pub in the charming little village of Woodstock, just outside the gates of Blenheim. Take your time...Blenheim is so magnificent. The tour of the house gives you a lot of interesting facts you will miss if you just wander through on your own. You may want to read a bit on Churchhill before you go, as it will make it all so much more interesting. And of course, the gardens are wonderful...there's just so much to feast your eyes on, even if you are not a garden kind of person! Lucky you! Have fun!
 

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