Long Weekend Surprise - February 2013

Aug 23rd, 2012, 03:10 PM
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Long Weekend Surprise - February 2013


I am just starting to explore a long weekend surprise trip for my boyfriend's birthday in February of next year. We'd leave from New York in the evening on Feb.13 and return on Monday Feb. 18 or Tuesday Feb. 19. I'd really like to take him out of the US since he hasn't done much in the way of international travel, and with 4-5 nights I'd probably limit it to a max 9 hour flight.

Our main interests (weighed a bit more heavily on his interests since we'd be celebrating his birthday) for this trip would be:

-art museums and galleries
-live music scene (especially jazz)
-people watching
-great national cuisine and/or great dining options at all price points
-place neither of us have been yet
-ideally outside of the US

Based on this criteria, I think the best options are in Europe, and think a good fit would be a long weekend trip to Paris, which neither of us have been to. I honestly haven't found another location that would be suitable for a long weekend and fulfill his main wishes: would LOVE to take him to Tokyo, but that's far too long a flight to go for 4-5 nights for pleasure! Neither of us are much fussed about the cold (New York can get cold/wet/miserable in Feb anyway) but I don't think we want to be in a place far colder than home.

My main questions are:

-Would you recommend Paris as a great destination in February with these interests in mind?

-Are there other locations in Europe (or near enough for a long weekend) that should be on the shortlist? Berlin and Amsterdam seem like they may fit the bill, although both cities would probably be colder than Paris, and I don't know much about their dining scenes but I'd be curious about both. Barcelona?

Thank you! (I did also post on Lonelyplanet, so apologies if you read this twice! Very eager to find the best fit plan possible!)
smosweet is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2012, 03:54 PM
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Oh my yes, go to Paris!

On the other hand, London is English-speaking and has so much history/art.
TDudette is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2012, 04:33 PM
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It's just me, but I am not a fan of Paris in winter months. One of our six visits there was in December, and the comparison with late Spring or Summer is striking: short daylight (late sunrise, early sunset), buildings look gray, no flowers in the otherwise-beautiful parcs, not terribly good weather for strolling, which makes Paris come alive, etc.

One consideration: If you expect this would be your one and only Paris visit, I would spend Feb somewhere else and "save" Paris for a better time of year.
d_claude_bear is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2012, 04:55 PM
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Paris would be fine. Berlin would also be great - with a ton of museums and exciting music scene. It might be slightly colder than Paris - but either place you're going to want to be inside most of the time.
nytraveler is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2012, 05:53 PM
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Thanks all!

TDudette, I'm very interested in Paris since we both haven't been. London a bit less so, mainly because I think it might be even colder than NYC in Feb, and because both of us have been before. (That and the slightly more manageable Euro versus the pound!)

Claude, thanks for your feedback on Paris in winter. Paris in spring or autumn would be ideal for all the reasons you mentioned. I certainly hope that I/we will make repeat trips to Paris and other areas of France, but you've given me another viewpoint to consider.

NY, yes, the indoor activities would be the main focus. I think we'd both agree to be in a colder environment with great culture/food options than to be warm and in the sun and bored. We've previously been to Hawaii together and while it was nice and relaxing, we agreed that we preferred more dynamic culture-focused trips.

I'll do more research on Paris and Barcelona, I think those two would be top of the list at the moment. My boyfriend also mentioned that he'd love to attend an opera: I know both cities have historic houses and fine companies, but is it easier to get tickets in one city versus another?
smosweet is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2012, 06:04 PM
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I'd vote for Paris in a heartbeat. And not worry about the weather. I've been in February when there was snow, and been there in February when it was 70F and we were in shirtsleeves. At any rate, there is no shortage of incredible things to do indoors if the weather is inclement. And if it's not, so much the better!
StCirq is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2012, 06:25 PM
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Paris without a doubt. We have gone many February's and have experienced weather just as StCirq describes. We walk and walk and have rarely felt impacted by the weather. transportation is great and easy in Paris so u can always hop on a bus or take the metro if it gets too cold for you. If u live in New York u will find Paris weather in Feb generally more moderate than NYC. Last year we were in Paris in June and it was packed. We really missed the less crowded Paris of the winter. As a matter of fact we will also be in Paris the last half of February .
yestravel is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2012, 06:40 PM
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Beyond a doubt, Paris is a great choice as it meets (in spades) all your specifications. We have been in all seasons and while the experience differs somewhat with varying weather, length of day, etc. it is always Paris, marvelous Paris.
Your dates include both Valentine's day and Presidents Day holiday in the US which sometimes means an uptick in Yanks heading to the City of Light, but it may also mean some attractive offers so you should be able to find some reasonable flight and accommodation options.
Seamus is online now  
Aug 23rd, 2012, 06:53 PM
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Awesome! Thank you, trifecta of Paris supporters (StCirq, Yestravel, Seamus)!

Now if only I could get someone to subtly probe my bfs opinions... Although its far enough away I could probably ask offhandedly myself and just be poker faced the whole time!
smosweet is offline  
Aug 24th, 2012, 05:15 AM
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Just do it! I can't imagine (given what you've told us) that he'd be disappointed in Paris!

My husband and I were there over Valentine's Day in 2011. As we always say, we don't go to Europe for the weather. All of your criteria mentioned in your first post have nothing to do with weather.

My favorite part about off-peak times, aside from better airfare and lodging rates, is fewer crowds. Mind you, there's plenty of people to watch, though.

What a nice surprise! Enjoy.
YankyGal is offline  
Aug 24th, 2012, 05:48 AM
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In fact, the capitals of most bigger european countries come into consideration: Berlin, Paris, Madrid, Rome.

Let's do the Paris-ROme check.
-art museums and galleries: Paris yes, Rome yes
-live music scene (especially jazz): Paris and Rome: don't know, there should be something
-people watching: Paris yes, Rome yes
-great national cuisine and/or great dining options at all price points: Paris yes, Rome yes, advantage Rome for the lower price tag
-place neither of us have been yet: yours to know
-ideally outside of the US: both OK
-weatherwise: the more south you go, the better the weather can be...

Good luck with it!
baldrick is offline  
Aug 24th, 2012, 07:17 AM
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I disagree.
StCirq is offline  
Aug 24th, 2012, 09:19 AM
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Thanks. Someone else had mentioned Rome on another board: it wasn't a place that immediately jumped to mind for this trip, but upon further review it does fit the criteria well.

There are too many great places to go!

StCirq, you think better bargains or better overall value for the types of things we'd be doing are to be found in Paris?
smosweet is offline  
Aug 24th, 2012, 09:57 AM
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Paris. or then again....Paris.

loads to see and do whatever the weather, easy cheap transport, great food, great wine, and it's Paris!

BTW, I love Rome, but as a first place to visit in Europe, i think you'll find Paris a better bet.
annhig is offline  
Aug 24th, 2012, 10:30 AM
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Paris, of course. You'll have the city to yourselves. There's plenty to do. Plus there is the extra added bonus that you will actually be able to see the bones of buildings without alot of foliage. The fountains will be turned off but you can always return to Paris.
LSky is offline  
Aug 24th, 2012, 11:04 AM
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smosweet, Yes, I do think overall prices are somewhat - not much, but somewhat - lower in France than in Italy. For example, there are more bargains to be had on hotels in Paris.
StCirq is offline  
Aug 24th, 2012, 11:24 AM
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Paris...the weather in any European city won't be terrific in February, but who cares. Paris is wonderful even when it's cold. Great water proof boots, a hat and scarf will chase the chill. (as will chocolat chard, mulled wine, cafe creme)

We love Paris, it's beautiful and easy to use public transportation to get around. It is one destination that you just have to go to. I hope you enjoy your trip.
denisea is offline  
Aug 24th, 2012, 11:29 AM
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For example, there are more bargains to be had on hotels in Paris.>>

on our last trip to Paris in March 2012, we booked in September and paid only 1/2 of what they wanted for the same type of room if we'd booked in February.

book now to get the best bargains. if you use one of the consolidation sites like hotels.com or booking.com and pick the "free cancellation" option, your booking is more or less risk free as you can usually cancel until about 48 hours before your booking is due to start. [do check the conditions just to make sure].
annhig is offline  
Aug 24th, 2012, 01:13 PM
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I'm pretty much sold on Paris at this point, so thank you everyone! Going to start looking at flights, hotels now to figure out pricing and when to book - thanks annhig on the early booking reminder.

Thank you all!!
smosweet is offline  
Aug 24th, 2012, 01:49 PM
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have a great trip, smosweet.

another tip - if you are flying into CDG and think that you may use the RER B line to get to and from the centre of Paris, look for hotels within walking distance of an RER B stop - it will make arriving and leaving soooo much easier!

Chatelet -Les Halles on the Right Bank [of the Seine] and and Notre Dame Saint-Michel [on the Left Bank] are the most central.
annhig is offline  

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