Need Advice on Europe


Jan 14th, 1999, 04:14 PM
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Need Advice on Europe

I am looking for advice on travelling to Europe for the first time. I am a single female and a recent college graduate. I would most like to visit Switzerland and France, as I speak French very well. At this point, I would be going it alone, and I would love to hear others' experiences and bits of wisdom on visiting Europe in the least expensive, least touristy way possible.
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Jan 14th, 1999, 05:05 PM
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I've been to France, Holland, Germany, & Hungary. My personal favorite was Paris. I too wanted to avoid the tourist traps. However, Notre Dame, the Louvre, & the Tour de Eiffel should not be overlooked. They were wonderful. Anywho, what we did was to take the metro for a little bit, (don't look at the signs), and get off at some place. The best part, is you don't know what's around. Just explore, there are plenty of street vendors selling food, books, flowers, etc... It's really nice. If I may make a suggestion, visit the Ponte de Neuf. A fun bar that seems to attract everyone but tourists. It's close to Notre Dame. Have fun!
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Jan 14th, 1999, 07:39 PM
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Well, I've got several suggestions which are not your usual, but are cheap and not touristy--concentrated in France which I know well. First, the typical cheap thing for young people is to stay in hostels (cost probably about $15-20 a night) and buy some kind of railpass if you plan on traveling around a lot. However, a very cheap non-touristy way is to attend a summer language program at a French university (I've done this twice). These programs, which are for all levels of language from beginning to teachers, are subsidized by the govt. so are extremely cheap. It's been a few years since I did that, but as I recall you can get a month in Paris, studying at the Sorbonne and staying in one of their residence halls, for only about $1000-1500 total (tuition+room+board). You have classes in the morning and have most afternoons for exploring, plus the weekends. Being there a month with a home base, you are less like a tourist and more like a temporary resident. The other suggestion is similar, there are some organizations that accept volunteers to restore old historical buildings, for example in Provence. There is a very minimal fee for lodging and food for a month, you stay in grouping housing and eat group meals. One organization that does this in Provence & Italy is Sabranenque and they have a WEB site with information and descriptions ( of their programs. Both of these options (volunteer or language programs) are for people who have at least 3-4 weeks of free time and want to basically stay in one location and absorb and explore it on a leisurely, nontourist basis, and don't mind more basic, group accommodations (the dorms at the Sorbonne are far from deluxe, but adequate and probably better than a hostel--all the ones I knew had single-occupancy rooms, also, which were more civilized than many US dorms).
Most of these language programs for foreigners take place in July, some go into August, when the regular students aren't there. Just about any major French university has one (I know of ones in Paris, Aix, Nice, Strasbourg, Tours, Montpelier, etc.), but you can't beat Paris for starters IMO. I don't know much about Switzerland. I've attended two of these summer French language programs in Paris (at the Sorbonne and at L'Institut Catholique) and they count among the most memorable experiences of my life.
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