Paris and surrounding areas

Old Jun 14th, 2017, 01:46 PM
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Paris and surrounding areas

Hello! I visited this site last time I went to Europe with very little notice and I received excellent information, so here I go again. My husband and I are going to Paris in about 6 weeks and I am overwhelmed by the possibilities of activities and sights we might see. We will be in the area for 10 days. We have never visited before. We enjoy beautiful landscapes, smaller towns over cosmopolitan areas, architecture over nightlife, local fare over the highest rated restaurants, and activities over restful lounging. We have contemplated a couple of destinations for day trips- Amsterdam perhaps. Rental car vs. rail passes? Recommendations?
Thanks in advance!
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Old Jun 14th, 2017, 02:24 PM
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Paris and Amsterdam are both "cosmopolitan areas." Are you saying you want to spend most of your time not in cities then? There are a lot of beautiful little towns between Paris and Amsterdam you could visit by train. (I wouldn't buy a rail pass - probably individual tickets.) But ten days (nine nights?) isn't a lot of time. Do you have to fly into and out of Paris instead into Paris / out of Amsterdam or some other city? If you must return to Paris, then you have eight nights plus a last night in Paris.

You could make it easy and just do Paris and Amsterdam by train - maybe one stop in between. You could stay in a small town near Amsterdam like Delft, which I really loved, and day trip to Amsterdam if you wish. But it might feel kind of rushed with the limited time you have.

Or you could visit towns in Belgium (Ghent, Bruges are both lovely towns).

Or you could visit an area like Normandy or Alscace and rent a car for a few days and explore the little towns there, then return to Paris. You will probably want a few days at least in Paris, anyway. A guidebook on France (e.g. Rick Steves) might help clarify things. You can watch his PBS TV shows for free you YouTube.
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Old Jun 14th, 2017, 02:26 PM
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Rail but no pass for going to cities - cars nice if want to drive thru countryside say to Normandy but then you'd want to do that for several days - so with Paris as your base and limited time I would do day trips - Chartres is a great market town with of course world-famous mother of all Gothic cathedrals - but away from tourists who stick like velcro to the cathedral area Chartres is in many ways a nice smaller regional town that you may be looking for.

Reims is also a nice but larger regional town like Chartres very close to Paris - just an hour by high-speed train - of course great cathedral as well (where French monarchs were trationally crowned but also for its famous Champagne tours - the tours thru penicilin-webbed tunnels where the bubbly is cured are as good as the samples at the end.

You could go to Normandy's D-day beaches on a day by train to - to Bayeux then pick up mini-bus tours to the D-day highlights (for Americans).

The Loire Valley can also be a day trip - train to Tours and take 1/2 or day long mini-bus tours to 2-3 of the finest most popular cheateaus there from the Tours' train station.

Smaller towns - villages -Giverny for the Monet House and Gardens and Auvers-sur-Oise for Van Gogh and Impressionists' works with copies set up right where they put them on canvasses.

Compeigne and Chantilly are small regional towns with of course famous cheateaus.

Versailles is of course a must if in Paris that long - and apart from the tourist area around the palace is a vibrant regional town with popular outdoor market.

For lots on trains and where to go in this area check out www.budgeteuropetravel.com; www.ricksteves.com and www.seat61.com. For schedules - www.sncf.com - French Railway site where you can book your own tickets though IME this is not necessary as there are so so many trains. Many are regional trains with no seat reservations even available -more like commuter trains.

Amsterdam is 3.5 hours by train and 7 hours of travel leaves nearly no time there - fine if you want to stay overnight or two.

London is actually a tad over 2 hours by Eurostar train.

But no railpass would be of interest to you. Absolutely not even close.
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Old Jun 14th, 2017, 02:49 PM
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With just 10 days, I'd spend all of it and around Paris. We spent 10 days in Paris on our last trip and couldn't tear ourselves away to do any day trips outside the city. You really don't need a rail pass or a car if you are planning to spend most of your time in and around Paris. You wouldn't want a car in Paris, and a rail pass is useful only if you are taking lots of train journeys.

Spend some time figuring out what the must-see things are for you in Paris - Fodors has an excellent guidebook. We are all different - we visited lots of museums, so the Museum Pass was a good deal for us - saved us some money but more importantly, saved us time (you get to skip the lines).
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Old Jun 14th, 2017, 03:40 PM
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http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...m#last-comment

This previous thread contains a ton of great info on day trips with practical info galore near Paris - look for the listing on it by FrenchMystiqueTours!
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Old Jun 14th, 2017, 04:02 PM
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I strongly encourage to get you a good guidebook or two, and there are many! You will learn things you don't even know to ask. ;-)

BTW, do consider visiting Ste. Chapelle.

I'm sure you'll have a delightful trip!
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Old Jun 14th, 2017, 07:20 PM
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The one "railpass" that you should consider is the Navigo Decouverte. For 22 something Euros you can use it for a week (starting Mondays) and cover everything around Paris. I was amazed how far out that pass goes. We used it to Versailles and Fountainbleau, both about an hour from the center.
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Old Jun 15th, 2017, 07:31 AM
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The one "railpass" that you should consider is the Navigo Decouverte>

Depends however - make sure you day trips are within coverage - don't think Chartres, Loire, Reims or Normandy would be covered but close in places on RER/commuter lines should be but for Chantilly, Compeigne, Versailles, Fontainebleu would be a great deal and those are all neat places.
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Old Jun 15th, 2017, 08:47 AM
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The Navigo fares include all of the Transilien trains which reach as far east as Provins but not to Chartes, Normandy or the Loire Valley. There are dozens of day trips that can be made from Pairs on these trains.
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Old Jun 15th, 2017, 10:40 AM
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Would Reims be included? - probably not so it does depend on what day trips -great tip from rs899!
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Old Jun 15th, 2017, 12:29 PM
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"We enjoy beautiful landscapes, smaller towns over cosmopolitan areas, architecture over nightlife, local fare over the highest rated restaurants, and activities over restful lounging"

MerryK, I could have written this myself. So, you like small towns over cosmopolitan areas. Why would you consider going to Amsterdam?

If you'd like to see a couple of the sites; Omaha Beach, Mont St. Micheal and Bayeux you could easily do those in 10 days plus have some time for the very scenic Brittany. We did pretty much that a couple of years ago and it was a wonderful vacation. We spent 4 or 5 days in Paris and then got the car.

Ended up in Brittany and it was lovely and relaxing. (really nice after the crowds of Omaha Beach, MSM and Bayeux. but I wouldn't have missed them) BTW, if you decide to go to MSM, sleep at MSM. It's a bit more but the tourists go home and you have the place, while not to yourselves, at least with fewer people. Stay up late and explore.

Have a great trip.
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Old Jun 15th, 2017, 03:20 PM
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The core of Amsterdam is small and walkable. It might not be a small town, but then, neither is Paris. Each city has places that are, IMO, well worth seeing. I'm not saying you SHOULD go to Amsterdam; just offering a comment.
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Old Jun 15th, 2017, 07:05 PM
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"Would Reims be included? - probably not so it does depend on what day trips -great tip from rs899!"

No, it doesn't get you out as far as Reims or Chartres or Givency , but you probably could get some cheap sncf fares to those placesfrom the far ends of the RER lines that it does cover.
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Old Jun 16th, 2017, 02:50 AM
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You could split your 10 days between Paris and another area like Normandy or Provence.
If you chose Provence, take the TGV to Avignon from CDG and begin your trip there. Take the TGV back to Paris and end your trip there.
If you chose Normandy, rent a car at CDG and drive around the countryside. Return it to Orly (or Chartres) for an easy return and finish in Paris.
I believe in "consolidating" time because moving in and out of hotels eats up valuable time. I also like ending in Paris for ease of just taking a taxi to CDG on the day of departure.
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Old Jun 16th, 2017, 03:35 AM
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I'd stay in France for this short time. Allow 5 days in Paris, with day trips in between or go in some direction, lots of good suggestions above. We have taken the train to Fontainebleu/Barbizon; driven north to Giverny then further to Normandy and swinging back through Chartres, which would take few days; also drove east to Reins & Champagne for few days. Another was to Van Gogh's museum at Auvers sur Oise, here and Barbizon were ideal little hamlets to unwind; but Giverny is so worth a day too, and of course Versailles. I believe Provence/Avignon is "another trip" worthy. We always spend five days in Paris before exploring another region but usually devote a week plus to the 'new area.' If you decide on more outer limits, explore train options directly back into CDG, tons of hotels there including the chic and sleek CitizenM, walkable to terminals, and so reasonable. Far easier than checking back into Paris and getting back out to airport.
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Old Jun 16th, 2017, 07:40 AM
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We're going to Paris and Amsterdam in September.
We'll spend 2 days in the Loire valley, 5 days in Paris, 3 days in Amsterdam.
It's not enough time to explore deeply into any of the areas, but enough to see the major sites. It's my fiance's first trip to Europe, so he's happy to be going at all.

As a bonus, we're traveling on Turkish Air via Istanbul, so we get an overnight layover each direction and will get to visit a couple sites there as well. We'll also get to bring home some spices and lokum

You can't do Amsterdam as a day trip, but it's a 3.5 hr train ride from Paris, and you could visit for a couple of days.
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