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Paris and where else--1st trip to Europe?

Paris and where else--1st trip to Europe?

Jun 11th, 2007, 03:16 PM
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Paris and where else--1st trip to Europe?

My husband and I have never been to Europe, although we are well traveled otherwise.

Next month, we will have enough AA miles to book 2 rt tickets to Europe. We do not want to go until the end of April or beginning of May 2008 as we have several trips in the meantime, but we would like to book our ff tickets ASAP so there won't be any problems getting preferred flights.

We will have 7 nights, after factoring in travel time, in Europe. Paris is a definite.

My question: should we stay in Paris for the 7 nights, or break it up 4/3 or 5/2 with another destination flying open jaw. We can add a day or two if that will make a difference.

These are my initial thoughts:
*I don't want to do London, too, as we like to contrast large city with a smaller city, or preferably, more of a scenery type of destination.

*If we stayed overnight in Paris the whole time, I was thinking that day trips to Giverny and Chartres would be a great idea (afraid of the Versailles crowds).

*I was also thinking Amsterdam, but it seems like people either love or hate it. How about Brussels or Bruge?

*Is combining France with northern France/southern Belgium for a several day beer tour doable? My husband loves Belgium beer and he would be really interested in seeing some of the breweries, esp. the monasteries. This sounds the most interesting and varied to me. Would there be too much travel involved and what would be the logistics of such a trip?

Bottom line is that we want to experience Europe, not run around on a "checklist" type of vacation.

Any thoughts? Thanks in advance!
mah1980 is offline  
Jun 11th, 2007, 03:33 PM
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Hi there - I think 7 days in Paris would be wonderful and great idea about the day trips. I would really encourage you to see Versailles - the crowds shouldn't be horrendous at that time of year. They rent bikes on the grounds and it is a wonderful way to explore the site - it was our peak experience on a recent trip. One suggestion would be to take a cheap flight - like EasyJet - to another destination for a day just to see something different. EasyJet flies Paris/Orly to Nice and catch the beauty of the south. Spend one night in a town like Villefranche-sur-Mer or Eze.
feiners01 is offline  
Jun 11th, 2007, 03:33 PM
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I'd spend most of the time in Paris, because you'll never run out of things to do in a week, and if you can add a couple of days, you can also add some day trips as well.

I'm not sure what crowd you're afraid of at Versailles that wouldn't also be found in The Louvre, The Eiffel Tower, or anywhere else tourists gather. The trick to Versailles is to arrive at opening time, see the palace, then head out to the gardens ahead of the tour buses.

April/May is a good time to travel as well, as it's before people's kids get out of school, the weather won't be too hot, and you can see things without the summer hoards.

You might consider 5-6 nights in Paris, then a couple of nights in the Loire Valley which is not far from Paris, and would give you a good taste of urban and rural life in France.

I'd also suggest getting a couple of guide books and some travel videos of where you're interested in for ideas on where to go. Rick Steves Travel Skills video not only has good tips, but also goes all around Europe for you to get a quick view of different cities and see what piques your interest.

Happy travels,

jules4je7 is offline  
Jun 11th, 2007, 03:34 PM
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5 days in Paris and 2 in Belgium would make a very nice trip (but all 7 days in Paris would be great too)

Any additional days would be gravy and just make it better . . . .
janisj is online now  
Jun 11th, 2007, 03:59 PM
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Stay as long as you can!

A beer tour of Belgium could swing on over to Germany (don't miss out on Kölsch, the local brew in Köln), and up to Holland. There are quite a few decent brews to be found in Alsace, too.

So I'd say base in Paris 5 days, Brussels 3, and Munich 3 would give you a good overview without a lot of tearing around.
Robespierre is offline  
Jun 11th, 2007, 04:10 PM
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I was just reading more about Chinon, in the Loire Valley. That looks like it would be an easy place to go from Paris that would contrast the city experience.

The more I think about it, the more I think it would probably be best to stay in France and just explore a different side of France to contrast with Paris. We will go back to Europe again, no question, so I don't want to make the rookie mistakes. Thinking either the Loire Valley or Bordeaux. Suggestions?
mah1980 is offline  
Jun 11th, 2007, 04:11 PM
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Don't miss Bruges! It is the best preserved medieval city in western Europe. We enjoyed it much more than we did Brussels. It is smaller, and it offers a lot to see without being a very large city. Brussels is nice, too, but we enjoyed Bruges so much that we stayed four days. Bruges and Bergen (Norway) are two of my favorite cities in the 38 countries I have visited.
Donsuz is offline  
Jun 11th, 2007, 04:12 PM
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Bruges is about an hour by train from Brussels. I'm not sure how far from Paris--maybe three hours (?)
Donsuz is offline  
Jun 11th, 2007, 04:29 PM
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With only 7 nights, I would stick to just Paris. It is fabulous! I have been twice, and will return next month, and I still won't get to see everything. There is more than enough to do for a week.
beachgirl86 is offline  
Jun 11th, 2007, 04:35 PM
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First, I suggest that the crowding problem in Versailles is less acute than in Giverney. Sure, more people go to Versailles, but it is a big place, while Giverney is quite small.

As others have said, there is plenty in Paris to keep you fully engaged for a week. Travelling to Brussels or Bruges is possible, and they are both good destinations, but I am not sure that it is worth the hassle of relocating in a relatively short trip. It's not just the travel, but packing and moving your stuff as well as yourselves, and finding accommodation. The same applies to Bordeaux. It is feasible to do a one-day excursion to the Loire Valley.

If you can add a couple of days, then a two-centre trip seems more manageable.

Padraig is offline  
Jun 11th, 2007, 05:09 PM
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I'd plan to spend 4 nights in Paris, 3 more somewhere else. Paris has its merits, but Paris is NOT for everyone. If you hate it, you get to leave; if you love it, you can return another time.

Bruges isn't a bad choice at all. A lot smaller, very picturesque, touristy but interesting, good food, a nice contrast to Paris in many ways. Rent bikes and ride along the canals outside town. And your husband will really enjoy the pubs there; there's also a free brewery tour - the Straffe Hendrik - right in town.

Have a great trip.
Russ is offline  
Jun 11th, 2007, 05:14 PM
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I would spend the day in Paris with a couple of days trips - one to Versailles and perhaps a long one to the Loire - or Normany.

With just 7 days on the ground - and being jetlagged the first - you really don;t have that much time.
nytraveler is offline  
Jun 11th, 2007, 05:18 PM
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I too would spend the full 7 days in Paris - it's not that long a time and there is so much to see and do you will be amazed.

If you want to get out of the city for a day trip or even two you have myriad options: Versailles, Giverney, Chartres, Chantilly, Senlis, Fontainebleau, Auvers-sur-Oise, Vaux-le-Vicomte, St-Germain-en-Lais...the Ile des Impressionistes...there are literally dozens of options.

(And as an aside, you gotta love the comment "Your husband will love the pubs." Are we in the 21st century yet?
StCirq is online now  
Jun 11th, 2007, 05:35 PM
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Think about into London, Eurostar to Paris and out of Paris. Of course, the previous posters are right: Paris is tops. By all means add as many days as you can.
harvey is offline  
Jun 11th, 2007, 05:43 PM
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I helped my brother plan his first trip to Europe just this spring, where he spent 4 nights in Paris, 3 in Bruges, and time in London at each end (where they flew in and out of). The whole thing was connected by train.

The amount of time in Paris and Bruges worked well for them, and was a nice combination, but they were over their jet lag by the time they arrived in Paris. If you were only doing Paris and Bruges, I would suggest 4 nights in Bruges at the beginning and then 4 in Paris, so you have a bit of time to get over jet lag in a more relaxed surrounding. Also try to open jaw into Brussels and out of Paris.
saltymuffin is offline  
Jun 11th, 2007, 06:48 PM
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Having recently visited Europe for the first time, intending to spend 2 weeks in Paris and 1 in Scotland, then changing our minds and spending all 3 weeks in Paris, I can tell you that we didn't even begin to see all the things that Paris offers. Stay in Paris; you will love it and have just enough time to acquire a taste for that wonderful city.
likeswords is offline  
Jun 11th, 2007, 06:53 PM
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There's lots more to France than Paris, and there's lots more to Europe than France.

Get out and see some variety. Would you come to the U.S. and spend ten days in New York?
Robespierre is offline  
Jun 11th, 2007, 07:17 PM
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If you are flying into Paris on tickets for miles get your tickets as early as you can. This is one of the most difficult routes to get free tickets.So,get them now.

If you encounter problems try flying in and out of Brussels, taking the train to Paris.
gplusg is offline  
Jun 11th, 2007, 07:21 PM
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We were in the similar situation 2 years ago. We opted for 4 nights in Paris and 2 nights in Brussels (with a day trip to Bruges). It worked for us and I don't regret it, but had I done it over, I would have spent the whole time in Paris. We already have Paris back in our top 3 for next European vacations.

Good luck planning! Tweeter
Tweeter is offline  
Jun 11th, 2007, 07:29 PM
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While there's definitely enough to see and do in Paris to keep you busy for your entire trip (with or without day trips out of the city), I'm a big fan of combining city and country destinations (at any rate, it works for us). On one trip (second visit to Paris for me, first for DH), we had about one week, and we visited Paris and the Loire Valley. On another trip, our son's first visit to Europe, we visited London, the Loire Valley and Paris.

The Loire Valley is close enough to Paris to make the distance manageable, but far enough in the countryside to give a feel of a different part of France.

I would think a visit into Belgium would also work, in terms of timing, as would a visit to Normandy or Brittany.

Keep in mind that a good rule of thumb is that each time you change locations, you lose 1/2 day travel time.
Lexma90 is offline  

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