Paris Mid-December

Old Oct 14th, 2023, 11:15 AM
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Paris Mid-December

Hi
Traveling to Paris mid-Dec for 5 days with our two teenage sons. Hoping to do an electric bike tour, Seine River tour, and a trip to Versailles. Lots of tour companies and different combo tickets available. Any recommendations on certain tours, etc. Rest of time will be spent sight seeing, browsing the xmas markets, and eating/drinking.
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Old Oct 14th, 2023, 01:27 PM
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If the weather is lousy, browse in the passages



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Old Oct 14th, 2023, 02:39 PM
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Welcome to Fodors. I don't think I'd pre-plan (or plan at all) a bike tour in December. IF you run out of things to see/do and IF the weather is barely the good side of crappy, then maybe.

Not sure if you mean an actual Seine river tour of some sort, or just a boat ride . . . just a boat ride on the Vedettes du pont neuf is all you need.
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Old Oct 14th, 2023, 04:56 PM
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I think the Christmas markets in Paris markets were a bad knockoff of their German counterparts. I would take the train to Strasbourg to see a good Christmas market
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Old Oct 14th, 2023, 07:24 PM
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Have a look at Fat Tire Tours for several options. We've used them several times for bike and Segway tours and have always been pleased.
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Old Oct 15th, 2023, 05:53 AM
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Christmas markets aren't a French tradition (except in Alsace for obvious reasons) so they are a knock off of German ones, they didn't even have them at all a couple decades ago in Paris. Then they realized it's a good opportunity to sell stuff to tourists. But if you were there anyway, of course I'd drop by also to check them out.

The Seine cruises are all basically the same to me, you are on a boat going up and down the river for an hour. I guess there is some audio canned commentary but I wouldn't take them for that reason, but just for the excursion which to be honest, I never found that exciting. YOu are down on the river which is somewhat below ground level so you don't really have any great view of buildings. I can see them at night as people like to see buildings lit up. The main difference is the oldest one (Bateaux Mouches) from near Pont d'Iena has a larger boat. I actually kind of liked that instead of being stuck in one small spot in perhaps a bad seat on a small one. Other people feel differently.

You don't need any combo ticket but maybe you should mention what combo ticket you are considering. I've never done a bike tour so maybe they combine that with a cruise? I have no idea.

. You don't need a tour for Versailles, they have audioguides. But if you want one, I'd just book one from the site itself. It eats up most of a day. If your kids are under 18, at least they get in free, as it is fairly expensive.
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Old Oct 15th, 2023, 09:22 PM
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I wouldn't make any firm plans for activities until after arrival and testing the weather situation.
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Old Oct 16th, 2023, 01:13 AM
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another vote for Fat Tires, though it is a bit US centric (nothing wrong with that but why travel across the pond to stay at home)
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Old Oct 17th, 2023, 02:38 AM
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A third vote for Fat Tire Tours. My teens loved it! There are also bike stations around that you can use readily.

https://parisjetaime.com/eng/article...-in-paris-a556

https://www.fattiretours.com/paris/?...QaApVDEALw_wcB
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Old Oct 17th, 2023, 08:48 AM
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""" You don't need a tour for Versailles, they have audioguides.""

You need to book a "human" tour for the Kings Apartments, if you want to see them. If there are huge crowds at Versailles (we've never visited Versailles in Dec), starting the visit at the King's Apartments will avoid the long lines at the "regular" entrance to the castle (1 1/2 hr wait on a Sat in October when we were last there). There is a separate entrance for the gardens & fountains.

Note that Paris is farther north than anyplace in the continental USA. Farther north than Quebec City, Canada too.

Stu Dudley
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Old Oct 17th, 2023, 09:11 PM
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My first visit to Versailles was during an American Thanksgiving weekend forced layover due to flights cancelled because of severe winter weather. It was really pretty treacherous with everything covered in ice (you haven't lived until you try walking on ice covered cobblestones!) and quite cold so we did not stroll through the gardens but enjoyed touring the uncrowded castle. We also stopped in the town for some delicious hot chocolate (there is now an Angelina's right at the castle, I believe) and enjoyed the local merchants' association coordinated holiday decorations.
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Old Oct 18th, 2023, 05:05 AM
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I'd skip Versailles. Not worth the day trip. Instead, do visit Strasbourg for the Christmas markets there.
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Old Oct 18th, 2023, 09:46 AM
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Originally Posted by menachem
I'd skip Versailles. Not worth the day trip. Instead, do visit Strasbourg for the Christmas markets there.
That's quite subjective.

We love chateaux, and Christmas stuff doesn't mean much to us (we're Christians). Our closest friends went to Strasbourg to see the Christmas events in 2021, and encountered a "nightmare". Armed police accosted them (they are in their mid-late 70s & quite normal looking) and went through both their backpacks - which contained all their "luggage" because they had not checked into their hotel yet (it was a side trip from Paris).

Stu Dudley
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Old Oct 18th, 2023, 10:37 AM
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Considering the current geopolitical situation, there are likely to be security searches in many places that were not searched last month.
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Old Oct 18th, 2023, 11:29 AM
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Originally Posted by StuDudley
That's quite subjective.

We love chateaux, and Christmas stuff doesn't mean much to us (we're Christians). Our closest friends went to Strasbourg to see the Christmas events in 2021, and encountered a "nightmare". Armed police accosted them (they are in their mid-late 70s & quite normal looking) and went through both their backpacks - which contained all their "luggage" because they had not checked into their hotel yet (it was a side trip from Paris).

Stu Dudley
I feel this statement is a bit unfair. Your frIends were traveling in a foreign country and can be subjected to the laws of that country. I'm assuming they are American and only an American would use a word like "accosted" for a search of their luggage. So many people think the laws of their country apply elsewhere. They don't. And for all of the time you spend in France, Stu (you have made it quite clear that France is superior to you for travel), I'm a bit surprised about your reply here. I would have thought that you would have defended your favorite destination. Which, by the way, the next time you go to Burgandy (or wherever), this same thing can happen to you, too.

Regardless, if the OP wants to go to Strasbourg for a Xmas market, that is their decision. And I fail to see how your friends' alleged "accosted" search in that area has to do with the OPs current plan.
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Old Oct 18th, 2023, 02:01 PM
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Our friends lived in Tuscany for a while & travel to Europe almost every year. They have a home in NYC. So they know the rules here & there. We spend 2 weeks in Europe every year (mainly France). Just got home from a month there (Le Puy en Velay & Lot). In June we were in Provence for a month. Burgundy & Alsace (Strasbourg) was last year. So we know the rules too.

Our friends felt accosted (their words - not mine). Kerouak indicated that since the 2018 gun attack at the Strasbourg Christmas market, security has been at an all time high there.
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/...ck/2286773002/

Also, the OP never mentioned Strasbourg as a desired destination.

PS - I feel safer in France than I do in the USA

Stu Dudley

Last edited by StuDudley; Oct 18th, 2023 at 02:08 PM.
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Old Oct 19th, 2023, 10:39 AM
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Aside from the weather, your plans should realize that the amount of daylight is briefer than in sunny summer.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2023, 08:40 AM
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I have never understood why people often mention the reduced daylight hours in the winter as a negative. When the cities light up after dark, they can be wonderful, and they are as busy as ever.

On the other hand, people who want to spend all of their time in the countryside and small villages could indeed be disappointed by the extended times of darkness.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2023, 09:05 AM
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ah but the star gazing makes up for the lack of lights ;-)
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Old Oct 23rd, 2023, 02:21 PM
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Originally Posted by kerouac
I have never understood why people often mention the reduced daylight hours in the winter as a negative. When the cities light up after dark, they can be wonderful, and they are as busy as ever.
Super insight Kerouac. And some cities use lights brilliantly to make your time a succession of warm cafes to stunning medieval walls to dappling Xmas fairly lights in windows to hazy warmth from wine bars - - it can be an enchantment. My best experience in winter was Ghent - - they illuminate by placing lights on the outside of ancient building pointed back toward the building, so there is an exploding splay back from the character wherever you go. Though Bologna in winter is a moody marvel, too. Here in Hamburg people used the most delicate of lights in all the windows over the darkest days - - it's so charmed. I'd be really interested to hear people's favorite winter cities where everything is a warm spangled wonder.
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