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Paris or Rome in March or possibly September/October

Paris or Rome in March or possibly September/October

Jan 18th, 2015, 08:39 AM
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Paris or Rome in March or possibly September/October

Hi all. I have 10-12 days for either one of these cities. Problem is which one as I have equal interest in both. I like to travel during the shoulder seasons and can go either March or September/October. So another consideration is weather. Here's some more info that should be helpful.

I'm in my fifties, female, with NOT unlimited funds, so I'm looking to get the most for my money and feel somewhat safe as I'm traveling solo. I enjoy good basic food and wine but not in trendy, pretentious restaurants! I also love natural beauty (plan to take excursions out of the city) as opposed to a lot of museum-hopping. Love strolling, cafes and people-watching. Not interested in shopping. This is how I compared the two cities so far:

PROS: Love French films, literature, (a big Proust fan, would love to do a literary and film locations tour), very interested in seeing the Vaux le Vicomte as opposed to Versailles. Have the option of traveling to the south for natural beauty--maybe 6 days Paris, 6 days Provence/Cote d'Azur and fly home (Philadelphia) from Nice. Public transport seems to be good all around.
CONS: Cost. Also have the sense that Paris may have a certain formality I'll find off-putting. Not that people are unfriendly, but maybe a bit uptight as are most cities of its size. I imagine the atmosphere more laid-back in the south.

PROS: Love Italian films, archaeology/ancient ruins and everything Mediterranean--food, landscapes, the light, etc. All-around more colorful city than Paris. Would love to visit Ostia Antica, Villa d'Este just outside Rome as well as the Mediterranean itself, but I'm not sure of the best places to do this. Capri seems overpriced and too touristy. Naples is of interest because of the Archaeological Museum, but not much else. The Apulia region sounds beautiful but quite far from Rome. Suggestions?
CONS: Fear Rome will be as overwhelming as Athens. The Acropolis and a couple museums made it worthwhile for me, but I couldn't wait to head for the islands!

Sorry for the long post, wanted to supply as much info as possible. Thanks!
Rien63 is offline  
Jan 18th, 2015, 09:57 AM
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Well, I loved both cities.

I first want to say that I don't find Paris to be overly formal. Maybe if you spend every moment in the ultra pricey hotels and restaurants, but while some may be more reserved and not overtly friendly, I don't think you will find anyone in Paris overly formal. There are people everywhere that you won't click with and we find the assertion by others that the French are rude completely false. I have been to Paris 6 times, so that should tell you everything you would want to know from me. You are correct that the public transportation is excellent in Paris.

Rome is quite different from Paris. It is a bit more griity IMO and has a different feel to it. It's hard to explain and it is still fabulous. We stayed 9 nights in Rome and could have stayed longer with no problem. We loved it and are ending our vacation there in May. Villa dEste is gorgeous. We went in the evening (only possible in the summer months--see their website). I would love to go back to see it in the daylight. You could also go to Hadrian's Villa while in Tivoli. The Borghese Gallery is also something I would recommend for beautiful Bernini sculptures. The subway is not as extensive as in Paris, but there are so many archeological treasures there that expanding the subways system is difficult. There are also trams that are popular. Another popular day trip from Rome is Orvieto and we totally loved the day we spent there. I didn't find Rome overwhelming but fun and energetic. I have not been to Capri but hear that you will want to stay over night there as it is wonderful and much more magical once the day tourists leave---many have given me that advice for Capri. It is not really a day trip from Rome but you could spend a night or two there after Rome.

You can't lose here - both are incredible cities full of history and wonderful sites. Could you spend 5-6 days in Paris and 5-6 days in Rome?
denisea is offline  
Jan 18th, 2015, 10:09 AM
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I've been to both Paris and Rome a number of times but never Athens so I can't help you with how Rome compares with it. I can say that Rome is very vibrant and is full of interest - but it is not [yet] overwhelmed with tourists, except perhaps in the obvious places like the colosseum and St Peter's, and even then you can get away from the heathen hoards if you get up early enough.

You could combine Rome with the Amalfi or Sorrento, which would give you a good mix of culture and countryside, and give you access to Naples, which i think offers more than the NAM, or Paris with Provence/the riviera.

if you pick one country, you could have the two experiences; pick both Paris and Rome and you'll really be limited to the cities with day trips.
annhig is offline  
Jan 18th, 2015, 10:40 AM
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Have been to both Paris and Rome numerous times and love both. There is plenty in either place to occupy you for weeks.

Have found the French in general to be a litte more reserved than the Italians (mostly very warm and welcoming) but have not found the french to be especially formal and certainly not unfriendly (except the rare rude person you find anywhere).

I think part of your decision neds to rest on timing.

March is more off-season and you are liely to get better deals. But while this may be very pleasant in Rome (although can still be chilly at night) it can be quite rainy and chilly still in Paris.

September is still really high season and I would expect prices to be higher for flights and hotels - but you would get good weather in Paris - but possibly still very warm in Rome.

October I think would work very well in both - but for Paris do check the convention schedule - there are often weeks at a time when the city is fully booked with large events; the same is possible in Rome but not so likely.

IMHO Paris has a much better transit system - but if you stay in the very center of Rome (all I would reco) you can easily walk almost anywhere.

Much as I love Rome if I could do only one it would be Paris - and probably in Sept. But I think you need to do some work in guide books and determine which city has more sights that you can's live without.

And in either case I would make sure you have basic language skills (polite phrases, numbers, directions and basic menu offerings) before you go. Also for whichever get a good quality menu reader - they are invaluable.
nytraveler is offline  
Jan 19th, 2015, 04:59 AM
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I think I get the 'gritty' reference and may actually prefer that, a more lived-in feel. Paris is beautiful I'm know, but I've heard that it's been somewhat 'museum-ified,' meaning a little too well-preserved. To the point of being a bit theme park, if that makes any sense. But then I guess if you've been there 6 times it can't be too bad!

Orvieto looks lovely, thanks for that suggestion. I'm not ruling out Capri although cost could be a factor. Timing is key, for good rates and weather.

If I do Paris, I would follow that with the Cote d'Azur only, not Provence as I'd like to avoid car rental. Have you been there and if so what are your thoughts?
Rien63 is offline  
Jan 19th, 2015, 05:09 AM
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I think Paris is not formal at all--unless you stay in the haute stuffy places as referenced above. I think it is much more "approachable" also--not so spread out, very much "lived in" everywhere you go.
I won't go back to Rome--tired of being walked through as if I am not even on the sidewalk!!
Why avoid a car rental--for such a GREAT area as Provence!!
I also think that Paris is more economical if planned properly. I can stay in Paris cheaper than the US!
Gretchen is offline  
Jan 19th, 2015, 05:10 AM
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Naples--the more I think about it I really would like to see Pompeii and/or Herculaneum, also Mt. Vesuvius. My only reservation is staying in Naples, heard it's not so great. I would have to do at least 2 nights there to see all the above. What areas of the city do you recommend?
Rien63 is offline  
Jan 19th, 2015, 05:31 AM
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I wanted to get to this thread sooner, but didn't have a chance--got so many responses on the other one.

'determine which city has more sights that you can's live without.'

That's pretty much what it comes down to. I hope to see both cities at some point, but just in case I can't...

I have to do some serious weather research because like you many say Rome is really rainy in March and October. I don't know how Rome's weather compares to Barcelona, but I went there in March and it was absolutely beautiful. It rained one day for less than an hour. Luck of the draw I guess.

As far as temperature either city will be warmer than where I live (Philadelphia), so that's not an issue.

Just curious as to why you'd choose Paris over Rome.
Rien63 is offline  
Jan 19th, 2015, 05:44 AM
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'I also think that Paris is more economical if planned properly. I can stay in Paris cheaper than the US!'

Funny how that works isn't it? I found the same goes for Spain and Greece. Seems the Europeans try to make vacations doable for as many people as possible. I've also found the smaller, family-run hostals/hotels to be much more characterful than most accommodations in the US. Go figure.

'I won't go back to Rome--tired of being walked through as if I am not even on the sidewalk!!'

Curious as to why this was the case in Rome and not Paris.

As for car rental, I want to keep things as simple as possible and it's also a matter of priorities. I just love the Mediterranean plus it seems easy to navigate because of the coastal trains. I like being able to just sit back and enjoy the scenery.
Rien63 is offline  
Jan 19th, 2015, 05:45 AM
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Why two identical posts? When I looked at this one, I was baffled to see that my response of yesterday wasn't included. It makes it easier for those of us who are taking time to reply to keep things straight.
mamcalice is offline  
Jan 19th, 2015, 06:05 AM
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I'm new to the site and wasn't sure how to include my post in both Italy and France. Apologies for the inconvenience.
Rien63 is offline  
Jan 19th, 2015, 10:01 AM
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Rien - you can see Pompeii and Herculaneum without staying in Naples - either stay in Sorrento or in Pompeii itself, and use the train - the circumvesuviana.

not sure about how to get to Vesuvius - we went a vv long time ago. You get a terrific view of Vesuvius from the Forum at Pompeii - you can see that before the eruption, the top of the volcano would have been in line with the main Temple, whereas now it's off to one side.

I found this website about how to get there by public transport which may help but I think that I would be inclined in this case to pay for a guided tour which your hotel could organise.


By the looks of it there's no need to stay in Naples itself as the nearest station is Erculano Scavi [which is the station for Herculaneum as well].
annhig is offline  
Jan 19th, 2015, 11:06 AM
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I have been to both.. 4 times for Rome.. and numerous times for Paris.
I love both.

So, my thoughts are..

Paris has warm people too.. did you read the report by a poster who fell and hurt herself in Paris.. the shopkeepers and people on the street immediately came to her aid.. not snooty at all.

Paris does have by far the better transport system.. easy and fast to get anywhere.. including side trips out of the city.
I find if I stay central in Paris I can walk to many sites.. whileas Rome the sites seem a bit more scattered..

Weather.. toss up between the two..luck may have more to do with it then anything.

Food,, I am partial to French bread and cheeses..

Both cities are equal.. but different.
justineparis is offline  
Jan 19th, 2015, 02:14 PM
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I love both...been to Rome three times, Paris five times, so though not a true expert, I have some experience.

IMO Rome is extremely walkable if you have a hotel in the right location. Everything was so close that we frequently walked past the street we were looking for, because it came up so quickly compared to how it looked on our map.

Paris, of course, has its amazing Metro/RER/bus system with some streets having bus lanes, whereas Rome traffic can cause the buses to crawl if you are unlucky.

That being said, walking Paris' many areas is a joy.

Rome affords a day- or overnight- trip to Florence. Paris has its own menu of great day-trips...Giverny, Chartres, etc.

You can't go wrong with either. [Sorry I can't help you decide.]

ssander is offline  
Jan 19th, 2015, 02:28 PM
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Toss a coin. I've been to both numerous times, both are fantastic. You won't know which you like better until you visit them, anyway. I did a Bologna-Rome-Paris trip this summer. Wonderful, and I don't even really like traveling in the summer.

For what it's worth, I somehow always end up spending more money In Rome, but I'm not exactly sure why.

Have a great trip!
Leely2 is offline  
Jan 19th, 2015, 02:58 PM
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No wrong answers here. Both are wonderful.

The weather will be warmer in Rome. And whoever told you it is rainy in Rome forgot to mention it is likely to be even rainier in Paris.

I do not find Paris museumified at all. It is not a theme park; it isn't Venice.

For archeological interest, Rome can't be beat. I went to Pompeii twice from Rome as day trips, once on a shuttle run by Enjoy Rome (don't know if they still do this) and once on the train. Both were good ways.

I am also a Proust fan and a fan of French literature, food, and culture. So for me Paris has called me back many times. The Italian food is good but doesn't call to me as loudly.
Nikki is online now  
Jan 19th, 2015, 03:41 PM
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Rome is not "terribly rainy" in March and October. Both are months when it might possibly be rainy for a few days in a row, but often it hardly rains at all in those months. And, yes, Paris is on average considerably rainier than Rome.

I think people mentioned the possibility of rain in Rome when you began discussing seaside locations. I wouldn't make firm plans for a seaside visit in March or October, because the odds of getting rained out are a good deal higher than in July. In Rome or Paris, you can keep your schedule flexible, visiting the Luxembourg Gardens or Villa Borghese if it's a nice day, and an museum if it's rainy. However, if you go to the beach and it rains ...
bvlenci is offline  
Jan 19th, 2015, 06:26 PM
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'I won't go back to Rome--tired of being walked through as if I am not even on the sidewalk!!'

Curious as to why this was the case in Rome and not Paris.

What's to wonder. People are rude? Who knows. It happened.
Gretchen is offline  
Jan 20th, 2015, 04:49 AM
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I can't believe all the helpful responses I got to my post, thank you everyone.

I've checked out weather archives for both Rome and Paris and it looks like postponing the trip, if possible, until April would be a safer bet. All depends on the difference in price. But like I said I visited Barcelona in March and the weather couldn't have been better. I know this won't be the case for Paris of course, but I could get lucky in Rome.

Right now I'm leaning towards Rome with side trips to Naples, Pompeii, Mt. Vesuvius, possibly the Amalfi Coast. I feel a need to see the Mediterranean again. I'm also a bit of a slow traveler, don't like to run around like a maniac so I want to keep it as simple as possible.

I have a lot of fun planning to do!
Rien63 is offline  
Jan 20th, 2015, 09:37 AM
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It IS fun planning isn't it.. I just find that moment I have to push the "pay now" button stressful.. I am always double checking all the info I entered ( for train and plane tickets).. I once bought a Eurostar ticket going in the wrong direction.. had to eat that 50 euros ( thankfully I got a good price to begin with and just had to pay another 50 euros, not so if I had caught it later and had to pay last minute prices!)
justineparis is offline  

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