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Paris then and now....still earning its rep for charm and romance?

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Sep 2nd, 2012, 05:24 AM
  #1
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Paris then and now....still earning its rep for charm and romance?

Hi all,

Working on narrowing down choices of where to go abroad in April for 11 or 12 days (not counting travel days). I live on east coast U.S.A., have not yet traveled extensively out of the country (tho' I guess that's relative!); so far have been to Rome, London, Barcelona, west coast of Mexico (Melaque) and many parts of Canada. Possibilities am considering are Paris/Bruges; Paris/Amsterdam; Paris/somewhere France countryside or coast (not yet decided); Portugal/Morocco (not narrowed down to parts yet); Portugal/Southern Spain; Peru or Argentina (as said, have just entered the narrowing down stage!).

As part of my research am talking to people I know who've traveled to any/all of these places, and was a little surprised to hear one person whose impressions are often similar to my own, say that while she fell in love with Paris many years ago, on a more recent trip she was a bit disappointed, feeling like it had become a little more like "any big city" rather than being as uniquely beautiful and charming as she'd remembered.

Of course I know that such an opinion could be heavily impacted by personal circumstances surrounding the visits, so I'm curious to know how others feel.

If in addition to commenting on your Paris impressions you have anywhere/anything else you'd suggest I consider, please go at it! I love many, many aspects of travel but most of all, more than visiting tourist attractions (tho I do that too), just wandering around and soaking in ambience. Other than that, faves are gardens, open air markets, food, architecture, history, music, art. Walking, walking, walking. Enjoy some museum going but not a huge amount. My ideal will be to experience both urban and beautiful scenery, that could be in two separate parts of the trip, or be combined into one.

Thanks in advance for any and all advice, Fodorites have helped me tremendously and successfully figure out past trips!
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Sep 2nd, 2012, 05:36 AM
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There is NOTHING like Paris, "then" or now. Never tire of it.
I think you could spend your entire time in Paris, and maybe do a day trip to Giverney.
OR you could go to Normandy for a few days, and then end in Paris. Rent a car at CDG and go to Bayeux as a base for 3 days to experience the Normandy country side.
OR take the TGV to Avignon and experience Provence for 3 or 4 days. Rent a car. Return to Paris on the TGV.
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Sep 2nd, 2012, 06:27 AM
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As we head to Rome on Thursday, I am grieving over not making it to Paris this year. I never tire of it and I still haven't gotten to see everything there that I want to. You will find a lot of Paris devotees on this forum.

Certainly, there are many great day trips you can take from Paris (Giverny, Reims, Chartres, etc...).

There are beautiful gardens and parks all over Paris. promenade Plantee is a great walk with lots of flowers and plants along the way. Search the forum to find some of the T/R that Kerouac posts, I remember one from last year that was a day he spent with his mother in a gorgeous garden. Luxembourg Gardens, Parc Monceau are options. Musee Rodin is great since it doesn't feel like a museum very much. Climbing the towers at Notre Dame will keep you outside and reward with you a great view of Paris and those famous gargoyles. Paris is loaded with neighborhood markets to stroll through and admire the food. I love to go in the food hall at Le Bon Marche just to gawk at the gorgeous food!

I am happy just sitting in a cafe and watching the people. I don't think you can go wrong in Paris.
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Sep 2nd, 2012, 06:34 AM
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Denisea I am looking forward to your trip report. We were supposed to go to Rome, Sicily and Paris last March but my husband had to have surgery. We spent about 6 weeks scared that he had a tumor in his small intestines but in the end it was not. We were very lucky. We are going on the trip this March and we are counting down the days. The hotel in Rome was wonderful letting us cancel at the last minute. We are bringing my sister in law who has never been so we intend to have a very major celebration. I could not imagine this trip without Paris. I do not know what it is but I am hooked. Can't wait to read all about Rome! Have a fabulous time.
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Sep 2nd, 2012, 06:39 AM
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And Laura , there is no place like Paris. This will be trip #6 since 2006 and we never get enough. In 2011 we took an overnight trip to Normandy. It was the highlight of that trip. We always visit the Rodin museum, just beautiful, and the l'Orangerie for Monet's Waterlily paintings is my absolute favotite musuem.
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Sep 2nd, 2012, 06:44 AM
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Oh, my! Paris is a wonder and I am always so happy to return. I find it more beautiful and charming each time we return, perhaps because we keep finding new things. If you haven't been, you should go. We travel to Europe every year or two and, while I always enjoy our destinations, I can't wait to get back to Paris.

The parks and gardens are beautiful, the walk along the Seine is lovely and, if you decide on Paris, there is lots to see outside the city - Giverny, Versailles, Fontainbleu, Chartres.

Good luck with your choice.
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Sep 2nd, 2012, 07:06 AM
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I am so very glad to hear these initial responses! I've never been, it's always been high on my list, and it would have been disappointing to hear others agree with this person, tho' I wanted to keep an open mind since in general, change is certainly one thing I know we can count on. Just hoped that much change hadn't happened for Paris!

Assuming Paris does become the choice, and knowing both interests in op and we are rather "slow" travelers rather than packing a lot into a day, would you suggest basing in Paris the whole time and just doing some day trips out, or actually dividing the trip into Paris and either another part of the country, or another country?
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Sep 2nd, 2012, 07:08 AM
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We are heading out for #9 (since 2001) to Paris in a few days so, of course, I'll agree with the above posters. Every trip to Paris is just as enchanting as it was 11 years ago.

We usually add another place in France to our Paris adventure. We have enjoyed The Loire Valley twice, Provence and The Riviera many times. Staying 5 days in Paris and then taking the train to another spot is very easy on the TGV.

We have never been in April (always Sept.) so I'll leave the other location suggestions up to the Fodorites who travel at that time of year. But, IMO, don't miss Paris.
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Sep 2nd, 2012, 08:29 AM
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Hi, go_laura. I had that reaction to London. My first visit was in 1969 and the second in the 1990s. In general, shopping has become more homogenized with our global economies--one can buy the same goods in almost every major city. And don't let's get started about fast food chains. Don't get me wrong though--London's sites were just as special 30 years later.

On the other hand, first times in anything can be most special. I have been to Paris 5 times and have yet to be bored or disappointed because we were never able to see everything in our 2 week travel times. On one trip, we took guided day trips to: Bruges, 3 Loire valley castles, and a Paris by night with dinner at Eiffel Tower. On other trips, we took ourselves to Versailles twice (still haven't seen it all). We also trained on our own to Chartres.

If you haven't been to Paris, that would have my vote. But I haven't been to as many places as other Fodorites.
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Sep 2nd, 2012, 08:51 AM
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Paris-Morocco probably makes as much sense as Portugal-Morocco, as there are many flights between Paris and the former French protectorate.
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Sep 2nd, 2012, 10:48 AM
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Hi Go_Laura,

You wrote:

“Assuming Paris does become the choice, and knowing both interests in op and we are rather "slow" travelers rather than packing a lot into a day, would you suggest basing in Paris the whole time and just doing some day trips out, or actually dividing the trip into Paris and either another part of the country, or another country?”

A) If you decide to stay in Paris and do day trips, I highly recommend reading PARIS TO THE PAST: Traveling Through French History by Train by Ina Caro. A real Francophile, she makes dozens of suggestions about day trips from Paris by train to a myriad of destinations, usually taking about 1-2 hours each way. Also gives excellent recommendations for lunch at these end spots.

B) If you decide to do two destinations, I would suggest Paris then train to Nice and enjoy the French Riviera.

In any case enjoy and let us know what you decide…
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Sep 2nd, 2012, 10:53 AM
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"Paris is a poem pressed into a city.
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Sep 2nd, 2012, 10:54 AM
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My nephew and girlfriend just when to Paris for the first time and were over the moon, and they are not really travel bugs, or even city fans. I saw their pictures, and they both looked incredibly happy.

I suggest you plan to stay the whole time in Paris and play it by ear about whether you want to leave the city, even for a second. My pick would be the train to Antwerp, since the food is so fabulous there.
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Sep 2nd, 2012, 01:10 PM
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Your replies are all it took to decide me: Paris for at least most of the trip!! I'm very excited. Thanks for all your thoughts and ideas, all of which I'll consider. Will read more trip reports and peruse travel books/guides (latedaytraveler, will def. look for the one you mentioned) and undoubtedly will be back with other q's.

Actually, one I'll ask now - pros/cons to April v. May? We need to be back home for an important family event weekend of April 27, so in order to make max. use of weekend time for the trip, it'll need to be either Apr. 7 -20 or May 5-18. If April lodging prices would be better, unless there are huge down sides, that would decide it for us.

Aguamineral, while part of me loves the idea of deciding once I get there (when on homeground, my style is pretty spontaneous), I'm a bit too novice of a traveler to feel comfortable not having lodging arrangements already made for whatever amount of time we're to stay.

Also, while I hadn't mentioned the "we" part of this before, because others were letting this be my decision (for a couple reasons, not worth explaining), this is not a solo trip - it's with DH and probably another couple (long time friends who hopefully stay that way lol). So for some things, others' preferences will need to be part of the equation as well, and while I haven't yet asked, I think they'd be even less comfortable playing it by ear, than I would be.
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Sep 2nd, 2012, 02:27 PM
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Go_Laura, all things being equal, I would choose May over April.

But any time in Paris is great...
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Sep 2nd, 2012, 02:44 PM
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The coldest I ever have been was an April in Paris!
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Sep 2nd, 2012, 02:55 PM
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You don't need to stay overnight in Belgium to visit it as a day trip from Paris. You can leave Paris at 10.30 am and be in Antwerp in time for lunch. A 8.30pm train back to Paris will arrive in time for an elegant late night feast of champagne and oysters around 11pm. (you can come in earlier if you feel like it.)
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Sep 3rd, 2012, 08:12 AM
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So after all this Paris excitement, it looks like we have to travel in April. I hate being cold, and don't like risking lots of rain for vacation since my favorite thing to do is walk around outdoors. Despite the song, having now looked up typical April weather in Paris, now am thinking, maybe 2013 do Portugal and/or Southern Spain and/or Sicily, or possibly Morocco as part of it, and save Paris for Sept. 2014. Might start another thread to help me decide which!
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Sep 3rd, 2012, 09:00 AM
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On any given day in any given month Paris can be rainy. Or cold. You never know, BUT you do know you will be IN Paris. Not even a choice for me.
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Sep 3rd, 2012, 09:27 AM
  #20
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Hi GL,

>... it had become a little more like "any big city" rather than being as uniquely beautiful and charming as she'd remembered.<

That is a very jaded woman.

With 11 days in April just enjoy Paris with a few daytrips.
OR
Fly into Venice 4 nights and then train to Paris.

Enjoy your visit.

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