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Paris with a 19yo girl - add London or Amsterdam?

Paris with a 19yo girl - add London or Amsterdam?

Aug 24th, 2010, 05:47 PM
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Paris with a 19yo girl - add London or Amsterdam?

I am headed to Paris the first week of June 2011. I am taking my niece as a graduation present (she'll turn 19 before the trip), and I've already booked the tickets ATL-CDG through FF miles. I was planning on 5-6 days, but it became 8 days and nights.

Now I'm having buyer's remorse, and thinking I should have booked an open-jaw returning from somewhere else. Although I've been to Paris 4 times and know there's a lot to do, each trip was 3-4 days and I can't imagine spending 8 days in one city and one hotel. I know most people here are into slow travel and long apt. stays, but that just seems too long to me. Plus, I want to focus on what my niece will enjoy and not just what I want to do, which means that we won't be spending much time in museums.


With 8 days in Paris, what would be the most fun things for a 19yo girl? I'll have no problem filling 3-4 days (the biggies, plus maybe the catacombs tour, Pere Lachaise), with another day for Versailles.

Anyone have personal experience with the Fat Bike Tour? Any shopping suggestions, other than Galeries Layfayette and Au Printemps (which I think she will like)? What are cheap hip places to shop for girls her age?

Any thoughts on adding London vs. Amsterdam? I thought a quick trip to London on the Eurostar would be fun, since it's such a short train ride. Although we have our tickets back from CDG, I thought of breaking the trip up, 3 nights in Paris, 2 nights in London, then another 3 nights in Paris at a different hotel (maybe splitting between Maris and St. Germain). I also think the train trip by itself would be fun for my niece, because she's a small town girl who's never been anywhere and I thought train travel was fun and exotic on my first trip.

A friend says London is too big for such a quick trip and Amsterdam would be better, because it's smaller and it would be more fun for a 19yo. I've been to both, but haven't been to Amsterdam in over 15 years, and this seems like a good excuse to get back there, even if only for 2 days. It will cost over $250 to change our FF tickets to open jaw returning from AMS instead of CDG, so it seems like it will be cheaper to just come back to Paris on the train and fly out of CDG.

What other places could we go that are a short trip outside Paris? I thought about Mt St Michel, but I do not want to rent a car and I remember it being somewhat difficult to get to without a car. I went there once 15+ years ago on a tour so I didn't have to worry about logistics. I also think cities will be more fun for my niece, and Paris and Amsterdam would be a great combo. I toured Normandy and the Loire valley years ago, but I've already done that and I want the trip to be fun for both of us, not me dragging her to chateaux that might be boring to her.

I also do not want to rent an apt. I know that's what many people will recommend, but I think an apt. will be too isolating and it will be more fun for both of us if we are at a hotel where we can meet other travelers more easily. Plus, 8 days in one place just doesn't appeal to me for this trip. We're both young (ish) and mobile, and maybe slow travel will appeal more as I get older or when I have kids.

Even if we stay in Paris, I am thinking we might split hotels and neighborhoods to make things more fun for her. I would ask if this is a crazy idea, but I know I'm going to get some "yes" votes. But I frequently split hotels in Vegas on a 4-day trip so it's no big deal to me at all.

And yes of course I have asked her what she wants to do. She wants to see the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame, and do some shopping, and when we talk about other stuff, she says "whatever you want is fine with me." She's just happy to be going. But still, I know her and I can't see her enjoying long days at the Louvre. Unless she meets a cute boy who wants to give her a tour. She is going through guidebooks but I want to do my homework too, so I can steer her towards specific locations to get her feedback.

Thanks for any suggestions.
cheryllj is offline  
Aug 24th, 2010, 06:07 PM
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My vote is for London. Start with 4 nights in Paris (slow start to get over jet lag) then 2 or even 3 nights London and return to Paris for the last night or two.
sassy_cat is offline  
Aug 24th, 2010, 06:15 PM
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So one vote for London. Thanks.

That's a good idea about having a slow start to account for jet lag. We arrive at 8am but I know that jet lag can make me a zombie the first day and we will probably take it easy. That might also allow for a fancier hotel the last night or two in Paris to end the trip in style.
cheryllj is offline  
Aug 24th, 2010, 06:28 PM
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I'll vote Amsterdam. If you really want to add another city. My thinking is because it's smaller and easier to wrap your mind around and figure out. Amsterdam is very cool.

Nothing against London, just it's more.

But I'm not against staying 8 days in Paris, as an alternative. I wouldn't move hotels. To me that's a waste of energy. I'd just look for day trips within the city to different arrondisements.

Why not give your niece a couple guidebooks covering Paris, A'dam and London and let her decide the distribution of your days???
suze is online now  
Aug 24th, 2010, 06:44 PM
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"Why not give your niece a couple guidebooks covering Paris, A'dam and London and let her decide the distribution of your days???"

I agree with what Suze says here.
sam86 is offline  
Aug 24th, 2010, 07:02 PM
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I first went to Paris, London and Amsterdam when I was about your niece's age. I've been back to Paris and London many times and still have many things I want to see and do. I've been back to Amsterdam once. I hope to return to Paris and London many times more. I have no particular interest in returning to Amsterdam. A vote for London.
mamcalice is offline  
Aug 24th, 2010, 07:02 PM
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Of course I'll be getting her input, but I want to give her some options up front. I was also hoping for some suggestions that I hadn't thought of, maybe somewhere I haven't been.

She lives in another state, so we are doing our planning via e-mail, and I'm sure her first response will be "whatever you want is fine with me." I have a busy life, but she has school and work, plus two new (half) siblings born within the past two months, so she's happy to leave most of the planning to me.
cheryllj is offline  
Aug 24th, 2010, 08:01 PM
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I vote for Amsterdam.I took my 16 years old grandaughter 2 years ago and she really enjoyed the city.
kismetchimera is offline  
Aug 24th, 2010, 08:37 PM
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Even hearing the rest of the back story, I still say Amsterdam. Get her the Let's Go guidebook. That's what I used for my 1st trip there. It was perfect. As far as "other ideas" you could skip the 2nd city and just concentrate on Paris with day trips. Nothing wrong with that idea!!
suze is online now  
Aug 24th, 2010, 08:39 PM
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If you're open to completely different ideas, I did Venice/Paris one trip (overnight train). That was a beautiful pairing.
suze is online now  
Aug 25th, 2010, 07:38 AM
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If you love to see the Eiffel Tower sparking, you can also go to the Duquesne Eiffel and stay in the Tour Eiffel room. The view on the website is the view we had out our window and I just laid on the bed (after pushing it over a foot) and watched it a night. Breathtaking if you like to see that! It's in a quiet area, but near metro and some cafes and bakery. I was with my kids in Paris and we switched hotels halfway through and loved experiencing two different hotels and areas.

Good luck with your decision! You'll have a great time no matter where you go!
kwren is offline  
Aug 25th, 2010, 07:41 AM
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I agree London is too big for a 2 or 3-day trip. But I'd do it anyway. (1) they speak English and (2) the shopping for teenage girls is fantastic. Just buy your Eurostar tickets well in advance; the prices go up a lot as you get close to your travel date.
Mimar is offline  
Aug 25th, 2010, 12:00 PM
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I appreciate all the suggestions.

suze - Venice I hadn't considered b/c I thought it too far, but I didn't even think about an overnight train b/c I've never done that before. I'll have to think about that one b/c I really love Venice.

Pierro - Is the first week of June really the highest season for tourists? I didn't know that, I thought Sept/Oct was high season in Paris. And here I thought we were going at the perfect time, right after school ends but before the bigger summer crowds arrive.

I've stayed in the 5th arr before twice (Familia and Claude Bernard), and I've also stayed in the 7th and it was a little too quiet for me at night, so I was thinking of hotels in the Marais or St Germain for this trip. But I'm leaving the hotel decision for later, after we are set on the number of nights in each place.

The Jeanne D'Arc in the Marais looks very appealing but many hotels won't show rates this far ahead of time so it seems better to wait.
cheryllj is offline  
Aug 25th, 2010, 12:07 PM
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"I was with my kids in Paris and we switched hotels halfway through and loved experiencing two different hotels and areas."

kwren: Thanks for that - at least I know that if we do switch hotels we aren't crazy and somebody else has done that before and enjoyed it. When I've split hotels before it felt like two vacations in one, and I like the idea of enjoying 2 different hotels and neighborhoods. But that's still up in the air at this point, just something I'm thinking about.
cheryllj is offline  
Aug 25th, 2010, 12:37 PM
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My teen sons and I also split rooms. We stay over by the Arc and then move to the Left Bank (St. Michel) area. My oldest (now 21) and I are returning soon. My kids never felt like a week in Paris was enough, especially the first time. I think that your niece will enjoy seeing the various neighborhoods, markets, sidewalk cafes, browsing in the grocery stores and just wandering.
You could do an overnight trip to Bruges (4 hours by train).
You could, in addition to Versailles, visit Giverny.
Look through the day trips on Viatour and that will give you some ideas. They have a full day trip where you visit the Loire Valley and 3 castles. Depending on how you and her parents feel about it, the trip to the champange houses also looked good. Viatour has also added a 3 hour chocolate and pastry tour in Paris. Yummy!
One tip that I would try to do is to get up early and enjoy walking the parks and seeing the city come to life.
Other ideas: have a picnic in the Tuileries, climb to the top of Notre Dame, evening cruise from the Pont Neuf, go to St. Suplice and find the rose line (!), watch the nightly street show of musicians around St. Michel metro stop on Left Bank, have a drink at Harry's Bar (she could read "A Moveable Feast").
Since this is her first trip I think that you will have plenty to keep you busy. When we have been to a place a few times sometimes we forget the little things that we thought were so "cool" the first time around. My youngest was impressed with watching the baker through the window at midnight stretching bread.
This is a great present that you are giving her and she will always remember her trip to Paris.
Lynnaustin is offline  
Aug 25th, 2010, 01:38 PM
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I did it a few years ago so check that the schedules still work. But a friend and I spent 5 days in Venice, the took an afternoon train to Milan & the Milan train station bought a picnic dinner & wine, then boarded the night train (we got a private 2-person sleeper compartment) around 7pm I believe it was, had dinner, conversatio, went to bed & woke up in Paris. It was brilliant!
suze is online now  
Aug 25th, 2010, 01:39 PM
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With the private sleeper it wasn't cheap, I think it was more like the cost of a mid-range hotel room. You could probably fly cheaper. But I thought it was a great adventure.
suze is online now  
Aug 25th, 2010, 03:03 PM
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A few years ago I met my daughter in Paris (she lives in London) and after 5 days we trained to Nice. The train trip took 6 hours and it cost 86 euros for both one way. SCNF.com
We both thought it was brilliant!
Micheline is offline  
Aug 25th, 2010, 05:48 PM
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Okay, I'll be different and say that you could easily stay in Paris and take day tours around France. Versailles, Monet's home, some of the Chantilly. France has a wonderful train system and it's easy to get around.

Stuff that may seem boring to you, having been to Paris, may be exciting for her. Even if it's just to sit in a cafe and talk.
emily71 is offline  
Aug 25th, 2010, 06:01 PM
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First - 8 days in Paris is not to much. Have done that several times - including once with my step-daughters - then 14 and 17 - and we all loved it. There was plenty for al of us to do - although they sometimes wanted to see different things than we did - and went out with kids they had met there a couple of nights.

I think the obvious thing is to ask you niece what she wants - I mean she's a grown woman, not a child. She should certainly have some POV of what she wants to see and do - and if she would rather spend a couple of days somewhere else. (You could easily do a couple of day trips if 8 days in Paris feels like too much.) Has she had a look at one of the Let's Go or Rough Guides to get an idea of what she'll enjoy most?
nytraveler is offline  

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