Go Back  Fodor's Forum > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page > Planning first Trip to France, Spain, Italy etc. NEED HELP!!
Notices

Planning first Trip to France, Spain, Italy etc. NEED HELP!!

Reply

Jun 13th, 2013, 07:31 AM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 4
Planning first Trip to France, Spain, Italy etc. NEED HELP!!

I am starting to plan a trip overseas as a graduation gift. I am needing help understanding where the best place to stay (we are on a slight budget) and how to use the metro to travel throughout France at this current time. We have decided based on tripadvisor to stay at Lux Hotel Picpus, since the rates are amazing and the reviews are outstanding. I am wanting to see the: Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, Versailles, Norte Dame Cathedrale, and then travel down to either Cannes or Nice (I have distant family in Nice but are most likely in the states during our trip.) We are planning on staying in Paris 5-6 nights and then traveling down to the coast (would love to hear which people prefer for the coast, and a great hotel to stay at for two nights). What is the best metro and Deal for us to purchase for the bang for our buck in Paris (and how in the world do you find the routes)? From there we are wanting to most likely go on a cruise that departs from Barcelona (R.C. or Disney Med. Cruise.) But we are not sure that is the best idea for site seeing in Italy, but we love the price and ability to visit the Greek Isle and other countries that the cruise has to offer.

We would love suggestions! We are planning this trip for next summer (end of may start of june) once I graduate before I head off to graduate school! We are on a budget and are wanting to stay in hotels that are nice (and not to pricey) that will provide a clean bed and shower.

Thanks in advanced for helping us out.
J&K
MIMCJESS is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 13th, 2013, 08:25 AM
  #2
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 8,827
The location of the Lux Hotel Picpus is fine, gets decent reviews, but it's a good two hour walk from the Eiffel Tower, 45 minutes to an hour on the metro, depending on which route you choose. Lets just say you'll get your daily exercise in if you're into walking. As a 2-star property, don't expect a/c, which is nice if it's the typical summer in Paris.

The Paris metro only serves Paris (www.ratp.fr/en/ratp/c_21879/tourists/).

You'll need to take the train (SNCF) to Nice or Cannes (www.voyages-sncf.com).
Robert2533 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 13th, 2013, 12:08 PM
  #3
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 56
It's great that you're starting the planning this early! Along with the ideas you get from this forum and TA I think you will greatly benefit from some of the basic travel guides like Lonely Planet, Rick Steves, DK etc. Most of these guides should be available at your nearest public library. They'll help you focus on what you want to do with your limited time.

Along with recommendations for places to stay for various budgets, both Steves and Lonely Planet provide a good overview on using the public transportation systems. They're also excellent for the very general background info - ie. How Things Work.

The ratp website that Robert mentioned will have a map of the system that you can print off and use for your basic planning. Once in Paris you can pick up a metro map at most of the stations and use it in conjunction with a basic tourist map for getting around most efficiently. As far as the best deal for metro tickets it usually turns out to be the 10-ticket carnet.

While in Paris have you considered renting an apartment vs. a hotel? Considering the length of your stay the potential for saving a significant amount of money (and time!) is high when you factor in the cost of eating in restaurants or even bistros on a daily basis. Yes, cautions are involved but if you stick to a reliable agency (remember they're mostly just the marketing end) and then use a little due diligence you should be okay.

Good luck with your planning - it sounds like a great trip!
RogerM is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 13th, 2013, 12:24 PM
  #4
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 4
I have never thought about renting an apartment! That is a great idea! I will end up staying a week since the rates are cheaper staying a week in a apartment than a hotel. What are reliable rental agencies? My french teacher always used VRBO when she traveled.
MIMCJESS is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 13th, 2013, 12:33 PM
  #5
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 4
I've found a few places that sparked my interest on HouseTrip.com the apartment had good reviews and is 5 minutes from the Eiffel tower which is great to be able to see at night and in the day. I think we will be dining out for most of our stay. We would rather spend less on our room and invest more on the dining traveling and entertainment.
MIMCJESS is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 14th, 2013, 07:53 AM
  #6
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 56
As you've probably seen there are numerous agencies in the apartment business and, as far as "reliable" it's pretty subjective. Some of the agencies we've used (e.g. Homeaway, Homelidays, Holiday Lettings, Perfectly Paris and VRBO) have worked out fine but never forget that your only real security when it comes to the accuracy of the listing and condition of the place lies with the quality of the people you're actually dealing with. One of the newer players that a lot of people like is airbnb because it provides a little more financial security and a better rating system. There's lots of information out (especially on the "other" major travel forum - just do a keyword search) there on the best approach to avoiding scams or poor service but nothing is 100%.

As far as dining, even if you only have breakfast and lunch in your apartment it can be a real money and time saver. For us the idea of having to spend an hour plus at lunch when there was so much to see do was excruciating so we'd often make up a picnic. Then there's the laundry issue - we travel very light and so that's essential.

One of the drawbacks to this forum is the lack of personal message capability. Are you on TA at all?
RogerM is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 14th, 2013, 08:25 AM
  #7
 
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 650
One of the drawbacks to this forum is the lack of personal message capability. Are you on TA at all?

____

Even if you do agree with people's assessments on Fodor's, they are certainly more honest than TA. Much has been written about people planting bad and good reviews on TA who have economic interests. Also many people who rate restaurants have no idea of which they speak, especially when comes to ethnic food or restaurants outside of the usual tourist haunts or those not in guide books. When I look at TA I gauge it by where I live and other places I know best. They range from idiotic to informed. Many are like high school kids who just want to be part of the crowd.

The thing I like most about Fodor's are their nationals who generously give of their time and knoweldge and who are consistent and easy to recognize.
BigAleinstein is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 14th, 2013, 08:45 AM
  #8
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,564
An apartment may be a great possibility. However, as a first time visitor (and unaware of even the rudiments of the Metro, etc.), I strongly recommend a hotel which will have a desk for you to ask questions/get advice. In many cases, it can be just as economical as an apartment with its foibles of providing a security deposit, getting the key, etc.
Depending on the price of the cruise, you might enjoy just touring the countryside of France and Italy.
You say Nice--but don't overlook the charms of Provence instead.
Gretchen is online now  
Reply With Quote
Jun 14th, 2013, 09:11 AM
  #9
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 56
"The thing I like most about Fodor's are their nationals who generously give of their time and knoweldge and who are consistent and easy to recognize."

Yes, this is very important but I think you'll find the same thing on TA - it's just larger by a few orders of magnitude in terms of activity. As far as the quality of information well, both sites are open to all comers and many of the more knowledgeable travelers show up on both forums. But the PM capability allows individuals to make direct contact which is nice for more a detailed conversation.

Gretchen makes some excellent points! There's a lot to be said for minimizing complexity on a first visit.
RogerM is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 14th, 2013, 10:50 AM
  #10
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 4
I have no idea what TA is but i will check it out. My family as well as my friends family is more comfortable for us staying in a hotel, since its my first time over to Europe (My friend lived in Switzerland and traveled all throughout Europe when he was younger and hasn't been back since he was 16). But I looked at the apartments and for the security deposit, breakage deposit and other costs, the Lux seems like a better over all idea ( for $ as well as security for my family). But We are now trying to figure out if we should go on a cruise to see most of Italy with a 2 day stay in Barcelona before the cruise or if we should just stay in hotels and use the train system. I like the idea of just chilling on a ship but if i price it out its 378 dollars a day for each of us which is a bit high! I think I could make the trip less expensive without the cruise, but i have heard the negative and positive experience with touring the Italy via the Disney or R.C. cruises. And If we where to travel on foot to italy, i was thinking start out in italy and work up to Paris. But I think our stay in Europe will be about 3 weeks all together. Has anyone heard anything about the cruises for the med? I had a friend in highschool go and she absolutely loved it but was over 5 years ago!
MIMCJESS is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 14th, 2013, 02:44 PM
  #11
 
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 650
TA is Trip Advisor. Just google and look for what interest you.

We have been to Europe many, many times and we never gone on a cruise or anything more than a day tour. It is your adventure. You will make mistakes and they will be remembered as fondly as your best meal, the nicest person you met, and the greatest experience. It is not how many places you visit but what you see when you are in those places.

You want to live and travel through Europe the way you see it, not the way someone else directs where you will go and how long you can stay there.

End of lecture. We have been traveling indpendently for over 40 years and I always tell my wife, when I get old they throw in the back of a bus and tell when to get off.
BigAleinstein is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 14th, 2013, 08:25 PM
  #12
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 8,715
A cruise is fine for seeing archeological sites like Pompeii (or Ephesus in turkey), etc., but provides little in the way of opportunity to experience a place or country.

A cruise is not the best way to visit Italy. Most of the ports are far enough from the sights you will want to visit, that a good bit of somewhat expensive travel is required just to see a few major sights.

If you decide a cruise would be fun, with only three weeks, consider skipping Barcelona and catch a cruise somewhere in Italy and do some of the Greek Islands. Although I've done a cruise to the Greek Islands just to see them (and enjoyed it), I didn't feel I got a real feeling for the islands. However, many people went swimming, etc. on the islands and had a great time. If you enjoyed that, it could be fabulous.

You have plenty of time to research and make decisions. Look at vacationstogo for cruises. Your price quote is way more than we've ever paid, but we get cheap cabins. You can also ask about cruises on the cruise forum and on cruisecritic.com
Sassafrass is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 14th, 2013, 08:46 PM
  #13
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 8,715
To give you an idea of prices, I looked at 10 night cruises this summer to the Greek Islands and in the med on vacationstogo.com.
#15866, Rome to Greek islands: $1,049 + tip = $1200.00.

If you do look at cruises, be sure to look at how much time you will have in each port. Three or four hours on an island is hardly enough time to do anything. Look at cruises that give you very long days in port. Days at sea to rest up and enjoy the ship's pools, etc. are nice.
Sassafrass is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 05:39 PM.