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Planning for 10 Days in Paris (+ side trip?)

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Apr 10th, 2016, 09:47 PM
  #1
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Planning for 10 Days in Paris (+ side trip?)

Hello! My husband and I are returning to Paris this September for 10 nights to celebrate our 10yr wedding anniversary. We honeymooned there so very long ago (2 wks in Paris/Loire Valley) and are excited to finally return! We are in our mid/late 30s, relatively experienced travelers and LOVE to seek out and eat delicious food.

We saw a ton of the major sights last time we were in Paris so this time I'm planning to hit up our favs but hope to really relax, stroll, picnic, eat, drink, shop, etc! I've been researching rentals on Airbnb in the Marais area. I think that's where we want to be. But am open to other suggestions! I'm also a little hesitant to not having access to the amenities/concierge services of a hotel but think we can save $ by going the Airbnb route (plus many of washer/dryers in the unit!).

We want to save the bulk of our vacation budget for food. I'd say our most fond memories of our trips always include memorable meals so would appreciate any must-not-miss recommendations that must be booked now. (Like Tickets in Barcelona, which we were never able to get into!)

Since we have a wonderful 10 days/10 nights at our disposal, I'm thinking of venturing outside of Paris a bit. Options include a day trip to Normandy/D-Day beaches (my husband would enjoy that), a day trip to Versailles (loved biking around the gardens), a side trip to Lyon (great food?!), or maybe popping over the border to either Brussels, London, Amsterdam or Geneva. We are flying in/out of Paris so don't want to go too far since we have to come back but the high speed rails give us lots of options. I know we don't have THAT much time and have to choose really wisely. Would so love any suggestions!

Thank you all so much in advance!
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Apr 10th, 2016, 10:41 PM
  #2
VGF
 
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If you've already seen all the big ones, a really cool unusual art experience - Gustave Moreau's apartmemt and studio.

Normandy is great for a visit with the various seaside towns in addition to the historic cemeteries. Saint Malo is nice and of course Saint Michel is amazing.

Septime, Semilla, Frenchies (three different restaurants close together - wine bar, resto, to go), Le Bat - excellent small dishes, L'Avant Comptoir near Odean - fantastic tapas - no seats or reservations - always crowded, except at off times... kind of a crazy place.
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Apr 10th, 2016, 10:51 PM
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If you are concerned about doing laundry, be aware that the machines available in apartments are mostly combination units. They will spin dry only (and not a lot) which means you'll have to hang your clothes to dry overnight. The wash/dry cycle takes anywhere from 90 mins to more than 2 hours, so this will not be the convenience you are used to. In addition, most apartments are concerned about noise, so you won't be permitted to use the machines when you want to.

A coin laundry is always available - and normally near hotels - and would be a much more efficient and inexpensive option. There are separate machines for washing and drying which take far less time than apartment machines do. You can bring a snack, use this time to plan your day and be out of there in about an hour.

If you arrive before you can check in to your apartment, you'll have to haul your stuff around - sometimes for hours, and in bad weather - whereas you can always drop your bags at a hotel and go out for a walk or meal. If you're on a budget, there are lots of hotels in the Marais for under 150/night - look on booking.com and hotels.com. If you want to spend less money but still be in a convenient neighborhood, look in the 11th and 12th instead of the 3rd and 4th. Apartments are just as small as hotel rooms are, so you might as well have someone else change your linens and clean up while you're on vacation. Many hotels have minibars, too. Since it's been awhile since you've been here, the staff would be a big help with directions, making reservations, tickets, etc.

Paris is a lot more crowded than it was the last time you were here, so you'll spend more time in lines than you might think. The D-Day and Lyon options are good ideas - buy your train tickets ahead of time to save money. Look on the SNCF website for the calendar of prices - the time of day and day of the week will make a difference in price. The food is much, much better in Lyon than in Paris and it's worth spending at least a day and a half there - go early and come back late. Depending on how interested you are in the D-Day experience, you could go for one full day or stay overnight.

Versailles will eat up about 8 hours, including transport time. Since you've already been there, why not go explore Fontainebleau, instead - only about 45 mins from Paris, extraordinary and far less crowded.

Getting to London on Eurostar will take about 3.5 hours each way, including check-in time. Once you're there, things are much more spread out, so you'll need at least 2 days to see much of anything.

September is a busy month, so you'll need to get going and make plans now.
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Apr 11th, 2016, 02:52 AM
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If you decide to go to London definitely buy the eurostar tickets far in advance - I think they are available 120 days out. The prices then will be much cheaper - if you wait and buy a week of two before you travel the cost may be as much as 3 times as much.

Also - if you do decide to do London consider getting open jaw tickets (into paris and out of London versus RT Pari - avoiding wasting the time and money to get back to Paris. On web sites these are often called multi-destination flight and 1/2 of each of the round trip fares (nothing like 2 one-way tickets).
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Apr 11th, 2016, 03:03 AM
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If you've been to Versailles, maybe not do it again. Would you consider a few days less in Paris and strike out for Normandy by car from the airport? It would be a charming tour for 3-4 days. And budget friendly with good food.
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Apr 11th, 2016, 03:18 AM
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A day trip to the Normandy invasion sites is possible but because of the distances involved the time actually at the various sites will be a rushed half-day, whether an escorted package from Paris or on your own. An alternative would be to go to Caen or Bayeux the day you land, do a full tour the next day and return to Paris that evening to establish your home base for the rest of the stay.
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Apr 11th, 2016, 07:35 AM
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I'm assuming you know about the issues with AirBnB and illegal rentals in Paris. If not, read up on it.

Personally, I'd wait until I was in Paris to decide about taking side trips. We spent 10 days in Paris and couldn't tear ourselves away to do any side tips.
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Apr 11th, 2016, 10:41 PM
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Thank you everyone! I really do want to relax and have a deep love for fresh oysters so what about this:

Day 1 (Mon 9/19): Arrive at CDG at 10:30am. Head directly to the Brittany/Normandy area.

Day 2 (Tue 9/20) - Day 4 (Thu 9/22): Brittany (St. Malo, Cancale) & Normandy (Mont Saint Michel, Cotentin Peninsula for more oysters, D-Day Beaches)

Day 5 (Fri 9/23) - Day 10 (Wed 9/28):
Head back to Paris early and spend the remaining of the trip there.

Day 11 (Thu 9/29):
Depart CDG at 10am

Here are my questions:

Transportation. I think we will want to have a car to explore the Brittany/Normandy area. But renting a car from CDG and driving it ~5 hours doesn't sound like a fun way to kick off our trip. Would it be better to take a train out to the area (i think we'd have to leave from the Paris train station though) and rent a car out there? Or is maybe trying to find a flight from CDG out there a good idea?

And any suggestions on how to get back to Paris?

Lodging/Home Base. Ideally we wouldn't be changing hotels every night while we're out in Brittany/Normandy. Are there any ideal locations in Brittany and/or Normandy that would serve as a good base to visit the sites I listed above?

I also did read up on AirBnb's illegal rentals. Wow! Any suggestions on how to find an apt rental that is legit? Though I would love to stay in a hotel if the $$ is right.

Thank you everyone!
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Apr 11th, 2016, 11:26 PM
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What is your budget for lodging? Though AirBnB and other agencies may be cheaper, it's really not worth the hassle and the risk unless you'd be staying in the same place for a much longer period of time and would need cooking facilities, etc.

The crackdown is not only directed towards AirBnB, but concerns all vacation rentals listed on the internet - the Mayor's office is conducting periodic "sweeps", where an agent has the right to knock on your door and ask you questions, or enter if you're not there and take a look around. If the owner is sanctioned, the rental must be removed immediately from the market, so it's possible that you'd have to find another place to stay on your own, and at the last minute.

There are only about 600 legal vacation rentals at this time in Paris. The majority of those are in arrondissements and buildings that most tourists would prefer to avoid - not convenient to the usual attractions, modern buildings with no charm, etc.

There are plenty of nice, charming and affordable hotels in Paris, in every arrondissement. There are also legal apart'hotels, if you need laundry and kitchen facilities - Adagio, Citadines, Residence Henri IV are good choices - though many illegal rentals are masquerading as apart'hotels, so you have to be careful.

If you state your approximate budget, you'll get some excellent hotel recommendations from people on this forum.
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Apr 11th, 2016, 11:35 PM
  #10
kja
 
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"But renting a car from CDG and driving it ~5 hours doesn't sound like a fun way to kick off our trip. Would it be better to take a train out to the area (i think we'd have to leave from the Paris train station though) and rent a car out there?"

Absolutely! If I understand correctly, you'll be flying in from the U.S., and so will likely experience some jet lag. Although many people don't realize it, driving with jet lag is just as dangerous -- for yourselves and others -- as driving drunk. Give yourselves a day or two to recover before trying to drive.


I could be wrong, but I think it will be challenging to find a single base that will serve all your interests in Brittany / Normandy. FWIW, I thought Mont Saint Michel MUCH more enjoyable after daytrippers left, and so was very glad to spend a night there, but I would NOT spend MORE than one night there.

Hope that helps, and happy anniversary!
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Apr 11th, 2016, 11:41 PM
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Instead of spending a lot of money on train tickets to go to Normandy or Lyon or out of the country why not consider any of the loads of day trips that are easy to reach from Paris and far less expensive? You can look at reply #3 in the thread below for my list of Paris day trips:

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic....html#66017674
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Apr 12th, 2016, 02:56 AM
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I also think your Normandy AND Brittany trip is too much. My suggestion would be Bayeux for 3 days. Do whatever trip and sights you can from there.
Head back to Paris, perhaps stopping at Chartres before turning the car in at Orly.
French Mystique has an absolutely wonderful list of day trips, and that is a possibility, but I also enjoyed staying in the Normandy area for a portion of a trip.
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Apr 12th, 2016, 03:11 PM
  #13
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Thanks everyone!

I'm thinking of 125 euros/night for a hotel. And possibly splitting up our trip so we get a taste of Paris first before heading out to Mont St Michel and then wrapping back up in Paris again. This way we could possibly stay in two different areas in Paris. What would be a second suggestion in addition to the Marais area?

Day 1-3: Paris

Day 4: Take train out to Caen, rent car and drive out to St. Malo / Cancale, explore and spend the night there, check out Mont St Michel in the evening light from the shore.

Day 5: Visit Mont St Michel early before it gets crowded, then head over to Bayeux and check out a few D Day beaches. Spend the night there.

Day 6: Head back to Paris

Day 7-10: Paris! Day trip maybe to Giverny, Fontenbleau, etc.

Thank you!!

Day 7-10: More Paris!
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Apr 12th, 2016, 03:58 PM
  #14
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Depending on when you leave Bayeux, you might be able to visit Giverny on your way back to Paris. It might require an extra night in Bayeux, though....
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Apr 13th, 2016, 02:57 AM
  #15
 
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Here are 6 hotels that meet your budget in the Marais. I've had friends and family stay in all of them and they were pleased.
Hotel Le Neuve Le Marais
Hotel Paris Rivoli
Hotel Turenne Le Marais
Hotel Jeanne d'Arc (on rue de Jarente)
Hotel de la Bretonnerie
Hotel Castex

If you want to stay near the train station for convenience's sake when you come back, I would recommend staying in the 10th, near Canal St Martin, where there will be a lot of things to do.
Le Citizen is a good hotel that might suit you.
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Apr 13th, 2016, 05:17 AM
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The HOtel BAyeux is a wonderful economic squeaky clean hotel with a secure car park. Don't forget the Bayeux tapestry.
If you rent the car in Paris (maybe somewhere on the peripherique) you could easily go to Giverny on the drive into Normandy. You might consider Honfleur on the coast and Rouen on the way there.
Normandy has WONDERFUL fromageries. And, of course, cider. Just my opinion, including Brittany in your itinerary looks a little like a drive by rather than enjoying some of the terroir in between.
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Apr 13th, 2016, 05:40 AM
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What an absolute load of ignorant hooey Fuzzbucket just fed you about apartments.

Washing machines have a quick cycle and take nowhere near 90 minutes to 2 hours. And no, you shouldn't be doing your laundry at 2AM, but most people work and sleep normal hours, so doing laundry in the morning or through the evening is perfectly fine.

I have rented more than 20 apartments in Paris and, to a one, every landlord has let me drop off my luggage. They know that most flights from North American land in the early morning and all have been perfectly happy to let me drop off my luggage, or even go into the apartment if no one has left that day, necessitating cleaning.

As far as apartments being the same size as hotel rooms...um no...not true. Unless you rent a 15m studio apartment...and yes there are some of those...any apartment is going to be larger than a hotel room.

On neither TA nor Fodor's has even ONE person reported that their apartment was pulled at the last minute due to any crackdown...nor has anyone reported the authorities knocking on their door and ejecting them from their lodging. It's fear mongering and nothing more.

If you feel you would benefit from the services of a concierge, then by all means, you should book a hotel.

If you'd like the space, independence and amenities that an apartment provide, please don't let the glaring misinformation provided in this thread sway you.
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Apr 13th, 2016, 08:51 AM
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happygoin - welcome back from the morgue.

Your information concerning laundry facilities in Parisian apartments is woefully lacking. And renting "more than 20 apartments" in Paris does not qualify anyone as an expert, especially when the same apartment was rented repeatedly by someone who happens to be friendly with the landlords.

Unfortunately, the "space, independence and amenities" you describe in such glowing terms will not be the case for everyone - as evidenced by the people I see every day hauling their luggage around for hours and complaining about the size and amenities of their apartments while attempting to shop for groceries which will fit in dorm-sized refrigerators and microwave ovens.

If the OP has an expansive budget, apartments can be nicer, but this does not appear to be the case.

It is a well-known fact that Trip Advisor is in the vacation rental business (and has been busily acquiring more accounts), and many "regular members" either own rental property and use TA for paid as well as free advertising (via the forums), or have friends who do. That is why the Paris travel forum has been sanitized regarding apartment stays which have gone wrong. You can't read the negative reports because "the community" has had them removed. However, if you Google the topic, quite a lot will surface.

But of course, you would know a lot about that.
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Apr 13th, 2016, 09:37 AM
  #19
 
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What rubbish are you making up now? Not a clue what this means. I've rented the same apartment twice. And I do not now, nor have I ever, known the owners.

You know as well as I do that every washing machine has a quick cycle, unless it's more than 30 years old.

I do wish you'd stop spewing your rubbish here. It's tiresome. You are nothing but a bully. You were on TA and you are here as well.
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Apr 13th, 2016, 10:09 AM
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Pot. Kettle. Black.
Since you have never met me, I will invite you to keep your personal opinions to yourself, happygoin. Nobody is interested in hearing from the real bully in the sandbox.

As a former manager of vacation apartments in Paris, I have always represented the other side of the coin, as far as short-term rentals are concerned. There are problems and risks involved, which first-time visitors tend to overlook - especially when "trusted forum members" tell them everything will go wonderfully well. But after their visits, many are happy just to tick that particular box and stick to hotels afterwards.

Appliances in vacation rentals are not always new - in fact, most are left there until they die. Plenty of brand-new washing machines do not include a "short cycle". While others do include a 30 min program, it's for a very small load, and these machines will not dry your clothes.
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