Question on Travel to France

Feb 20th, 2008, 11:50 AM
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Question on Travel to France

My sister and I are trying to plan a trip to France (one that we were supposed to take back in August 2006, but due to problems, got cancelled). Our plan is to depart Washington, DC (Dulles) on Thursday May 22 and return on Saturday, May 31. We have flexibility after may 31, but not much before May 22nd.

We are planning to fly into Paris, take the TGV to Avignon, stay right outside of St Remy for 5 days, then TGV back to Paris, spend the remaining 3 days in Paris and then fly out of Paris.

Seems simple and all planned other than airfare at this time is close to $1500 r/t direct.

We've decided that we may have to think outside the box on this trip ... so I'd like to get some help on whether or not there is another city we could find cheaper fare to and train to Paris and then Provence w/o wasting too much time in 'traveling'? I guess I'm trying to find out if anyone has done anything like this before and has it work out for them??

We are also open to taking connecting flights but some that I have seen are close to 18-21 hours travel time to get to Paris from DC and that seems a bit crazy...

I'd appreciate any help.

Thank you!
katzen is offline  
Feb 20th, 2008, 12:11 PM
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I fly from Dulles a lot, and to France, and there isn't really any cheap alternative. London can sometimes be cheaper, of course, I presume you've looked at that. But if you mean a city within France itself, nothing will be cheaper than Paris. Washington to Paris is also a route that doesn't have some of the Air France sales as other cities for some reason. I guess they don't need to -- for example, when AF has its sales and has some relatively better deals from Boston or wherever, often IAD will not be included in the list.

If you want to then take the train to Avignon, I think you have to suck it up and realize Paris will be the cheapest bet -- unless you are willing to go to London, and as you said, you will then be adding on a lot of time. There are some cheap flights from London to some places in SOuthern France, though -- not Avignon, but maybe Marseille or Nice.

I've been checking RT fares IAD-CDG for this summer and they are very high. I've seen a lot around $1500. The cheapest reasonable fare I've seen is on Continental through EWR each way, and that's more like $1350. Others that save you a few hundred involve bad times or connections. You can get AA for around $1300 with a connection in JFK, or Virgin for about $1300 with a change in LHR (which no one wants).
Christina is online now  
Feb 20th, 2008, 12:16 PM
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Check out if you haven't done that yet to compare flight prices. Also, you might think about switching your departure city rather than your arrival city - can you train or take a commuter plane to NYC, Boston, Philly, etc and get a better fare. Continental was having a sale last week with tickets to Paris for $650 from Houston (May dates). Even with a $350 round trip ticket to Houston, you'd still be saving $500 and only adding a few hours to your trip.
Ninkette is offline  
Feb 20th, 2008, 12:22 PM
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Here's one consolidator that specializes in Wash DC flights, give them a try. They show your tickets at $1000 without taxes (which should be around $100-150).

I have a friend that uses them, and they are legit. I think they have deals with United. They don't seem to show times or connections, but you can get further info.

Also try I saw a fare on there around $1120 without taxes.
Christina is online now  
Feb 20th, 2008, 01:08 PM
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London as mentioned, and possible Amsterdam would be two other choices. Maybe even Frankfurt?

From L or A, you could take TGV to Paris and beyond

As others have stated, look beyond only leaving from Wahsington. I've driven two hours to another airport outside my home one, taken a flight to Philly, and then flown to Paris.

Use Kayak, or Travelocity/Expedia to try different combinations. If saving money is the prime motivator, the inconvenience of flying/driving to another airport becomes less relevant.
Michel_Paris is offline  
Feb 20th, 2008, 01:27 PM
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Try a connecting flight on Iberia, e.g. IAD-MAD-TLS or NCE or LYS. They post significantly lower fares and if they are available they can be purchased on-line. They fly to and from IAD 4 or 5 days a week including Saturday.
Jeff801 is offline  
Feb 20th, 2008, 02:55 PM
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Brussels has a no-train-change TGV to Avignon.
Lv 10:20 arrive 2:40
Lv 12:10 arrive 5:10

Also, a non-stop 1 1/2 hr TGV (really Thalys) from Paris to Brussels. I also enjoy the BRU airport more than CDG.

Last year I made this suggestion to someone, and they saved about $350.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is online now  
Feb 20th, 2008, 04:49 PM
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Thank you for all of your helpful responses. We are now checking Brussels and Amsterdam as alternative cities to fly in to. I will also check Iberia. WE are also looking into flying out of Philly. I appreciate the help!!
katzen is offline  
Feb 21st, 2008, 08:55 AM
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The cheapest fare I was able to find was flying out of Philadelphia, connecting in NYC, and flying into Brussels for a total of $892 (includes taxes, etc.) This seems to be a pretty good deal considering the fare to Paris is around $1500(direct). Can anyone tell me if this a decent fare for Brussels? I've never been.

Thank you!
katzen is offline  
Feb 21st, 2008, 09:24 AM
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You are a wealth of information! You could have your own website "Stu Dudley Knows All."

By the way, we used your information on Provence and had a wonderful time last summer.

Thanks to you and everyone for sharing your knowledge.
Feb 21st, 2008, 09:25 AM
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Assuming that you live nearer IAD, and knowing that BRU is a long way from Provence, I don't think that $892 is any great deal.

From IAD, you can get to Heathrow, non-stop for $546 on BA, on your exact travel dates. You could then buy a one-way ticket on BA to Lyon for $165. A one-way ticket from Paris to Heathrow for your return portion costs $90. Total cost is $801, cheaper than your $892 and closer to where you want to be on both ends of the trip.

Since these will be separate tickets, you might want to factor in another $100 for trip insurance, as a delay on one leg might doom your next leg. This is still within range of the $892, still gets you closer, and I'm sure you will save on the train ride and come out ahead. Alternatively, you can book this as a single itinerary with BA for $992, so you will be protected on misconnects.
travelgourmet is offline  
Feb 21st, 2008, 09:55 AM
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Well, you wanted to think out of the box...

FlyBe has several flights a week to Avignon from Southampton - about 90 mins by bus from Heathrow, and by train from Gatwick (which I think has cheaper flights from BWI). Currently about €50 each way, but can be as low as £12.
flanneruk is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2008, 10:21 AM
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We have been searching endlessly here .. it's been rather fun. I just found a flight on Iberia for $864 r/t from IAD to Paris with a connection in Spain.

This seems to be a good price - the only inconvenience would be the connection but at this point, I can't complain.

My question is: Has anyone flown Iberia? If so, what is it like? I usually stick to United and the more well known airlines so wanted to get some feedback on Iberia.

My one other question is - has anyone traveled to Paris/Provence in September? If so, have you found that airfare is a bit cheaper? Has the weather been decent? I only ask because if May does not work out for my sister and I, we may try for September.

Thank you again for all of your help!!
katzen is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2008, 10:34 AM
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Last year we flew from SFO, to JFK, to Madrid, to Nice on Iberia (probably SFO to JFK was not Iberia). Bad connections at JFK, but Madrid was OK. Horrible airline food (worse than normal horrible food).

I would not assume fares would be any less expensive in Sept. October perhaps.

Sept weather is fine in Provence. Perhaps less chance of rain, but the daylight hours are shorter.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is online now  
Feb 22nd, 2008, 10:41 AM
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You will need to think about the entire package if you decide to go to a different airport than CDG--how much the transfer to get back to the original airport for the return, time taken from a trip that isn't very long to begin with, etc. Sometimes "convenience" has a cost. Unfortunately you are flying at high high season and fares are higher than ever this year.
Keep checking for fares.
Gretchen is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2008, 12:10 PM
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Hi K,

See what happens if you can fly into London Gatwick and then check to Marseille or Nice.

ira is offline  
Mar 12th, 2008, 10:58 AM
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I flew Iberia in October and it was fine. The plane was newer and cleaner than ones I've taken on Air France and Delta. Madrid has a nice airport and the connection was easy. The Iberia flight I found last year was a lot cheaper than the other airlines but I was skeptical of Iberia. I would definitely fly them again if the fare was less expensive.

I am now looking for tickets to Paris (from Boston) in october. I am finding flights for about $800-900 on Iberia - which includes a stop in Madrid and on 1800flyeurope which I've never used but others on the board seem to praise for less than that (about $700 each with one connection).
Sally30 is offline  
Mar 12th, 2008, 06:21 PM
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I'm not sure whether you're still looking, but the dates you're considering in late May overlap with the French Open, which may be affecting airfare (and hotel). My husband and I are flying to Paris from DC, using FF miles, in mid-May. When looking for mileage tickets on northwest earlier this year, I found that we could be flexible with our travel dates as long as we left by May 15 or 16, but that flights leaving DC after the 17th, and return flights to DC after the 24th, were more 'expensive' in terms of the # of miles needed (double mileage needed). Those dates also seem to be more expensive for regular airfares; for instance, 5/22 to 5/29 is over $1000 RT, but 5/8 to 5/15 is $733 RT nonstop on United.

In the past, I have found that flying to Paris from DC is cheaper in September and October than it is in late spring. I did Avignon-Paris in early October 2005, and it was a perfect time to travel (great weather and not super crowded).
RobinMM is offline  
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