Should we break the Paris habit?

Old Jul 11th, 2009, 05:58 PM
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Should we break the Paris habit?

My husband and I would rather go to Paris than anywhere. We get a reasonable apartment, settle in for a month, experience the markets' bounty, eat in a few choice restaurants, and walk our feet off everyday. This will be our 3rd trip....the first for 2 weeks, the second for 10 days, and the 3rd for a month. In conjunction with those trips, we have seen Burgundy and Lyon, the Loire Valley, and Bruge, Belgium.

Keeping costs down has become necessary, so my question is this: on our next trip in 2010, should we try to start with a week in Provence and finish with 3 weeks in Paris? We hate to fly all the way to Europe and spend all our time in one place, but in truth, Paris is endlessly interesting, and by getting an apartment, we keep costs to a minimum. Would a week in Provence prove exhorbitantly expensive? Train travel, a rental car, hotels, and meals add up. However, if it is a fabulous experience, it would be worth it.

I'd like to hear the opinions of those of you who love Provence. Is it a must see destination ? How does it compare in your minds to Paris....different, I'm sure, but as wonderful? Would we be fools to miss it or has it become touristy and overpriced? I'd just like to hear your opinions of Provence in general, and any tips on when you would go.
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Old Jul 11th, 2009, 06:34 PM
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I share your love of Paris. I make it a point to stop there at least one night everytime I go to Europe. Last year, we drove all around France, Switz and Italian Riviera. We got done everything we wanted to do and had two nights left before we flew out of Paris.

We wound up really loving Paris this time around. Since we had been there before and did all of the "tourist" things, we had no agenda this time around. We walked aimlessly through neighborhoods, ate in small delis, cafes, met some great people and walked around just enjoying the little things!

Of all of the places we visited around France, the one I want to return to is Provence. I loved the whole Ste. Michelle/St. Tropez area. We also stayed in St. Remy de Provence and made day trips all over the place.

Provence is a truly wonderful place. Of course, it is not Paris, but it is wonderful in it's own way. I'm sure you will love it and want to return.
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Old Jul 11th, 2009, 06:40 PM
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two loves have I, Provence and Paris but I know alot more of Provence, and yes, VERY different. B&bs less expensive in Provence as is wine. The ambiance, the markets are a different flavor.
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Old Jul 11th, 2009, 06:54 PM
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If Paris gives you a satisfactory amount of bang for your buck, then I, for one, say go where you get the most enjoyment.
It is, after all, your money and I would not even begin to tell you how to spend it.

My traveling companion and I (wife of 50 years) have a predilection for Switzerland. People ask us why we keep going back there. Why not go to x? (x being your country of choice)

We have tried to go some place new each year before, or after Switzerland. We have paid three visits to Paris, two to Wales, one to Scotland, one to Ireland, two to Vienna and Salzburg, and one to Prague.

We enjoyed the alternatives, but in the end, we felt at home in the Berner Oberland because we rent an apartment at the same place each time.

We have a friend who almost always goes to the same beach on her vacation. Once, when someone was criticizing her lack of variety, she retorted: It's my money, not yours.
I spend it like I want. OK??

So I think my bottom line is exactly that: It is your money.
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Old Jul 11th, 2009, 07:02 PM
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bob' d'accord
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Old Jul 12th, 2009, 02:20 AM
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Hi MAP,
I share your love of Paris, having just spent a month there during May of this year. (we have been other times as well) I love the countryside but Paris just has that certain something that not many other cities have so I keep returning. I am like you, deciding for my next trip do I add Provence in to the equation as well as Paris. I spent 3 weeks in Provence the year before last and loved it as well.

Certainly it is a lot cheaper than Paris, both for accommodation and for food. You will need to hire a car where as of course in Paris you just use public transport, so that adds an additional expense for you.

I think a bit of both would be the ideal holiday! Provence has the most lovely villages, but I find the touring around a very different experience to staying in an apartment and wandering around on foot.

Of course if you rent an apartment for a month, some agencies will give you a fairly hefty discount, basically four weeks for the price of three, so of course the question remains, well if we are getting the fourth week for "free" then why move out and pay for more accomation somewhere else. Can you stay for longer? ie the month, if you get a "good deal" and then a week in Provence?

Good luck, what a lovely dilema to be in. I envy you.

Schnauzer
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Old Jul 12th, 2009, 03:07 AM
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Make new friends and keep the old,
One is silver and the other gold.
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Old Jul 12th, 2009, 04:54 AM
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So, What is it about Provence that everyone loves and how long would you need to be there to experience it? Can you get to ANY Provence village by train?
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Old Jul 12th, 2009, 05:45 AM
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Several times we have split the time between the Cote D'Azur, Provence and Paris. The hotels in the South of France are much cheaper but then we go in March so that is a factor.
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Old Jul 12th, 2009, 05:49 AM
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When I first posted this topic, I thought it might be perceived as "silly." It sounds like a ridiculous dilemma to have to choose between two wonderful places. I feel a good deal less sheepish after hearing such sincere responses, and I can see others deal with the same thing.

What I glean from the replies is that Provence is worth it, but wanting the full month in Paris is not insane. Some of you seem to share the idea that familiarity can be a good thing and there is nothing bad with doing something you love over and over. So far none of our other side trips has matched our Paris experiences.

I'd welcome any other thoughts on the subject, and thank you for posting.
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Old Jul 12th, 2009, 05:54 AM
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As for me, the landscape of (inland) Provence is pretty but not as beautiful as Tuscany. I go for the lifestyle, the food, the markets, the warmer weather. And I like smaller towns and cities.

But you do need a car to get to those smaller towns. Trains don't go everywhere. There are buses but I suspect not at convenient times.

To the OP, you can rent self-catering accommodations in Provence as well as Paris, stay for a week or two, shop at the local markets, and explore around by car. Check out www.gites-de-france.com as well as www.slowtrav.com.
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Old Jul 12th, 2009, 07:14 AM
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There is no such thing as too much of Paris, IMO. I'll be making my 107th trip there soon, so you see what I mean. Nor do I think there's anything wrong with revisiting a place time and time again - I've had a house in the Dordogne for 18 years and spend weeks/months there every year. That said, I also make time to visit many, many other places, and Provence is one of my favorites. It is NOTHING like Paris - like another country entirely, and I'm sure you'd fall in love with it too (I've never heard of anyone who went there coming back with negative things to say about it).

Apart from the train fare to get there,and the cost of a rental car to get around (which in my opinion is essential) it shouldn't be any more expensive than Paris. In fact, it will probably be less expensive. Find yourself a little gîte or apartment to rent for a week, go to the wonderful fresh markets and buy makings for your meals, and enjoy the gorgeous villages and countryside. Then back to Paris.
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Old Jul 12th, 2009, 07:38 AM
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Haven't been to Provence yet, but I completely sympathise with the new place vs Paris habit dilemma. Combining both is a good idea, especially when you're lucky enough to have a whole month. I've found that it's easier to completely enjoy a new place in addition to Paris rather than instead of Paris, because in the latter case it's hard to avoid the "was this worth the sacrifice" comparison, a sure recipe for disappointment.

If convenient, I prefer to fly roundtrip to Paris and do the side-trip from there instead of open-jaw because "going home" to Paris is the best feeling.
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Old Jul 12th, 2009, 08:08 AM
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We just booked our 7th trip to Paris for Sept.'09. Last year our friends said "Paris, again?" This year they just say "When are you going to Paris this year?"

We looked at alot of different options in Europe and finally decided we needed to be in Paris. We also rent an apartment to keep costs down and because we love the feeling of an apartment instead of a hotel.

There are so many favorite restaurants and places that we revisit, but we always find some new things to do.

This year we'll be in Paris 5 days, then off to a little rental house in The Loire Valley for a week, then back to Paris for another 4 days. 2 years ago we went to The Loire for 4 days only. There is so much we missed, that we feel the need to return. Having the cottage will be very relaxing also.

Every time we visit Paris we add on another place to go with it. So to get to your question about Provence, we have spent time in the South and loved every moment. With all of the time you have I would definitely see Provence as you mention. It is not touristy and not expensive unless you go to high end places which doesn't seem to be your style.

We have taken the TGV to Avignon, rented a car, and explored for 5 days, then back to Paris.

We also took the TGV to Aix en Provence and did the same.

Then we stayed in Antibes to explore the Riviera.

I spend hours, if not days, on the computer until I find the right propery for us. www.VRBO.com and www.Homeaway.com are 2 sites that have places to fit every budget. A car is relatively inexpensive and allows you to drive to all the cute little towns. Driving in the South is easy. Food is in all price ranges just as in Paris.

Provence is stunningly beautiful-----do your research and enjoy! We loved our time there and will return in the future.

StCirq-----I don't think I'll live long enough to come close to your 107 times in Paris. No wonder you always have such good suggestions!
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Old Jul 12th, 2009, 08:53 AM
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To TPAYT, on our sidetrip to the Loire a few years ago, we had lunch in a charming hotel/restaurant called La Roseraie in Chenonceaux. The food was not too frilly and simply delicious...a great bargain. I like your travel plan.

St. Cirq, I, too, respect your opinions and now I understand why! What an interesting life you must lead. Is Louis Katz still your travel agent/reservationist? He did well for us in 2004.
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Old Jul 12th, 2009, 09:00 AM
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Hi, MAP. I do lead an interesting life, that's for sure! I only have one, as far as I know, and I'm trying to make the most of it.

And yes, I still use Lewis, or at least get his input (sometimes I get a better deal on my own, and he's always great about confirming that) for every trip. He's a very good resource.
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Old Jul 12th, 2009, 09:09 AM
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Hi MAP,

This year, we shall visit Provence for about a week.

I was going to take us home by air from Avignon, but because of a one-day special I was able to take the train and spend a night in Paris before flying home from there.

You can love Paris and Provence, at the same time.


Very European attitude.
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Old Jul 12th, 2009, 09:09 AM
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St. Cirq, if we were to do a combination Paris/Provence trip in 2010, which month would you choose considering best airfare, fewest tourists, and optimal weather?
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Old Jul 12th, 2009, 09:28 AM
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I'm not expert on your situation, just chiming in as someone who really enjoys returning to places that I love. There is less of an adjustment period, and you can build on what you've learned before. Every trip is different anyways, even in the exact same place.
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Old Jul 12th, 2009, 09:50 AM
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MAP, I'd choose end of September/early October. Second choice: end of April/early May.
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