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Solo in Paris for a month: Help me decide on Side Trips

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Oct 31st, 2014, 08:36 PM
  #1
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Solo in Paris for a month: Help me decide on Side Trips

Hello Everyone,
I will be in Paris for a month (April 2015) and will be taking French Lessons and walking around the lovely streets of Paris.
My classes will be Monday to Thursday or MTTh (still finalizing) and thus will be free for the rest of the time. During those school days, I would love to explore Paris however I plan to also do side trips with minimal overnight trips to save money.
Places I've been in the Past: Brussels, Amsterdam, Strasbourg, Nice and surrounding areas.
Places I've loved to visit: London, Bruges, Provins, Rouen, Chartes, Fountainbleau, Luxembourg
I will be solo, so I wanted to take an easy day trip that will involve trains- not a car, as I won't be driving abroad.
I plan to visit London but because of expensive hotels, I plan on doing a long day and go back to Paris, saving on hotel night. However, this might be my only trip for a few years and was wondering if paying extra will be worth it to me. I don't mind just doing an overview of the city and Im concerned about the costs as well. Some suggested a daytrip and doing a hop on hop off buses which was really ideal, then go back to Paris. One vs Two days? if i go for 2 days, it'll be Friday + sat. If I go only one day, which one is better? Friday or Sat?
Bruges is also a place I've been wanting to go but I am enchanted with the nighttime photos I see . however Bruges is also expensive. So, help me decide:
If I'll have overnight stay, London vs Bruges or both??
I've also considered going to Luxembourg, then traveling to Bruges (4 hrs) overnight then next day going to Ghent then back to Paris.
As you can see, I am very indecisive and would love some help. Thank you.
winkwinx is offline  
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Oct 31st, 2014, 09:02 PM
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I would vote for at least an overnight stay in London. There is so much to see and do there that I would take advantage of how close you will be. You don't say how old you are but you might consider staying in a hostel if you want to save money.
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Oct 31st, 2014, 09:25 PM
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Also say to overnight in London. HOHO bus in London was one of the worst experinces, lots of traffic, so slow and often stoppd in the middle of blocks where you could not get off, but could actually see the place you wanted to be. Waste of time. Better to have a good map and walk plus subway. London is great though.

Three or four churches in London serve quite good lunches (some dinners) at very reasonable prices. Google dining in crypts in London or church cafes? The food was very good, fresh and a great buy for one on a budget.

Look for cheap, same day tickets to take in a play.
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Oct 31st, 2014, 11:35 PM
  #4
kja
 
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The good news: You don't have a bad choice!

I like to tailor my visits to the time I have, and Bruges is, IMO, perfect for a 2 day visit, so it gets my vote! BUT as others are noting, there is so much to see/do in London that it is certainly a worthy option.

But I'm confused -- I thought you said you have visited (and loved) London and Bruges? Or is that one of those hateful autocorrects, so you were actually saying "places you would love to visit"? If so, I thought Chartes an easy and lovely day trip from Paris. Depending on your interests, Rouen could be seen as a day trip or with an overnight stay.
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Oct 31st, 2014, 11:52 PM
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Keep in mind that anyplace you want to go that requires TGV or Intercités train travel will require that you buy those train tickets up to 3 months in advance for the cheapest prices. Tickets for the Eurostar for London go on sale 6 months in advance. There are loads and loads of day trips that are within one hour (some slightly more) by train from Paris and those will always be the easiest to access and also the cheapest as ticket prices will be fixed so no need to buy in advance and you can wait for the best weather day.

You can have a look at the thread below to see a list of about 20 of the more popular day trips close to Paris. It includes links to the tourist office websites and instructions on how to get tickets. There are many other day trips you could do but this list covers the biggies:

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic....html#55885554
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Nov 1st, 2014, 04:43 AM
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If you plan London and just one day I would propose a Saturday. Like many large cities there is extra traffic on Friday afternoon/evening as people leave town for the weekend. If you use only tube in London not really an issue I suppose but the public buses are a good way to get around and still see something as you go but they are of course subject to traffic.

Also for April consider the Easter holiday. Some museums and sights (including churches) may have different days or hours open. UK schools (and others including US) have school break then which can mean extra crowds at museums and other key sights. But if that is the case there are always the "secondary" sights which IMO can be better anyway.
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Nov 1st, 2014, 04:58 AM
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I would definitely do an overnight in London, probably even two nights. For inexpensive hotels looks at the Travelodge chain or the EasyHotels run by EasyJet as low as 49£). The Easy Hotels are cheapest and if you are willing to have the tiny room, no windows, no TV, etc it can be really cheap. For one or two nights it's a clean, safe place to stay. For meals, eat take out from Marks and Spencer Simply Food or Sainsbury. There are stores all over (including in the train stations). Eat in your hotel room or on a park bench. Skip the HOHO bus and just walk or take the tube or regular buses. Most of the museums in London are free.

I think you could do Luxembourg and Brugges together on an overnight but adding in another city (Ghent) would be pushing it. So either plan two nights for that trip or only do two cities.
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Nov 1st, 2014, 05:59 AM
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No matter what you're age, I would say to consider a hostel in London. The train fare may well be your biggest expense, so why not get your money's worth?

Some other towns in Belgium, such as Ghent, might make good day trips. Also, some towns in the southern parts of the Netherlands are fairly near Paris. You can get to Delft, for example, in a little less than three hours. Another town that I like very much, which is much less touristy, is Dordrecht. There are some windmills just outside of Dordrecht;; I like the old harbor area.

Nearer to Paris, some day trips I've enjoyed are to Chartres, Bayeux, and Blois. In Blois, you can take a very reasonably priced hop-on, hop-off tour to some of the châteaux of the Loire:

http://www.tlcinfo.net/index.php?cha...0136e89f7c3216
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Nov 1st, 2014, 06:29 AM
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Some of the places you have listed are day trips - but many are not.

While it is possible to take the train to London for the day (if you take a 7 am train there and the last - midnight) train back but I really think that's a waste of time considering all there is to see/do. And I strongly reco against a hop on/off bus in London - since you are likely to spend a LOT of time sitting in traffic and not really finding out anything much about the city. For that I would do at least 2 nights in a hotel minimum - so you have 2 full days to see major sights.

Also think Bruges is too far for a day trip - would stay at least one night.

Why spend all the time and money for train fare and not make the most of your visit? If you are really stuck on money consider staying in a hostel (Hosteling International is usually reputable) to have the chance to actually see something of wherever you are.
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Nov 2nd, 2014, 01:55 AM
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Reims, Chartres, Giverny.
Much closer and v.quick by RER are Versailles for the Palace and grounds + Sunday Market, and Saint Germain en Laye which is a pleasant market town just west of Paris, great views back into Paris from the Château de Saint Germain en Laye, and the whole town is very walkable).
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Nov 2nd, 2014, 07:13 AM
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GLM
 
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Excited to see other responses in this post. We're heading there later this month and are planning our day trips right now.

In the past we have done Normandy - actually visited on D Day in 2013 which was quite special.

Reims is so easy to access from the train. If you visit any of the champagne houses, make reservations.

Giverny is always a lovely option. Just a stunning experience.

How about Strasbourg?
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Nov 2nd, 2014, 06:19 PM
  #12
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Thank you everyone for your responses.

Sorry for the typo, I meant places I would LOVE to visit. Thank you for pointing it out kja.

I've never really thought of traffic that's why I considered the hop on hop off bus. thank you for mentioning that.

Sassafrass and isabel, thanks for the food and hotel recs.

Laurie Ann, thanks for mentioning Easter. I totally forgot about it.

FrenchMystique, thank you for the info. I actually saw the link before and already had it bookmarked.

bvlenci, thank you for your recommendations. the hop on hop off tour of the Chateaus are particularly interesting.

LancasterLad, I forgot to mention I have been to Versailles 3x most recently in 2013 but never been there for Sunday market.

GLM, thanks for your reply. I am planning to see Giverny and have already been to Strasbourg recently as I mentioned in my OP.

So now my question is: Where to be during Easter weekend?

I will not have a class on Easter monday, gives me a four day break from Thursday to Monday.
Thought of London Thurs to Sunday then will have a rest break on Monday. However, the crowds might be too busy and the hotels more expensive?
I read Easter Mondays in Paris are very quiet, I actually like less crowds.
I can do different day trips or overnight trip to anywhere relatively close and were in my list - Bruges/Ghent, Luxembourg?

Thank you again.
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Nov 2nd, 2014, 06:47 PM
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If you can get a cheap flight, consider Barcelona.
Also, only two hours by fast train to Avignon, beautiful and interesting. Nearby is Arles with Roman ruins, Aix, a great college town, lots of cafes and good Moroccan food, many other towns and villages worth seeing.
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Nov 2nd, 2014, 06:57 PM
  #14
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Sorry.
I meant 4 day break FRIDAY to Monday.

Sassafrass - I have though of Barcelona but doing the train, 6.5 hours. The flights Easy Jet vs Train early RT is same price €118. Isn't it going to be busier in Barcelona?
Thanks for reminding me of Aix. I'll look it up
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Nov 2nd, 2014, 07:07 PM
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Check flights from Paris to Barcelona on Vueling.
vueling.com
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Nov 2nd, 2014, 07:26 PM
  #16
kja
 
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I don't know what will be open, but I like the idea of London. Or maybe train to Toulouse, with a day trip to Albi....
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Nov 3rd, 2014, 04:22 PM
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The only problem we had in London over Easter the year we were there was that Westminster Abbey had a number of services during the long weekend, thus limiting the time one could tour. We went to St. Paul's for the Easter Sunday morning service, and it was full enough that all the alcoves were used for seating.

London is such a big city that it seems to handle any amount of crowds easily.
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Nov 3rd, 2014, 06:16 PM
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Thank you for your replies. I think London it is! Going to book Eurostar tickets now.
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Nov 3rd, 2014, 07:38 PM
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Check out airbnb.com. I rented an apartment by owner in Paris and loved it! I did stay in a hotel in London, and it was extremely overpriced... I wish I would have rented an apartment instead. It will likely be cheaper than any hotel you might find in London!
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Nov 4th, 2014, 06:08 AM
  #20
 
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If you are just goofing around, then go ahead to London. If you are serious about learning French, then be focused and stay in France. Many destinations available by bus or train. Cheaper and better for you. Think of the conversations you can strike up!
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