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To Paris and Provence in June

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Dec 7th, 2013, 11:24 AM
  #1
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To Paris and Provence in June

My wife and I are in the early stages of planning a trip to France in July of 2014. We have read many of the posts and trip reports and have lots of notes and ideas. Would appreciate comments and suggestions before going any further.
We want to keep a budget below $7000 Canadian, but $8000 as a max. Our flights will eat up about $3000 of that. Hope to travel for between 2 and 3 weeks. We are somewhat flexible in our itinerary but were thinking about some time in Paris,,,say up to a week, and another week in Provence. We speak very little French and are 50+.

Here are our thoughts so far:

Fly into Paris. Rent an apartment somewhere in the central area 4 5 or-6, for under $200 per night. Explore Paris by foot and public transport. Stay for 5 to 7 days.

Take train south to Provence rent an apartment and explore the area from there.

Train back to Paris and flight back to Canada.

We will probably have lots of questions later on places to visit and things to do but for now we would appreciate any comments on the above as well as the following:

Advice on renting an apartment would be welcome. We were looking at AIRBNB, but are a little nervous after reading some of the posts. Also looked at VRBO, vacationinparis and Paris best lodge. It is a bit overwhelming with so many choices. Any suggestions on apartment hunting would be great. Perhaps if I could narrow down an area to stay and decide on one rental agency would help.

Where to set up base in Provence? We were thinking Avignon or Aix en Provence since both seem easy to get to from Paris. Again we are flexible, but easy access by public transport is important. The biggest stressors for me will be getting from the airport to the apartment…from the apartment to the train…from the train to the second apartment and then the return.

While in Provence we would like to explore the surrounding area and experience the culture and history; again public transport will be important, and perhaps availability of local tours.
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Dec 7th, 2013, 11:56 AM
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I'm afraid I don;t understand your budget. If you have $8K total and air will take $3K that leaves you $5K for 21 days - or $235 per day. Then you are asking for lodging for $200 per night - leaving you a grand total of $35 per day for food, transportation (local and between cities) and entrances. As for local tours that you mention - they are often $100 per person or more - totally blowing your budget.

So either you will have to significantly increase your budget or decrease the length of the trip or you find lodging for much less - more like $100 per night.

Suggest you do some more work on costs for transit, meals and entrance fees (getting 2 people into many sights would be more than your $35 left after lodging.)
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Dec 7th, 2013, 11:59 AM
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Sorry - also you should look into open jaws tickets - into Paris and out of Nice - which will avoid the waste of a day getting back to Paris and probably cost less than the return train fare.
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Dec 7th, 2013, 12:04 PM
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Getting from the airport to your apartment can be very easy -- you can just take a taxi or look into public transportation once you know the location of your apartment.

Is there any reason why you are not considering renting a car either when you are leaving Paris or after you arrive in Provence?
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Dec 7th, 2013, 12:05 PM
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You shouldn't have too much problem with your budget, that is about 1500-2000 CAD per week after air fare. Of course, it's a lot more doable in 2 weeks than 3, that gives you over at least 250 a day for everything. There isn't any easy solution to having to look through a lot of stuff if you want to book an apartment, just the way it is. I presume you are aware that VRBO is not a rental agency, it's ads by private owners. I think it has even less security than AirBnB, from what I've read on money issues, but I've never used either, I only use agencies. If you want to make it easy, if this is your first time, you might do that also (ie, VIP or Parisbestlodge, etc.). I think you should definitely narrow it down to an area first (within a couple arrondisements, probably), as it would be too much to compare every apt in Paris all over the place. Some agencies like the ones you named that cater to English speakers tend to mainly have apts only in the center, anyway, though. So you could just stick to them.

As for transport, I think it can be stressful getting from an apt to train/airport as you are on your own to arrange for taxi or whatever. If you plan on using the metro, of course, that's no problem. You'd have to get an apt near a metro stop easy to get to the train station you need to get to Provence (Gare de Lyon, I believe). But I've had problems getting taxis when calling myself from an apt., it is convenient to have a hotel manage that. Probably depends how busy they are. I suggest you call the day before to arrange it if you must, rather than the day you leave, or have a backup plan for sure. And I know French, but the taxi said they were too busy and couldn't come for hours.

From the airport, the Air France bus is great if you are near one of their drop points.

In Provence, a taxi from train station to hotel won't be a problem, if you plan to stay near one. I don't think there are as many apartments to rent in cities in Provence, but I admit, I've never looked, just seen the more rural places. Avignon is a good location for public transport (buses and trains). Aix is a little less convenient for that, I think, but it would be okay. They are certainly used to tourists so there must be some buses for day trips from Aix. I seem to remember brochures like that in their main tourist information place. I just think the train line there doesn't have direct connections to as many places as Avignon.
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Dec 7th, 2013, 12:52 PM
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This is a trip we did last year, similar to your in reverse. Open jaw makes so much sense, do check into it.

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...ugh-france.cfm
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Dec 7th, 2013, 01:13 PM
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We did this trip open-jaw (into Paris, out of Nice) in 2008. But we had a car - it's so much easier, and gets you to places (and bases) that would be less easy to reach by public transport. But then, we prefer smaller towns to big cities. Not everyone will share that preference.

Our bases (ignoring those between Paris & Provence, becauase your question wasn't about those) were Vaison-la-Romaine, St Remy-de-Provence, and Menton; with overnight stops between these last two at Cassis and Gulfe-Juan.

Either of the choices you mentioned (Avignon or Aix-en-Provence) are good choices too; but again, without a car you are faced with the difficulty of being able to explore some of the region's highlights, like the Luberon hill villages, the Carmague, the Roman arenas of Arles or Nimes, le Baux...
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Dec 7th, 2013, 02:58 PM
  #8
 
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Debit, AccomodationsInProvence now rents for a minimum two weeks during June/july. I exchanged emails with David but alas...

Jim, dh and I are staying in the bustling residential 14th this spring. The owner of our apt recommended this nearby place to our friends who are coming during our trip. Her parents stay here when they visit. I see they have July dates open.
http://www.vrbo.com/49706

Learning the metro is very easy. Dh and I were +60 on our first trip and you know the old adage, if we could do it,........ And it's very near to the RER B for airport access.
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Dec 7th, 2013, 03:34 PM
  #9
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Yes it looks like I need work on my budget...I suspect the 3 weeks will be cut back. I'm looking at an apartment in the Latin Quarter for about $1200 a week. Hopefully I can get something in Provence a little cheaper, say $1000 a week. I'll do some more work on that.
The open jaw ticket is a good idea. I will check that out.
I thought about a car but I would have to get an international licence, insurance and it just seemed unnecessary stress. It would be nice to drive around in Provence though.
Thanks for the apartment advice. I'll probably stick to agencies
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Dec 7th, 2013, 03:46 PM
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>> I would have to get an international licence, insurance and it just seemed unnecessary stress. It would be nice to drive around in Provence though.<<

We've vacationed for 18 weeks in Provence. The places we love can really only be reached by car. Cut somewhere else - food, museums, etc - but try to rent a car - even a cheapie will do. You don't need an international drivers license. We spend 2 months vacationing in Europe every year and we only got an international license once for a trek into an Eastern European country. In the US, CDW insurance is covered by our MC/Visa card - I don't know if that is the case for Canadians.

We will be in Provence for 2 weeks in late June 2014, and we reserved our Gite about 6 months ago. So you had better hurry. Provence is very popular, and the "best value" gites have probably already been rented.

I have a 27 page Provence/Cote d'Azur itinerary that I've sent to aver 3,000 people on Fodors. If you would like a copy, e-mail me at [email protected] & I'll attach one to the reply e-mail.

Stu Dudley
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Dec 7th, 2013, 03:53 PM
  #11
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I'll check further on the drivers licence. My first impression was a lot of red tape. It would be great to drive.
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Dec 7th, 2013, 03:58 PM
  #12
 
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In the US, I went to my local AAA office, filled out a form, attached a picture, gave up about $30, and 20 mins later had a license. Like I said - you don't need one for France. Really!!!

Stu Dudley
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Dec 7th, 2013, 04:00 PM
  #13
 
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Also - try to plan your vacation for June. Gites in Provence go up around 30-50% as soon as July hits and the French go on vacation.

Here is one we rented for 2 weeks in '99 and 2 weeks in '03.
http://www.gites-de-france.com/locat...s-84G2083.html

Stu Dudley
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Dec 7th, 2013, 04:07 PM
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There's no such thing as an international driver's license. There's an international driver's permit, obtainable from AAA for about $15, which is nothing more than a translation of your regular driver's license. Yes, you'll need insurance if your cc doesn't cover it - it's not expensive.

You really can't explore Provence without a car - well, you could pay for organized tours, but the costs of that add up. French public transport isn't built around ferrying tourists around; it's built on transporting students and workers. You'll miss a LOT without a car.
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Dec 7th, 2013, 06:06 PM
  #15
 
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We've done something similar (Barcelona to Paris and vice versa) and I think your budget is fine for two weeks and if you scrimp a little you can get close to three. Some thoughts:

Unfortunately, the euro is strong right now and the loonie is weak. But you really don't need to book an apartment yet; you can safely wait until after the New Year and still have plenty to choose from. You can find something comfortable for two well be low C$200 a night, although if you want to stay in very popular areas like Saint-Germain-des-Pres you won't get as much for your money. We stayed here in May and it was a great area, if a bit away from the center. But transport is so fast and easy it wasn't a concern: http://tinyurl.com/kyadaxu

If you want to take the TGV to Provence, book on www.voyages-sncf.com exactly 90 days in advance of your travel date. That's when the tickets go on sale and if PREM special rates are available, they will sell out quickly. When asked your country, put in Australia or the UK or you'll be kicked to the RailEurope site, which may not have full schedules and usually costs more.

You really will need a car to explore Provence, and this allows you to stay away from the larger towns (Avignon or Aix) if you wish. Personally, we prefer St.-Remy or east, in the Luberon, where you may be able to find something at a better price, too. This site, http://www.beyond.fr/, has capsule descriptions of lots of villages as well as lodging lists. You don't need an international driving permit and your insurance should cover you in Europe. Or you may be able to buy temporary coverage.

Open jaw flights make a lot of sense and the added cost should be less than that of getting back to Paris, not to mention the hassle and time required.
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Dec 7th, 2013, 06:35 PM
  #16
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This is such a great site! I want to thank everybody for all the advice. We have made so many major changes that I need to stand back and rescope. Looking at moving back our timeframe to late June, shorten to 2 weeks, drop the train ride back to Paris in lieu of an open jaw flight, drop some of our apartment options, re evaluate the budget, and Stu, StCirq and Allan have pretty well convinced me to rent a car. My wife says she'll drive!.... I have to sleep on this and rethink everything in the morning. Thanks again everybody.
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Dec 7th, 2013, 07:27 PM
  #17
 
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If you can't get an open jaw flight. you can possibly find a cheap flight between Provence and Paris, perhaps spend another day or two in Paris (so as not to have a connecting flight issue between different airlines) and then fly home.
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Dec 7th, 2013, 07:36 PM
  #18
 
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Aix is lovely, but not a convenient base for sight seeing. While less upscale than Avignon, Arles turned out to be a great base for what sightseeing we did by train and bus. Both were super cheap and efficient, as little as a Euro to Les Baux, perhaps 5 or 6 to Avignon. It is such a little town, you could walk from any place in town to the train/bus station in 10-15 minutes, max. So one way you might save some money.

Look at Airbnb for apartments. We did very well in Aix and Arles with apartments, and even a little city house, for $100 to $135 a night. Another way to save money and still have a great experience. Oh, Arles also had a fantastic Sat market.

You will, as others say, need a car for some of the more out of the way places.
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Dec 8th, 2013, 05:04 AM
  #19
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Just wondering how important air conditioning will be in Paris from mid June to early July
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Dec 8th, 2013, 07:30 AM
  #20
 
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Last year it was quite cold. Two years before that also.

Stu Dudley
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