Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Too many questions! Need answers!! Please Help!

Too many questions! Need answers!! Please Help!

Feb 6th, 2003, 05:56 AM
  #1  
Tia
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 174
Too many questions! Need answers!! Please Help!

Need some advice on planning a trip to London/Paris. I am thinking along the lines of going sometime in Sept.-Nov. of this year for a two week (give or take) trip. I was originally thinking of doing a package deal (maybe six days in London) and then venturing on to Paris via Eurostar. I’m wondering if this is a wise thing to do. It seems there is so much to do/see in the UK that we’ll be missing things if we do it this way. Are we better off to rent a car? Should we book places to stay ahead of time or can we just drive until we feel like stopping? We wish to spend only the last few days (3-4) of our trip in Paris, though. Is it better to do the package deal and take the Eurostar to Paris and back to London where we’d fly back to the US or arrange another flight from Paris to the US? I’ve been doing so much research and am only becoming more confused as to what is the best thing to do! Any words of advice, positive/negative experiences, thoughts on costs of the above mentioned, packages others have used, any ideas, etc. would be appreciated to help me narrow down my research! Thank you in advance!!
Tia is offline  
Feb 6th, 2003, 06:37 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,715
Wow Tia. You do have too many questions, many of which no one can answer for you. The easy ones first-Taking the Eurostar between Paris & London is the fastest way to go because you're going city center to city center (no travel to/from airports outside of town). It may not be the cheapest. There are several threads here on this subject if you do a text search.

Packages can appear cheaper but often have hotels that are not ideally located or what you would choose. There's a recent thread on this subject as well.(something like Packages versus individual) How much time & energy you're prepared to spend to plan the trip is also a deciding factor. If you decide to do all UK & don't want to drive, a pkg can often provide transport if you don't mind buses & not having independence. If you're interested in what pkgs others have used, do a search- packages AND UK

The decision on all UK vs London/Paris is only one you can make based upon your interests (city vs country, willingness to drive on left side etc.) Either way, you can't possibly see it all in 2 weeks.

Finally, roundtrip tkts are usually cheaper than "open jaw" but sometimes the difference isn't huge.

I think as a starting point you have to decide all UK vs London/Paris & then move to pkg vs self directed. Hope this helps some.
mclaurie is offline  
Feb 6th, 2003, 08:36 AM
  #3  
ira
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 74,388
Hi Tia,
I suggest that you do either London/UK or London/Paris. One week in each city is barely enough to get the flavour.
Our last trip we did London/Paris and found an inexpensive R/T using Gatwick, so we flew from CDG to Gatwick and stayed at a B&B (Belmont Guest House) the night before leaving.
You might be able to find a reasonable open jaw flight, which is more convenient.
Before that we did 2 wks in the UK, based in London and daytripping to Scotland and Wales.
Whatever you do, have a good trip.
ira is offline  
Feb 6th, 2003, 08:48 AM
  #4  
Tia
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 174
Thank you both for your suggestions! I'm wondering if we spent maybe ten days in London seeing the city as well as doing a couple day trips and then went on to Paris for maybe four days--is this realistic? Another question I have-is the fall/early winter a good time to go? Will the country still be busy with tourists? Also, with my French being a bit rusty (had two semesters in college which was 12 years ago!), will it be hard to communicate in Paris? The language barrier scares me a bit because I'll be the one doing the talking (the hubby is in charge speaking Spanish!)! Any experiences either of you can share in that regard? I will do some more searches as you have suggested. Thanks!

Tia
Tia is offline  
Feb 6th, 2003, 09:08 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 376
Tia:

I think most people (especially those with whom tourists can expect to come into contact--i.e. waiters, deskclerks, shopkeepers, etc.) speak English to varying degrees. That's been the experience of my fiance, anyway. He's been to Paris many,many times and says he has only rarely had any language issues.

FWIW, I called 4 different hotels earlier today to check availability for my trip there in Sept. and every one of them spoke excellent English. If they are any indication of the rest of their fellow Parisians, you will be fine. I do speak a little French though, so I was able to utter some pleasantries before switching to English. I do think it's only polite to at least be able to say some things like "hello", "please", "thank-you," "do you speak English," etc. but if you had French in college you should be fine in that regard.

Jennie
Jennie is offline  
Feb 6th, 2003, 09:16 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 401
I think you're going to have your fill of London after 6 days, so 4 days in the countryside would be nice, and 4 days in Paris would be wonderful. If you can get a reasonably priced open-jaw ticket, I suggest you go to Paris first, then take the Eurostar to London, spend time in London, rent a car on your way out of the city, spend some time in the countryside, and then return the car at the airport.

If you want to look at packages, check out www.go-today.com - you can combine packages together.
leslie is offline  
Feb 6th, 2003, 09:20 AM
  #7  
ira
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 74,388
Hi Tia,
Since Paris is my favorite city, I would spend at least a week there, but your 10/4 is OK. (9/5 would, I think, be better.)
Are you thinking about Oct/Nov or Nov/Dec? London weather can be rather cold and rainy in early Dec. You will be off season.
Don't worry about the language. As suggested brush up on your school French. Folks like it if you try.
Actually, if your husband speaks some Spanish, that's good. My wife once spent a pleasant lunch in which she spoke Spanish, her table mate spoke French and they both sort of understood each other.
ira is offline  
Feb 6th, 2003, 09:44 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,785
Hi Tia,

This is very personalized based on what you like. I love both Paris and London. I was just in London for 8 days, then tacked on a 4 day long jaunt into the countryside. I loved all of it.

I disagree with Leslie that you'd have your fill of London in 6 days. However, I think the 10/4 split with a few day trips from London would work out nicely for you. Or, you could rent a car and leave London for a few days like we did, before going to Paris.

We rented a car and had no problem driving on the left, don't be scared by it. Get an automatic, though, that helps.

If you just want shorter day trips instead, the train works well. I loved Hampton Court Palace and Windsor Castle, and Salisbury and Bath were also very nice. Oxford and Canterbury are popular but I didn't get there.

I was there 2 weeks ago and it was warmer than Washington, DC, my hometown, so I wouldn't worry too much about the weather. September will be more crowded than November, but nothing like the summer. You should be fine either way.

Good luck and let us know what you decide! (And yes, Parisians speak English - but it is nice if you can say "Bonjour, monsieur" and other basics, which you obviously can.)
kaudrey is offline  
Feb 6th, 2003, 09:44 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,785
Hi Tia,

This is very personalized based on what you like. I love both Paris and London. I was just in London for 8 days, then tacked on a 4 day long jaunt into the countryside. I loved all of it.

I disagree with Leslie that you'd have your fill of London in 6 days. However, I think the 10/4 split with a few day trips from London would work out nicely for you. Or, you could rent a car and leave London for a few days like we did, before going to Paris.

We rented a car and had no problem driving on the left, don't be scared by it. Get an automatic, though, that helps.

If you just want shorter day trips instead, the train works well. I loved Hampton Court Palace and Windsor Castle, and Salisbury and Bath were also very nice. Oxford and Canterbury are popular but I didn't get there.

September will be more crowded than November, but nothing like the summer. You should be fine either way.

Good luck and let us know what you decide!
kaudrey is offline  
Feb 6th, 2003, 10:00 AM
  #10  
Tia
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 174
WOW, again, thank you all for your suggestions!!! I now feel a bit better and more excited to plan again! I will continue to search and will check out the web site mentioned which is my next stop!!! Thank you again, and I'll definitely be back with more questions!

Tia

P.S. I do feel much better about my rusty French, too!!!!
Tia is offline  
Feb 6th, 2003, 10:12 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 569
Hi Tia, I would do five days of London sightseeing with two day trips outside...
Like Bath, Windsor or Hampton Court, easy to do on your own, and then maybe a package day tour of Stratford, Oxford and Warwick castle or to Cotswolds or Stonehenge. That makes one on your own to plan and another where the plans etc are taken care of. Less stress.
I would then take the Eurostar or a cheap flight to Paris for the rest of the time. I really like the Eurostar for city center to city center but recently the costs have been too high so opted for cheap British Midland flights for next two trips. A tip on the Eurostar, sometimes booking a 14 day advance leisure ticket roundtrip and just not doing the return is the cheapest way to go.
Our last trip we left London late afternoon, drank wine, read and relaxed for three hours on the train. Arrrived Paris, taxi to hotel, checked in and refreshed and out to dinner for our 9pm reservation at Chez Maitre Paul.
I felt I did not waste a day of London or Paris that way.

Take your trips outside London between your sightseeing days for a breakup of the time and do not plan an outside trip and your travel day back to back. I definitely think the open jaw into London, out of Paris is worth the few extra bucks. Be sure and check the fare each way into one and out the other. I have had the price be a hundred dollars different simply by changing the arrangement of where to begin and end. I like Nov., no crowds and not too cold, and Christmas decorations are up by mid to late month. Very happy travels. gg
ggnga is offline  
Feb 6th, 2003, 12:31 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 7,313
In case you didn't catch the slight mention before... if you DO decide on doing London and then the countryside, or London/Paris, remember: having a rental car while IN London is like having shoes on a snake...highly unnecessary and annoying! Traffic is congested, parking is difficult to find, and the roads are quite narrow compared to US roads.

GreenDragon is offline  
Feb 7th, 2003, 08:20 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,579
Tia, we have used the packages of British Airthat included London and elsewhere (Paris, Amsterdam, Rome) and been very satisfied. The Eurostar London to Paris was part of the package. I'm sure other airlines have the same thing. We've used their hotels and transportation but otherwise are strictly on our own. You should check this out before doing everything separately and I think you might find it the cheaper way to go. Keep in mind airfares to Europe are cheaper after Oct 15. My wife and I have been to Paris in November and with our two grandchildren in February.

I suggest you plan your trip with the idea you will go back someday and I think a 10/4 break is fine. Get a copy of Earl Steinbicker's "Daytrips London" to plan how to spend your time both in London and in the countryside and then decide whether to rent a car. Do not drive in London and do get an automatic.

My wife and are flying to Glasgow in March and will take 8 nights driving south. We made B&B reservations and will spend our last night in Oxford where we'll drop off the car and take the bus into London for 6 nights. We've spent some time in London for each of the past 6 years and still find things to do.

Good luck with your plans.



jsmith is offline  
Feb 7th, 2003, 09:58 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,579
Tia,
Following up on my earlier response.

Virgin has a very friendly web site that you might look at to come up with some costs. You can ask on Frommers and Fodors for opinions on the hotels they use.

http://www.virgin-vacations.com/

We have stayed at 5 different hotels in London and 3 in Paris and our criteria has been a safe area first and access to public transportation second. Both cities are so easy to move around in we never felt it necessary to worry about how close to "sights" we were.

Hope this helps.
jsmith is offline  
Feb 7th, 2003, 12:04 PM
  #15  
Tia
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 174
Thank you all for continuing to post! This is wonderful!!!

Tia
Tia is offline  
Feb 9th, 2003, 04:28 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 81
Hi Tia,
Two years ago, my mother and I did the London/Paris trip via www.go-today.com. It was a fantastic trip, although it was only for 7 days. If you decide to take the Eurostar to Paris, it may be best to fly back to the US directly from there, so that you can spend more time enjoying Paris. Both cities are great and you can easily spend more than a week in each. I'm going back to London in 6 weeks and although this will be my fourth trip, I still haven't seen "everything" yet! Good Luck and enjoy!
ErinS is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
bjc280
Europe
11
Jan 9th, 2010 11:39 PM
Flying_Mom
United States
12
Nov 8th, 2005 09:24 AM
2girls
Europe
12
Jun 4th, 2005 10:38 AM
celine13
Europe
11
Jun 9th, 2004 11:14 AM
June
Europe
5
Mar 7th, 2001 11:53 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 03:20 PM.