Travel agent vs DIY

Old Feb 7th, 2014, 12:07 PM
  #21  
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 17,268
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
"I also really love parks even in cold December."

Don't be silly.

Paris (and London) have a temperate climate. December, by North American standards, is scarcely ever cold in either city.

Some exceptionally wimpish Americans make a huge song and dance about how chilly it is, but that's because they obviously never spend time out of superheated shopping malls anywhere, ever. The average December daytime temp (slightly cooler in Paris) is around 10 C, or 50 F - which is close to perfect for walking around in.

If you really find that cold, you ought to see a doctor now before you let such hypersensitivity ruin your life.
flanneruk is offline  
Old Feb 7th, 2014, 01:01 PM
  #22  
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 25,632
Received 4 Likes on 4 Posts
If you do need a book I'd use the Rough Guide series, lots of facts, history and guidance and fair bit better than Fodors. Michelin is also good for Paris.

If stress gets you, and clearly I don't know your condition, you will find good advice on this site, just take your time to develop a view of what you like doing and we will see what we can do.

There is a fodorite called kerouac who does wonderful photo montages of Paris that you might like.
bilboburgler is online now  
Old Feb 7th, 2014, 01:10 PM
  #23  
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 9,171
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
The planning of the trip which includes sometimes days searching for that perfect apartment is what gets me through the days I am not traveling.
I read this in Outside magazine this month and loved it.

Plan More Trips
You don't even have to take them all. Dutch researchers surveyed 1,530 vacationers and found that they got a happiness boost for up to eight weeks before the departure date, probably due to releases of the neurotransmitter dopamine. A common occurrence when we anticipate a positive experience. Call it a pre-escape escape.
flpab is offline  
Old Feb 7th, 2014, 02:43 PM
  #24  
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 2,551
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Oh SundayMorning, I'm so sorry about your health issues. I know what it's like to feel overwhelmed even when I'm not stressed out, so you have my sympathy.

I've thought about this TA thing for you. My conclusion? If you can limit yourself to Paris, allowing the possibility of a day trip or two, and are willing to play around (rather than stress!) with searching for a hotel or an apartment, I think you can easily do without a TA.

My reasoning: Once you get the basics of lodging and airfare nailed, there's nothing else you really have to firm up. The only thing that seems to have to be pre-booked these days is the Eiffel Tower--and if you are good with computers, then that is a lay up.

There's another reason I'm leaning away from TA-ville. I've just had a friend whose TA recommended that she pre-buy transport and museum passes. Well, all of us here would tell you, "NO! NO! Never pre-buy!" So there's a good chance you'd be better off steering your own course on the ground, so to speak.

May I suggest you just start by getting yourself lodging?
Our sainted Fodors poster Guenmai has always outdone herself with suggestions for lodging by creating master threads. This Fodors post is her most recent offering to helping others:
http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...ld-we-stay.cfm

Our experience is that we've certainly done an entire week at a hotel (and once can usually cancel those if you find you like another facility or location better) and we've also done an apartment rental for the week (these require a considerable deposit).

I could talk you into either one. Hotels are nice because one always has the front desk to help out and it's nice to touch base with other people. At the same time, many of the apartment rental agencies will do anything from ordering you a shuttle to making dinner reservations for you, too.

We ourselves used the agency Paris Vacation Apartments twice (a bit pricey but very nice), and many posters here have recommended many other agencies that you can find. Warning: Apartments can book up fast, so if that's what you want, you may want to start now.

My best lodging tip? In winter*, it certainly helps to situate yourself close to a good Metro stop! Just remember to Google the address of any place, check out the Metro line and stop nearby. Plus put the address in "Street View" and "walk around the block" a bit.

<i>About the weather--we spent most of our early trips to Paris in freezing weather, and we still fell in love with it. We liked walking along the Seine, and the problem wasn't so much the temp (we are from the North in the US) but the darn wind. So just thinking about some windproof layers will take care of any problems. Paris really is one of those cities that looks great on a gray day!</i>

NEXT...
Play--emphasis on the word "PLAY!" around with airfares at your leisure. I use the ITA search engine
http://matrix.itasoftware.com/
to do my background checking for fares and routing. It's the search engine behind Kayak, Orbitz, etc. If I'm planning a year ahead, I often just play a bit on the site three times a week for a month or two to get the gist of what "good" and "bad" fares and "good" and "bad" days to fly are.

Once you decide upon your routing, you can give the site's generated code to a travel agent, which I actually don't do. Instead, I'll use that routing on competitive booking sites or on one airline to land that fare. Totally up to you!

As to guidebooks:
Sure you can use Rick Steves! There are so many naysayers out there (including me!)about the guy, but the fact remains that he likes to tell a great story with a bit of a wink. Why wouldn't you enjoy an informative narrative? It's a wonderful way to approach the city, one that my own parents, Paris newbies, certainly liked.

Admittedly, I'm a cross-reference junkie, part of which is due to my need to find the perfect, reasonable but wonderful restaurant. So I have everything from Michelin to Access (one of my faves) to Rickie Poo to whatever here. And then of course I cross reference all of them with Chowhound websites and so on (Yes, I would STRESS YOU OUT!!!)

But!!!!

You do not need to have ONE perfect guidebook or one perfect map, or one perfect anything. Remember...

YOU DO NOT GET GRADED!

What IS important to you? Dream a bit!

What did you see yourself doing in Paris? What are your favorite Paris cultural references in movies and books. Make a list of those things. You don't have to do all (or for that matter, ANY) of them. You are just dreaming.

Example: I knew I was a Charles Dickens "Tale of Two Cities" fan, Hemingway/Fitzgerald fan, Audrey Hepburn in Paris fan, and I always loved Impressionists.

My minimum list generated from this:
Tale of Two Cities--La Conciergerie
Hemingway--Either Paris Walks' "Hemingway's Paris" tour or a guide book version (I've done both over time).
Audrey Hepburn: Boat ride on the Seine, walks in Luxemburg Park, Eiffel Tower, etc, etc
Impressionists: Musee d'Orsay, L'Orangerie

There's a lot more, but I think you get the drift. What comes to mind for you?

Foodwise: Ok, you don't need a fab restaurant. Do you want to try a crepe? Surely you want to eat croissants. Up for trying snails? Would an hour in a cheese shop make you happy? Want to take a peek at the Bon Marche food section? What would be fun for you? Maybe you'd like to take a cooking class (we did--it was GREAT).

Dream. Enjoy!

And if you still want to use a TA, then enjoy that!
AZ
AlessandraZoe is offline  
Old Feb 7th, 2014, 05:30 PM
  #25  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 29
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Lois2 I don't need to explain my mental health issues to you but one of the problems in society today is it is not understood so your shoddy blow that I just came here for 'therapy' is just an example of what I face in society everyday. Cheers to you sir.
sundaymorning is offline  
Old Feb 7th, 2014, 05:40 PM
  #26  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 29
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I appreciate all the responses especially the helpful Alessandra. I've decided that maybe such things (like japan, lois2) have to be put off until I'm ready. I've been suggested to take a more relaxed, and laid back trip that might be less stressful for me right now (no flying) so it looks like I'll be going on a roadtrip to Wyoming in May. So just working my way through the US right now seems best.

I'll be using fodors and road trip forums, hopefully by opening myself up and explaining why traveling dreams are not as easy for some as others I won't be attacked as frail and needing therapy.
sundaymorning is offline  
Old Feb 7th, 2014, 06:00 PM
  #27  
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 275
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I empathize with your situation and your appreciate your courage to share that with the forum although you don't know anyone here.

For your situation I would most definitely use a good travel agent. Just make sure that you explain your goals. You have lots of time to finalize the itinerary.

I have one other recommendation for your consideration. In your situation I would only spend time in one big city and not both London and Paris. I would cut out London and instead visit some of the smaller medieval towns, say, west of Paris, after you enjoy the French capital. Giverny, Rouen, Honfleur etc. are some that come to mind. There are countless ones.

As far as Travel agents go, I have an excellent one in Vancouver (She is European and travels a lot) that my wife and I have used extensively although we plan EVERYTHING, then get her to book only those items we need her to, e.g., airlines, trains, cars. We love to book the hotels, bread and breakfasts etc. ourselves. Our agent always gives us good advice.

If you want, let me know in your reply and I will provide her email address.
rogandgee is offline  
Old Feb 8th, 2014, 03:05 AM
  #28  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 57,091
Received 5 Likes on 3 Posts
sunday - there's always one who decides that they need to judge rather than help - just ignore them and concentrate on the positive help you've had here.

apropos of which, I found this on the web today - there is a lovely film of the "Passages" of Paris:

http://magazine.fourseasons.com/imme...rid=3933568850
annhig is offline  
Old Feb 8th, 2014, 04:36 AM
  #29  
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 9,171
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Baby steps then is what you need. Have a relaxing trip. Travel is different for everyone. I live for the planning and next trip.There are people that never leave their home when off from work. You do what is right for you. A tour or a travel agent plan every detail. Best to you.
flpab is offline  
Old Feb 8th, 2014, 05:33 AM
  #30  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 29
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I actually ruined a trip to London due to panic attacks, a lot of that has to do with flying issues. So obviously even though I'd love to travel the world fear can hold you back from a lot of things. I appreciate all the helpful responses!

I still have my eye on Paris, I've always dreamed of standing in the louvre so do some research, come back and run it by you guys.

Thanks again!
sundaymorning is offline  
Old Feb 8th, 2014, 05:35 AM
  #31  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 29
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Rogandgee I'd love that email address!
sundaymorning is offline  
Old Feb 8th, 2014, 07:21 AM
  #32  
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 2,551
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Good luck, sundaymorning. That stinks that flying bothers you, and I hope this other adventure will work out great.
AlessandraZoe is offline  
Old Feb 8th, 2014, 08:04 AM
  #33  
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 9,171
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Sunday, my niece has flown everywhere, with others and by herself across the ocean many times but last trip she had a panic attack before getting on the plane. She was so embarrassed by it and not at all like her. She is doing some therapy now but it just came on out of the blue. It has been a very tough year for her and many things just piled up and hoping she will be ok but do totally understand. A lot of people self medicate before flying. Not a great thing to do.
flpab is offline  
Old Feb 8th, 2014, 08:23 AM
  #34  
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 6,476
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
1. I like Rough Guides but they are terrible on restaurants and hotels.

2. Michelin Green as noted above is the best for sights.

3. You might not want to leave your choice of hotel to another, due the constraints of your condition.

4. Be sure to get travel insurance that covers pre-exisitng conditions, that might alleviate a tad of your stress, but call the insurance company to confirm.

5. There are many here with a great deal of experience with Paris. I have been there 4 or 5 times and that pales in comparison to others.

6. Here is something form Time Out Paris about parks. The Time out books and sights run from the usual to the uber hip.
http://www.timeout.com/paris/feature...-parks-gardens
IMDonehere is offline  
Old Feb 8th, 2014, 08:38 AM
  #35  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 29
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Here is the schedule the TA gave me. We haven't met yet this was just her suggestions so far.

Choice of hotels:
Relais Bosquet
Tourville Eiffel Hotel
Citadines Prestige Saint Germain des Pres

Café Du Marche will be your favorite and ‘go to’ restaurant

Depart orlando December 13

Arrive paris December 14

December 15 - hop on hop off buss pass

December 16 - continue using bus pass. Do a discover walk of Montmartre

December 17 - palace of Versailles

December 18 - relax, shop, eat

December 19 - day trip out of town (Loire valley castles or champagne tour or Chateaux-de-Fontainebleau-and-Vaux-le-Vicomte)

December 20- last day in paris

December 21- depart paris arrive orlando
sundaymorning is offline  
Old Feb 8th, 2014, 09:15 AM
  #36  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 10,321
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I just want to say that I hope you have a wonderful time! December in Paris is a magical time...lots of Christmas lights and Christmas atmosphere!
jamikins is offline  
Old Feb 8th, 2014, 10:21 AM
  #37  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 57,091
Received 5 Likes on 3 Posts
hi again, sunday - that looks like a pretty good itinerary, all things considered; it could easily be done with or without a TA.

I don't know any of the hotels you have mentioned; of the ones we have stayed in in Paris, this is the one that I feel would be best suited to a single woman who wants somewhere cosy and comfortable:

http://www.hotel-britannique.fr/en/

no restaurant, but breakfast, and very convenient for the metro and walking around the central sights of Paris.
annhig is offline  
Old Feb 8th, 2014, 11:02 AM
  #38  
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 2,551
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I liked the Relais Bosquet a lot, SM. We've stayed there three times in our later visits to Paris.

My only hesitation (and this is where I always question a TA's knowledge) is that the 7th arrondissement is away from most things you may want to see as a first timer. I generally recommend the 5th, 6th and 4th for newbies.

So I'm wondering if your TA actually knows Paris or is just going total Rick Steves recs on you. Rick is so high on the 7th, even though it is totally inconvenient as far as most transport options compared to other neighborhoods. I'm hoping you hear me--I love staying there now, but it would not have met our needs early on.

Now I don't sightsee as much--I'm just content chewing

I am also one of those people who feel the Hop On Hop Off Bus is a total waste in Paris since there are public buses that can cover the same ground and since you can easily walk between most of the darn stops. There are times where I think Hop Ons are good: I liked using the Hop On in Dublin and in London because as transportation, they worked more efficiently than doing Metro or bus or walking connections. But in Paris, your feet and their transportation options work quite effectively.

But I am going to emphasize this again.
--Do make that hotel reservation! You can change it later if you decide you want a different locale.
--Play with the airfares and then book it.

The rest of the trip is something you can plan over a year. No daytrip has to be decided now. No restaurant has to be decided now.

I am just so thrilled that you are considering going!
AlessandraZoe is offline  
Old Feb 8th, 2014, 11:10 AM
  #39  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 57,091
Received 5 Likes on 3 Posts
yes, good idea to book a "banker" hotel now [you'll get the best rates booking this far in advance]. if the hotel you want doesn't have decent "free cancellation" terms, try booking.com - they normally allow free cancellation up to 48 hours before arrival [but make sure that you read the small print].

Trip advisor is a good place for comparing prices and getting an over-view of hotels that you are considering.
annhig is offline  
Old Feb 8th, 2014, 12:18 PM
  #40  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,876
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
You TA has given an interesting itinerary. You have one week and she has you doing two day trips.
the Café du Marche may be the worst restaurant in Paris for dinner. It is pedestrian and overpriced and if you looked in the kitchen you'd be shocked. We did eat breakfast there many mornings and that was enjoyable and fine.
Near Café du Marche there are probably 8 restaurants of all caliber of cost that are light years better! There are brasseries literally around the corner from it on the corner where the Ecole Militaire metro is--can't call their name. BUT those will be your "friends" if you need to decide to eat somewhere quickly. There is also a Flo on the street.
Please do not do two day trips--Paris can be so magical --and easy to just wander and enjoy.
Sorry, but your TA is not making an easy trip for you in my opinion.
Montmartre is an interesting part of Paris--save it for the last, if you have time. If you do the full day of the HOHO bus, you will tour around it a bit--it could easily be enough.
The markets of Paris during the week are a sight to see and enjoy for a few hours to see how Parisians do their shopping for their meals--and the quality of the food they have!!
The museums--which you mentioned yourself--will be great for parts of at least 2 days. The Carnavalet is one of our favorites and is free, so save it for a day when you don't have a museum pass (if you have purchased one).
SO glad Paris is back in the realm of possibility.
You said earlier that you weren't particularly a "foodie" but the food in Paris in even modest places is SO good and enjoyable.
She has not mentioned a single museum. Not Notre Dame, Ste Chapelle.
The Hop on bus is fine for ONE DAY to get an overview, and maybe some orientation. The days in December will be very short.
Gretchen is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell or Share My Personal Information -