Travel agent vs DIY

Old Feb 9th, 2014, 08:11 AM
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I have been a TA for over 25 years. When I work with clients who are planning their own itinerary I tailor it specifically to them. I charge a reasonable service fee and am certain that I save them much more than what I charge. Advice of a travel professional, especially one who has traveled in the area, is invaluable. Recently I worked with two clients who were renting a car in CDG airport. Rather than departing on Sunday and arriving Monday in Paris, I suggested departing on Saturday and arriving Sunday. I've personally experienced both. The ring road around Paris is so much better on Sunday. In terms of planning--go with the TA every time.
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Old Feb 9th, 2014, 09:25 AM
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I think Rick Steves does an excellent job for people who are total beginners. He is accessible and doesn't give too much info or too many choices. I wouldn't use him myself, and quarrel with some of the things he says (which are opinions about his personal artistic preferences or interests), but I'm more experienced as a traveler.

I think orangeblossom's services could be of use to many people who dont' travel and don't know how to do things. For example, anyone who is so clueless as to not know that traffic in a major metropolis would be less busy on a Sunday than a weekday would really need help. But the idea that you need a TA for such common-sense, life skills isn't true. You'd have to be kind of clueless.
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Old Feb 9th, 2014, 09:35 AM
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I'm excited for you! Please don't feel you need to plan every last detail (like some people here like to do).

My personal style of "planning" involves only deciding where I'm going and for how long, then getting a plane ticket and booking hotel(s). You could wait and read a couple guidebooks on the plane ride over and still have a good experience in Paris.

Paris kinds of plans itself (I've only been there once) with the obvious famous sights, museums, neighborhoods for strolling. My favorite street map was a free paper one from the hotel lobby (more handy than ones I'd purchased in advance).
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Old Feb 9th, 2014, 09:38 AM
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Christina is that also true in Muslim counties?

Clueless in Canada
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Old Feb 9th, 2014, 09:40 AM
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Suze--This statement of yours is so true: "Paris kinds of plans itself!"
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Old Feb 9th, 2014, 10:21 AM
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that's great sundaymorning.

I'm sure that you will get some great advice here [and quite a lot of opinion thrown in for good measure].

between now and December you've got plenty of time to plan and dream - but don't hang about with the flights and hotel, will you?
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Old Feb 9th, 2014, 10:23 AM
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One reason I like the DK Eyewitness Guide to Paris is its graphics for seeing what sites are in a particular part of the city. I like the Michelin Green Guide for real information, as someone else has mentioned.
I too am excited for Sunday to be back on track for planning a trip. I like to have an idea of things to do when visiting but not nailed down. Then choose by the day.
I wonder where the TA's clients were going to get on the Peripherique--we just headed north to Normandy. I guess if they were going to the Loire...... who knows.
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Old Feb 9th, 2014, 10:50 AM
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www.hotel-saint-germain.fr/ anyone have thoughts on this hotel?
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Old Feb 9th, 2014, 12:01 PM
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"A cocoon in the heart of Saint Germain". I have no personal experience but this hotel has everything - location, free wifi and breakfast and it seems so welcoming! Does it have a cancellation policy, just in case? Nice work!
Mary
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Old Feb 9th, 2014, 12:03 PM
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Don't know it, but it sure looks incredibly enticing!
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Old Feb 9th, 2014, 12:30 PM
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Have not stayed there. You are STILL in the 7th there, however, and while it's certainly a safe part of the city, the hotel is in a "meh" area.

Just in case I was smokin' something in this assumption, I went to the hotel's own distances section to check out walking distances from hotel to major attractions :
Musée Maillol 2 min
Musée Rodin 10 min
Musée d'Orsay 12 min
Eglise Saint-Germain-des-prés 12 min
Boulevard Saint-Germain 15 min
Musée des Arts Décoratifs 18 min
Invalides 19 min
Musée du Louvre 21 min
Jardin des Tuileries 26 min
Musée de l'Orangerie 26 min
Musées du grand et du petit Palais 30 min
Eiffel Tower 40 min

You could find someplace that give you many better walking options if you went over a scooch into the 6th.

On the plus side, that hotel should be just about across the street from the the Rue du Bac metro station. The negative is that it's not my fave Metro line (Line 12). But you can always transfer lines along the way. And Line 12 IS a straight shot up to Abbesses, one of the iconic stations near Sacre Coeur. http://wpjrnl.com/wp-content/uploads...e-abbesses.jpg

Really, I'd take the Relais Bosquet over it, even though THAT's in the 7th. The Relais is more part of a neighborhood. Rue Cler right around the corner will have their Xmas lights on then, and Rue St Dominique in the area will also be lit up. You'd get to see the Eiffel Tower "framed" by Xmas lights, which is pretty cool.

And we could have GraceJoan introduce you to all the local 7th restaurant owners by email.

Heck, for all we know, GJ might be there then and take you under her wing.
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Old Feb 9th, 2014, 12:53 PM
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And it's about £200/night! That's quite a lot even for Paris. [I checked both the hotel's own website and TA, and came up with the same figures].

By comparison, the 3 star St Severin over in the 5th costs just €110 for a superior single, with free cancellation. [but no breakfast]. it's within spitting distance of both RER B & C lines, and walking distance to many of the main sites. The area is more touristy, but that because there's lots to see and do around there.

the hotel parc-st severin, [a different hotel] which I've always fancied, is €135 per night for free cancellation terms.

http://www.paris-hotel-parcsaintseverin.com/en/

just a few thoughts!
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Old Feb 9th, 2014, 01:01 PM
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oops - here's the website for the hotel [europe] san severin`

http://www.hoteleurope.net/
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Old Feb 9th, 2014, 05:30 PM
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Hi sundaymorning,

The travel agent's name is Mariluz of Dolphin World Travel and her email address is [email protected]
She is born in Spain but works out of Vancouver, BC. She is a great person. You may mention that Roger from Calgary, Alberta recommended her. Good luck. I wish you well.
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Old Feb 10th, 2014, 08:23 AM
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Hi again

I was thinking of extending to a two week trip and I thought maybe short term apartments might be a better bet. Any suggestions. I know NOTHING about the apartment thing.

I'm trying to get out of the 7th because that seems to be the popular opinion.

Nothing too pricey. Just clean, safe, and central for a first timer.

Anyone have any experiences?
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Old Feb 10th, 2014, 08:36 AM
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Personally I would not go the apartment route on your very first trip planning ever. It's more complicated. I think hotels are much easier to arrange, less can go wrong, plus you have the backup of a (bilingual) front desk staff to assist you if needed.

I think you're on the right track with your research. Just look for something in the 5th or 6th to be more central.
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Old Feb 10th, 2014, 09:09 AM
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Hi again sunday,

2 weeks is going to be a brilliant length of time to spend getting to know Paris. If it were a 3rd or even a 2nd visit, i think that an apartment would be a good idea but I tend to agree with suze that for a first visit, an apartment might be a bridge too far.

however, an aparthotel might be an idea - you have the advantage of being able to self-cater, but also the support of a hotel. I had a look at booking.com and they have a number of listings of aparthotels in St Germain [the 6th] which might suit you.

the other way to go might be B&B [known as table d'hote in France]. have a look at TA, or Alister Sawdays for more individual options:

http://www.sawdays.co.uk/find?SearchText=France
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Old Feb 10th, 2014, 09:36 AM
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First timer, I also would go with a hotel. Much less of a bother.
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Old Feb 10th, 2014, 10:45 AM
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I'm going to go out on a limb with this, but...
As soon as you extend your stay, then you do not need to stay as "close in".

As I pointed out with the St. Germain de Pres Hotel, the walks to your probable sites would be long and the Metro line was not the most convenient. Time spent getting to and fro is costly when one has limited time.

However, if you are staying two weeks, then the impact of getting transit just isn't that bad! Then staying in a cozy neighborhood to soak up things there between your daily ventures makes far more sense.
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Old Feb 10th, 2014, 10:58 AM
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Even staying two weeks, personally I would still want to be more central. I just don't like being forced to use public transportation every single time I want to "go anywhere.

Those two week would give you plenty of time you could also plan some day trips outside the city.

I still say hotel (assuming you don't speak fluent French). It's just easier.

I'm glad you've gone from being afraid to plan anything yourself, to arranging the trip on your own. But for the most success and the least stress, I'd keep thing simple.

Two weeks is fine. Get a central hotel. Do some casual planning of activities from there.
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