Travel slowly, staying in vacation rentals (villas, farms, cottages, apartments)
Report 2107: 10 Days in Paris
By Deva from Maine, Fall 2013
Trip Description: September 24, 2013 to October 4, 2013 in beautiful Paris, three adults tour the city enjoying many a pastry and a museum along the way.
Destinations: Countries - France; Regions/Cities - Paris
Categories: Vacation Rentals; Day Tours; Sightseeing; Independent Travel; 3-4 people; Adult Children w/ Parents
Page 1 of 12: Preparation and Planning Details
This was my second trip to Paris. My first was a seven day visit back in 2006, during which time my husband Bob and I stayed in an apartment in the 1st arrondisement, along with my mom, dad, and younger brother. This time it was to be a ten day trip, with just my mom and Bob.
At first we considered splitting our time between Paris and another location, but ultimately decided to embrace slow travel and commit entirely to Paris (plus a few day trips). I have no regrets at all about that decision! I was a tiny bit hesitant about returning to somewhere I'd already been when there are so many other places I want to visit, but ultimately it made for a really wonderful trip. This time I didn't feel the same slight panic I have gotten on prior trips, worrying that I am "missing" something. I think that this was partly because I'd been to Paris before, and so I had already seen many of the "must-sees." This time I felt as if I was more in control of my itinerary, revisiting favorites, getting to check out some things I'd missed last time, and generally just enjoying being in the beautiful city and absorbing as much as I could!
I knew from my previous visit that my favorite part of the city is the area around Luxembourg Gardens, so this time we stayed in a small apartment in the 6th arrondisement. I arranged this via VRBO and it was exactly as promised. I think if I were doing it all over again, I would have paid more to get a larger, quieter apartment (with two actual bedrooms, rather than a bedroom and a loft) but the location was perfect for our needs, convenient to several metro lines, bus lines, bakeries, and a supermarket, as well as being just a short walk from my beloved Luxembourg Gardens. We paid €1300 for our ten-night stay.
After tracking ticket prices for several months on Kayak, I ultimately got us tickets through Air France, nonstop from Boston Logan to CDG. The tickets were around $1200 each, including all taxes and fees, departing Monday September 23 in the evening, arriving Tuesday September 24 in the morning.
We pre-booked tickets for several tours as well:
We purchased "skip-the-line" tickets for the Catacombs, and were very glad we did both because the lines were very, very long, and because we truly enjoyed our guide's presentation of the information. We did this via MyParisianTour/Dark Rome.
We purchased tickets for a ride up the Saint Martin canal (a bit of a gamble, weather-wise, but we were glad to have it settled in advance) via Canauxrama. We were a bit worried about doing this in advance, in case of bad weather, but were ultimately very glad we did as it was a relief to have it all handled in advance. And we did get good weather!
Lastly, we purchased tickets in advance for the private guided tour of Versailles that included the King's private apartments and the Opera House. This was also something we were very happy to have done in advance, as they do sell out, and are only available on certain days. This tour also allowed us to access the main sections of the chateau (Hall of Mirrors) and did not cost much more than the standard entry fee, so we felt it was a good deal considering that it allowed us to see some less crowded areas, including the magnificent Opera House.
Aside from that, my preparations were mostly in the form of lots of lists of pâtisseries, gardens, markets, and bus routes (we had determined that buses would be more convenient than the metro as they involve fewer stairs, which bother my mom's knees).
Our general plan was to take things easy and let everyone go at his or her own pace. Bob likes to sleep in, while I like to be out-and-about early and walk a lot, so in general I took the mornings for my own explorations, usually on foot. This was good as it helped me work off my extra energy!
In terms of food, we ate breakfast and dinner in our apartment most days, though breakfast often included croissants or pastries I brought back from a morning ramble. We got groceries from the corner market right down the street, and from the larger Franprix a few blocks further. We all appreciate good food, but our tastes are more for ethnic and simple comfort foods, rather than upscale dining. So when we did eat "out" it was generally lunch in cafes or street food.
A note on language/culture: Neither my mother nor I speak French. Bob speaks a bit, having lived in Paris as a boy for several years. I did my best to learn the simple polite phrases, important food terms, etc. Overall we had no problems with language as most everyone generously switched to English after the initial exchange of pleasantries. On the whole, the people we encountered were quite helpful and good-natured.
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