Visiting Paris & South France in Sept. – advice/help needed

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Carlo Medina, May 11, 2006.

  1. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    To my HTF Brethren, particularly regular travelers to France, and of course our native French members:
    I will be visiting Paris and the South of France for the first time ever (it will actually be my first time in Europe) in September. Our tentative dates of travel are from Sept. 12-20, 2006.

    My best friend is having her wedding ceremony in Arpaillargues on the weekend of Sept. 16-17. They have rented out a chateau for it, and I will have a room there for that night. However that night (and the weekend) are the only 2 days spoken for, for the entire trip. The rest of the time is free time for me and my girlfriend.

    Most likely (I haven’t booked it yet) we will be flying in on the 13th (leaving LA the 12th) at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. My initial thoughts were to stay in Paris the 13th – 15th before taking the bullet train down to Avignon on the 16th and renting a car to Arpaillargues for the weekend.

    Now after the weekend, we will have Sunday night through Wednesday before we have to fly out from Paris.

    Here are my questions:

    1. Should I stay in the South of France for the rest of the post wedding stay? I hear the beaches, towns and scenery are beautiful and the prices of accommodations are cheaper than Paris. Or should I take the train back to Paris as soon as wedding stuff is done?

    2. If I stay in the South of France, are there any recommendations of places to see, things to do, etc.?

    3. While in Paris, does anyone have places they would recommend staying at? I’d ideally like to be “near the action” (touristy stuff) in a nice hotel while not paying through the nose. I’d like to keep it around 100 Euros ($130) a night for the room if that’s do-able. We’re not high-rollers, but I don’t want to stay in a “Eurotrip” style dump [​IMG]

    4. Does any of my current itinerary bring up any red flags like "oh my god I can't believe he thinks he can do that!"

    Since it’s my first trip to France, any help/advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
     
  2. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    I love Paris.

    Personally I would recommend staying in the Latin Quarter when you're in Paris. Fun neighborhood. One hotel where my wife and I have stayed that we really liked was the K+K Hotel Cayre. Very highly recommended.

    Here are some pictures I took last fall:
    http://philip.hammfamily.org/paris/020_17.JPG
    http://philip.hammfamily.org/paris/019_16.JPG
    http://philip.hammfamily.org/paris/011_8.JPG

    I've never been to the South of France so I can't comment. Paris is wonderful though. You could easily spend weeks in the city and never get bored. It's very touristy of course because there are so many attractions, but the people are friendly and the sights are fantastic.
     
  3. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    Let me guess, you love Paris? [​IMG] (I know there was a server hiccup which is why you have multiple posts).

    Whoa, I just checked out that hotel though, and it's quoting 295 Euros per night for their cheapest accomodation!
     
  4. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    Whoah, it must have gotten a lot more expensive since we stayed there. [​IMG] We thought it was an absolute steal when we stayed in '02.
     
  5. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    Last time we were in Paris was in 2002 too, so I don't dare to say anything about the prices now.
    (In fact my wife and I will probably spend a long weekend in Paris in a week or two). But those two days are an absolute must, if you ever want to say you were in France.

    I can only recommend to you to stay in the South during those last days. My wife and I spent at least 10-18 days each year in Cannes since 1988 (used to be with the kids too) and it's really beautiful. (Hotels in Cannes may be a bit expensive too, but e.g. in Nice you may find better prices). If you love the sun, the beaches and/or pittoresque mountains, the Côte d'Azur area is beautiful. You have to be a bit lucky with the weather, but chances are, you will be. September weather generally is still warm, but no longer hot if you know what I mean.
    But sometimes it may suddenly rain rather heavily for a few days - the French will invariably call it a déluge.

    Two days in Paris will only give you some of the flavour of the city - but you don't think three more days will solve that problem, I hope? [​IMG]


    Cees
     
  6. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    Cees,

    My tentative plans are: arrive Wed morn, stay in Paris until Sat morn. So we'll actually have most of Wed, all Thu and Fri there.

    Sat morn hop on bullet train to Avignon, rent a car, drive to wedding locale and stay there until Sun night. Sun night, check in to wherever we are staying in So. France. Stay in So France, driving rent-a-car until Tuesday afternoon. Tuesday eve take bullet train to Paris, stay the night, fly out Wed.

    BTW, for all reading this thread: please keep recommending places to stay, things to do, etc.
     
  7. Jay H

    Jay H Producer

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    I paid $450 to fly RT nonstop to Paris from Newark, NJ in 2003 (to see the Tour de France). We bussed to the Pyrenees and rode with the tour back up to Paris with the Tour.

    As far as Paris, just get the unlimited metro card thing they have so you can take the train anywhere and you can explore most of the different sections, paying particular attention to those that may interest you more. There are many, with obvious ones. People are friendly, drivers are generally good. Dinner is late.

    One of my best memories of 2003 was being able to bike up the Tourmelet, home of many many classic mountain stages in the Pyranees. And the absolute madness of a 13 mile descent where I must of hit 55mph easily on my bike.

    The pyrenees is a really nice region, shaded with history and recreational attractions (hiking, skiing, cycling, etc..) whereas further east to resort towns like Nice of course.

    Jay
     
  8. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    Carlos,

    That looks exactly like what I would do. [​IMG]
    Including hiring the car. You'll need it to go to places of interest.


    Cees
     
  9. Mike Shellito

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    My wife is from the Pyrennes, I'd suggest trying to get there. She's on the western side of the Pyrennes, looks like you'll be further east. But if you can manage to tour around in the mountains, I'd suggest it. I was there one time in late Sept. early October, and it was beautiful up in the mtns, with the shepards herding their sheep along the road.

    Enjoy the flavor of France - their strong coffees, french bread and pastries, the good wine and the more relaxing way of life, and the big meals. Going out to eat in the states, the goal of the restaurant is to get you in, serve you, and get you out so they can get someone else at the table to eat and bring in the money. Over there, you're expected to take your time, eat your meal, relax, have some coffee afterwards, and then have your after dinner drink. Much more relaxing - enjoy your trip.

    Mike
     
  10. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    I would recommend using a travel agent if you have one. When my wife and I booked our honeymoon, the travel agent set us up with everything including mulitple hotels, TGV tickets, rent-a-car (you will save a lot of money if you are willing to drive a stick shift), transport from the airport to our hotels. Your itinerary is complicated and a travel agent really can help you take care of business.

    An evening at the Lapine Agile is highly recommended. It's both touristy and authentic at the same time. Bring cash! Versailles is a whole day trip. Worth the trip if you're interested. The most popular things to do are popular for a reason - the Lovre, Muse De Orsay, Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, etc. I recommend the Eiffel Tower at night (see above pictures).

    If you decide to splurge for a couple days in Paris in the lap of luxuty I recommend the Hotel De Crillon.
     
  11. Nathan_R

    Nathan_R Supporting Actor

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    I've spent a great deal of time in Paris and the South of France-- most notably as a fireman in Montpellier in Summer of '98 (during the World Cup). Paris is nice and all (and everyone should visit at least once), but quite honestly, Parisian tours are a dime a dozen, and it's easier to book a Paris trip than a trip to the South. If you don't take advantage now of the extra time you could have in the South, you'll probably never again have the urge to say, "Hey, honey, let's dedicate a week to the South of France." Stay in the south and soak up the true beauty of the country.

    The Mediterranean is gorgeous-- you'll never see a more beautiful combination than the deep blue water contrasting with sheer golden cliffs. Avoid the tourist beaches near towns, and search for seaside national parks instead. Surprisingly, you'll find food, drinks, and shopping (to a degree) in the parks, but more importantly, you'll see fewer pasty tourists sunbathing on Pokemon beach towels.

    If you want a to discover a lesser known treasure (and you're feeling adventurous), check out the Ardeche region for its historic gorge and caves. Think of the gorge as France's version of the Grand Canyon (although without the tourist traps). Rafting is available, but swimming in the river alone makes the trip worth it.

    When I'm in Paris, I tend to stay in the 17th either with friends or in 2- or 3-star hotels. Hotels are less expensive in general around the 17th, and Sacre Coeur and Montemartre are a short walk away.

    If you find you've covered all the normal tourist destinations with time to spare, try branching out to some of the lesser known sites:

    -- Musee Picasso (it's tiny, but has a TON of his fish plates and sculptures)
    -- Les Egouts (he he he, literally and accurately "the sewers")
    -- Catacombs. Nothing wrong with a walk amongst the dead.
    -- Musee du Film (I think that's the name). As a HT fan, you might enjoy seeing the origins of cinema and projection in this small (and I mean SMALL) museum.
    -- Giverney is a short drive from Paris. This was Monet's home and his inspiration for most of his lily and garden paintings. It will be swamped with people, but I feel it's worth the drive and time. His house is beautiful-- down to the individually painted (and all unique) kitchen tiles.
     
  12. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    Depends on what you guys are into. I am not much of a country person, and get bored stiff after a couple of days, no matter how purty the sights are. I like cities, the more populous the better. Therefore 2 days in the country would be plenty enough for me. I am also something of a night person, and bars, lounges, clubs and mostly, people are critical to my enjoyement of a new place. Chilling in a smoky dive with the locals, or a classier joint just people watching, is my idea of a good time.

    Anyway, the touristy stuff is a MUST.

    Paris is fun, though horrendously expensive (even for an LA resident). And current exchange rates aren't helping. I happen to be going next week, family emergency (of the good kind).

    --
    H
     
  13. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    Am definitely going to look around for a travel agent who is familiar with France. Because of the multi-stop nature of my trip I do think it makes sense. If it was only Paris I would book it on Orbitz or Expedia and be done
    with it.

    Hola, I think I'm going to go more w/ Nathan on this one. I've passed my college years by quite a bit now [​IMG] and am more than willing to see sights, nature and architecture as opposed to a true nightlife--we both are like this.

    Thanks for all the ideas so far guys, keep em coming!
     
  14. Jason L.

    Jason L. Second Unit

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    I would say that the friendliness of the locals will be in direct proportion to the amount of French you try to speak. I attempted to speak French [I never studied it before] and everyone was friendly. Bone up on it.

    Try to go on English alone, and you might have an entirely different experience.
     
  15. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    Already on it Jason. While I'll admit I have the vocab of a third grader in French, being able to parrot accents has always been one of my strong suits. So much so that during the first weeks of French class the teacher asked me if I had ever taken it before.

    So while I won't have all the words down, I'll definitely be able to communicate the basics when I get over there in their native tongue.

    And, since I'm not a native American (Pac Islander) I won't have the "stupid/arrogant American" stigma attached to me at first glance based on looks alone! [​IMG]
     
  16. Nathan_R

    Nathan_R Supporting Actor

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    Wow, I haven't visited the HTF in a month or so, and today I was wondering about your trip so I decided to login. Needless to say, I was surprised to see it at the top of the forum again.

    Carlo, please give us a full trip report when you return!
     
  17. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    If you apologize for not knowing French and thank people for speaking English you'll be warmly recieved.
     
  18. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    Wear a t-shirt with the phrase "Zidane was right". You will be everyone's best friend.

    --
    H
     
  19. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    I'm already intimately familiar with the phrase [​IMG]

    But I am hoping to minimize the number of times I have to fall back on it.
     
  20. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    I would suggest sleeping with your passport on your person at night. My dad's briefcase was stolen from his hotel room (while he was sleeping), fell victim to the criminal elements looking to prey on travelers working the hotels. He had to get a new passport issued from the embassy, and wasted quite a bit of time doing so, plus lost quite a bit of cash that was in the briefcase as well. So stock up on traveler checks while you're at it. But a small bit of fortune smiled on him when his briefcase was found and sent to the embassy to be reclaimed, so he got back a cancelled passport, and some disposable cameras with shots from his trip in Europe, and other knickknacks that were mainly of sentimental value. The cash was gone, of course.
     

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