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London/Paris Advice

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1. Posted by ericd22 (Budding Member 3 posts) 11y

Hello All,

New to the forum here...but my fiance (soon to be wife) and I will be travelling to London and Paris in about a month. This is our first time to Europe so any insight would be great.

We'll be in each city for 4 full days, I wish it was more..and I know for sure while in London we are going to take a day trip to Edinburgh and while in Paris we are going to take a day trip to Normandy. What do you all suggest as far as getting around in both cities...we want to see and do as much as possible.

Also, i've seen things such as the LondonPass that allows you entry to many sites and includes free train/tube travel if you purchase that option. Is this worth it or should we just tour the city on our own and pay to get into the sites individually?

Thanks for any advice

2. Posted by tway (Travel Guru 7273 posts) 11y

Hi Eric,

Just a few random thoughts that may help:

  • You can take the TGV between Paris and certain cities in Normandy - under 3 hours. The bus service is reported to be very good there, too - although if you're only there a day, you may consider renting a car as things are a little spaced apart. I've done research on Normandy, but I'm only leaving in October. Just ask if you have specific questions!
  • In Paris, see the usual sights but add in the Catacombs, Pere Lachaise cemetery, and lots of walking to the list. Versailles is a good day trip, but the crowds are horrendous. The gardens are great, though.
  • London to Edinburgh is pretty far (8 hours by bus, according to one Web site - your 4 days will dry up quickly if you spend too much time on the road). Are you flying there? If not, you may want to start in Edinburgh and move down.
  • Take the chunnel from London to Paris, unless you have a flight booked already. That's another trip under 3 hours! And if you plan to use the Metro a lot in Paris, buy a Carte Orange and be sure to bring your photo for the pass. It saved me a TON.
  • London is atrociously expensive, and Paris is pretty steep. I tended to buy stuff at the grocery store or lived off Nutella crepes that are sold all over Paris.

With only 8 days, I'd suggest planning very carefully if you have a lot of must-sees. Calculate travel time and check in time and everything - and give yourself time not to rush around, or you may end up feeling panicked trying to get everythinng done. Most of all - enjoy! You'll have a blast.

3. Posted by ericd22 (Budding Member 3 posts) 11y

Thanks for the information. We actually booked this trip through insight but it really only included our airfare, hotels, transfer to the hotel from the airport and an intro tour in each city. Other than that we're on our own.

As far as the Edinburgh and Normandy day trips, i've found that we can do both of those via train. They're booked with a tour company so we get a few things included besides the train trip. Those are two places I really want to see so we're going to squeeze them in.

I've heard many times how expensive London and Paris can be, i'm not looking forward to that part of the trip but we're only going to be there for a short time so we'll probably end up with a big credit card bill!! But thats ok, who knows when I'll be able to go back.

4. Posted by angela_ (Respected Member 1732 posts) 11y

When I went to Paris I bought a Paris Visite card that was valid for 3 days. Since your only staying for 4 days, it might be better than the Carte Orange which is valid for a week.

5. Posted by tway (Travel Guru 7273 posts) 11y

Quoting angela_

When I went to Paris I bought a Paris Visite card that was valid for 3 days. Since your only staying for 4 days, it might be better than the Carte Orange which is valid for a week.

Excellent! Good way to save more money - especially if you'll be in Normandy for one of those four days. The passes are really worth it, especially if you'll be visiting a lot. In both cities, the transportation system is excellet. There's a Metro sation on every other block in Paris!

6. Posted by ericd22 (Budding Member 3 posts) 11y

Thanks for the replies. Its good to hear some ideas from those who have already been where i'm going. I can't wait to get there, i'm sure we'll have a blast.

7. Posted by duffyj (Budding Member 6 posts) 11y

I can't say much about London. But as for Paris, if you have four days, and this is the first time, you need to see the things everyone needs to see. If your hotel is centrally located, you can walk to every major site--Louvre, Tuileries, Musée d'Orsay, Notre-Dame, Latin Quarter--on foot. There will be a number of fairly long walks, but those are really the best thing about Paris. Walk along the Seine, towards dusk. You might find some nice little restaurant on the Ile Saint-Louis (behind Notre-Dame). Fairly secluded.

You might buy a week pass. But I wonder if it might not be better for you to walk around the central area of Paris, where the first tier sights are. Then maybe you could buy a "carnet"--Say "un carnet, s'il vous plait." That will get you (ten?) subway tickets. I think that might actually be all you will need. And very little trouble.

Things you cannot see by walking--Sacre Coeur. Take the metro to Abbesses, a great art nouveau station. Walk up and down winding streets of Montmartre. After 11:00 a.m. don't expect to be able to breath, thanks to the throngs of admirers.

The Eiffel Tower--my advise is to take a metro to Trocadero. You will approach the Tower (which, by the way, you will see from pretty much any place in Paris) from across the river. They have been lighting it up at night lately. Interesting to see.

To go to the top or not?
I have been to the top. Excruciating, not worth it. But it probably needs to be done.

Excellent view of Paris--from the top of the Tour Montparnasse. In the south.

Versailles--definitely worth the trip, eventually--but maybe for the second trip. This will require a full day. Take the RER (buy the ticket separately in the RER station). I can't get the info on-line right now, but I can tell you that the RER lines out to Versailles run through Saint-Michel (heart of the Latin Quarter) and Musée d'Orsay RER stops.

Last pieces of advice--see what you can, don't worry if you miss something someone else told you you had to see. People who love Paris all have their own view of what HAS to be done. I could go on for hours. But I won't. Congratulations.

8. Posted by GregW (Travel Guru 2635 posts) 11y

Quoting duffyj

Versailles--definitely worth the trip, eventually--but maybe for the second trip. This will require a full day. Take the RER (buy the ticket separately in the RER station). I can't get the info on-line right now, but I can tell you that the RER lines out to Versailles run through Saint-Michel (heart of the Latin Quarter) and Musée d'Orsay RER stops.

Correct. It's the RER C. Be cautious, though, not all the trains go to Versailles. They have a train naming system. I believe the trains to Versailles are called Vick and Vera. There will be posters in the RER station detailing which ones go to Versailles.

You can purchase a RER ticket and entrance to Versailles all-in-one. It was 22 Euros, and allowed you to skip the lines for ticket purchase once you got to Versailles, which alone as worth it.

Frankly, though, my favorite part of Versailles was walking in the back, which you can access for free. I found the Chateau too crowded, and the musical garden fountain simply not impressive. I'm sure it was back when it was built, but it's hard for this 21st century boy not to compare it against the fountain outside the Bellagio in Las Vegas...

Greg

9. Posted by tway (Travel Guru 7273 posts) 11y

Quoting GregW

Frankly, though, my favorite part of Versailles was walking in the back, which you can access for free. I found the Chateau too crowded, and the musical garden fountain simply not impressive. I'm sure it was back when it was built, but it's hard for this 21st century boy not to compare it against the fountain outside the Bellagio in Las Vegas...

I agree! There were so many people in the Chateau itself that I could barely breathe. It was literally like pushing your way through a sea of people. I didn't enjoy it one bit. But the gardens were stunning.

Reading this reminded me of when I asked a nice Japanese man if he could take my picture in front of Napoleon III's statue. A bunch of his fellow tourists all came to look, and in unison they counted down with a "whan, two, free - tseese!" I'm laughing my head off in the picture.

10. Posted by GregW (Travel Guru 2635 posts) 11y

Quoting duffyj

You might buy a week pass. But I wonder if it might not be better for you to walk around the central area of Paris, where the first tier sights are. Then maybe you could buy a "carnet"--Say "un carnet, s'il vous plait." That will get you (ten?) subway tickets. I think that might actually be all you will need. And very little trouble.

Because I am both a math and transit geek, and because I needed to figure out for myself due to a few demi-weeks I am spending in Paris, here's what I determined.

The Carte Orange is good if you are going to be taking 14 or more trips total in the period it is good (Monday - Sunday), and those trips will be on 3 or more different days. In that case, the 15.70 Euros is the best deal.

The Carnet (10 tickets for 10.70 Euro) and individual tickets (1.40 Euro) are best if you are planning on taking less than 14 trips across 3 or more days. In this case, the total cost will be somewhere less than the 15.70 of the Carte Orange and will give you flexibility to travel on many days.

If you are going to be taking 5 or more trips in a day, however, you are best getting the Mobilis, which is a one-day unlimited pass for 5.40 Euros. If you do all your out of walking area site-seeing in two days, then you can spend 10.80 Euros on the Mobilis take 10 or more trips and come out on top.

You can, of course, combine the Mobilis for a heavy travel day and then individual tickets or a Carnet for the other days.

Finally, there are some options to get passes for the museums plus transit. However, I don't know how much museum entries cost, so I can't indicate if they are a good deal or not.