Due to the last minute nature of the trip, I didn’t get to plan as thoroughly as I would have liked to for the Paris trip. My husband was going to London area for work (Richmond Hills to be exact), so we decided for me to tag along so that we can take a mini-vacation in Paris for 9.5 days. The trip wasn’t finalized until about a week or two before departure due to my husband’s work schedule, so I had to make do with the circumstances I was given.
Initially, we went back and forth trying to figure out if we wanted to split the 10 days visiting multiple European countries for our vacation. Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, and Spain were some of the countries that we considered visiting. We tinkered with the idea of going to Eastern Europe or visiting the Mediterranean countries like Greece and Croatia, but we wanted to allot plenty of time to enjoy all these wonderful countries, so we will have to wait until next time. Ultimately, we decided to spend the entire time in Paris so that we wouldn’t have to be in a rush, but take our time enjoying different parts of La Ville Lumiére. 🙂
Click on any of the links below to get detailed information about my plan!
- Transportation to Paris
- Transportation in Paris
- Lodging in Paris
- Food in Paris
- Things to Do in Paris
- Weather in Paris
- Return Flight to LAX from Paris
Transportation to Paris
Transportation to Paris:
Our plan was to fly into London Heathrow on British Airways and after my husband’s work obligations were over in Richmond, to take the Eurostar train from St. Pancras International Station to Nord du Gare, Paris. Since it was so last minute, the train fares were much higher than I would have liked to pay. It helps if your schedule is more flexible, as fares vary even on the same day (early morning fares seemed to be cheaper when I was researching), but due to my husband’s meeting schedule, we did not have many options.
Our 2nd class train fare for a Friday afternoon for two people (one-way) totaled €439, or equivalent to $490.49 at the time. We booked our tickets on Trainline instead of the Eurostar website, as Eurostar website charges extra fees for using a credit card, while there were no fees with Trainline. For two people tickets, we were given the option of sitting side-by-side (which we chose) or face each other, but we didn’t get a seating map to choose our seats.
Later on, we learned that the day/weekend we were leaving for Paris was a long-weekend for Londoners and that many people were using Eurostar to go to Paris (and accordingly, the train seemed packed). This, along with the last-minute purchase, explained the unusually high fares for both the train and flights. If you know your schedule and plan your trip ahead of time, you have a higher chance of finding great deals.
When purchasing your tickets on Trainline, read everything carefully before you confirm your purchase and print everything out. Trainline sent an email with the actual tickets, which we printed out and brought with us to London. If you don’t get to print them out before hand, I believe there are kiosks at the station where you can input your information and retrieve your tickets there. Eurostar staff members and customer service desks are also available at St. Pancras Station should you run into any issues.
Transportation in Paris
Transportation in Paris:
As Paris is a major metropolitan area, there are many options for getting around the city, from the metro (€1.90 per ride with a transfer), buses (€2 per ride), cabs, Uber, LeCab, Velib (bike rentals for €1.70 for the day with incurred fees for rides longer than 30 minutes), to the good old legs/feet. Read about how I got around in Paris here.
Lodging in Paris
Lodging in Paris:
We were fortunate to have a 7-night stay reward at any Marriott, so we booked 7 nights at the beautiful Renaissance Paris in République. We still had to find lodging for 2 additional nights, and decided to check-in at an Airbnb on the day we arrive so that we can utilize the washer and do some laundry mid-trip. Again, due to our last-minute booking and requiring a washer and flexible check-in/out, our options were very limited. Another thing we noticed was that due to the time difference, the calendar for the listings that we were interested in were not updated real time, resulting in getting declined a few times as one of the nights of our stay would be booked already but the listing would show up in our search results (this has never happened with us before). Right when I was beginning to lose hope and look to booking a hotel room, I found a brand new listing at a great location for a decent price that ticked off everything on our list. The fact that it was a new listing with no reviews made me a bit anxious, but we decided to just take our chances, stop driving myself mad, and reserve our energy and sanity for the actual trip.
TIP: 1) Confirm the check-in time for your Airbnb or hotel and plan accordingly, as some hosts or hotels may charge you extra fees for coming in too early or after hours. We were fortunate to book with a host whose check-in and check-out policy was very flexible, but this was a rare find. We noticed that hosts in Paris seemed to be stricter with this policy and many stated on the listing that for check-ins after a certain time would be charged a €10-30 fee. 2) If you do not have enough time to wait for a response from the Airbnb host, then narrow your search to “Instant Book” listings (indicated by a lightening symbol) to book a place without having to wait for the host’s approval.
Find out what we thought about our lodging here.
Food in Paris
Food in Paris:
Anyone who knows my husband and me knows that good food is a huge part of our lives, and eating well on vacation is one of the highlights of the trip that we look forward to. Some people eat to live, while we live to eat. Usually, I do a lot of research and make a list of where to eat, but as I was limited on time to do a lot of research, I enlisted the help of my friends who have already been to Paris for recommendations. I would have done so regardless of my own research, but this time around, I depended heavily on the recommendations, especially from my friend Taryn, a true Francophile. I did a brief research on Yelp, Google, and Tripadvisor to get a feel for the amazing food that Paris has to offer. See what we ate here!
TIP: 1) Many restaurants and cafes in Paris have limited seating, so it’s wise to find out their reservation policy (some do not accept resos at all) and make reservations accordingly. Most of the restaurants that we did have to make reservations for utilized online reservation tools so I didn’t have to butcher the beautiful language while trying to make reservations on the phone. 2) Another important tip! Find out what the operating hours/days are for each restaurant, as many close in between lunch and dinner, some open for dinner only, some close on the weekends or random weekdays, and many businesses close on Sundays. Google has been consistently reliable on our trip.
Things to Do in Paris
Things to Do in Paris:
I already knew that some of the iconic places like the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Nortre Dame, Montmartre, and Arc du Triompe were definitely going to be on our must visit places. Since we had approximately 10 days in Paris, and the weather kept on changing on us, I decided to just play it by ear and not set an itinerary until we got to Paris. After a brief online research, I decided that we would visit the Louvre on a Wednesday or Friday afternoon to try to avoid the crowd since the museum stays open until 9:45 PM on those days in the peak season (http://www.louvre.fr/en/hours-admission). One of the things that I looked for while researching was the attraction hours and busiest days/times in an attempt to avoid the crowd. Also, check when the attraction closes, as the Louvre is closed on Tuesdays, whereas Musee d’Orsay and Château de Versailles are closed on Mondays, among other holidays.
Also, I had wanted to go on a free walking tour of Paris, and after researching online and by recommendations from a friend, I decided to book with City Free Tour (http://cityfreetour.com/paris/). This was the only thing I pre-planned and booked ahead of time, as reservations are required. The process was very simple: I just emailed to make reservations, and after a couple of going back and forth with Chris the tour guide to find availability, I got to reserve 2 spots for the Montmartre tour on Saturday at 10:30 AM. The free tours only operate Fridays-Mondays, and there are 3 tours (Montmartre at 10:30 AM, Nortre Dame/Latin Quarter at 1:30 PM, and Marais with macaron tasting at 4 PM), which last about 1.5-2 hours, according to their website. The company also offers paid private tours.
Weather in Paris
Weather in Paris:
The weather forecast predicted that we would get a mix of unusual heat and humidity, sunny and cloudy days, as well as cool, rainy, and possibly thunderstorms during our 10 day trip in Paris. As our departure date neared, the forecast continued to change a bit, with an increase in the overall temperature. The range in weather made packing for the trip that much more diverse but difficult.
Find out what the actual weather was like here!
Return Flight to LAX from Paris
Return Flight to LAX from Paris:
While researching for the return flight from CDG to LAX, my husband came across a great deal from a budget airline, XL Airways France. We’ve never flown on this airline before and the reviews were pretty horrific (canceled/ delayed flights without any explanations; terrible customer service; lack of online check-in, which requires passengers to come to the airport 3.5 hours to check in; dirty and uncomfortable seats; lack of entertainment, etc., to name a few), but the fare was too good to pass up. We pulled the trigger and left our fate in the hands of XL for the return flight. One of the things that was stressful but not impossible to do, was making sure that our luggage and even the carry-on bags were under the weight limit. You are allowed to bring on 1 baggage (backpack, carry-on luggage, etc) and 1 accessory (i.e. purse, laptop, or camera). The carry-on baggage allowance is 5 kg or 11 pounds for economy class. For checked-in luggage, you are allowed 1 luggage weighing less than 20 kg or 44 pounds for free. Anything that goes over the weight and number of luggage limit will incur fees (see airline’s baggage policy here http://www.xl.com/us/article.cfm?idArticle=120). To ensure that we wouldn’t get charged for excess baggage, we used the trusty old scale for all of our bags. For reference, we checked in 1 large suitcase and 1 small suitcase, and each of us carried a backpack and a shopping bag (shopping bags were not weighed) on our return flight. Thanks to my husband’s ingenious packing abilities, all of our bags were under the weight limit. Read about our actual experience on XL Airways here!
Read about transportation from Paris to CDG Airport here!