What if you were to arrive at Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) Airport tomorrow?
I would take the RER B3 train into downtown (historic) Paris, very near Notre Dame de Paris
Then I would take the Métro to my hotel.
In fact I already have extra tickets from my last visit
(They say the tickets never expire)
The trip from CDG (Zone 5) requires a RER Zone-5 Ticket
which can be purchased at the large CDG ticket office located in Terminal 2
Tickets can be purchased at the nearby vending machine, but they often require a european style credit card which contains a chip
A Ride within the city on the Paris Métro requires a single ticket, which can be purchased in stacks of 10 called a Carnet
No ticket is required when we return to the airport early New Years Day morning
Beginning late New Year Eve, and into New Years Day, Métro and RER rides are free
Paris for the Holidays, spends two nights (outside of Paris) in Versailles (Zone 4)
Four Zone-4 RER Tickets will be required for the rides back-and-fourth from Versailles (RER C5) and central Paris
We are still doing the math, but this combination of tickets might justify purchasing a weekly card named, the Paris Passe Navigo Découverte which allows for unlimited travel from Monday to Sunday. We arrive on Wednesday and prefer to ride Vélib’ when we can
A 7-Day Vélib’ pass costs 8 euros
For an unlimited amount of 30-minute rides
A reasonable surcharge applies to rides exceeding that time
(but part of the fun is skipping among Vélib’ docking stations, to ensure your ride doesn’t exceed the 30 minutes)
maybe even getting lost and discovering another piece of Paris
Kay asks us:
“Exactly what is this trip is about and how much is it going to cost?
It sounds like a once in a lifetime experience, but it also sounds like a hoax”
There is nothing very Exact about our trip to Paris
This excursion is for individuals who could probably plan this trip on their own
Although it will be easier
-with a basic itinerary in place, and
-travel suggestions provided, while
-traveling as a member of a group.
Despite these conveniences, substantial effort is still required on your part to:
Purchase your airline ticket and
Book hotel reservations.
Once these transactions are completed, you’ll have an Exact departure date, an Exact venue for your accommodations, and then . . . everything else seems to fall into place.
It may be frustrating and scary to some, because no Exact price is attached to this trip. Some might prefer to write a check for an all-expense-paid trip which includes ground transportation, meals, museum tours, taxes and gratuities, etc.
If you make the trip to Paris for the Holidays, it is ultimately up to you to determine your budget, investigate airline tickets and shop for hotels reservations
This is not a Tour, so much as, an Activity which requires your participation
We will not be giving you a museum tour or shuttling you about Paris
But you can join us on the Metro (or Vélib’) ride to the museum
And hopefully, you will be telling us a story as we stand before a masterpiece at the Louvre
Or you have a tip on a remarkable place to eat
You can follow our schedule, stay at the same hotels and we can check-in together
Or you can do it your way
The aim is to assemble an interactive group, with everyone making contributions, but also free to operate independently.
And then see what happens
But, Nothing Exact
We will stay in Four Hotels (Quatre Hôtels) during our time in Paris
Wednesday, December 24th -Check-In
Friday, December 26th -Check-Out
Mercure Paris Montmartre Sacre Coeur, Paris
Expedia Ranking: **** (we rate it 3½, although we love this place)
1-3 Rue Caulaincourt, Paris, 75018 France
This is a basic and clean room, but in the most intricate and interesting of neighborhoods, with it’s dramatic topography
Rue Lepic, Sacre Coeur, Montmartre Cemetery, Moulin Rouge, Pathe! Cinema
We paid $142.88 per night
Friday, December 26th -Check In
Sunday, December 28th -Check-Out
Pullman Carsalles Chateau, Versailles
2 Bix Avenue De Paris, Versailles, Yvelines, 78000 France
Expedia Rating: **** (we rate it 4½)
A fine hotel, just down-the-street from the Palace
It is all about Versailles – the dense crowds of tourists in the Palace and the open air of the majestic Gardens
You might prefer the quaint historic portion of Versailles over the newer, more commercial district on the other side of town
We paid $173.49 per night
Sunday, December 28th -Check-In
Tuesday, December 30th -Check-Out
Novotel Paris Est, Bagnolet
1 Avenue de la Republique, Bognolet, Seine-Seint-Denis, 93177 France
Expedia Rating: **** (we also rate it a 4)
This is the most towering of the hotels, in a suburban district of expressways and parks
It’s one metro station from Pere LaChaise Cemetery and maybe our best chance to find that remarkable out-of-the-way Bistro
We paid $134.71 per night
Tuesday, December 30th -Check In
Thursday, January 1st -Check Out
Sofitel Paris La Defense Puteaux
33 Voie des Sculpteurs, Puteaux, Hauts-de-Seine, 92060 France
Expedia Rating: ***** (we also rate it a 5)
Luxury Hotel, in an Exclusively Business District
(with very little consumer commerce, except for the train station)
Clean Modern Plaza of Sculptures and La Grande Arche, Overlooking Paris
If you stayed in this hotel anywhere else in Paris, you couldn’t afford it
We paid $217.72 per night
Average per night: $167.20
The eight night total is: $1,337.60
(if you could find that agreeable person during our meetups to share a room in Paris, it would be less the $700.00 for 8 nights) Not Bad
Laura asks us: “Who will be going?”
Tara asks us: “What is the avg. age of the group members?” (married, singles, size of the avg. group)
We finalize our roster later in the year
To join the group sign up on our Waiting List
We hope for a group of 5 to 15 travelers, creating a diverse and interesting mix for our week together. There are no quotas, our composition varies from year to year. When traveling with a group a reasonable amount and patience and tolerance is essential.
Our members might be active, as we change accommodations four times during the trip – packing up and traveling through the Metro system
(although you could certainly take a taxi)
Some of us are “early birds,” first in line at museums with our Museum Pass each morning.
(although if you prefer to sleep in, visiting museums during selected evening hours is another option – when they are also less crowded)
We go to the first Christmas Mass at Notre Dame, a great way to avoid the crowds;
It’s a beautiful time and place regardless of your denomination.
Afterwards we probably go to a popular big-name Left Bank cafe close-by (you-guessed-it, no crowds)
The evening concerts at Sainte-Chapelle are another way to “hack” the endless line at this medieval attraction. You won’t see much of the 13th century stained glass after sunset, but listening to chamber music in the cold-darkness of this Gothic structure is like-no-where-else. And the nice thing about Sainte-Chapelle: it is relatively small, not a bad seat in the house.
Our group will be not too big to gather at a cafe together or weather permitting, bicycle between attractions, markets and cemeteries.
The gardens of Versailles are a unique place for an early run (or walk) in the emptiness of the dawn hours.
Later in the week – a New Year’s jog on the morning of our departure is a tradition which provides one final look at Paris, before we pack our bags.
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An interested traveler told us that she has never traveled abroad and asked if she should obtain a Passport
Maybe you’ll obtain the Passport this year . . . then travel with us next year
If you do join us this year, you will need a Passport before you buy your airline ticket to Paris
Go to the local Post Office to obtain your Passport application
There is a fee (approx $165)
A Passport Photo is also required (2”x2”)
Once all materials are assembled . . .
It isn’t much more effort than mailing a Christmas Package
There may be a line and repeated trips back to the window
And there is processing time (4-6 weeks)
Your Passport is the ultimate trinket
Something that you definitely need when-you-need-it
Maybe one day it will bear airport stamps from Paris, Berlin, London or Tokyo
It is good for 10 years
U.S. Passports and International Travel United States Department of State
Apply for a New Passport United States Post Office
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You will pay us nothing for your travel and accommodations in Paris
This is not a travel package
You will book your air travel and hotel arrangements
We can offer assistance and make suggestions
There is a nominal (refundable) $250.00 fee to sign up for the Waiting List
Why should I join the Waiting List?
Paris for the Holidays began in 2011, when we realized that the flight across the Atlantic is only incrementally more expensive (and time consuming) than a domestic flight. We acquired a rewards (credit) card – and funneled most of our purchases through it. This funds our Christmas escape to France each year. And ends-up-being an escape from our commercial American Christmas – a holiday from the holidays.
Paris Airfare : $1,000
We recommend a non-stop flight which leaves late-in-the-day and arrives mid-morning in Paris
If you have the stamina for a flight which makes a stop, or two – you could save several hundred dollars
If you have a airline or credit card rewards plan, the savings will be more substantial
Lodging: $170 per night
The 4 Hotels (Les Quatre Hôtels)
You can reduce this at any travel site. $170 is actually pretty reasonable for Paris
Maybe you can find someone to share the room and split the cost
We stay at comfortable hotels on the outskirts of Paris (Montmatre, Les Halles, Versailles and La Defense, this year) They are clean, secure and spacious. We have stayed closer to the center of Paris; the accommodations were not as economical, not as spacious and felt impersonal and touristy. To some they might be considered unacceptably rustic and small. (Although we admit – being in central Paris was awesome)
Another popular option for Lodging is quite affordable:
Air BNB Paris ($48.00 per night for shared room)
In summary, Airfare and Hotels could exceed $2,000, although:
Airfare can be reduced with reward points and alternatives to a non-stop flight and
Hotel costs can be reduced by sharing with a roommate or choosing a cheaper hotel
Passes and Cards:
We strongly recommend that you purchase:
1 – the Paris Museum Pass: for 6 contiguous days of admission to major attractions (and avoid the lines)
(2 day and 4 day passes are also available)
2 – a Vélib’ (Bike-Share) 7 Day Pass for 8 euros (which is such a bargain)
3 – 10 Metro Carnet [kar-nay] tickets. Other RER tickets will be purchased for travel outside of central Paris and from the airport
You can purchase these at CDG Airport upon your arrival (Vélib’ Pass can be purchased online in advance)
We seldom eat in restaurants during our stay. Instead we search for the best boulangerie for the perfect baguette. Neighborhood groceries offer affordable wine and cheese, fruits, pates, etc. We also monitor our list of markets, street food, wine bars and set-price lunch menus
You may arrange an international data or call package with your cell phone carrier
We purchase the most basic (minimum) phone and data (1 month) package
Then we turn-off the phone (and use it solely for googling maps, etc while out on the street)
We turn-it-on for several calls back to the US-of-A
If you don’t disable your phone “mysterious data usage (and roaming) charges” may appear on your next bill
We bring a tablet to utilize free WiFi available at the hotel
You can withdraw Euros from an ATM at the airport in Paris
Your bank may have a relationship with a European bank to minimize withdrawal fees
You can purchase Euros from an agency in the US, though you will probably be floored by their fees.
(It may be comforting to have 100 Euros with you)
And, Notify your credit cards to approve the overseas transactions
Subscribe to Paris Memos (our mailing list)
It is your first step and the commitment that starts your journey
Our group will leave for France on Tuesday, December 23rd for an overnight flight to arrive in Paris the morning of Christmas Eve
A non-stop flight is nice, but may not be available or affordable. One year, using airline frequent flyer points, our flight had two stops on the way to Paris. Instead of arriving at the airport late in day for a non-stop flight, we spent the whole day traveling through airports, eventually leaving from Toronto. It was hard find comfortable seat position on the final trans-atlantic-leg overnight flight after spending the day waiting and sitting. We did enjoy the beautiful Toronto airport and a wonderful Air Canada flight.
It is comforting to fly with an airline which is part of a network, should flight changes occur. They may be able to transfer you to another flight. Overall, our experience is that foreign airlines (specifically Swiss Air or Air Canada) were more luxurious. The seats and entertainment systems felt like they were better maintained, and all the little extras were just a little nicer. Foreign flights are less likely to be non-stop and may depart from Canada or travel through another European city on the way to Paris.
We like aisle seats and enjoy the surreal night walks up and down the aisles of the airplane through the dark night. Standing up and stretching really helps during long flights. Your seat partner will probably want to climb out of their seat, just as you are falling asleep, but that is the trade-off.
The return flight from Paris usually leaves late in the morning on New Years Day. This allows for a leisurely trip to the airport after New Years Eve. If it is a non-stop flight, you will arrive home sometime in the afternoon that day.
If you have a good source of tickets, please share them with us. Some websites provide notification when sales occur.