Hello, everyone! I'm planning a trip to Paris and London in early May, but I wanted some input on which hotel I should be considering. I'm currently thinking that the Renaissance Paris Le Parc Trocadero might be a good option, or the Rive Gauche. There will be 3 adult travelers total (but the 24 year old can sleep on a cot!).
Since I've never been there before and cannot really tell what is the center of the city/ attractions, so I'm not sure which option is best. I'd like to be able to walk to the different sites, but I will take a Metro if need be.
Thanks in advance!
Three things I would do, and have been lucky enough to have done many times:
For your first trip, try to stay at The Marriott C-E, or REN AdT in Paris, The County Hall Marriott in London, and take the Eurostar (Chunnel) between the cities. I recently posted some information on the Eurostar, and many of us have commented on both London and Paris. We all will support in detail, any questions or concerns you may have.
Remember, (Depending on how much luggage you have), you can take the metro/tube to your hotels and purchase a transportation pass for the length of your stay in each city. That will save you a lot of money.
One last thing, book your rooms now! You have Olympics coming up in London! Likewise, if you are using points, take what you can get, and then keep trying to get the hotel you really want. The hotels are really an "On again, Off again" proposition when trying to use points.
Good luck, and thanks for your post!
Thanks for your reply, jerrycoin! I really appreciate all the great insight everyone has on this forum!
My family is planning on staying in London first, then taking the Eurostar to Paris and leaving from there.
We are actually planning on paying cash for the rooms rather than use our points, so that won't be an issue. Now, with that, I'm trying to keep the per night price under $400, which is why the Le Parc Trocedero stood out. It seems close to the Eiffel Tower, but that's about it. I'm guessing a Metro pass is needed, right?
I'm not sure if I should start a new post about London, but I will ask one question. I was looking at the County Hall in London, but was thinking about the Marble Arch. Any thoughts about that?
Thanks for the luck! I'll be back with more (possible tons more!) questions!
Edit: I'm upping the price per night to around $500 since that will expand my options.
It sounds like a great trip for your loved ones and you!
Now that I know this is not on points, please shop around to the different Marriott properties. You can't go wrong with either Grosvenor area or County Hall. But price is an issue.
Check the dates, and choices of hotels, let us know what we can do to provide information to help you decide what is best for you.
Jerry, thanks! I think I'm going to take your advice and go with REN AdT. One look at a picture that shows the Arc de Triomphe down the road is all I need to see...I'm sold! I checked the price and AdT is cheaper than Le Parc Trocadero, so another plus! I must say, the REN Le Parc Trocadero is beautiful, same with the AdT and of course, C-E...cannot go wrong!
I hope to book my hotels this week. The dates for Paris are May 5th-10th. Thanks again for all your help!
Please try to see my posts on this hotel.
You will have within walking distance the C-E, and you will find there is so much right in the area to do.
I will be there in May and if I can personally help you in any way let me know. I will be there after you or I would enjoy meeting you. Keep the posts coming, and please look at previous posts on this property.
Hi redone, I think you've made a good choice with the Ren. AdT. I like it that you can walk down the street to the etoile (Charles de Gualle etoile where the AdT stands) and catch metro line 1, which is the most convenient line for a lot of monuments and attractions. Just walking to the etoile, and then down Champs Elysees will be a real treat. If you enjoy walking, I recommend walking all the way to the Louvre. It's only about a mile from AdT to the Louvre, and the walk is fantastic. You'll walk down the boulevard, through Clemenceau, around Place de la Concorde, through Jardin Tuileries, and then bingo, there you are at the Louvre, all in one straight line. I like the Trocadero area, and while that hotel is close to the Eiffel Tower, the closest metro line isn't the most convenient (you will always have to transfer, not that this is a big deal, but...)
As far as sights, Jerry is right, the double decker bus (must sit on top; I've even sat up there with an umbrella in the rain!) is a fantastic way to see everything and get an education at the same time (free audio headset in English). Yes, it is super touristy, but after all, you are a tourist. It's a must for orienting yourself to this great city.
On the right bank, I recommend Place de la Madeleine, and you can walk from there to the Garnier Opera House and Place Vendome. You must go to Monmartre and see la basilique Sacre Couer. It's so pretty inside and you can take the funiculaire -tram - up the hill. I climbed the stairs once; will never do THAT again! (I think the funiculaire is included in the ratp Paris-visite pass, and buy the pass, btw.) And the view of Paris is great from there. If you have field glasses, consider bringing them along on your visit to the Eiffel Tower, Sacre Coeur, AdT and Notre Dame bell tower). You must visit the Louvre (you can do a wonderful introductory guided tour in less than 2 hours) and see Venus de Milo, the Mona Lisa (la Jaconde) and the grand gallery with the large format paintings. I also recommend at least one impressionist museum (d'Orsay is great, it's on the left bank in the 6th/7th arr.).
In the middle of the Seine, visiting Notre Dame and Sainte-Chapelle is a must, and if you don't mind stair climbing, I highly recommend either climbing to the top of Notre Dame's bell tower or the top of AdT, or both. Also, if you love churches, visit San Germain des Pres and Saint Sulpice and the Pantheon on the left bank. Also on the left, Jardin du Luxembourg is beautiful and romantic.
I would also carve out about a half a day to visit Le Marais (4th arr.) on the right bank. Visit rue de Rosiers and rue Bretagne for some color, and while there, don't miss Place de Voges and Hotel Sully courtyard, and if at all possible while in the 4th, visit Le Shoah, the holocaust museum. There is also a little known monument to the deported at the very top tip of the island that Notre Dame sits on (Ile de la Cite). The monument has no sign that I'm aware of. Right behind the cathedral is a park - Square Jean Xxiii - beyond that is a small street. Across the small street on the very tip of the island is a small memorial. You walk through an unassuming iron gate and down some steps, I believe. The memorial is Le Mémorial des Martyrs de la Déportation. It is a Parisian monument dedicated to the memory of all those deported from France between 1941 and 1944. I have never been to this little monument, but plan on visiting it when I go the last week of May.
I also think you would be well served to visit a local castle (chateau). Versailles would be the obvious pick (a full day trip), which is a half hour RER train ride from central Paris, or perhaps Chateau Vincennes or Chateau Fontainbleu, both proximal as well to Paris. Depending on your desires (and your pocketbook), you might also opt for either a day tour to the Loire Valley where you can visit some spectacular castles (Chambord, Chennoceau, Cheverny) or wineries, or even to Bruge, Belgium (both tours leave very early, return very late). These run about 90-130 euro/person, but are a really nice treat.
I'll also post some stuff that Prof Chiara recommended from another post. Have fun planning!
Redone, here is Prof Chiara's post on some Paris items. She will not mind my sharing it here. But do know she is a history buff. If you have a passion for history, you will certainly be well served by her recommendations below.
One thing not to miss -- which I always tell my students -- is the Sainte Chapelle. It's on the same island in the Seine as Notre-Dame, but much more glorious (if you can imagine). It's in the Palais de Justice complex, and you are best off (depending on how many people you'd need to get it for; I don't have children) with a Paris Museum pass which lets you pass through all the lines. Pick a sunny day and you will never see anything like it. It sounds like you've picked a place to stay, but since I travel so often to Paris and since my bad experience (after many good ones) at the RG, I will probably stay at the Courtyard Saint-Denis next time. Forgive my medieval history professor-ness, but another amazing site is right at Saint-Denis off the metro stop, the royal abbey and necropolis of Saint-Denis. It was the first ever example of Gothic architecture. The basilica is filled with not only amazing stained glass (don't let the plain and unattractive outside fool you) as the 12th-C. abbot planned -- to lift the heart and soul upward through light and height -- but also with tomb statuary of the kings and queens and children of times gone by. The actual bones that had remained in the tombs were put on trial (seriously) during the French Revolution, then after they were inevitably found guilty, usually thrown into the Seine, but the sculptures of the tombs remain in all their glory. Along with the Sainte Chapelle, it's one of my favorite places in Paris, although technically just outside. (And if you take the RER from CDG don't worry about the unpleasant suburbs you go through. They too shall pass. Saint-Denis was sort of the end of that part of the RER line as you approach Paris, but the last time I was there (I go EVERY time) Saint-Denis was much changed for the better. In any case, it's a block walk from the Paris metro (not the RER, which will leave you off in Saint-Denis near the Stade de France, the major soccer stadium).
Also if you get a Paris musée pass, you'll get to see the Conciergerie (the oldest part of the Ile-de-la-Cité), where famous prisoners such as Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, and Robespierre spent their last days. If you're in a more gruesome mood (or your adult children are -- as some of my students definitely are), consider the catacombs near Denfert-Rochereau. When the Cemetery of the Innocents became a health hazard in central Paris a couple of hundred years ago, the major remains were transferred to the cemetery of Père LaChaise (amazing site -- I go for the lovers Heloïse and Abelard, who were finally reunited in death after their 12th C separation in life -- but most go to see Jim Morrison's grave. All kinds of artists and writers are also buried there). But the Catacombs contain layer after layer of the skulls and bones of the lesser mortals, right underneath the center of the city. If you are in a gruesome or historical mood, be sure to dress for the coolness and take a flashlight.
PS -- If you want some other off the beaten track medieval/early modern sites, let me know. Too many are fantastic (Château de Vincennes, at the end of another metro line, is another example) yet little known.
WOW, Lori! This info is SO GREAT! This first hand info from everyone has been so useful! My family loves walking, so we will definitely use that route to all the attractions! I think walking really allows us to immerse ourselves into a city/ culture, so we try to do so as much as possible.
I hope to see as much as possible while there, but I'm sure I could stay a month and still not see everything! Such history and beauty!
Thanks for telling me about the ratp Paris-visite! I was confused about which metro pass (same with London's Oyster card) to get since there is some other type of pass. Can/ Should I buy this ahead and ship it to my house or should I buy it at the Eurostar station in Paris?
Thanks so much for your help!
Hi Redone, here's some more helpful info, which you asked about.
First, here is the ratp's paris-visite web page. http://www.ratp.fr/en/ratp/c_20593/paris-visite/
The 5 day pass is a pretty good deal. You will only need a zone 1-3 pass, and the great thing is you can get on/off the metro as much as you like. You can purchase your pass online, and then activate it when you get to Paris, or you can just as easily purchase it when you get to Gare du Nord (I think that's the train station that the eurostar arrives at). I will purchase mine when I get to Gare de l'est from CDG airport. One thing to keep in mind, a pass day is from 5:30am to 5:30am, so if you purchase and activate your pass at 10pm, that counts as one day. Also, the pass gets you the following: funiculaire pass, plus 20% discount on many monument entrance fees and the batobus. Go to the website to see which ones. It will also get you a discount on the l'Open Tour Bus, but you have to purchase your l'Open Tour bus pass at the l'Open Tour office at 13 Rue Auber (in the 9th arr. almost across the street from Garnier Opera House) in order to get the discount (otherwise you can just purchase the open tour bus pass from the bus driver). Depending on how many days you'll be there, you might want to get a 1 or 2 day open tour bus ticket, and use the hop on/hop off bus to get around, and then purchase your paris-visite pass for the metro on subsequent days, but the l'open tour busses doe end the day at about 7:30pm, so you'll have to figure out your transportation needs and decide from there. It's just nice to not overspend needlessly on transportation if you don't have to. When I went in 2010 with my sister and her Aussie husband, we didn't purchase passes; instead we purchased carnets (books of 10 tickets) only as required, because we. did. so. much. walking. ev.er.y.where! thanks to the machine bro-in-law! This trip, with my kids, two grandbabies and a stroller, we'll probably get the paris-visite pass. For Versailles, just purchase a separate ticket at the train station when you go, it's only about 3 and a half euro each way on RER line C.
l'Open Tour is the double decker open top bus I've used.
I know there is so much to see that it can seem overwhelming. Do your research, and then decide your priorities. Check out the Paris Museum pass website and see if that is cost effective for you, based on the monuments and museums that you will decide to visit. Take note that some museums are closed on Tuesdays (or Mondays?), and also May 1st, so if you do purchase a pass, be mindful of that. The good thing about a museum pass is that you get front of the line privileges at Sainte-Chapelle and the Notre Dame bell tower (both have long lines during peak season, but then again if you get an early start, which I plan to do for Saint-Chapelle this trip, then you can beat the long lines on your own). The list of museums and monuments that the pass is good for is long, but many of the places on the list you will not visit your first time to Paris unless you have a fairly aggressive schedule or lots of time. I found that with just a week in Paris, I would have to aggressively attack a lot of the monuments/museums to get my money's worth on the pass, but then I miss out on just enjoying the sights and smells and sounds of a spectacularly diabolical city, the people watching, the thrum and tempo of Paris life, watching old Parisien gentlemen playing bocce ball or petanque, open air flower and produce markets, boulangeries and fromageries, free concerts in hundreds year old churches, strolls through parcs and neighborhoods and along the Seine, the sidewalk cafes and shops, as well as chatting up residents and shopkeepers and proprietors. While Paris can be expensive, there are many things about Paris that are both free and priceless.
Yep, you are right: a month wouldn't be enough time to see it all, but of course, Paris will beg, entice, or otherwise seduce you to come back, count on it! Happy planning, and glad to help.