Hello again, more Paris questions for any Francophiles out there. (To skip the narrative, blah, blah, blah, please jump to the bottom of the post where the actual questions are.)
I have been hopping all over the map where my Paris stay in May is concerned, and quite frankly, I am more than a little bit embarrassed that I cannot seem to get our doings and lodgings sorted out. This is because there will be littles (my grandchildren, ages 10 months and 2 years at travel time) accompanying us on the France leg of the trip. We decided we could not afford two rooms for a week in central Paris (Ha! Yesterday when I did a Paris hotel inquiry on the Marriott reservations website for the dates of our stay - last week of May - the Marriott Champs Elysees came in at a whopping 1319.00 EURO/night. Who hoo, baby, Bill Gates I am not! Well, admittedly a one bdrm suite was all that was in the offering there for 3 adults, but still...)
So then, at first we decided on the MVC outside of Paris. We were initially excited about that location, until we found out that 1) the property no longer offers shuttle service to the train station 3 miles away, and 2) with the local bus service to the train and the resulting connection times, the travel time one way into Paris would be a solid hour each way every day. While I would still like to stay at that property someday, we decided it was not the best fit for this trip. So then we opted for a Paris Vacation Apartment rental, which I was excited about, you know, kind of cool and different, but now we just recently found out that my son-in-law will not be able to join us (unforeseen military duties now prevail). Since the apartment is on the 2nd floor (3 flights of stairs, no lift) and the strapping son-in-law - the only male in our party - will now not be joining us, I am questioning these plans as well, as without him, schlepping the stroller and the babies up and down all those stairs less one adult (the strongest adult) is now seeming to be rather much more un-vacation-like in nature. What to do, what to do?
The only affordable options that remain are Rive Gauche (will not stay there again), Courtyard Neuilly (too far to walk to the metro with the littles), Renaissance La Defense (never stayed there). The Courtyards at the Saint-Denis, Arcueil and Paris Bologne locations did not pop up for 3 persons/room inquiry. Note: When I did a google map street view of the Courtyards at Saint-Denis and Arcueil, both areas distinctly lacked charm: rather run down and industrial looking (even unsafe? thinking babies here...), in stark contrast to the charm of central Paris. Perhaps that is why they are the most affordable.
I also got to thinking, maybe we should venture an excursion outside of Paris (I really want to visit Normandie). So here are my latest questions:
Renaissance La Defense - How proximal is it to the metro station? Are there stairs or escalators/elevators to street level where we'll catch the metro? (It's the babies/stroller thing.) I cannot google map street view it due to the nature of the location and all of the tunnels. Do they offer elites free breakfast on weekdays?
Normandie - Is a day trip doable, or should we stay over? (May never make it back there.) If a stay over is in order, is one night enough or is two nights warranted?
Car rentals - I previously received some stellar goods on that (thanks newhiltonmember and jerrycoin!), my question is, does anyone know if car rental companies rent child car seats?
Thanks so much, everyone.
If you have time I would go to Pointe du Hoc and look down to the Beach, that is where our Rangers Stormed
•3 Medal Of Honor Recipients
•2 of the Niland Brothers
•1 WWI Aviator
•9387 US Military
I know the feeling, westof30!
Great pictures, wonderful advice.
I drove a few times from La Defense to Normandy and it was very easy and uplifting. There is always that problem of getting back to the Ren. La Defense, unless you are really prepared for the many "Exits" there.
Again, thanks for the wonderful pictures and sharing this with us!
Okay, so nuhusker, you're saying more time and westof30 is saying less time. I don't know, but my first thought when I saw westof30's wonderful pictures was, 'You did all that in one day?' Myself, being a person of a certain age, I'm thinking more time also. Plus we are a slower group; handicapped by our little travelers.
Forgive my next comment; I cannot help myself...'just France? JUST France?' I LOVE France. It will never be 'just France' to me, kind sir!
Good morning nuhusker, No I do very much feel that Normandy is an important monument to our call to service and sacrifice in defense of all that we hold dear as a nation and a people, and I do want to give it the time it deserves. I am even a tad embarrassed that I haven't yet visited this important place, especially as a person who has proudly worn the uniform in the past. For all the criticism we Americans may receive from our European friends, the bottom line is that we are a deeply generous nation and people, and nothing proves that more than our sacrifices in Normandie. I am a Francophile through and through, though. My feelings toward France are no doubt irrational in some ways, but they are what they are. It's in my blood (much like being a Dodger fan!). I very much value and appreciate all your input!
Hehehe. The Braves are not on my 'short' list of MLB team favorites, but they are on my 'long' list. Our God-daughter's boyfriend ('s mother's cousin's ex-husband's step-son's nephew - haha just kidding about the last part!) just graduated from high school last June and was signed by Atlanta. He leaves for spring training this week, I think. (We think he should've at least played college ball for a couple of years and then got drafted, but...oh well...he went for the money, I guess.) He'll be playing up in Virginia(?)
Well said. There is no doubt in my mind that the monuments, the cemetery and the beaches of Normandy represent a somber, yet appropriate monument to the "Greatest Generation". I plan to visit Normandy within the next two to three years as I feel a duty to pay homage these brave and courageous men.
If you want to go to Normandy, and you are driving, go with the Ren. La Defense. It is an easy drive, and a great hotel. You do have elevators there that will take you to an easy exit, short walk, down an escalator, an you will have a choice of the metro (LAST STOP, so you can't mess up, or the RER to Euro Disney, or ?).
The hotel is modern and very comfortable, they will give you coupons for a great breakfast buffet in The California Room, and they have a very comfortable place to dine as well. During the week, they have a wonderful CL, that you can have access 24 hours per day. I used it sometimes when I just wanted to get out of the sleeping room, so I didn't disturb others.
There is also rental cars available close by. You are only 15 minutes away from the C-E, and less than a half hour away from the Louvre, by Metro.
Good luck in making your plans, you know you can seek answers from any of us on the MI!
Jerry, Thanks for the skinny on the Ren. La Defense. It looks like a beautiful hotel, and good to know about the elevators, dining, and the CL. I was thinking instead of renting a car in central Paris, take the RER to somewhere outside of Paris, like maybe Disney and getting a car there, so I don't have to deal with what you dealt with trying to get back to the Ren. On google maps, the area (around the Ren.) indeed looks very confusing. Now just need to find out about renting car seats. Would you also mind weighing in on whether or not to do Normandie as a day trip, or an over nighter or two? Thanks.
There is nothing more moving than what you will see on a visit to Normandy. I don't think it can be done (with your party) in one day. When you add the time of the trip out there and back to the time needed to visit the WWII sites, it can't be accomplished in a day unless you're doing what Chevy Chase did in 'European Vacation' and hustling the family through each location without stopping (oh, look kids.....gotta go!)
In addition, if you can't make it back there, you should consider what else is there. Beautiful picturesque villages (Honfleur, Deauville and others) and the beautiful coutryside that is there. Mont St Michel is also that way but still a bit of distance from Normandy.
Sounds like a great trip.....I'm jealous!
Good morning Tef,
I think I was waiting for someone to say what both you and nuhusker said, as I'm thinking myself that more time is necessary, and you've both validated that. As traveling is expensive, one wants to make efficient use of one's time (as westof30 said they spent two days there, but could have done it in one), but on the other hand, you are right; one 'European Vacation' experience (my first) was enough for me. I think the older I get, the more I enjoy lingering over things, pondering in thoughtful meditation over what I am seeing, especially art, architecture or monuments that speak to important historical events and significance. It's nice to take the time to really breathe in an experience and let it become a part of me. And yes, we are a slower group. So maybe a two night stay in the area?
A couple of thoughts about your possible "Normandy" trip. (If you would like specific directions from Paris, let me know).
After visiting a few times, you may want to consider also visiting some other interesting places:
First of all, the coastal city of Honfleur, has many places on the water to dine, and is a respite from Paris prices. This is a great place to head for after leaving Paris. A great luncheon spot, especially, if you like fresh seafood. Take the coastal route D513, for a wonderful coast drive, Westword, and enjoy seeing the town of Deauville, the home of the first casino in France. It's another charming experience, you may want to see the casino, as it is a charming place. Continue West and drive along the coast for about 40 miles, and you will see historic Normandy. Enjoy the many stops, museums, and history. The cemetery is something, (Did you see, Saving Private Ryan, or the Longest Day?)
Lori, you know have the option of heading back to Paris or staying along the D514. You can also drive to the cities of Cean, Bayeax or St. Lo. They are all famous for their locations shortly after D-Day.
If you do decide to stay in the countryside, I would suggest you continue West on Autobahn A84, and drive to le Mont-St Michel. This is a spectacular place to experience and see. A "Fairy tale" on the water, that you will never forget!
On your return to Paris, you can drive South to the interesting towns of Rennes, Le Mans, and continue Eastward toward Chartres. You will see the Chartres Cathedral, miles away from the actual town. The Cathedral, is well worth a stop. It is really something special.
You can return to Paris on autobahn A-11. You then may want to stop at Versailles, and you may want to get rid of the car there and take the RER back to your hotel, but try not to drive into metro Paris.
I did this trip in two days, and could have made it longer, but it is doable. Good luck! If you have more questions, bring them on!
Here is some information on Hertz, and their location in La Defense. You can pick it up at one location and drop it at another Paris location for no charge, (Or you could in the past). Note the "Car seat" availability at Hertz, that could minimize hauling more luggage! This information is on the Hertz web-site.
Okay, well, here's what I've decided. After researching Normandie and in light of the fact that we will only be in France for 6 days and I cannot find a car rental agency in the area that offers child seat rentals, I'm not even going to venture outside of Paris, except to visit Versailles, and perhaps that cathedral in Saint-Denis that ProfChiara spoke of. Everyone here has pointed out so many wonderful things to do/see/visit over on the coast that I am now thinking about just spending an entire week in Normandie/Bretagne next spring, followed by a week in London. I forgot how inviting Honfleur looks. Thanks to all for helping me figure this out. If I change my mind one more time prior to our trip, someone please, just shoot me!
It's a matter of taste, and I haven't stayed there yet but will do so next time in Paris, since I will no longer stay at the Rive Gauche and cannot afford many of the other options. But I plan to stay at the Saint-Denis. This might be a problem with your 'littles' (I love it!), so the best route might be to contact the hotel directly.
Saint-Denis, like many Paris suburbs, always had a large immigrant population, mainly Muslim-French (primarily Algerian or Moroccan). Since about 10-20% of the French population is now from Muslim former colonies, that's not all that unusual, even downtown.
That said, since I ALWAYS visit Saint-Denis on my trips to Paris (the first Gothic church anywhere, and truly amazing inside), Saint-Denis has changed. While it's ethnic composition probably has not, you (or I) would not feel at all uncomfortable there, at least based on my last visit. It used to be highly overcrowded, somewhat difficult to navigate, etc., but I would not hesitate to stay there. To be near my beautiful Saint-Denis (inside only) is the first factor besides cost, but the second is that it is exactly on a metro line (a block away) that connects you to everywhere central and even un-central. It also has a slightly further away RER line (near the Stade de France) which connects directly to the airport.
It's all personal preference, number of people, and budget. For me, I'd stay there a couple of days on each end of the trip then spend the rest of the trip in other places in France where there is such a wealth of cultural resources to behold.
I would consider Courtyard Saint-Denis on another trip besides this one. I can be adventurous, but not with the littles. Although, one doesn't necessarily have to venture into the lower income burbs to find adventure. The last time I was in Paris (at the C-E), in 2010, it was during world cup soccer finals. Algeria (Algerie) either beat the team they were playing (was it le Bleu? can't remember, it might have been) or tied or otherwise did something that kept them in the finals for one more round, and the Algerian locals went absolutely ballistic. We had just returned from dinner and as we were walking up the sidewalk, all hell literally broke loose. I am certain that every Algerian immigrant that lived within 20 miles of Paris descended upon the Champs-Elysees between Clemenceau and L'Arch de Triomphe. The sidewalks (both sides of the street, and you know how broad the C-E's sidewalks are), were literally packed with Algerians dancing and celebrating and waving Algerian flags (hundreds of flags). Their joy was infectious, and at any rate, I felt it was in my self-interest as a no doubt obvious tourist from the west, to smile broadly than to stare in horror, as civility and order unraveled before my eyes. Almost at the same time, the boulevard became crowded with cars packed with Algerians busting out of them, sitting up through rolled down windows, on the hoods of cars, and riding in open trunks, all waving very large Algerian flags. In less than one hour, maybe only a half hour, the Champs-Elysees became gridlocked. Next, the paddy wagons started crawling out of the woodwork, coming up through the little side streets, and the Paris police, wearing riot gear (think helmets, boots, and those clear shield thingies) poured out of wagons in droves. I'll be honest; I was feeling somewhat concerned and even a bit frightened, but we could not bring ourselves to go inside. We were frozen by fascination to where we stood. I have never seen anything like it before, and certainly I never will again. The police were amazing. They showed remarkable restraint, discipline and demonstrated superior powers of judgement. I say this, because the population was very seriously out of control. The revelry and celebration (at least they were happy-out-of-control and not angry-out-of-control, raised 'disrupting the peace' to a whole new level, and while the revelers were just expressing joy and celebration, there was no doubt that if the police took action, things would get real ugly, real quick. But the riot police bode their time, watched and let the celebrators do their thing, thus showing them that they could be reasonable and tolerable within limits. Then they slowly and methodically began to take action, at which time, we decided we needed to go inside the hotel. It was quite something to see, and I can assure you that I have not exaggerated on even one detail of this story. In fact, it was more spectacular than I can describe.
Two days later, our time in Paris ended (with my previously mentioned tale about the unhappy Parisien taxi driver), and none too soon. The day we flew out, team Algerie played team Etats Unis, and team Etats Unis beat them handily. Not a good day to be an American in Paris!
But I like the idea of staying at every Marriott in Paris at least once!
What an amazing story -- but soccer stories always are -- just be glad you weren't in England! I am a forever fan of Zinedine Zidane (his finesse with the soccer ball was like nothing I'd ever seen) though that was in 2006 and ended badly thanks to the evil Materazzi -- I take my sports seriously. I even had hopes then that the tensions within France would abate. Maybe to some degree they have.
But as a sports fan, I am thrilled at the incredible charity work Zidane has done since his nearly forced retirement. And even though he no longer plays, I still sport my FRANCE 10 Zidane jersey as much as I do my 12 Brady jersey.
More Paris threads:
http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/photoAlbums/1101 La Défense, Paris, France
SusanL (Renaissance Vendome)
Thanks & CDG to Renaissance Le Parc Trocadero (Renaissance Le Parc Trocadero)
Paris! "Never better!" (Arc d'Triomphe trip report)
Surprise (discussion on Paris sights & hotels)
Hotel and Metro in Paris (hotel airport transporation options)