Replies: 8 - Last Post: Oct 10, 2012 11:00 AM Last Post By: LouisXIV
Oct 9, 2012 2:26 PM
Loire ValleyI need some advice. We'll be in Switzerland for a month in July/August 2013. Its a working vacation for my husband so we'll be based primarily in Basel. We've planned several three and four day trips in Switzerland and southern Germany. In the planning, we've planned and then dropped trips to Italy, north western Germany, Luxembourg and Belgium as it felt we were travelling all the time. And realistically, there would be very little time for my husband to actually work. One place I've always wanted to visit is France. Paris is only three hours away so we're going. I had planned to leave Basel on a Sunday morning, spend Sunday, Monday and Tuesday nights in Paris, then travel to Ambroise very early Wed morning and rent a car.
The plan was to visit Ambroise area on Wed, stay the night and visit another chateau, maybe two, the next day then grab a train from Ambroise back to Basel around 5pm. I figured one late night for the kids wouldn't be too bad. Then I looked into the train schedule. We'd have to leave Ambroise by 2pm. And the connection in Paris is in a completely different station than the train that goes to Basel. We have three children ages 5, 7 and 10. It just didn't seem feasible.
Then I figured that we'd stay an extra night in Ambroise, leaving on Friday morning on the train. But its 6.5hrs train ride which I hadn't considered.
Then I considered driving to Nantes and flying EasyJet from Nantes direct to Basel at 1pm on Friday. That would give us a 1/2 day in the Loire Valley on Wed and a full day on Thurs and then leaving early Fri morning to drive to Nantes. It's 250km drive. But its actually cheaper than the train.
Am I nuts for even considering going to the Loire Valley this trip? I'm the one that really wants to go to France. I know the kids would love Paris as they're all in French Immersion and know about the sites. We have free hotel in Paris on points. I know it differs for everyone but with three young children would you do three nights in Paris and one or two in the Loire in these circumstances or would you just do four nights in Paris and maybe do Versailles (I had planned to drop it because of the crowds, etc and didn't think it would be as enjoyable for the kids as the chateau in the Loire)? I could also get the Waldorf Astoria in Versailles for a free night on points... would it be worth it or would you just stay in Paris. I've worked this to the point of complete confusion and just need a bit of advice/suggestions on what others would do.
Edited by: casperjj
Oct 9, 2012 3:07 PM
1I have been to a number of chateau in the Loire and liked them all. Since all of you seem to have never been to Paris I would suggest spending the whole time in Paris and make a day trip to Versailles, If you get to Versailles when they open, you could be heading back to Paris in the early afternoon. The RER will take you to Versailles in about a half an hour. I would just stay in Paris and keep it simple. There is more than enough for you to do in Paris and it will take a lot of extra time just getting to and from the other places and checking in and out of hotels.
Oct 9, 2012 6:23 PM
2Thank you. Its not the answer I wanted but its the one I expected. I knew this was just too much, just kinda hoping someone would tell me it could be done without driving us all nuts. We have never been to Paris which makes it hard to narrow things down. Ah, its a reason to return one day. So, the plan will be four nights in Paris.
So, this leads to another question. I already have four nights booked on points in Paris. Its across from les Tuileries and near the Place de la Concord. I just realized that we'll be arriving on July 14th. How insanely crazy is this area on the 14th. I expect we'll be arriving around noon. I checked the parade schedule for last year and the parade ends around 1130. We live in Ottawa and Canada Day here is just insane. I can't imagine someone coming to actually visit the museums and sites and expect to get anywhere at all that day. Even walking is difficult. So, should I change the dates or will it not be that insanely crowded. If we do come that day, we'll be coming into the Gare de Lyon. How far is this from our hotel area and is it walkable (as I seriously doubt we'd be able to get a cab into that area... it may even be closed off?). Any suggestions for arriving that day? I can change the dates if I need to in order to arrive on the 15th instead.
Oct 10, 2012 6:31 AM
3I would take the Metro from Gare de Lyon to your hotel. Metro Line #1 stops at Gare de Lyon, get on the Metro in the direction of La Defence and get off at the Tuileries station. To me it would be a very simple way to get there and also less expensive. I doubt that you would want to walk from Gare de Lyon toyour hotel, but with the Metro I wouild think it would be a short walk to your hotel, but there will be a few stairs getting out of the Metro. I don't know how old your children are and how much luggage you may have, but I think it could be your best way. I would also think that a taxi could get you there, you just might ask when you get there if there is a problem at that time of the day and if it is , then take the Metro.
There are others on this forum that live in Paris, like Kerouac2, you might send them a private message for their opinion on the traffic on that day.
Oct 10, 2012 6:51 AM
4Thanks LouisXIV. I've been very hesitant to take the metro (not really familiar with subway systems and they make me nervous) but if its the best way to get there, we'll figure it out. The kids are 5, 7 and 10 so they'll be fine getting around and we don't intend to bring any more than one, maybe two small carryon type roller bags. I've sent Kerouac2 a PM for more info as well.
Oct 10, 2012 8:08 AM
5Good, I think you will not have a problem and Line 1 is direct to your stop and will require NO transfers. There are a number of lines that come into Gare de Lyon, just follow the signs to Line #1 (the color code for that line is yellow) then when you get there you will have to make a decision, either go the direction of La Defence or Chateau de Vincennes, take La Defence. Get on the car when it arrives and get off at the Tuuileres stop, the stop just before it is Palais Royal/Musse de Louvre. I would think there would not be much traffic on the Metro in that direction at that time on that day, but the other direction there could be much more. You should be just fine.
Here is everything you need to know about the Metro: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q6ACxAAzizY
I know about being hesitant, I have been to Paris six times and my first visit I had a French friend guide me around to show me the "ropes of the Metro", it is really very simple, but if you don't have a little knowledge, it can be confusing at first. Until you are a little more accustomed to using the Metro, I would recommend you not stop at some of the bigger and busier Metro stops like, Chatelet. I think I could still get lost at Chatelet.
Here is a ton of information on Paris with a lot of photos. I am sure reading much of this will make your visit to Paris more rewarding. http://anyportinastorm.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=paris
Oct 10, 2012 8:13 AM
6This is such a wealth of information. I can't thank you enough. I'm going to ask another question though. :-) what's the best way to get from our hotel to Versailles and Fontainebleu (separate trips)? Does the metro go there or would we need to take the train? If its metro, would we take the same metro at les tuileries to get there? Is there a direct route? (I'll be honest, I haven't looked into this yet so it could be a really stupid question)
Oct 10, 2012 10:48 AM
7No it is not a stupid question. I was concerned on my first trip to Versailles myself. The way I think, the RER is just an extention of the Merto that covers much of the outside of Paris. You can purchase the tickets at the Metro and you each will need a RER ticket to get to Versailles AND back. The RER tickets are similar to the Metro tickets, but I think they were a different color. You will take RER C to the Chateau de Versailles. With out knowing exactly where your hotel is, it is hard to say exactly, but you will have to get on the Metro and take it to the RER. I would think the best place to pick up the RER would be at Invailides and it may require yiou to take two Metro (you will have to transfer from one line to another. there is no additional charge for this) to get there. Then exit the Metro and enter the RER with our tickets. There are two trains that go in the direction of Versailles, make SURE you get on the correct one, the one that takes you to the Chateau de Versailles. If I remember correctly the train that goes to the chateau has a four letter sign on the top/front of the train that says VICK, but it has been a few years and that may have changed. There is also a a message board telling you the arrival of the various trains at the station. When you get to Versailles, it is the end of the line, the train stops, you all get off, walk to the head of the train, go through the train station and exit the station. directly across the street from the station are a number of gift shops and a McDonalds that might come in handy for you. Make a right turn exiting the train station and walk to the large boulevard and turn left and walk about a 1/4 mile or so and you will see the Chateau, You just can't miss it, it is HUGE. Go to Google Earth and enter these GPS coordinates, 48°48'1.19"N
It will take you to the train station at Versailles, then zoom out a little and you will see Versailles and you will see it is an easy walk.
REMEMBER when you are on the Metro and RER besure to keep your tickets until you exit the Metro or RER, the Metro Police may ask to see them. ALSO, especially in the METRO, always be aware for pick pockets. I would suggest you get a money belt while in Pairis for your money, credit and debit cards and passports.
With a family of five a carnet of tickets will get you and your family to and from your destination and then have to buy another carnet. Think a little about what you will be doing in Paris and try to buy your tickets in advance. I know the video talks about vending machines, but there may be some windows where you can walk up and purchast the tickets.
Sorry I have never been to Fontainebleu so really can't advise. This may be of some help: http://parisbytrain.com/paris-to-fontainebleau-by-train/
Oct 10, 2012 11:00 AM
8If you do go to Google Earth, I would also suggest you spend a little time in Paris to see how the city is layed out and location of many of the places you will visit. Most of the hotels in Paris have free maps of Paris and a map of the Metro and RER, get on when you arrive. There is a tourist information office a Gare de Lyon would also have them and much other information you might like to have, have a list of questions before you go and then when you get to the tourist office, ask them and they can help you with about anything.
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