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Advice for planning/budgeting honeymoon to Paris in November

Hi all,

My wife and I are re-planning our honeymoon to Paris after it was canceled last summer due to COVID. We've been to Paris before--about 10 years ago--but it was as students doing a 3-week study abroad course, so this is the first overseas trip we have to plan ourselves. With that being said, we'd really appreciate your thoughts on the practicality of our budget or what we might be forgetting to consider. We'd also love to hear your recommendations for interesting places to go for a 2-3 day trip outside of Paris. The entire trip will last 16 days from 11/18/21-12/3/21 (14 vacation days, 2 overnight travel days).

As of right now, here's what our budget looks like:

Expected Costs:

  1. Flights (already booked): $2,595.32

  2. Hotels (Paris + 2 nights in another city. Our Paris hotel has already been booked): $2,900

  3. Roundtrip shuttle from CDG airport to hotel/to CDG from hotel: $110

    Alternative option: RER train from CDG to Gare de Nord free with Navigo travel pass

  4. Navigo Weekly Travel Pass (replenish after 7 days) x 2: $100

  5. Paris Museum Pass (6 days, includes Versailles): $80 x 2: $160

  6. Round trip train tickets from Paris to second city: $80-$300

  7. International travel health insurance: $40

  8. Food (total): $2,160

    lunch: $30 x 16 = $480
    dinner: $75 x 16 = $1,200
    snacks: $35 x 16 = 480

Total Cost: $8,365.32

Available budget: $10,000-$10,400

Remainder for Discretionary Spending (souvenirs, unique events like a cabaret show or river cruise, etc.): $1,634.68-$2,034.68

As for our 2-night trip outside of Paris, we've set a somewhat arbitrary restriction that the place can't be more than a 3h 30 train ride from Paris. Here's some of the places we're considering: Rouen, Bordeaux, Annecy, Strasbourg, Geneva, Lausanne, Ghent, Brussels, or Amsterdam. If any of these places are duds or if there's other places worth checking out we'd love to hear about them!

One last thing: my wife and I are trying to figure out how to make the trip from Paris to our second city as easy as possible. We'd like to avoid the complicated process of checking out of our Paris hotel, traveling with all of our luggage to another city, moving it all to another hotel, and then repeating the whole process again for our return to Paris. Instead, we were thinking it would be easiest (although more expensive) to just pay for our hotel room in Paris even for the 2 nights we won't be there. If we did that, we'd be able to leave our luggage in the hotel room and only bring an overnight bag with us to the second city. Does this seem like a reasonable plan?

Thank you all so much for taking the time to read this! We sincerely appreciate it, and look forward to your responses.

Posted by
270 posts

I will leave most of your questions to much more experienced Francophiles here but just my two cents: you might consider heading straight to your non-Paris destination upon arrival, spending your 2-3 nights, and then returning to Paris for the remainder of your trip. This would streamline things and avoid having to either pack/unpack/repack or unnecessarily pay for two hotel rooms for those nights. This is what we've done on both of our trips to France. The first time, we arrived to CDG, took a cab into the city (I don't remember which train station), and hopped on a train to Bayeux for our 2 nights in Normandy before finishing our trip in Paris. The second time, we went straight to Colmar and did the same thing.

Posted by
8628 posts

Roundtrip shuttle from CDG airport to hotel/to CDG from hotel: $110
Alternative option: RER train from CDG to Gare de Nord free with Navigo travel pass

Shuttles are never a good deal in Paris. Taxis are fixed-rate between the cities and the airports.

Depending on which side of the river your hotel is :
53€ if your hotel is on the Right Bank to/from CDG
58€ if your hotel is on the Left Bank

I can't for the life of me imagine spending money for a Paris hotel room I wasn't going to use — nor how two people are going to eat dinner for $75 every night. That's just more than 63€. You can probably get away with some meals for that little, especially if you drink only tap water (no need to economize on wine, as it's no more spendy than sodas in French restaurants), but not every single night if you are going out.

Posted by
2207 posts

Like Rachael, I will also leave your questions to the more experienced Francophiles... and suggest a different track. Start a Honeymoon Fundraising page! I was hesitant when I first heard of these years ago, but in the past few years, they've become very popular - and enabled honeymooners to enrich their experience --- and contributors to "share" in the experience when they return.

They are a few "free" honeymoon fund pages, like Travelers' Joy, but like many GoFundMe-type pages, most take a percentage. I've worked with 15-20 couples who've gone this route and they enjoyed experiences, activities, and hotels they could have never had afforded - and created LIFELONG memories. Some of the most popular web pages are Hitchd, The Knot, Honeyfund, Zola, and Honeymoon Wishes.

I've worked with honeymooners who had some incredible experiences in France including ballooning, biking, 5-star hotels (including Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc), and a yacht taking them to Monaco for dinner! (None of which they could have afforded without a honeymoon fund). As they told me... It beats an appliance or dishes we'll never use! Like many of us who travel a lot, there seems to be a shift more in honeymoons towards having experiences, rather than getting "things." Good Luck on your trip!!!

Posted by
2366 posts

If you´re traveling into and out of CDG, follow Rachael´s advice and proceed to your outside Paris location on the day of your initial arrival. Leave Paris for the final segment of your stay.

As it will likely be very cold, particularly as days shorten to the first day of winter, I might suggest larger cities such as Lyon or Strasbourg where weather is less of a concern. There are trains directly from CDG to a number of cities. Allow a minimum of 3 hours between your planned arrival and ultimate train departure.

Just a note: the weekly Navigo fares start on Monday, remaining valid through the following Sunday. The zone 1-5 fare is 22.80€ per week. Also, as Kim states, avoid shuttles for transportation between CDG and Paris. Shuttles have a deplorable record for reliability.

Posted by
3050 posts

Instead of paying for a Paris hotel room for two absent nights, I'd either (a) pack light so it isn't a hassle to change hotels, or (b) arrange for them to store your luggage. The latter should be possible if you are returning for at least one night after being away.

Some of the second cities you're considering are in France. Given the dicey Covid situation, I'd stick with one of them. You never know if crossing an international border might be complicated or even not possible (without quarantine, for example) this November.

Posted by
235 posts

I agree with all who discouraged you from having a Paris hotel when you won't be there. I am leaving for Paris in 2 weeks, and also wanted 'another destination'. We are landing in Paris, training to Avignon the same day, staying 2 nights, then returning to Paris for the duration of the trip. I also think Nice or Cannes would be nice, and you would be wise to stay in France unless the Covid travel situation is much improved by then.
If you eat like me then your food budget is adequate, if you want fine dining it is not. I love patisseries, creperies, cafes and you have plenty budgeted for that.
I would skip Versailles and go to Giverny, which is doable in a half day roundtrip from Paris.

Posted by
3940 posts

I'm going to go with those suggesting that you head to your out of Paris location on arrival. Not only does it solve the luggage storage problem, but it makes for a smoother flow to the whole trip. But if it's mid trip, then as long as you will be returning to the same hotel, they should hold your bags for you. I definitely wouldn't be spending money on a hotel I wasn't sleeping in. Especially since you're running on a very stringent budget to start with. Throw that money on your food budget. At first I thought your food budget was per person. But since it is apparently for both of you, you could use that extra money. Given the weather at that time of year, cheap picnics will be few and far between, unless you eat them in your room.

Posted by
24062 posts

My first thought was "weather". Unfortunately, Nice is 6 hours away by train. Would you consider changing your flights to arrive in Nice and depart from Paris? You'd only have to take the train one way. Yes, you probably wouldn't get to Nice as early as you would to Paris, but a) You may arrive in Paris before you can check in at your hotel and b) If you're half as sleep-deprived and jetlagged as I am after that overnight flight, it won't matter much which city you're in on Day 1. I must say, though, that there's an awful lot to do along the Riviera (though some museums, etc., might be closed on the days you're there since November is definitely off-season) to only be there for two nights. Maybe it would be better to brace for unpleasant weather and go to Rouen, Annecy or Strasbourg instead. I don't think Bordeaux is as immediately engaging as the other options; I have no idea what November weather is like there, but the western coast of Europe tends to be wet.

Actually, if you're only willing to spend two nights away from Paris, I'd suggest just planning day-trips. There are many good ones from Paris.

My second thought was that your food budget is very, very low unless you plan to eat a lot of very casual food, much of it on the go rather than sitting down, and buy stuff at grocery stores. I think you might regret being in that position if you get cold, wet weather and don't feel you can retreat indoors while you dine. Many French restaurants have very nice multi-course deals at lunchtime (probably only Mon-Fri), but even so, I often spent more for lunch than you're allowing for dinner, and I drink one bottle of water with my meals. That was in 2017 and 2019, and I was traveling through cheaper cities than Paris.

By not buying any snacks and throwing that money into the lunch and dinner pools you might be able to pull it off, but I think it will mean choosing restaurants very carefully and being limited in what you can order.

Don't you need to budget for some entry fees/entertainment on the days before/after your Paris Museum Pass is valid? Again, with the potential for bad weather in November, I would want to have some indoor options.

The current price of a 6-day Paris Museum Pass is 78 euros, which at the current exchange rate is $92.50, or $185 for the two of you. It does seem like a good deal if you're prepared to do a lot of museum-going during those six days. I'd recommend leaving open exactly what day you will activate the pass until you can get hold of a preliminary weather forecast. It would be a shame to spend a lot of sunny days inside museums and then have to deal with rain later.

Posted by
1036 posts

Are you from a large metropolitan area? I'm asking because you should consider whether you really want to spend that many days in a big city. There are those who will say you could spend weeks in Paris, and it's true you would never run out of things to do, but honestly, by the 4th or 5th day I'm worn out running from site to site and am ready to get out of the big city and to somewhere with a more relaxed pace. Added benefit is that anywhere outside of Paris will be cheaper, maybe MUCH cheaper. It's so easy to take the train to other regions and train time is a great excuse for a lunch of wonderful French meats, cheeses and wine. You could easily train to a couple of other smaller towns/villages. I would have thought I'd died and gone to heaven if my honeymoon had been in Alsace, for example. And maybe you are not a foodie, but I'd need more money for food. I'd skip the tourist trap stuff like cabaret shows and river cruises (well, the scenic one is ok and not very expensive - don't do a dinner one - overpriced and not great food).

Posted by
30305 posts

go to Giverny

except it closes for the season on November 1.

Are you aware of the changes in the Museum Pass which mean that you need to make reservations for each of the museums ahead of time, and that you can only visit each place once? No dipping in and out of the Louvre over several days for instance.

Your start day is 18 of November, a Thursday. Does that mean the day you board the aircraft wherever you are flying from? So you arrive on Friday? Pass Navigo Découverte starts on Monday. How were you getting around for the first three days? That's a perfect opportunity to go to City Two, and start the Pass when you return...

You were previously looking for flights from Texas. Are you flying from Houston?

I used to fly from DFW. It's a fair old journey.

Posted by
9435 posts

Paris-Nice is too long by train for a 2-day trip. Fly.