This is my first time to Europe and to take this tour and it's getting so close!!! Only 5 more weeks!!! This is a dream come true trip for me and have been hoping to go ever since I first started taking french back in 7th grade! I am now 55! Long time coming and I can't wait!! Any alums that have done this tour and that may have any suggestions/tips? What to do in free time etc? Since we are going to be staying at the same hotel the whole time do we have a little more leeway on packing restrictions. Does hotel Londres Eiffel have washers and dryers? Or will I have to hand wash my clothes? Also, any others out there taking this tour? Are y'all as nervous and excited as I am??!! Would like to chat with you and see how you are getting ready for this!! :)
Best wishes for a wonderful first European trip; Paris is a tres magnifique first destination. I enjoyed the 7 Day Paris tour a few years ago, in August. We arrived early; had 2 nights prior to tour start and 2 nights post, which allowed more exploration of the City of Light, including a day trip to Giverny. If you enjoy parks, gardens (wow, floral Paris is SO lovely and amazing), greenery you will be much impressed with jardins such as Luxembourg, Tuileries and landscapes in general and at many sites like Hotel des Invalides, and throughout the city. We were comfortable in our (smallish) double room at Hotel de Londres Eiffel. If you are a coffee lover, you will be in heaven with what is served at breakfast. Did not request laundry service from the hotel, there is a laundromat close if it's needed. I suggest you spend some time with Google Maps and street view so you can 'walk' around your location. Grab a Paris Metro map to peek at the lines, numbers, colors and you can become familiar with place names. Hope you have pleasant weather and are able to walk, walk, walk throughout any and all the arrondissements you will find yourself in and to all the sights you will visit and explore. Beginning each encounter/request/interaction with "Bon jour/Bon soir, madame/monsieur..." with "s'il vous plait" and "merci" included as you would when being polite, will likely be encouraging of respectful and pleasant response, everywhere you go. Bon voyage!
I did this tour last Fall and had a wonderful time! If you don't have anything specific in mind to see in the afternoons, your guide will give you some suggestions based on where you end up after the morning of touring. On the Versailles day another group member and I wound up staying at Versailles until about 430 or 5 PM! Don't be in a rush to get back! You will get a museum pass which will let you go back to museums or go to others. Many of us did the Rodin Museum one afternoon and I wish I had had time for Les Invalides but I did not.
Do remember to take an extra passport photo for your Metro pass. You can just photocopy your passport photo page if you need to. The guide will have a little template and scissors for you to use as it needs to be smaller than your passport photo. I somehow overlooked needing the picture but the hotel photocopied my passport for me and it worked just fine.
I believe we also got a ticket to do a boat ride on the Seine one night as well.
The Hotel Londres Eiffel is well located. There is a well-known restaurant right next door, Cafe Constant. No reservations, people start lining up about 630 for a 7PM opening. A little pricy, but the people I was with thought it very good. My view does not count as I am vegan and they only had 2 things on the menu that were vegan, a salad and a soup. They were fine, but possibly not worth about 14€ each! On your first night (hopefully you will arrive a day or so ahead?) you should walk over to see the Eiffel Tower. Nothing says you are in Paris like walking out of a tree-lined side street onto the grassy area in front of the Eiffel Tower!
Since you are not moving hotel to hotel, you don't have to worry about trying to manage your luggage. Get a taxi from the airport taxi rank to the hotel, then the day before you leave have the hotel arrange for a taxi pick up for you. However, it is always a good exercise in my book to pack as lightly as you can. I suggest 2 or 3 pr pants (wearing one of them) and 3-4 shirts plus a cardigan or jacket and a rain layer. Try to have everything go with everything else and don't get bound up in thinking about outfits where one piece only works with one other piece. Two pairs of shoes, wearing one, packing one should be plenty for a week.
You will feel SO comfortable in Paris after this week's tour! Have a wonderful time!
Relax, you are going to have a great time. This is the first Rick Steves tour I did back in 2007. I had a wonderful time and am signed up for tour #6 this year.
The Londres Eiffel is a very nice hotel, located just a block or two from the Eiffel Tower. The staff is great and will help you with any questions regarding what's in the neighborhood, etc. One suggestion for your free time would be to go up the Eiffel Tower (it is not included on your tour). You'll be close so you can check to see how long the lines are and then either get in line or walk around until it looks less crowded. If you are interested in concerts, check to see if there's a performance scheduled at St. Chappelle.
The Rodin Museum, Napoleon's Tomb, and the Musee du Quay Branley (nice café with a fantastic view of the Eiffel Tower) are all close to your hotel.
Pack light and take comfortable shoes. Hope you have a great time on your tour!
I did the Paris RS tour by myself, on my first trip to Europe in 2001 at about your age. I too was over the moon with excitement and anticipation -- and it did not disappoint! The tour is very well organized, and your tour guide should be great, just enjoy! Pretty hard not to have a great time in Paris. Your guide will help you with figuring out what to do in your free time. (and yes, you will want to go up to at least the 2nd deck of the Eiffel Tower, and there's shopping, shopping and more shopping ,plus sitting in cafes watching the world go by). Also recommend The Luxembourg Garden, strolling the Marais.
Probably will not have a washer available at your hotel, plan to wash your clothes in the sink, or perhaps take time out to go to laundromat if one is nearby. I always washed my own clothes. hang them in the shower -- they dry in a day or so. Or you could bring a larger suitcase than a carry-on if you feel you need to bring more clothes, but don't have a big heavy suitcase to deal with. There might be stairs to navigate, and a tiny elevator at the hotel. Leave some room in your luggage for things you might buy over there.
You will want to look nice in Paris though!
PS the Cafe Constant is a great place -- go for lunch, around 2pm, on weekday -- no line. I recommend their beef stew, but all is good.
Hope you have a great time, and let us know!
You can bring a regular size suitcase as you are only staying in one hotel. Just make sure you can carry it when taking transportation to and from the airport. I stayed at the same hotel twice as I went on the week long Paris tour twice. I loved Paris and am always looking forward to going back. Been on other RS tours where we go to Paris but not for the whole week. Read the RS guide book to see what you want to visit in your free time. You will have the museum pass for the week and will be able to go to the museums in your free time using the pass. Look at the France/Paris scrapbooks, it will give you an idea as to what you will be seeing and what you could do in your free time. You can also look at YouTube videos of Paris. You will be in walking distance of the Eiffel Tower, the Rodin Museum and make sure you go to the Arc de Triomphe as I believe the tour does not take you to any of the places I listed. You may also want to walk through the Luxenburg Gardens and nearby is the Pantheon. Did you make your reservations to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Layer your clothes as it may be chilly and make sure you bring a jacket, scarve, earbuds for the walking tours, memory cards, camera and recharger, sunglasses and a day bag for your RS book and map and camera. I don't think there is a washer/dryer at this hotel, I never saw any at the hotels in Paris. But you may be able to pack a enough clothes for a week and wear some slacks twice. Bring two pairs of good walking shoes, no need for dresses or anything formal. Have a great time. Ann
Thanks to everyone that has replied so far with your advice and well wishes! I'm sure I'm gonna have the time of my life!!! :)
I appreciate all the helpful replies, as well. My wife and son and I are going on the same tour June 7-13, also our first time to Europe. I'm 60, wife is 51 and son is 17 -- how'd he get so lucky to go to Europe at that age? ;-)
We are flying into London first and doing about 2 1/2 days there before taking the Eurostar to Paris. We're staying at the same hotel, and I've already dealt with several of the staff via email, making reservations for an extra night at the end of the tour and making arrangements for a car to pick us up at the train station. They've all been extremely helpful and friendly so far.
I'm chomping at the proverbial bit already, as are you, and we've got more than two months to wait. And I'm also trying to figure out what we'll want to see in free time. As much as anything else, I hope to just have some time one afternoon to relax at a sunny sidewalk cafe and simply enjoy being in Paris.
We're also planning to pack light, with just carry-ons and some sort of day-pack, as we'll be lugging the bags around airports, train stations and on the street to our London hotel.
I'll be anxious to hear how you enjoyed your tour when you return. Enjoy!
I am going to take Donna's advice and RELAX!....and like Stoutfella said just ENJOY being IN PARIS, sitting in a cafe, people watch and breathe it all in!!...and not try to fit too much in! Thanks to everyone again! I'll let y'all know how it goes when I get back! ;)