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Gate 1 tours to France opinion?

A coworker of mine is nearly 70 (still working) and I've recently found out her life long dream was to go to France. She's never been and wont go because she can't afford to go. I want to take her next year in September. She can't stand heat and has some limited mobility but can still work harder and do more than some half her age. I've been looking at escorted tours. Because I'm paying her way I can't do some tours because their tour costs are high. I'm looking for budget tours that will still give us a nice trip. I've spent countless hours looking at all escorted tours and settled on the below tour and wonder if anyone has had any experience with them:

https://www.gate1travel.com/europe/france/2017/escorted/france-tours-9dclafr17.aspxr

I plan on getting us to Paris before the tour and spend 5 nights. I'll book us tours for the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Notre Dame, a foodie tour, and some kind of a cabaret show (she's gone to a Chippendale dancer show and loved it lol). I need to book us in a centrally located area near a subway. I've been studying the districts and think 7 would be a good choice and I was thinking of an apartment. I know I need to buy a guide book and study some more. With this tour she'd get to see some of Paris and beyond Paris. Before I bring this idea to my coworker do you think I can do the above tour plus Paris on our own via car for as much money? Total costs for the both of us would be roughly $6000 air included. I've been to France only twice with limited sight seeing and via escorted tours. I want us to see Paris and that's intimidating enough but I also want to expand my own abilities. I'm very torn. For this trip money is key. I want to give this gift to my coworker but I have to keep a budget in mind.

Posted by
5 posts

highlanderct...
First let me say that is so awesome of you to help some one with a dream trip...

My in laws 60-65 just went to Vietnam with Gate1 on a groupon and said not only was the price great the tour was also. They could not believe how nice the hotels were and service they received...

Hope this helps calm your fears a bit. I am also planning a trip to London and Paris for my nieces 16th birthday in a few years and there are so many things to think about.
I hope all works out and you and your co worker are able to have a great time.

Posted by
5697 posts

"Paris on our own via car" ?? I hope the car is for exploring outside Paris; like many/most large cities, Paris has excellent public transit and horrendous traffic/parking. But eminently walkable.
You may want to consider booking fewer organized tours within Paris and doing more aimless wandering -- for your friend, simply being in France may be enough. (Note that Paris can be hot in September -- or cold. This September, I was wearing sandals and sleeveless tops some days and appreciated the hotel's air conditioning.)

Posted by
276 posts

Laura B. Oh yes car outside of Paris definitely. Public transit only in Paris.

Posted by
8219 posts

I would not do this as a tour -- they tend to specialize in up at the crack of dawn and on the bus, and truly terrible food, and very superficial drive by touring. We were on tours through Gate 1 recently in Moscow and Petersburg as part of a Volga River cruise and the shore touring was just awful. We literally just drove past things including St. Basil in Red Square for photo ops and were death marched through the Hermitage in St. Petersburg not looking at the art as there was no time for this.

I am older than your friend and have found independent touring lets us really see what you want to see and take it easy when I feel like taking it easy. You could easily fly into Paris spend a week there, then train to another area -- say Tours for a couple of nights and do a day trip escorted tour of chateaux, then train to say Nice and base there for a few days and use the local trains to visit Monaco and towns along the coast at your own pace and then fly home from Nice. (or with time add another location or two e.g. Dijon and Beaune or 3 nights in Strasbourg with a day trip in the region.

If your friend has done escorted tours and loved them -- well then why not, but for us it is a very disappointing way to travel and France is really very easy to do independently. We also found that we could hire a local guide for a private tour for much less than the costs of big group tours offered locally. We opted out of the local additional tours on our Russia trip. In Moscow for the same price our peers paid for half a day touring the Novodevichy Convent, Cemetery and the Moscow subways we had a full day with a private guide. In addition to going at our own pace, we saw 10 subway stations (and their art) compared to 3 seen by the guided tour. In Petersburg for less than the cost of a Catherine Palace big group tour we had a private guide who picked us up, drove us there and facilitated entry and moving through the Palace. For the Peterhof Palace and Gardens we had a private car to the Peterhof and after touring the gardens at our own leisure we took the hydrofoil back to Petersburg. We paid half the cost of this experience if we had booked the tour group half day expedition. You can balance independent travel with selected group or private tours when you land in a place.

Posted by
1540 posts

I am a person who loves Gate 1 tours. I have been on 8 of them to various parts of the world and have not been disappointed.
Excellent hotels, great meals, a tour bus and guide to take us everywhere.
All of my guides have been perfect.
I know not everyone likes the same tour or the same company....but I really love Gate 1.
PS - We were not up at the "crack of dawn" many days were about 7:00 or 8:00
and even have at least 1 free day on each trip.

Posted by
1921 posts

I never taken a Gate 1 tour but have a friend who has traveled to over a hundred countries mostly using Gate 1. She loves them. But, I think travel with a tour in a bus is a totally different experience than you get on your own. Years ago we took a bus tour from Germany into Paris for 3-4 days. We did get to see a lot of sights, probably would have learned a lot from the guide except we didn't speak German (ha ha! it was cheap!) and we had a few hours on our own. It gave us a little taste. We went back a couple years ago and did it on our own and it was a totally different experience and much richer and more enjoyable.

Do some research checking prices. How long will you be gone? How much of that $6000 is airfare? I think in Paris most of the costs will be hotel/apartment and food. Museum passes are not that much nor is transportation. It is really wonderful to just wander around and people watch, look at the architecture and museums. A lot of people feel that staying in the 4th or 5th or 6th closer to Notre Dame is more central to sites.

For travel outside of Paris it is really easy to take the train to St. Pierre de Corps near Tours. It is only about an hour away and there is a rental car agency right there. Then it is easy driving in the countryside to see Chateaux.

I would guess a nice B & B or apartment with meals would run around $300 day for two people. You could do it less or more. But, you can research for what you are looking for to get a real estimate.

What a wonderful friend you are! It sounds like great trip any which way you decide. Have a beautiful trip together.

Posted by
276 posts

Hi Susan,

Ive taken several escorted tours just not with Gate 1 so the rave review is helpful. Im just starting to branch out on my own. It's a learning process. The more I study the more appealing independent traveling sounds. I want her to have a wonderful time, see as much as possible without any mistakes on my part because I'm not a seasoned solo traveler. The tour is $4800 for the two of us air included. There's an extra $500 added to leave from our local airport. Gate 1 offers a good airfare package. The only negative is that Paris gets a mere drive through without visiting any of the sights. A Paris airbnb, tours, meals for an additional 5 nights will bust my budget. Im still mapping this out.

Posted by
1311 posts

You are truly a wonderful friend!
A friend of mine has recommended the Citadine Apartments in Paris. They apparently have several locations and would be a fair price for two people. You might look at that option since you wouldn't have to eat out for every meal and these are legitimate holiday rentals.

Posted by
23464 posts

You might watch TravelZoo.com. They sometimes have unbelievable deals on package trips. The drawback to TravelZoo is that you delay. If you see a deal, you have to grab it because it will gone in a matter of a couple of hours.

Posted by
1921 posts

The gate 1 link doesn't work as you have it posted, so we can not tell where the tour is going.

So, it sounds like you would like to do the tour and add 5 nights in Paris, but doing so will bust your budget? So, you are wondering if you could do it all on your own for less, correct?

I looked up Gate 1 and it looks like you are doing maybe a 9 day? Which is really only 7 nights? Where are you flying out of? Have you checked air on your own?

If you are on your own there will be a lot of walking, stairs for the metro, etc. and you will miss all the info you would get on the tour. But, it can be amazing on your own. Yes, you may get a little lost, it may not go all smoothly like a tour, but sometimes those experienced add to the fun. On your own you can sit at a restaurant of your choice and linger, walk aimlessly and do whatever you want. But, a tour can be nice and easy.

You can price out the trip on your own quite easily. If you need help you can private message me.

Posted by
2916 posts

I've never done a package tour and never plan to, although I'll see what happens when I'm really feeble ( a opposed to just partly). Since you seem to plan to spend most of the time in Paris, I'd suggest, as some have done, doing it on your own, or partially with a local guide. Then, for outside of Paris you can look into something like a 2 or 3 day tour, possibly through the tourist office. From what others have said, Gate 1 Travel seems pretty good, but I'm sure you could save a lot by doing it mostly on your own.

Posted by
276 posts

Hello everyone. I just booked us airfare. We got a great deal, $438 round trip. We'll have 5 full days in Paris on our own to see things as we wish. I plan to sit down with her so she can pick out things she'd like to do leaving a surprise or two. I saw the Citidal Apartments (sp) and they looked quite good. I'm going to study some more. My RS Paris guidebook is on its way. Paris is quite difficult. So many things to see but so spread out where to stay is confusing. The Gate 1 tour isn't long but it's easy, a great price and we'll see some nice things. Thanks everyone.

Posted by
1921 posts

Wow! Can you tell us what airline and your departure city? That is an incredible deal! Sounds like a sale?

Posted by
276 posts

Sure Susan. Website cheapoair. American Airlines out of Bradley Airport Hartford, CT. We have one stop both ways in Philadelphia. AirFrance was the same price but layovers were worse.

Posted by
165 posts

As many have said - You are a great friend indeed. I just started traveling solo at age 67, and am going to France for the 2nd time in June at age 73 - don't worry too much, it really is not hard. Paris is easy and the metro gets you most anywhere. I would recommend doing Paris sights on your own with the Rick Steves book - it gives you so much more flexibility. At the worst if you get too tired and/or too lost you can just cab it back to your hotel. Enjoy every minute! sue