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Our trip with 11 adults and 2 young children

Hello and thank you to all who answered my many questions about traveling throughout Paris (and Zurich and Venice!)
We made it and had a wonderful time! Below are what we saw and some comments about some/all:

We took 2 large taxis to our Paris airbnb - great suggestion!

Luckily, we were able to get into our airbnb early, so dropped off our luggage.

Headed to Monge Market and arrived around 1:30 - altho stated it was open until 2:30, most booths were gone or
putting stuff away. All good, as that allowed us to stumble upon a restaurant in a cute area (don't recall where) as we
walked towards Luxembourg Gardens, then onto Notre Dame. We located the Love Lock Bridge, only to find out it was
under repair (as I actually think someone mentioned or I read about) so there were only a few locks on it. However, we saw
many locks in various locations - the most locks being in front of Sacre Coeur!! There was availability to go on an 8:30 pm cruise on the Seine River however we waited until our time slot, 9:15, and were SO glad we did, as the Eiffel Tower (and many other landmarks) lit up (that was actually why I made it at 9:15!)

As I just typed our first day, I realize that I better just share the highlights/tips for future group travelers! Haha

Our oldest in our group was 78. He stayed back when not wanting to go along - either at our airbnb or at a meeting spot. It worked well. Our two babes - the 2 1/2 year old and 7 mo old did SO well! Our daughter and son-in-law carried the baby
in a front pack and she was content - using the passifier as needed. Our grandson (2 1/2 year old) was content in the stroller, and walked/ran around when there was room. They were such troopers! Our daughter brought along a small fun toy for him to open each morning to hold/play with in the stroller. She also had small bags of snacks to pull out when needed.

Our son had all of the bus/train routes arranged ahead of time; however, our original airbnb was cancelled about 2 weeks
before we left (cancelled by the airbnb - they offered us other options and gave us a $600 credit to one that I found that was $600 more expensive) - - that worked out; however, our son's diligent searching was thrown out the window! It all worked out
as our 4 adult kids jumped in and figured out how to get from here to there with ease. We had to ask a few natives a few times - especially reading the signs in Switzerland, as that language isn't decipherable! It all worked out!

We were surprised, though, that no one checked our tickets on the trains in Switzerland!?!?

We did get tap water upon request without question in Paris and Venice. However, in Switzerland, the waiter charged $3/water. We asked him (after he set it down) if there was a charge, and he said "$3. Nothing is free in Switzerland." Haha For $2 more, some ordered a beer/pop! So, he took away most of the waters.

In Venice, we didn't see any picnic area. We found a lovely area to sit under vine covering with many benches. A person came by multiple times telling us/others that you cannot eat here. Where else to eat a picnic lunch? Our sun also leaned against a post in St Mark's Square only to be told he couldn't lean there! Also, when our other son/daughter-in-law ate at the outside restaurant they each had to pay an additional $6 to listen to the music. We, also, drank coffee in Cafe Julian and $6 was added onto each of our bills to listen to the music that was OUTSIDE, and from our angle, we couldn't even see the band. Hmmm...

As I think of more tidbits to share, I will. :)

Posted by
10323 posts

You were being that picnics are not allowed.
It is expected to pay extra to hear the music.
Every place you visit will i have it’s own rules and customs.

Posted by
31513 posts

glad it worked out so well

so far the issues you mentioned are all what would have been expected. If you sit in St Marks Square and the band is playing you pay. No, picnics aren't allowed (almost certainly there will have been a sign nearby - possibly not in English).

Posted by
13207 posts

Kathryn, thank you so much for coming back with a Trip Report!

Sorry your original AirBnB got cancelled. That seems to happen frequently with Paris rentals but I'm glad things worked out for you and the group. Very happy you went with the taxi transport from the airport! That seemed like it would be the least trouble for a big group who are jet-lagged and tired.

How did the kiddos do with jet lag?

How did the restaurant situation work out?

Final question...are you planning to go with just yourself to see what you want to see? lol!!!!

Posted by
15277 posts

Nice of you to come back with a report, Kathryn! I'm so pleased that all went well, especially with your wee folk!

Yep, no surprise that there was a fee for dining/drinking at cafes within range of the music. As well, Venice is really picky about where you can picnic: too many tourists spilling food all over, littering, and leaving food that draws destructive pigeons. It's illegal to feed those feathered foul, BTW.

Love Locks: a lot of Parisians dislike them cluttering up their landmarks, and they're destructive so it was good that you didn't add to the mess! They had to remove 65 tons of them from Ponte des Artes back in 2015 as the weight was so heavy that the guardrails were collapsing. The locks also eventually rust, keys thrown in the Seine are a pollutant, and they violate every responsible tourist's first rule: take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but footprints. :O)

How did it go in Venice???

Posted by
7716 posts

Venice is sick of people treating their city like a playground. Tourists actually cranked up a grill near a major bridge and started a cook out -- were expelled from Venice - banned for several years. They don't want people lounging on bridges, picnicking on people's doorsteps or public squares or damaging architectures by climbing, leaning and generally treating it like a playground. And yes -- they charge for services like music. It would be fun to picnic on the steps of a bridge or a public square but it is a small fragile place and they are desperate to keep it from crumbling entirely. Last I read they were banning roller suitcases for the noise and the damage they cause to bridges with people hauling them up steps.

I love your Switzerland quote -- I hate visiting there and yes nothing is free in Switzerland.

Ticket checks are spot checks in much of Europe. I have ridden on many French trains without having tickets checked -- which is why fines are so steep when people travel without a ticket.

Posted by
80 posts

It was great reading all of your comments!

I truly appreciate all of your help making our trip come together!! All of your tips were so helpful!

I thought of a few other notes to add:

Venice = We purchased tickets to go on the vaperetto in Venice; however didn't know we had to have them printed/activated - so,
the ticket man on board saw all tickets on my phone however told us because of this, we had to get off at the next stop.
(Lesson learned - ha ha)
We had difficulty finding restrooms.
St. Mark's Basilica - Men were allowed to wear shorts. (?!)

Versailles - We noticed that there wasn't a "dress code". Also, we started at the wrong location (we were using Rick Steve's audio guide) - so, when inside the open area, we went to the left and up the stairs. Then, found out we were s'pose to go to the right when in the open area. In addition, I was told by staff prior to our visit that we could have our lunch held in the "stored luggage" area. It took a moment to find (the directions weren't correct to deposit them) and when my husband and son did, they said
"only large luggage." We carried our lunch and ate in the pebble area before walking into the gardens.

We didn't have a lot of trouble finding places to eat in general. In Montmartre. we sat at 3 tables. However, in all of the other places they put tables together or they had one large enough or 2 that were just a foot away from the other. That was a concern, however worked out!

I'll add more as I think of more.

(Have I said "thanks again to all of you" who gave bits of advice? Really appreciated!