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Planning our first trip to Paris

I am planning my first trip to Paris for August/September of 2019. We have gone to Europe for the last 2yrs for the first 2 weeks of September and so far the weather was wonderful, still hot enough for the beach. I normally read up on Rick Steves' travel guides prior to planning any part of the trip and will do so on this trip as well.

My plan is to stay in Paris long enough to see all of the tourist spots then travel to the south of France and stay at a beach for the remainder of our 2 week stay. Any information regarding where to stay, hotels, in Paris as well as where to go to stay on a beach. I assume we can travel by train from Paris to the South of France .

Any information is greatly appreciated
Best Regards
Ester Perry

Posted by
444 posts

I am planning a similar trip for the end of September so I will be interested in the replies. Probably will try to do 5-6 nights in Paris and 5-6 nights in Provence/South of France. I have read that there is a train that goes from Paris to Provence (Maybe Aix-en-Provence, I forget?) in about 3 hours, that is what we were going to do. I have not decided where to stay in Provence, perhaps St Remy. It may be too cold for us at the beach at the end of September but I'm not certain. I'm still in the research phase :)

Posted by
2021 posts


We used Alcove and Agape to book our accommodations in Paris. We had a wonderful experience.

You select the area of Paris where you want to stay and the type of accommodation you need. You will see a list of places with a description, the price and a little about your host. Once you've chosen a place, you fill out a questionnaire that describes who you are. Alcove and Agape forwards it, along with your dates of stay, to the host. They then decide if they accept your offer.

If they do, you pay Alcove and Agape a booking fee. When you arrive, you pay your host the remainder in cash. We stayed with a lovely couple who rented out one room in their home. We were a five minute walk from the metro. Our hosts were very gracious and provided fresh pastries for breakfast every morning. We could have eaten by ourselves, but we wanted to spend time with our hosts and we all sat together at their kitchen table and got to know one another. Our room was very comfortable and private, with a sitting room and private bathroom.

From what I can tell, there are different experiences to be had according to your host. If you are adventurous and would like an opportunity to meet a Parisian family, this is just the ticket. If you prefer more traditional accommodations, you'll be better served at a hotel.

Be prepared to fall in love with Paris! We are making tentative plans to return in December. Our oldest grandson will be in Paris for his first semester in college doing a Studies Abroad program. When in high school, he spent six weeks as an exchange student. His family has also hosted two students from France, one who lived with them over the summer. He stays in touch with them. It gives him a chance to keep up his French.

Posted by
7623 posts

Unless you are flying open jaw into Paris and out of Nice, I would go directly to the south on arrival and finish with 6 or 7 nights in Paris so you don't have that harried rush back to Paris to fly home.

Posted by
37 posts

We prefer to rest for the alter part of our trip . We are open to going to any city or town that has a nice beach to relax does not have to be in the South of France.. I can only assume we can fly into Paris and out of another airport in the south of France.
We do not plan on renting a car, so transportation from Paris to the beach location will be by train and hopefully not a long ride. That may be a factor in where to go to stay near the beach.

Posted by
4330 posts

Flying into Paris and spending 6-7 days there sounds about right. If you use the search bar at the top of the page you will find a multitude of threads on accommodations.

There are lots of TGVs from Paris to the south every day. A direct train to Nice is a bit less than 6 hours.

What type of beach do you want? Most beaches will be of the pebbly sort, not the sandy ones like you find in Florida or the Caribbean. A few sandy beaches do exist. Best to Google "best beaches of South of France". Once you've narrowed your focus, we might be able to help more. Look at flying home from Nice.

Posted by
558 posts

Your trip sounds wonderful. Just be aware that you won't be able to see "all of the tourist spots" of Paris in a week. RS has good itinerary suggestions. I based my trip off those, substituting according to my (and my husband's) interests and adding in more time for meals and ice cream.

Posted by
837 posts

Flew into Paris in May for a night, trained to Avignon TGV and rented a car. Stayed in Gordes and St. Remy for a combination of 9 nights.....loved the area and the towns......beautiful countryside and fun exploring markets and towns each day. Back to Paris after that for 5 nights......where do you want to stay in Paris? We have been there 3 times, staying in a completely new area with each visit and therefore each trip was totally different than the prior.
1. Trip 1: toured everything on our first visit-got the Paris Museum pass and did the Lourve, Eiffel Tower, Rodin, Orsay, Orangerie,
Notre Dame, Saint Chapelle....stayed at Hotel Empereur, close to the ETower and Rue Cler and used the metro constantly...
Loved it!.....went to David Lebovitz’s suggested places to eat things ( check his blog for the 10 insanely delicious things you
Must eat before leaving Paris)
2. Trip 2: stayed on Ile St. Louis......centrally located for Paris, slowed down to walk the Marais, revisit NDame, walked the city at our

leisure, Galeris Lafayette, Printemps, Bertillon ice cream......loved not taking the metro, the slower pace and walking

3. Trip 3: stayed in Westin Vendome.....least favorite location tho wonderful hotel at the Tuileries Gardens......saw Montmartre, walked
The city again-no metro, adding to our stress-free days, and taking in long walks through the Left Bank.....took in 2 concerts
at Notre Dame and Saint Chapelle.
LOVE Paris........a great city with so many unique sides and personalities.......AND.......the people were as nice as could rude
French locals here!

Posted by
37 posts

Thank you all for the information , keep it coming.

Our plan is to stay for 2 weeks, saving 4- 5 days for the relaxing by the beach. From the little bit of research I've done on the beaches I do understand they are not sandy like the caribbean, but still enjoyable.
1. We are not sure were we are staying in Paris , I do know that the closer to the tourist spot the more expensive the hotels so we usually stay somewhere in between . I will check out the hotels you referenced.
2. 6hour train ride is not something i want to do , so I will research a closer town that has a nice beach and still travel by train.

Posted by
558 posts

Which coast of France are you thinking about for your beach time? The Mediterranean is a 6 hour train ride. Normandy would be closer but chillier.

Posted by
9746 posts

It’s 3 hours by train to Marseille, then a local train to Cassis (or Bandol), followed by a cab ride from the station to your hotel.

Posted by
288 posts

You can take a flight form Paris to Nice one way in the $60-$70 range in mid September also.

Posted by
1 posts

Hi! I had a great experience in Paris with an awesome guy called Cedric, It might be an option if you want to see a lot of Paris sights in one day and then explore on your own. My wife and I were drinking champagne in his 2CV while Cedric was telling us all about the places we saw and he tailored the trip completely for us.

I found him on Triple which is a service I found about a year ago. Back then they were only in four cities but they seem to be expanding. Nowadays I try to book at least one activity through them while travelling as I don't really like the big group tourist thing.

Posted by
992 posts

Normandy also has sandy beaches. Although September in Normandy could be colder than most people think of for beach weather.

Posted by
37 posts

I was hoping to find a beach a few hrs from Paris so we can fly in and out from there but if that is not the best than I would like recommendations for where to go in order to have the best experience. If we need to fly to another part of France then that is what I will plan for. We were in Greece for the first 2 weeks in September last year and the weather was fantastic for the beach. I just assumed the weather wold be the same in France. Warm water would be nice .

thanks again

Posted by
439 posts

We are doing something similar this Oct. We are flying Easy Jet from Paris to Nice and back to save some time. I tried open jaw but was not finding the flights back I wanted so did Paris to Paris.

Posted by
114 posts

How exciting Ester! Your trip sounds like mine. I’m just back from my first trip to France, with my mom. We are apx 50 & 70 years old. We flew into Amsterdam for a few days (Van Gogh museum) then took Thalys train to Paris. I’d recommend your current plan: Yes, fly into Paris and spend time seeing the sights and having fun being “in the moment.” We became overheated in June on our long day walks, but still persevered. Also day-tripped to Giverny and Auvers-Sur-Oise (tricky with train strikes). Paris was amazing, but we were ready for slower pace after the big city sights, sounds and lots of smoking (which we expected). We had a tiny studio apartment in St Germain on a tiny street (Rue Jacques Callot) with 2 VERY loud cafes that were open til 2 am. Take your earplugs! The location was amazing other than this. Please take a night time Seine River Tour. This was magical on our last night in Paris.

We took an early train to Avignon - about 3 hours. We booked “upstairs” seats on the train, but wished we had downstairs seats bc of Mom’s mobility (after so much walking) and me carrying our luggage. Stayed there 4 nights, a few blocks from the Central train station (hotel les corps saints) which was very clean and quiet. Near the TI, where we took a van tour to the surrounding villages (Isle-Sur-La-Sorgue, Rousillion, Les Baux, St Remy, ??? and the Pont du Gard). Just a little taste of each place and some nice photos. Lots of cafes and people watching in Avignon. The cheapest and biggest salad you will find is at the Irish Pub across from the TI. 5.50E and big enough to share. And a day trip on our own to Arles (Van Gogh). Followed Rick’s guide from the train station, along with help of some locals who pointed us in the right direction. Then train to Aix for 2 nights, (Cezanne) before train to Antibes for 2 nights, and finally, local train to Nice, where we flew home a few days later. Enjoyed the quaint, clean and secure room at Nice Garden Hotel, 2 blocks from the sea, but a bit further from the flower market.
In all, we enjoyed the different vibes of the big city, the picturesque villages, and finally, the beautiful blue-green Mediterranean Sea. The beach in Antibes is SANDY but Nice is indeed rocks that require solid shoes. Antibes was a nice surprise, with a combo of “old city” section and a bit of an urban modern feel after Provence. Okay, and its where we treated ourselves to massages after all that walking and hauling our own luggage! We splurged here and stayed at Hotel Josse for 199 E for our ocean view room. This is DOUBLE the price of our Paris apt! Antibes has a little transportation shuttle that helps save some steps. We wished we had ended the trip in Antibes, although Nice was great for the morning market, and the cheap 1.50 Euro bus fare to Monte Carlo! It was great to do the “heavy lifting” part of the trip first, then decompress at the sea. Can’t wait to hear more about your trip! Hope my tidbits help as you plan your time there. Bon voyage! [pack half the clothes and twice the $$. It’s so true!]

Posted by
11294 posts

If you look at a map, you'll see that the beaches close to Paris are on the English Channel or the Atlantic. In September, these will be cool for walking around, and downright cold for swimming.

The Mediterranean beaches, which have the warmth you are seeking, are not close to Paris. However, from the Paris airports to Nice airport, there are flights a few times every hour. You can then fly home from Nice; you'll need to connect unless you're going to JFK, but from Nice you can connect almost anywhere (Paris, Frankfurt, Madrid, Amsterdam...)

I haven't looked at actual statistics, but my impression is the even the Mediterranean beaches and cities in France aren't as warm as Greece. You can look at historic weather on Wunderground to see if the area has the weather you seek, to avoid disappointment. Here's the weather for Nice on September 15, 2017; play around with days and years to see the actual, rather than average, temperatures in the past.

Posted by
738 posts

We spent a few days in the South of France last year (myself and my elderly father). We used Nice as our base and spent time in Cannes and Monaco and St Tropez. We hit the beach in Cannes and it was nice.

Nice has a great feel to it but a rocky beach. But with the trains in the area you can be in Cannes very easily.
I would suggest flying into Nice. If you only want to relax while looking at the sea. We had a rental car and took the train but we spent our time traveling not relaxing in a chair on the beach so we had different priorities.

But based on what you said I would suggest flying into Nice. But almost anyplace down in that area will be enjoyable.

Posted by
37 posts

I have done a bit more research looking at hotels in Paris and will do more maybe staying at a apartment. It seems the warmer beaches are in the south of France so that is what I will plan on.
The flights from Paris to Nice are those through a local small airline?

Posted by
11294 posts

To find flights from Paris to Nice, use Skyscanner:

Air France and Easyjet fly from the Paris airports to Nice. Paris Orly is closer to the center of Paris than Paris Charles de Gaulle, and is also a smaller airport and so easier to navigate. But either one can work well.

Before deciding on a ticket, be sure to do a "dummy booking" (up to the point where you put in your credit card) so you can see all the extra charges and rules. Sometimes the Air France ticket seems more expensive at first, but can include more that is extra cost with Easyjet. Or not - these days, there is no hard and fast rule. Both airlines should work fine for this short flight, as long as you understand the rules. For instance, if your ticket says "one carry on only is allowed" they don't mean a suitcase and a purse - just one of these. They will make you check the suitcase (if you can't stuff the purse into the suitcase), then charge you a high fee for a last minute checked bag. Again, you can pay at the time of booking to get checked bags, assigned seats, priority boarding, etc. These things are more expensive if bought at the airport.

Posted by
37 posts

I do not want to spend 6 hrs. on a train to Nice so flying is what I will plan for Nice, is that through a local air line?

Posted by
1103 posts

We took the train from Nice to Paris recently and enjoyed it. For a trip of this distance you don't really save time by flying, given that you have to get to the airport, go through checkin and security, and then get from the airport to your final destination on the other end.

Posted by
8951 posts

EasyJet is a European airline. You can check out their website.