Paris with van

I will be driving from Germany to Paris in a rental van which we have rented for the family of six. We plan to round trip from Trier to Paris (3 nights) then go to Normandy with van for three nights before returning to Trier.
The time will be mid March. Any ideas of lodging either in PARIS or Versailles(plan is 1/2 day visit on way to Normandy)? Any suggestions on where to park auto if we find hotel or apartment for three nights in Paris? We explored trains and partial auto rental for Normandy, but price for two day van rental is nearly same price for total auto rental in Germany for the nine nights in Europe. Thanks

Posted by Eileen
Texan in CA
3578 posts

I imagine that for 6 people, a vehicle is very likely cheaper than public transportation. Be Aware that if you're driving a (rental) car in France, you * may be required to* have 2 (?) breathalyzers in the car (~2€ each from gas stations, etc.). Now...actual enforcement of this law has been pushed back a few times (last I saw was a Mar 1, 2013 implemention date), so you'll have to do the research. There weren't nearly enough brethalyzers to go around, etc. I just wanted you to be aware of this...Maybe someone else with more recent info will chime in. Now - leave your car outside Paris. I've read about various parking options, including parking at RER stations...someone will definitely chime in on this. I would recommend staying in a more centrally-located hotel, though. What are the ages of those involved? Are they your immediate family, or grandparents/parents/children? Be prepared for getting two rooms; short of renting an apartment (a very good idea), you probably won't find rooms to accommodate 6 people even if most of them are small.

Posted by Norma
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
3404 posts

Check out hotels at La Defense, many of which have on-site parking, and you can take the Metro into central Paris very easily.

Posted by gerri
lexington, il
349 posts

For apts in Paris, take a look at vacationinparis.com and flipkey.com.

Posted by Dina
Fontainebleau, France
893 posts

If you end up having to park in Paris, and there isn't any associated with your hotel, you can look for parking at a train station (Montparnasse has a lot of spots). I'd suggest looking for an apartment with 6 of you. It'll be a delicate balance between location and parking costs (out of city being less expensive) and transportation costs (getting into/around Paris for 6 could add up quickly).

Posted by Mal
28 posts

Are the parking lots safe for rental autos as it is a real problem to return to a damaged auto? Montparnese lot is it secure? We will be driving from Trier, any ideas on outside of city parking and family metro into Paris for three nights? Granddaughters 14, 11and brother 9 are really interested in meeting French people and seeing Paris and Normandy D-Day sites. In mid March what is typical weather pattern?

Posted by Bets
Bloomington
1965 posts

Since three of the six are children, that makes a difference in train rates. Dina, who has three children, should be able to tell you more about the fares. I would re-route this using the train from Trier to Metz. Pick up the van in Metz. Drive to Normandy, drive to Paris, drop the van, take the train back Paris to Trier. Or ,Train from Trier to Paris, pick up the van in Paris when leaving, drive to Normandy, drive to Metz and drop the van. Train from Metz to Trier, a very short distance.

Posted by Dina
Fontainebleau, France
893 posts

Weather in mid-March is hard to predict. We were still getting freezing temperatures and snow flurries this year at that time. Last year, we were in shorts at the end of March. It will likely be pretty cold and blustery and wet in Normandy. Since you have 3 kids traveling with you and are interested in the Canadian aspects of D-Day, I make my suggestion of getting a private guide for Normandy a really strong suggestion. If you have a car that seats 7, you may be able to get a guide who comes along with you, which saves you money. (We did this, used Edward Robinson. Not sure what he knows about the Canadian perspective, though. But he was good at entertaining the kids.) As for train vs car: It's a tough one with your grandkids ages. Within France, you won't get a family discount. Only residents with a famille nombreuses card can get it. There may be different fares available (youth, etc.), but I wouldn't even begin to hazard a guess for something that's in March 2014. You're going to have to wait until closer to your travel date (90-120 days out) to really see what the fares would be like to compare to renting a car. Within the Paris area, the 9yo is a demi-tarif. The 14yo is an adult fare. The 11yo can benefit from the Paris Visite child fare (one or multi-day pass), but is an adult fare for regular stuff (like t+ tickets). However, on a weekend day, all the kids can get the special Mobilis Jeune tickets which would be a good price if you were going out to Versailles. Clear as mud, right? They don't make this stuff that easy to figure out.

Posted by Mal
28 posts

Thank you for the help. I like the idea of a van for Normandy, as one of my uncles was in the St. Mere Eglise drop and another on Omaha. In addition father and father - in- law also played roles in the Atlantic and Pacific theaters. I feel very important for my grandchildren to see Normandy based on their family history.
I must check train information vrs. Auto rental from Trier. Perhaps best to rent a van only for Normandy and train in to Paris and back to Frankfurt for return flight.