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Planning for a Oct 2010 trip to Europe: Advice needed

Edit: Updated itinerary on my 5/15 post

Okay, so I'm planning a 30-day Paris(10)-Rome(5)-Florence(5)-Venice(5)-Vienna(5) trip, and I'm trying to build my itinerary bit by bit, starting with Paris. *50% of the trip sightseeing, 50% relaxing/absorbing the lifestyle of that place.

I need some recommendations on which hotel to stay in Paris (not more than 160 euro/day). I'm not too familiar with the various arrondissements, but basically I want a quiet and safe area, where I could go outside on a whim at 11PM and stroll around the immediate area like Champ de Mars. Hotel Muguet at 7e looks nice, but if there are better areas/hotels that you have stayed in before, by all means feel free to share.

Bonus question: Where's the best steak in Paris?

Posted by
11450 posts

Erick, I would not choose to stay by the Eiffel Tower , especially if you want cafe/night life,, there is the one street that is popular with tourists( Rue Cler) but much of the 7th is quiet in the evening( as in very very quiet). Yes, there is Champs du Mars,, but after dark its not exactly a great hang out. (not particularily dangerous, that is not what I mean, but its just grass, no shops etc )

Why not look to staying in the 4th ( Marais), 5th( Latin Quarter) or 6th( St Germain) ,, all have lovely areas , good budget to moderate accomadations, and are close and convenient to many sites.

If you are able to book well ahead you can get some very good rates on hotels( you will have to wait till 2010 to book, most hotels obviously will not book for those dates yet, try next jan or feb) .

This is the fun part,, but it can also be overwhelming. When you start to look at hotels you will find so many you will have a hard time deciding!

Posted by
1357 posts

And this may seem silly, but I actually make a spreadsheet with all the different options for accommodations, listing prices, location, and pros/cons for each. It makes it easier to decide when it's all on one page, instead of flipping from site to site.

Posted by
368 posts

Are you planning on doing day trips around Venice? 5 days in Venice only (in my opinion) is a bit too long.

Posted by
809 posts

We really enjoyed staying at Hotel Levesque on Rue Cler. We were there off season (February) and it was wonderful.

Are you JUST staying in Paris? I would not miss exploring the rest of France as you have plenty of time.

Posted by
8 posts

Thanks for all your replies.

@pat

Good point, I'll take a good look at 4th, 5th and 6th as well. Do you have any personal recommendations in these areas?

@Maureen

I have a Lonely Planet Paris book (Rick Steves' isn't available anywhere here) and I agree, it is hard flipping though all those pages. I'll try to compile data when I have the time.

@Jon @bronwen

The only day trip I currently plan on taking for the whole trip is Versailles(for a whole day till the fountain show). I also know that Rome also has lots of sights to see. Do you think I should reduce Venice to 3 days(1 day relax, 1 day sightseeing, 1 day traveling allowance) and add it to Rome? What about Florence?

Yes, I know there's lots to see around France/Italy. But the "pure sightseeing vacation" can be on my second trip probably with my parents/family someday. As for now, I'm going solo so I don't want to rush seeing everything, and take a really relaxing vacation. For example, if I really liked the gardens in Versailles, I might come back there a few days later just to hang out and waste time.

Also note that I have a maximum budget of 7000 euros. Is this enough? I don't want to skimp out on my vacation so I'm aiming for moderate luxury.

Posted by
421 posts

I love the Marais....(3rd and 4th) I woudl NEVER stay anywhere else. Nightlife, cafes, great restaurants, great vibe, close to alot.
best area!!!! I would live in the Marais if I had the chance.

Posted by
8 posts

I've pinned it down to staying in the 6th. Any favorable hotels there?

I think the most active nightlife is located at the 4th. I'm not a bar/pub person so staying in that area is out of the picture. They say 6th is the best 'people-watching' area.

Posted by
15039 posts

The time allocation seems good. I agree that Venice probably needs less time than any of your other destinations, so I would include the travel time to and from Venice in those 5 days.

If you are willing to take accommodations that are basic, but clean, I highly recommend the youth hostel in Florence - Archi Rossi. I stayed there last October in a single room with a shared bathroom. From the reviews on HostelWorld and conversations with travelers at the hostel, it is one of the best anywhere. Great location, great staff, and a very good opportunity to connect with other travellers. I even had a computer w/free internet in my room!

When I tried to book a room in Paris for June, I got NO responses in January - the smaller hotels don't seem to take reservations much more than 3-4 months in advance.

I have found the hotel reviews on Trip Advisor to be a good resource for narrowing your search. You can usually get better rates directly from the hotels.

In Italy I asked for and got 5% to 10% discounts on the hotel bills for paying cash rather than using a credit card (not at the hostel, though).

Does your 7000 euro budget include flights? Travel within Europe? You can easily budget these separately, then see what you are left with for food, lodging, sightseeing, local transportation, incidentals. How much you need depends a lot on your travel style. Do you want to have 1 or 2 restaurant meals a day? Or do you prefer to buy groceries and snacks?

Posted by
8 posts

@Chani

Thanks. I plan on spoiling myself for my first vacation though, so a hotel is what I want for my whole trip.

If all goes according to plan, my flight plan should be starting from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia -> Paris, France, then Vienna, Austria -> Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

According to Saudi Airlines the flight to Paris costs only 180 Euro due to a promo(hopefully they do the same next year). Vienna back to Riyadh costs 400 Euro using the same airline. Minus the transportation fares locally and cross country, I should have around 6000 euro. 3500 for hotel stay, 2500 for food and sightseeing. That should be fine for a rough estimate of things.

And no, I don't plan on buying groceries and cook, I'm a lazy bum.

(Do I need something like a Eurail pass if I'm only basically going to use it four times?)

Posted by
41 posts

Erick, you sound as if hotels are definitely where you are going to stay but I just thought I'd mention that we went to Paris and stayed in a great apt. for probably less than a hotel. As for where to stay, we stayed in the 2nd which is considered more the business district but what we found was that with the great transportation system in Paris, it's not that important where you stay because you can get anywhere in just a matter of minutes.

Posted by
245 posts

With your budget, how about Hotel de Lutece on Ile St. Louis? Lovely boutique hotel with the best address in Paris. You can't get more central - walk around the Marais, Latin Quarter, Notre Dame, Ste-Chappele, etc.

Posted by
1455 posts

Erick
I agree with David.

My last trip we opted for an apartment and it was the best thing!! Not only were we a 1/2 block from Notre Dame, we had a full kitchen and a washer at our disposal.

We were able to bring food home on the days we were too exhausted, and we could wash our stuff while we were out.

For the 3 of us, I paid 111 euros a night for the apartment, and we were there 8 days.

Best steaks?? That's a loaded question!! Too many places... so little time!

Posted by
11435 posts

For 10 nights, I'd look for an apartment...Perhaps a serviced one with housekeeping, a concierge, etc.

Posted by
15039 posts

In Italy I booked single rooms, which were somewhat cheaper than the doubles. They were infinitely smaller and the single beds were very narrow. I was in Florence in mid-October and very glad I had air-conditioning (in the hostel, no less). In Venice, there was no AC, but I was able to get a table fan that made sleeping ok. Rome is likely to be pretty hot in October - much more than Florence and Venice.

I don't see any advantage for a single person to take an apartment instead of a hotel, especially if you plan to eat out all the time. In a hotel, you will get daily housekeeping services including clean towels, have staff around for questions and advice, possibly meet other travellers in the lobby or at breakfast. When I considered taking one, it turned out they weren't any cheaper than the hotels, either.

Once you have a short list of hotels, use the Trip Advisor website to read reviews by other travellers. I have found that to be a reliable way of choosing the hotel that bests suits me.

Posted by
689 posts

I loved the hotel Muguet, which you mentioned in your first post. Very quiet, and with the best shower I've had anywhere in Europe. You can walk to the Eiffel Tower and watch it sparkle and night. It's not a great place if you need clubs/nightlife nearby but it's a great restaurant neighborhood--much better than the Marais.

Posted by
34 posts

I lived in France for several years and I am deeply in love with it; however, Rome will blow your mind and you will may want to stay longer than you have planned. You may want to check out Context tours in the cities you are visiting. I have taken several of their tours when in Europe and they have been the best. I say that as someone who has a great interest in history, art, and religion. These guides are very knowledgeable, only take small groups. Florence in five days is about right. All are great places to watch people, but consider taking day trips from each of the cities. If I understood your interests better, better recommendations could be made. You have plenty of time to prepare and so you will have a great time of it. Cheers.

Posted by
8 posts

I got around revising my itinerary, and this is my second revision:

Let's assume I start at the first day of October.

  • Paris(1-11, 11th night train to Rome) 11 days

  • Rome(12-18, 18th morning train to Florence) 6.5 days

  • Florence(18-21, 21st morning train to Venice) 3.5 days

  • Venice(21-25, 25th night train to Vienna)4.5 days

  • Vienna(26-30, 30th morning flight home)4.5 days

Haven't checked on what to do in each place yet, but for now:

  • Paris, Rome: Sightseeing, Music, Food, People watching

  • Florence: Sightseeing

  • Venice: People watching, Strolling around the city

  • Vienna: Mainly Classical Music

Main interests for this vacation (besides sightseeing):

  • Listen to Symphonies/Concertos (leaning more to piano). Hopefully there are some great concerts on October.

  • Beautiful scenery like parks/gardens. As weird as it sounds, I would like to try sitting down and do 'nothing'.

Thanks to you guys, I'm actually liking the idea of an apartment now. Looks like I'll have to modify my plans once again!

Now for my questions:

  1. I'm planning on going for point to point tickets (Comfort 1st class, raileurope.com) for my travels to those areas. Is it cheaper than buying a pass?

  2. Anyone recommend a good apartment rental website in Vienna?

  3. Silly question, but do apartments have places where you can line dry your clothes? Some don't have dryers so I'm a bit worried about this.

I'm also willing to drop a few days off Paris for Rome if you guys can help persuade me.

Thanks for all your comments.

Posted by
15039 posts

I haven't been to Rome, but from what friends have told me, and from my own trips to Paris, you will be happier in Paris than in Rome. Paris is perfect for walking, and enjoying the many gardens and sidewalk cafes. Don't subtract from Paris!

In Paris, look for the organ recitals in the big churches. They are free.