We will be visiting my son who is studying Architecture in Versailles, between Christmas and New Years. Should we stay in Versailles or rent an apartment in Paris for eight days, and have him stay with us in Paris. Any recommendations on must see things at that time in Paris?
Probably (we don't know all the facts), rent the apartment in Paris and have him stay with you. You will likely only want a half to one day in Versailles, which everyone seems to do as a day trip from Paris.
"Any recommendations on must see things at that time in Paris?" Hmmmm, 8 days in Paris. Assuming (you didn't say) that this is a first visit to Paris, you really want to buy a guidebook, if you haven't already. A list of must sees with 8 days in Paris would be a long list, and the guidebooks have those lists with more info than we can provide in this limited space. I think the best thing we can do is ask you to give us an idea of your interests. And to mention that the weather at that time is a factor, even though you're from the Chicago area and are used to cold weather, the weather in Paris, though not as cold as Chicago, will make you want to do different things than you would do if you were in Paris at a different time of the year. The list of must sees would be modified for late Dec - early Jan to include more indoor things, and shorter walks interspersed with warming up sessions at cafes.
One of the lesser known but worthwhile sites is Basilique StDenis which has some beautiful stained glass in addition to the tombs and graves of many kings and queens including Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI. Suggestion is to buy a six day museum pass and also a Navigo Decouverte pass for metro/bus/train transport, valid from Monday through Sunday. We were there for nine days and found these passes to be very convenient.
Paris is my favorite European city to visit! I think staying in Paris for the time would be a great idea. Versailles is great, but you will want to do more in Paris than Versailles and the commute would get old real quick! I don't know what specific to Paris is going on at that time, but Paris at Christmas is probably outstanding. Think of all the churches decorated for the holiday! In terms of the regular things to do in Paris...My favorite museum is the Muse d'Orsay. It houses the Impressionists works and has some of my favorite sculptures as well. Another must see for me every time I make it to Paris is the Rodin museum, but part of the fun is strolling around the garden...maybe not such a good time in December. Whatever you end up seeing have fun! You'll have plenty of time to see everything you want. Take your time and enjoy your trip!
Paris is my favorite city as well. I vote for staying in Paris. Versailles is interesting only for about a half day. And as has been mentioned, a daily commute from Versilles to Paris would get old, and in my opinion would waste valuable time. You are fortunate to have eight whole days in Paris. You should come away feeling you really understand something about it. Enjoy!
I love Paris too, and agree staying there is best... In addition to all the sights to visit listed in any guidebook, I highly recommend that you spend some time walking in the Luxembourg Gardens... my favorite place in Paris... Even in December it will be beautiful... and there is a nice cafe right by the Luxembourg Palace (now the Senate building) to get something hot to drink and warm up... Also, just walking in Paris is my favorite thing to do... particularly along the river... and don't miss Ile Saint Louis (the little island behind Notre Dame)! Enjoy!
Stay in Paris. Your son can either stay with you or easily join you for the day. But you will want to see Paris. The same must see places apply in December as they do in spring/summer/fall. You just won't be able to enjoy sitting outside at cafes or strolling along the Seine. PS - I am a former Versailles student myself!
Douglas wrote... "You just won't be able to enjoy sitting outside at cafes or strolling along the Seine"... I disagree. I've lived in Paris for 6 years and you absolutely can walk along the river in December... It's no different than walking anywhere else in Paris... you just have to be dressed warmly, which I assume you already know... Many cafes enclose their outdoor area in thick plastic and use heat lamps, so sitting there is comfortable... Otherwise, sitting by a window is good too... granted, not the same as sitting outside in warm months, but cafes are still very enjoyable... even in December.
Susan - of course you can walk along the Seine anytime and yes many cafes do enclose their outside seating areas and heat them. But my point was that those two things are some of the best things about Paris and doing them on cold, wet, blustery days or sitting behind thick plastic isn't very "enjoyable." Hopefully the weather for Sue will be mild.
Douglas, you didn't say if the weather was "cold, wet, blustery", you only said "you won't be able to in December". If it's not blustery, it can be very enjoyable even in December, and even in the rain. And it's very possible it won't be blustery. And I disagree, I find cafes very enjoyable no matter what the weather is. Everyone is different and everyone enjoys different things. I was simply answering the OP with recommendations based on what I enjoy.
Be sure to get a crepe from one of the many crepe stands- just the thing to warm you up on a brisk winter day.
I have never been to Paris in the winter, but one thing I keep reading about in trip reports by those who do visit then,, is that they have street carts that sell Hot Mulled Wine,, and roasted nuts,, and that sounds like a yummy snack to get and find a bench and sit and watch the world go by. Unless its actually raining one can always sit outside. Wear warm clothes,, many travellers swear by long silk underwear, its lightweight, packs tiny, easy to wash in sink and really helps keep one warm , so a nice thin layer to pack.
Thanks everyone for your replies, and I will listen to your suggestions. I'll put silk long underwear on my list. Now, my search for an apartment in Paris with 2 bedrooms begins. Any suggestions for finding an affordable, nice apartment? And what part of Paris to stay in? Thanks again for taking the time to respond.
I'd recommend the 4th, 5th or 6th arrondissement. And SlowTrav.com is a great place to start for finding an apartment. We just spent a month in an apt in Paris on Ile Saint Louis (little island behind Notre Dame), my favorite neighborhood. First time renting an apt for us, and we loved it.
Sue - Vacation in Paris is a US based rental agency with properties of all types and sizes in Paris. We had a good experience with them.
I'm glad you decided on staying in Paris. It will probably be cold, and possibly wet...but you will be in Paris! We spent 10 nights over New Years the year before last. The days are short, and it was very cold. I agree about the silk long underwear. It is warm and lightweight. Most people on this board talk about layering. I did that, and I would not do it again. I found that when I went in from the cold to a restaurant, museum or wherever, I had to remove several layers to not be too hot. Then I had to figure out what to do with all the clothes I took off! If I do a trip like that again I will take a warm, but lightweight down coat. That way I only have to take off and carry one thing! We rented an apartment through vrbo.com. I agree with Susan about staying in the 4th, 5th or 6th. Have a great trip!!
We just returned from our trip, spent 6 nights in a Vacation in Paris apt in the 7th (Rue Cler). We absolutely loved the area...close to buses, 2 metro stops, 7 mins. walk to Eiffel Tower and we walked everywhere. Loved Paris!!!
Sue, What does your son think you should do?
Versailles is one of my favorite places in Europe. With that being said, if I had 8 days in the area, I would spend them in Paris, commuting to Versailles. There is WAY more to do in Paris than Versailles, and even if your son needs to be there daily, the 1/2 hour commute (if memory serves me correctly) is like any other work commute for him. You, on the other hand, can awake and saunter into a cafe before starting your day.
An easy question: another vote for Paris.