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What to do after the 21 Day Best of Europe Tour ends in Paris?

We would like to stay in Europe for a week in September after the Best of Europe in 21 Days Tour ends in Paris. We are interested in seeing the most for our money in that short amount of time. From the limited amount of research that I've done, it looks like it would be most cost effective to stay in France rather than travel to neighboring countries. As yet, we're not very familiar with France and would like some input as to what to see and how to go about seeing it. Day trips? Train? Bus? Stay overnight at our destination or return to Paris each night? We like mountains/scenery/the sea, quaint villages, beautiful architecture, and history. We're undecided about whether to stay in Paris the entire week, venture out into the countryside, or both. If we traveled outside of France, we would enjoy spending some additional time in the Swiss Alps, perhaps taking one of the named scenic trains or returning to the Lauterbrunnen Valley. We're not sure if it's reasonable because of the cost and the travel time required.
Any suggestions by other experienced travelers would be appreciated.

Posted by
31620 posts

Barb, There are numerous possibilities that you could consider. Will your flight home be departing from Paris? A few possibilities you could consider.... > Take the TGV to Nice and explore the south of France for a week. While there you could visit Monaco / Monte Carlo, Villefranche, Eze or possibly a few locations in Provence. > Take the TGV to Basel and then into Switzerland. Spend a week exploring the Berner Oberland, including Lauterbrunnen, Mürren, Gimmelwald, Wengen, Grindelwald, a trip to the Jungfraujoch and/or Schilthorn and possibly some time in Interlaken. An allternative would be to spend a few days in the Lauterbrunnen Valley and then a few days in Lucerne, before heading back to Paris. If you decide to visit Switzerland and if you haven't booked flights yet, you could always arrange your outbound flight out of Zürich. I'm sure you'll have an incredible time on the Best of Europe tour! Happy travels!

Posted by
2081 posts

hi, if it was me and i wanted to do day trips in/out, i would plot out where i wanted to go and then try to find a central "hub" if possible so i would minimize the travel time and spend more time on my feet instead of my ... but thats just how i would do it. since i dont like to drive i would try to use the awewome train system first, bus second and then driving last. Of course if i could find a good horse, i would choose that too. you may also look at it in terms of cost. try to find some hub where the cost of living is less expensive. you could also look for a couple "hubs" and go from there. in any case, thats how i would look at it. if you think you have already seen Paris, then i would spend more time outside since if you do go back, it will always be there and easy to get to. also, when i go back to france, i will start in paris and work my way down to Nice.. Along the way i will stop at Versailles, Dordogne and Carcassonne. So far thats all i have planed at this time. im sure others will chime in with places to go and things to do. happy trails and happy planning.

Posted by
8643 posts

My 2 cents is to rent an apartment in Paris for the week and do day trips. Even w/o day trips you could never run out of things to do in Paris, but some great day trips would be: Versailles, Fontainebleau, Vaux-le-Vicomte, Giverny, Chantilly, Malmaison, Provins. If that doesn't appeal to you, a week in Burgundy or Normandy would be really enjoyable.

Posted by
516 posts

Susan is spot on. I would rent an apartment and enjoy Paris and take daytrips.

Posted by
501 posts

I looked over your 21 day tour, I think your decision will be or could be made while on your trip, you may fall in love with the Berner Oberland. Here are my thoughts, after 21 days you two may be mentally tired, take one day off for complete rest, you'll find something in Paris you'll want to see, spend day 2 doing that. Now you have 2 choices, 1) fly to Nice, or 2) fly to Milan. Lets dissect both. Stay in Nice for 2 days, take a train possibly to Grenoble, rent a car, go to Annecy, and definitely go to Chamonix/Mt. Blanc, drop car off in Geneva( visit Geneva if time permits)fly via Easy Jet to Paris or depart from Geneva to go home. 2) Fly to Milan, tour city for one day, take train (1 hour) to Como/Lake Como, visit surrounding towns Varenna and Ballagio, etc. go back to Milan and fly home. This all based on your energy level in regards to doing something outside of Paris. I'm also presuming RS tour will cover all the main tourist sites in Paris. Good Luck with any of your choices. You've received some good advise from other posters.

Posted by
11450 posts

I have done one RS tour, it ended in Paris also, and I made darn sure to stay another 5 days there , in fact i had stayed 7 days in Paris before tour and flew to Rome to start tour. Without a doubt most people on my tour who had to leave day tour ended were very sad they hadn't booked extra time in Paris, there is NO way you can see even a fraction of what there is to see in PAris on the two days the tour is there.. and as pointed out, there are several great daytrips out to try also. You could even take the Eurostar to London for a few days, purchased in advance tickets can be very cheap. You could visit Nice too, 5.5 hours by train or cheap flight on Easyjet or Vueling, but personally I would stay in Paris..

Posted by
1372 posts

I totally agree with Pat. There is so much to see in Paris (and also just to BE in Paris is divine). Plus there are all kinds of opportunities for day trips as Paris is the transportation hub of France. Get an apartment, relax for a day or so, then take a couple of day trips. Maybe there will be other folks staying over in Paris from your tour and you can meet up for dinner and exchange experiences. On my Paris and Heart of France tour I discovered a couple was going to be on my same Eurostar train to London and we were staying at hotels close to each other. Not only did we share transport to and from the train stations, but we met for dinner a few days later. It was so much fun to be having dinner with friends while in London. It made the trip very special for me.

Posted by
1994 posts

Vaux le Vicomte is a wonderful day trip from Paris by train. I'd also suggest you consider an overnight at Mont St Michel, given stated interests in sea/scenery/architecture/history. It's about 3 hours by combination train/bus from Paris. Do book early, since there are only a handful of hotels on the island. And if possible, leave most of your stuff in Paris, just bringing a light overnight bag. It can be a long up hill hike to some of the hotels. There are amazing Gothic cathedrals that can be reached on day trips by train: Chartres, Amiens, Reims, etc. Colmar, with a stop in Strasborg, is also a possibility with great architecture and an interesting mix of German and French influences (although probably better for overnight; it would be a long day trip; easy trip by train). This area also has lots of wineries,if that interests you; I've never explored them.

Posted by
3 posts

Wow! Thank-you everyone for your great responses! You all sound like Rick Steves' people. You love to travel and you are more than willing to help others. After reading your responses, I'm pretty sure we will stay in Paris and France for our extra days after the Best of Europe in 21 Days tour. It seems that there is plenty for us to do and see. When I get through March Madness (I'm a Michigan fan ;), I will have to research the places you have encouraged us to visit. We're a little intimidated with traveling in France. I'm not sure why. We took a trip on our own to Switzerland and Austria in 2005 and we did fine. I would repeat the trip without any trepidation. Maybe I can private email one or more of you, and you can give me some more specific details about the places and how to travel there. Thanks again.

Posted by
4379 posts

After traveling around Europe for 3 weeks, you'll be fine in Paris/France :-) I would stay in Paris. It looks like your tour is only going to the Louvre, Sainte-Chapelle, and Notre Dame Cathedrale. You could just enjoy a 'no itinerary' day the last 'day/breakfast' of your tour and simply wander...grab some picnic foods and amble until you find a park you'd like to sit in for a while. Just slow down...There are sooooo many things to do in Paris...grab a good guidebook or 7 (!) and see what looks good. Make a list, then do a few things each day. There are many day trips you could take...search the Helpline for Paris day trips for some ideas (there are a couple of current threads right now). Many people return to some of the places they visited with their tour group, but this time there are no time constraints. Sorry about Michigan; sounds like it was a good game, and you were fighting Kevin Ware...and Michigan would have been made out to be The Meanies :-(

Posted by
5490 posts

I'm with Susan et al: Stay in Paris! Chill out for a day or two after your marathon tour, revisit the Louvre if you want, see what else you want to in that wonderful city. Versailles could be a day trip, so could Chartres or Fontainebleu or Vaux le Vicomte or Giverny or ???. But there's plenty to do right in the city. We like apartments for longer stays, try homeaway.com or vrbo.com or google "Paris vacation rentals" for other services. Or a hotel from the RS guidebook (if you're prepared to meet more people like those you just toured with!). Some people swear by rue Cler, I'm among those who prefers a slightly lower percentage of my countrymen with blue guidebooks along the street. You'll be seasoned European travelers by then, ready to explore independently after three weeks of being guided. If you prefer a more rural setting for a few days, I'd suggest either Normandy or the Loire, easily reached by train from Paris. Then you can rent a car and discover the new thrills of driving in Europe! Not difficult really outside the big cities. Have a wonderful time, if you decide to stay longer in Paris we'll be there in early October. Sorry about the ballgame!

Posted by
3031 posts

No such thing as too much time in Paris. But if you do want to see the countryside and not spend too much, either Normandy or Brittany are a short TGV ride away and you could easily spend an enjoyable few days there. I really liked St. Malo in Brittany, which is less than an hour from Mont St. Michel. You'd want to rent a car probably for either place. Don't worry about travel in France - it's a lot easier than it seems. I actually prefer driving in France to driving in Germany - it's more low key, and still pretty easy to navigate (and I speak no French)

Posted by
15321 posts

I could easily spend a week in Paris. My dream, well, one of them at least, is to rent a car and explore the Alsace region: Strasbourg, Colmar, and other towns. It's a very scenic area, lots of vineyards and wineries, great local foods. You can take the TGV from Paris to Strasbourg, then spend 2-4 days tootling around by car, or you can get around by train. Colmar is absolutely charming.