Hello Everyone - I am finally getting around to signing up here in order to tell you a little bit about the trip my wife and I took to London and Paris at the end of last July and into August. Though I pored through a tall stack of travel books for months before our trip, Rick's pocket London and Paris books were the two that I carried with me. I highly recommend them if you don't have them already!
We flew to London in the last few days of July, 2017, where we stayed for 5 nights. We then took the Eurostar train to Paris, where we stayed another 8 nights. In both cities, we had very nice private flats that were arranged through VRBO. It was just my wife and I and we are both in our early to mid-fifties.
The main thing I wanted to write about was the timing of our trip - high summer. When to go seems to be one of the most popular and most debated topics. (I should note - if you have kids, then obviously you have to work around the school year and probably go in summer. If that is the case, then I'm not the one to advise you!) To my thinking, one reason summer is good is that, due to the weather, you simply don't have to carry as much clothing as you might during winter. Another thing that pushed us towards that time was the old wisdom about going to Paris in August. "You'll have the city to yourself- all the Parisians are on vacation." Ah...maybe. There certainly were a lot of locals missing and some businesses were not open, but that doesn't take into account the two million other tourists that are there!
Which brings me to my main point.
We had a great time in both cities, no doubt. But, man, both cities were so crowded! "Times Square crowded" I call it. And I get it, these are major international cities, and are popular destinations. They are always crowded to some extent. But good golly - if you don't have some good reason that you need to go in high summer - maybe don't. In London, we got out of the tube in the Westminster area (Big Ben), and the streets were so choked we just about ran away. The lines at Greenwich were so long we truncated our trip there. You could hardly squeeze down the street outside St. Paul's Cathedral. Paris was worse. The neighborhood of our flat (Boulevard St. Germain & Latin Quarter) was wonderful, but a few blocks walk took us to the madhouse outside Notre Dame. Again- think Times Square. The Eiffel Tower is so amazing from far away, but then the dream is shattered when you get close and start pushing your way through the crowds and past all the hucksters trying to sell you a keychain. My suggestion - enjoy the tower from far away!
We took the metro up to the the Sacre Coeur area (sp?) one day, and again, pushed our way through the crowds for a long as we could stand it. Same with the Marais and same with around the Arch de Triomphe.
I'll say again - we had a great time. We can't wait to go back. But we are thinking that maybe October or November would be good. There were many positives to our trip in both cities. The tube and the metro were fantastic and easy to use. In Paris, with our speaking some French, everyone was wonderful to us. We had no problem at all in stores and restaurants. We are not foodies by any stretch and didn't go into any fancy expensive restaurants. We had a lot of good pasta and pizza meals. Thanks for listening ! Please feel free to ask any questions!