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hotel reservations

Huntington Beach...
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hotel reservations

My husband and I are planning a month's trip to Spain, France and possible Italy in June of 2012. We have not traveled on our own for the past 10 years, but decided to try it this time. My question is, is it a good idea to make reseervations in advance for all of the hotels, or canwe just make them as we go? We would prefer not to spend more than $100 per night, and lower if possible. We are in our mid 50's and don't mind shabby, but do like comfortable beds and quiet rooms. I hate to give up spontinaeity, but if it means having to spend a lot more for a room, then it's not worth it.

Fairbanks, Alaska
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1. Re: hotel reservations

What areas of France do you intend to visit and how are you getting around -- train or rental car?

There are lots of tourists in June, and your budget is low. If you wait to book, you may have difficulty finding places within your budget, and/or may be unhappy with what you find.

If you are traveling by train in France, your tickets will be considerably cheaper if you buy nonrefundable prems tickets 3 months in advance. So that's another trade-off between spontaneity and cost.

Personally, I prefer to do my trip research and reservations from home, and save my valuable vacation time enjoying our destination. Then I know that I have selected the best deal (according to my criteria) for the best price.

Washington state
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2. Re: hotel reservations

I spent three weeks in France this end of June and July and never spent more than $100 a night, including Paris. Cheapest night was 32E (bit less than $50), in an old spa town near the Pyrenees and even that was not "shabby" though a bit worn.

Because it's a busy season, I do like to make most of my reservations before hand, because that gives me a better chance to get into the best deals and locations. Also, I find that when I haven't made the reservations I end up spending more time calling or emailing than I would like to in the midst of the trip. But I usually do have a few unplanned nights to allow some flexibility.

One thing to check on--some hotels do not require much advance notice before cancelling or changing reservations, while others have large penalties for making changes close to the date of the stay. So if you make some of your reservations at places without an advance notice penalty, you have the option of cancelling or changing your reservation if you find you want to vary your original itinerary. But don't make a reservation if you really don't plan to stay there.

So you could lock into certain times and destinations and leave other parts of the trip more flexible. You could do the same with transportation options. If you know you're going to take a train from point x to point y on a specific date, then make an advance reservation to get the cheaper fare.

The "comfortable beds" part might be your biggest challenge. If you're staying at lower priced city hotels, countryside inns, or chambre d'hotes, you will find that the mattresses are highly variable, and usually not what you would expect from even your basic motel in the states.

Huntington Beach...
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3. Re: hotel reservations

thank you for all of your valuable input. I will probably try to figure out in advance .

Huntington Beach...
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4. Re: hotel reservations

Can you give me the names and places of some of the places you stayed at in France? Did you have a car or travel by train?

Edited: 28 September 2011, 16:05
Washington state
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5. Re: hotel reservations

Wendy,

To answer your question, here's a bit of my itinerary from this summer. As you see though, there are some idiosyncracies (like historic/archeological sites and Le Tour) that shaped this trip that might not apply much to anyone else.

France Itinerary, June/July 2011

Sunday:Train from Toulouse > Carcassonne, Languedoc

Stayed with friend near Limoux

Monday:

Carcassonne car rental > to Cucugnon via Limoux, Quillan, and Cathar castle of Puilaurens

Auberge de Vigneron, Cucugnon (62E)

33 (0) 4.68.45.03.00

Tue.

Visit Cathar ruins at Perepertuse and Queribus

Drive to Ax-les-Thermes

Hotel Grillon Ax-les-Thermes (43E)

33 (0)5 61 64 31 64

Wed.

Ax-les-Thermes & visit Grotte de Niaux (1230 tour)

Hotel Grillon

Thu.

Drive to Foix & back to Toulouse; Easyjet Flt. to Nantes

Long weekend with friends in Nantes

Mon.

Rent car and drive Nantes > St. Carantec, Bretagne

La Prévenchère, Carantec (35E including breakfast)

02 96 25 17 55

Tue.

Tour de France etape 4, finish at Mur-de-Bretagne

La Prévenchère, Carantec

Wed.

Drive to Vannes & Erdeven

Auberge Du Sous Bois, Erdeven (65E)

+33 (0) 2.97.55.66.10

Thu.

Explore south coast of Bretagne, neolithic sites

Ferry to tumulus on island of Gavrinis

Auberge Du Sous Bois, Erdeven

Weekend visiting friends

Mon.-Thurs. Paris

Hotel Home Moderne,

+33 (0)1 53 68 03 00

Special rate for 3 nights or more at 60E per night

Edited: 29 September 2011, 05:48
Huntington Beach...
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6. Re: hotel reservations

What a doll you are! Thank you so much for all of your input. We are realy looking forward to our trip. Thank you for all of your help and taking the time. Wendy

Washington state
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7. Re: hotel reservations

My pleasure, since it helps me relive a little bit, a trip that was the highlight of my year. If you're combining Spain and France during your visit, the area in the southern parts of Languedoc and Midi-Pyreenees certainly make a good combination with northern Spain, and they're really beautiful. And I didn't even get to some of the most popular destinations (Nimes, Montpellier, Coilloure) in Languedoc. But I saw what I was most interested in.

Be glad to answer more questions as they come up; now you can enjoy your planning!

Huntington Beach...
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8. Re: hotel reservations

Is it expensive to rent a car and difficult to drive in France? I was looking at the train schedules, and it looks a bit complicated.

Washington state
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9. Re: hotel reservations

I'll have to find my rental receipts and get back to you. Did seem more expensive to rent than previously.

Does one of you know how to drive a stick? Almost all rental cars are standards, unless you specifically reserve an automatic, which are only only available at certain locations and are much more expensive to rent.

But I love driving in France because the roads are in excellent condition and there are so many little, out of the way places to see, that are only reached with a car (or bike).

Washington state
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10. Re: hotel reservations

Re: rentals, this will give you some idea:

3-day rental (so 3 full days, return the 4th morning) for a sub-compact for 107E (about $150) including all fees and taxes. THis was for pickup in Carcassone and return to Toulouse City Center. Round trip rental usually a little cheaper but the difference was not great in this case.

Rate was about 20E cheaper than it would have been because I paid the full amount up front.

Rented with Avis but found the rate through Viamichelin.com. To save $ I reserved the smallest possible car class except for a 2-seater. But when I picked up the car at the Carcassone Gare, all they had was a nice mid-sized Citroen, which they gave me at the same price as the subcompact.