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Grad gift to daughter-Paris on the cheap in June??

St. Louis, MO.
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Grad gift to daughter-Paris on the cheap in June??

I'm looking for deals on airfare and hotel to Paris to give to my daughter as a graduation gift from college. I took one trip overseas to Italy in 2000, so I feel very unprepared in what to look for and what constitutes a good deal for one week. I also thought we could use Paris as a jumping point and then go to London and Brussels too on Eurorail. Outside of checking expedia, travelocity, and travel consolidators, what else can I do? I need to vacation in June or July as I'm a teacher. Would love advice from seasoned travelers.

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1. Re: Grad gift to daughter-Paris on the cheap in June??

Airfare is much more higher this year than in the past. Seeing that you are considering only now to purchase airfare in high season months makes things more expensive. I really do not think you will find any bargain airfare at this point to be honest. And personally I would suggest booking directly with the airlines and not with third party booking sites although some have no problems with certain sites. For hotels you may be able to find some discounts and/or offers especially for July.

Chicago, Illinois
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2. Re: Grad gift to daughter-Paris on the cheap in June??

you might get a copy of a Rick Steves guide to travel in Europe or France. He does a really good job discussing rail options. (there is no such thing as Eurail or Eurorail for starters) Probably any travel you would do would be with point to point tickets and you are already too late to get super bargains on the main routes -- those sell about 90 days or sometimes 120 days out. rail passes are almost never cost effective, particularly for adults.

There are lots of way to be budget conscious; we like to take longer trips now and find that having an apartment means our food expenditures are about what they are at home -- and we have the fun of shopping at local markets, trying the array of amazing cheeses, getting wine for little in grocery stores -- or very nice wine for reasonable prices in wine shops. You might find a small apartment for about what you would pay for a hotel room and then save on food.

There are many ways to enjoy Paris that are not costly and London, while an expensive town, is also full of free museums.

If you do decide to do two cities e.g. Paris/London, fly open jaw into one and out of the other which will make planning easier and costs no more (they average the cost of the two round trip tickets.

The trip is a great idea and I hope you can pull something together.

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for Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur
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3. Re: Grad gift to daughter-Paris on the cheap in June??

In order to provide you with REALLY valid recommendations, we need to know exactly how long you intend to be travelling, and, if both London and Brussels are "MUST" sees.

Personally, I would urge you to consider just staying in France, as there is MUCH to explore, including what many consider to be the best preserved Roman ruins ( Western Provence ), as well as major beautiful and important Medieval sites, especially Avignon, throughout much of the rest of Southern France.

Keep in mind that you will be travelling at the beginning and possibly into the midst of the true High-Tourist Season in much of Europe.

While the web-sites that you are already checking out ( expedia, travelocity, etc ) tend to be good sources for finding good prices, they have to be checked out on a daily basis, regarding fares for the same flights on the same days. AND you need to keep in mind that you will incur a super hefty premium for open-jaw trips. Unfortunately, with the rising cost of diesel/airplane fuel - your best bet may be to just purchase your tickets ASAP!!! - as fares are only going to go up and up.

Once you have determined where you will be establlishing your base(s), I urge you to get the Michelin Green Guides for those regions of France, as well as similar quality guides for any other countries that you may visit.

Since I sense that you are looking upon this as your daughter's first trip to Europe, I would urge you to go with the Michelin Guides, as they provide the reader with a more in-depth information, as opposed to the Rick Steves Guides, which seem to be more directed to one-time travellers with an, "If I've seen this it must be ..." point of view.

Chicago, Illinois
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4. Re: Grad gift to daughter-Paris on the cheap in June??

we have never paid a 'super hefty premium' for oopen jawed flight -- flying into Rome and out of Paris we paid precisely half the average of the cost of a roundtrip to Rome plus a round trip to Paris

We usually fly into Paris and out of Amsterdam -- and it costs no more than a round trip to either averaged

And of course you save a ton on having to return to the point of arrival if you are planning to cover some ground

Las Vegas, Nevada
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5. Re: Grad gift to daughter-Paris on the cheap in June??

I just did a quick search from St. Louis (STL) to Paris (CDG) on my fave site: CheapOair and the price was $1,311.48 per person, round trip/return (all taxes included). That was with U.S. Airways. The next best price is AirFrance for $1,502.45 (all taxes included).

I'm not sure if the other sites can beat that or have prices similar; it's hard to gage because I don't know when you planned to leave so I just did a quick search in June; flexible fares start from the $1,300 range.

I suppose with some searching, you could find better prices but agree with all the advice given above. Book your tickets ASAP. I booked mine way back in January and my non-stop flight on a subpar airline I have never ridden (XL Airways France) was $850 then and I am leaving at the end of May. I wish you the best of luck and hope you and your daughter have a wonderful trip. :-)

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6. Re: Grad gift to daughter-Paris on the cheap in June??

You don't say how long you're traveling for. If it's a week to 10 days, I would avoid trying to do too many destinations. 2 would be plenty. It can add to the exhaustion and harried feeling. Give yourselves time to settle in and really get to know a place. Double-check to see if any of your credit cards have membership rewards that can be traded in. I once used my Amex points for a flight to Tokyo. In the case of Amex, you need to book through them but the price is the same. An apartment in Paris is sometimes cheaper than a hotel. It's a bit trickier but if you do a search here on the forum, you should come up with the recommended agencies. You can save money on breakfasts, by heading to the local bakery to pick up croissants to eat at home. Hotels located a bit a way from the city center can be cheaper. Just make sure you're close to a metro line.

New Hampshire
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for Paris
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7. Re: Grad gift to daughter-Paris on the cheap in June??

I'm not sure you'll find any package "deals", especially if you're considering three cities.

You'd need at least two weeks for three cities. And, you have to deduct the two departure days in each direction, along with nearly a day to travel between cities. If you can leave on a Friday and return on a Sunday, two weeks later, you'd have a few more days.

With the exception of Priceline, packages are rarely less than booking yourself independently. Another possible exception would be airline packages (such as Air France, Virgin Atlantic, etc.), but you have to take great care with the hotels offered, as the most economical choices tend to be not so "central" as described and cheap tourist hotels (often with dreadful reviews).

You can sometimes find significantly discounted hotel rooms on Expedia, but most often rates are the same as booking directly and you have to prepay.

Depending on the city, with Priceline you can often find bargain hotel rooms with "Name Your Own Price", and/or packages which save you hundreds on the air/hotel versus booking those separately.

As mentioned, air fares have skyrocketed, and the exchange rates are becoming less favorable with every passing day since January or so.

St. Louis, MO.
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8. Re: Grad gift to daughter-Paris on the cheap in June??

Wow! This is amazing advice from all of you. It looks like after some exhaustive searching-4+ hours tonight between the 2 laptops-we're going to wait until Spring break (March 2012) now. I'm hoping to bring the total trip around $2500 for one week and looks like we'll focus on Paris. I don't know where the ambition came from, but realistically the trip would be for a Paris visit and friends in Brussels and London will need to wait for a future trip. I've ordered the Michelin guide to Paris from Amazon & ordered the Rick Steves DVD series from the library. We're going to spend the next 11 months deep in research. It's just too late to plan for this year.

Once again, thank you for all the tips and advice.

Chicago, Illinois
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9. Re: Grad gift to daughter-Paris on the cheap in June??

the planning is half the fun -- and by basing in Paris you can also build some wonderful local day trips to vary your experience --

Ohio, USA
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10. Re: Grad gift to daughter-Paris on the cheap in June??

Brussels is an easy day trip from Paris, 80 minutes by Thalys high speed train and €25 one way with advance purchase "SMOOVE" tickets. I have seen €15 special offers to Brussels in the off-peak months. If you can extend your trip a day or two you could even fit in a day trip to London as well, less than 2.5 hours from Paris and €88 round-trip at today's prices if booked far enough ahead.

Better yet if you can add that extra few days you could travel Paris-Brussels-London with most of your time in Paris and perhaps one night in Brussels and two in London. Fly home from London and you avoid back-tracking. That way you get to spend most of a week in Paris and still see your friends. Of course they could always come to Paris to see you....

An apartment in Paris might work well for you...

Whatever you do you will be back so you don't have to try to do it all in one trip...