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First time in Paris

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Kane
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First time in Paris

My fiancé and I will be taking our honeymoon in Europe in July. I have never been out of the states, but consider myself to be a pretty seasoned traveler. We visit NYC 2 or 3 times a year and have little difficulty navigating around, but I still have some questions that might help the start of our honeymoon be an incredible experience.

Our first leg of our trip will begin in Paris for 2 full days and another 1/2 day before we leave for Netherlands. We will arrive around 8:00 AM and will be staying in Le Marais. (everyone knows the question that is about to come) What is the most cost effective way to travel from CDG into the city? I did some research and found that we could buy a 3 day metro pass for zones 1-5 but it is expensive and don't think we will travel outside of zone 2 all that often. Is it best to just buy a one way ticket to and from the airport? What I found costs about 20 euro for both of us, one way. Does that seem right?

Is most of what we should visit within walking distance? Not sure what we should visit... We were thinking again of getting a 2 day pass or a 10 ride pass, but how much will we really need it? In NYC we use the subway all the time, but I'm not sure how much we would need it in Paris.

How much time should we expect to be in customs at CDG? About how long does it take to get into Paris via the RER?

I am sure I will have plenty of questions throughout the next couple of months and I look forward to reading the posts to learn as much as possible about all the exciting things to do!

Paris, France
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1. Re: First time in Paris

Transportation from CDG: yes, RER tickets from CDG to Paris intra muros (including possible transfer on the metro) is indeed 9.75 EUR pp and would be the most cost-effective way. Keep in mind that there are stairs here and there, so you'll have to be able to navigate them with your luggage. Otherwise, a taxi should be about 50-60 euros depending on traffic.

Walking distance: don't feel you must visit anything in particular, but focus on what you *want* to visit. No need to feel compelled to go to the Louvre if you don't care about classical art, especially for such a short visit. Get a good guidebook (DK Eyewitness comes often recommended) and check what appeals to you. You'll quickly see that these places are scattered all over Paris, which means the metro will sometimes become useful. You could start with a 10-ride carnet for the two of you, and see how quickly it goes.

Customs: well, it's more the immigration desk where queues can be an issue, so it all depends what time you land. Between landing and getting in the RER, it could be anything from 20 to 90 minutes depending on your luck.

Journey time: you'll see on the quay that there are both direct trains from CDG to Gare du Nord, and omnibus trains between these stations. In the first case, journey should be about 30 minutes, and 40 in the second one.

Edited: 27 January 2014, 16:10
Ottawa, Canada
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2. Re: First time in Paris

Going through immigration/ luggage/customs may take ~an hour, depending on lines.

RER ride from CDG to centre is ~ 40 min. and costs E 9.75 pp one way.

For Paris transit a carnet of 10 tickets at E 13.70 to share among you should be enough.

Gainesville, Florida
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3. Re: First time in Paris

I just want to caution you about letting your guard down because you've been to NYC so you consider yourself "seasoned".... it's a whole different ballgame when you have basically been up for 24 hours with hardly any sleep & everyone around you is speaking a different language & the signs might not be in English. Don't allow your foggy head to let you make poor choices regarding the security of your possessions. People coming off of overnight flights are prime pickpocketing targets. Just exercise caution & you should be fine, though.

I agree that one carnet should probably be enough. When you arrive at CDG, you can buy all of your tickets at once - the 2 tickets to get in the city for E9.75 each, the carnet, and the two return tickets to CDG. Just don't mix them up or lose them & you're good to go!

For such a short trip, I would recommend that you flip through a couple of guidebooks & list the top 3 or 4 things that you & your spouse want to see & do. Then anything else is gravy, but you've gotten to see your own personal priorities. If you figure out your own list, feel free to post it here & people will comment on the logistics etc. to help you maximize your time.

Have a wonderful honeymoon! Congratulations!

Boston...
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4. Re: First time in Paris

I agree with Parisix. With such a short visit, it's really important to visit only what you want to visit, especially if you and your husband have any hope of actually relaxing and enjoying your time in Paris. Don't be tempted to cram too much in, or it will all be a blur. Get a good guidebook, and sit down with your fiancé. Figure out what you want to concentrate on, and figure on no more than two major sites per day. That way you'll have plenty of time to wander, relax, sit at a café and enjoy some people-watching.

With God's grace, you'll have anniversaries in the years to come and can return to Paris and give it the time it deserves.

Edited: 27 January 2014, 16:33
Paris, France
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5. Re: First time in Paris

With only 2.5 days in Paris, you won't have time to do much. After an overnight flight, arrival day is not really a full day in Paris since you will be tired and jet-lagged. I'd seriously consider adding another day - perhaps two to make it worth your while.

After spending thousands on airfare, I would suggest taking a taxi from the airport. In the whole scheme of things, is an extra 20-30 euros going to make a big difference?

Kane
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6. Re: First time in Paris

That is a very good point about flying in on a RedEye and being tired and groggy. We will definitely keep our wits about us when we arrive. Is our arrival day a wash then? I know you don't know if we will have enough energy, personally, but from personal experience, is the first day there an uneventful one? I can sleep anywhere, including a plane but my fiancé might not be able to.

We will get a guide book and look through it and see where we want to go. We love to eat. We travel based on food most of the time and will gladly pay for good food. Any place come to mind that we should check out?

Also, I didn't know that you could get just one 10 trip pass. In NYC, you are not allowed to scan your metro card more than once in a given amount of time. This is good information to know and will save us a little bit of money in the long run.

Last question, is immigration like this in every European airport? It is actually cheaper for us to fly from one city to another (Paris, Amsterdam, Rome) than it is to take the Eurail, so we will be spending a decent amount of time in the air, so will we likely run into these delays everywhere we go? I am beginning to worry that there isn't enough TIME! I want more time!

BTW, this is the future husband asking for advice... Her and I plan together, but I'm the tripadvisor junkie. I planed our Vegas Vacation last summer, where we got engaged.

Gainesville, Florida
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7. Re: First time in Paris

The carnet is 10 loose tickets, each good for one ride. You can each use 5, or you can use 8 & your spouse 2. They literally just hand you a wad of tickets. So it's not a 10-trip pass.

Here's how I handle jet lag... I've usually got enough adrenalin going after arrival that I'm good for most of the day. I get to my hotel, check in, head out for lunch & a few hours of sightseeing, an early dinner, then in bed by 9pm or so. The next morning I'm good to go. Then maybe the third or fourth day it kind of hits me, and I need a 3 hour midafternoon nap, so I just plan for that in my schedule.

In November, I arrived & checked in to my hotel by 11 am, got lunch, walked all over the Marais (including the Carnavalet museum), did some shopping at a department store, checked out Ile de la Cite & Notre Dame (including sitting through a vespers service), and had a three-course dinner before returning to my hotel. So... no. Arrival day should not be a wash! You can get lots done, depending on your stamina.

Paris, France
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8. Re: First time in Paris

If you'd care to share your entire trip plans we can probably help you with some logistics. Flying withing the Schengen area, there is no passport control, so you won't experience on every flight. It can take a while upon arrival depending upon how many other planes are arriving at the same time.

BTW - there is no such thing as "the Eurail". Rail Europe sells an over-priced "Eurail Pass". Otherwise each country has their own rail system. It's best to look for tickets on the website for the exact train that you need. DO NOT use Rail Europe. They do not show all of the trains or the best prices.

Kane
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9. Re: First time in Paris

Here is a brief overview of our trip; adding in a couple extra days from originally planned. We originally were only going to spend 2 days in Paris, 2 in Amsterdam, and 3 in Rome with the trip.

7/20 PM - Leave Toronto for Paris

7/21 AM - Arrive in Paris

7/21, 7/22, 7/23 - In Paris

7/24 - Leave for Amsterdam via AirFrance @ 11:40 - Arrive at 12:55

7/24, 7/25, 7/26 - In Amsterdam

7/27 - Leave for Rome via EasyJet @ 20:40 - Arrive @ 23:00

7/28,7/29,7/30 - In Rome

7/31 - Excursion to a coastal city in Italy (Looking at Amalfi or Salerno and taking a ferry to Positano, any other better options?)

8/1 - Leave Rome to Toronto via AirFrance @ 10:15

The flights to Amsterdam and Rome are relatively inexpensive ($145 to Amsterdam and $180 to Rome for both tickets) Is this the cheapest and most time effective way to travel or is the train a better option? I don't mind either way, I just don't know how to go about looking for the train to each country. Is the time in Amsterdam too much time? If the train is a cheaper option we could add another destination, but we don't want to be moving from place to place too much. Thanks again for the help.

Paris, France
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10. Re: First time in Paris

That looks better already.

I would suggest taking the train from Paris to Amsterdam. It's city center to city center, and probably quicker than flying, at about 3.5 hours. I just did a quick search and found tickets for as low 35 each euros in mid-April.