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Paris in December, my mom and me

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Phoenix, Arizona...
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Paris in December, my mom and me

I'm taking my mother to Paris for her birthday this December (4-11). Neither of us have been before.

We've been advised to stay in an apartment near the river seine and the louvre vs. staying in a hotel. I plan to make an early dinner reservation at le Jules Verne for her birthday; hoping to see Paris with some sunlight because I hear the view is actually better than at night.

Would love some suggestions on things to do and places to go (day trips, in particular; she really wants to take the Eurostar--Americans call it the Chunnel--but I've been reading mixed opinions about day trips to London). I think we'd enjoy some neighboring towns and countryside, but I'm being conscientious of the weather.

Thank you all in advance for your suggestions!

Paris, France
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1. Re: Paris in December, my mom and me

AFAIK, the first seating for dinner is at 19.00, and it will be full night by that time (sunset is around 17.00). Maybe consider lunch there instead.

London day trip is doable on a day provided you take the first and last (or second-to) trains. London at that time of the year is not bad, with the Harrods showcases in Christmas shape. Check the search engine for reports of such day trips.

As for things to do, a guidebook is really in order so as to determine what *you* want to do. There's no point for us to suggest Louvre if you are not into museums. For day trips, keep in mind that days are really short at that time of the year, so I do not think that anything like Mont Saint Michel would be best then.

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2. Re: Paris in December, my mom and me

How long do you plan on staying in Paris? That will help determine day tris. The days will be short, as well. I'd do Jules Verne for lunch which I've done. Less expensive and the view is very nice.

A lot of first time visitors find staying in a hotel is better than an apartment. You can get help from the staff and to help you when needed. Also, a lot of us traveling from the West Coast have flights that arrive early in the morning. When you stay at a hotel you can go there and see if your room is available. If not, you can leave your luggage with them. Most apartments someone has to meet you and you can't leave your luggage until that time. There are some exceptions but it can't be counted on. There are a lot of people that come here saying 'we arrive at 10:00 and can't get into our apartment until 2:00. What can we do with our luggage until then?' The same when leaving.

Many people don't care and that's their decision but short term apartment rentals are illegal in Paris. It's unlikely that you'll get kicked out midstay but one of my concerns is being that they are illegal they do not need to meet health and safety standards that hotels have to. They aren't inspected for proper fire evacuation and they don't have smoke alarms.

In any case, if you do go the apartment route I would not use airbnb or vrbo. I would only use an agency highly recommended. You have to do a lot of research and ask a lot of questions when you rent. You also have to pay money upfront and make security and cleaning deposits. So you want to make sure that you do all your due diligence.

Edited: 16 August 2014, 21:19
Le Bugue, France
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3. Re: Paris in December, my mom and me

If neither of you has been to Paris before, and especially if neither of you speaks French, you might reconsider the idea of renting an apartment. It will take a lot more advance preparation than booking a hotel, and once there you are likely going to have a lot of " learning experiences" (like dealing with French apartment building codes, instructions for appliances, when/if to take out the trash, emergency telephone numbers, etc.). Just something to think about.

As an aside, I don't know any Americans who still talk about the Chunnel. That's been ancient terminology for quite a few years now.

Leiden, The...
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4. Re: Paris in December, my mom and me

Have you actually been given a recommendation for a specific apartment?

If it's your first time in Paris, I would not recommend staying in an apartment. I would stay in a hotel or you could stay in an aparthotel (Citadines / Adagio), unless you have a very specific reason for staying in an apartment.

Read the Top Questions about Paris and Paris Trip ideas on the right hand side of the page

Paris, France
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5. Re: Paris in December, my mom and me

Lots of people are advised to rent apartments, but that doesn't mean that they should do it. Will the person who advised you also be available when you need help with something? Has your advisor ever rented an apartment here, or has (s)he just heard that it's the thing to do?

This is your first trip to Paris, and from the questions you have asked, it's clear that you don't know anything about the city - or the countryside - and though that's not a bad thing, it does mean that you will need lots of help, once you arrive. You will get what you need if you stay in a decent hotel, and there are plenty that will suit any budget, in the area you describe.

When you rent an apartment, you will be completely on your own, and there will be nobody to help you with day-to-day questions. I'm not sure this would result in a wonderful, stress-free experience for you and your Mom. If you don't speak French, this will make things even more difficult.

This is probably not what you want to hear, but it's much better advice than you got to begin with.

Groves, Texas
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6. Re: Paris in December, my mom and me

I would suggest for a first time Paris trip to stay at a hotel. It is nice that first trip to have someone to ask questions of and call a taxi if needed to the airport. I would also stay in Paris and possibly make a day trip to Versailles. We have been to Paris for Christmas and the city is just lovely all decorated. Have a great trip!

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7. Re: Paris in December, my mom and me

If London and the Eurostar is important part of the trip and you have a full week...I would fly into say London...spend maybe 2 nights...take the Euro to Paris and spend the rest of the nights there. Frankly the day trip sounds hectic to me but you may think different. Also can't tell if the apt. is booked already or not. If not then you might consider the fly into London and out of Paris as it is usually good price wise and convenience wise with no back tracking. I also think a hotel may be a better choice for first time visitors but again don't know if the apartment is booked already. Also there is more than enough to keep you busy for the whole week in Paris but again I don't know how important London is. Let us know a bit more to continue suggestions.

Toronto
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8. Re: Paris in December, my mom and me

Considering you'll be arriving after a long flight so the first day is usually light for visiting and generally on the last day you can't see much you don't really have that much time. If you do go to London then I think you can very easily spend the rest of your time in Paris. Personally I would include Versailles which some call a day trip but it's an easy trip by RER train. Remember if you do go to London you'll need pounds for incidentals on that trip.

liverpool ny
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9. Re: Paris in December, my mom and me

I took my 70 year old mother to Paris a few years ago. i don't know how old your mom is,but we did a day trip to London, which she enjoyed. She also loved the Bateau Mouche at night . We did have lunch at Jules Verne, and it is one of her fondest memories. I will agree with everybody else's opinions on hotels versus apartments. The advice of a good front desk person can be really valuable if you have questions about restaurants or public transportation or day trips. I have never met one who did not speak English, either. She loved having breakfast in our hotel's breakfast room and watching the street traffic.

Sydney, Australia
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10. Re: Paris in December, my mom and me

I took my 60 year old mother to Paris last year and we stayed in a lovely apartment near the Eiffel Tower. We went through AirBnB and there was no hassle whatsoever. But I'm sure you are probably aware of the issues in NYC, consider the same for Paris.

We considered a day trip to London, but we only had 7 days and in the end we chose Versailles over London. It was pouring rain and freezing the day we went to Versailles, but it was still lovely.

Next month I'm doing a day trip to Bruges and Chartres. Only considered Reims last week, and disappointed I didn't plan it earlier (would have swapped Chartres for Reims).

Three of my favourites from the trip last year that I can recommend for you and your Mum to see/do:

- Orangerie

- Musee Rodin

- Saint Chapelle