Help/advice with Europe trip (France+/-Greece)

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bdanes
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Help/advice with Europe trip (France+/-Greece)

Post by bdanes »

Hi all,

We are going to Paris arriving August 29 and returning Sept 12. We are either going to leisurely enjoy Paris and travel within the country, or try and spend 3-6 days of the trip in Greece (Santorini).

I am really trying to figure out if it's worth the extra costs and hassle to get to Greece, but I really want to go because I'm not sure I can handle being in Europe that long and only seeing one place. Anyone with any experiences? I am debating on just staying in Paris then to Greece and back to Paris for a couple days at the end, or traveling down to southern France and flying to Greece and then fly back to Paris.

If we do go to Greece how long should we try and stay to make it worth it? For some reason I feel like the Paris/France part will feel more touristy and the Greece part more relaxing vacation.

My Paris flight is booked, but everything else is tbd. I know we can take a ferry from Athens, but it's anywhere from 5-9 hours which feels like a wasted day.
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midareff
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Re: Help/advice with Europe trip (France+/-Greece)

Post by midareff »

Don't know if this will help you or not....... I spent 5 days in Paris in November 2007 as part of a larger trip which included a couple of week in Egypt. There really is so much to do and see that 5 days could not even scratch the surface of Paris. I was One of those days I took a tour out to the Loire Valley and the Chateau's in that Valley and enjoyed that immensely. There is Montmarte with the artist colony and Sacred Heart Church, Dinner and observing at the Eiffel Tower, observations from the Arc de Triomphe, Marie Antoinette's summer residence, dinner and the show at the Moulin Rouge, Versailles, the show at the Crazy Horse, tours of the City, night tours of the city all light up, the Louvre, the Opera and the surrounding area, the Obelisk and Ferris wheel area, just walking the streets of Paris and getting the sights and smells.

At the Louvre alone you could spend days just to get the flavor, not to even think of seeing it all and there are many museums in Paris. How about a couple of hours with hot French bread used for an amazing ham and cheese sandwich, a salad and a bottle of wine from the countryside and watching the people walk by.

I stayed in the historic area about two blocks from the Arc and used a shuttle from the airport which dropped me next to the Arc for airport transportation. It was about a 20 minute or so walk from the Grey Line Tour operator's facility which I used extensively for tours and the Valley day trip. You could limit your stay in Paris as I did since I had to limit my trip to three weeks out of office (not retired then) and had two weeks in Egypt already, just don't think you are going to see much of it.
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Rainier
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Re: Help/advice with Europe trip (France+/-Greece)

Post by Rainier »

I went to Santorini in 2004. I would just fly from Athens, it's quick.
2comma
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Re: Help/advice with Europe trip (France+/-Greece)

Post by 2comma »

Just my 2 cents worth based on one trip to Paris and several to Greece. I think a big part of the decision will be your travel personality - are you a go-go-go type or are you the type that might spend a few hours a day at a sidewalk café just people watching. Put another way would you rather punch off as many sights as possible (like a bus tour) or could you happily spend three days at a museum absorbing it all in?

My opinion is you could easily spend two weeks in Paris and not get close to scratching the surface (or take a high speed train to another region of France which is an experience itself). With that said you could do the same in Greece! Either way you'll probably return thinking you wish you had more time to do it all - that just means you get to plan another trip in the future!

BTW: I think you'll find both rather touristy - they both attract people from all over the world. DW is Greek so she hopes you'll spend some time there!
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kolea
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Re: Help/advice with Europe trip (France+/-Greece)

Post by kolea »

You are only in Europe for 13 days or so. First and last days are useless so really only 11 days. If you travel to Greece, figure on losing a day going and another one returning. Leaves you with about 9 full days of fun for two places. I would not do it.
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123
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Re: Help/advice with Europe trip (France+/-Greece)

Post by 123 »

I've been to Paris as well as Greece (a couple of times). If you've only got one area in Greece, Santorini, that you're interested in I wouldn't include it. I think you get more value for your travel time if you focus on Paris and France and places that are easy to get to from there.

While you're didn't say what your past, if any, European travel experiences have included it's only a half-day by train to London from Paris. I'd focus on places that are readily available by train, if you include additional flights the overhead of flying just really eats into your travel time.
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camden
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Re: Help/advice with Europe trip (France+/-Greece)

Post by camden »

Although Greece is an interesting country to visit (Santorini in particular), I cast another vote for concentrating on France. I would spend half of your time in Paris, which is so rich with sights and things to do that twice that amount of time would not be too much, and the other half in areas easily accessible from Paris ( Normandy, Loire valley, etc). If you try to add Greece, I think too much of your time will be eaten up in the traveling there and back rather than enjoying yourself. Save Greece for another trip.
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Re: Help/advice with Europe trip (France+/-Greece)

Post by curmudgeon »

For my wife and I, with this much time I'd probably spend ~ 1 week in Paris, with day trips to Chartres and Versaille, and a week in a countryside location (with a rental car). Good options for the second part would be: Normandy/Brittany, Provence, or Alsace. Trying to add in another location which required additional flights would not be my preference, especially if you can't do open-jaw to simplify the return.
arbitrageur
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Re: Help/advice with Europe trip (France+/-Greece)

Post by arbitrageur »

bdanes wrote: My Paris flight is booked, but everything else is tbd. I know we can take a ferry from Athens, but it's anywhere from 5-9 hours which feels like a wasted day.
Given your timeframe, I think the best way to visit both Paris and Santorini would have been open jaws where you fly into one country and out of the other. That does not appear to be an option for you anymore since your Paris flight is booked and appears to be round trip. There's too much wasted time having to head back to Paris just to fly home if you do visit Santorini. For that reason, I agree with the others that say to concentrate solely on staying in France or using Paris as a hub where you can daytrip to and from other areas - Versailles, Fontainebleu, Giverny, London.

Another time saving tip that hasn't been mentioned yet - consider getting a Paris Museum Pass. You can see a multitude of museums without regret and it also offers you "front of the line access."

Money saving tip - consider purchasing Metro tickets in carnets (packs of 10). I found this to be cheaper than daily metro zone 1 passes for a short duration visit.
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Re: Help/advice with Europe trip (France+/-Greece)

Post by an_asker »

OP:
rickmerrill wrote:Just my 2 cents worth based on one trip to Paris and several to Greece. I think a big part of the decision will be your travel personality - are you a go-go-go type or are you the type that might spend a few hours a day at a sidewalk café just people watching. Put another way would you rather punch off as many sights as possible (like a bus tour) or could you happily spend three days at a museum absorbing it all in?
+1! It depends on you. We were in Paris for two days (three nights) followed by Berlin for two days (three nights). We spent one entire day in trains.

Did we do/cover/visit (pick your verb) "everything?" No. Were we planning to? Of course not. We just wanted to sample Europe plus wanted a ride on the TGV. Mission accomplished (though it was really cold in Brrrrlin!).
My opinion is you could easily spend two weeks in Paris and not get close to scratching the surface (or take a high speed train to another region of France which is an experience itself). With that said you could do the same in Greece! Either way you'll probably return thinking you wish you had more time to do it all - that just means you get to plan another trip in the future!

BTW: I think you'll find both rather touristy - they both attract people from all over the world. DW is Greek so she hopes you'll spend some time there!
Why France (Paris) and ... Greece?! Not that I have anything against Greece (strike that, I do, but I am being very objective here), but if you are in France and want to branch out, why not the neighboring countries of Spain, Italy, Belgium, Germany or Switzerland?
killjoy2012
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Re: Help/advice with Europe trip (France+/-Greece)

Post by killjoy2012 »

I visited Paris on a vacation in Nov 2014. I spent ~4 days in the city center, and ~14 in the region (I rented a car).
I visited Greece (Athens, Santorini, Rhodes, Leros plus day trips to a couple others) in 2006 for ~14 days total.
I love both places, and will go back to visit both places in the future, but they're very different IMO.

Paris is much more of a "top attractions" destination where you build your daily itinerary and try to fit as much into every day sightseeing as you can, within reason, and without passing out exhausted. Sure, if you're there for 1-2 weeks, you can also schedule some "chill"/people watch time... but generally speaking, it's about going and seeing stuff, absorbing the culture, trying to manage your time efficiently, etc. I visited in November, so queues were usually very small (ND Cathedral climb being the exception -- arrive EARLY), but given your timing, expect to be fighting the hordes.

If you go to Greece, I'd recommend spending 1 full day in Athens to see the acropolis and plaka, and then get out on the islands ASAP. The Greek Isles are wonderful! Yes, there are some historical and cultural things to see, but your biggest daily decision is how long you should spend on the beach... or what color umbrella you want in your adult beverage... or where you guys want to go for dinner once the sun goes down. Sun, sand, water - chilling. Santorini is the most touristy island you can pick (popular honeymoon destination) and not cheap... but it is beautiful. I'd suggest staying in the town of Oia, and check out Esperas Traditional Houses if you're looking for accommodations. http://www.esperas-santorini.com/
bdanes wrote:If we do go to Greece how long should we try and stay to make it worth it? For some reason I feel like the Paris/France part will feel more touristy and the Greece part more relaxing vacation.
If you go to Santorini, I'd suggest 3 nights, 2 full days minimum. Athens, I'd keep it to 1-1.5 full days. Many of the other Greek isles are great too - each has their theme/vibe - just depends on what suits you.
bdanes wrote: My Paris flight is booked, but everything else is tbd. I know we can take a ferry from Athens, but it's anywhere from 5-9 hours which feels like a wasted day.
While I love Greece, I'll echo what someone else said above, in that you'd be forcing Greece in that it's not that close by and one could easily justify it's own 2 week vacation.
You're already in Paris. Why not take the high speed train 2 hours to London? (my favorite big city)
Or to the south of France - beaches galore.
Or to Barcelona.
Or even up to Bruges. So many options!

Either way, personally, if I had ~14 days in the Paris area, I would not spend all 14 days in Paris. I would certainly spend some of that time getting out and seeing some other places. But that's just me.
Lynette
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Re: Help/advice with Europe trip (France+/-Greece)

Post by Lynette »

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Last edited by Lynette on Wed Dec 06, 2017 10:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
gator15
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Re: Help/advice with Europe trip (France+/-Greece)

Post by gator15 »

Keep the Greece/Greek Isles recommendations coming. My wife and I are going there in September and aren't sure where to go. We know we want to go to Athens and the Greek Isles. We aren't sure which Greek Isles so this thread is helping.

Regarding the OP, I'm not sure I would try to go to both Greece and France. I would focus on one or the other. I've been to Paris a few times and love the city. My wife and I went a couple of years ago and stayed in Paris for a few days. We needed several days to explore Paris. We also walked everywhere. You can stay in France and see a lot. We stayed in Paris and went to Versailles for a day which was great experience. We also took the train south to Nice and stayed there for a few days. Monaco is really close. We really enjoyed Nice. Great food! We spent over a week in France and had plenty to do. I would focus on one country.
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Re: Help/advice with Europe trip (France+/-Greece)

Post by jebmke »

Lynette wrote:My recommendation would be Paris and environs such as Versailles and the Loire Valley. I could spend a week alone in the Louvre. This reminds me that its time to go to London again and spend two weeks in the British museum. Or you could go to London for a few days and visit the British museum. They swiped (were given :D ) a lot of the great relics of Greece.
Yes, there is plenty of France in the north that are drivable from Paris. Loire, Alsace, Normandy, Burgundy/Chablis ... We spent 4 years in Brussels and never found time to go to the south. Too much to see and do within driving distance of Belgium.
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likegarden
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Re: Help/advice with Europe trip (France+/-Greece)

Post by likegarden »

I never wanted to go to Paris because it seemed to be so touristy. Though I grew up in the next country over, had 5 years of French in school.
But I once had a 3 week vacation in Greece which I very much enjoyed. I was very interested in ancient history, read a lot about it and spent several days in Athens, then had trips to Delphi, Corinth, Mykene and Epidaurus, never made it to Crete or Santorini. The other days I had a beach vacation. I enjoyed Greek food. You could easily spend 3 weeks in Greece and immerse yourself in its ancient history, where our civilisation and democracy came from.
In former peaceful times I spent 3 months in Turkey, also visited the ancient Greek places Ephesus and Aspendus.
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Re: Help/advice with Europe trip (France+/-Greece)

Post by RunningRad »

I have been to Greek Islands (1994) and Paris (2013), and if I could return to one, it would be Paris. I would love to spend a month there (preferably off-peak), seeing the city, revisiting some of the sights (but NOT the Eiffel Tower :twisted: ) and taking numerous day trips.

Greece was somewhat disappointing, so we hopped over to Turkey and enjoyed it much more.
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Re: Help/advice with Europe trip (France+/-Greece)

Post by hmw »

I have been to Paris 3 times and never been to Greece. I agree with many posters here that I wouldn't recommend doing Greece with Paris. There are many places you can visit within a short train ride from Paris. (Eg London, Belgium, the Netherlands). Watch out for pick pockets on the train and at train stations.

While there are tons of stuff to do in Paris, I wouldn't suggest spending all your time in Paris. Do a couple of side trips. Paris is a city you can keep going back to.
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Re: Help/advice with Europe trip (France+/-Greece)

Post by dgdevil »

Paris to Santorini nonstop is doable at about $262 return on Transavia, out of Orly. Easyjet has flights to Greek islands, but they may be seasonal. Maybe save Greece for another today, combine with Turkey or somewhere else in the area.

I personally find Paris to be the most over-rated city on the planet. But you don't need to confine yourself to one city in France, or to one country, which seems to be your big fear. Look at a map, and go wherever you want. Or, look at the Easyjet schedule from Orly and CDG, and see if a low-budget flight stirs your imagination. (Ryanair departs from numerous French towns, though their definition of "Paris" is geographically loose.) Flying may be more efficient than the train.
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Re: Help/advice with Europe trip (France+/-Greece)

Post by expat »

If it is your first time to Paris, I would spend the entire trip there.

But, for a few days at the beach, I would skip Greece and instead take the TGV, which you can take from the center of Paris, to southern France for a few days in September to avoid the high season.
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Re: Help/advice with Europe trip (France+/-Greece)

Post by broadstone »

While Santorini is amazing, I wouldn't do it based on your lack of time you will lose about 2 days of your vacation time because of the hassles of travelling to Santorini. Consider taking the train somewhere nearer in Europe. You can go to London in 2.5 hrs from Paris on Eurostar.
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Re: Help/advice with Europe trip (France+/-Greece)

Post by 2girlsdad »

If you want to do something other than Paris, you can take a high speed train to Avignon (Provence) in just about 2.5 hours.
Station is in downtown Paris (unlike the airport(s). Lots to see and do and totally different from the big city. If you want to see the Mediterranean, Nice is about a 5 hour train ride, IIRC.
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GerryL
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Re: Help/advice with Europe trip (France+/-Greece)

Post by GerryL »

Imagine someone from another part of the world writing and asking about this travel plan:

"We are going to NYC arriving August 29 and returning Sept 12. We are either going to leisurely enjoy NYC and travel within the region, or try and spend 3-6 days of the trip in Galveston, TX."

Yeah, it could be done, but would you really want to spend so much of your limited time getting from one place to another? As others have noted, it really is a matter of the kind of traveler you are.
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Re: Help/advice with Europe trip (France+/-Greece)

Post by Valuethinker »

Lynette wrote:My recommendation would be Paris and environs such as Versailles and the Loire Valley. I could spend a week alone in the Louvre. This reminds me that its time to go to London again and spend two weeks in the British museum. Or you could go to London for a few days and visit the British museum. They swiped (were given :D ) a lot of the great relics of Greece.
Bought actually, as I recall. The Parthenon Marbles are the main point of contention. They were smuggled out (but I do recall they were paid for).
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