Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
ugaDAWGS09
Posts: 370
Joined: Wed May 15, 2013 4:34 pm

Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by ugaDAWGS09 » Tue Oct 30, 2018 10:03 pm

My wife and I are planning our first international trip. We are planning on spending six full days in Europe the last week of April. We are flying non-stop from Atlanta to Heathrow airport.

1. What part of the city do you recommend staying? Is this walking distance to any major tourist areas?
2. Should we rent a car for our stay, or use taxi's, ubers?
3. We would like to take the train to Paris for a day, is one day in Paris worth visiting for or should we stay a night then return to London?
4. What are some of the major attractions we should see while in London/Paris, can't miss restaurants?

I'm sure I'll have more questions. Thanks for the help

User avatar
fortfun
Posts: 1073
Joined: Tue Apr 19, 2016 7:31 pm

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by fortfun » Tue Oct 30, 2018 10:11 pm

ugaDAWGS09 wrote:
Tue Oct 30, 2018 10:03 pm
My wife and I are planning our first international trip. We are planning on spending six full days in Europe the last week of April. We are flying non-stop from Atlanta to Heathrow airport.

1. What part of the city do you recommend staying? Is this walking distance to any major tourist areas?
2. Should we rent a car for our stay, or use taxi's, ubers?
3. We would like to take the train to Paris for a day, is one day in Paris worth visiting for or should we stay a night then return to London?
4. What are some of the major attractions we should see while in London/Paris, can't miss restaurants?

I'm sure I'll have more questions. Thanks for the help
1. I'd stay within walking distance of a Tube stop on the circle line (Westminister, Hyde Park, Victoria, etc). You can see the Tube stops on the hotel reservation maps. Circle line connects to all the attractions you'll want to see. In Paris, I'd stay near the Louvre or Notre Dame.
2. Don't rent a car. Use the subways in both cities. Cheap, fast, and easy. Buy an Oyster card in London. Buy the 10 packs in Paris.
3. If you go to Paris, you need to stay at least one night. 6 days isn't long. Can you add another day or two?
4. Buckingham Palace (changing of the guard and horsemen), British Museum, Tate Museum, Big Ben (still under Scaffolding?), London Eye, Hyde Park, Regency Park, Tower Bridge, etc.
Eifle Tower, Louvre, Muse de Orsey (sp?), Sacred Heart Church, Notre Dame, to name a few.

Temps could be on the cooler side in both places. Bring a coat, gloves, and a hat (for sight seeing).
Last edited by fortfun on Tue Oct 30, 2018 10:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Lacrocious
Posts: 316
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2007 9:45 pm
Location: Wisconsin

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by Lacrocious » Tue Oct 30, 2018 10:27 pm

Agree with the comments to stay within walking distance of a tube station. @fortfun mentioned the big name places - but add Churchill War Room Museum; Globe Theater; to the list. Use the app "City Mapper" on either IOS or Android to get around. It will give you multiple options to get from A to B - with various transportation combinations across the tube, bus, walking, Black Cab, and other transportation options - it worked great! Real nice for the tube giving arrival times of various trains.

One day in Paris will be a short day between the time it takes to get there and back. You could see a few main sights, but wouldn't get a full feel of Paris - Just a a taste. FYI - Citty Mapper works here as well.
- L

User avatar
GerryL
Posts: 1893
Joined: Fri Sep 20, 2013 11:40 pm

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by GerryL » Tue Oct 30, 2018 10:31 pm

As someone who starts or ends a trip to France with 4 nights in Paris, I can't see the point of doing a day trip to the City of Light.
Yes, Europe is smaller than the US, but it's not THAT small. And Paris (and many other popular cities) is crowded with tourists. Must-see sights have long lines. I would encourage you to enjoy your six days in London and maybe the surrounding area and leave the Continent for a future trip.

3504PIR
Posts: 588
Joined: Mon Jul 26, 2010 2:46 am

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by 3504PIR » Tue Oct 30, 2018 10:39 pm

1. Stay in Mayfair if you can afford it. The best value we consistently have had in London was the Marriott near the Swiss Cottage tube station on the Jubilee line. I’d stay there if Mayfair is too pricey.

2. Use the tube. You can’t drive in central London anyway.

3. Stay overnight is you’re going to Paris. This is really a bridge too far as you’ll only have 4 usable days in London depending on how you handle jet lag. If this is your first time going east overnight, you’re likely to be crushed by the jet lag. To overcome it, fly business class, medicate yourself to go to sleep right after dinner is serve and you’ll ge 5-6 hours of sleep so when you land at 7am you’re in reasonable shape. I’ve flown this dozens of times and the average people going on holiday watch movies the entire flight...bad idea.

4. Go to the imperial war museum in addition to the other recommendations. Spend some time shopping in Selfrages on Oxford St. especially the food market.

HereToLearn
Posts: 199
Joined: Sat Mar 17, 2018 5:53 pm

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by HereToLearn » Tue Oct 30, 2018 11:03 pm

Agree with all the comments, including the advice to visit Churchill War Room museum.

I would check Trip Advisor for lists and reviews with helpful hints.

We purchased a 24 hour pass that included one of those Hop On, Hop Off bus tours, a guided walking tour of a garden, and a boat ride down the Thames. We saw some sights, learned some history, and covered some ground at the same time.

One comment about the tube. Consult your map before going underground. While the natural instinct is to hop on the tube, you may be as well off just walking since climbing levels below ground and transferring can take a long time on some routes.

Definitely pack layers and comfortable shoes. Enjoy!

User avatar
Bogle7
Posts: 54
Joined: Fri May 11, 2018 9:33 am

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by Bogle7 » Tue Oct 30, 2018 11:07 pm

Triple your time.
We never go for fewer than 22 days.

Church Lady
Posts: 484
Joined: Sat Jun 28, 2014 7:49 pm

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by Church Lady » Tue Oct 30, 2018 11:10 pm

Add Tower of London and Hampton Court Palace to the list of attractions. The guided tours at these sites are excellent.

Try to attend a Choral Evensong if you don't object to attending a Church of England service. The talent and professionalism of British school boys singing a choral service is stunning. Westminster Abbey has one but in fact there are many throughout the city.

Westminster Abbey can be viewed for free, albeit while seated, if you attend one of the services. If you buy the ticket, you can join the human conveyor belt and get jostled through the rest of the building.

I found the Rick Steves and Rough Guide books useful for planning my trip. You can tell my trip was a few years ago :happy

Have a great trip!
He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity. Ecclesiastes 1:8

GuyInFL
Posts: 118
Joined: Thu Aug 04, 2016 7:17 pm

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by GuyInFL » Tue Oct 30, 2018 11:14 pm

I recommend staying longer as well. Also consider flying in to London and out of Paris. These days two one-way tickets cost about the same as a round trip.

User avatar
Watty
Posts: 14356
Joined: Wed Oct 10, 2007 3:55 pm

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by Watty » Tue Oct 30, 2018 11:25 pm

It would be good to use the Rick Steeves books for your travel planning and they will have suggested itineraries.

If you will be there around Easter be sure to check on how that will affect your plans since many Europeans may be on vacation at the same time and trains may be operating on a holiday schedule.

Doing a day trip to Paris is not realistic. It would be something like someone who was in Atlanta for a week wanting to do a day trip to Washington DC. It would be technically possible but you would not want to do it.

With only six day you would be better off just seeing one city with maybe a short day trip outside the city one day.

I would take a hard look at scheduling a trip that is longer than six days even if you had to schedule it at some other time of the year. A big problem is that you will likely have an early morning arrival the first day and will be pretty jetlagged and that day will be marginal. The last day you will be packing up and heading back to the airport. That only leaves you a limited amount of time on the ground and if something happens like you get bad weather for a few days that can really impact your trip.

To me even even 10 days would be pretty minimal and when I go I like to schedule 20 or more days. Once you are over there adding extra days does not need to be expensive since outside the large cities there are usually nice small hotels that can be very reasonably priced if you are not in a peak season.

If there is some situation where one of you cannot get more than six days off then one option would be for the other person to take a longer trip and spend some time over there doing solo travel for another week or so. If having one person travel by themself sounds too intimidating then they could take a group tour for the extra week. They could also arrange for a friend to meet them there for group tour.

I would not recommend it for a six day trip but one option would be to fly into London and fly back from Paris. This is called an "open jaws" ticket and usually does not cost any extra. The problem is that you would use up a large part of a day traveling since you probably would not arrive in your Paris hotel until at least the mid afternoon. Doing the two cities like that would work better with maybe a 10 day trip.
Last edited by Watty on Tue Oct 30, 2018 11:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

denovo
Posts: 4379
Joined: Sun Oct 13, 2013 1:04 pm

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by denovo » Tue Oct 30, 2018 11:26 pm

ugaDAWGS09 wrote:
Tue Oct 30, 2018 10:03 pm
My wife and I are planning our first international trip. We are planning on spending six full days in Europe the last week of April. We are flying non-stop from Atlanta to Heathrow airport.

1. What part of the city do you recommend staying? Is this walking distance to any major tourist areas?
2. Should we rent a car for our stay, or use taxi's, ubers?
3. We would like to take the train to Paris for a day, is one day in Paris worth visiting for or should we stay a night then return to London?
4. What are some of the major attractions we should see while in London/Paris, can't miss restaurants?

I'm sure I'll have more questions. Thanks for the help

Paris and London are both cities I recc. an actual week in. I assume Paris will be next on your list, so no need to just go on a day trip there, waste of time. You won't see much of anything and you should definitely go back for a full trip.

London , you use the public transport (bus,tube) + uber.

For attractions in London I recc. looking at this since it's in a map format so you can see what's near what.

https://www.google.com/destination/map/ ... EBCEEoBDAA

I hope you have 1 or 2 no foreign transaction fee credit cards to use. You will never need cash in London unless you are buying something from a food stall in a marktplace, some of those guys are still cash only.
Last edited by denovo on Wed Oct 31, 2018 12:08 am, edited 1 time in total.
"Don't trust everything you read on the Internet"- Abraham Lincoln

BeneIRA
Posts: 496
Joined: Sat Nov 29, 2014 8:43 pm

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by BeneIRA » Tue Oct 30, 2018 11:30 pm

ugaDAWGS09 wrote:
Tue Oct 30, 2018 10:03 pm
My wife and I are planning our first international trip. We are planning on spending six full days in Europe the last week of April. We are flying non-stop from Atlanta to Heathrow airport.

1. What part of the city do you recommend staying? Is this walking distance to any major tourist areas?
2. Should we rent a car for our stay, or use taxi's, ubers?
3. We would like to take the train to Paris for a day, is one day in Paris worth visiting for or should we stay a night then return to London?
4. What are some of the major attractions we should see while in London/Paris, can't miss restaurants?

I'm sure I'll have more questions. Thanks for the help
1. Stay somewhere near the Tube. I have stayed in Southwark and Shepherds Bush and both were within walking distance of the tube. Tip: If you have a choice between the Tube and a bus, always take the tube. Traffic is bad. Ride the double decker bus once to say you did it and then move on.

2. Public transit is really good in both places, especially London. Definitely don’t rent a car. Uber works in Paris and it is fine. I used it to get to Versailles, which was convenient.

3. Check flights because there should be some very cheap flight options from London to Paris. You need more than a day. I did two days and that was enough for me even though I had more. However, London has so much to do, more than most places in Europe, so six days there is not unreasonable.

HongKonger
Posts: 1079
Joined: Tue Jun 21, 2011 10:35 am
Location: Deep in the Balkans

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by HongKonger » Wed Oct 31, 2018 3:52 am

I would keep a close eye on Brexit before even thinking about trying to book transport between the UK and an EU27 country just days after the exit date! :shock:

Valuethinker
Posts: 36332
Joined: Fri May 11, 2007 11:07 am

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by Valuethinker » Wed Oct 31, 2018 5:00 am

ugaDAWGS09 wrote:
Tue Oct 30, 2018 10:03 pm
My wife and I are planning our first international trip. We are planning on spending six full days in Europe the last week of April. We are flying non-stop from Atlanta to Heathrow airport.

1. What part of the city do you recommend staying? Is this walking distance to any major tourist areas?
Zone 1 on the Tube map. Bloomsbury (British Museum) is a good bet.
2. Should we rent a car for our stay, or use taxi's, ubers?
Do not drive in London - it's like driving in Manhattan, only worse, and on the "wrong" side of the road. More importantly, look *both ways* before you cross any street. Also there is a £12.50 per day congestion charge to pay if you drive in central London.

London black cabs are polite, safe, clean. They are the only legal vehicles to hail on the street (when the light is on). They are also very expensive.

Uber works fine.
3. We would like to take the train to Paris for a day, is one day in Paris worth visiting for or should we stay a night then return to London?
You need to stay in Paris overnight. Book that train well ahead - it gets very booked up. St Pancras (Kings Cross) station is a dream. Gare du Nord in Paris is less so.
4. What are some of the major attractions we should see while in London/Paris, can't miss restaurants?

I'm sure I'll have more questions. Thanks for the help
Eating out in London costs a fortune. It's quite easy to pay too much for too little. It was toptable but now another site has taken it on which posts restaurants and reviews. Also all the chains (for example Pizza Express) do deals if you register with them (email you the coupon).

London

- walk along South Bank from Tower Bridge to Westminster - includes Shakespeare's Globe Theatre
- St Paul's Cathedral (you take the Millennium footbridge from Tate Modern)
- Westminster Cathedral
- Tate Modern Museum Turbine Hall (even if you don't visit the collection - it's free to pop in and see the installation)
- riverboat cruise down to Thames Barrier and up to Westminster
- Regent Street - shopping & New Bond Street (very posh shopping)
- Leicester Square & Piccadilly Circus - pedestrian walkthrough
- Soho - the sleaze is almost all gone, it's a very old district of quaint shops & restaurants

- of the British Museum, Natural History Museum, Science Museum, Victoria & Albert - each is free, each would be 2-3 days on their own. So a highlights audioguide tour of British Museum (be there at 10 am or at 3 pm) or just see 1-2 galleries of interest. V&A maybe is the most eclectic collection of any museum (the latter 3 museums are across from each other, South Kensington Tube)

- traditional tea e.g. Brown's Hotel, Fortnum & Mason

User avatar
oldcomputerguy
Posts: 3441
Joined: Sun Nov 22, 2015 6:50 am
Location: In the middle of five acres of woods

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by oldcomputerguy » Wed Oct 31, 2018 5:16 am

ugaDAWGS09 wrote:
Tue Oct 30, 2018 10:03 pm
3. We would like to take the train to Paris for a day, is one day in Paris worth visiting for or should we stay a night then return to London?
Well, with the trip taking two hours and fifteen minutes each way on Eurostar, that's almost five hours out of your day just in travel. That won't leave much time in Paris unless you stay overnight.

DW and I took a European trip last year which included two nights in Paris. To our disappointment the one full day we were there happened to be on a Monday when most of the museums were closed. Be sure to take local attractions' schedules into account in your planning.

That being said, from the things we did get to see, the Notre Dame Cathedral was my favorite (it was breathtaking), but I found the Eiffel Tower to be sort of "meh". You may find differently, I have a friend who's been to Paris multiple times and who really liked the Tower.
It’s taken me a lot of years, but I’ve come around to this: If you’re dumb, surround yourself with smart people. And if you’re smart, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you.

dsmclone
Posts: 208
Joined: Fri Oct 25, 2013 8:50 am

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by dsmclone » Wed Oct 31, 2018 7:12 am

I never go for fewer than 10 days in Europe and try to spend 1/2 time in city/rural.

I'd recommend 5 days in Paris and 5 days in the Normandy Region(Bayeux). I've been to Europe quite a bit over the last 20 years and this is a great combo.

stan1
Posts: 5991
Joined: Mon Oct 08, 2007 4:35 pm

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by stan1 » Wed Oct 31, 2018 7:16 am

ugaDAWGS09 wrote:
Tue Oct 30, 2018 10:03 pm
My wife and I are planning our first international trip. We are planning on spending six full days in Europe the last week of April. We are flying non-stop from Atlanta to Heathrow airport.

1. What part of the city do you recommend staying? Is this walking distance to any major tourist areas?
2. Should we rent a car for our stay, or use taxi's, ubers?
3. We would like to take the train to Paris for a day, is one day in Paris worth visiting for or should we stay a night then return to London?
4. What are some of the major attractions we should see while in London/Paris, can't miss restaurants?

I'm sure I'll have more questions. Thanks for the help
The "where to stay" answer changes a bit in December when the Elizabeth Line opens with frequent, non-stop trains from Heathrow to Central London. I'd look for a place within a few blocks of the Bond Street or Tottenham Court Stations (Soho, Covent Garden, Marylebone). These areas are relatively central to tourist locations there are also a number of moderate cost walk-in eating options if you don't want to go do the Gordon Ramsey thing every night. There are also a number of moderate cost hotels near Paddington Station and the South Kensington tube stations. As others have said by far the best way to travel in London is using the Tube and buses. As others have said the CItyMapper app is great. You can buy Oyster Cards in advance and have them shipped to your US address so you are ready to go when you land (or easily buy them at the airport station). I would not go to Paris on a 6 day trip. As for things to do I enjoy taking two hour walking tours with London Walks. Their guides are generally very good.

Valuethinker
Posts: 36332
Joined: Fri May 11, 2007 11:07 am

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by Valuethinker » Wed Oct 31, 2018 7:24 am

ugaDAWGS09 wrote:
Tue Oct 30, 2018 10:03 pm
My wife and I are planning our first international trip. We are planning on spending six full days in Europe the last week of April.
6 days is not enough to see both cities. For a day out from London I would recommend Oxford for a change of pace (there are limits on visiting the Colleges during term times - the local tourist office does walking tours) or Cambridge (ditto). Oxford is less than 90 minutes by rail from Paddington, Cambridge less than an hour from Kings Cross (the home of the famous platform 9 3/4 - Harry Potter).

London alone is 6 days especially given you will not see/ do much arrival and departure days.

If you want to see a show, then Hamilton is much cheaper in London than in New York, apparently. Otherwise the big shows are much the same. Shakespeare's The Globe, in season, is the closest thing you will ever get to a live Shakespeare play as it would once have been presented (see "Shakespeare in Love" for a film dramatization of same).
We are flying non-stop from Atlanta to Heathrow airport.

1. What part of the city do you recommend staying? Is this walking distance to any major tourist areas?
2. Should we rent a car for our stay, or use taxi's, ubers?
3. We would like to take the train to Paris for a day, is one day in Paris worth visiting for or should we stay a night then return to London?
4. What are some of the major attractions we should see while in London/Paris, can't miss restaurants?

I'm sure I'll have more questions. Thanks for the help
The expensive fast way into town is Heathrow Express train to Paddington, then cab to your hotel. That's something like £22 each (one way).

The slow way is Piccadilly Line (dark blue) (Tube/ subway aka The London Underground). That's about £6 each -- it's really not pleasant in rush hour although you will get a seat being at the start of the line. Russell Square (Bloomsbury, where many hotels are) is on the Piccadilly Line.

Valuethinker
Posts: 36332
Joined: Fri May 11, 2007 11:07 am

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by Valuethinker » Wed Oct 31, 2018 7:28 am

stan1 wrote:
Wed Oct 31, 2018 7:16 am
ugaDAWGS09 wrote:
Tue Oct 30, 2018 10:03 pm
My wife and I are planning our first international trip. We are planning on spending six full days in Europe the last week of April. We are flying non-stop from Atlanta to Heathrow airport.

1. What part of the city do you recommend staying? Is this walking distance to any major tourist areas?
2. Should we rent a car for our stay, or use taxi's, ubers?
3. We would like to take the train to Paris for a day, is one day in Paris worth visiting for or should we stay a night then return to London?
4. What are some of the major attractions we should see while in London/Paris, can't miss restaurants?

I'm sure I'll have more questions. Thanks for the help
The "where to stay" answer changes a bit in December when the Elizabeth Line opens with frequent, non-stop trains from Heathrow to Central London.
Unfortunately the Elizabeth Line (Crossrail) opening is delayed to the end of 2019. Don't bet on it being available until there is a firm announcement.
I'd look for a place within a few blocks of the Bond Street or Tottenham Court Stations (Soho, Covent Garden, Marylebone).
I'd add Bloomsbury to that list (and Fitzrovia, which is the area between Marylebone & Bloomsbury, north of Oxford St and south of the Euston Road). Just north of Covent Garden. One can walk to the West End, or take a bus quite easily.

tfl.gov.uk has route maps and the routefinder is very handy.
These areas are relatively central to tourist locations there are also a number of moderate cost walk-in eating options if you don't want to go do the Gordon Ramsey thing every night. There are also a number of moderate cost hotels near Paddington Station and the South Kensington tube stations. As others have said by far the best way to travel in London is using the Tube and buses. As others have said the CItyMapper app is great. You can buy Oyster Cards in advance and have them shipped to your US address so you are ready to go when you land (or easily buy them at the airport station). I would not go to Paris on a 6 day trip. As for things to do I enjoy taking two hour walking tours with London Walks. Their guides are generally very good.
I'd recommend South Kensington over Paddington for general salubriousness though OK more Lancaster Gate (Hyde Park).

stan1
Posts: 5991
Joined: Mon Oct 08, 2007 4:35 pm

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by stan1 » Wed Oct 31, 2018 7:32 am

Valuethinker wrote:
Wed Oct 31, 2018 7:28 am

Unfortunately the Elizabeth Line (Crossrail) opening is delayed to the end of 2019. Don't bet on it being available until there is a firm announcement.
Ah, I missed that it was delayed a year. Hopefully it opens before the new Berlin airport.

Rupert
Posts: 3733
Joined: Fri Aug 17, 2012 12:01 pm

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by Rupert » Wed Oct 31, 2018 7:42 am

GuyInFL wrote:
Tue Oct 30, 2018 11:14 pm
I recommend staying longer as well. Also consider flying in to London and out of Paris. These days two one-way tickets cost about the same as a round trip.
+1. With so little time, I think this is the only way to do it that makes sense. Fly into London, spend four days there, take the Channel train to Paris, fly home from Paris. Otherwise, you've basically wasted a whole day on the train, and there really isn't much to see from the train. It's high speed on the French side, so everything's a blur.

Edited to add: And, yes, your trip will occur post-Brexit. You may actually have to go through customs when you enter France and re-enter Britain, which will make that train trip even longer.
Last edited by Rupert on Wed Oct 31, 2018 7:52 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
lthenderson
Posts: 3518
Joined: Tue Feb 21, 2012 12:43 pm
Location: Iowa

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by lthenderson » Wed Oct 31, 2018 7:49 am

ugaDAWGS09 wrote:
Tue Oct 30, 2018 10:03 pm
1. What part of the city do you recommend staying? Is this walking distance to any major tourist areas?
2. Should we rent a car for our stay, or use taxi's, ubers?
3. We would like to take the train to Paris for a day, is one day in Paris worth visiting for or should we stay a night then return to London?
4. What are some of the major attractions we should see while in London/Paris, can't miss restaurants?

I'm sure I'll have more questions. Thanks for the help
1. When I go to London, I always stay at bed and breakfast places that are literally everywhere. Not only are they much cheaper, but it is nice to get out of the traffic around big hotels. Some of my best hints at what to see or do for the day have come from either the owner of the bed and breakfast or some of the other guests over breakfast in the morning.

2. Never rent a car or use taxis in London. It is an exercise in frustration and expense. Ride the tube. It goes everywhere, fast and cheap. It is also great for people watching.

4. One of my favorite London attractions is to attend a Shakespearean play at the Globe Theater.

rennale
Posts: 28
Joined: Sun Apr 23, 2017 6:50 am

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by rennale » Wed Oct 31, 2018 7:59 am

The tradeoff is one of actually enjoying these cities versus visiting as many tourist attractions as possible in them. These are often at odds with each other, just the same as any great American city (NYC, San Francisco, etc).

Struggling with a huge crowd to see the Mona Lisa or visiting Harrods can be draining and not that much fun. But just spending time in a Parisian cafe or a London park, or strolling along the Thames or the Seine, allows you to get a feel for the cities and the culture and the people. Browsing the used book stores in Cecil Court (London) or Parisian antique stores or street markets offers simple pleasures that I find at least as rewarding as the tourist traps.

That said, dedicating a day to walking around center of both cities is a good idea. It doesn't much matter where because there's something wonderful to see around every corner and you only have time to scratch the surface. I agree with earlier comments that river cruises are a great way to see both cities in a civilized way.

You want to fall in love with these two great cities. Not hate the crowds and the prices.

chisey
Posts: 223
Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2007 10:47 am

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by chisey » Wed Oct 31, 2018 8:02 am

YMMV, but if I were you I'd spend a lot more time in Paris-- more time than in London. I went to both cities in the same trip and really wished I had more time to explore Paris.

THY4373
Posts: 770
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2012 3:17 pm

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by THY4373 » Wed Oct 31, 2018 8:36 am

Personally I would try to go longer if you can. If I am going to Europe with minimal exceptions I am going to go longer than a week. If you stick with six days I would pick one city and just do it. This is even more so due to Brexit, I think things could very well be messed up especially since no agreement appears imminent so a "hard Brexit" seems more likely. If you do go I would avoid flying between London and Paris and take the Eurostar I suspect that is less likely to get really messed up than air travel. Also by the time you have thrown in the cost of getting to one of the London airports it is probably cheaper than a cheap flight anyway.

I love both cities but I personally prefer London to Paris though the latter is somewhat cheaper in my experience. You may want to look at buying your London Underground pass before you leave from the States. They offer a pretty good deal online and mail you the pass before you go. You cannot get it in London. If you are going to be a heavy users of the Underground it is a good deal.

Those suggesting an open-jaw (i.e., flying into one city and out the other) is a good idea. If you do this it is advantageous to leave from Paris because you can then avoid the UK Air Passenger Duty. It is nominal on economy tickets but quite pricey on premium economy and above. If you do this be sure to price it out as a single itinerary. Several folks mentioned two one ways being the same price as a round trip but in my experience that is far less true on international long haul routes so don't do two one ways unless you are sure it is the same price or cheaper than a single open jaw itinerary.

Lacrocious
Posts: 316
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2007 9:45 pm
Location: Wisconsin

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by Lacrocious » Wed Oct 31, 2018 8:44 am

HereToLearn wrote:
Tue Oct 30, 2018 11:03 pm
One comment about the tube. Consult your map before going underground. While the natural instinct is to hop on the tube, you may be as well off just walking since climbing levels below ground and transferring can take a long time on some routes.
I agree here - Sometimes walking is faster and there were a few times when we decided to take a bus - where you can ride on the upper level and see the city while get from A-B. The tube, while clean and nice, isn't for sight seeing. Other times we just took the tube.

This is where City Mapper helped. Since it calculates each route, including walking time to the bus stop or train station and from the stop/station to your destination - you can determine which is best for you at the time.

Wow - I sound like a fan - which I am.
- L

bob60014
Posts: 678
Joined: Mon Jul 31, 2017 8:59 pm
Location: The Land Beyond ORD

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by bob60014 » Wed Oct 31, 2018 8:47 am

All great info above. Here's my opinion.
1. What part of the city do you recommend staying? Is this walking distance to any major tourist areas?
We stay just 2 blocks from Victoria Station at the LIME TREE HOTEL. It's a B&B, nice, comfortable and serves a very good breakfast. It is within walking distance to most of the major attractions. Going to Tower of London, the Globe and others over in this direction will require the use of the tube or bus. Google maps will help immensely.

2. Should we rent a car for our stay, or use taxi's, ubers?
Use the tube or bus. Agree with many, walking may be faster.

3. We would like to take the train to Paris for a day, is one day in Paris worth visiting for or should we stay a night then return to London?
I would not do Paris and make this your destination next trip!

4. What are some of the major attractions we should see while in London/Paris, can't miss restaurants?
Use a guidebook and determine what interests you, then create a itinerary. Be flexible as tickets are required for some attractions and there maybe long lines at others.

Enjoy!!

mrb09
Posts: 135
Joined: Wed Aug 03, 2016 9:02 am

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by mrb09 » Wed Oct 31, 2018 8:48 am

Just adding to what other folks are saying:

- Don't even think of renting a car
- Stay near a tube station
- Save Paris for the next trip.
- Get an Oyster card

Last few times I was there, I used the Heathrow express to get from the airport into the London (arrive via Paddington Station) and used a taxi from there to get to my hotel, luggage is fine on the express train but can be a bit dicey on the tube.

Consider a day trip to somewhere else in UK, you can do that on the train. I'd recommend Oxford as a shorter trip or Bath as a good long day trip, you leave from both via Paddington Station.

Lacrocious
Posts: 316
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2007 9:45 pm
Location: Wisconsin

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by Lacrocious » Wed Oct 31, 2018 9:18 am

About cars.... If you are staying in London - don't get a car. If you are a good driver, adventurous, and want to get out of London - rent a car.

We rented from Kings Cross station. It is right on the edge of the Congestion Zone ($12+/day to drive in it) - so we didn't have to pay. It was bumper to bumper for 30-40 minutes to leave London. Oddly enough - that was great. It allowed me to get the feel of driving on the wrong side of the road, looking for traffic signals and street signs, watching for bikes and motorcycles that lane cut to the front at signals. Overall - it helped me get comfortable driving on the wrong side of the road, from the wrong side of the car.

We drove to Bletchley Park - home of the Enigma code breakers, and then out to a cottage in the Stow-on-the-Wold in the Cotswolds. We ended up getting off the freeway at the wrong spot and Google Maps routed us through the countryside rather than back-track. It was great - little lanes with 20foot heather on either side, one-lane bridges and pretty houses.

At the end of the day, I was rather brain-wiped as it did take concentration to drive - but it was lots of fun. Be cautious, not scared - but don't drive in London.
- L

clemrick
Posts: 87
Joined: Wed Sep 09, 2009 8:46 pm

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by clemrick » Wed Oct 31, 2018 9:21 am

What is your traveling style? DH and get a lot out of short trips to cities that other people insist take weeks.

One day trips London/Paris are talked about all the time on the Trip Advisor Paris forum. If you take the first Eurostar to Paris and the last back you can fit in a fair amount of site seeing, depending on where you go. DO NOT try to fly! That will suck up huge amounts of time. Going by train, you go from St. Pancras to Gare de Nord and you waste little time getting to and from your site seeing. Buy your Eurostar tickets as soon as you have your dates settled because the tickets only get more expensive the closer you get to your travel dates and just do standard class. Unless you have money to burn, it isn't worth the extra cost for the premium services. Wait until you get to Paris to buy a carnet, which are 10 tickets good on the Metro and buses. Don't buy them on the train.

Valuethinker
Posts: 36332
Joined: Fri May 11, 2007 11:07 am

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by Valuethinker » Wed Oct 31, 2018 9:22 am

THY4373 wrote:
Wed Oct 31, 2018 8:36 am
Personally I would try to go longer if you can. If I am going to Europe with minimal exceptions I am going to go longer than a week. If you stick with six days I would pick one city and just do it. This is even more so due to Brexit, I think things could very well be messed up especially since no agreement appears imminent so a "hard Brexit" seems more likely. If you do go I would avoid flying between London and Paris and take the Eurostar I suspect that is less likely to get really messed up than air travel. Also by the time you have thrown in the cost of getting to one of the London airports it is probably cheaper than a cheap flight anyway.
The point about "hard Brexit" is very real. Day is 29th March, 2019. It's definitely worth avoiding trying to get from London to Paris after that date, for a few weeks, if you can. And agree air travel is more at risk than Eurostar. Be prepared for long passport delays once we exit the EU (all the Brits will be shifted from the blue EU channel to the not EU channel that Americans have to use; ditto the Europeans going the other way).

As long as you book ahead Eurostar will work out to be a similar price, and you won't lose half a day schlepping to and from airports - plus that costs money. If you go first class by Eurostar you also get quite a nice meal, which saves quite a lot over the additional cost of a restaurant meal in either city. Again, book far enough in advance, first class is not prohibitive.

Eurostar is from St Pancras International (essentially the same station as Kings Cross, just across the street to the west).
I love both cities but I personally prefer London to Paris though the latter is somewhat cheaper in my experience. You may want to look at buying your London Underground pass before you leave from the States. They offer a pretty good deal online and mail you the pass before you go. You cannot get it in London. If you are going to be a heavy users of the Underground it is a good deal.
With the low pound London may be more competitively priced. If we hard Brexit it will get a lot lower (S&P today is saying minus 15%).
Those suggesting an open-jaw (i.e., flying into one city and out the other) is a good idea. If you do this it is advantageous to leave from Paris because you can then avoid the UK Air Passenger Duty. It is nominal on economy tickets but quite pricey on premium economy and above. If you do this be sure to price it out as a single itinerary. Several folks mentioned two one ways being the same price as a round trip but in my experience that is far less true on international long haul routes so don't do two one ways unless you are sure it is the same price or cheaper than a single open jaw itinerary.
If one is going to do Paris and London for the first time, one needs probably a minimum of a 10 days. Given that you lose arrival day and departure day, pretty much.

I actually hate Paris De Gaul (sp?) airport more than I hate London Heathrow -- which is saying something. I accept the point about Air Passenger Duty (£80 per person long haul, I believe).

Valuethinker
Posts: 36332
Joined: Fri May 11, 2007 11:07 am

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by Valuethinker » Wed Oct 31, 2018 9:24 am

clemrick wrote:
Wed Oct 31, 2018 9:21 am
What is your traveling style? DH and get a lot out of short trips to cities that other people insist take weeks.

One day trips London/Paris are talked about all the time on the Trip Advisor Paris forum. If you take the first Eurostar to Paris and the last back you can fit in a fair amount of site seeing, depending on where you go. DO NOT try to fly! That will suck up huge amounts of time. Going by train, you go from St. Pancras to Gare de Nord and you waste little time getting to and from your site seeing. Buy your Eurostar tickets as soon as you have your dates settled because the tickets only get more expensive the closer you get to your travel dates and just do standard class. Unless you have money to burn, it isn't worth the extra cost for the premium services. Wait until you get to Paris to buy a carnet, which are 10 tickets good on the Metro and buses. Don't buy them on the train.
I must admit I prefer First Class because it saves me the cost of what can be a quite expensive meal in either city. Plus I got trapped once with a hen party going to Paris, in second class, and that was just awful (eventually I found a seat in another carriage). The behaviour of British stag parties and hen dos is the shame of the country.

oxothuk
Posts: 352
Joined: Thu Nov 10, 2011 8:35 pm

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by oxothuk » Wed Oct 31, 2018 11:34 am

mrb09 wrote:
Wed Oct 31, 2018 8:48 am
- Get an Oyster card
Not necessary if you have a Visa card which supports contactless payments. Costco Visa is one such card. - look for the Wifi symbol on the back of whatever card you have.

Looking4Answers
Posts: 135
Joined: Fri Dec 08, 2017 4:48 pm

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by Looking4Answers » Wed Oct 31, 2018 11:58 am

The Rick Steves travel forum is a great place to get advice and ask questions. https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/england

Valuethinker
Posts: 36332
Joined: Fri May 11, 2007 11:07 am

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by Valuethinker » Wed Oct 31, 2018 12:23 pm

lthenderson wrote:
Wed Oct 31, 2018 7:49 am


2. Never rent a car or use taxis in London. It is an exercise in frustration and expense. Ride the tube. It goes everywhere, fast and cheap. It is also great for people watching.
I would say never drive in London if you can avoid it (except to drive a car out of the city).

Taxis? Expensive. Can be slow. On the other hand it can be a good way to ride. Chatting to London cabbies is always an education. It's a Guild, and they have to pass "The Knowledge" an exacting test of thousands of destinations and the quickest routes. They are the cleanest cabs, and the most knowledgeable drivers (and the most careful - they own their own cabs) I have encountered anywhere in the world.

If I have time I take the bus, because you sit on the top deck and see the city - get a real sense of how it fits together. And the fare is much cheaper than the Tube.

The Tube (London Underground; technically a "subway" is an under passage under a road) is the most expensive transit system in the western world I believe? And overcrowding is a serious problem. I mean I am jammed in like a sardine at 7 15 am, and that's true any time before 9 30 am (similar around 6 pm on way home).

Certain stations such as Covent Garden are exit only at peak times (including on weekends, I think).

It really helps to know what Tube stations are walking distance to the one you wish to use.
4. One of my favorite London attractions is to attend a Shakespearean play at the Globe Theater.
You can even stand in the pit, although that is quite tiring. And bring an umbrella and a coat if it is going to be cold!

Valuethinker
Posts: 36332
Joined: Fri May 11, 2007 11:07 am

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by Valuethinker » Wed Oct 31, 2018 12:26 pm

rennale wrote:
Wed Oct 31, 2018 7:59 am
The tradeoff is one of actually enjoying these cities versus visiting as many tourist attractions as possible in them. These are often at odds with each other, just the same as any great American city (NYC, San Francisco, etc).

Struggling with a huge crowd to see the Mona Lisa or visiting Harrods can be draining and not that much fun. But just spending time in a Parisian cafe or a London park, or strolling along the Thames or the Seine, allows you to get a feel for the cities and the culture and the people. Browsing the used book stores in Cecil Court (London) or Parisian antique stores or street markets offers simple pleasures that I find at least as rewarding as the tourist traps.
Cecil Court is losing that. Most (not all) of the bookstores up Charing Cross Road are gone or going (Foyles is holding on - for the minute). Crossrail is raising the rents in that area.
That said, dedicating a day to walking around center of both cities is a good idea. It doesn't much matter where because there's something wonderful to see around every corner and you only have time to scratch the surface. I agree with earlier comments that river cruises are a great way to see both cities in a civilized way.

You want to fall in love with these two great cities. Not hate the crowds and the prices.
I agree with all of the advice about getting a sense of the city rather than trying to tick off museums.

Most of the big London museums are free. And they are open on Monday - whereas in Paris neither is true.

Valuethinker
Posts: 36332
Joined: Fri May 11, 2007 11:07 am

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by Valuethinker » Wed Oct 31, 2018 12:39 pm

I forgot to mention

- The Imperial War Museum (Lambeth North tube)

- Churchill Cabinet War Rooms (right down Whitehall, just down from 10 Downing Street which is the Prime Minister's residence (that street itself is blocked off to foot or vehicular traffic since various IRA bombs in the 1970s). A fascinating insight into how the war was won - in 1945 they just turned out the lights and locked the doors so the original fittings were all there to be restored.

Cabinet War Rooms is part of IWM (so is HMS Belfast, down near London Bridge station). If you only have time for one, CWM is really a "British" experience. Imagine Prime Minister Churchill calling Mr. Roosevelt from what many staff thought was his private washroom!

There *are* tours of some parts of Buckingham Palace - depending on where the Queen is in residence. That would be worth doing. Another example of a "great house" in central London is the Duke of Wellington's House, which is just on the corner of Hyde Park at Hyde Park corner station, as is the arch commemorating his victory over Napoleon in the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 in Belgium, of which he said "the only thing half so terrible as a battle lost is a battle won" - he wept at the casualties amongst his own men (something like 25% of all the men engaged were killed or wounded, I think I read).

London lacks a war monument of quite the quality of, say, the Vietnam War Memorial. But the Cenotaph is on Whitehall and there is a ceremony there every November 11th. And every train station and many other buildings have a plaque commemorating those employed there who fell in the First World War or (shorter list usually) the Second - for example at the British Museum. The Victoria and Albert has preserved some of the damage from bomb fragments to the stone work. At the front (SW) corner of St. Paul's a large German bomb embedded itself in the porch, and a bomb disposal crew gingerly unearthed it and placed it on a carriage and took it to Hackney Marsh (east) for detonation. And there are a few plaques to where German bombs or V bombs (early cruise missiles) killed numbers of civilians. The despatch from the Civil Defence Command centre was "Fires were Started" and there's a propaganda movie from that time with that as its title.

So you could say that the whole city is a bit of a war memorial.

PS

At Tavistock Square in Bloomsbury, at the HQ of the British Medical Association, there's 2 monuments on opposite sides of the road-- plaques on th wall and in the fence:

- the first is to 2 firemen killed in 1941 fighting the fires started by a German air raid

- on the opposite side of the street is a monument to (?7) people killed on a diverted number 30 bus, when the last suicide bomber (of 4) detonated himself on the upper deck on 7-7-05. They have patched the bomb damage on the stone work of the building. Another 28 (?) had already died at a Piccadilly Line train between Kings X and Russell Square, just around the corner

The 2 signs face each other, telling the passerby that London is an old city, and a city that carries its wounds. Bowed and bloody, but never yet defeated.
Last edited by Valuethinker on Wed Oct 31, 2018 12:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Dolphin1
Posts: 60
Joined: Mon Feb 16, 2015 3:52 pm

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by Dolphin1 » Wed Oct 31, 2018 12:42 pm

We had our first trip to England last fall; we aren't experienced international travelers but did a lot of research ahead of time. We had 3 full days in London (by full day I mean waking up in our London hotel and going to sleep in our London hotel, so we have the entire day and evening there.) The rest of the time was spent in other parts of England. While there's an endless number of things to do in London, 3 days was a decent compromise for us due to limited vacation time and other areas of England we also wanted to see. So you might consider 3-4 full days in London and 2-3 full days in Paris, rather than just a day trip to Paris. We didn't have a rental car in London - not necessary at all. We walked a lot, and used the tube and buses when it was too far to walk. The tube and buses both use the Oyster card for payment, which is very convenient. Driving and parking a car in London would have been a nightmare for us - and they also charge a pretty high daily fee for bringing a car into city limits.

We missed plenty of stuff in London due to the limited time, but we also saw lots. Here's what I remember of our days in London:

arrival day, just had the afternoon/evening: walked around the neighborhood of our hotel, got set up with currency, SIM card, had traditional pub food for dinner.
full day 1: British Museum, "Cream Tea", Abbey Road, got to see lots of architecture, parks, statues, and sample street food from our walking around
full day 2: Tower of London (pricey entrance fee but SO worth it, definitely take the free tour once inside), lots of views of the Themes while walking around, but unfortunately no time for a boat ride, Leadenhall Market, more architecture while walking around, Indian food in a neighborhood full of Indian restaurants, shops, etc. - can't remember the name but the neighborhood was in our guidebook, Big Ben although it was partially covered by scaffolding, views of the Themes and the Eye at night, more architecture, parks, statues
full day 3: Canal boat ride from Little Italy to Camden Market, shopping and eating in Camden Market (huge place, indoor and outdoor shops go on for many blocks), "Sunday Roast" for dinner.

TN_Boy
Posts: 535
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 12:51 pm

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by TN_Boy » Wed Oct 31, 2018 12:42 pm

ugaDAWGS09 wrote:
Tue Oct 30, 2018 10:03 pm
My wife and I are planning our first international trip. We are planning on spending six full days in Europe the last week of April. We are flying non-stop from Atlanta to Heathrow airport.

1. What part of the city do you recommend staying? Is this walking distance to any major tourist areas?
2. Should we rent a car for our stay, or use taxi's, ubers?
3. We would like to take the train to Paris for a day, is one day in Paris worth visiting for or should we stay a night then return to London?
4. What are some of the major attractions we should see while in London/Paris, can't miss restaurants?

I'm sure I'll have more questions. Thanks for the help
I wouldn't try for Paris. You really have only five good days in London. A couple of people have mentioned it, but I wanted to elaborate on the jet lag issue. I assume your flight leaves later in the day, and arrives in London morning local time. If you are like most people and you are flying in economy, you will sleep between 0 and a couple of hours on the plane. I basically cannot sleep on an airplane myself.

So what happens? You arrive in Europe in the morning, with essentially 0 sleep. The recommendation is then to stay awake as long as possible (until evening local time) by walking about and seeing what you can. Now, if you are lucky you might be feeling pretty good and actually have a decent bit of sightseeing on your arrival day. If you are less lucky, you will be exhausted and unable to enjoy much of what you see on day 1.

If you are experienced with major jet lag, or you are spending enough to fly business class the above comments may not apply to you, but trust me, they apply to most of us going US -> Europe. The first day is tough. Which is why most of us go for more than six days when we go ......

I haven't been to London; that said with the time you have I'd spend most of it exploring the city, but consider getting out into the countryside for a day trip to see other parts of England. As others have said, you would be stark raving mad to drive in London -- different side of road, heavy traffic .... don't do that (I have driven in the UK).

Paris is awesome but given your limited time I wouldn't try for a day there. Another posters suggestion of a few days in Paris and a few days in the Normandy area is a very good suggestion. Actually I personally would go for a few days in France before I'd do London. For one thing, its easier to drive in France than the UK (though I wouldn't drive in Paris either, but that's just because driving in unfamilar large cities is painful).

caffeperfavore
Posts: 100
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2015 11:45 am

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by caffeperfavore » Wed Oct 31, 2018 12:48 pm

What is it that you like? Do you want to soak up the culture? Are you a history buff? Art fan? Foodie? Slow travel enthusiast (guessing not)? Just want to see the big sights (and I'm not judging you if you do)? Do you like hustle and bustle or quiet? Discount traveler or big spender? Why did you choose London? Knowing this will help to fine tune recommendations.

I'll pile on with the others by saying that you would have to be an absolute nutter to want to drive in London. The tube will get you were you need to go. Everything is walkable to the tube.

Don't bother with Paris. There's plenty in London and the surroundings. Save it for a separate trip or add more time. Speaking of, add more time.

Valuethinker
Posts: 36332
Joined: Fri May 11, 2007 11:07 am

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by Valuethinker » Wed Oct 31, 2018 12:49 pm

TN_Boy wrote:
Wed Oct 31, 2018 12:42 pm


I haven't been to London; that said with the time you have I'd spend most of it exploring the city, but consider getting out into the countryside for a day trip to see other parts of England. As others have said, you would be stark raving mad to drive in London -- different side of road, heavy traffic .... don't do that (I have driven in the UK).

Paris is awesome but given your limited time I wouldn't try for a day there. Another posters suggestion of a few days in Paris and a few days in the Normandy area is a very good suggestion. Actually I personally would go for a few days in France before I'd do London. For one thing, its easier to drive in France than the UK (though I wouldn't drive in Paris either, but that's just because driving in unfamilar large cities is painful).
1. driving in the UK with jet lag is doubly dangerous - easy to forget which side of the road you are on, go round the roundabout the wrong way etc.

2. driving in Paris would be terrifying - the way they drive. Granted London is bad but it's so congested it's mostly OK (you do see some amazingly bad driving though).

detroitbabu
Posts: 295
Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2008 2:07 pm

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by detroitbabu » Wed Oct 31, 2018 1:10 pm

We did this exact same thing in 2014.
Fly to London.
Stay two days. We stayed near St. Pancras station, British Museum, Russell Square Tube Station.
Take train from St. Pancras to Gare Du Nord.
Stay 3 days in Paris. We stayed in Arr. 7 near St. Placide metro Station and Luxembourg Gardens.

Lesson learned: I would just do either London or Paris in 5 days. Too many things to do and see in both cities.
Last edited by detroitbabu on Wed Oct 31, 2018 1:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

anonenigma
Posts: 579
Joined: Thu Apr 21, 2011 11:58 pm

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by anonenigma » Wed Oct 31, 2018 1:18 pm

oxothuk wrote:
Wed Oct 31, 2018 11:34 am
mrb09 wrote:
Wed Oct 31, 2018 8:48 am
- Get an Oyster card
Not necessary if you have a Visa card which supports contactless payments. Costco Visa is one such card. - look for the Wifi symbol on the back of whatever card you have.
Alas, the Costco contactless VISA does not work on the London Underground. We used Apple Pay this morning instead.

anonenigma
Posts: 579
Joined: Thu Apr 21, 2011 11:58 pm

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by anonenigma » Wed Oct 31, 2018 1:23 pm

Consider the Tavistock Hotel in Bloomsbury two blocks from Russell Square tube which goes to Heathrow. Cheap, clean and brilliantly located. As long as you don’t need fancy.

Can recommend dinner options nearby.
Last edited by anonenigma on Thu Nov 01, 2018 2:18 am, edited 1 time in total.

Swampy
Posts: 761
Joined: Fri Aug 31, 2012 7:16 am
Location: Between gators, rattlers and snowbirds

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by Swampy » Wed Oct 31, 2018 1:40 pm

ugaDAWGS09 wrote:
Tue Oct 30, 2018 10:03 pm
My wife and I are planning our first international trip. We are planning on spending six full days in Europe the last week of April. We are flying non-stop from Atlanta to Heathrow airport.

1. What part of the city do you recommend staying? Is this walking distance to any major tourist areas?
2. Should we rent a car for our stay, or use taxi's, ubers?
3. We would like to take the train to Paris for a day, is one day in Paris worth visiting for or should we stay a night then return to London?
4. What are some of the major attractions we should see while in London/Paris, can't miss restaurants?

I'm sure I'll have more questions. Thanks for the help
Honestly?

Stay home or go to a big US or Canadian city for six days.

A trip to Europe, IMHO, should be at least 2 weeks in length at the very minimum. Anything less just isn't worth the travel time.
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. | Failure is not an option. | If I have seen further, it is because I was carried on the shoulders of giants.

User avatar
Artful Dodger
Posts: 478
Joined: Thu Oct 20, 2016 12:56 pm

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by Artful Dodger » Wed Oct 31, 2018 4:45 pm

We did a Paris & London trip last year, end of August to early September. Five nights in Paris, four in London. I really enjoyed both, and had not been in either since I was in high school. If I had more time, I would have done a week in both, or just done 10-14 days in either with some side trips to the country. We did do a full day trip to Versailles and Monet's Giverny house. If you really want to do both, I'd take the train, then fly back from Paris.

I liked the Churchill War Rooms, and Imperial War Museum. We went to the British museum, and would go back. V&A had a Pink Floyd exhibit which was awesome!! Did lots of walking around, parks, by the Royal Albert Hall, Chelsea gardens. We stayed in Southwark area, so close to the Tate, Imp War Museum, Tower Bridge. Lots to see. Took in a play - bought tickets that day, and got a senior discount; paid less than what I saw advertised online. I really wish I had checked the schedule at the Royal Albert Hall; they had reasonably priced classical concerts, but found out too late.

After Paris, I found London food just OK, and a lot pricier than Paris. They do have more casual stuff, pizza, Indian, etc. But, Paris was just more impressive on the food front. We stopped in one pub, a "Samuel Smith" place, and had a great time with friendly locals.

Would not drive. We walked, used the tube, took Uber and taxis. I could not get used to the left side of the road experience, even as a passenger.

Can't comment on hotels. We did AirBnB in both places.

I know some people say take longer trips, buy business class, worry about jet lag. Meh. Take the time you feel you can, and enjoy. You will get a taste, and can always come back. If you have money to burn, business class is very nice, and you might get a couple more hours of sleep. But, when I've costed it out, the additional fare for business equals what i spend for the entire rest of the vacation. Try to get two/three hours of sleep. Just don't stay up all night, and you'll be fine. Jet lag is a state of mind. Get out, walk around your first day, concentrate on outdoor activities. Get an early meal, and hit the sack about 9, and you'll be good to go. If you're a napper, take a one hour nap, late afternoon, then stay up a little later.

Nearly A Moose
Posts: 892
Joined: Fri Apr 22, 2016 5:28 pm

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by Nearly A Moose » Thu Nov 01, 2018 12:11 am

Skip Paris. I love Paris, it's a beautiful and fascinating city. But skip Paris. It's not worth all the travel hassle involved for just a day visit or even an overnight if you're only abroad six nights to begin with. If you feel compelled to get out of London, take a day trip in the UK somewhere.

Takes taxis and the Tube. You don't need to bother trying to drive in London or learning to drive on the wrong side while in London.
Pardon typos, I'm probably using my fat thumbs on a tiny phone.

Valuethinker
Posts: 36332
Joined: Fri May 11, 2007 11:07 am

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by Valuethinker » Thu Nov 01, 2018 4:21 am

anonenigma wrote:
Wed Oct 31, 2018 1:23 pm
Consider the Tavistock Hotel in Bloomsbury two blocks from Russell Square tube which goes to Heathrow. Cheap, clean and brilliantly located. As long as you don’t need fancy.

Can recommend dinner options nearby.
Yes it's fairly basic - agree it's not a bad choice. Also consider the the Holiday Inn nearby on Marchmount Street. It's actually a fairly quiet location for such a busy area and is a bit more modern.
Last edited by Valuethinker on Thu Nov 01, 2018 6:41 am, edited 1 time in total.

6 dollar ribs
Posts: 14
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2018 3:37 pm

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by 6 dollar ribs » Thu Nov 01, 2018 5:17 am

As everyone else in this thread has advised, I would not rent a car for the entire trip, and I would not go to Paris during your trip. If you do feel like a break from London, I would either take a train to Oxford or go to a drive through the Cotswolds. These are trips that you can make in a single day (though if you go to the Cotswolds you may want to stay a night), and both places are much prettier than London.

Calico
Posts: 159
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2015 5:45 pm

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by Calico » Thu Nov 01, 2018 8:04 am

I just did a similar trip, similar amount of time, with my daughter and elderly mother this summer.

It looks like a lot of your questions have been answered. I personally found 7 days to be plenty of time to get a decent trip in (although I will want to go back at some point to see other things I didn't have time to do). Seven days was all I could pull off with time off from work. I just can't take a three week vacation. I only get 15 days off a year and I like to use some for holidays and going to the beach in the summer.

We also didn't really explore London much, instead, we took bus tours out of the city to placed like Bath, Stonehenge, Canterbury, etc. We did spend some time in London and I hired a "tours by locals" person for the tour. It's expensive, but I thought the tour guide was worth it. We got the inside scoop, hit the highlights, and he knew exactly what to do where and when (for example, changing of the guards, my daughter was most interested in the band, so he brought us to a spot where we could watch their warmup first). In London we took the tube only once. Mainly we tried to walk (I say tried because my mom has very bad arthritis and we just ended up taking a cab a lot). The cab rides were nice though and I enjoyed talking to the cabbies.

In London, we ate at pubs a lot. None of us are big eaters so it was easy to just have breakfast and then later a "lunch/dinner" combination. Everyone says they don't serve a lot of food, but most often, it was more than we could eat. So I think it depends on if you are a heavy eater or not. Some of the bus trips included food too.

We also stayed in Paris (but we spent the night). Mainly that was "just to go" and say we'd been there. We also hired a tours by locals there for Versailles and we walked to Notre Dame. Our private tour guide for Versailles dropped us off at the Eiffel Tour at our request and we took a bateaux tour of the city.

If I were to do it all again/advise myself before I went, I would just skip Paris and spend more time in England. I liked the people (the French get a bad rap for being rude, but I found everyone to be pretty friendly). But the city itself just wasn't for me. Then again, I am not much of a city person. Every thing seemed to be very crowded. Even in England, I preferred the bus trips out to other areas and away from the city.

A few tips:

In England, remember to look both ways. I kept looking the "wrong way" for traffic. I caught myself each time, but old habits are hard to break.

In Paris, taxis are really hard to flag down. You have to go to special areas. It was really hard on my mom because she's be in pain, but then we'd have to walk a few blocks to find a cab. Things also seem to close down on Sunday (even restaurants). So maybe plan to be in Paris in the middle of the week.

I kind of did things the expensive way, but I don't regret it. It was a grand treat to live like that for a week. We stayed in nice hotels in the middle of the each city and took cabs instead of public transit to make the most of our time. We paid for a lot of tours, including two private tours. In the end, it cost me $7290 for me and my daughter including airfare, train tickets, concert tickets, eating out, and hotels. (Mom paid her own airfare and 1/3 of the hotel bill since we shared a room. She also picked up a few meals and cab fair half the time since we mainly took the cab for her sake).

Post Reply