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
Super Hans
Posts: 103
Joined: Sat Jul 14, 2012 9:18 pm
Location: Washington, D.C.

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by Super Hans » Thu Nov 01, 2018 8:36 am

Because I've often enjoyed transatlantic long weekend trips, I'm not so hostile to the proposition of a six-day London/Paris adventure. The day in Paris doesn't seem ideal, but it would be hard not to have a fun time spending three days in London and three days in Paris. That should give you enough of a taste to want to return all the time.

magazinewriter
Posts: 323
Joined: Mon Apr 19, 2010 11:39 am

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by magazinewriter » Thu Nov 01, 2018 10:58 am

I was in London in September. I stayed at the Nadler Victoria Hotel and loved it. (Someone on here mentioned it and I checked it out.) It is right around the corner from Buckingham Palace and an easy walk to the Victoria Underground station. You don’t even have to cross a street. Also I walked to Westminster Abbey, Churchill War Rooms and Big Ben (still covered with scaffolding). The hotel is non-descript from the outside but very modern inside. It is moderately priced by London standards. I stayed in a standard double which was small but fine for me. All rooms have mini kitchens in a closet. (The hotel does not have a restaurant but offers breakfast delivery from a local place (extra charge). I bought fruit and cereal and milk from the Waitrose grocery store around the corner in the Cardinal Place shopping center.

One thing I really enjoyed was a Thames River Cruise. I went all the way to Greenwich but the most scenic part is from Westminster Pier to Tower Pier. If you take a hop on-hop off bus tour the cruise is included but I just did the cruise, not the bus tour.

Be sure you have a credit card with no international transaction fees.

I ordered a Visitor Oyster Card ahead of time. The advantage is that there is a max you pay per day for Tube or bus. I flew to Gatwick so I also used it on the Gatwick Express. Probably did not use it enough because I walked a lot but I have money on it for my next trip.

https://tfl.gov.uk/travel-information/v ... yster-card

If by chance you are over 60, ask for the “consession” price - their version of senior discount - when you buy ticket for attractions.

Have fun. I can’t wait to go back. BTW, I was a woman traveling alone and felt totally safe.

ugaDAWGS09
Posts: 370
Joined: Wed May 15, 2013 4:34 pm

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by ugaDAWGS09 » Mon Nov 05, 2018 6:29 pm

Original Poster here, just wanted to jump back in and tell everyone thanks so much for all the information. I'm going to go over this with my wife and I'll be back around for more help I'm sure. Thanks again.

gretah
Posts: 167
Joined: Wed Apr 20, 2016 11:14 pm

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by gretah » Mon Nov 05, 2018 6:44 pm

I just learned about this site this past weekend on another forum.

UK school holidays 2018-2019
https://www.skyparksecure.com/blog/chec ... -holidays/

You don't want to be in London the same week all the kids are swarming the public spaces.

hitchman
Posts: 9
Joined: Mon Jun 26, 2017 1:39 pm

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by hitchman » Tue Nov 06, 2018 11:11 am

My wife and I made the same trip about 10 years ago. We flew to Heathrow from Boston. My suggestion is to take an evening flight, because it will be direct and with a five hour time change, you'll walk off the plane in the AM local time. We stayed at the Club Quarters (more of a business hotel, but we were only sleeping there) on Northumberland St., between Charing Cross tube station and Embankment tube station, near the Thames River. It was a perfect central location, right down the street from Trafalgar Square, the Royal Palace, and Parliament. It is also close to several different tube stations if you want to get further out. We saw the usual sights, and spent a few days exploring different neighborhoods. We did four nights in London.

From there we took the chunnel to Paris. We stayed at the Hotel Lenox in Montparnasse, near Luxembourg Gardens. The hotel was fine, kind of out of the way. Hotels in Paris are an adjustment for Americans, I think. The Seine was in walking distance, and most tourist attractions are along the Seine. The public transit was easy to use, as well. We did four nights in Paris, also.

We headed back to London for the final night, and flew back to Boston the next day.

We felt we had enough time to see a lot, but be warned that crowds can be terrible. We waited in line for the Louvre to open, and then watched in shock as the crowd ran (really, they ran) to see the Mona Lisa. Spoiler, it's underwhelming. It's actually quite small, and I felt unimpressed. Not worth standing ten deep back from to get a grainy photo. However, we had plenty of time to explore, and that is how I learned that the Louvre is a palace, built over a castle, built over a Roman fort. The basement of the Louvre is much more interesting than the "main attraction".

This is becoming a bit of a ramble, so I'll sum it up by saying you really should give yourself time to explore. If you're just going to check off some boxes, save your money for the next chance. Also, for what it's worth, the Eiffel Tower was surrounded by Gypsies and trinket sellers trying to sell me key chains for 10 euros (and nick my wallet while I'm not paying attention). That particular sight is best viewed from afar.

pejp
Posts: 124
Joined: Thu Jan 04, 2018 4:12 pm

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by pejp » Wed Nov 07, 2018 11:30 am

I was born and raised in London, and still go back pretty frequently. Others have said it, but with such limited time, just focus on quality time rather than trying to see everything. London is both physically and culturally vast (a lot of tourists hit the sights, wander around zone 1 for a few days and then say they've "done London"...those people are wrong), you could live there for a year and barely scratch the surface. If you just accept that with only 6 days you'll just get a taster, then you'll have a better time. Some tourists just go from place to place, taking pictures, and seem more interested in checking off their list rather than actually being present and enjoying it. I'd say a good ratio is 50% seeing the tourist sights, and 50% unstructured time.

I've traveled to Paris a lot, and I've done day trips for work. It's doable, but you'll really need to get the first train out of St Pancras to make it worthwhile, and you'll be rushed, and if you really like it you'll probably just be frustrated to have to leave so soon! You mention that this is your first international trip....do you think you'll likely go to Europe again any time soon? If so, then skip Paris and just focus on London, but if this is a big deal for you and might be your only chance, then I think an overnight in Paris is a good idea. It would be a shame to not going to a non-English speaking country for your first trip, and Paris is truly one of the worlds great cities.

User avatar
oldcomputerguy
Posts: 3455
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 Nov 07, 2018 11:56 am

Calico wrote:
Thu Nov 01, 2018 8:04 am
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.
Not to hijack the thread, but this brings up a point I’ve been wondering about. My wife and I will be in London for a couple of days in mid-January, and it appears we’ll need to take a cab from the hotel to one of the planned attractions one night. In researching, I happened across the London public transit site, and from the way it reads there are some real safety concerns with riding London cabs (having to do with the behavior of the drivers). Did you folks feel safe with them? What was your impression?
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.

pejp
Posts: 124
Joined: Thu Jan 04, 2018 4:12 pm

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by pejp » Wed Nov 07, 2018 5:25 pm

oldcomputerguy wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 11:56 am
Calico wrote:
Thu Nov 01, 2018 8:04 am
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.
Not to hijack the thread, but this brings up a point I’ve been wondering about. My wife and I will be in London for a couple of days in mid-January, and it appears we’ll need to take a cab from the hotel to one of the planned attractions one night. In researching, I happened across the London public transit site, and from the way it reads there are some real safety concerns with riding London cabs (having to do with the behavior of the drivers). Did you folks feel safe with them? What was your impression?
From London, whole family is back there, and I’m back there frequently...i don’t mean to this in a rude way, but I genuinely have no idea what you’re talking about. I mean, don’t jump into a random gypsy cab, but Uber, London taxis, or ‘mini cabs’ (I.e private hire can companies, which are dying out due to Uber) are all fine. I’ve never heard of the behavior of taxi drivers being any sort of public safety concern.

User avatar
oldcomputerguy
Posts: 3455
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 Nov 07, 2018 5:51 pm

pejp wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 5:25 pm
oldcomputerguy wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 11:56 am
Calico wrote:
Thu Nov 01, 2018 8:04 am
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.
Not to hijack the thread, but this brings up a point I’ve been wondering about. My wife and I will be in London for a couple of days in mid-January, and it appears we’ll need to take a cab from the hotel to one of the planned attractions one night. In researching, I happened across the London public transit site, and from the way it reads there are some real safety concerns with riding London cabs (having to do with the behavior of the drivers). Did you folks feel safe with them? What was your impression?
From London, whole family is back there, and I’m back there frequently...i don’t mean to this in a rude way, but I genuinely have no idea what you’re talking about. I mean, don’t jump into a random gypsy cab, but Uber, London taxis, or ‘mini cabs’ (I.e private hire can companies, which are dying out due to Uber) are all fine. I’ve never heard of the behavior of taxi drivers being any sort of public safety concern.
Good to hear this. I guess I got concerned when I read this page on the Transport for London site. I suppose my first reaction was that the sort of problems they report here must be more than negligible if they're jumping through hoops to facilitate reporting such incidents. I would certainly be glad to be told that I over-reacted.
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.

pejp
Posts: 124
Joined: Thu Jan 04, 2018 4:12 pm

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by pejp » Wed Nov 07, 2018 6:00 pm

oldcomputerguy wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 5:51 pm
pejp wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 5:25 pm
oldcomputerguy wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 11:56 am
Calico wrote:
Thu Nov 01, 2018 8:04 am
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.
Not to hijack the thread, but this brings up a point I’ve been wondering about. My wife and I will be in London for a couple of days in mid-January, and it appears we’ll need to take a cab from the hotel to one of the planned attractions one night. In researching, I happened across the London public transit site, and from the way it reads there are some real safety concerns with riding London cabs (having to do with the behavior of the drivers). Did you folks feel safe with them? What was your impression?
From London, whole family is back there, and I’m back there frequently...i don’t mean to this in a rude way, but I genuinely have no idea what you’re talking about. I mean, don’t jump into a random gypsy cab, but Uber, London taxis, or ‘mini cabs’ (I.e private hire can companies, which are dying out due to Uber) are all fine. I’ve never heard of the behavior of taxi drivers being any sort of public safety concern.
Good to hear this. I guess I got concerned when I read this page on the Transport for London site. I suppose my first reaction was that the sort of problems they report here must be more than negligible if they're jumping through hoops to facilitate reporting such incidents. I would certainly be glad to be told that I over-reacted.
Yeah, that's nothing to worry about. Basically, if it's a London taxi (aka a 'black cab'), you just hail it or get one at a taxi rank. You also get 'mini cabs', which you tend to find in areas where black cabs aren't as prevalent, but you need to book them either online or by calling a the company. Uber has been the cause of some incidents where they don't vet drivers properly, but this page is mainly referring to unlicensed cabs, the same type you get at airports of most major cities i.e. random people just offering rides for cash. You have nothing to worry about.

User avatar
oldcomputerguy
Posts: 3455
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 Nov 07, 2018 6:07 pm

pejp wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 6:00 pm
Yeah, that's nothing to worry about. Basically, if it's a London taxi (aka a 'black cab'), you just hail it or get one at a taxi rank. You also get 'mini cabs', which you tend to find in areas where black cabs aren't as prevalent, but you need to book them either online or by calling a the company. Uber has been the cause of some incidents where they don't vet drivers properly, but this page is mainly referring to unlicensed cabs, the same type you get at airports of most major cities i.e. random people just offering rides for cash. You have nothing to worry about.
Thanks. Much appreciated.
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.

Calico
Posts: 167
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2015 5:45 pm

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by Calico » Thu Nov 08, 2018 11:11 am

oldcomputerguy wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 11:56 am
Calico wrote:
Thu Nov 01, 2018 8:04 am
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.
Not to hijack the thread, but this brings up a point I’ve been wondering about. My wife and I will be in London for a couple of days in mid-January, and it appears we’ll need to take a cab from the hotel to one of the planned attractions one night. In researching, I happened across the London public transit site, and from the way it reads there are some real safety concerns with riding London cabs (having to do with the behavior of the drivers). Did you folks feel safe with them? What was your impression?
Someone already answered but I found all the taxi drives to be great drivers, polite, and professional. I never felt the least bit unsafe. In fact, I felt much, much safer than any cab I've even been in in the US. We always took those "black cabs" that were mentioned. Now in France, the cabs were hit or miss.

Valuethinker
Posts: 36377
Joined: Fri May 11, 2007 11:07 am

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by Valuethinker » Fri Nov 09, 2018 8:28 am

oldcomputerguy wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 11:56 am
Calico wrote:
Thu Nov 01, 2018 8:04 am
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.
Not to hijack the thread, but this brings up a point I’ve been wondering about. My wife and I will be in London for a couple of days in mid-January, and it appears we’ll need to take a cab from the hotel to one of the planned attractions one night. In researching, I happened across the London public transit site, and from the way it reads there are some real safety concerns with riding London cabs (having to do with the behavior of the drivers). Did you folks feel safe with them? What was your impression?
I have lived in London for over 25 years.

Only black cabs can legally pick you up on the street (they have a yellow light on when they are free).

London cab drivers are personally licensed (a grueling test which takes c. 2 years to prepare for, The Knowledge, where they are responsible for knowing several thousand locations and picking the most efficient routes between them). Reported misbehaviour such as bad driving or abuse can lead to loss of license (this happened to a neighbour, who thumped someone who had harassed his daughter). They also own their own cabs, which makes them treat them much better.

I have never experienced taxis in any other city that were as safe, carefully driven, clean, or where the driver was as knowledgeable about the city. I would liken them more to airport limos in some North American city than your average cabbie. It is a legal requirement that you use the seatbelt, however.

I would have no reservations about taking a black cab in London, *except* that they are expensive.

Uber etc. also work and there are licensed minicab companies like Addison Lee which can legally pick you up if the pickup and journey are pre arranged. Unfortunately I find Addison Lee drivers terrifying: they drive far too fast and take risks - both as a passenger and a pedestrian I have felt afraid for my safety. We use a local minicab company and a couple of the drivers are ex A-L, and tell me that the problem is the dispatch system gives them unrealistic schedules (given the traffic in London) -- older drivers just seem to leave, leaving behind the young hotheads. Use them if you have to (e.g. trip to airport) but don't seek them out.

Your hotel may also know a reliable minicab company.

Valuethinker
Posts: 36377
Joined: Fri May 11, 2007 11:07 am

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by Valuethinker » Fri Nov 09, 2018 8:29 am

pejp wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 5:25 pm
oldcomputerguy wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 11:56 am
Calico wrote:
Thu Nov 01, 2018 8:04 am
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.
Not to hijack the thread, but this brings up a point I’ve been wondering about. My wife and I will be in London for a couple of days in mid-January, and it appears we’ll need to take a cab from the hotel to one of the planned attractions one night. In researching, I happened across the London public transit site, and from the way it reads there are some real safety concerns with riding London cabs (having to do with the behavior of the drivers). Did you folks feel safe with them? What was your impression?
From London, whole family is back there, and I’m back there frequently...i don’t mean to this in a rude way, but I genuinely have no idea what you’re talking about. I mean, don’t jump into a random gypsy cab, but Uber, London taxis, or ‘mini cabs’ (I.e private hire can companies, which are dying out due to Uber) are all fine. I’ve never heard of the behavior of taxi drivers being any sort of public safety concern.
Not all minicab companies are so good.

Addison Lee cabs are clean and the drivers wear suits & ties. But they drive too fast (see my other post).

When I lived in Zone 1, there were quite a few dodgy minicab companies around. Now I live in the suburbs, we have a much more reliable local company that we use.

User avatar
leeks
Posts: 235
Joined: Thu Apr 07, 2011 4:33 pm
Location: new york

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by leeks » Fri Nov 09, 2018 8:36 am

GerryL wrote:
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.
+1
You will not run out of things to do in London/surrounds. Save Paris for another trip.
And definitely don't rent a car.

DarkHelmetII
Posts: 158
Joined: Mon Jul 24, 2017 12:25 pm

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by DarkHelmetII » Fri Nov 09, 2018 8:00 pm

On jet lag, consider:

1) Melatonin - I have found this to be helpful to sleep on flights. And to adjust once at destination and / or returning home.

2) Book hotel night before (not sure when your plane lands). Much better to nap late morning (e.g. 10 am - 12 noon) rather than try to power through only to run out of steam and sleep 4 - 6 in the afternoon / early evening.

I realize there are many factors at play - e.g. flight times, willingness to take sleep-aids, $$ for booking the extra night of hotel rooms etc... but wanted to at least share my view point.

Also, no particular reason in my view to exchange cash before leaving. Credit cards and ATMs reasonably accessible. Bring some USD hard currency in case you need in a bind but probably not needed.

DarkHelmetII
Posts: 158
Joined: Mon Jul 24, 2017 12:25 pm

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by DarkHelmetII » Fri Nov 09, 2018 8:01 pm

On jet lag, consider:

1) Melatonin - I have found this to be helpful to sleep on flights. And to adjust once at destination and / or returning home.

2) Book hotel night before (not sure when your plane lands). Much better to nap late morning (e.g. 10 am - 12 noon) rather than try to power through only to run out of steam and sleep 4 - 6 in the afternoon / early evening.

I realize there are many factors at play - e.g. flight times, willingness to take sleep-aids, $$ for booking the extra night of hotel rooms etc... but wanted to at least share my view point.

Also, no particular reason in my view to exchange cash before leaving. Credit cards and ATMs reasonably accessible. Bring some USD hard currency in case you need in a bind but probably not needed.

+ Agree don't mess with renting a car.

criticalmass
Posts: 672
Joined: Wed Feb 12, 2014 10:58 pm

Re: Planning first international trip - London/Paris

Post by criticalmass » Fri Nov 09, 2018 9:51 pm

Rupert wrote:
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.
You already have to go through passport control/immigration when traveling from UK to France and France to UK today, just like always. Heck, I had to go through passport control between Germany and France last year, and both are in the Schengen area. (UK has never been in the Schengen area even as an EU member state.)

In short, you will consume too much time traveling, getting to train stations you may not be familiar with, going through security control before boarding train, lugging your (hopefully small) bags, waiting for train etc. to make a one day trip practical. Even when train-ing, there is far more time involved than actual moving time.

Extend the trip to spend proper time in France or return in the future. Paris in late April typically has lovely warm weather. Lonely Planet books are better than Steves books in many ways.

Post Reply