Once we decided that we were going to spend the first week of the European Road Trip in Paris before heading off on the rest of the Great Adventure, we had to start looking at accommodation options.
We debated staying on the outskirts of Paris and taking the metro in every day or staying somewhere central with a car park. In the end, staying in the centre won, as staying on the outskirts would have added another 45 minutes to each journey every day.
Hotels in Paris
We initially considered hotels and looked up various hotel websites such as www.booking.com and www.laterooms.com. Typical budget rooms can also be booked at Premier Classe http://www.premiereclasse.com and at Ibis http://www.ibis.com/ which offer basic but clean accommodation which is fine for a couple of nights but you may find that you need something more comfortable for a longer stay.
After some consideration, we decided that we were really better off in a holiday apartment as it was somewhere we could use as a base, and then use public transport in Paris. And as we were travelling with relatively young children, it made sense as it would be more comfortable.
Apartments in Paris
In our previous apartment stays, we have usually booked through www.holidaylettings.com or other more specialist holiday let websites. This time however we chanced upon airbnb www.airbnb.com and decided to give it a try. In essence, airbnb is a hub where owners list their own houses or holiday homes to let out. These range from entire houses to a room in a shared house.
The process was fairly simple, although because of the ‘chancy’ nature of the booking system, being very much dependent on the owners schedules, we decided to contact several people and allow us more choice and options.
We eventually found somewhere to suit our criteria, which was room for 6 and a space to park the car. All in all, it has worked out very smoothly.
Camping in France
Other accommodation options we looked in to, included camping or campsite stays in mobile homes. Most were pretty expensive although some did offer really nice facilities: www.europarks.com In France, the Municipal Campsites seem to be very popular and very highly rated, so if you enjoy camping check out http://www.camping-municipal.org/
Getting Around Paris
This time round we have relied solely on the Pass Visite http://www.ratp.fr/en/ratp/r_61634/paris-visite/, which is a travel card that allows travel on all public transportation. This can be purchased from any Metro station.
Travelling with young children
Paris is a wonderful city with many many sights to see and behold, and there are lots of little gardens and enough attractions (numerous carousels!) to keep children occupied.
in our experience though, while we have found the metro a quick and easy way to get around the city, if you have a young child in a pushchair, it is really much more convenient to travel on the buses. While the journeys may be a little longer, and there may be a little more time to wait between buses, you generally see more above ground, and without having to navigate the multiple flights of stairs in the Metro, getting on buses are really handy for young children in push chairs.
Paris Museum Pass (http://en.parismuseumpass.com)
The Paris Museum Pass is a ticket that you purchase, usually before leaving for Paris (it gets delivered to your home address) and entitles the bearer entrance to a long list of museums.
The first time we visited Paris, we found great use in the Paris Museum Pass . While it was impossible to visit all the sights and museums listed for the Paris Museum Pass, it was really a bargain considering the number of places we did go in to.
The other great advantages of the Museum Pass was the free travel on public transport and the skipping queues. With the pass, you get priority entrance to many of the listed sights. This was particularly handy for The Louvre and Versailles.
Other Useful Links
Paris Bus Map
Paris Metro Map