We are going to France!!

12 February 2015

It’s official: we have booked our tickets to France!! After discussing this trip for two and a half years, and dreaming of it for even longer, I almost can’t believe it’s actually happening. But it is, and plans are moving fast!

Well, plans are moving fast now. I promised myself I wouldn’t get excited until we had actually booked our plane tickets, so in January, John began searching. Depending on the day, he found fares from Raleigh to Charles de Gaulle that ranged from $2,800-$3,400 for two. Did your eyes just bug out? Yeah, mine, too. Having never bought international plane tickets before, we thought that seemed expensive, but weren’t really sure what was reasonable, so we hesitated over pulling the trigger. While we waffled, I ended up reaching out to a friend who had recently flown to Europe to ask what they paid, and once I heard $2,900 from her, I felt better. Side note: financial transparency among friends is so valuable!! John headed back to the travel sites (Hipmunk is his favorite), and lo and behold, we somehow ended up paying $2,300!

Once our flights were settled, we quickly booked our accommodations in Paris (an Airbnb in the 15th arrondisement) and in Provence. But there’s still so much to do! We’ve been poring over travel sites and magazines and soaking everything in. I love the photos on the Haven in Paris blog:










I can’t stand it!! So good. We’ll be there for 8 days and 8 nights in June, traveling between Paris, Provence, and the Cote d’Azur. I’d love to hear your recommendations!

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February 12, 2015 7:33 am

Fun! My friend lived their for almost two years and has some great restaurant recommendations on her blog https://apresnewyork.wordpress.com/. Safe travels!

February 12, 2015 7:57 am

Be sure to go to Aix-en-Provence; so cute!

February 12, 2015 8:08 am

Planning overseas trips is so exciting! I’m so happy for you! Both growing up and as an adult I have spent many vacations in France. It’s beautiful and you have definitely booked the right places. In Paris I would recommend staying off the beaten path as much as possible. The famous tourist sights are pretty but they are not what the city is really all about. If you don’t know Lauren from Aspiring Kennedy yet you should check out her blog. She has awesome recommendations for Paris.
While in Provence I would visit Avignon and Orange. Both beautiful cities with lots and lots of history. Happy trip planning!

February 12, 2015 8:42 am

So jealous! I’ve been dreaming of going to France for years! Chris and I have set up a small travel savings account that won’t even cover the cost of those plane tickets for a very long time (because we’re saving for other very exciting things!). I can’t wait to hear every detail of your trip!

February 12, 2015 9:20 am

So exciting, Em! My best friend from high school currently lives in Paris. I can ask her suggestions on places to see/do if you’d like.

Here’s to hoping you have the most amazing trip!

February 12, 2015 9:20 am

YAY!!!! Y’all ended up getting SUCH a great deal- I’m so excited for you!!!

February 12, 2015 9:47 am

Ah! so so so excited for you (and slightly jealous :) ). When I went to Paris, I made the mistake of thinking I could walk between sights as I did in London and Rome. Wrong-o. The city is pretty spread out, so make sure to purchase metro passes or rent bicycles! << So wish we would've biked between sights. Alas, live and learn.

February 12, 2015 9:51 am

The Rick Steves guide books are the absolute best. He KNOWS everything.

February 12, 2015 10:03 am

We haven’t been to France, but it’s on our list! When we traveled to Italy in 2011, the BEST thing we did is to book as many adventures as we could ahead of time. We saved hours and hours by purchasing tickets to museums and tourists spots while we were still home. If that’s something you’re able to do, I’d highly recommend it!

February 12, 2015 10:20 am

aaah! this sounds like such a blast!! Can’t wait to see where all you plan to travel. :)

Julie Rankin
February 12, 2015 11:03 am

I’ve spent a few days in Paris and my sister lived there as an au-pair for 10 months. We both loved (it sounds a little creepy, but trust us) Pere Lachaise Cemetery ( http://www.perelachaisecemetery.com/ ). It is such a lovely escape from the bustle of Paris and many famous people are buried there (i.e. Chopin, Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison). I went in the fall and it was simply gorgeous to stroll around the stone pathways covered with leaves and soak up all the history and legacy.

Victoria B
February 12, 2015 11:38 am

Yay! Congratulations! I haven’t made it to France yet, but I love European travel. Erin from Earnest Home Co is planning a trip to France (among other places) this year as well, she recently posted her itinerary and had a lot of great feedback on all of the posts in the comments section. I would also like to second Lauren from Aspiring Kennedy, her food recs are always spot on! :)

I will be in Spain and Portugal in June this year and am so excited!

February 12, 2015 1:34 pm

Yay! Such exciting news :)

February 12, 2015 2:07 pm

Whoa! This is so exciting for you two!!! It’s been a while, but back in grad school I got to stop over in a of couple spots in the Cote d’Azur and it was lovely.

February 12, 2015 3:26 pm

awe fun!! We are itching to hop the pond! Y’all will have an amazing time. I must recommend Monet’s gardens. Very surreal and beautiful! It’s just outside of Paris. Also, Versailles is worth the trip, if you have the time to go. I LOVED the Luxembourg Gardens and would stroll through on my way to class each day-fantastic spot to just enjoy a crepe de nutella-which just tastes SO much better in Paris for some reason! Get lost in the cafes and the side streets, off the beaten path. Definitely shop! The flagship Hermes is a must, even just to window shop. So is Louis Vuitton on the Champs-Elysees, but a Herve Chapelier was more my speed, so I still have it to this day! I also personally preferred Musee D’Orsay over the Lourve! (I know. The shame!) Let me know what y’all plan and your tips because when I went it was all mapped out and planned for me. I wouldn’t know where to begin tackling it now!

February 12, 2015 3:31 pm

Before my first trip to Europe, I was given a couple of Rick Steves guidebooks. Highly recommend!

February 12, 2015 7:20 pm

Just as an aside, the dollar is so strong right now (and the Euro weaker) that airlines have actually increased rates from the US to the Europe. The advantage is that it’s an excellent time to go because of the exchange rates.

And I recommend Avignon and spending some time in the Marais. Have a great trip!

February 12, 2015 8:48 pm

Congratulations! How exciting. I hope you both have a wonderful time, and I can’t wait to read all about it x

February 13, 2015 8:32 am

Yay!!! I can’t wait to read your recaps in a few months :) I only spent a weekend in Paris from Austria and squeezed in a bunch of random things, but my favorite memories are buying a copy of A Moveable Feast at Shakespeare and Co. (especially after re-reading it right before my trip–it’s one of my favorites!) and successfully speaking French all the way through the Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen. A lot of people I know complain about Paris being “tourist-y”–but if they only went to the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and the Champs-Elysée, then duh :P That was definitely not my experience! If I was headed back there anytime soon, I’d be going through Paris in Four Months’ blog like crazy–she has the most gorgeous photography and finds so many beautiful places!

February 13, 2015 10:20 am

How fun! I’m so excited for you! I would check out David Lebovitz’s blog for Paris food recommendations, he’s never steered me wrong. For cheap eats I loved L’As du Falafel and Little Breizh (crêpes) and for more of a treat Bistrot Paul Bert was one of the best meals of my life and Jacques Genin is worth a visit for the fanciest hot chocolate experience (it comes with four truffles and water and a little flower vase for your table). But my favorite thing to do was hit up the markets (especially Raspail) and buy cheese and cider and a baguette from Eric Kayser and have a picnic. I would honestly skip the Louvre if I went again, but definitely go to the Musée D’Orsay, L’Orangerie and the Pompidou. All the tourist attractions are worth a look, but keep in mind you don’t have to go up/into every single one! Have an amazing time!!

February 13, 2015 5:10 pm

Weee so exciting! I recently just booked a plane ticket to Athens with my best friend – we’re spending a week in Santorini. I, too, booked using Hipmunk and it was wonderful!

Paris is beautiful. The best advice I can give you is to leave lots of room for spontaneity and adventure – those are always the most memorable moments on my travels :)

February 13, 2015 7:04 pm

Beyond thrilled for you two!

February 14, 2015 10:26 am

Brushing up on that college French, are you? Hope you have a great time!

Ashley H
February 14, 2015 8:35 pm

I went to Paris for a couple years ago for a solo trip and my top recommendation is Bike About Tours – there are several bike tour companies but I LOVED my experience w/ BAT. It was a small group (8 other people), and one of the co-owners led my tour. It was incredibly personalized (when it was over they gave us a list of restaurant recommendations), and we got to see so many cool things – a cannonball still logged in a wall from the Revolution, street art by the artist space invader, and a million other things I would have missed on my own. I’ve recommended this tour to countless people since and everyone has raved about it. According to the website it’s the same price I paid when I went – totally worth it!

Oh, and I didn’t go to the Louvre or up in the Eiffel Tower and honestly don’t feel like I missed out.

February 15, 2015 5:00 pm

Just a few highlights!
Crepes and Cider at Crêperie Josselin
Hot chocolate at Le Flore en l’Ile
Les Ombres for expensive dinner…
The vertical tour at Notre Dame is well worth the time.

February 17, 2015 11:05 am

congrats!!! you’re going to LOVE it!!! i just started posting a recap from our trip to france and italy this week so definitely check it out!! we LOVED france and everyone was so nice! i just suggest to be polite and try a few french phrases. download the ulmon app for travel too, it works offline and has a map and it’s a life saver! i absolutely LOVED paris and we traveled to the countryside and loved it as well!! it’s going to be worth every penny!

February 17, 2015 8:32 pm

I just got back from France! Visit the Law Student’s Wife’s blog for some great food recommendations – but we cherished our time walking around in neighborhoods & simply sitting in cafes. Les Papilles had a great four course meal – a true Parisian bistro! The 3rd arrondissement also has the best falafel of your life!

If you have time, I would go to Lyon! I loved it even more than Paris – all the charm of France, with distinct food & culture. The people there were amazing!

February 18, 2015 2:15 pm

I recommend reading Edward Rutherford’s “Paris” before you go. It is so good and you will appreciate your trip even more after reading it.

February 20, 2015 10:18 am

This past May, my husband and I went to Paris for the weekend and then took the train to Nice (for about 5 days). It was such a wonderful trip. Nice is a great place to stay if you want to stay in one place and do day trips via the train. We visited Cannes, Antibes, Eze, Monaco and Ventimiglia, Italy during our stay. Antibes was probably our favorite place, it was such a cute town. Our favorite restaurant was La Merenda in Nice in the old town area. It’s tucked away and easy to miss, but it’s definitely worth a visit!

February 26, 2015 11:39 pm

My #1 tip is to buy the Streetwise Paris map: http://www.amazon.com/Streetwise-Paris-Map-Laminated-Center/dp/0935039252/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1425011746&sr=8-1&keywords=Streetwise+Paris

The laminated Streetwise subway/RER guide is good too!
In fact, I buy Streetwise maps for every major city I visit!