Our Favorite Stuff to Do While on Vacation in Paris

vacationing in France

In honor of our exciting, new Parisian Melodies promotion – which pairs Paris with the can’t-go-wrong and utterly romantic cities of Rome, Madrid, Prague, Barcelona, Venice and Florence – today we’re going to spotlight Paris, a dazzling destination known round the world as “the City of Light” and one of the world’s most popular vacation destinations.  What’s our angle?  As France’s capital offers something to every kind of visitor, there isn’t just oneBesides, we understand that everyone doesn’t like to do the same stuff while on vacation!  Why not fine tune your vacation experience to match your interests?  Whether you love gastronomy, art, history, shopping, music, the great outdoors or sports, we’re happy to make suggestions on what to see and do in Paris.  Therefore read below to design your very own Parisian bucket list from Our Favorite Stuff to Do While on Vacation in Paris.

Foodie fanatics

culinary trips to France

Your inner epicure will hit the jackpot in Paris, a gourmet mecca known for its multitude of Michelin-starred restaurants.  It’s not all fine dining though.  Part of the city’s charm is best experienced through its neighborhood cafes, brasseries, bistros and wine bars.  A couple of our favorite spots include the historic Café de Flore and the Blé Sucre pastry shop on the Square Trousseau.  While in Paris, you can check out artisan cheese shops, spice shops and bakeries – or take a cooking class, market tour or day trip to Champagne.  Paris has many lovely parks, so on a sunny day – if you’re looking to picnic (or a “pique-nique” as the French say) buy your fresh food goodies at a bakery, market or neighborhood charcuterie-traiteur for a French version of takeout.

History addicts

Notre Dame Cathedral

Exceeding 2200 years in age, the ancient city of Paris is a wonderland for anyone interested in history, and the Île de la Cité – often called the historical heart of Paris – is an ideal and unbeatably picturesque spot to begin your historical sightseeing.  This scenic island located in the Seine River is home to many of Paris’ best ancient and medieval sights including the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris, the Archaeological Crypt and Roman excavations, and the magnificent 13th-century Sainte-Chapelle.  From there, exploring the nearby Latin Quarter is an absolute must for history fans.  Other interesting historical attractions to consider in Paris include the Hôtel des Invalides (the burial place of Napoleon) and the Palace of Versailles.  If you’re willing to make day trips outside of Paris, we wholeheartedly recommend the Chartres Cathedral – a World Heritage Site – the spectacular castles of the Loire Valley and the Palace of Fontainebleau.  Slightly further away, many travelers make day trips west from Paris to Normandy to the D-Day landing beaches and memorial sites.

Architecture fans

vacation packages to Europe

In addition to the attractions mentioned above, other iconic Parisian architectural masterpieces include the Eiffel Tower, the neo-Byzantine Sacré-Cœur Basilica in Montmartre, the incredibly historic Church of St-Germain-des-Prés (6th arrondissment) and the Arc de Triomphe.  Modern architecture fans will be pleased to know that Paris is also the home of several works by Le Corbusier.

For a little romance

romantic cities in Europe romantic destinations in Europe

If you’re not in hurry, Paris is a wonderful place to explore on foot.  For romantic strolls, we’re partial to walks along the banks of the Seine, through the historic Tuileries Garden and up among the charming streets of Montmartre.  Relax in the gorgeous Place des Vosges.  Dine in a cozy restaurant on the surprisingly serene Île Saint-Louis, a small island in the Seine.  Enjoy an evening river cruise when many of Paris’ best sights – including the Eiffel Tower – are illuminated.

Outdoor folks

day tours from Paris vacation packages to France

While the weather isn’t Paris’ best feature, the city itself is something of a museum so while this suggestion is rather urban, it is out-of-doors; we encourage you to take your time and walk as much as you can while in Paris to appreciate the charm and character of its many diverse neighborhoods.  Gardeners traveling to Paris should make the day trip to Claude Monet’s House and Gardens in the Norman village of Giverny.

Music followers

Paris nightlife vacation packages to France

Paris is home to some truly great local entertainment.  Live music – and jazz bars in particular – can be enjoyed all over the city.  Larger venues like the Palais Omnisports de Bercy host French and international musical acts, and in the summer months, the city often hosts many great (and free) outdoor concerts.  Paris is also home to a superb classical music, opera and ballet scene.  And if you’re looking for a return to the Belle Époque days of Paris’ iconic cabaret dance halls, you can get tickets to a show at the Moulin Rouge or the Paradis Latin.

Sports aficionados

sports in Paris

If you’re a soccer fan, try getting tickets to a Paris Saint-Germain F.C. match (you can generally buy them online on the team’s website).  Otherwise, head to a local bar to watch the very popular sports of soccer (football), rugby and horseracing with the locals!  Bars that show horseracing usually display a sign out front that says PMU.

For those of us traveling on a budget

getting around Paris

Paris has a great metro system.  If you feel comfortable navigating the subway, you’ll definitely save a few euros.  At meal times, see if your restaurant offers a “formule.”  Ordering from a set menu (versus ordering a la carte) can offer good value.  Last but not least, if you’re willing to be flexible and wait in potentially long lines, check out the free days at Paris’ museums.  Click here for info.

Shoppers

outlet shopping tours in Paris

Despite being a fashion giant, most Parisians cannot afford to wear designer brands all the time.  While shopping in Paris, you’ll see plenty of high-end shops (on streets like rue St-Honoré) as well as more reasonably priced stores around the Boulevard Haussmann (including the large department store, Galeries Lafayette).  For boutiques, book stores and interesting shops, try neighborhoods like Montmartre or the Marais.  And if you’re really hoping to score designer duds at good rates, sign up for an outlet tour to La Vallée Village.

Art admirers

guided tours of the Louvre

Where do we begin?  Paris is home to some of the best art museums and galleries in the world including the world-renown Musée du Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, the more contemporary Palais de Tokyo, the Musée Rodin and many, many more.

For the quirky in all of us

vacation packages to Europe

Paris is also home to several bizarre tourist attractions, with one of the most famous being the bone-filled tunnels of its Municipal Ossuary, commonly called “Les Catacombes.”  Another is the Cimetière du Père-Lachaise, a site which attracts many tourists hoping to see the graves of some of France’s most famous writers and artists.  It’s also the final resting place of some Americans, including Jim Morrison.  And if you’re interested in drainage – then head to the Paris Sewer Museum (Le Musée des Égouts de Paris), which takes you down into Paris’ underworld…  See, there is more to Paris than romance after all!

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about some of our favorite tourist attractions to visit in Paris!  To read our French Travel Guide, please kindly click here – or click here to see all of our vacation packages to France and sightseeing in Paris.  And be sure to check out the exceptional pricing for our new Parisian Melodies promotion, which features the following packages to Paris – and beyond:

*  New Year’s in Paris: 6-night vacation package – from $1199 per person

*  Paris Valentine’s Day Escape: 4-night vacation package – from $1099 per person

*  Paris and Prague: 6-night package – from $999 per person

*  Paris, Madrid and Barcelona: 9-night package – from $1299 per person

*  Paris, Rome, Florence and Venice: 11-night package – from $1399 per person

We want to be honest and clear, so please kindly read the information below:

Customers should use the promo code GTFRANCE100 to receive the pricing listed above.  Please note that the promo code is non-combinable and not valid on existing reservations or groups. These discounted rates expire on December 31, 2014, and New Year’s Eve packages must be booked by December 14, 2014.

Merci et bon voyage!

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Free And Useful Travel Tips For You – From Our Team of Go-today Experts!

best international travel tips

Our go-today office is made up of frequent-flying, travel-loving fanatics.  Several customers have recently asked us to share some of our best travel tips, and we thought – yes, why not spread the travel wisdom?! 

We’ve therefore compiled some of our favorites for you.  While some are obvious, their usefulness never grows old.  Our aim is simply to save you time, stress and money – as well as inject an extra dose of authenticity into your trip!  We hope they’ll prove most useful on your next vacation to Spain, Chile, South Africa, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Thailandor wherever the wind may take you.

 

Packing & Other Pre-Departure Sundries

international vacation packages

  1. Read and print your travel documents – and be sure to take them with you!  This may sound pretty obvious, but we do receive calls from passengers who didn’t realize a printed voucher was needed (for a sightseeing tour, airport pick-up, wine tasting, etc.).  It may seem tedious, but it’s in your best interest to go over all your documents immediately after making your reservation.  
  2. Photocopy your passport – and then give one copy to a friend or family member at home and another to your travel companion.   
  3. When packing, use space-saver bags (or try to squeeze as much air as possible out of any sealable plastic bag).  Unfortunately, we’ve all seen wet suitcases coming off the baggage claim belt… Space-saver bags can help prevent your clothes from getting wet and from being tossed around in flight.  Later during your travels they’re also useful to keep your (highly-precious) clean clothes separate from your smelly ones.  
  4. If you plan on bringing your electric shaver, curling iron, straightening iron or hairdryer – find out which of your appliances already are dual voltage and then purchase any necessary international adapters and converters.
  5. In the event of potential rain or cold weather, instead of packing gloves, hats and umbrellas, buy them as souvenirs when you get there!  That way, you’ll have a useful keepsake and won’t be dragging stuff around that you might not even need.   
  6. Pack a couple of books: one for pleasure and another on the destination you’re visiting.

Flying & Airports

vacation packages to Europe

  1. For winter-holiday travelers, flying in the winter season can sometimes mean weather delays so stay apprised of your flight status before you leave for the airport by checking online and signing up for airline alerts.  Plan for extra time to get to your destination as traffic, parking and lines tend to be longer. 
  2. If you’re traveling with gifts, wrap them after you arrive as all items carried on board are subject to inspection and may be unwrapped at the security checkpoint. 
  3. To save yourself time and hassle at airport security, go for slip-on shoes – and keep the jewelry to a minimum! 
  4. Fully charge your electronic devices (tablets, phones, laptops, etc.) before you arrive to the airport for your return flight back to the United States as per new TSA requirements – or you might end up having to leave them behind.
  5. Pack a little bag of in-flight essentials that you can keep with you during the flight: pen, sweets, headphones, ear plugs, medicine, tissues, book, etc.  You’ll then have everything you need in one convenient place.  Stow the small bag under your seat – that way you won’t have to keep getting up every five minutes to rummage through your larger carry-on bag in the overhead bin.
  6. If you’re taking a particularly long flight, consider wearing compression socks and try to get up regularly and walk around the airplane cabin to avoid deep vein thrombosis. 

Money, Money, Money

vacation packages to Europe

  1. Keep in mind that you can often get the best currency exchange rates right at the ATM when you arrive.  Avoid the currency exchanges in the airports, whose fees tend to be high.
  2. Before traveling internationally, notify your credit card companies that you’ll soon be making purchases from a different country; this way they won’t assume the charges are fraudulent and freeze your card while you’re abroad.
  3. Don’t store all your credit cards, debit cards and cash in the same place (i.e. your wallet) while traveling.  Keep them separated to ensure you’ll still have money should you happen to lose one or become a victim of theft. 
  4. In large, tourist destinations – don’t display large quantities of money in public.  This may seem obvious, but while on vacation people often withdraw enough money from the ATM to last for several days.  Make smaller amounts of local currency easily accessible (for small purchases and tipping), and store your larger bills and other valuables in a safe place like a money belt or the hotel safe.  

Getting Around

Public Transportation in Europe

  1. Public transportation passes are a great and inexpensive way to get around.  Depending on where you are visiting, the same pass is often valid for multiple forms of travel (metro, tram, bus and funicular).  If the pass is based on the number of voyages, you can often share it and “pass back” to your traveling companions.
  2. Don’t leave your belongings unattended in public, particularly in tourist areas.  No-no’s include leaving your luggage outside the hotel’s entrance, your cell phone on a table in a restaurant, and your purse on the back of your chair.
  3. If you’re visiting a non-English-speaking country, learning a few basic phrases in the language of your destination will go a long way.  Not everyone will speak English, and even those who do will appreciate a muchas gracias, bonjour madame, obrigado, bitte, etc.  Perfect pronunciation isn’t expected, so just give it your best! 
  4. Before setting out from your hotel room, familiarize yourself with the area.  Study your map, ask the hotel’s receptionist or consult your guidebook.  It’s easier to steer clear of bad neighborhoods when you know in advance where they are!  If you do get lost and suddenly realize you’re in a dodgy part of town, the street corner is not the ideal place to bust out a map.  Pop into a hotel, restaurant, café or shop and then calmly figure out where you want to go.     
  5. If you plan to travel by train in Europe, find out if your departure station has an information desk.  If so, use it to help you plan your rail journey.  Don’t expect the person at the ticket window to answer all your questions when there’s a line of impatient commuters waiting.  This is especially important in crowded stations located in cities like Venice, Paris and London.  When you know your desired train’s date and departure time or number, whether you need a national or international ticket, whether it’s a single journey or roundtrip and whether you want first or second class, then go to the ticket window.  If you have access to a computer, you can also find out much of this information online before you go to the station. 
  6. Remember that purchasing individual rail segments may prove cheaper than buying a rail pass!  Passes often exclude mandatory seat reservations and supplements when riding high-speed trains.  These costs aren’t necessarily included in the price of the pass.  (Local and regional trains generally do not require them.)  

Sightseeing and R&R (a.k.a. the sweet reason one undergoes everything described above)

vacation packages to Rome

  1. Upon arrival to your international destination, fight the urge to hit the sack and instead go for a leisurely walk around town to defeat jet lag.  Getting your body clock on local time as quickly as possible will make for a much more enjoyable vacation – and your dining and sleeping schedules will match the locals’.
  2. For your must-see, once-in-a-lifetime sightseeing attractions – do your planning ahead of time to guarantee you’ll get in and to avoid long lines. 
  3. That being said, don’t over-schedule yourself!  Leave some free time in there to shop, hang out in a neighborhood café, walk on the beach – or along the riverbanks.  Many wonderful attractions are natural, and culture isn’t only found in a museum.  Give yourself time to take in whatever interests you most – at a relaxing pace.
  4. Traveling can be stressful at times.  (For proof of this, reread what we just wrote about airport security!)  If you know you’ll want a morning or afternoon of pampering, consider booking a superior hotel with a spa. 

Dining

cooking class in Paris

  1. When staking out a restaurant for lunch or dinner, watch where the locals are going.  Small, hole-in-the-wall restaurants can serve up delicious local specialties! 
  2. If the weather is nice and you’re in search of something low-key, stock up on local food products at a neighborhood market and make a picnic lunch.  It’s inexpensive, a chance to try local goodies like freshly-baked breads, charcuterie, cheeses, fruits and wines, and a great way to chill out.  (Isn’t that why we go on vacation?!)
  3. When traveling, it’s easy to forget about healthy eating.  Large meals, drinking and exotic foods can wreak havoc on the body…  During your gastronomic adventures, enjoy tasty, traditional dishes but also try to include some smaller meals that include plenty of vegetables and lean protein.
  4. Eating is cultural, and many cultures don’t eat on the run as much as we do in America.  Therefore, don’t forget to sit and eat (which is also better for your digestion). 
  5. Drink lots of water to keep hydrated!

We hope you’ve enjoyed perusing our handy travel tips!  At go-today, our reservation specialists are experts in planning exciting travel experiences to Europe, Asia, South America, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Australia, Morocco and South Africa.  Should you like to speak with a member of our team, please kindly call us at 800-227-3235.  We’d love to hear from you!  Alternatively, check out our website where you can see popular vacation packages as well as customize a vacation package – just for you. 

Safe travels!

 

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On Vacation in Scotland: Enjoy a Beautiful Glimpse of Our Favorite Places!

 

vacation package to Scotland

Built on an island at the intersection of three lochs, Eilean Donan Castle is a true beauty of the Scottish Highlands.

The 18th of September was surely a fateful day in Scotland!

After 307 years in the United Kingdom – which comprises England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – the majority of Scots voted yesterday to reject independence and to remain in the union.

Passions are running high today in the British Isles, and you’re sure to see a lot of news coverage on the Scottish referendum for independence.

Therefore, we thought it would be opportune to show you some of our favorite places to visit in Scotland - a country admired by visitors for its gripping natural landscapes, fascinating historical sights and welcoming attitude!  Care to see more for yourself?  If so, check out our photo album below!

 

Our Favorite Places to Visit While On Vacation in Scotland!

vacation packages to Scotland

St Andrews, the original home of golf

vacation packages to Scotland

You might recognize 14th-century Doune Castle from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. More recently, the castle has been used in the popular TV series Outlander as the fictitious Castle Leoch.

vacation packages to Scotland

The unusual rock formations of the Quiraing are popular with hikers on Scotland’s beautiful Isle of Skye.

vacation packages to Scotland

Culzean Castle & Gardens are easily visited on a day trip from Glasgow.

vacation package to Scotland

Scotland’s beautiful capital of Edinburgh is famed for its historic attractions, great museums and legendary festivals.

day tours to Loch Lomond

This spectacular Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park offers visitors 720 square miles of wooded glens, mountains and lochs. An easy day trip from either Edinburgh or Glasgow, it’s hard to do this scenery justice!

vacation packages to Scotland

The pretty resort town of Oban is popular with Scots and visitors alike.

vacation packages to Scotland

Visitors traveling to the picturesque area of Glencoe in the Highlands will likely see one of Scotland’s most iconic mountains along the way: Buachaille Etive Mòr.

vacation package to Scotland

While decidedly more urban in spirit than Edinburgh, Glasgow still merits a visit for its top-notch museums, galleries, Victorian architecture and lively ambience.

vacation packages to Scotland

The fishing village of Anstruther was once part of the medieval Kingdom of Fife. It is easily visited on a day trip from Edinburgh – and is a great place to try fish & chips!

vacation package to Scotland

Robert the Bruce defeated the army of King Edward II of England for control of Stirling Castle (pictured) at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. The castle was also the site of Mary Queen of Scots’ coronation.

vacation packages to Scotland

The almost-900-year-old ruin is one of Scotland’s most famous. Rumored to be the burial site of Robert the Bruce’s heart, Melrose Abbey is easily visited on a day tour from Edinburgh. The visit is frequently paired with Rosslyn Chapel, a fascinating monument long-associated with the Knights Templar that was used as a filming location in the Da Vinci Code.

We hope you’ve enjoyed seeing a few of our favorite spots to visit in Scotland!  For information about our vacation packages to Scotland and elsewhere in the United Kingdom, please kindly click here.  If you’re thinking of traveling to Scotland with a group, we have a variety of escorted tours as well as a Group Department who would be more than happy to help your group customize an itinerary to Scotland.  Last but not least, consider using our convenient Vacation Builder tool to design your own package to Scotland; you’ll find many exciting sightseeing tours, excursions and hotel options to consider!

Safe travels!

 


 

 

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