Dooley Vacations (tel. 877/331-9301; www.dooleyvacations.com) is offering a trip to Paris and the French countryside from $1,499 for airfare, eight nights' hotel, and a rental car for late fall and winter travel.
The accommodations are what make this deal stand out: they're all four-star properties that conjure bygone eras in French history. Spend two nights in Paris at Hotel Rochester, in the heart of the Champs-Élysées. Pull out of the city in your rental car and head to the Loire Valley, where you will stay for three nights at Château d'Artigny. It's an 18th-century castle situated on a 65-acre private estate, completed with well-maintained gardens.
Day trips include exploring the region's vineyards. Spend your last three nights at Château d'Esclimont, a luxury boutique hotel between Paris and Versailles in the village of St. Symphorien-le-Château. The property sits on 150 acres of wooded grounds and like all good castles, it's surrounded by a moat. From this hotel, you can visit the Palace of Versailles or the Chartres Cathedral easily.
Why is this a deal? The airfare for an early November departure on a Monday starts at $679 per person. Two nights at Hotel Rochester in early November will run you about €646 ($917) for two nights. Three nights at Château d'Artigny start at €558 ($792) -- about €184 ($261) per night. Château d'Esclimont will cost about €885 ($1,256) for three nights, or about €295 ($411) per night.
All told, accommodations will run about $2,965, without taxes; per person, it's about $1,483. If you book the airfare and hotel separately, expect to pay at least $2,162 per person. Even if you consider the high end of the possible government taxes and fees of $204 per person, which would put the total at $1,703 per person, you're still saving almost $459 with this Dooley Vacations package. And we haven't even factored in taxes or the one-week rental car, either.
Trip Type: Air-inclusive, independent
What the Quoted Price Gets You: Airfare from New York-JFK to Paris; eight nights' hotel (two in Paris, three each in the Loire Valley and in St. Symphorien-le-Château, just outside Paris); a seven-day rental car with a standard transmission; and airline fuel surcharges
What Else You'll Have to Pay: Government taxes and fees of up to $204 per person.
Book By: Aug. 19
When: Nov. 1-Feb. 29
Single Supplement: None; trip is valid for groups of 1-3 people.
Other Details: Departures are available Sept. 26, 2011 through March 31, 2012, with prices ranging from $1,599 for March and as high as $2,039 for Sept. 26-Oct. 15.
You can upgrade to a rental car with an automatic transmission for an additional $99 per person. Extend your stay for a 9th or 10th night in Paris at Hotel Rochester (add from $150 per person per night).
Other Gateways: Boston, Chicago ($1,549); Los Angeles (from $1,799) for Nov. 1-Feb. 29 travel. The price will fluctuate a bit and go up around holiday peak periods; inquire for more details.
All prices are per person and, if lodging is a component of the package, based upon two people traveling together (unless otherwise noted). The prices listed are general starting rates; see "What Else You'll Have to Pay" for details about associated taxes and fees. Base-prices, taxes, and fees can vary based on point of departure and time of travel. Blackout dates may apply. Trip add-ons like sightseeing tours and meal plans may also increase the price. Check with the tour operator for additional gateways. The single supplement is the extra cost that a solo traveler would pay to book the deal.