Discount buyers purchase hotel rooms and seats on flights in bulk to lock in less-expensive prices, then pass those savings on to the savvy customers who buy vacation packages to cut their costs. With the dollar remaining anemic against the euro and airfares and hotel rates slowly ascending in price, it's a wise move to take advantage of these combos. We take a look at our current favorites for seeing either Paris, the Riviera or both.
Go-Today (tel. 800/227-3235; www.go-today.com) has a six-night/seven-day air-and-hotel package to Paris based-priced from $599 that includes round-trip airfare, hotel accommodations, daily breakfast, hotel taxes and airline fuel charges. At this price point, departures are out of New York, but you can add $20 for departures from Baltimore, D.C., and Boston; other gateways are available across the country at varying additional costs. Accommodations at the lower price point for this offer are at the Amarys Simart Hotel located near Montmartre in the 18th Arrondissement. If you're looking for a bohemian Paris experience, the hotel has no elevator and rooms can be small and furnished sparingly. The bathrooms do have showers, however. Travel is good now until May 26, 2006, then again from September 7 to October 31; peak summer date prices skyrocket up to $1,009. You need to book travel by April 13, 2006.
For a taste of local flavor, check out Chez George (tel. + 33 1 4326 7915), a great wine bar on Rue des Canettes near L'Eglise St. Sulpice. Upstairs is an old-school wine bar where regulars discuss politics and history. Downstairs is a funky wine cave where a younger crowd holds court. It's a Latin Quarter institution among Parisians and very easy to find from Place St. Sulpice. If you get hungry, the nearby bakery Gerard Mulot (tel. + 33 1 4326 8577; www.gerard-mulot.com) on rue Lobineu has delectable cakes as well as bread and dairy products. The sandwiches are good, but the quiches are divine. It's an affordable on-the-run eating experience and makes for a great picnic food for lunch in Luxembourg Gardens or on the banks of the Seine.
You can also consider Nice on the Riviera. Combine round-trip airfare and six-nights' hotel stay to get Go-Today's "Nice Special," base-priced from $739. Stays are at the De Kent Hotel and flights are out of New York and Newark. Other gateways are available at additional prices, and travel is valid through May 18, then again from September 7 to October 31. You can combine the two cities with the outfit's Paris-Nice package starting at $1,089.
Rooms to Let
If you've already bought your airfare, but are still looking for a place to stay, we suggest two groups offering affordable apartment for rent.
The Barclay International Group (tel. 800/845-6636; www.barclayweb.com) has properties all over France from Bretagne to the North to Provence and the Riviera to the South -- plus plenty in central Paris. Starting at around $200 per night for a one-bedroom apartment on the Left Bank that sleeps four, Barclay properties are well-furnished and include most of the amenities of modern day living. Some apartments are wired for high-speed Internet. Phone usage comes to a basic charge of $3.50 per day plus long distance. The minimum stay is seven days with a 30-day maximum. For big groups looking to enjoy Paris together, a three-bedroom apartment with views over the Seine and Ile St. Louis on the Quai d'Anjou in the Fourth Arrondissement costs $6,170 for one full week (or roughly $881 per day or $125 per night per person with a group of seven). Located in an 18th century building, this particular triplex apartment has exposed wooden beams and measures in at around 1,700 square feet. Barclay can arrange for a babysitter, a fax machine, or other necessary extras. To narrow your choices to best fit your exact needs, you can search for an apartment in a particular area, size and price range. For an apartment in Cannes until May 15, 2006, for example, rates start at around $72 per night for midweek stays of up to six days and then decrease to $64 per night for stays lasting from seven to 30 days. During the summer months rates range from $83 to $125 depending on when you want to travel and for how long you want to stay.
We've recommended them consistently in this Newsletter for their London properties, and now Coach House Rentals (tel. + 44 20 8772-1939; www.rentals.chsparis.com) has just hung a shingle out in Paris offering a wide array of rental properties. The five-night minimum stay requirement in Paris makes Coach House a viable alternative to agencies with week-long minimums and makes a long weekend a distinct possibility. With Coach House, airport transportation can be arranged, an English-speaking representative will meet you at your apartment, and you can have a breakfast package waiting for you upon arrival at your temporary Parisian residence. As for the apartment selections, a spacious one-bedroom fourth-floor walk-up in the peaceful 18th Arrondissement goes for only $140 per night. The apartment gets excellent light and has a very modern kitchen. On the larger side, an apartment in the heart of the Marais on the rue de Vielle Temple that sleeps up to four costs only $315 per night total, or roughly $80 per person if traveling with four people. The spacious and elegant apartment has a large courtyard attached to the building, which is an 18th century residence. This apartment is very close to the Centre Pompidou and the chic & boisterous bars, restaurants and shops that distinguish Le Marais as one of Paris's most fashionable neighborhoods.
The Cannes Film Festival (www.festival-cannes.fr) takes place May 17 to 28 this year. Keep in mind that the Riviera town becomes the one of the most-watched cities in the world during that people. Cameras are everywhere, restaurants are packed, and the beaches are very alive with promotions, parties and more celebrities than you can shake a microphone at.
Just when the Cannes film festival ends, the French Open begins. First round matches begin this year on Sunday, May 28 to June 11, 2006. The event takes place at the Paris tennis club called Roland Garros (tel. +33 1 4743 5252, www.fft.fr/rolandgarros/en/Frame_tickets.html), a very small and intimate club known for its red clay courts. Tickets to the stadium for the smallest of the Grand Slam tennis events are hard to come by and often sell out by the end of March. Buying a grounds pass at the event for the outside smaller courts for earlier rounds is always a possibility. You can also get in to Roland Garros for the practice and qualifying rounds that take place a few days before the beginning of the main tournament from May 23-27.
Talk with fellow Frommer's travelers on our France Message Boards today.