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While we're in the middle of deep freeze so cold it hurts to breathe outside, it's the perfect time to consider a spring fling to someplace romantic, fanciful and, ideally, warmer. Paris might not be the tropics, but as temperature rise in April and May, the trees bud, spring bulbs bloom and children return to the Jardin de Luxembourg to launch their toy boats. Luckily, prices don't have to rise as two reliable packagers offer some pleasantly priced deals starting from a low $399.

First up, we look at Gate1 Travel (tel. 800/682-3333; www.gate1travel.com), which announced via Travel Zoo's (www.travelzoo.com) Top 20 mailing yesterday, that it's selling six-day/four-night packages to the City of Light from $399 for specific departure dates out of NYC on April 13, 14, 20 & 21 and May 18 & 19. At this price you stay at Kyriad Bercy Village southwest of Paris proper or the Kyriad Paris La Villette, northwest of the city, near the Gare du Nord. Both are very basic hotels aimed at budget travelers. A third hotel, the Ibis Paris Bethier Porte de Clichy located in the financial district, is also available from this base price for departures on April 6, 13, 20 & 27. Choose different hotels (that have a wider range of available dates) and a different departure city and prices will increase. All these combos include round-trip airfare, four-night's stay and breakfasts. Additional costs include foreign and domestic taxes, security fees, and ground transportation and run between $50 to $200.

For only $50 more, you can book through budget baron Go-Today (tel. 800/227-3235; www.go-today.com) and get an air and hotel package that gives you two more nights than Gate1's offer and a wider range of dates. Its "6 Day Paris in Spring" includes round-trip airfare out Newark or New York City airports, six nights at the Tim Hotel Nation and morning meals. Add $20 for departures of out Baltimore, Boston, Philadelphia or D.C.; $100 out of Chicago, Miami or Orlando - and on up as your departure city lies farther west. Additional costs for taxes and the like will run you between $40 to $200. This if offer is valid for any departure date from April 1 - May 31, 2005.

All prices for packages from either company are per person based on two people traveling together. As with all travel purchases, we recommend buying travel insurance from a third party to protect your investment.

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