Paris and the Heart of France

May 2019

Hello, I'm Lori, an accountant by trade.  I minored in art history, and I wanted to satisfy my museum junkie tendencies with a return trip to Paris.  I also wanted to see more of France, so joining a tour group was an efficient and friendly way to get around, especially as a solo traveler.  I had thoroughly enjoyed my two previous Rick Steves' tours, so I signed up for "Paris and the Heart of France in 11 Days" knowing I would be in good hands. 

At the Palais Garnier

Our guide Linda gave us background on both history and current events and was always happy to answer questions.  Bus time between sites was a great time to listen to her entertaining and informative insights.  We also had a husband-and-wife team of bus drivers who ably got us into tight parking spaces and through city traffic.  

Our group of travelers consisted mostly of couples, with 4 solos and one family of four.  We all got along great, and I never had any trouble finding dining companions for our free-time meals.

I chose the May 14-24 dates for the chances of good weather and to avoid the summer crowds.  As it turned out, it was significantly cooler than normal, but except of a couple of somewhat rainy days, we had blooming flowers and brilliant blue skies.

Practicalities

1.

I arrived 2 days ahead of the tour which enabled me to get over the jet lag.  I stayed at the tour hotel and did not need to change rooms because I had paid the single supplement.

3.

I took the RER line between the airport and the city in both directions because I arrived and departed on a weekend.  I learned from my prior trip that on weekdays, commuters can fill the trains to bursting.

5.

The "Citymapper" free app led me through the Paris Metro and bus system with ease.

I also used Google maps to mark places that I wanted to see.

2.

I packed everything into a carry-on and a tote bag plus my purse.  The Amboise hotel midway through the trip had laundry services for a reasonable price.

4.

I ordered a French "Orange" SIM card for my phone before my trip.  In the end, I only used half my data allowance, but I'm glad I didn't need to worry about finding a way to top-up.

6.

Hold on to your Metro tickets until the journey is over!  I got stopped by ticket inspectors twice during my trip. (Luckily no fines.)