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