First time Euro/France travelers… Help, s'il vous plait!

posted 3 years ago in Honeymoons
Post # 3
44 posts
  • Wedding: June 2012

Sounds like a great trip! I am a big supporter of independent travel. I think you will enjoy doing it on your own. I have been to Paris as well as Brussels and Brugge in Belgium and both are amazing. 

For lodging, I LOVE using airbnb. Through airbnb, you can rent full apartments – just click “entire apartment” as a filter when you are searching. The full apartments are usually cheaper and much nicer than hotels and give a more authentic experience. When my husband and I were in Brussels, we stayed in this apartment: It was one of my favorite airbnb stays ever. It’s a cozy, romatic apartment and the host had great suggestions for our time there. 

Also for fun I did an airbnb search for Paris – look at this cute place for only $90 a night: 

The metro in both Brussels and Paris are great and easy to figure out. I recommend buying the app “Maps with Me”. You buy the app once (I think it’s 4.99) and then you can download full maps of any country that are just as good as (if not better than) Google Maps. The benefit of Maps with Me is that the maps are available offline and do not need a data connection (unlike google). Since GPS is free and you do not need data or wifi to use it, just pull up the Maps with Me app with me in Paris or anywhere and you’ll easily be able to navigate using it. It also has metro and bus stops. This has been a life saver for me while traveling.

 Good luck with your trip planning!! 




Post # 4
213 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2014

@kittymama426:  I, like you, am a HUGE francophile.  I studied in Montpellier, and have been to almost every region in France (still waiting on Corsica!).  I will paste below an excerpt from an e-mail I sent a friend on what to do in Paris.  I would also highly encourage you to consider traveling outside Paris while you’re in France.  Some of the best parts of France are its beautiful little villages.  I highly recommend Riquewihr in Alsace (Riesling/Gewurtztraminer wine country) – take the train to Strasbourg (also a lovely city) and drive the wine route.  The Dordogne is one of my favorite regions, but it’s a bit tough to get there.  You also might want to take the high-speed train or a cheap flight to Nice for a couple days on the Cote d’Azur.

Ok, enough about that, here are some suggestions for Paris:


In terms of restaurants, I highly recommend Fellini (located at 47 Rue Arbre Sec).  The food is great, and the hosts are very friendly and speak English.  I’ve also always wanted to try Le Café Qui Parle (located at 24 Rue Caulaincourt).  The name literally means “the café that speaks.”  I’ve heard great things about it.  For crepes, I would suggest spending a morning in Montmartre (don’t go there at night – it gets sketchy).  Montmartre is a neighborhood on top of the tallest hill in Paris.  You can tour Sacre Coeur Basilica and the local shops.  There are street performers and artists everywhere.  Au Lapin Agile is a cabaret/bar that Picasso used to frequent, and it’s located behind Sacre Coeur.  There are also some wonderful restaurants just off of the Champs Elysees.  I’ve tried Alain Ducasse’s Spoon and L’Arc Paris, which were both very good.  If you want to have a truly once-in-a-lifetime meal, go to Plaza Athenee ( or La Tour d’Argent (


In terms of other things to do, I would say the “must-sees” are the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Tuileries gardens, Notre Dame, the Musee d’Orsay, l’Arc de Triomphe/les Champs Elysees, l’Opera Garnier (you can see a show there or just do a quick tour – either way, it’s breathtaking), les Invalides, Montmartre/Sacre Coeur, Versailles, and la Place des Vosges (the prettiest square in Paris and also the square where Victor Hugo lived).  Given the length of time you’ll be in Paris, I doubt you’ll have trouble covering those sites.  In addition, the Pantheon is worth a visit (Rousseau and Voltaire are ironically buried across from each other) as is la Sainte-Chapelle (a chapel made completely of stained glass, located next to France’s Supreme Court), le Pont d’Alexandre (the bridge with gold statues on it facing les Invalides), le Pont Neuf (the oldest bridge in Paris, which literally means “the new bridge”), le Musee de la Carnavalet (the museum documenting the history of the French Revolution), le Marais (a neighborhood with beautiful streets and squares), le Centre Pompidou (if you like modern art), the Marmottan Gallery (largest collection of Monet’s works, located in the posh “suburb” of the Bois de Boulogne), and the Rodin Museum (largest collection of Rodin’s works located in his old mansion).


If you’re looking for good shopping, the district around the Opera Garnier is a great area.  Les Galeries Lafayettes and Printemps are France’s two main department stores and are unlike anything we have here.  Also, for some excellent window shopping and to stroll by the President’s house, check out Rue de Faubourg.


Despite all these suggestions, one of the best things about Paris is how much you’ll see if you just set out on a walk or a river cruise down the Seine.  Paris is like thousands of little villages combined to make one large city.  Enjoy exploring it!


Post # 5
686 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2013

I’ve been to France many times, and we’re heading to Paris for our honeymoon in May since I haven’t gone with hubby yet! The main thing for me was hotel location. We wanted to stay as close as possible to the Champs Elysees. It’s pretty central to everything, very safe, and quite romantic. Hotels are more expensive the closer you are to it, but it’s worth it to lay your head down in that location.

Also, I recommend booking things in advance like dinner in the Eiffel Tower, River Cruise, and Mulan Rouge. They have package deals and reserves your spot! 

It’s really easy to get around on the Paris metro, and a day trip to Versaille is totally worth it. Also, visiting Belgium is magical. It’s worth it for the waffels!!

Post # 6
111 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: September 2013

I loved Paris!  On top of what TroubadourTango has already mentioned, I would also suggest Pere Lachaise Cemetery.  It’s very pretty and not as macabre as it sounds!  

The metro is very easy and convenient to use.  If you will be doing a lot of sightseeing in Paris I would suggest getting some sort of day/week pass.  My friend and I wished we had as I’m sure it would have saved us money, but we just had no idea how frequently we would be using it.  The trains to other cities are easy to use too — just look for the little British flag at the ticket counter if you are not comfortable purchasing in French.

We stayed at a hotel in the 5e Arr. (Quartier Latin) which was walkable to many places (Pantheon, Notre Dame).  There were tons of restaurants nearby, though this made it somewhat noisy at night.


Have fun!!

Post # 7
155 posts
Blushing bee

France is great! 

I know before I’ve gone to non-English speaking countries I always wonder how I’ll be able to find my way, but it always works out.  The map app that Kara001 suggested sounds great, and when in doubt ask a friendly stranger! 

In terms of taking the train to Brussels, or any long distance, I’ve found helpful.  It’s the German rail website, there’s a button somewhere to change it to English, and you can pretty much find rail schedules for all over Europe on it.  You can only buy them on the site if it involves Germany, but it will show you the schedule which helps plan timing etc.

Post # 8
3635 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2012

The only place we went in France was along the Cote d’Azure from Italy to Monaco.  We did spend a long weekend in Belgium to go to the race at Spa, in a little city called Durbury.  It was an adorable little city with its own brewery that makes really really good beer – called Durboise. 

Have fun!

Post # 10
4072 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: January 2014

The Paris metro was really easy to navigate – and I was totally new to public transportation. It goes everywhere, and we never had to rely on other transportation.

Paris is actually great for biking. We took a bike tour one day, and it was FABULOUS. I thought I’d be nervous riding in the streets, but it wasn’t bad at all. If we ever go back, I’ll definitely rent a bike for a day or two to explore the city. It’s the best way to do it. You see so much.

And you should definitely ride a bike through the courtyard of the Louvre, even though there are signs everywhere telling you not to. 🙂 Do it in the day time and night!

Post # 11
10219 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: December 2012

Hi @kittymama426:  Sooo jealous…

Mr TTR & I are currently planning our first trip to Europe for after we retire… I cannot wait.

I am sure you guys will have an AWESOME Honeymoon.

We travel a lot being semi-retired… so I would suggest that you check out TripAdvisor which is the Internet’s Leader when it comes to Travel Planning.

There you will find everything you need to know… Travel Guide Info – Reviews (Accommodations – Restaurants – and Attractions)… AND the Travel Forums where you can post Questions and get help from TA Destination Experts & even LOCALS.

Nothing like planning a visit to Paris when you can talk one-on-one with those that live there !!

All the insider secrets if you will.

Here is the link to the Paris Tourism Guide Page on TripAdvisor

The Forum link is halfway down the page… and says there are close to 95,000 Posts… so lots of info to be shared / learned from.  And the Destination Experts for Paris are great, having chatted with them myself.

Hope this helps,

PS… Just so you know.  AirBnB has a HUGE Following the world over…

BUT they are illegal in some parts of the world… renting out your home without a permit.  One such place is Paris / France.  So it is something I wouldn’t necessarily recommend doing in that country… you can read more on the TripAdvisor Paris Travel Forum.

And as always use your Street Smarts… there are lots of “on-line” scams of places that look too good to be true (and they are)… or places that take your money when there is no such place to begin with… BOTH of which are the major downside to not going with registered accommodations no matter where you travel (sadly people are not all honest… and use Tourists to make a fast buck).


Post # 12
1981 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: November 2014

@kittymama426:  I love staying near Pont Neuf- it’s fairly close to everything. I would go with an apart-hotel or apartment over a hotel (just so you have a kitchen).  One of my goals in life is to eat at La Tour D’Argent- I think a honeymoon is one of the few excuses to eat there, and lunch is more affordable.  They overlook Notre Dame and have been a restaurant for hundreds of years.  They are most famous for their duck (they raise them on their own farm) and if you eat one, you get a postcard with the serial number of your duck (according to my grandma, lol).  They can book months in advance for reservations, just FYI.  My favorite restaurant I have actually eaten at is Le Souffle and a recommend having a souffle for an appetizer, main course and dessert!  A night boat tour on the Seine is amazing, especially when the Eiffel Tower starts to sparkle.  First Sundays of the month, many public museums are free (unless that has changed recently).  I don’t know if this applies to you, but there are lots of youth discounts at museums and for transportation if you are under 26.  Amorino gelato is awesome- and pretty- they put your gelato in rose cones.

My favorite place near Paris if about 1 hour north and called Veax le Vicomte- it was built by the king’s treasurer and when the king saw it for the first time realized that he was stealing from him, and threw the guy in jail (some people think he was the man in the iron mask).  The palace inspired him to create Versailles (using the same architects and designers) so it’s the pre-Versailles. It’s a gem and the tour would be great any time, but once a week they put out thousands of candles and you can do a candle tour.  The gardens and reflection pool are breath-taking at night candle-lit.  A little out of the way, but my personal favorite while studying abroad there!  Here’s a night picture for fun-


The metro system in Paris is incredibly easy to maneuver, which makes where you stay less important than most cities. 

Have an incredible time- what a romantic honeymoon!

Post # 13
926 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: April 2014

So, I haven’t read the other responses (sorry!), but as someone who studied French for nine years and studied abroad for a semester, may I suggest…

-DON’T stay your entire trip in Paris. I (almost) guarantee you will have more fun in the non/less-touristy areas.

-While in Paris, go to Louxembourg Gardens. Amazing place for a picnic/frisbee/people-watching…

-(Obviously) take the time to buy REAL champagne, from Champagne…

-Take a gastronomie class… mine was very informative on the ways of French wine and cuisine. I also had a BEAUTIFUL French teacher 🙂


Post # 14
9949 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2013

As others have said, the Paris metro is wicked easy…especially if you can read French.   My favorite place to eat in Paris is this little falafel place near the Centre Pompidou.  I have no idea what its name is…it might be Falafel Cafe.  We went there a bunch of times when I was there for the summer of 2003…but I was often drunk.  =) 


Also…walk a lot.  I love to walk around cities, and Paris is a great walking city.  Now I’m feeling nostalgic for Paris.  

Post # 15
176 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: September 2014

Following for these great suggestions!

Post # 16
41 posts
  • Wedding: May 2014

I am going to preface what I am about to tell you by saying that I do NOT necessarily recommend you plan your honeymoon like I planned my eurotrip. I am a bit of a flower child when I travel, and was not on my honeymoon. I am simply giving you an example of how easy I found travel.

My friend and I travelled for two months in May/June 2009 without booking ahead for anything. We literally got off the ferry and bartered for a room at 11:00 on night. We were smart about it, and we never had a problem. We never had trouble finding a decent place to sleep. But we also did not care about whether we stayed in a hotel/hostel or apartment either. 

Judging by your wedding date, I assume you would expect to be in France in April/May? You should have ZERO problem finding a place to lay your head. This is the tourism shoulder season, when things are not as busy and prices are actually better. That said, it’s your honeymoon, I would definitely recommend booking ahead. But please make sure you leave wiggle room. You will probably meet people and get recommendations from them for places they just came from and LOVED. We found our vagabond style was getting to be a bit more of a challenge by late June.

Especially if you speak a reasonable amount of French, you should ahve no trouble with transportation. I found the European transportation system MUCH easier to navigate than anything in North America (even with a language barrier). And if you make a visible effort to TRY to speak French, people in Paris are rather gracious. If you make no effort at all, they may not have time for you.

For Belgium, I personally preferred Bruges to Brussels. Bruges was more of a romantic, “large village” kind of feel. If you love beer though, I think Brussels is the spot to be.

For Paris, Eiffel tower: aim to be up there about an hour before sunset. THere will be delays, and there is nothing quite like watching sunset from that vantage point. Plus you get to see Paris during the day, and at night. Win/win!

If you like history, there are the beaches of Normandy, mind you, I was there for the 65th anniversary of D-Day, so I cannot speak to what it is like on a normal day. But at the very least, the beaches themselves are beautiful, and you could walk for miles.

that is about the extent of my France experience…we were running out of time by that point. I didn’t think I would like Paris, and was pleasantly surprised by it.


feel free to PM me if you had any questions.

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