when is a trip to Paris NOT a trip to Paris?

I received a phone call the other day from Pablo who, with his wife, wanted to plan a last-minute trip to Paris. He had posted an online request, asking travel consultants to make proposals that he and his wife could consider. One travel agency, he told me, had quoted him $7,400 for a package that included four nights at a 5 star hotel and round-trip flights from Tucson. I asked Pablo to tell me more about the package that had been offered him. They would be staying, he said, at the Trianon Palace in Versailles.

Pablo had never been to Paris and did not know much about the destination. I told him that the hotel that was recommended to him, the Trianon Palace, was not even in Paris. I told him that the same package was actually available for under $6,400. I spoke with him about some 5 star luxury hotels in Paris, in the middle of everything he would want to see, in the same price range.

But the final word I left with Pablo — and that I would leave with you — was this: If going to Paris is a dream you've had for a long time, don't plan it last minute. Don't book your tickets the week before you leave when airfares will be exorbitantly expensive; you'll be paying full fare and sitting in coach. If you can, visit in the spring or fall, when the city isn't crowded with tourists and the lines are much shorter. And don't fly off to Paris without first having thought out your trip: creating a day-by-day itinerary that makes sense, learning about your options in getting around (weekly Metro passes), getting Museum passes that will let you skip the lines, and — yes — planning a day trip to see the beautiful palace at Versailles (pictured above at the right).

If you're dreaming about going to Paris, take the time to plan it right!

5 star luxury hotels in Paris (search here on Google)

copyright (c) 2007 by David J. Ourisman. All rights reserved. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

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