France via TGV

storrsroars

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#1
I have a buttload of miles I need to use (or renew at a substantial cost). I've been to Paris (and it's not a place I feel I need to return to) but it's on my wife's bucket list, so we may try to go this summer.

Looking for suggestions on a trip where we can use Paris as a home base and get about to other areas via the TGV, which can take us to Bordeaux, Marseilles/Nice, Munich and Brussels among other places. I was hoping to get to Barcelona, but it's 10 hours each way, so not something we'll pull off during a 7-8 day stay.

She'll definitely want to spend a day in the Louvre, see the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and probably the Pompedou and Arc d'Triomphe/Left Bank (all of which I've seen). Ideally if I can time this for Summer Soltice, I'll do that since that was a full out street party last time I went.

We like to eat well and drink wine, but are not interested in winery tours (we've been on dozens) nor really looking for Michelin stars, just good food. I may be interested in Dachau, which is close to Munich, but not sure if that will just depress the hell out of us for the remainder of the trip. Also London via Chunnel is out as she has no desire and I've been there a bunch. Can't say I'm drawn to Brussels or even south of France. It's just something I'm willing to do for the wife and I'm hoping to not bored.

So anyone who knows France and know some interesting places we can get to via TGV, feel free to chime in.
 
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#2
From your prior posts, you've traveled enough to value enjoying a few places versus going all-out Chinese click a box tourism. Only 7-8 days and considering training to Munich? Lots of RT train time. Jonesing for some nostalgic overnight trains? Does your wife want to travel 6+ hrs X 2 by train? Or, consider an el cheapo flight. If willing to travel by train or el cheapo flight, dip into Switzerland & N. Italy versus Munchen? Marseille sukks; no solid reason exists to visit unless it's on the way to/from some other destination. Brussels / Benelux are OK for a few days. Keep it simple. Enjoy!
 

storrsroars

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#3
From your prior posts, you've traveled enough to value enjoying a few places versus going all-out Chinese click a box tourism. Only 7-8 days and considering training to Munich? Lots of RT train time. Jonesing for some nostalgic overnight trains? Does your wife want to travel 6+ hrs X 2 by train? Or, consider an el cheapo flight. If willing to travel by train or el cheapo flight, dip into Switzerland & N. Italy versus Munchen? Marseille sukks; no solid reason exists to visit unless it's on the way to/from some other destination. Brussels / Benelux are OK for a few days. Keep it simple. Enjoy!
Well you're right about how I usually like to travel. But money and my wife's job(s) dictate no more than 7-8 days. And this trip is really for her (and to use the miles).

Reason for Munich is she's never experienced Germanic culture and we both like to "touch" history, so visiting a place like Dachau, while terrifying, is on both our lists. We'd also probably do Normandy. And if not Munich, then maybe Brussels with a side trip to Flanders Field or similar. Besides, neither of us has been on a TGV. Closest we've come was in Italy on the Diretissima, which was only a little faster than the Acela.

Thanks for the input.

EDIT: As Vienna is also on her bucket list, we'll probably fly into Munich, see the sights, head to Vienna for a couple days, then head to Paris and fly home from there. Doing this for her will clear the way for the Spain/Portugal vacation I really want :)
 
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SubbaBub

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#4
Louvre is overrated. Get the map, see what you want to see and get out.
Orsay, L'Orangerie,and even Picassco are more worth your time. Just buy a museum pass ahead of time and use the metro entrance if you visit the Louvre.

Notre Dame takes about 20min to get inside and about another hour if you want to climb the tower. There is a nice little cafe/restaurant called La Rose de France not too far away near Pont Neuf. It fits your restaurant profile. Hitting ND before dinner, then taking a twilight river cruise is prime wife priming stuff. The nearby St. Michael area is a nice place to stay hotel wise, just don't eat there. Notre Dame, the Pantheon and the Luxembourg Gardens are an easy walk from this area and everywhere else in the city is one transfer away on the Metro.

If you've been before, then I don't need to say that the Eiffel is prime tourist schlock, so if you go, go with a skip the line tour group. If you go to the Arc, go at sunset when the Eiffel lights up. There is a decent Italian place called Casa Luca near the arc but there literally dozens of choices near the Arc.

Can't help with Munich or the train but Barcelona is worth the train ride if you have time.
 

storrsroars

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If you've been before, then I don't need to say that the Eiffel is prime tourist schlock, so if you go, go with a skip the line tour group.
Last time I was there the place was overrun by Nigerians selling paper birds.

There is zero chance she spends less than 3 hours in the Louvre.

And I've decided to save Barcelona for when I can spend a few days there on my Ferran Adria quest.

Thanks for the suggestions.
 

SubbaBub

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Last time I was there the place was overrun by Nigerians selling paper birds.

There is zero chance she spends less than 3 hours in the Louvre.

And I've decided to save Barcelona for when I can spend a few days there on my Ferran Adria quest.

Thanks for the suggestions.

That too. We went in August so most of the scammers were on vacation. It's also not just Nigerians. If you want to avoid them try coming in from the southeast side of the Champ de Mars (Ecole Militare metro stop). There is a small cafe nearby called Le Bosquet. Nothing fancy but make a decent Croque Monsuier.

The worst spot for the scammers we saw was on the steps leading up to Sacre-coeur. Very aggressive using the string on the wrist scam. You can Google it if you don't know what I mean.
 

storrsroars

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The worst spot for the scammers we saw was on the steps leading up to Sacre-coeur. Very aggressive using the string on the wrist scam. You can Google it if you don't know what I mean.
Yeah, I plan to brush up on some threatening French phrases and insults before heading over. Wifey also speaks enough French to sound convincing and she can be terrifying.
 

SubbaBub

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#8
Here's all the French you really need to survive Paris without being an ugly American.

"Bonjour (Bonsoir), Monsieur(Madame). Say this every time you meet someone.

Pardonnez mon francais. Parle vous Inglais? (Most business owners/workers will start speaking in English before you finish the word pardonnez)

Sil vous plait. (You can't say it enough.)

Merci, or Merci beaucoup. (Same)

Au revoir, adieu, A plus tard, (any of these farewells are fine, just use them when you leave somewhere. Shop, restaurant, anyone to whom you said hello.)

These basic French social norms will keep you from getting the full rude frenchness. Paris is a tourist city, they want to help but they demand respect for their culture and your attempt at the language will be enough even if you are bad at it. The worst thing you can do is assume they speak English even though most do.

They will know you are American very quickly, even before you speak. Politeness will in their eyes put you above the vast majority of American tourists and everyone from Texas.

I can't stress the bit about the Louvre enough. There are three wings that would require days each to see everything and it is mostly full of paintings by people you've never heard of. Each wing has a few iconic pieces highlighted on the map and signs inside the museum. Go see those. As they are spread out, you will see plenty of other interesting stuff.

The best random thing I saw was "Liberty Leading the People" but there are hundreds of paintings of old people, fruit, and hills etc. They all blend together. Laugh at the crowds of 5 foot 6 inch people surrounding the Mona Lisa, see the Venus de Milo, see the Sphinx, (all are buried deep inside the museum) and whatever else you need to see. Get your photo with the IM Pei pyramid on the way out. You'll still see plenty of stuff.

We spent about two hours hustling around one wing and part of another. Yelp a place for lunch and then head to the other museums I mentioned. They have a far higher concentration of master works that you'll want to spend time viewing with smaller crowds.

And don't discount just wandering the streets and parks or sitting in a cafe.
 

storrsroars

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#9
Thanks, but I have basic phrases already. Like I said, been to both Paris and the Louvre before. One of the best photos I ever took was of my ex at the Louvre sitting alone on the low wall in the plaza away from the pyramid (which is ugly and out of context, IMO).

Paris is not one of my favorite cities, although I learned the Metro like a champ and it's my favorite subway. Only had a couple of bad interactions there, one with a taxi driver who I knew was detouring out of the way and one with a waiter because my wife didn't drink and he took exception to that.

However, I've found in my travels that a locally pronounced "F off" is good to have in back pocket when encountering scam artists.
 
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