Oh, Charles how right you were. France is definitely my favorite place I’ve ever traveled to. I’m still trying to convince my husband to move there even if only for a year. While we were there we took a mini road trip to the West coast of France so this entry will be a little different from my London overview, the Omaha beaches and Honfleur (located in Normandy) will have their own entries. We took the train from St. Pancras in London to Gare du Nord in Paris. I reserved a rental car from the Hertz located in Gare du Nord through Auto Europe. We stayed in Paris for 4 days then traveled through France to visit Normandy and spent most of the day there. We spent a total of 10 days in France and absolutely loved every minute of it. I’ll start off be reviewing the accommodations in Paris and then go on to review the trip to Normandy.
We were there late April through early May and the weather was just beautiful. We always carried a light jacket as sometimes when it was overcast it would cool down but overall a shirt and some jeans were fine. It would rain a little here and there, but again as I’ve recommended before set your weather app to Paris so you can always check first thing in the morning and know what to take with you and how to dress. The sun doesn’t set until very late (about 9-10 pm)so there is plenty of time to roam the streets of Paris and indulge in everything Parisian.
Hertz Car Rental – Gare du Nord
I must say, driving in Paris was much more pleasant than driving in London. The driver’s seat was on the left side and they drive on the same side of the road that we do here in the states. There was definitely a lot of traffic and not a lot of places to park in Paris but if you will be driving to suburbs or other parts of France I highly recommend getting a rental car, sure you can take a train just about anywhere; however, the experience is well worth it! The roads in France are easy to travel and there is a lot to look at along the way. I rented our car through Auto Europe (http://www.autoeurope.com/go/car-rental/) from Hertz and it was a breeze. Everything was exactly how I reserved it. The entire process of check in was maybe 10 minutes, I was relieved to see their employees spoke some English and there was little confusion to be had. The car was clean, filled with gas and I made sure to get a car with GPS so we wouldn’t have to use our iPhones to get around. We were able to return the car rental at Charles du Gaulle airport without any problems. Overall, I would absolutely rent from Hertz again. Everything from the product to the customer service exceeded my expectations. Car Rentals in France
Alright, I’m going to be completely real with all of you right now…our hotel was the worst part of Paris. I literally cried our second night there and wanted to go home (this is so embarrassing to write about, I’m such a baby but it really was that bad). We stayed at the Mercure at 20 Rue Jean Rey (http://www.mercure.com/gb/hotel-2175-mercure-paris-centre-eiffel-tower-hotel/index.shtml)…online it looked like the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. It is across the street from the Eiffel Tower, walking distance from grocery shops and cafes and had what appeared to be modern and stunning rooms. I want so badly to be able to recommend this hotel but absolutely everything about it fell far short of any minimum expectation. This is a 4-5 star hotel and we were expecting the same level of service and atmosphere as our wonderful hotel in London, The Rubens. So much for expectations. When we arrived, the entire place was under construction. There were plastic linings all over the floor and the walls, pieces of wood laying around and tools all over the floor. There were painters and carpenters walking all about and nobody to help us from the staff. Look, I get places have to be maintained and upgraded BUT when I booked the hotel room that should have been noted to me – especially because we paid just under $2,000 for our stay. I do not want to pay a 4 star price and not have the complete hotel there. We finally found a make shift front desk with someone to help us out. She was very nice and got us checked in in less than 5 minutes. The elevator was out of service for a short time because of their construction and we had to take everything up the stairs. Our room was a decent size, especially for being in the heart of Paris, and the decor was pleasant. Unfortunately, that’s the last good thing I can say about the Mercure. I’m just going to copy and paste a modified version of my review of the Mercure from my Trip Advisor account so I don’t have to revisit it all again…I spent 4 months going back and forth with the manager (all for nothing, we’ll get to that later) repeating everything and frankly, I’m tired of repeating the story…so here we go:
You guessed it, my advice is DO NOT book with the Mercure or any Accor hotels. You will deeply regret it and it will take some of the Paris magic away. Posted below are just a couple pics of our room:
|Doors were missing pieces and torn apart. You can see the slot I was talking about to the right of this pic where you have to insert a card to make the switch work.|
|Scum & dirt around all the base boards as if it was never cleaned.|
|This is what was growing on our fridge! Gross right?! It was there for our entire stay…housekeeping never once cleaned it off.|