I admit, I love to plan and organize and it pays off when I am planning a trip to France. It goes without saying that it is cheaper to book your airfare and hotels in advance.
According to my research:
- There is no particular best day of the week to book. If stats showed a particular best day, consumers would have a field day and the airlines would be out of business.
- The worst day however, is the day before you leave.
- How many months in advance to book a flight? There is not concrete proof that 7 weeks in advance is the best time. I booked my trip to France 10 weeks before and I have to admit it is one of the lowest fares I’ve ever paid. I think I was just lucky and the fact that I am going on the shoulder season. In high season, the prices go up and flights are more in demand.
- One of the best websites to compare prices is Google Flights. I love this website tool because not only will it show you the best prices and alternative routes, it will also show you the days when you can get a better price.
Do In Advance
The following are some other things you might consider doing in advance, BEFORE you head off to France. They will make your trip more enjoyable and less stressful.
- Cordon Bleu: The cooking workshops are great. I did a half day Macaron class that was translated into English and ended up leaving with at least 4 dozen chocolate macarons. I would not have been able to attend this class if I had not registered ahead of time. The classes simply fill up too quickly. Here is a link to the list of courses/workshops: Cordon Bleu
- Eiffel Tower: As mentioned in my last post, if you really want to see the Eiffel Tower and want to avoid the long lineups, get buy your ticket online. (note: you can only do this 60 days in advance). You choose the date and time of your visit and you will get an e-ticket. Just don’t be late! Website: TourEiffel
- Restaurant Of Your Dreams: Paris has over 70 Michelin-starred restaurants. Are you dying to try one of them? If so, here is a list of the top 5 and you better book well in advance and put extra cash in your wallet. You could save a bit by having lunch rather than dinner, by the way. Here are a few 3 star restaurants: Alain Ducasse at the Plaza Athenee, L’Arpege, Le Meurice, Hotel Le Bistro, Restaurant Pierre Gagne.
But seriously, there are so many great restaurants which are much less expensive and some will still require reservations. According to the Thrillist website, there are cheaper Michelin-starred restaurants such as:
- Restaurant Auguste (7th arrondissement)—1 star
- L’Agape (17th arrondissement)—1 star
- L’Atelier Joel Robuchon (7th arrondissement)—2 stars
- Le Relais Louis XIII (6th arrondissement)—2 stars
And for restaurants that have a unique ambiance, such as Le Jules Verne on top of the Eiffel Tower, be sure to book well in advance. I had a birthday lunch there and it was, and still is, fabulous. You get your splendid view of Paris and also avoid the crowds as there is a private elevator.
- Bastille Day Parade (July 14): if you’re going to be in Paris on Bastillle day go see the biggest military parade in Europe. It starts at about 10:15; however, to get a spot close to the street (and not 8 rows behind), get there early! The parade takes place on the Champs Elysee and the flypast by the airforce is quite spectacular.
- Concert at Sainte-Chapelle: You’ll see flyers posted all over Paris for classical music concerts in this beautiful gothic chapel. I went and heard Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and I think it’s time I went back. Not sure how easy it is to get tickets the day of or days before in person. Supposedly the only company that sells tickets online is Classictic. Website: Classictic
- Running In The Paris Marathon: Oh just do it! Sure it’s 42.2 km but think of the sites you will see as you are running! You can book online but be sure to do it well in advance as it sells out very quickly. Sorry, but you are too late for this April’s event, although you might be able to register through a tour operator. Website: Paris Marathon
Some other posts that can help you plan your trip to France: