Archive for the ‘Budget Travel’ Category

5-Star Food on a 2-Star Budget

Sunday, August 12th, 2012

Our Guest Blogger Lisa and her brother in front of Bistrot D’Acote Flaubert

 

Paris may be the city of light, but it is also arguably the cuisine capital of the world. Of course, with the incredible edibles also comes the unbelievable price tag. While restaurants like Jules Verne in the Eiffel Tower, Guy Savoy near the Champs Élysées, or Restaurant Lasserre may serve up some of the best food, the prices put them far out of reach of mere mortals.

Years ago, my mother came across a gem of Parisian cuisine that at first sounds too good to be true, but after a taste of their lobster mac n’ cheese a few years ago I can tell you that it does indeed exist. Bistrot D’Acote Flaubert is one of Paris’ best-kept culinary secrets.

Right around the corner from Michele Rostang, one of Paris’ priciest spots, the Bistrot sits in quiet obscurity. Those who choose to forgo the golden doors of Michele Rostang and instead venture into Bistrot D’Acote, owned by the same family, are in for an experience like no other. The charmingly small bistro, with its collection of beer steins and Michelin Tire Co. artifacts (a nod to the coveted restaurant grading system), is the last place you would expect to have a mind-blowing dinner.  Yet, the fact that the Bistrot shares its kitchen with Michele Rostang is a good indicator of what is to come.

Between their Gratin de Penne et Crème de Homard (my favorite) and their rotisserie veal for two, you’ll be lucky if you have room for their out-of-this-world Petits Pots De Crème. Perhaps the most satisfying part of the meal, however, is the after-dinner stroll down the block to see the posted menu of Michele Rostang, and noticing your 30 Eur. Entrée et Plat would barely get you a glass of wine there.

The Bistrot was recently featured as a set in the movie “Sarah’s Key”, but on our last visit still seemed blissfully undiscovered. Even so, reservations here are a must on the weekends, and the Bistrot is only open certain days during the week for lunch or dinner, so be sure to check before you go! Reservations can be made through opentable.com or by visiting the restaurant’s website: http://www.bistrotflaubert.com/

Bistrot D’Acote Flaubert

10 Rue Gustave Flaubert

75017 Paris, France

Lisa Gabrielson is a current undergraduate student at American University in Washington, DC. Before attending college, she spent a gap year abroad as an Au Pair and fell in love with Paris. When she’s not in the classroom or daydreaming about the city of light, she can be found sailing for the university sailing team or working as President of her sorority, Sigma Delta Tau. You can find Lisa on Twitter @Lisa790

 

Timing Your Trip to Paris

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

“How far in advance should I book my trip to Paris?”  This is one of the most asked questions we receive and it is a great one!  The answer varies depending upon your situation.  The more “musts” you have, the farther in advance you should book.  These “musts” include staying in a particular area of Paris, during a particular show at a museum, during Fashion Week, on Bastille Day, when the flowers start to bloom, during the department store sales……  If you want to be in Paris on a specific date like your birthday or your anniversary you should plan your visit as soon as you get your dates set in stone.  Of course, if you are more flexible with your “musts”, last minute deals can be found but you may have to compromise on a few details.  For the average traveler coming to Paris, these are our suggestions for timing everything just right.

1.  You should start shopping airfares about 90 days before you plan to travel.  Depending on the season, you can get a gauge for what the fare will be and we suggest consulting with a travel agent for their take on  whether the fares will go on sale anytime soon.  If you are using airline “points” start inquiring about those flights the moment you decide on a date.   Reward travel is very limited, especially to Europe, and the flights sell out fast.  We have often booked airfare with points almost a year ahead of time just to make sure we got what we wanted!

Our Marais Magic Property

2.  Booking your airfare and finding an apartment can be done at the same time.  Especially if you are falling in love with a particular property, you should check that it is available around the dates that you are shopping for your airfare.  Our easy to use calendar that is on the same page of each property makes that very simple.  We find that people who start booking about 90 days prior to their arrival have the best selection to choose from.   For those last minute travelers, the online calendar makes it very easy to see what is still available.

3.  Check your passports!!  You should give yourself a 90 day cushion to make sure that passport is in your hands and up to date!  Really look at the date and make sure that is doesn’t expire during your trip.   It has happened but we won’t name names!

4.  As your trip gets closer, you will want to make any “must see” reservations or event ticket purchases.  Our experience is that most restaurants in Paris won’t book a table more than 30 days in advance.  There can be exceptions but this is the general rule.   It is also a great time to secure some Euros.  At the time we are writing this, the Euro is dropping!!!  This means it is the perfect time to go to Paris!

5.  Your trip is about a week away!  It is time to start pulling things to pack, buy a couple of things you might need and don’t forget to make arrangements for your pets!  We have written about packing for Paris before and we love to get creative packing tips from Pinterest.

We hope you have a fabulous trip to Paris!  Bon Voyage!

Saving you money on your vacation

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

From our Marais Magic apartment, #024

When an article comes out that highlights ways to save money while traveling, it’s always worth taking a look. With rising cost of transportation and a million hotel choices, it can be overwhelming and expensive. If you can’t wait to take that long awaited European vacation, there are definitely a few things worth remembering.

You can save hundreds by hitting the pavement in the off season. The prices will be lowest in the fall and winter months. Also, who wouldn’t love springtime in Paris? The prices are also lower at the beginning of Spring. If you can schedule a trip during a less popular travel season, you will save money and save stress fighting smaller crowds. In addition to traveling during a slower month, you might reconsider your non-stop flight. Even one additional stop can save you a substantial amount of money. If I wanted to head to Paris August 1st, changing to a one stop flight could save me $564. That extra $564 could get me a very nice Parisian meal.

The best advice you can get: Rent an apartment.
For the cost of an average hotel, you can get a comfortable, private, spacious short term rental in Paris. You can save money with the ability to prepare food in house. The knowledgeable arrival managers can provide just as much information as the hotel front desk. You can really get the experience of what it would be like to live in Paris. With last minute discounts and overall lower prices, you can really get your moneys worth. For under $150 a night you can have your own private studio in the Marais for a week in the fall. Enjoy a glass of wine on your private terrace. For under $175 a night, you could also enjoy the view of the Eiffel Tower at night from your Bastille River view property. If you’d like to stroll the Champs de Mars, you could also stay across from the park for under $175.

When looking for the best Paris vacation rentals, keep these tips in mind to maximize your budget. Travel during a less popular time of year. Consider a stop on your flight over. Rent an apartment. Enjoy Paris!

Booking a Flight to Paris

Friday, May 27th, 2011

Paris remains one of the world’s most enchanting destinations. The Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and the many charming Paris rental apartments available are just a few of the things that can make a trip to the “City of Lights” special. While finding the best flight from the U.S. to Paris can be a bit of a challenge, however, there are a few things you can do to make your search easier.

The first thing to do when booking a flight from the U.S. to Paris is probably just to check a flight aggregator website. These websites provide listings for flights for almost all major airlines and can be searched by a specific date or even a range of dates.  By using these websites, you can get a sense of what a flight to Paris from the United States is likely to cost on average. By comparing fares on these websites, you can find out if there are cities nearby to your location that might have better deals (i.e. whether taking a $50 bus from Washington, D.C. to New York can save you hundreds of dollars on a flight) or if you can find a great flight by putting up with itineraries that other travelers may avoid (such as an eight-hour layover in Atlanta or another of the U.S.’s major “hub” airports).
Once you have a flight picked out, the easiest thing to do is book it directly from the flight aggregator where you found it. You may, however, feel more comfortable buying your chosen flight directly through the airline’s website, which is another perfectly good option. If you’re not comfortable using the Internet to book a flight, conventional travel agents will still be happy to help you.
Finally, when booking a flight, you will likely be asked to indicate your seat preferences. If you’re taking a red-eye or overnight flight to Paris, you may want to consider requesting a window seat so that your sleep on the plane will not be disturbed by row-mates getting up to use the bathroom, and so you can rest your head on the window while you sleep.
Following a great flying experience, your chic Paris vacation rental will be that much more comfortable and you’ll be well rested to enjoy all that Paris has to offer!

Tickets for Everything “Paris” @ en.parisinfo.com

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

For tickets to literally every tourist related activity in Paris, the official website of the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau is an excellent resource.  If you’ve ever heard the concept of ” tourist traps,” the most common of these pitfalls occurs when tourists buy tickets at the point of sale instead of in advance.  Not only are tickets sometimes more expensive “at the door”, but during peak tourist season, the lines to buy tickets can be incredibly long and discouraging.

This scenario exits in almost every major tourist city worldwide and Paris is no exception.  If you don’t find the time to book activities before arriving in Paris, hop on the free Wi-Fi internet provided by all CobbleStay.com Paris vacation apartments and go to www.en.parisinfo.com/expressbooking for a full list of discounted tickets on various forms of transportation and admission to a wide range of tourist attractions.

Although all of our hand picked Paris apartment rentals are conveniently located, there are many fun and scenic ways to travel around Paris that are well worth the money.  The famous Cars Rouges stop at the eight most well known attractions in the City and have both indoor and outdoor seating.  Or, if water travel is more your thing, take Paris’ famous Bateaux Mouches and experience the magic of the River Seine on a very affordable hour and ten minute cruise.  Boats leave about every 30 minutes during the summer months, so just ask your CobbleStay Paris vacation rental booking agent for the nearest Bateaux Mouche stop.

Although there are advance passes available for many different attractions, the most popular is the Paris Museum Pass.  The pass allows immediate and unlimited entry to over 60 Paris museums and monuments and is an absolute MUST HAVE for any visitor to the City of Love.

As always, for any questions not covered on the Paris Info website, don’t hesitate to contact us at CobbleStay and enjoy your stay in your very own short term Paris apartment.