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England, Ireland, France in 10 days--suggestions?

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England, Ireland, France in 10 days--suggestions?

Old 04-15-07, 03:29 PM
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England, Ireland, France in 10 days--suggestions?

Next month, CM and I are taking our first trip (well, my first trip; he's been before) overseas, and we are hoping to get some suggestions. We will be spending 5 days in London (well, one of those days we'll be visiting Paris) and 4 days in Dublin.

We have already booked the trip as far as hotels go, and we've also planned a trip to Stonehenge, Bath, and Windsor. We have already heard that Stonehenge is a drag, but it doesn't matter since CM didn't get to visit the one and only other time he's been to England. We'll be going there, no matter what.

Paris: We'll only be there for one day during the day. Neither of us speaks French, and here we'd probably be better off not venturing too far because of that. Also, we'll be here on a Tuesday, so the Lourve will be closed.

In Dublin, I'm first and foremost concerned with hitting all the Joyce spots: Davy Byrne's pub, the Siren's Lounge, the Ormond Hotel, the Martello Towers (now a Joyce museum), etc. Other than that, though, we don't have definite plans.

We'd love to get some suggestions for good places to visit, particular tourist nightmares to avoid, off-the-beaten path type treasures, military history-related sights, literature-related sites, restaurants, etc. We will arrive in Dublin on the day of our 4-year wedding anniversary, so I'd also be grateful for any nice, romantic-type (read: no kids) restaurant suggestions.

Thanks in advance!
Old 04-15-07, 04:27 PM
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Check out some of the travel sites and shows. Rick Steves has some great shows on all parts of Ireland.

Best & Worst sites list from travellers
Old 04-15-07, 05:37 PM
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My girlfriend and I spent about 5 days in Paris this summer, and the best part of the trip without a doubt was the Fat Tire Bike Tour. I think it has been mentioned a few times before, but I give it two . Quite honestly, it's an American vantage of Paris (and French) history, and they'll tell you things that the French would never admit to.

http://www.fattirebiketoursparis.com/

The day bike tour was about 6 hours (interestingly, the website says the day tour is 4 hours, but I think they are not including the 1 hour for lunch. It felt longer than the night tour) and the night one is about 4 hours. Both tours are through different parts of the city so there is very little overlap. The cost is about $50 per tour.

Oh, and the night tour includes a 40-50 minute boat tour through the Seine River. It "narrated" but the speakers on our boat were so loud that you could barely understand what they were saying. The boat allowed wine on board, so we drank a lot of wine and chatted with our fellow tourists.

Last edited by ChiTownAbs, Inc; 04-15-07 at 05:52 PM.
Old 04-15-07, 05:44 PM
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Oh, and I will get for suggesting this, but you may want to consider opening an HSBC savings account stateside. Once you open the account with US Dollars, you will get an ATM card and you can withdraw Pounds in London, and Euros in Paris. This will be the absolute best rate you can get your hands on and there are no nasty foreign ATM fees that you may get if you use your local bank's ATM cards.

The HSBC banks were not that easy to find in Paris, but they were all over the place on Champs de Elysee. (Then again, you are only going to Paris for a day, so you may not even need any euros) I've never been to Ireland, so I don't know how many HSBC's they have there, but in London there were a boatload of them. I think there were more HSBC's than Starbucks!
Old 04-15-07, 05:46 PM
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History related, I took a 1-day trip from Paris to the beaches of Normandy... it pretty much kills the whole day, and it's a 90-minute drive each way, but it's an amazing sight and I'm so glad I was able to see it.
Old 04-15-07, 05:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Penny Lane
military history-related sights

For military history (particularly WWI & WWII), the Imperial War Museum in London is great.
Old 04-15-07, 06:02 PM
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The British "Look what we looted" Museum is great.

London suggestion: Do the "hop-on-hop-off" bus tour. It costs about $35 per person, but it takes you all over the touristy areas of London and you can (as the name suggests) hop on and hop off the tour as you see fit within a 24 hour period. We did some rough "back of the envolope" calcuations, and we figured that one day in London would cost us about $10-12 per person for riding the trains in a 24 hour period, so this was well worth it. The tours are partly guided by a live tour guide and partly guided by recorded tour guide.

The bus is a doubledecker bus, so you will stick out like a sore thumb that you are a tourist, but just suck it up. It's a good time, and I'd highly recommend it to a first time visitor.
Old 04-15-07, 06:22 PM
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Originally Posted by BradJ
History related, I took a 1-day trip from Paris to the beaches of Normandy... it pretty much kills the whole day, and it's a 90-minute drive each way, but it's an amazing sight and I'm so glad I was able to see it.
Did you do a guided tour or just explore the area yourself?
Old 04-15-07, 06:57 PM
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I took a guided tour... The van picks you up at the hotel, holds 8 people I think (we were 4 groups of 2)... on the 90 minute drive, the guy talks a bit about the history/build up to the war. I'm a bit of a history buff and gotta say the guy was very impartial, he did say that France has seen more than its fair share of war which is probably a fair statement. We saw Pointe du Hoc (the big cliff that soliders had to climb to take over german guns that were moved days prior), omaha beach... the museum in Caen... the american cemetary... Battery of Longues.... It was an amazing trip.

I think the tour company was paris-tour.com

Last edited by BradJ; 04-15-07 at 07:07 PM.
Old 04-15-07, 09:52 PM
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Musee d'Orsay in Paris is open on Tuesdays, and while not as spectacular as the Louvre, is still a great place to visit. It's right on the Seine, just down from Notre Dame. I'll second the tour bus idea in London, I did it a few years ago with Big Bus tours and it was a great way to see the city and get around.
Old 04-15-07, 10:11 PM
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I was in Dublin this summer for five days and had a great trip. I was there for five days, which I found was plenty of time to take in everything I had planned. I highly recommend going to Kilmainham Gaol and doing the tour. It'll give you chills. It's the prison where the leaders of the Easter Rising were executed and the tour was amazing. Also, you need to visit Trinity College and see the Book of Kells display (as well as the campus in general). It was beautiful. I was originally going to avoid it because I thought it was too "touristy", but I happened to be passing by when the line was short so I got in. I'm really glad that I did. Those are my two main recommendations, but I also liked Christchurch Cathedral, the Guinness tour, and various statues that I went in search of. I enjoyed just kind of walking around randomly.
Old 04-15-07, 10:45 PM
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Take a day trip to York. It's about a two hour train ride north. It's a small town with a lot of history. It's my favorite place to go when I'm in the UK.
Old 04-15-07, 11:53 PM
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Originally Posted by BradJ
I took a guided tour... The van picks you up at the hotel, holds 8 people I think (we were 4 groups of 2)... on the 90 minute drive, the guy talks a bit about the history/build up to the war. I'm a bit of a history buff and gotta say the guy was very impartial, he did say that France has seen more than its fair share of war which is probably a fair statement. We saw Pointe du Hoc (the big cliff that soliders had to climb to take over german guns that were moved days prior), omaha beach... the museum in Caen... the american cemetary... Battery of Longues.... It was an amazing trip.

I think the tour company was paris-tour.com
Thanks for the info. I'll be in Paris in May and will probably spend a day in Normandy. I won't have a car, so I'm thinking a tour will be the way to go.
Old 04-16-07, 12:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Dr_Evil
Thanks for the info. I'll be in Paris in May and will probably spend a day in Normandy. I won't have a car, so I'm thinking a tour will be the way to go.
When I was looking into this, it really seemed like the time in Normandy would be best spent if I spent more than a day there. It seemed like 1 day was not enough.
Old 04-16-07, 04:32 AM
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Penny in Ireland take a PaddyWagon tour...You will NOT regret this as it is an amazing blast and they take you to some of the places you would not learn of in travel guides.
www.paddywagontours.com
Old 04-16-07, 09:30 AM
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I did a London Walks pub tour and it was pretty cool. It's been mentioned here before as well.

http://www.walks.com/
Old 04-16-07, 09:39 AM
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Originally Posted by ViewAskewbian
Penny in Ireland take a PaddyWagon tour...You will NOT regret this as it is an amazing blast and they take you to some of the places you would not learn of in travel guides.
www.paddywagontours.com
i am lucky enough that no matter how many times i got drunk in public i never ended up inside a paddy wagon
Old 04-16-07, 11:15 AM
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Originally Posted by ChiTownAbs, Inc
My girlfriend and I spent about 5 days in Paris this summer, and the best part of the trip without a doubt was the Fat Tire Bike Tour. I think it has been mentioned a few times before, but I give it two . Quite honestly, it's an American vantage of Paris (and French) history, and they'll tell you things that the French would never admit to.

http://www.fattirebiketoursparis.com/

The day bike tour was about 6 hours (interestingly, the website says the day tour is 4 hours, but I think they are not including the 1 hour for lunch. It felt longer than the night tour) and the night one is about 4 hours. Both tours are through different parts of the city so there is very little overlap. The cost is about $50 per tour.

Oh, and the night tour includes a 40-50 minute boat tour through the Seine River. It "narrated" but the speakers on our boat were so loud that you could barely understand what they were saying. The boat allowed wine on board, so we drank a lot of wine and chatted with our fellow tourists.
I did this and thought it was pretty cool.

I don't think the Parisians appreciated a horde of americans riding down busy boulevards on bicycles, though.
Old 04-16-07, 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by RoyalTea
I did this and thought it was pretty cool.

I don't think the Parisians appreciated a horde of americans riding down busy boulevards on bicycles, though.
They sure as hell didn't mind when we liberated them.

(For every Frenchman that gave me lip service I mumbled "If it wasn't for us, you'd be speaking German" )
Old 04-16-07, 12:22 PM
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I'd suggest taking a day trip out to Newgrange from Dublin. The burial mounds there are older than the Egyptian pyramids and it is much more cool than Stonehenge. It's about an hour out of town and there are many tour groups that make day trips out there.

The Joyce crawl is pretty popular now (assuming you're going to quaff some burgundy and have a gorganzola sandwich) and will take a full day to see the museum and walk everywhere. There are tons of pubs in Dublin to choose from- as a general rule, to avoid the tourists stay away from Temple Bar area. The Stag's Head, Doheny and Nesbitts, the International, and Brazen Head are less touristy ones. As soon as you open your mouth to order a Guinness and people hear you are an American, they will immediately start talking to you and you'll make all kinds of friends.

As for food, we usually hit Beshoff's and/or Burdocks for fish and chips. My wife loves Gallagher's Boxty House in Temple Bar- the boxty is a potato pancake they fill with stew, it's very hearty. I've never gone for a fancy dinner in Dublin before so I can't help there.

For London, the easiest thing to do is get a ticket for one of those double decker tour buses and see all the major sights in one day. You can get a tube pass, but you'll just pop up at each place and miss seeing all the neighborhoods. I'd highly reccomend seeing the British Museum and the Tower of London. There's a great place for fish and chips near the British Museum called Rock and Sole Plaice, and if you like curry you can find a load of places on Brick Lane. Most are BYOB, so stop at one of the off-licenses and buy a couple of cans of lager and bring them to dinner with you (I like Aladdin best).

Paris in a day is really rough. I'd go to the museums if it's raining, but if the weather is good, I'd head to Rue Cler (a.k.a. "Rue Rick Steves" because of the number of Americans that are on that street carrying his book). They have all sorts of markets with amazing bread, cheese, vegetables, etc. Pick up some picnic items and have lunch on the lawn near the Eiffel Tower. Then head over to Champs Ellyses and hit Laudere for dessert. It's a 1800s tea salon and they have exorbitant desserts (they specialize in macaroons) and you can get exotic teas or even glasses of champagne as well. Take the metro to Trocadero and get the best view of the Eiffel Tower, after dark if you can make it that long. And don't worry about speaking French- nearly everyone in Paris knows some English. If you just say "Bon Jour" with an American accent they will smile and likely speak English back to you.

Enjoy the trip! Let me know if I can help answer anything else.
Old 04-16-07, 12:43 PM
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i just got back (yesterday) after spending two weeks in England. I stayed with family in the Nottinghamshire district (2.5 hours north of London) and saw Nottingham Castle, Sherwood Forest (where Robin Hood and his Merry Men hung out), went to Skegness to spend a weekend in a caravan (trailer) "seaside" and enjoyed the beaches there and in Mablethorpe.

We spent one day in London - all on foot! We went by Buckingham Palace, walked thru Hyde and Regents Parks (really nice with the black swans, pelicans and other wildlife there in the park), saw some cops walking around holding machine guns!, and then we went and rode on the "London Eye" which is this huge ferris wheel there along the Thames River.

It looks like a ferris wheel and all, but you actually step inside these glass "pods" and it takes 30 minutes to go completely around and you can see ALL of London from that thing. If you aren't afraid of heights - I recommend that one. It's more like being in a high-rise building than being on a "ride". It costs 15 pounds to ride that!

From there, we took a ferry down the Thames to the Tower of London. Be prepared to walk up A LOT of stairs when you go there - especially the White and Bloody Towers - both have a lot of stair climbing - some pretty narrown. The Crown Jewels is good to see there too, but you can't take any photos of them (and they keep the light really dim in the rooms also).

We also walked down to Piccadilly Square and went into the Hard Rock Cafe - the store and the cafe are right next door to each other - so if you want to either just shop, or have a drink - you can choose.

London is a fun town - but be sure to bring plenty of money, since everything (except the museums) cost money. Heck even Westminster Abbey cost 10 pounds to enter (we decided not to go in!).
Old 04-16-07, 01:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Judge Smails
Musee d'Orsay in Paris is open on Tuesdays, and while not as spectacular as the Louvre, is still a great place to visit. It's right on the Seine, just down from Notre Dame. I'll second the tour bus idea in London, I did it a few years ago with Big Bus tours and it was a great way to see the city and get around.
Musee is terrific and not nearly as overwhelming as the Lourve. Would hit up Notre Dame and Sainte Chapelle (Fab Stained Glass Windows) as well.

Old 04-16-07, 02:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Dr. D
I'd suggest taking a day trip out to Newgrange from Dublin. The burial mounds there are older than the Egyptian pyramids and it is much more cool than Stonehenge. It's about an hour out of town and there are many tour groups that make day trips out there.

The Joyce crawl is pretty popular now (assuming you're going to quaff some burgundy and have a gorganzola sandwich) and will take a full day to see the museum and walk everywhere. There are tons of pubs in Dublin to choose from- as a general rule, to avoid the tourists stay away from Temple Bar area. The Stag's Head, Doheny and Nesbitts, the International, and Brazen Head are less touristy ones. As soon as you open your mouth to order a Guinness and people hear you are an American, they will immediately start talking to you and you'll make all kinds of friends.

As for food, we usually hit Beshoff's and/or Burdocks for fish and chips. My wife loves Gallagher's Boxty House in Temple Bar- the boxty is a potato pancake they fill with stew, it's very hearty. I've never gone for a fancy dinner in Dublin before so I can't help there.


Yes on Newgrange, and wave to my parents on the way past, I grew up about 5 miles from there. It's a lot different now than when I would go to it, they have a great visitor center, and activities, it used to be just drive up, cross the wall and in you go.

If you did the drive yourself to newgrange, I would suggest stopping off in my town Drogheda and going to St. Peters Church to check out Oliver Plunkett's head. It's a relic from the time of Cromwell.

The drive is easy, would take less than an hour. new motorway is a breeze now from dublin to drogheda.


For eating in dublin, Patrick Guilbaud has long been on the top of the list for eating places. i.e. a fancy night out for your anniversary.

I've never eaten there, but I've always been told its great, that and L'Ecrivain. I can ask one of my friends where they would go.

Trocadero is good for grabbing something to eat, its near trinity college/grafton street. Kind of a locals place.

Here's a good thread discussing the top lists from the Irish Times a few weeks ago.
http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=100641
Old 04-16-07, 07:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Dr. D
Paris in a day is really rough. I'd go to the museums if it's raining, but if the weather is good, I'd head to Rue Cler (a.k.a. "Rue Rick Steves" because of the number of Americans that are on that street carrying his book). They have all sorts of markets with amazing bread, cheese, vegetables, etc. Pick up some picnic items and have lunch on the lawn near the Eiffel Tower. Then head over to Champs Ellyses and hit Laudere for dessert. It's a 1800s tea salon and they have exorbitant desserts (they specialize in macaroons) and you can get exotic teas or even glasses of champagne as well. Take the metro to Trocadero and get the best view of the Eiffel Tower, after dark if you can make it that long. And don't worry about speaking French- nearly everyone in Paris knows some English. If you just say "Bon Jour" with an American accent they will smile and likely speak English back to you.

Enjoy the trip! Let me know if I can help answer anything else.
I stayed away from booking in the Rue Cler area because I heard the same thing about it being loaded with Rick Steves tourists (nothing against Rick). I'm staying in the Bastille area. Do you have any recommendations for restaurants or bars/nightlife in that area?
Old 04-17-07, 11:52 AM
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thank you all for the suggestions. Please keep them coming if you think of others!

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