August marked a last-minute trip to Europe to visit France, Italy and Spain. All that was planned was a return flight and a few nights stay in Paris. From there, we booked flights, buses, Uber and hotels on the fly. It was a wonderful experience and I love the spontaneity of this kind of trip since life at home is quite scheduled to fit in all the work and good stuff going on.
Since my mom and I were going to new places, and returning to explore new parts of cities we already traveled, I found I was searching online for a lot of information. After having more than 10 tabs open on my phone, I realized I should share this information with my readers!
So here it goes….
10 Tips you Will find handy in Paris & Rome
1. Top Things to See & Do in Paris
2. Getting to the Chateau Versailles
If you want to go to Chateau Versaille from Paris, you take a train line RER C (which is yellow) towards Versaille-Rive Gauche. It only costs €4.20 one way and you take the train to the end of the line. From there exit the station, turn right and then your first left all the way to the palace. Or just follow the people!
3. Getting from Orly Airport to Charles De Gaulle (CDG)
So you have some options. A taxi or car from one airport to the other will be around €90 or so (ouch!).
There is the Les Cars Air France bus which is about €22.50 per person. The bus circulates from Orly Sud – Orly Ouest – CDG T1 – CDG T2E / 2F – CDG 2B/2D – CGD 2A/2C
You can easily walk or take the train inside the CDG airport to other terminals.
There is also the RER train that connects Orly to CDG, but you have to transfer. It’s about the same price as the bus shuttle at €21. However, when you wait for the train, the information board to indicate which train it is changes has lights indicating which stops that specific train stops at. So don’t get on the wrong train! If you have lots of bags, it can be hard to find a seat so you spend the whole time standing holding onto your bags.
4. Getting To Rome from the Airport
In order to get to Rome from the Fiumicino Airport (FCO) you have a new options:
– Take the Roma Airport Bus T.A.M. which is €5 (run 08:00 – 23:30) from Terminal 3 which takes you to Termini Station, Center of Fiumicino town and Piazzale 12 Ottobre near Ostiense train station.
– NOT Terravision Shuttles (€4 online, €6 at the booth one way) which I have heard HORRIBLE REVIEWS… I just put it here to educate you.
– SIT Airport Bus (€5 online, €6 at bus station) which runs 05:00 – 20:30 from Rome and 8:30 – 00:30 from the airport. It stops in central Rome at Piazza Idipendenda (by train station) and Via Crescenzio (near Castel Sant’Angelo). It’s a 50 minute ride and arrive at least 15 minutes early to catch it because they can arrive early and not wait around.
– Cotral Bus plus Train or Metro (~€3 per person) is an option but if you are in the centre of town, it’s hard because the metro is not very close. I stayed right by the Temple of Hadrian and it was a walk to get to the metro, so we never took it.
– Taxi (€48) has a fixed fare for up to 4 people and their luggage within the Aurelian walls. However this is ony with the licensed taxis by the City of Rome marked with the City Council’s crest “SPQR” on their doors. Others will charge by meter – not worth it!.
– UBER is there now but can really vary in price from €45-€108… so get quotes first.
– Private car and driver (€50 for 3 people).. my favourite. They wait for you at the airport with your name, give you a little tour as you drive to the city and even stop for you to take photos (if you get a good one like I did).
5. Getting Entrance Tickets in Rome
Unless you plan on going to see every museum and every place that has paid entrance, I would say it’s a waste of money to get the Roma Pass. You can see the Vatican Museum and pay online to save 50% off buying the tickets there, and you don’t have to wait in the HUGE line.
As for the Colosseum, we got the best tip ever to go to the Ruins (it goes with the Colosseum) around 9:30am first and buy tickets there.. we had 2 people in front of us in line. And then you visit the Ruins first, and you are walking against the majority of the tourist traffic which is great! Then you cross the street at the other side of the ruins (takes a couple hours if you see it all) and head over to the Colosseum and you already have tickets, so again, you get to skip the massive line. Voila!
Also, the Pantheon is free to get in and pretty much no line as well.
6. Tipping in Rome
Tips range from €1 – €3 and can be included on the bill but it will say that on the menu. Otherwise just round up the bill a few Euro if you were satisfied with the service. It’s common to pay extra to have a tablecloth on the table and have silverware which may be referred to as “Coperto”, so keep that in mind.
Tipping cab drivers is unusual but obviously they appreciate it especially when they help with those heavy luggage bags. Same goes for the concierge or porters at a hotel.
7. Payment for Goods and Services
Apparently a few years ago, it was suggested to carry your receipts because police could stop and ask you to show your receipt and if you didn’t have a receipt, they would fine you. That has since been updated and you are no longer obliged to show receipts. Yay for a little less corruption.
As for city tax, it is a real thing they make you pay and places insist you pay cash, but pay the way you prefer.
8. Vatican Dress Code
Essentially, have your shoulders and knees covered. Some people brought oversize scarves for their shoulders or even to wrap around like a maxi skirt.
9. Places to Eat Homemade Pasta in Rome
There definitely is a difference. Fellow WordPress blogger, Pause The Moment has a post about where to get fresh pasta in Rome. NOMMM.
10. Finding Cheap Places When Everywhere is Full
Hotwire is the bomb.com… if you don’t care exactly where you want to stay (like what street) but you know what area, you can get great deals on hotels and already know the amenities and star rating… you find out which hotel you get after booking which saves you $$$. If you are doing the hostel thing, HostelBookers is amazing.
More to come on Spain and other fun things. Let me know your thoughts on this post! Thanks