France is not a difficult country to travel independently as long as you are careful about theft.
I go on a private trip to France every year, and it’s been a blast!
This time I decided to put together a blog on How to book and prepare for a private trip to France.
I’ve even included cautions for going on an independent trip, so if you’re going to France in the future, please refer to it.
Traveling to France can be fun even if you are traveling independently
Independent travel is cheaper than tours
Traveling to France is often cheaper on your own than on a tour.
For 7 days and 5 nights, you can go for a total of $1500
In fact, when I went on a independent trip to Paris for about 7 days and 5 nights, the total cost was about $1500.
- Round trip airfare $700
- Hotel for 5 nights, $300
- Meals, sightseeing, and souvenirs: $500
Tours on their own often cost $1,800, so independent travel is cheaper.
Advantages of independent travel
I think the advantages of going to Paris as an independent traveler are as follows.
- You can stay for a long time
- You can get a sense of how much money you can spend
- You can go cheaply
If you go to Paris by tour, there are not many long-stay products.
Tours are recommended for bullets
If you don’t have a lot of days to travel, then a tour is the way to go.
When you are on a bullet train, if you have one problem, all your plans tend to fall apart.
It is also a good idea to go on a tour with a reliable tour guide.
Tours are also recommended when you have to travel a lot in a short period of time, such as visiting three countries in six days.
I compared various tours for France and found that HIS is the cheapest.
If you’re also considering a tour, check out HIS.
Independent travel in France is not difficult
Is it difficult to travel independently to France? If you ask me, the answer is NO.
Buses and trains run all over the country, so getting around is very convenient.
It is also easy to visit Mont Saint-Michel and the Palace of Versailles by using local tours.
If you book your own airfare and hotel, you can travel independently to France.
France is not a difficult country to travel to, as long as you are careful about pickpockets and theft.
The next section will explain how to make a reservation in detail.
How to book and what to prepare for when traveling independently to France
Step 1: Book your airline ticket
Let’s start with booking your airline tickets.
There are two types of air tickets to Paris: direct flights and connecting flights.
Direct flights to Paris
You can take a direct flight from Japan to Paris by flying JAL, ANA, or Air France.
The time is about 13 hours and the cost is about $1000-1500 for a round trip.
If you don’t want to make a connection, I recommend taking the direct flight, although it is a bit more expensive.
Connecting flights to Paris
There is also the option of connecting once at an airport in China, Korea, or the Middle East.
If you fly via China or Korea, you will not have to go very far and you can find tickets for as low as $600 round trip.
If you go around the Middle East, it will take at least 20 hours each way, so please be careful with the time.
When you take a connecting flight, it is recommended to have at least 3 hours of transit time.
Here are some of the sites I use to book my flights to France.
Expedia is “the world’s largest online travel agency” that allows you to book airline tickets and hotels around the world.
It’s like an international version of Rakuten Travel.
It has a Japanese website and Japanese customer support.
I once booked a round-trip ticket to Paris for in the $600s!
Surprise is a subsidiary of HIS.
Because it is operated by a Japanese company, you can be assured of customer support.
We deal in cheap overseas air tickets, so it is easy to find a good deal on air tickets.
I’ve taken a plane ticket to Paris with Surprise!
Booking a hotel
Once you’ve booked your air tickets, it’s time to book your hotel.
Paris is a compact city, the size of the Yamanote Line.
You don’t need to stay in a hotel in the center of Paris, but you can get around by train or bus.
I often book hotels through Expedia, where I can book airline tickets.
Expedia has exclusive sales every day, and sometimes you can book a hotel for 50 percent off!
I always check it out because I can book hotels at pretty good deals.
I also use Booking.com to book hotels.
Booking.com specializes in booking hotels overseas, and has the largest number of hotels in the world.
It also has a wealth of reviews, so I use it when I want to make a reservation after thoroughly checking the reviews.
I recommend the Ibis Style Paris Bercy as a great cosmopolitan hotel.
The hotel is located in Bercy, on a 10-minute train ride from the center of Paris.
It is very safe and there is a stylish shopping center near the hotel, which is a renovated wine warehouse, so you won’t have any problems during your stay.
I stayed at this hotel for six nights and found it to be very comfortable.
My dream hotel in Paris
The Shangri-la Hotel in Paris is the hotel of choice, with the Eiffel Tower nearby.
A former residence of Prince Roland Bonaparte, it is registered as a historical monument of France.
The luxurious space with a view of the Eiffel Tower is recommended for couples and parents and children traveling together.
You will definitely have a wonderful memory in Paris.
I recommend airbnb for a week or so
If you are staying in the same place for more than 5 nights, I also recommend airbnb.
You can stay there for about half the price of a hotel.
When we stayed there, we paid $300 for 6 nights.
Since you can rent someone else’s house, it often comes with a kitchen, washing machine, etc. However, there is a cleaning fee in addition to the basic fee.
However, you will have to pay a cleaning fee in addition to the basic rate, so I recommend staying at least three nights.
Pick up the spots you want to visit in the area
Once you’ve booked your flight and hotel, it’s time to pick out the spots you want to visit in the area.
It’s a good idea to look through your guidebook and identify the spots you want to visit.
Confirm how to get there
Once you’ve identified the spots you want to visit, it’s time to think about how to get there.
From Charles de Gaulle Airport to Paris City
There is a bus from Charles de Gaulle Airport to the Opera every 15 minutes during the day.
At 12.5 euros, it is not that expensive and is a reliable means of transportation.
Moving around Paris
You can travel anywhere in Paris by train and bus.
When taking the train, please be careful of pickpockets.
If you have some time to spare, I recommend using the bus.
In Paris, Googlemap is linked to all bus stop routes and times.
If you enter your location and destination in Googlemap, it will show you all the nearby bus stops and the bus stops you need to get off at.
If you are in a hurry, we recommend using the metro.
▼ Click here for information on how to ride the metro in Paris.
▼ Click here to learn how to take a bus in Paris.
Book local tours, if necessary.
If you find it difficult to get around on your own, you can take advantage of local tours.
There are many tours that depart from the center of Paris that will take you to places such as the following
- Versailles Palace
- Monet’s House
- Mont Saint-Michel
Book a Wifi rental
When taking the bus or train, it is quite convenient to be able to use Googlemap.
Use a rental WiFi and make sure your phone is always connected to the Internet. It will make your trip more comfortable.
Apply for overseas travel insurance
Last but not least, don’t forget about travel insurance.
Be sure to get travel insurance for your trip to France. It usually costs about $50 to $100 per person.
However, you may feel that this travel insurance is useless if you don’t have any problems.
Renting WiFi for use in France
While sightseeing, it is recommended to be connected to the Internet so that you can do research.
If you don’t have access to the Internet, you may not be able to get where you want to go, or you may have to give up shopping because you don’t understand a word of what’s on offer…
But if you have pocket wifi, you can connect to the Internet at any time and shop comfortably.
Points to keep in mind when traveling to France on your own
Be careful about pickpockets and theft
Pickpocketing and theft are really common in Paris. Be sure to keep all your important things with you, and never leave your skin.
Use a security pouch
When I go to Paris, I put my valuables in a security pouch.
These security pouches can be attached to the bottom of your clothes, and their presence will not be apparent from the outside at all.
When I wear a dress, I use one that goes around my neck.
I also keep about 20 euros in my jacket pocket so that I don’t have to take out my wallet too often.
The bag I recommend is a diagonal bag
The best bag for pickpocketing is a slanted bag with a tightly zipped closure.
I don’t use a backpack in France because I don’t notice if someone opens it from behind.
When I take a train or go to a crowded place in a museum, I hold the zipper of my bag with my hand.
Keep pickpocketing and theft patterns in mind
The website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan lists actual cases of pickpocketing and theft where Japanese people were targeted.
It contains detailed information on the methods used to commit the crimes and crime prevention measures, so it is a good idea to read it before you leave.
There are many things you can do to prevent crimes, even if you only know what kind of crimes actually occur in the area.
Unpredictable strikes may occur
Trains and buses in France are more likely to stop than in Japan.
Due to unpredictable strikes or construction work, it is common for trains to pass through stations where they are supposed to stop.
Information on train operations is available on the official website of the RATP in France.
Reference: RATP official website.
Some stations may not be open due to construction for a long period of time, so it’s a good idea to look it over before you leave.
It’s also a good idea to look it over before you leave.
If you select “Japanese” as your language, you will not be able to see the train information. Please specify France and put the routes you are interested in into Google Translate.
Be sure to leave plenty of time in your schedule
France is a country where delays, strikes, and demonstrations that would be unthinkable in Japan occur.
I would like you to make sure you have enough time in your schedule for your trip.
One of my acquaintances went to Mont Saint-Michel for a day trip, but the train was delayed for four hours and he said he could only spend one hour at Mont Saint-Michel.
I heard that the Eurostar train is also on strike and delays of four or five hours are common.
We recommend that you don’t make too many plans, especially on the day you arrive in France or the day of your departure.
Enjoy France at a reasonable price with independent travel
The beauty of independent travel is that you can create your own original trip by combining your favorite flights and hotels.
France is not a difficult country to travel independently, so please try to enjoy your independent travel in France.
You can use the following to book your tickets and hotels to find the best deals.
Have a nice trip!