I should start off by saying this: my company did not pay for my trip to France, nor was this a business trip. It was a personal trip, strictly for fun, but it was a trip that was made much more affordable to me because I work in the travel industry, and specifically at a company that focuses on travel in Europe, meaning I have connections and benefits that make these sorts of trips more possible for me. This post is one in a series meant to show how working in the travel industry makes frequent travel a real possibility for me.
With that said: FRANCE HAPPENED! And it was the best. If I’m grouchy for the next few blog posts, it’s because I wish I was back in France eating pain au chocolat. Although — if that’s the case then I should technically always be grouchy, because when given the choice between doing anything and eating pain au chocolat, I think I’d rather always be eating pain au chocolat.
I chose to go to France because, as I mentioned, I work in the travel industry at a company focused on European travel, so Europe is more affordable for me than non-European places because of the benefits and connections associated with this job. This is why I seem to keep ending up in Europe instead of Tokyo or India or Australia (three of my dream trips right now) — I’ve got the connections for Europe, so you better believe I’m going to use them.
All in all, this trip cost me about $1800 total. This $1800 covered 8 days in France, and specifically all of this: a round-trip flight from JFK to Paris; 4 nights of hotel accommodation in Paris, 1 night of hotel accommodation in Marseille, and 3 nights of Air BnB accommodation in Aix-en-Provence; all meals (mostly pain au chocolat, let’s be real); all souvenirs; 2 days of a rental car in Aix-en-Provence; 3 train trips; a sightseeing cruise in Marseille; a walking tour in Paris; various beers and cocktails and tiny little coffees.
When you consider that a round-trip flight from New York to Paris in high season is usually, in itself, at least $1000, and that hotels can cost hundreds of dollars a night, $1800 total for everything I mentioned is actually kind of impressive, right?
Being able to stay within this budget is due largely to the things I chose to do — or not do — in France. Even though I get a few discounts I still have to think about things like, you know, paying rent when I get back home, so I made an effort to be thrifty whenever possible.
I didn’t do THAT much shopping — I actually kind of wish I had done more — and I didn’t have any extravagant meals. In fact, the biggest meal I treated myself to was a $40 dinner in Paris where I had a fancy cocktail, nice entree, AND dessert — this is normal for some people, but unheard of for me. Aside from this, my meal average for each day of this trip was honestly about $20 total per day. I don’t eat much when I travel alone.
My accommodation was also ridiculously affordable. I highly, HIGHLY recommend the Mama Shelter hotel chain to everyone — they are fairly new and have opened locations in Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Bordeaux, Los Angeles, and Istanbul. I stayed with them in both Paris and Marseille. These locations were each slightly outside the city center, which helps make them more affordable, but they were both close to metro and bus lines. Also, I keep seeing the Mama Shelter Paris restaurant show up on all these “best places to eat in Paris” lists, if you’re into that. Doesn’t hurt that their rooftop bar is essentially a Pinterest masterpiece.
They didn’t pay me to say any of this, and I didn’t get a discount with them at any point — they had no idea that I work in the travel industry. Strictly a fan girl moment.
So that’s an overview of the logistics of this trip, and now we can get to the fun part: photos. I’ll be doing posts specifically about each place I visited (Paris, Aix, Provence area, Marseille) but for now here is an overview of the 8 days I spent eating pain au chocolat (literally at least once a day, everyday), driving along the most narrow roads I have ever seen (quite adeptly, if I do say so myself), running through lavender fields off the side of the road (this was mostly because bees were chasing me, though), riding a bike for the first time in literally like 5 years, reading in the pool at my Air BnB in the French countryside, almost getting washed overboard on a cruise along the Calanques in Marseille, asking strangers to take my photo every so often, speaking French again and actually being somewhat decent at it after what feels like a ridiculously long time…
Now to sort out and send some souvenirs before I eat them myself (because edible souvenirs = the only souvenirs).
1. Lavender fields, Provence
2. Rue Cremieux, Paris
3. TGV train at Paris Gare Lyon station
4. Marseille port
5. Some stylish person, Aix-en-Provence
6. View of Paris from the Sacre Coeur