Paris  $799.  Six nights at a moderate hotel, and tickets to a cabaret.  Air included (with a surcharge of varying amounts if you travel from anywhere but New York City).  Breakfast and local taxes included.  Airport charges and transfers extra.  I priced it for two people from Minneapolis in late November, and the cost worked out to be about $2,400.

People say there is nothing like Paris in the springtime, but I really prefer it in the Winter.  It can be a little chilly (think Washington DC) and wet, but it can also have amazing sunny and warm days.  When Tom and I were there in January 2006, there were days you didn’t have to wear a jacket.

However, I’m not sure I love this package.  The price isn’t bad, but the hotel is not in one of my favorite Paris neighborhoods.  I prefer staying in the 3rd Arrondissement, because it is somewhat residential with good amenities, close to historic sites and art museums, and has some really good values for Paris lodging.   If I can’t stay in the 3rd, I might go for the Latin Quarter, although it is a little too touristy.  I prefer staying in an apartment in Paris, because a big part of the Paris experience is buying pastries and bread and cheese and fruit for breakfast and supper, and an apartment lets you shop at the grocery.  I’ve used Rent Paris successfully, although there are several apartment rental services on the internet.   Six nights in a studio apartment in the 3rd costs $608 for six nights.  Right now, airfare from Minneapolis to Paris is running over $900 a person in late November (the period of my search), but honestly?  I think you might get a better deal if you are a little flexible in your travel dates.

Paris is a vacation that makes sense to do research before you book.  Packages seem like great values, until you look at the location and amenities of the hotels. The dirty little secret of Paris is that many hotels aren’t up to our standards.  And location matters. A. Lot.

This week’s deal is tempting.  But I’m passing on it, because I can build a vacation that I will enjoy more by booking my hotel and airfare separately, and skipping the package extras.

Finally, be careful when  you book your airfare.  Many flights from  Minneapolis to Europe are red-eyes, and you’ll be getting there the next day.

Next:  A continuation of my Hawaii trip reports (unless some really breaking travel news comes up), and why you get sick when you travel, what to do when you get sick, and best, how to avoid getting sick.