Would you love Paris in the springtime? This is the year to find out. The dollar has gained close to 20 percent against the euro in the past year, so your travel dollars will go further in France than in previous years. With the U.S.'s tanking economy, fewer Americans are heading to Europe, and hotels have lowered prices to give travelers more incentive to go. By traveling in spring, you can take advantage of shoulder-season prices and save even more money on airfare and accommodations.
In fact, when comparing vacation package prices in spring and summer, I found a whopping $400 difference. If your travel dates are flexible, you can easily do the same. See the chart below for specifics.
|Package||Provider||Off-Peak Rate||Peak Rate|
|Airfare from Chicago, seven nights' hotel||Expedia||$971 (May 4 to 12)||$1,279 (July 27 to August 4)|
|Airfare from Los Angeles, six nights' hotel||go-today.com||$1,009 (March 26 to May 24)||$1,339 (June 22 to 30, August 25 to September 2)|
|Airfare from New York City, four nights' hotel||Gate 1 Travel||$749 (April 22 and 29, May 6 and 13)||$1,149 (July 29 and August 5, 12,19, and 26)|
|Airfare from Washington, D.C., four nights' hotel||Virgin Vacations>||$819 (March 26 to May 24)||$1,119 (July 1 to August 24)|
Prices are per person based on double occupancy and most include taxes and fees.
No matter what time of year you visit Paris, you'll never lack for activities and attractions. As the city shakes off winter, several notable events make spring a particularly good time to visit. May 16 is Free Museum Night in Paris, when museums around the city (and Europe) open their doors free of charge from around 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. Participating museums are announced in the weeks prior to the event.
Sports lovers may consider timing a visit to Paris to coincide with the French Open, which runs from May 19 to June 7. The cheapest tickets cost €15 (about $19; see XE.com for current exchange rates) although prices go up to €85.
The always-lively Left Bank (Rive Gauche) presents two big events in spring. The St. Germain-de-Pres Jazz Festival brings local and international jazz musicians together for several days of live music. Specific dates and line-ups have yet to be announced. From June 4 to 7, the streets of the 7th arrondissement are lined with red carpets and flowers in honor of the annual Le Carre Rive Gauche. More than 100 antiques dealers congregate to sell jewelry, art, furniture, and other antiques.