Being married to a teacher has its good points and its bad. Two weeks off in March every year? Awesome! You can only take your spring vacation the at exact same time as every other family in North America? Not so great. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had some pretty amazing spring breaks over the past few years. Our New York and Bahamas cruise last year will be hard to beat and in 2015 we had a wonderful time in California. The year before that we loved our adventures on the Big Island of Hawaii. But no matter how much I plan and budget, there’s no getting around the fact that the second half of March is always going to be one of the most expensive and crowded times of the year.
Or is it? As a North American, the concept of “March Break” is pretty ingrained in my mindset. That’s just been how it is for as long as I can remember. But there’s a lot more to the world than just North America. It turns out that in many parts of the world, March is just another working month. So when I started planning for this year’s spring break I started looking a little further afield and what I found was very interesting.
For example, I was used to paying at least $1000 per ticket to fly to Europe. That’s just the baseline price when you want to go in summer or over Christmas. But March is a different story. I was able to book tickets to Paris on British Airways for only $700 Canadian, which is less than we paid for either Hawaii or Florida in March. Apartment rentals and hotels were also reasonably priced for those dates. Winter pricing seems to last right up to Easter in most of Europe so I was able to book great accommodations for much less than we’d pay for similar properties in North America in March.
We ended up booking eight nights in an apartment in the Marais district of Paris, followed by two days in Normandy, three in the Loire Valley and a day exploring south of Paris before flying back home. It will be a bit of a whirlwind, but I have always enjoyed France and I hope my family will feel the same. I’m hoping to keep the trip as kid friendly as possible by getting a museum pass so we can make quick visits to lots of different museums and stay as long as the kids stay interested, leaving lots of time in the schedule for playgrounds and parks and even getting in a quick day trip to Disneyland Paris.
I have to admit I’m getting a few funny looks over my choice of spring break destinations. No matter how many time I try to explain that Paris in March is actually cheaper than more traditional North American locations like Hawaii or Florida, I still get the sense that going there for two weeks in spring is considered a bit of a strange extravagance. My six year old even came home from school today telling me that his friend told him that he didn’t believe that France really existed. I told him that he didn’t have to worry about bringing that friend a souvenir then!
But for now I still have to wait. The bags are packed, the fridge is empty, the newspaper has been cancelled and the fish is going to Grandma’s house tomorrow. In a few minutes I’ll be able to check in for the flight and by tomorrow night we’ll be on our way! What could be better than Spring Break in Paris?