Subject: Queries re Paris - Help please!
Hi everyone,

I'm Helen from Adelaide Australia - I've been carefully storing daily digests from Travelzine for months, planning a trip to Europe (mainly France), which personal issues here kept delaying.

Tonight I got an email from a friend in Paris, basically offering myself & my daughter the loan of her mother's flat in Paris, free, as her mother's ill ¬ able to live there currently. It's near the ecole Militaire not far from the Eiffel Tower (!!!). Available immediately, for at least a couple of months, perhaps more - but the offer may not be there just any time down the track, because her mother is now terminally ill; how long she'll live is unknown of course.

It's always been a fantasy I never thought would happen in my life, to have an apartment in Paris - I only found out about this in tonight's email so my head's still spinning. What would you do? I feel as if I should just pack us up and go, because how many times in life does one get such an offer, but we're in important issues re my daughter's entry to a special music 2ary school, with an audition on June 6. I could get out of it &go asap, but official noses would probably be put out of joint.

The obvious thing seems to be to plan to go asap after the Audition on June 6 - my problem with that is that within a couple of weeks it'd be summer, and the awful tourist months of July &August. Although I'm Australian I hate heat (I call anything over 20deg Celcius hot, especially if walking about being tourists - &I loathe crowds everywhere - is this silly? If you were offered a free flat in Paris, would you go whether it was July &August or not?

A more impoortant question for any of you who know - what is Paris like through the summer? How crowded? How hot? Is it truly awful, or does its charm survive the crowds &heat? Does the cost of meals, entry to galleries etc, go thru the roof compared to the non-summer months? (The Aus$ has plummetted recently).

My alternative is to plan to go at the end of August, &be in Paris for Sept, Oct &however long we can afford - this is risking my friend's mother's death intervening &voiding the offer. (Sorry, this probably sounds awful - I'm very concerned for my friend &her mother, it's just that there's a practical situation to decide.)

I guess my questions to you all are, 1) how hot is Paris through the summer? 2) is Paris awful through the summer? 3) Is it mucher nicer in the autumn, and if so in what ways besides the temperature? (Don't worry about it getting too cold for us - we're cold-weather types. We'd be happy if it snowed.)

4) Last &most difficult question - on this list I've seen many mentions of ways to get great air-fare deals, but they were all ways available to US residents only - does anyone know any ways which are available to Australians?

All help &comments very much appreciated.

Cheers to all, happy travelling,