The opera, the fountains, the croissants with slabs of dark, gooey chocolate inside—there's just no substitute for Paris. But the little-known secret about this world capital is that—unlike, say, London—there are plenty of affordable, lovely accommodation options. Skip a night at the famed George V
and go for a smaller, family-run hotel de charme. If you're aching for some palatial digs, spend the last three or four days in the Loire Valley (a 35-minute trip by high-speed TGV train to Tours), where you can pass the night in an honest-to-God castle for $150
or even less if you choose one officially deemed a "guesthouse
" instead of a "hotel."