Ask Joan: Monet’s Garden, walking Austria and Paris on a budget

Garden tours, walking tours and Paris for students

Monet’s house and garden in Giverny, France. Photograph: Getty

Monet’s house and garden in Giverny, France. Photograph: Getty


My wife, who is a keen gardener, will be 70 later this year and would like to go on an escorted tour of some gardens in France (around Paris) or Italy. She is fully mobile but steep slopes would be a bit of a problem. I would be going with her and am also mobile. – IP, Antrim

One of the most famous gardens to see in the Paris area is Monet’s inspiration, Giverny and a visit there will be included in a tour guided by gardening expert Dermot O’Neill in September, with,
tel: 028-90998620.

The four-day trip to Paris will also include a visit to the famous gardens at Versailles and to see the Rose Garden at Jardin de Bagatelle. There will be a boat trip on the Seine the first evening and the activity level is moderate. The price, from €799pps, includes flights, accommodation and all the tours.

O’Neill also guides a tour to the Gardens of Rome which includes the Vatican gardens and the Villa d’Este and is actually on this week and may not appear again until next spring. There is a tour to the gardens of the Italian lakes in October, details on the website.

Send your queries to

I would love to go on a walking holiday in Austria, probably on my own. Can you suggest some walking holidays? I would like my bags moved from place to place. – MH, Cork

Austria is a great country for walking holidays, with a well developed infrastructure., which is part of Navan Travel, has been arranging walking holidays in Austria for some years.

This year they will have independent walking on Eagles Way in Walschee in the Zahmer Kaiser Mountains in the Tirol.

The week’s guided walking will take you from Walschee to Achenkirch, staying in three hotels along the way on a half board basis. Luggage and transfers are included in the price, from €729pps, single supplement is €100 and flights are extra.

Uwalk will also have group walks this year to the Zillertal Alps, based at Mayrhofen, and another at Zell am See, the lakeside town under the Schmittenhöhe. If you are looking for more challenging walks, a trip to the Oetz Valley in Solden will have a choice of more strenuous adventures, Prices work out at about €100 per day half board, with €10-15 per night single supplement.

Another walk to consider in Austria is the Alpe Adria trail that connects the three regions of Carinithia. The long distance hiking trail leads from Austria’s highest mountain, the Grossglocker, through mountains and lakes to where Austria, Italy and Slovenia intersect. See for details.

Send your queries to

I am planning a trip to Paris in early June with three friends. Would you be able to recommend accommodation that is central to the hotspots, but also relatively cheap? (Nothing too basic, but also keeping college students’ budget in mind.)

– EC, Dublin

The one thing about Paris, is that you get what you pay for, and not a lot of it at that. The less you pay, the further from the city centre you may find yourselves. French budget hotels tend to be quite basic, but not bad. Ibis Hotels has quite a few properties in and around the city centre, costing from €100-€130 per night. See See also,, for hotels at prices from around €89 to €120.

Montmartre tends to be a cheaper area for hotels and is lively. Have a look also at what deals is offering. I have seen Paris trips for three nights with flights and hotel costing from €320pps.

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