For years, we've dreamed about sharing "our" France with others. And this year, it's finally happening! September 10 - 18, 2015, Pascal and I will personally guide a small group (12 people) through Paris and the surrounding countryside for an insider experience of the sights, sounds, places, people, foods, wines, and pastries we love most. Want to join us? Here are the details:
The days. September 10-18, 2015
- Accommodations seven nights at Hotel Mayfair Paris, a lovely four-star property in the center of the city.
- Daily continental breakfast.
- Private round-trip airport transfers.
- Six-day Museum Pass giving admission to over 60 museums and monuments in Paris, including the Palace of Versailles.
- Seven-day Paris Visite Metro Pass, all zones.
- Two full days of guided exploration in the French countryside, including private mini-coach transportation each day.
What you'll see in the city:
Aaah…Paris. It’s the most-loved (and the most-visited) city in the world. Millions have admired the Eiffel Tower and paid homage to the Mona Lisa, but to a visitor, the real Paris can feel as elusive and enigmatic as the world’s most famous smile. In the Marais, the city’s oldest neighborhood, you will marvel at the architecture and appreciate the hustle and bustle as city dwellers shop in the fromageries and boulangeries, but what you won’t realize is that just beyond the busy streets, by way of a little passage off a small side street, you’ll find a romantic, peaceful rose garden, the Jardin Saint-Gilles-Grand-Veneur. This is where savvy Parisians go to savor the delicious puff pastries (chouquettes) they bought for their afternoon snack. Pascal and Charlene will give you the keys to the city, sharing their insider knowledge of its charms, its ways, and its best-kept secrets.
Travel with them to the 18th arrondissement where beyond the touristy Artists Square and iconic basilica of Sacre Coeur, you’ll discover a tiny hidden vineyard dating back to Roman times; the bistro where the local artists lunch; and the boulangerie that won the Grand Prix for the best baguette in all of Paris. Shop with them on market day as they help you navigate like a local, selecting cheese, fruits, bread, and wine for a picnic lunch you can enjoy al fresco in a charming neighborhood park. Want to try your hand at a game of petanque with the locals? Pascal will make the introductions and translate the rules. Prefer to shop like a true Parisienne? Charlene will lead you to her favorite boutiques. Join Pascal and Charlene for dinner at a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it neighborhood haunt. You may have to rely on them to translate the French-only menu, but you won’t need any help finishing the last bite of that succulent duck confit! As you stroll back to the hotel, reflecting on the day, you realize that today, instead of playing tourist, you enjoyed this metropolitan wonderland the same way the French do. Having uncovered a few of this city’s mysteries, you'll sport your own satisfied enigmatic smile.
What to expect in the country:
Just an hour outside of Paris, another France awaits. Take, for example, the charming little village of Flagy. The country roads beyond the forest of Fontainebleau lead to this centuries-old village where the old flour mill still stands. Wander the small cobblestoned streets and admire the charming cottages, each with its own vegetable garden beyond the canals. Meet the friendly village donkeys (birthed by the locals while their neighbor was off working in Paris); waddle after the families of ducks and swans who take swim breaks on the banks of the canal. Admire the local artist’s atelier as you walk past the village square to the bistro and café, a Mom-and-Pop enterprise where he makes the coffee and she cooks up the plat du jour—bon appetit!
It’s a different rhythm in the French countryside. You have all the time in the world to relax at the table. Drink another coffee, pen a postcard, and listen to the bird conversations outside the open window, the tractor slowly driving by. After lunch, we make our way to the home of a nearby antiquarian; after a lifetime of selling at the markets in Paris, he bought an old farmhouse and converted the barn into a store that sells incredible treasures (at a fraction of the Parisian prices!). You’ll want to compliment him on the garden he cultivates as he waits for the rare traveler to discover his hidden gem of a boutique. After exploring the charms of the next picture-perfect fairytale village, stop for an afternoon pastry at the boulangerie where there the flour-dusted baker will actually come out to say “Bonjour”. The sugary glaze on your almond croissant foreshadows the gorgeous afternoon light that begins to bathe the fields in gold. Now it all makes sense--you’ve just discovered the secret behind the “moveable feast” that is Paris: the simple, raw, natural beauty of the French countryside that has inspired artists, writers, royalty, and now, you.
The price: $2499 per person double occupancy for land arrangements.
- $500 deposit by March 31st.
- Final payment on or before August 1st.
- Due to the nature of group travel, all deposits and payment are nonrefundable.
- Cancellation insurance is available and recommended. Please ask for a quote.
We will close the group at 12 passengers, so don't wait until the deadline to join us! On-y-va? (Which means: "Ready to come with us?") Contact us and we'll put you in touch with our travel expert extraordinaire!