Our experiences getting to, around, and home from France
I have mixed feelings about Air France. During the booking process we lost our paid seats due to an aircraft change. Luckily I consistently checked their website and seats eventually opened up for all of us. Apparently Air France doesn't offer an allergen free meal (like their website states). At the airport they didn't have our prepaid luggage listed. The biggest disappointment was that they don't participate in TSA pre-check. The flight attendants, the roominess, and the flight itself were all wonderful. Once we arrived at Charles de Gaul Airport we got jammed into a 3 hour customs line! The flight home was much easier! We checked in and delivered our luggage (this is actually self served with staff nearby to help), found the special assistance desk, got my mom in her wheelchair and ended up being the first people to board the plane. The flight home was similar although it was definitely a bumpier ride.
We booked the Tourisme Avenue Hotel for ourselves and suggested the hotel for the guests for my sister's wedding. In the end we had a total of 10 rooms reserved.
It was around 5 p.m. when my husband and I checked into Tourisme Avenue Hotel. The staff welcomed us right away, quickly checked us in and had notes about our group. Over the past few months I worked with Valerie to set up hair appointments for the wedding day, passing out welcome bags to our guests, and any other details needed. Valerie is a treasure!
Our room was a Family Suite on the 1st floor. Even though there were only 2 of us the room gave us a large king bed, medium sized bathroom with separate toilet (Japanese toilet), and another room made up of twin beds (we wished it had been a couch but this was just fine). Over the course of our 4 night stay we enjoyed an extremely clean room, a perfect location, and staff that truly go above and beyond (offering us beverages, space to get together in, and more). The only small complaint I could have is with the breakfast. The hotel offers a continental breakfast (for a cost). The breakfast includes breads, cereals, cold meats, boiled eggs, yogurt, and coffee. It would have been nice to have at least one warm dish.
The next morning when all other guests checked in it was obvious that the staff were professional, friendly, patient and welcoming!
Sadly 3 days before the tour Paris City Vision cancelled our booking due to a planned strike in Paris. Their offer of another tour didn't fit into our schedule and so I had to ask for a refund. Paris City Vision was very professional and I wouldn't hesitate to use them again. I found a savior in Daphne with L'Open Tour! Months ago I booked a private tour with another company for our large group. 3 days before our tour we received an email stating the tour would need to be cancelled due to a scheduled strike. I spent an afternoon emailing various companies to see if they could accommodate us. Daphne at L'Open Tour saved the day as far as I'm concerned! In addition to being extremely helpful, fast, and friendly, Daphne was able to secure a private bus for us at the original scheduled time we needed. Daphne listened to my needs and came up with a wonderful itinerary for our group. Finally I was able to select options, electronically sign, and pay for a private double-decker bus with 2 stops for our group. Phew!
On Friday morning we told all of our guests to meet at Tourisme Avenue Hotel before 10:00 am. L'Open tour's double-decker bus pulled up to our hotel right at 10! Perfect! Our very friendly driver didn't speak a lot of English and I didn't speak a lot of French but again thanks to both of our smart phones we did just fine!
Once we got everyone on board we were off for a nice drive through Paris on our way to Montmarte. In Montmarte we stopped and enjoyed a little more than a half hour in the area. Most of us walked up to Sacre Couer Basilica, some did a little shopping, and others played on the carousel. Once we were all back at the meeting spot we called our driver to pick us up. 5 minutes later and we were all back on board and ready to see more of Paris. From Montmarte we continued sightseeing on our way to our next stop at the Pantheon. We were scheduled to have a 10 minute stop at the Pantheon unfortunately it was 12:30 pm and we had to be in Trocadero Park around 1:00 pm. The group decided to forgo the stop and head to our scheduled picnic. Throughout our tour we did hit a fair amount of traffic sadly this caused us to miss the Pantheon, Champs Elysees, and the Arc de Triomphe.
We made our way over to Trocadero Park and our driver helped everyone off the bus and helped make sure nothing was left behind. We all agreed this was a perfect tour for our group! We all highly recommend L'Open Tour.
The lovely staff from Paris Picnic were friendly whether it was via email, phone call, or in person. We arrived in Trocadero Park after our tour and found a large area set up plus extra supplies to expand.
Our picnic consisted of water, champagne, baguettes, chips, cheese, charcuterie, pate, a variety of salads, fruit, brownies, and macarons. We were also given champagne flutes, cups, utensils, and napkins. Everything was plentiful, delicious, and satisfying. The entire group was completely wowed! Whether you are a couple or a large group ordering from Paris Picnic is a must!
During our week stay in Paris we had a variety of needs when it came to car services. The entire staff at BT Transfer are friendly, honest, efficient, and respond quickly to any email or texts. Brian was incredibly helpful to us whenever we ran into problems. Brian helped us get in contact with our driver when we were stuck at customs for 3 hours, he moved our time for a trip to Versailles when we were unable to make it, and would problem solve any other issues.
BT Transfer took us from the airport to our hotel, on a trip to Versailles for 9 adults, on a full day trip to Burgundy for 7 adults, 3 shuttles and a car for 25 adults to and from a wedding, and back to the airport. The staff were extremely helpful when it came to dealing with traffic and offering suggestions. All of the drivers were professional, the cars clean, and we always felt safe. We couldn’t recommend BT Transfer enough!
On the wedding day we had plans to meet the hairstylist at noon. Valerie called to let us know of her arrival and showed her to my room. Unfortunately, she felt that our room didn't have enough space for her to work. Valerie generously offered us the breakfast room of the hotel for the afternoon.
There were 4 of us having are hair done. My mother was first and with damp hair the stylist set her in curlers and allowed her to relax. Amanda was next and she had a chignon done with beautiful loose curls. I was next and I had a blow out with soft curls. My sister (the bride) had a half up do with lots of curls. The stylist was very friendly and patient when my sisters hair wasn't just right. In the end we all were very happy and ready on time for dressing.
At the last minute we decided to have a bouquet created for my sister. Greg was selected as the go between. We asked for small white or pale pink and of course pretty. Greg made his way down the street to Fleurs d'Auteuil. The florist created a stunning arrangement that we all loved!
We arrived very early to the yacht named Victoria. We had heard about horrible traffic due to several events happening in Paris. Our drivers arrived early and were very thoughtful in doing so. However there was hardly any traffic between our hotel and the yacht.
We had about a 10 minute wait until the staff graciously let us board (still early). We helped everyone get seated on the top deck of the yacht. I had the unfortunate task of walking back and forth along the cobblestones. First to the yacht, then to escort my mother and then to escort the bride. The ceremony was beautiful with the perfect mix of love and humor.
Once the ceremony ended we enjoyed cocktail hour along with family and couple photographs. The singer also performed during this time. At 8:30 pm we moved down into the dining room. We offered our guest a seating chart with their table numbers. We opted for a group of 5 tables perfect for our group.
Our starter was an Antipasti with Buffalo Mozzarella (Foie Gras for those with a dairy allergy). Our entree was Veal vegetables (Hake for dairy allergy). Next was a Cheese Course. For dessert we enjoyed the Power of Chocolate (Fruit Salad for dairy allergy). The food was elegantly presented, beautifully seasoned, and perfect portions. Guests raved about the food especially the veal.
In between the courses we enjoyed several speeches (even one from me which I'm petrified to do) and a couple of special dances. Isabelle and our wedding singer were very helpful in the timing of these events. Next came the incredible cake ceremony (with sparklers and all).
After dinner it was time to dance! We enjoyed music from a DJ as well as the talented singer. The evening was truly magical!
The next morning we finished packing and made our way to the airport with the bride and groom staying in Paris for another photoshoot. The entire week was filled with amazing moments, laughs and love. All of the time, effort, and planning was beyond worth it! We will cherish these memories for the rest of our lives.
For more about our time in Paris including restaurants, sightseeing, etc check out my select category France in my blog.