The 5:30 a.m. alarm wasn't so welcome this morning but we were excited to head to the Burgundy region of France. Our driver from BT Transfer was on time and helped the 7 of us into the van. We unfortunately had a long and rainy 3 hour drive to Puligny Montrachet.
We had reservations for a 10 a.m. tour at Olivier Leflaive's Vineyard. I booked the tour and lunch directly with Olivier Leflaive's staff/family and was also assured they could accommodate my dairy allergy. I hated to do it but I did have to send them an email explaining that we would be arriving a little late. The staff were wonderful and assured us we could either catch up with the group or pass on the vineyard tour and head onto the cellar tour. When we arrived we were shown where to drive to meet up with the rest of the group in the field. Our guide was explaining to us in English and French their process, the type of grapes, and the type of land. We were a little cold but it was very interesting, beautiful scenery, and an enjoyable time. After a quick walk back to the main building we were ready for the next tour which would be of the cellar. My mother, sister and I opted to stay at the hotel and try to warm up with some coffee. The rest of the group enjoyed the cellar tour and all of the information provided.
Our group met up again and it was time for lunch and a wine tasting. We opted for the Emotion menu. We started off lunch with Gougere's (cashews for me) with a glass of Bourgogne 2014. For our starter we enjoyed gently roasted Salmon and cucumbers along with both Auxey - Duresses 2013 and Saint Romain 2013. For our entree we enjoyed roasted Cod with chorizo and zucchini along with both Meursault 2013 and Meursault 1 2011. For dessert we were given either a cheese plate, a chocolate dessert, or fruit in my case along with a glass of Aloxe Corton 2013 (the only red wine). After lunch we purchased a couple bottles of wine and champagne to enjoy back in Paris. Our driver was on time as usual and we enjoyed a beautiful ride home.
Here's where things got tricky for me! I received an email from Paris City Vision informing me that our 10:00 a.m. group tour on Friday (which was booked months ago) was being cancelled due to a strike happening in Paris on Thursday. The only option I was given was to switch to a 6:00 p.m. tour that included time on a river cruise. This option didn't fit our group at all. I asked for a full refund and Paris City Vision was accommodating. So there I am on my phone researching, emailing and calling other tour companies to arrange a city tour of Paris for 25 adults in only 3 days. Luckily I found a couple of companies that could accommodate us. More on that in the next post.
Later that evening we met up with friends for dinner at Le Coq. We walked the couple of blocks to the restaurant and dined al fresco. This was our first experience with the difference between Bostonian's and Parisian's when it comes to cool weather. We opted to sit in the area that could accommodate a large group but without heaters. The temperature was between 55 and 65 degrees all week and we were in light jackets, or long sleeve shirts, etc. The Parisian's were in down jackets, wool coats, sweaters, and knit hats.
For starters we enjoyed the 4 tomato salad, quinoa and prawns, pizza, and artichokes with asparagus. For entrees we ordered the beef tartar, gilded chicken breast, filet of beef, salmon, and more. When it came time for dessert we ordered the Yuzu tart, a large creme caramel, and a giant profiterole.
After dinner we walked next door and took pictures with the Olympic rings and the Eiffel Tower. We watched the midnight light show and then took a leisurely walk back to our apartment.
We had a 7:20 p.m. flight on Air France booked along with my parents. I originally chose Air France for their flight times. Going to Paris wasn't a big deal time wise but coming home I knew that the wedding ended at midnight and I wouldn't be up for an early morning flight on American Airlines. Unfortunately I ran into a few snags with Air France. The first being our paid seats got refunded for our return flight due to an equipment change. Luckily this would be rectified later on.
We booked a car service to the airport with Airport Limo Boston. We were picked up in a clean SUV with a friendly driver who got us to the airport on time and safely. The 2nd issue we had with Air France was when neither I nor the customer service representative I was speaking with knew that Air France doesn't participate in TSA pre-check (so much for our global entry passes). The 3rd problem was when I realized that even though their website states they offer an allergy free meal it's actually not true. I ended up buying something safer in the airport and turning down Air France's meal service. The final issue was that I also prepaid our excess baggage on their website but it didn't trickle down to the airport staff. I had to pull up email receipts at check in. In regards to our flight it was on time, the staff was friendly and I found that I had more room in economy than on previous international flights.
We landed in France on time and then we hit the frustration many people talk about at charles de gaulle airport. From the time we landed to the time we left the airport it was 3 hours! Luckily my parents got to take the disability line due to my mom and her cane however they did have to sit and wait for us. Our amazing driver from BT Transfers waited for us the entire time! While we were in the customs line we were speaking with Brian from BT Transfers. We had originally planned an excursion to Versailles at noon for us and the rest of our group (already in Paris). There was no way we would make that time so Brian graciously rearranged our car service to 1:00 p.m.
Our driver took us and our luggage to the clean SUV and drove us to our AirBnb in Paris. We met up with the rest of our group and quickly toured the amazing apartment we rented. Our apartment offered 4 bedrooms, 2 baths, a living room, dining room, kitchen, and multiple terraces.
We quickly refreshed ourselves, enjoyed some snacks and hopped in our next car with BT Transfers to Versailles. Once we got to Versailles we had some confusion about where to be dropped off but our drivers were wonderful and took us to where we needed to be. We now had 3 hours to enjoy exploring the gardens (we visited on a Monday when the palace was closed). Our group walked for a little while but due to the rain we decided to rent 3 golf carts. This was perfect! We had a little convoy of tourists who got to stay mostly dry, explore a lot of the area, and keep those of us with ailments from having difficulties. When it was almost time for our pick up we dropped off those that couldn't walk too far at the entrance. The rest of us returned the golf carts and right as the sun was coming out we walked back to the entrance stopping along the way for more pictures.
Our drivers picked us up right on time and took us back to Paris. We now had a couple of hours to unwind with a glass of wine on the terrace with the amazing view of the Eiffel Tower!
Tonight we booked a private chef through La Belle Assiette for 11 adults. Chef Remy Coste and I had emailed a few days before hand to discuss the menu. For our group we were hoping to avoid veal, seafood, and dairy (for me). Chef Coste and his wife Florence arrived on time and fully prepared. The both of them were fun, personable, and talented! We enjoyed some Foie Gras Lollipops as an amuse bouche. Our starter was Ricotta Ravioli's with Basil for most of the guests and Beef Tataki for myself. Our entree was Beef with Sauteed Mushrooms and Truffled Mashed Potatoes (Oven Potatoes for me). For dessert we enjoyed a Rich Chocolate Cake with Figs and a Caramel Sauce (Chocolate Mousse with Figs for me). The entire meal was outstanding! We could not stop raving about the food and the service!
24 hours after leaving Boston we were in love with France, full with delicious food and wine, and ready to enjoy a good nights sleep.
For the past 8 months I have been working on my sister's wedding in Paris. There will be 12 of us spending a week in France with 14 other people flying in for 4-5 days.
Step 1 was flights and accommodations that would work for our guests. Check!
Step 2 was applying for Global Entry. Check
Step 3 was finding a wedding venue. Check
Step 4 was finding activities for our guests. Check
Step 5 was finding car service for us and our guests. Check
Then it became time for the details!
The group will be traveling with different airlines throughout the week. We've opted to travel with (Airline to be revealed later). When we looked at what worked best for us we considered the best departure times, allergen free meals, and great rates. Once we arrive in Paris we'll have a split stay. For the first part of the week we will be staying in an Airbnb apartment for the 9 of us! It looks fabulous and has amazing views! Most of us will be sightseeing together for 3 days. One day we will be touring the gardens of Versailles. The next day we will be driving down to the Burgundy region. We will be going on a tour of a vineyard and hopefully exploring the city of Beaune. The last day on our own we will be exploring Paris and ending our day at the Opera.
Once the rest of our guests arrive we will be moving to a hotel (Hotel to be revealed later). From there we will be exploring more of Paris either on our own or as a group. We have booked a tour and picnic for our guests to enjoy together (Vendors revealed later).
The day of the wedding we will bring our guests to the Seine River where we will enjoy the ceremony, dinner, and dancing all while viewing the sights of Paris. Wedding details are secret for now ;-)
Today we are looking into restaurants, museums, and more sights to see. I'm hoping to post daily as we find our highs and lows for each day. You can also follow along on my Instagram or Twitter pages.