Wednesday morning we woke up and enjoyed breakfast cooked by my brother in law and my father. Most of our group was heading to the Catacombs which completely freak me out so I abstained. For our wedding guests I created little welcome bags. Inside was a map of Paris, Aleve, Shout Wipes, Altoids, a Sewing Kit, and this morning I went and purchased individual boxes of French Macarons from Pierre Herme. We walked up toward the Arc de Triomphe and shopped at Publicis Drugstore for the Macarons and more. Afterwards we spent some time taking photos at along the Champs Elysees. After walking back to the apartment we helped my mother to relax. Unfortunately I think jet lag and dehydration were making her feel unwell. I then got a little caught up emailing with L'Open Tour. Daphne saved the day as far as I'm concerned! In addition to being extremely helpful, fast, and friendly, Daphne was able to secure a bus for us at the exact 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 with 2 stops for our group. Phew!
Greg and I decided to finally leave the apartment and walk around Paris. Our first destination was Jardin du Luxembourg. We wandered past the gardens, the water features, and the children playing with the wooden boats. We stopped and said hi to the rest of our group who walked up from the catacombs before heading to our next stop.
We left the park and made our way to the Pantheon. Oh how I wish I was hungry! We walked right past my favorite Gelateria from Rome Italy....Grom!! Nearby was a beautiful church for a quick pictures. Our final destination was Notre Dame Cathedral. We wandered up past Shakespeare and Company (no time for shopping sadly) and lucked out with no line entering the Cathedral. We first lit a candle and said a prayer for a wonderful wedding and marriage for my sister and then explored the beauty of the Cathedral.
As time was running out we hopped into a taxi and made our way back to the apartment where we quickly changed clothes for the Opera. We picked up our luggage and made our way to Tourisme Avenue Hotel for check in (we booked our room a day early so that our guests could store valuables in our room until their rooms were ready. The staff were friendly at check in, found our reservation right away, and had notes about our group. Over the past few months I worked with Valerie to set up hair appointments on 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 that gave us a large king bed, medium sized bathroom with separate toilet (Japanese toilet), and separate area made up of twin beds (we wishes it had been a couch as advertised but this was just fine). Over the course of our 4 night stay we enjoyed clean rooms, a perfect location, and staff that truly go above and beyond. 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.
After quickly dropping off our belongings we grabbed a taxi, fought traffic, and met up with our grop at the Palais Garnier to see Cosi Fan Tutte.
The Palais Garnier is opulent, stunning, historical, and all around impressive. Unfortunately, not one of the 5 of us at the opera were impressed with Cosi Fan Tutte. The music was lovely, the singing beautiful, but the modern take on the opera was not what we were looking for. The scenery was a stark white room with glass panels on the sides of the stage. The costumes were knits, casual dresses, and sneakers. I love modern art, modern dance, and modern dining however when I got to a historic opera house for an Italian opera I don't want a modern interpretation. We all agreed to tour the building more at intermission and then make our exit. The universe gave us a sign that we made the right choice. We walked out the doors and into a Tango Milonga. My sister and her husband love to tango and are actually doing a tango for their first dance.
For dinner we texted a few more friends and decided to all meet at Le Grand Colbert. After a very short wait the staff set a table for the 8 of us. For starters we ordered the Hot Foie Gras with Rhubarb, Cold Foie Gras, Sardines, Oysters, Sea Snails, Escargots, and Lentil Salad. For entrees 1/2 Lobster with Mayonnaise, Beef Tartar, Belle Sole, and more that I can't exactly remember. If you have a sweet tooth I highly recommend the Pavlova with Strawberries for Dessert.
A quick Uber ride and we were back at our apartment where we enjoyed the sparkling Eiffel Tower with a final glass of wine.
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.
This review took place in October 2016.
I woke up to a big breakfast thanks to my father! Can't go wrong with Eggs, toast, bacon, and fruit especially when you don't have to make it! We all hopped in the car and made our way to Dead Horse State Park. We stopped at the visitor center first for a chat with the park guides and some souvenirs. Last year Greg, Fred and I hiked one of the trails but this year Fred got to relax in comfort with my parents. While they drove to the viewpoints Greg and I hiked our way up to Dead Horse Point.
We met Fred and my parents at Dead Horse Point where we walked around together for photographs. The area is great for families. There are restaurants, seating area, and beautiful views.
Before heading back to our AirBnb we drove up and down and back up the main road in Moab trying to decide on lunch!! 4 people with varying tastes and allergies can't always decide easily apparently. We finally opted for food from Fiesta Mexicana. The food was hot, fresh, and pretty tasty.
That night we hung in and had the insane task of organizing all of our stuff and all of our new purchases and pack up the car for the ride home. Luckily we had a very big Chevy Suburban!!!
This review is from October 2016.
Breakfast time so let's try a new place.....or not. We ventured into Sweet Cravings Restaurant. Unfortunately there is not one thing on their menu that was or could be dairy free. I wish I was kidding but I'm not. Two people in the restaurant confirmed this. Greg and I opted for some black coffee's and sat outside in the gorgeous sunshine with Fred while my parents dined inside. Their experience wasn't much better. They both ordered biscuits and gravy and the biscuits were hard as rocks and the gravy tasted like uncooked flour.
Once they were done we drove up the way to Peace Tree Cafe where I enjoyed breakfast last year. I ordered my warm quinoa bowl with coconut milk, maple syrup, and blueberries. Greg also ordered their green monster juice. Both were perfect to go items and a delicious and not overly filling breakfast.
Today we were exploring Arches National Park which was a little for my parents and a little for us. My parents got to experience the park at the viewpoints and we got to have them watch Fred as we went off on short hikes. We got to drive through the entire park together and then my parents dropped us off to hike at a few areas. We hiked Park Ave, Double Arch, Sand Arch, and Broken Arch. Unfortunately a few roads weren't passable due to flooding and other hikes would have taken us a longer time than we wanted to make them wait. This park is truly one of my happy places.
Leaving the park we drove back into Moab for a late lunch at Eddie McStiffs. Greg and I dined here last year too and so we knew what we could expect. We were greeted and given a table right away on their pet friendly patio. Our waiter was very friendly, funny, and took great care of us. We ordered the Miso Shrimp, Fish & Chips (which were gluten and dairy free), and the cowboy reuben burger. Our order consisted of large portions, fresh ingredients, and perfect seasoning.
To end the day we went back to our AirBnb for a bottle of wine, snacks and some star gazing!
This review took place in October 2016.
Early in the morning we left Sedona and made our way to our first stop of the day. We had previously been to the Grand Canyon South Rim but this would be the first for my parents. We found a parking spot easily and made our way to the visitor center area. My mother was unfortunately having a bad day with her knees but luckily there are several shaded areas for resting on the way up to the south rim. The 5 of us finally made our way to the Rim and we spent a couple of hours at different view points. Pets area allowed on trails above the Rim but I would love to go back and be able to go hiking in the canyon sometime.
When you are heading into the Grand Canyon South Rim and traffic starts to build up at the gates make sure you look around and see which gates are open. Apparently no one noticed the gate on the right hand side was open. We were able to by pass all of the traffic and sail right on through. Instead of heading back into the parking area we turned onto Desert View Rd to continue on to Kanab UT. Desert View Rd also offers multiple pull offs for beautiful and different views of the canyon.
Heading further north we were able to drive through Page AZ. In Page we got to take some peeks at Lake Powell and Glen Canyon Dam.
We have stayed in an Airbnb once before and we thought we'd give it a try on this trip. We booked a house in Kanab UT for 3 nights. Stewart's Point offered 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a great location, all the amenities you would need, and was very clean. Some areas of the house are a bit dated and there were some cracks in the wall but the home is very comfortable. I don't know if it's an Airbnb issue or an owner issue but I really wish all of the rules of the house were posted online. When we got to the house there was a booklet of rules. The rules weren't outrageous however it was a little shocking to arrive to that.