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Report 1263: Paris, in a Dream

By Kim from NJ, Spring 2006

Trip Description: A last minute trip to Paris to accompany my husband on business gave me the opportunity to explore the city on my own for a few days, followed by two wonderful days with him.

Destinations: Countries - France; Regions/Cities - Paris

Categories: Hotels/B&Bs; Art Trip; Foodie Trip; Shopping; Sightseeing; Independent Travel; 2 People

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Page 1 of 8: A Little Bit of Background

photo by Kim

View from Arc de Triomphe

The days have slipped by since we returned and I realized this morning if I don’t start this trip report now, while it’s fresh in my mind I may never start it. While I took notes in detail on some things, others I let slide. I need to capture my daily rhythm now.

First a little background for this trip came and went so quickly. About the second week of May, Chris called from his client and said, “I’m going to Paris in June. I have enough frequent flyer miles on American for you to go too. Come with me.”

Paris had never been on my radar until I started reading the SlowTrav trip reports. And even then, a pipe dream, some day in the distant future. But when Chris said, “Come with me,” well who was I to argue?

First came the booking of a hotel, two actually. Originally, Chris thought the client wanted to stay in Neuilly Sur Seine, at the Marriot Courtyard. So without hesitation, I jumped on a weekend getaway rate there of €111 a night including breakfast. Chris had to work during the week, so I booked those nights as a tag-on once his company stopped paying.

Next, came the begging and pleading. You see there was the matter of our two girls, and who would watch them. I would have loved to pull them from school and taken them along but June tickets to Paris were definitely out of our price range. So the begging and pleading of my mother (you never approach my father for such things), began. In the beginning, because of a previous engagement, she agreed to watch them Monday night and Thursday until we returned Sunday. A generous friend agreed to watch them the other two nights, Tuesday and Wednesday. I arranged with the school system for special busing for my elder and we were set. At the last minute, my mom’s friends cancelled their plans and she was able to watch the girls the entire time.

Okay, so begging and pleading done, I needed airline tickets. I spoke to an incredibly helpful agent at American because though they charge an extra $15 to book over the phone with frequent flyer miles, I find when booking with miles, you get greater service from a person than from a machine. Unfortunately, we did not have enough miles in the account for the unrestricted seats. Chris would after his next two trips but we’d be close to departure then (as it was May 18 or so and departure was June 12) and would have to worry about getting on the flight not to mention, pay an extra surcharge because we’d be booking within the three week of departure window. She suggested I buy miles; I called Chris on my cell phone and he agreed.

After much finagling, she found me a flight out of JFK to Paris departing at 9:30 pm, arriving about 10:30 am. JFK worked fine because as it happened Chris and his client were meeting there for their 7:30 flight on Air France, so we could take one car service and I could just wait in the airport the extra couple of hours. She reserved the tickets for me for two weeks but urged me to buy my extra miles immediately because it could take 72 hours to get them in the account and in a little more than that, I’d be within the three-week window and facing that surcharge.

After hanging up with the agent, who, also by the way, gave me suggestions for things to do, very friendly, I went on-line and bought my extra miles. In the end, it cost me $300 but heck, I was going to Paris and at that point, I didn’t care. The miles appeared in the account the next afternoon, I called American back and firmed up my reservation!

Now I had my tickets, I had my baby-sitting covered, and we had a hotel ... well almost. Chris informed me, the client had changed his mind. Well actually, there were two clients, Matt and Paul. Paul changed his mind. He wanted to stay close to their office, in the 9th arrondissement so they changed our hotel from the Marriott in Neuilly to the Ambassador on Boulevard Haussmann in the ninth. For the next three weeks, Chris and I went back and forth about staying in the ninth for our last two nights or moving out to our reservation in Neuilly. Five days before departure, we booked a small three star property in the ninth, not far from the Ambassador (there was no way we could afford the Ambassador for those last two nights) at €85 on Parisby.com. Now we had two hotel reservations for our last two nights. In the end, we determined to wait until we were in Paris, and could get the lay of the land before deciding, so more on this later.

Children, done. Hotels, done. Airfare, done. Let the cramming begin. I printed every trip report that mentioned Paris from SlowTrav.com, I posted in the France forum endlessly with questions. I purchased two guidebooks, Eyewitness Guide to Paris because I like the high level descriptions for initial planning, and the pictures, and Unofficial Guide to Paris because I liked the irreverence of the Unofficial Guides for Disney and London and the “tips” they offer. Friends sent guidebooks, The Collected Traveler Paris, Unexplored Paris, The Paris Map Guide, thanks Colleen and ShopAround. I set Tivo to capture anything on Paris, and it came up with two shows from the Travel Channel by Sam Brown. I scoured the web looking at everything and anything I could find. I ran out of time.

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