The Waiting List is how we assemble our group
As the roster builds, members of the waiting list will communicate, congeal and plan our days in Paris.
These communications do not appear on the web site.
The $250.00 entry fee is more than it was last year, but it is a reasonable commitment.
(and is fully refundable at any time prior to December 1st, 2016)
The entry fee also defrays your expenses in Paris, which include:
Gatherings at the end of the day, frequently hosted in someone’s hotel room – kind of a picnic, party and social hour
(or in the hotel lobby, a café, wine bar or bistro)
The occasional group Breakfast, Lunch or Special Dinner
One example is Breakfast, Christmas Morning after the Dawn Service at Notre Dame
Tickets to a special event which we agree upon such as
Movie tickets Christmas Day, a Church Concert or maybe even a Theater Event
And Sundry expenses. Maybe you need a metro ticket, postage stamp, cup of coffee, a spare euro or reimbursement for group expenses
If you participate in group events you will recoup most of your entry fee. But should you miss one of them, the entry fee is still a good investment. We have never charged for our time, and the benefits you receive are worth more than the entry fee.
You will find this competitive with the alternatives, primarily because, you book both your travel and lodging. We offer advice to ease your way.
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A good traveler hs no fixed plan and is not intent upon arriving
– Loa Tzu
Twenty-Five Days till we leave for Paris
(that’s just over three weeks)
If you are not going . . . it is never too late to join us. Because of unfortunate events in Paris, hotel rooms and air flight seats may have become available.
We have experienced increased web traffic over the past weeks because of Paris terrorism, but whether you go is your personal decision. For us, it’s a no-brainer – Paris may be the safest place to be. Obama is going to Paris today for the Climate Talks
Now is a good time to review hotel reservations and flight plans and investigate events and shows and maybe modify our itinerary.
Last year we discovered Le Bal de Vampires (Dance of the Vampires) a Roman Polanski theater production, which we attended New Years Eve.
The Opera Comique, is another recommendation, where we found fine affordable seats, comparable to good seats at Church Concerts, and much less expensive than dance or music events at major venues. Unfortunately the Opera Comique is closed for renovation this year.
A trip to Paris is an exercise in logistics, planning every moment to maximize the utility of our annual trip. Over time, we’ve realized that what we stumble upon during periods of disorientation is just as important as structured. Accordingly, there will be occasional walkabouts – excursions without a plan.
Preparing for a summer trip to Ireland spurred us to consider final preparations preceding travel
Excitement builds when the plane flies tomorrow. How can you travel light, pack everything you need but not omit essential items?
There are several classic quotes which submit that the journey is just as important as the destination. We find that to be true.
Here are some tasks to consider, last minute, before your travels to Paris
Place Mail on Hold
and use this as an excuse for some extensive house cleaning
(how would you want your survivors to find the place, in your absence)
Notify Credit Cards of Foreign Travel
Determine which banks you should use while abroad
Adjust Cell Phone Plan
Determine your wireless strategy while abroad
Fortunately, even foreign calls are included in some phone plans
Did you bring earphones to listen to the in-flight media and movies
Otherwise you will be lucky if you even receive flimsy headphones
An L-Shaped Plug is preferred
You can’t bring bottled water through the security check
But you can bring a water bottle and fill it after clearing security at a drinking fountain
Are your Credit Cards Up-to-Date
(we never remove cash from Debit Cards, we didn’t notice that the Card has expired)
A good reason to carry 100 euros
Itinerary and Maps
Know where you are going and how to get there
Leave early for the airport (to start-off the trip on-the-right-foot)
What are your connections upon arrival
Directions and Maps to Accommodations and Important Addresses throughout your trip
A Portable Desk
Important phone numbers and addresses for correspondence
Stationary, Paper, Envelopes, Business Cards, Note Cards and Index Cards
Writing Implements: a collection of your favorite pens
Electronics Toys and Connections
Bring 1 (better 2) converter outlets
I usually leave one in the outlet (they are inexpensive in bulk and Very Expensive at the Airport)
A second (perhaps inactive) smart phone, for streaming hotel Wi-Fi
You can’t stream certain content (Netflix) in Europe
U.S. Global Postcard Stamps
Or buy French Stamps at the airport upon arrival
(which have so much more cachet and authenticity)
Our last postcard mailed from Europe bore not postal cancellation and with the US Global Postcard Stamp, there was not evidence that it was even mailed from outside the U.S.
And wear your best pair of underwear
(taking a trip is a great time to buy some new undergarments)
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step (Lao Tzu)
If you fly – you have stories
perhaps of how air flight is not what it used-to-be and how a greyhound bus ride is more practical and civilized
We still find the trip to the airport exciting. You will see the best in people and the worst in people, so this is the chance to exhibit your best behavior.
Last year (January 2015) we arrived at Charles de Gaulle Airport (Paris) on New Years Day to discover the return flight home been cancelled. Maybe if we arrived 2 hours in advance, things could have been slightly different. We spent the whole day at the airport with a meal voucher that no one would accept. Arrived in New York (JFK) minutes before everyone at the airline counter went home and practically had to beg for a hotel room. After an airport rail shuttle, we waited almost an hour in the January chill for the bus to a hotel. Arrived home a day late. In retrospect, we might have spent an extra night in Paris instead of the tedious day at the airport
(this story compliments of American Airlines)
Also, although we made reservations for this trip in early January, we received a cryptic and somewhat anonymous voice mail during the summer – our flight had been cancelled. Instead of accepting the offer of an inferior flight with a layover, we spent an extra $100.00 to find a replacement non-stop flight. The seat was perilously close to the rear commode.
(this story compliments of Delta Airlines)
High Winds and Flight Delays
The prior year (December 2013), after hours of maintenance delays (standing at the gate and waiting on the plane while “paperwork” was completed) we departed for Paris. In the hour before landing at Charles de Gaulle, the pilot informed passengers that high winds had closed the airport and rerouted the flight into Zurich. Because of all the delays, the crew had already spent the maximum time allowed on the aircraft and couldn’t fly us back to Paris. Instead, we boarded a bus from Zurich to Paris, a road trip which took about as long as the trans-Atlantic-flight earlier in the day (but without the in-flight entertainment, meals and flight attendants). The bus arrived at the empty Paris Airport around midnight. No Metro. No ATMs. The taxi fare amounted to $100 in US dollars, which was never reimbursed. The first day in Paris was spent on a bus from Zurich to Paris
(this story compliments of American Airlines)
In December 2012 we purchased reasonably priced tickets, thru Washington DC, and then Toronto, before arriving in Paris. This makes a long day and short night before your first day in Paris. Maybe we should have found a spot to lay-down for a nap. On the positive side: the flight from Toronto to Paris on Air Canada – one of our favorite airlines.
These inconvenient, wastes of time and money seem inexcusable, although it is always better than compromising flight safety. On the positive side, customer service staff always impress, especially when they arranged alternative flights for a plane of irate passengers. Choices of flights were provided to passengers and our difficulties arriving late into an airport should have been predictable. Lessons were learned and stories earned. In some ways we enjoy the puzzle of challenges moving thru the maze that is travel.
We will stay in four different areas around Pairs
This year we will spend two nights in Central Paris
Although we spend most days in close proximity to the Seine
We usually prefer to stay some distance from the core tourist areas
It will be a little cramped, but we can walk instead of taking the Metro
And take advantage of Evening Hours at Museums
We have learned to avoid Versailles during the weekend
So this year, we wisely visit on Monday and Tuesday
You can Tour the Chateau on Monday
Experience the French countryside and
Jog through the Gardens on Wednesday, before returning to Paris
As in several prior years, we start and end our trip on the high ground of Paris
Beginning among the hills of Montmartre and Sacre Couer
Then finishing atop La Defense, looking along the Champs-Élysées at the Arc de Triomphe
or between the sky scrapers down at La tour Eiffel
Just over-a-month till our departure across the sea to France
If you are a procrastinator, we are crossing the threshold of where airfares may begin to rise
(Under 20 days, it may be hard to find reasonable ticket prices)
For many of you, a flight to Paris is not a reality this year.
More realistically – a concept to push forward into next year.
If you are still sitting on the fence or even if there is no chance of joining us until Christmas 2015,
you can still experience some of the excitement:
If you don’t have a Passport , you can pick-up an application at your local post office
You can at-least-look-at Airfares
Sign Up for Emails from Airfare Watchdog or
Search for bargains with Aer Lingus, Icelandair, Lot Polish Airlines, Turkish Airlines
And Window-Shop for lodgings starting with the establishments where we will stay at Les Quatre Hôtels
If this is the year to join us, even if you are not absolutely certain . . .
Join our Waiting List so we can assemble our roster
For Paris – for me – for many years, just the dream sufficed
Subscribe to Paris Memos (mailing list)
Just 2 months till our departure across the sea to France
We realize that this is not a impulse venture.
For many of you, this could be a a once in a lifetime adventure, which means – “wait until next year”
Last weekend in Chicago, Les Tour de Cimetières visited Graceland Cemetery .
The grave sites include those of a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, the 1st African American Heavyweight Boxing Champion, Roger Ebert and a amazing cast of other occupants
Rooms may not be available at all the four Paris-area hotels (Les Quatre Hôtels ) where we will stay, so let us know if we can suggest alternative lodgings.
Subscribe to Paris Memos (mailing list)
What if you were to arrive at Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) Airport tomorrow?
I would take the RER B3 train into downtown (historic) Paris, very near Notre Dame de Paris
Then I would take the Métro to my hotel.
In fact I already have extra tickets from my last visit
(They say the tickets never expire)
The trip from CDG (Zone 5) requires a RER Zone-5 Ticket
which can be purchased at the large CDG ticket office located in Terminal 2
Tickets can be purchased at the nearby vending machine, but they often require a european style credit card which contains a chip
A Ride within the city on the Paris Métro requires a single ticket, which can be purchased in stacks of 10 called a Carnet
No ticket is required when we return to the airport early New Years Day morning
Beginning late New Year Eve, and into New Years Day, Métro and RER rides are free
Paris for the Holidays, spends two nights (outside of Paris) in Versailles (Zone 4)
Four Zone-4 RER Tickets will be required for the rides back-and-fourth from Versailles (RER C5) and central Paris
We are still doing the math, but this combination of tickets might justify purchasing a weekly card named, the Paris Passe Navigo Découverte which allows for unlimited travel from Monday to Sunday. We arrive on Wednesday and prefer to ride Vélib’ when we can
A 7-Day Vélib’ pass costs 8 euros
For an unlimited amount of 30-minute rides
A reasonable surcharge applies to rides exceeding that time
(but part of the fun is skipping among Vélib’ docking stations, to ensure your ride doesn’t exceed the 30 minutes)
maybe even getting lost and discovering another piece of Paris
Kay asks us:
“Exactly what is this trip is about and how much is it going to cost?
It sounds like a once in a lifetime experience, but it also sounds like a hoax”
There is nothing very Exact about our trip to Paris
This excursion is for individuals who could probably plan this trip on their own
Although it will be easier
-with a basic itinerary in place, and
-travel suggestions provided, while
-traveling as a member of a group.
Despite these conveniences, substantial effort is still required on your part to:
Purchase your airline ticket and
Book hotel reservations.
Once these transactions are completed, you’ll have an Exact departure date, an Exact venue for your accommodations, and then . . . everything else seems to fall into place.
It may be frustrating and scary to some, because no Exact price is attached to this trip. Some might prefer to write a check for an all-expense-paid trip which includes ground transportation, meals, museum tours, taxes and gratuities, etc.
If you make the trip to Paris for the Holidays, it is ultimately up to you to determine your budget, investigate airline tickets and shop for hotels reservations
This is not a Tour, so much as, an Activity which requires your participation
We will not be giving you a museum tour or shuttling you about Paris
But you can join us on the Metro (or Vélib’) ride to the museum
And hopefully, you will be telling us a story as we stand before a masterpiece at the Louvre
Or you have a tip on a remarkable place to eat
You can follow our schedule, stay at the same hotels and we can check-in together
Or you can do it your way
The aim is to assemble an interactive group, with everyone making contributions, but also free to operate independently.
And then see what happens
But, Nothing Exact
We will stay in Four Hotels (Quatre Hôtels) during our time in Paris
Wednesday, December 24th -Check-In
Friday, December 26th -Check-Out
Mercure Paris Montmartre Sacre Coeur, Paris
Expedia Ranking: **** (we rate it 3½, although we love this place)
1-3 Rue Caulaincourt, Paris, 75018 France
This is a basic and clean room, but in the most intricate and interesting of neighborhoods, with it’s dramatic topography
Rue Lepic, Sacre Coeur, Montmartre Cemetery, Moulin Rouge, Pathe! Cinema
We paid $142.88 per night
Friday, December 26th -Check In
Sunday, December 28th -Check-Out
Pullman Carsalles Chateau, Versailles
2 Bix Avenue De Paris, Versailles, Yvelines, 78000 France
Expedia Rating: **** (we rate it 4½)
A fine hotel, just down-the-street from the Palace
It is all about Versailles – the dense crowds of tourists in the Palace and the open air of the majestic Gardens
You might prefer the quaint historic portion of Versailles over the newer, more commercial district on the other side of town
We paid $173.49 per night
Sunday, December 28th -Check-In
Tuesday, December 30th -Check-Out
Novotel Paris Est, Bagnolet
1 Avenue de la Republique, Bognolet, Seine-Seint-Denis, 93177 France
Expedia Rating: **** (we also rate it a 4)
This is the most towering of the hotels, in a suburban district of expressways and parks
It’s one metro station from Pere LaChaise Cemetery and maybe our best chance to find that remarkable out-of-the-way Bistro
We paid $134.71 per night
Tuesday, December 30th -Check In
Thursday, January 1st -Check Out
Sofitel Paris La Defense Puteaux
33 Voie des Sculpteurs, Puteaux, Hauts-de-Seine, 92060 France
Expedia Rating: ***** (we also rate it a 5)
Luxury Hotel, in an Exclusively Business District
(with very little consumer commerce, except for the train station)
Clean Modern Plaza of Sculptures and La Grande Arche, Overlooking Paris
If you stayed in this hotel anywhere else in Paris, you couldn’t afford it
We paid $217.72 per night
Average per night: $167.20
The eight night total is: $1,337.60
(if you could find that agreeable person during our meetups to share a room in Paris, it would be less the $700.00 for 8 nights) Not Bad