Saturday, November 16, 2013


When planning a vacation to a foreign country, it is best to lock in the Three Main Components of your trip -- 
  1. The Dates --  how long will you stay

2)  Flight Reservations

3)  Hotel / Apt / sleep accommodations - where you will stay   


Based on my experience from my travels to Paris over the past ten years, I learned this the hard way.  I figured I had plenty of time before I was leaving to play around before making any real commitment.
Some scenarios went like this:
  • Waiting too long to set the date, book flights, and hotel then finding my ideal dates no longer worked.  Either because the accommodations were full or more expensive.
  • Booked a great hotel deal but waited on the flight arrangements only to find the dates didn't match and I had to find another more expensive hotel the first three days before moving into my 'good deal' hotel.  Then had to adjust the dates for the 'good deal' hotel which no longer fit into the parameters for the discount and a surcharge was added.
  • Waiting for a better rate on the flight without checking out the pattern for pricing then ending up paying a higher price than planned.
All creating frustration as well as spending extra time and money unnecessarily.

One thing that is constant in my planning is if I have these Three Main Components set SIX MONTHS IN PRIOR to my preferred date, everything seems to fall into place with ease.  Any time I wait just a week or two beyond the magic six months mark, I end up spending many more hours trying to patchwork my trip, settling for what I can get instead of what I really wanted.

Once you've locked in the when you'll leave, how you'll get there and where you'll stay, you have lots of options for choosing what you will fill your days doing because your foundation is set and the framework is in place, ready to build upon.

Planning your trip should be a fun and exciting process -- creating a period of time where you will be leaving your day to day world behind.  When traveling to another country, you open yourself to their cultural uniqueness which can often mean so many possibilities to explore that it can be overwhelming.  Having your Three Main Components set allows you to hone into that time period to look for special events, exhibitions, and opportunities you can take advantage of along with the obvious attractions and of course, leaving room for some spontaneity.  Or if you are someone who doesn't have the time or doesn't find planning an enjoyable experience, you have can have the planning done for you by taking a TOUR* that fits with your interests.

I cannot emphasize enough how this kind of prep work gives you the freedom and security that sets the stage for a fabulous travel experience. 

My absolute favorite place to visit is PARIS.  I never tire of returning and extend my trip to last at least 3 to 4 weeks at a time. 

So if you are thinking about a trip to Paris, you might want to consider our PARIS STAY TRAVEL PACKAGE we've coordinated with
GO AHEAD TOURS, departing on Saturday, September 27, 2014.  Which means the six month deadline for booking your reservations would be March 2014 and by booking this 'package' you will not only have in place the Three Main Components but also included are your shuttle service to/from the Paris airport and hotel, daily breakfast, Welcome Dinner, Tour Director staying with you on call throughout the whole trip.  This is extremely helpful and since the package is priced at a group rate, you really save time and money.  If you booked each aspect of the package separately, it would cost you more as well the extra paperwork and time you'd be spending.  The package leaves your daily schedule open for you to design your own itinerary either through GO AHEAD's optional excursions, plan your days independently or signing up for a TOUR*.

You only need $300 to lock in your reservation.  The balance isn't due until 70 days prior to your departure (July 16, 2014). 

Check out all the details and make your reservation on our website:

Or contact me directly at:

À Bientôt

*We are offering a 4 day, 2 night walking tour of Paris called ART-TEA-PARIS TOUR which as stated in the name, focuses on art and tea in the city of Paris coinciding with the GO AHEAD Paris City Stay Package.  Check out previous and future blogs that offer additional information as well as our website with all the details:

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

2014 PARIS CITY STAY TOUR dates announced

Our 2014 dates have been confirmed. 
Here is your chance to visit Paris on your own terms.

 As group coordinator for
we offer you an excellent group discount 
7 day travel package 
called PARIS: CITY STAY which includes:  
  • round trip airfare 
  • shuttle service to/from Paris airport & hotel   
  • hotel accommodations 
  • daily breakfast
  • on site Travel Director
  • membership in GO AHEAD awards program
The Travel Package pricing starts at $2,459 (depending on departure city) 
and is all inclusive including taxes, fees and deposit.

$300 deposit will hold your reservation.
To calculate pricing and review details, visit our site:

This travel package allows you to create your own schedule
while in Paris, doing what you want, when you want.

Or if you want the opportunity for a guided tour
that focuses on specific neighborhoods
where you will learn the characteristics of that particular 'arrondissment'
browse a local museum, stroll a local garden and
have afternoon tea.

If this sounds like something you would like to do,
then sign up for our ART-TEA PARIS Walking Tour --
4 days and two nights of experiencing Paris like a visitor, not a tourist.  
Small group of 4 - 8 travelers will keep this an intimateand personalized experience.

for complete details visit our website:

Traveling to Paris; old post

Finally, after 14 years of dreaming to return to France, I made it happen.  This is the first post after I arrived - October 2004.   ------------->>>>>>>>>>

The night before leaving, my friend Alicia came over and aligned my chakras. I felt soooo relaxed after that I did nothing. It was wonderful. But the next day I had last minute errands to run and also decided to take a smaller suitcase which meant packing and repacking to fit it all in. When 2am rolled around I knew I couldn't go to sleep because I'd never hear the alarm go off for my 5:30am drive to the airport. You know I am NOT a morning person.

It was also obvious by now that my plans were far too grandiose to be able to do everything I'd hoped to do. I wrote lists of things I wanted to do in Angers, at the chateau and in Paris. The Paris list was so big that when I tried to condense it, I gave up and decided to rethink my plan while I was on the plane. But since I didn't sleep the night before, during my flight from LA to Detroit, I slept -- very nicely.

The flight from Detroit to Paris was longer and I could get more done. I remember the last time I flew to Paris it seems forever and they kept coming by feeding us meals, hot baked cookies and bringing us warm, wet wash clothes. Post 9/11, that just wasn't happening. I did sit next to a woman who had signed up for the Rick Steve's tour I was on the waiting list for until I decided to go it alone. She was going for the same reason I was, to celebrate her 50th birthday. I pretty much slept most of the trip and all those revised plans would have to wait.

Once we landed, all but about 12 of us got their luggage. We wondered what was going on.

Then this guy came over and ceremoniously removed a piece of luggage that was directly in front of me.*  Finally, 45 minutes later our luggage came out and I had to rush to board the shuttle to Terminal 2 and catch the train to Angers in 45 minutes.

The shuttle took forever and when it finally arrived, just as I stepped forward to board, I was pushed back and told to wait for the next one.

Finally, in Terminal 2, I cannot find any signs directing me to the train station so it was time to use my French. Luckily the phrase "where is the train station" was one of the first things I learned to say. And I said it a lot. A stewardess was helpful and explain it was at the other end of the terminal. After thanking her I turned to see 2 military guys in fatigues and holding rifles with their hands on the trigger looking straight at me. I mustered a smile and rushed toward the other end of the terminal. 2A, 2B, 2C was endless and I had 15 minutes to get to the train. 2D finally showed up, 2E and finally 2F. I looked everywhere but couldn't find the train station. I figured I was going to miss the train and gave up. Saw some escalators to the side and checked. Sure enough there were train tracks down there. The train was coming in 3 minutes and an older couple was blocking the escalator as they loaded 5 pieces of luggage separately onto the escalator. The track I needed to take was at the bottom of the escalator. Within a minute it had arrived.
I got on at the nearest entrance and loaded my bags in the baggage compartment then looked for my seat. In my haste, I boarded the wrong train car but hot, sweaty, and tired, I plopped into a seat and figured I'd worry about it later. When the train conductor came by I explained in my broken French -- my luggage that way, my reserved seat was the other way. He was very kind and let me stay where I was.

The 1 1/2 hours went by fast and there I was in Angers. Once out of the train station, I could see my hotel directly across the street.
 The people in the hotel were gracious and it was nice to settle in to the room. But I knew if I stayed there I would be asleep within 5 minutes so I washed up and walk around to see what I could see until it was time for dinner. The weather was warm and sunny with a slight breeze -- perfect. My hotel was next to a boulangerie bustling with shoppers. You could smell the bread and the pastries were beautiful. Being hypoglycemic, I knew not to try them on an empty stomach. I had to wait until 7pm to eat and it was only 5pm so I toured the streets of Angers, window shopping and oh so happy to be there.

Returned to the hotel for dinner at their bistro -- my first real French meal in a very long time. I ordered a prix-fixe meal that includes usually 3 courses at one simple price which makes it easy to figure what you owe and hard to be overcharged -- something that is warned about in every tour book. Started with a salad, which was a meal in itself -- lettuce greens (not a piece of iceberg in site), lots of tomatoes, diced ham and warm goat cheese; perfection. The main course was a beef brochette with carrots, green beans, scalloped potatoes and roasted tomato with garlic and basil. Superb. Dessert was a vanilla creme brulee which is my all time favorite dessert and this time it was the real thing. All of this for 18 euro. Not bad at all -- oh yeah, and don't forget the bread.
Forced myself to stay awake until it was a normal bedtime by watching ER in French. Not bad for the first day.

>>>>>>>post script from this entry >>>>>>
 *It turned out that there was a bomb threat and they thought it was in the luggage from our flight.  This is what delayed our luggage being released. 
**After dinner I returned to my room that offered a great view of the fountain below and the train station across the street.
 I spent some time watching the nightlife from my window.  I owe the great room to my travel agent Yolande from Enchanted France.  Her expert preparations made this trip my dream come true.  She not only coordinated everything I wanted to do but added her own special touches that really made it much more enjoyable.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Happy Bastille Day!

Today, July 14th, 
France celebrates their Independence Day, 
otherwise known as Bastille Day.

My very first trip to France was in July 1990.  There were five of us.  We planned a month long trip spending most of our time in France.  A week in Paris, then visiting the Loire Valley and Chablis.  Next was a short visit to Brugge, Belgium then on to Amsterdam for several days and ending at The Hague in the Netherlands.

As it turned out, we would be in Paris for Bastille Day and anticipated being there for the holiday and a look into how the French celebrate it.

That morning we got up before dawn with the plan to get to the parade route early for a prime spot along the Avenue des Champs Elysees.
The Arc des Triomphe is the symbol of  the soldiers who fought and died for France during the Revolution and Napoleonic wars.
The names of all the victories are inscribed on the inner and outer surfaces.  Beneath its vault, centrally located directly under the arc is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of World War I.
The massive Arc is located in the center of the street where the Avenue des Champs Elysees begins with traffic circling around it to get to one of the eight streets that branch off from it.

That's where the parade starts then travels down the most famous street in the world, Avenue des Champs Elysees.  Where the most notable and expensive shops share space and the street is lined with chestnut trees. This famous avenue will lead you not only to the Arc des Triomphe but in the other direction to the Grand and Petit Palais, Place du Concorde, Tuillerie Gardens and the Louvre.
The sidewalks are wide and the trees are lit with tiny white lights that makes the street sparkle and shine.

But today, as we approached the area, we were greeting with a sudden halt as it seems many others had made the same plans we did.  There was a large mass of people not moving but as we tried to wade through them to get closer to the street for a better view, it became abundantly clear by their glaring faces that we were actually trying to cut in front of the crowds who had come before us and were not relinquishing their prized spots.
Avenue des Champs Elysees as seen from the top of the Arc des Triomphe

We were so far back that we couldn't even see the street or have any idea how close we were to it.  It was an unbelievable site of thousands of people tightly gathered for the big parade that was still hours away.  We discussed whether it was worth staying since we could see absolutely nothing but the French citizens ... unlike in America where we bring our lawn chairs, coolers, umbrellas, et al, just brought themselves so it was a solid mass of people.  Then we began to notice some were holding these funny-looking elongated square contraptions made out of paper.  We wondered what the heck they were and what were they used for.  So I decided to watch someone to see what they would do with it.  Eventually they took this long, square paper thing and lifted up and peered under it like a submarine periscope.  I alerted my companions and we watched in curious wonder.  Was it actually a type of periscope?  Someone near me had one and I tried to get a little closer to see how it worked.  Soon after, there was some brave person squeezing through the throngs, selling these crazy periscopes for just a few francs (this was pre euros).  We bought a couple to share and eager experience its use took turns trying it out.  Somehow it was ingeniously designed to actually see above the crowds and into the distance where the street was.  If I remember correctly, there was some kind of a magnified reflective mirror inside that allowed us to view the parade route.  Yes, we were going to be able to see the parade after all.
1919 World War I parade
After the parade, which was one of the longest I've ever seen, we returned to the hotel to freshen up from the long day in the hot sun and tight proximity to other hot bodies.  We would watch the fireworks at the Eiffel Tower then afterwards listen to the free concert with Jean Michel Jarre, if my memory serves me correctly.

Since we were staying near Notre Dame in the Latin Quarter, we opted to take the metro to the Eiffel Tower.  Once again, great minds thought alike.  At first the metro was busy but nothing crazy.  We boarded one of the cars and off we went, smiling, in a celebrating mood.  We were in Paris during their biggest holiday, how fantastic was that!  With each stop, the cars became more crowded.  Then to the point that we could no longer move.  So the five of us made sure we were squished together so no one would get lost.  By the next stop, it would be impossible for another body to get on and many of us hoped some would get off.  But instead, the platform was jammed with people waiting to get on and no one was getting off.  It was becoming hard to breath and we were feeling a bit panicky because people were annoyed all around us.  I'm not sure if the metro stopped running or if it just got too scary for us as the crowds got more and more agitated but we decided to get off the metro and walk.  It was not easy to get out of the car and through the crowed platform to the exits but when we finally did, we had missed the fireworks but were infinitely happy to be able to breathe fresh air and open space.  We didn't even bother to get closer to the Eiffel Tower and the concert but instead, tried to get our bearings and see how to find our way back to our hotel.  On the way, everyone everywhere in all the restaurants, bars and clubs (and there are lots of them on just about every street, were playing music loud, laughing, dancing and spilling out into the streets.  The French really know how to throw a party.  Overwhelmed with the days events, we quietly found our way back to our room.  That was one holiday we would never forget.

Sunday, June 30, 2013


We are no longer taking reservations for the PARIS City Stay Travel Package or for the ART-TEA PARIS TOUR scheduled for September 28 - October 4, 2013.

Congratulations to those who are joining us.  Looking forward to some fun and memorable experiences.

For those of you who hesitated for various reasons and missed your chance for the travel package and / or for celebrating the Art of Tea and Culture in Paris, we are planning another one around the same time next year -- 2014.

Keep a lookout for the announcement.  Now is the time to start planning and setting up your budget so you it will be easier to save for an adventure of a lifetime!

À Beintôt!

Monday, April 29, 2013

1 May - Labor Day (Fête du premier mai)

 May 1st / 1st Mai - Fête du premier maie
As in many places in the world, May 1st is Labor Day. It is an official day off in France,  national jour ferié (holiday). (In fact, much of the month of May seems to be an official holiday in France.) People give their friends a small bouquet of lily of the valley for good luck and the labor unions organize parades.

Labor Day was first instituted in 1935. During the month of May, there is a holiday nearly every week, so be prepared for stores, banks and museums to shut their doors for days at a time. It is a good idea to call museums, restaurants and hotels in advance to make sure they will be open.
Frenchman caricature
Trains and roads near major cities tend to get busy around the national holidays. Not coincidentally, this also happens to be the time when service unions (such as transporters, railroad workers, etc.) like to go on strike – something of a tradition, in fact. Travelers would do well to check ahead, particularly when planning a trip for the last week of June or first week of July!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

COLCOA 2013 - French Film Festival Week

If you live in the Los Angeles, CA area, this is THE French Film Festival to attend. 

Most of these films make their US Premiere and sometimes World Premiere here.

Below is an excerpt from the following link that gives a bit of background on this film festival .  .  .

"Don’t miss this exclusive series of 38 features and documentaries + 19 shorts films. The 17th COL•COA line up will include three International Premieres, 11 North American or U.S. Premieres, 16 West Coast Premiere. All Films presented with English subtitles or dubbed in English, at the Directors Guild of America Theater Complex from April 15 to April 22, 2013.
31 features & documentaries + 19 short films will compete for the 2013 COL•COA Awards, to be announced during the closing night (April 22).
The 2013 program will be released this Tuesday evening during a press conference at the Residence of France in Beverly Hills, CA. The line up will be available on at midnight.
COL•COA “A week of French Film Premieres in Hollywood” is presented by the French American Cultural Fund, a partnership of the DGA, the MPAA, the WGA West and La SACEM, with the support of The French Film and TV office of the French Embassy in the U.S., the CNC, the ARP and Unifrance.    . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    for additional information please click on the above link.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

ART-TEA PARIS WALKING TOUR - Conference Call; Wednesday, March 13, 2013


A CONFERENCE CALL has been set up for a presentation on our
travel program to Paris, FRANCE
September 28 - October 4, 2013
The group travel package is through GO  AHEAD  TOURS 
with PAPER ARCHITECT as group coordinator.
There are currently 18 spots still available.
Check out pricing and information on our website: 

And we will cover details for 
the 4 day ART-TEA PARIS Walking Tour 
directly through PAPER ARCHITECT.

There will be time for questions and instructions for registration.
The presentation will be approximately 90 minutes.

DATE:  Wednesday, March 13, 2013
TIME:  7pm PDT / 8pm MDT / 9pm CDT / 10pm EDT
Please RSVP to: 

We will send back a confirmation email with call-in details,
travel package and walking tour information
for your review prior to the call.

Join us even if you just have an interest in visiting Paris
and see if this might be the type of tour for you!

. . . à bientôt