I had planned this trip for over a year with this wonderful France travel agency and will be eternally grateful, not only for the perfect itinerary, but for the flawless execution of every aspect. It was beyond special. Our travel agency teamed us up with the most wonderful drivers and guides, who became friends by the end of our stay! Our driver in Paris, was there for us at every turn; to whisk us to our boat at Bateaux Parisens, to deliver us to and pick us up from the late show at the Moulin Rouge, and he was also there to help us with all of our luggage at the train station in Paris as we arrived from Caen. His unfailing good humor and fearless navigation skills, along with his innately kind nature, made us feel instantly comfortable.
We had a spectacular guide in Paris. She guided us through Versailles, the Musee d'Orsay, the Orangerie, the Marmottan-Claude Monet and the Rodin, just to name a few of the museums we visited. We were accorded instant access and did not have to wait in any of the long queues, courtesy of our travel agency and guide! She was a treasure trove of information and very intuitive with regard to where our interests lay. In American terminology, "we had a blast" with our guide! She had a disarming way with museum staff and in one instance, at the Rodin, was able to charm our way towards an extra 5 minute look at the upstairs of the interior as the museum was closing, so that we would not miss the sculptures of the fabulous Camille Claudel. I simply cannot express how much her knowledge, affability and charm added to our experience!
Diane, an American expatriate who has lived in France for over 30 years, was our driver/guide in Giverny and Normandy. Instantly comfortable with Diane, we so enjoyed our journey to Monet's home and gardens at Giverny. Blessed by spectacular weather, we were able to fully appreciate the beautiful gardens in full bloom and under blue, sunlit skies. Diane drove us to Honfleur, where we sat harbor side enjoying tea and conversation while taking in the sights of this beautiful seaside fishing village. We spent the next few days exploring the beaches of Normandy, the Norman Tapestry at Bayeux and two lovely chateaux in the area, while enjoying our stay in the very beautiful Chateau de Chenevieres.
Every detail of our trip was so perfect! When I began planning for this grand adventure, I had a vague idea of what I wanted to see and do. Our France travel agency was able to take my ideas and thoughts and shape them over time into a detailed, concrete plan incorporating museums, historical sites, nights of entertainment and plenty of free time for exploration. I feel so lucky to have found this company to make my dream a reality!
Other than the our drivers and guides, the most enjoyable parts of our trip were, in no particular order:
The staff and concierge (Xavier) at the Hotel Pont Royal in Paris, who could not have been more gracious and accommodating. From the warm staff to greet you in the breakfast room each morning to the meeting of any request of the front desk, with a smile and a, "of course, Madam".
The Chateau de Chenevieres, which is appropriately renowned for its wonderful restaurant. The Chateau is a gorgeous place to stay and the staff and the incredibly delicious food made it difficult to leave!
The museums of Paris...all of them that we were able to see and those that we hope to see the next time around.
The Paris bistro Carrette, which had the most wonderful onion soup, macarons and delicious hot tea.
The dinner cruise trip up the Seine in a glass topped boat, watching the Paris lights come up and sparkle on the Seine.
The show at the Moulin Rouge, where our travel agency had arranged a table for 2, two levels back, center of the stage, a perfect vantage point for enjoying an iconic show.
The American Cemetery at Colleville; a stunningly serene place that commemorates sacrifice and bravery. The gleaming crosses and stars of David in the manicured and tranquil surroundings stand in stark contrast with the horrors that transpired near this spot 70 years ago. An unforgettable experience.
Champagne..if you like champagne, I think it is difficult to get a bad bottle in France!
The only thing that I would do differently is to make fewer dinner reservations beforehand. In an effort to make sure we ate at a couple of the elite Paris restaurants, we left few nights open in our itinerary. However, a couple of the best meals we had in Paris were the ones just left to chance. One night we felt like enjoying pasta and Xavier, our concierge at the Hotel Pont Royal, made reservations for us at de Perrin, a little Ste. Germain des Pres neighborhood restaurant, where the language barrier made the visit interesting and the food was terrific! Also, the absolute best cheeseburger that I have enjoyed at any restaurant anywhere in the past 10 years, was at the Cafe Marly at the Louvre. Delicious and cooked to deep pink perfection, it was infinitely more enjoyable than one nearly 600 euro meal we had at one Paris landmark restaurant.
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