A Few Frequently Asked Questions
Who should come on this trip?
This is the perfect trip to take by yourself; you’ll make new friends and will always have people to do things with if you like. Or come with a friend or spouse or partner. You can spend time with each other and also have time to pursue your separate interests. The trip is also perfect for any small group that wants to travel together but doesn’t want the hassle of planning it all in advance.
Do note, though, that we travel primarily by Paris Metro – and there are very few escalators and virtually no elevators in the Metro system. Sometimes there are long walks even in the Metro when changing stations. You should be able to negotiate stairs and walk for some time on uneven pavement.
I’m coming with a spouse or partner and we want to share a room. Do we both have to pay the full rate?
For people who share a room, we offer a discount of $150 each. We’ve priced the trip primarily for people to have their own rooms, because French hotel rooms just aren’t as large as those in the U.S. But of course you can share a room if you prefer.
When is the trip?
The trip begins on Sunday, September 24, and ends on Saturday, September 30. Since most flights to Paris are overnight, you’ll fly out from your home city on Saturday to arrive Sunday morning in Paris. Do note that if you arrive on one of the very early morning flights, your hotel room may not be ready for several hours. The hotel will store your luggage so you can set off to explore on your own.
Why do you call this a “trip” and not a “tour”?
We’ve included the things we like best about group travel, including the convenience of having someone plan daily itineraries. But there are lots of things we dislike about tours, so here’s how this trip is different:
- You’ll see Paris through the eyes of Cara Black and her fictional detective Aimée Leduc, visiting places most tourists have never been – maybe even never heard of.
- You’ll never board a tour bus (a city bus on your own, yes, but never a tour bus).
- You won’t follow a tour guide, trying to keep up through crowded museums, listening to canned lectures.
- You won’t be seated at long tables for big group meals at “We accept bus tours” restaurants.
- You won’t have early morning calls to leave the hotel.
- On several days, you have a choice of two different activities, so you can follow your own interests.
- You’ll pay only for the things you actually do. You won’t be dragged to places you don’t care about.
- You only unpack and pack once – we’re not touring, but staying in Paris to really get to know it well.
Tell me about the trip leaders.
Cara Black is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of 16 books in the Private Investigator Aimée Leduc series, which is set in Paris. Cara has received multiple nominations for the Anthony and Macavity Awards, a Washington Post Book World Book of the Year citation, the Médaille de la Ville de Paris—the Paris City Medal, which is awarded in recognition of contribution to international culture, among many honors. She spends lots of time in Paris and loves to introduce the city to others.
Donna Morris has lived in Paris for the last ten years. She will become your best friend while you’re here. She created her company, Best Friend in Paris, in 2009 and spends her days exploring the city and sharing the treasures she’s discovered with her newfound friends. She speaks fluent French and has a passion for the food and wine of France.
What is the Hotel Relais Monceau like?
Most Americans, when they come to Paris, stay on the Left Bank. We love that area…except that it’s full of Americans. So we’ve chosen instead a typically French 4-star hotel in the 8th arrondissement, on the Right Bank. It’s in a beautiful, chic neighborhood where there are few other hotels – but within a block or two are a street market, an artisanal bakery, delightful cafés, Jacquemart André and Nissim de Camondo mansions and the Parc Monceau.
When you walk through the front doors of the hotel, there are quiet salons for you to relax in on either side, plus a small bar where they’ll open a bottle of wine for you and put your name on it for the next day if you like.
The bedrooms are simply furnished, but of a nice size by European standards. Windows open to the air, with classic French shutters to close at night for privacy and quiet. The bathrooms have double basins, plus a tub and shower and wooden floors. There’s a small dressing room area that can be closed off from both the bedroom and the hall, and most rooms have a hair dryer and mini-fridge.
We usually see few Americans at the hotel; most of the clientele are French or European. But the hotel staff speak English and are terrifically friendly and helpful.
What’s included in the breakfast?
Like many French hotels, the Relais Monceau offers a wide selection of croissants, rolls and pastries, cheeses, cold cuts, hard-boiled eggs, fruit, cereal, French yogurt and so on. But – unlike many continental hotels — they also have scrambled eggs and bacon or sausage and fresh-squeezed orange juice every day. And, of course, coffee, tea, other juices, still or sparkling water and milk.
What will the weather be like?
Fall in Paris is typically cool. It may rain lightly on some days, but we don’t expect hard rain. Because of its latitude, Paris starts getting dark in the late afternoon – but then all the lights make the city sparkle. Paris weather can vary wildly from year to year, so our advice is to come prepared for just about anything. Bring clothes suited for cool weather, an umbrella, a jacket and – most important of all – very comfortable walking shoes.
What to wear?
Like most cities these days, people wear just about anything during the day in Paris. Jeans are fine. At night, if you’re eating in neighborhood restaurants, you don’t need to dress up – jeans or casual slacks or skirts are fine. Of course, for any place where you need a reservation, you’ll want to dress appropriately.
Why aren’t lunches and dinners included in the price?
Restaurants that accept tour groups are usually the last places we want to eat. And there are just so many delicious choices for meals in Paris that we want everyone to be free to eat where and when they want. One day you might eat a sandwich for lunch, looking out toward the Eiffel Tower; or you might choose to browse the food stalls at one of the many street markets.
Alternatively, we often make lunch the biggest meal of the day, maybe even eating at a restaurant that would be too pricey at night. You’ll choose where you’ll eat, and with whom, and how much you want to spend.
Why aren’t there guided tours on this trip?
Frankly, we sometimes just get tired of listening to tour guides talk, when we’d rather explore for ourselves. Plus, these days, many places offer audioguides where we can choose which information and how much we want to listen to. We encourage you to pick up the audioguides in museums if you’d like some deeper information. And, of course, there’s plenty of information in printed guidebooks and on the web.
Is it safe to walk around by myself at night?
As in any city, it makes sense to be aware of your surroundings after dark. But in Paris it’s usually quite safe to be out on your own or with a friend in the evenings.
What you do have to watch out for in Paris is pickpockets in the areas where there are lots of tourists. They’re wily, so we recommend that you leave most of your money, credit cards and passport in the safe in your room, just taking with you what you need for one day. A handbag that you can sling over your shoulder and tuck high under your arm (with a good zipper) works better than bags with long straps that dangle below your waist.
I’d love to come on this trip, but I already have a favorite hotel in Paris. Can I stay there?
Because we’ll be doing so much coordination from the Relais Monceau, and all our walking and transportation directions start there, we don’t think it’s practical to stay in another hotel. Plus, staying elsewhere would make getting to the evening wine and planning meetings difficult. Of course you can stay somewhere else, but the price of the trip wouldn’t change, so it wouldn’t be a good value.
Some friends are going to be in Paris while I’m there. Can they come along with us?
Because we want to keep our groups small, we can’t invite your friends to come with us on our daily excursions. But you can bring them to our evening get-togethers. Please give us a day’s notice, and there’s a €10 per person charge for the wine and snacks.
Do you require us to buy travel insurance?
We strongly encourage it. Please read our Terms and Conditions carefully to see our cancellation policy. Please be aware that trip insurance companies are very strict about what they will and won’t reimburse you for, so read their policies closely as well.
What are the physical requirements of the trip?
We travel around the city almost exclusively by city bus and Metro – and there are almost no escalators or elevators in the Paris Metro system. Even the Louvre is short of easy access. Plus, of course, we’ll be taking several walking tours. So you’ll need to be able to walk several long blocks at a time without a rest stop, and navigate flights of stairs.
If I want to stay longer than six days, can you arrange that?
Yes. There’s so much to do in Paris that you could easily stay another three or four days. You can stay on at the hotel if rooms are available and we can arrange this for you. Just let us know. You can also arrive early, but we may not be available to assist you with your days as we’ll be busy getting ready for arrivals.
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