Paris and Beyond

By Kathryn Comeau-Wong

Bizarre Itinerary? The lesser known must sees

When I received an invitation to go on a fam to Paris, I was excited to see what had changed since the last time I was there about 20 years ago. When I went through the itinerary, I was surprised to see that not one of the 'normal' attractions was on the itinerary. There wasn't one thing I had done before nor had ever been asked about - 'what a bizarre itinerary' I thought. Well it was fantastic and now I have little gems to share with my clients to make their France trips even more special.

  • Guided Gastronomy walking tour of Montmartre - Yes, many of us go for a stroll around Montmartre as we head towards Sacre Coeur. Consider adding a gastronomy tour to hear the history of the area such as why there are hooks on many of the store fronts, to see the last two windmills and of course to sample the local delights in the boulangeries (bakeries), charcuteries (delicatessens), fromageries (cheese shops), viennoiseries (Vienna style pastry shops), chocolateries (no explanation needed). Don't forget the liquor stores for some local absinth.
  • Private access from the top of the BHV department store - With multiple sites you can see some of the best views of Paris. Add on a trip to the secret garden at the top that grows produce, herbs and honey for some of the local restaurants. This is a quiet getaway right in the middle of the bustling city where you can book cooking classes, private yoga classes or even a small intimate wedding.
  • Vaux Le Vicomte - Only 42kms from Paris and you will be in the breathtaking Vaux Le Vicomte. This chateau was the inspiration for the more popular Versailles. Vaux Le Vicomte is privately owned, has original pieces from the 1700s and well worth the trip. Unlike other similar chateaux this site has a soul and energy to it unlike anywhere else I have been. Spoilled by a personal tour by the Comte himself definitely added to the experience from hearing the history first hand to childhood stories of the majestic residence. Have a wedding group that wants a castle venue? For only 50,000 euro you can rent the Castle. For a more modest experience go on a Saturday to see the site lit by 2,000 candles and a fireworks display. Once a year they also put on a big gala, which would be an incredible site to see.
  • Le Chateau Fontainbleu - Only an hour south of Paris you will find Le Chateau Fontainbleu, with it's famous horseshoe staircase, built by Napoleon Bonaparte himself. This is a beautiful property, and well worth the trip, but is more polished up than Vaux Le Vicomte and feels more like a museum.
  • 2CV around Paris - Take a 2CV tour, with driver around the city pf Paris. Have more than 3 people in your party? No problem, they will add another car, or two, or three, and make a little caravan to zip around the city.
  • Deauville - 2 hours west by train is the coastal city of Deauville. Like the Hamptons to New York, Deauville is the holiday spot for the locals as well as many many many celebrities. Dauville is home to an annual film festival which draws a lot of celebrities to La Normandie Barriere (5 star) and Le Royal Barriere (5 star classic), which you can also stay and feel like one of the rich and famous. Not a Louis Vutton or Coco Channel kind of person? Walk away from the water and into the stunning town of Deauville. Fantastic restaurants, shops, architecture to be had. In Deauville they are transforming an old convent to a new cultural center which will display permanent and temporary artist's works. We were lucky to have a tour of the project, with hard hats and all, which will be a great addition to the town once complete.
  • Guided 2CV/Estoufette tour around the country roads of Normandie - This was by far the most hilarious 3 hours I have ever spent on a tour. We had one guide for 10 of us in a 4 seater 2CV car mic'd up to the 7 seater Estoufette behind and 2 people from our party were driving with the instructions of our guide. These vehicles are no the easiest to drive, add the sarcastic humour of the guide and a play list of songs like "I will survive" and "Under Pressure" this tour is a really great time all while viewing the lush country roads and quaint Normandy towns. Within the tour, or on your own, stop at the Calvados Experience for a 4D history of the making, the theft, the come back and a taste test of this delicious liquor.

These are just a few different activities that you can experience when visiting Paris and France that are sure to make your stay enjoyable. Contact Kathryn for more details.