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Two weeks in Paris guiding 4 couples. Need help with itinerary!

Two weeks in Paris guiding 4 couples. Need help with itinerary!

Old Oct 12th, 2014, 07:50 AM
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Well thanks Sandra for insinuating the OP will be escorting the elderly, that was good for a laugh. And hienstly, while I personally think this 'work' assignment is a recipe for disaster, it is pretty obvious that the OP works for a small, private firm and she does anything the boss asks. So HR comments are not the point. Doubt she's coming back. My own guess is that if the boss has money, chances are his parents and their friends do to; the idea of a barely traveled 20 something leading 8 mature people around Paris for two weeks also makes me laugh, a bit.
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Old Oct 12th, 2014, 11:30 AM
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Christina - I meant that the OP had probably caught on to the fact that all she was getting here was personal advice, rather than the travel hints she was hoping for.

Of course, that's the chance anyone takes when asking for opinions on a public forum. Perhaps she was just thinking out loud, but I bet her ears are ringing, and she's simply gone elsewhere for advice.
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Old Oct 16th, 2014, 06:21 PM
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No I'm still here. Is there a way to alert you when someone comments here? My boss will tell them that I will do all the leg work before the trip and book everything to complete the itinerary, but once I get there they will be accountable for themselves and how they sort things out. He wants me to be there in case his parents need help. His mom is not doing too well mentally and one of the reasons he wants to do this for her now. This takes a load off. I just need to stay on board until the company buyout is done and this will all be worth it. Thank you for the links! Any suggestions concerning where to dine, some attractions and fun activities? Is there a food tour? How do you divide paying when in a group dinner? Thank you!
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Old Oct 16th, 2014, 08:27 PM
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I did a wonderful food tour with Paris By Mouth recently. It was a little pricey but we had a lot of fun and I think it was worth it. You could likely book a private tour. Our guide was Catherine, a lovely young French woman married to an American. She lived in San Francisco for a few years so she really understands American as well as French culture.
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Old Oct 16th, 2014, 10:48 PM
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>>Is there a way to alert you when someone comments here? <<

There is no 'alert' function. You need to come back periodically -- click on your screen name and you'll see if there is any new activity on your thread.
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Old Oct 16th, 2014, 11:14 PM
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Click on your screen name in the upper right hand corner of the screen where it says "Welcome". That will bring up all of the posts you have made and let you know if there has been any activity on any of the threads you have been on.
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Old Oct 17th, 2014, 01:09 AM
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Tour group leaders (any size group) gather payment for meals, drinks, tickets, etc - in advance, from each individual. Then the group leader pays the bill. You can usually manage to ask the waiter to split the bill in half, but some will tell you that's not possible, and I've never seen separate checks. It's best to come prepared to pay for everyone.

I second ParisByMouth tours, but they sell out quickly and last around 2 hours, most of that on foot and sometimes on Metro. Might not be your best option. Other walking tours average 2 - 3 hours, with no rest stops.
Paris Walks is a decent way for them to see some highlights, and if they get tired, they can just leave the group and go sit in a cafe for awhile.
A short cooking class might be fun, if they're really interested. Or, Gerard Mulot has a tour, behind the scenes at one of his patisseries.

I would suggest the HOHO bus, if they have any mobility issues. You can get off and wander around, take the bus back if anyone is tired. Not the most efficient use of time, but pleasant for some people. A nighttime cruise on the Seine is always a good idea. Some people like the dinner cruises - I'm not crazy about them, but if they don't mind simple food, this would be an easy way to get them fed and entertained for one evening, anyway.

Dining options will mean reservations, and there is the probability that you will not all be seated together. Not many places have tables for 8 or more. You would have to give a budget per person in euros, and any food requirements, in order for anyone to really give good advice - alcohol and other beverages will be additional.
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Old Oct 17th, 2014, 02:45 AM
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Dining options will mean reservations, and there is the probability that you will not all be seated together. Not many places have tables for 8 or more

Reservations WILL be a must, but I don't think the 8 limit is true at all--we were able to eat very well with our 8--you will be 9. The bill was, of course, ours to pay. I think splitting the bill 9 ways is the easiest thing to do and will even out over the period of the trip. Have the OP keep the accounting--from money they have paid up front into an escrow? OR she just pays for mom, dad, and her and the others split it. It is going to look "cheesy" doing this at every meal at the table--so think about how to handle that.

I'll go back to 2 weeks in Paris--that is a long time. I'd be sure it included arrival and departure days--not all on the ground. If this is going forward as it seems to be, it's time to REALLY line out the total time, where to stay, how to get to and from the airports. Two taxis from CDG to your hotel? OR in this case, should the OP arrange for a car service to meet them (and be prepared if they don't).
then the hotel--book 5 rooms at the same hotel. Probably be sure it has breakfast, either included or available to cut down on one more arrangement.
AND then, what are the plans for day trips. I'd arrange them with Cityvision or Parisvision and take the day off from being responsible.
Good ones would be Giverney, Versailles, and maybe even the Loire.
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Old Oct 17th, 2014, 03:59 AM
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Hi parisbound 15,

I also highly recommend the Paris by Mouth tours. When I took the cheese tour, there were maybe 8 people in the tour overall, so it's pretty small. They do sell out quickly, so if you want to take one, you should make reservations immediately. Or, you can arrange a private tour since your group is large enough.

Here is the review I posted in my trip report for my trip to Paris last year:


We met in front of the Eric Kayser artisan Boulanger, where the eight tour participants chatted together and exchanged names, you know, and life stories. Our guide was none other than Meg herself, the founder of Paris by Mouth, and writer of gastronomic tales for travel media as well as the Wall Street Journal. She bought bread at Kayser then headed across the street to the renown (well . . . previously not by me . . . ) master cheese monger and maturing expert Androuet (http://androuet.com/). We all crowded into the small shop, where Meg began the lesson using the display of cheeses in front of us, discussing first the goat cheeses on the right, moving across the array to the hard cheeses, the washed cheeses, the brownish cheeses, and the soft. As she explained the terroir, the animal, the animal’s diet, the season, and the life of each cheese, she also ordered the cheeses that we would be tasting later, and the shop’s staff selected, cut, and wrapped each delicate piece. I didn’t write down what she said and promptly forgot fully half of it, but the general sense was wonderful.



Then we meandered down beautiful quiet streets of the 6th to the wine shop Le Derniere Goutte at 6 rue de Bourbon Le Chateau and walked through the (again, tiny) space to a room at the back and sat down on small stools. Meg sliced the baguettes, opened the cheeses, and then opened the first bottle of wine. As she poured wine and distributed cheese, she continued with more details about how the terroir of the southern part of a region differed from the northern part, etc. As we bit into the cheese, she encouraged us to taste the lavender of one or the influence of the wrap of another. She discussed radical fromagiers who broke the rules and created distinctive and delicious cheeses or how rebellious aging experts would age a cheese in the wrong region to bring unique notes into the cheese. Then we experimented with how each wine opened up the flavors of the cheese, or, in other cases, how the flavors of wine and cheese combated and cancelled each other. In all, we sampled 15 cheeses and about six bottles of wine.
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Old Oct 17th, 2014, 05:32 AM
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Yes, I was thinking a private tour from Paris by Mouth or a similar organization would work well for this group as you could go at the pace of the group. I think their regular tours are limited to 7 people but I could be wrong. Our tour did not involve that much walking and, unless someone in your group has walking issues, the pace was not quick. We had plenty of rest stops as we stopped into chocolate and pastry stops, a cheese stop, a meat store, etc. We nibbled along the way and had a picnic at the end.
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Old Oct 17th, 2014, 07:28 AM
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This tour guide is fantastic, used him for 8 of us for one-day tour from our cruise ship. Worked out an itinerary for us to see quite a few sights in the time we day in Paris. I booked tixs to Eiffel Tower and he took us to Eiffel and put us right at the head of the line for our 1 pm visit.

http://driverguidefrance.com/

Contact Christophe if you want to do any private tours with your group. You will be very happy! He is very honest, speaks excellent English, and does an excellent job of time management in seeing the sights.
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Old Oct 17th, 2014, 08:18 AM
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>>I think splitting the bill 9 ways is the easiest thing to do and will even out over the period of the trip.<<

Good luck w/ that

In a perfect world, of course that is what should be done . . .

But in any group of 9 adults it is VERY likely one or more will seriously object to splitting things evenly. "Suzie and Tom and Joe had wine, I only had still water -- and four people ate 3 courses, I only had two!" said with foot-stamping font on.

Been there, done that and it ain't fun. I wish you luck!
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Old Oct 17th, 2014, 09:10 AM
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These people are described as friends, if I recall correctly. When I eat out with a group of friends we all have a good idea of the cost of what we've ordered and contribute to the bill accordingly. There is always enough or more than enough in the pile at bill-pay time. I'd assume that this will be the case when you, as manager, count the pile to be sure. If you find you don't have enough, don't dither with the details, just ask the group for more and I have no doubt, you'll get it from some with no argument and any cheapskates will be dealt with by their peers later. Don't get involved, just handle it quickly and quietly. That may be something you'll be very good at by the end of the trip.
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Old Oct 17th, 2014, 10:21 AM
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2 weeks of at least two meals per day, assuming breakfast will be provided by the hotel. Do you really want to be splitting the check 9 ways up to 28 times? At the table? Think long and hard about how you plan to deal with this? And are you planning to be present for all the meals, and arranging them. I would give some consideration to planning periods of free time, which also means meals on their own, to allow these couples time to explore Paris not in a the group.
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Old Oct 17th, 2014, 10:29 AM
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It sounded to me in the OP's latest post, yesterday, that she plans to do just that, leave them largely to their own devices after arrival, a good plan, I think too. But I suspect there may be at least a few communal meals and that was what I was addressing above when it comes to bill time.
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Old Oct 17th, 2014, 11:19 AM
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I was the 9 way suggester and actually in France it is easier than the US--it is a total. So each couple will have 2 shares, and the op and parents 3. I DO realize it is cumbersome, but not impossible, and we have usually been able to do this with friends, as others pointed out. Just a suggestion from ALSO BTDT.
So now it is that the OP is just making arrangements to get people there, hotel, and now everyone is on their own?
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Old Oct 17th, 2014, 11:30 AM
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If you split the bill, at least you don't have to worry about tax and tips, as they are included, so you don't have to stress about what portion of the tax and tip is yours. There's always someone at the table who "forgets"
I wish we had the same thing here - sooo much more sensible.
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Old Oct 17th, 2014, 11:32 AM
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Gretchen, same point, I was posting at the same time!
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Old Oct 17th, 2014, 11:49 AM
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I'm having dinner with the group. This should be a dry run. Finally got them to commit to a specific date and time and at the moment all are showing up. Briefly spoke to each and can get a sense who to look out for. I have no patience for drama queens so hopefully I sensed wrong. I'll find out their needs and how dependent or capable they are. Would they even want me hovering once this is all figured out or can I just be a phone call away? His mom is the wild card. I understand the purpose of me going but still question how involved I should be once there.

Before the upcoming dinner, I plan to send a mass email and text to bring cash. Is this a good idea? He who wants the credit card points can charge the whole bill to his card and take the cash. They can do this on rotation so no one feels left out. You think this is fair?

Thank you for your time and suggestions thus far. Your guidance is much appreciated. This is all new to me so feel free to list any other must-do, must-ask, must-say before I walk into the den.
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Old Oct 17th, 2014, 12:03 PM
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Hidden amongst all the naysayers here there are a couple of posts with good advice. The first is Michael Osman. Convince your boss, or elect to do it on your own if you want, that you should engage him. He will help you a LOT. Google his name. Also, sign up for days that others will lead. Paris by Mouth is a great suggestion. Also, sign the group up for other private day tours. How about a cooking class? The Market Class days are great, go to a typical Paris market, buy the goods, cook the meal and share the results together. Two good ones that teach in English are La Cuisine Paris and Cook'n'with Class.

Take a Bike or Segway tour?

Spread the risk and reward over some local experts. Frankly, I think this sounds like a fun project but I'm sure there are headaches in your future.
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