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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 26th, 2014, 04:34 PM
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If you're looking for a Paris based agency that specializes in customized planning and organizing of vacations in Paris you can contact this company:

http://savoirfaireparis.com/index.php?page=welcome
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Old Oct 27th, 2014, 12:37 PM
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Yikes. But not surprised. This is the kind of project that should be undertaken with a lot of guidance by a trained professional. And OP, you are the one who mentioned mental health issues, but don't take offense at the word dementia. As this onion is getting peeled back, the layers being revealed are getting more complex, and not in a good way. Do the other 3 couples really want to travel with a man who reduces his wife to tears at the planning dinner?
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Old Dec 9th, 2014, 10:54 AM
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Finally found this thread - (not easy without search function!)

It is one I meant to read but was sidetracked and then I couldn't find it and wondered if she had updated it at all. I guess not - wonder when the trip was scheduled.
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Old Dec 9th, 2014, 06:48 PM
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I just got back from a 9 night trip with 7 other family and friends. I booked all the tickets, the hotels( an AI and two hotels for pre and post trip , two different ones,) , and a private tour, I also booked the private transfer, and researched and planned two daytrips.. including researching the public transit , and where to shop and eat.

SHOOT ME.

Everyone had a good time.. I even had a good time.. but it was like "HERDING CATS" .. never again.

And these were mostly people I love.. and at least know!
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Old Dec 9th, 2014, 07:29 PM
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Now that you are battle hardened, would you mind sharing your experiences? You will not be the last one who has to do something like this. What happened as planned? What surprises did you encounter? What new insights about people in a foreign country have you gained from this experience? Where did you end up herding the group? What did you find out about yourself? What would you stay away the next time?
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Old Dec 9th, 2014, 08:30 PM
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Justine... you brave soul. I did something similar in my late 20s, coordinating a trip with my bat-sh*t-crazy inlaws and family friends who were travelling in Europe at the same time. My able bodied MIL had a meltdown about having to walk to the small distance to a train station with her luggage and wouldn't come out of her room for an hour; one of the inlaws used it as an opportunity to introduce the rest of the family to his new partner who, let's just say, *really* enjoyed the Amsterdam part of the vacation; and very good friends got into a loud and very public screaming match in the middle of the train station over how to read the schedule. But we all do crazy things, and agree to do crazy things, if it means we get to travel with those we love. At least that's what I told myself then. I'm much more careful now when I travel with family and set much clearer boundaries.
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Old Dec 10th, 2014, 08:43 PM
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Well.. my sons gf is mentally unbalanced.. not even kidding... she burst into tears and stormed out of a restaurant when she couldn't find something she liked on the menu... we chalked it up to nerves that first time.. then next day she commented laughingly to my stepdaughters friend that they were both part of the same club. The "dying father club".. ) both girls have fathers with terminal illnesses) and the friend who had been convinced by her father to go on the trip ,, burst into tears because it made her feel horrible.. we chalked that up to the stress of having a father dying.. Then the next night she went out with my daughter, step daughter, and daughters friend.. they informed me she had a totally inappropriate discussion about her sex life with my son.. ( yes.. with his little sister) .. and kissed my stepdaughter on the lips.. They would not elaborate on discussion other then to say it was disgusting.. not encouraged.. and totally off topic.
What sealed the deal is when she started crying and screaming on the private transfer because she "had to pee,, had to pee NOW" and the driver couldn't find a place to pull over in the pouring rain on a six lane highway.. ( he eventually pulled over because she became almost hysterical... and she jumped out and squatted right outside the sliding door of the van. On that same trip she flashed my son her naked boob.. and I happened to turn my head at that moment and got an eyeful( they were sitting directly behind us)
We think she is either manic depressive or bipolar, sorry do not know enough to tell the difference. I did take her aside to chat ,, and she informed me she was seeing a doctor who wanted her to go on meds.. but she couldn't drink on them so wanted to wait till after trip.

Son has been working up north , three weeks on and one week off.. he has only been dating her for a year.. and has only decided to return home 5 or 6 weeks ago to work here.. I think he is learning something.. and yes.. we do plan on having a private talk with him eventually.


On the practical side.

I learned it is extremely frustrating to get 8 people to agree on what a good dinner is.. and that meeting for dinner at 6.30 means we will all be ready at 7.15..

I learned that I hate shopping with 7 other people.. because one girl decides she wants to get braids done..and it ends up taking an hour and a half.. so the rest of us had to keep returning to the shop where she was having it done( we didn't want to leave her to return to resort on her own as resort was 35 minutes south on a major highway and no way was I letting two 18 yr old girls stand on the highway and get the collective themselves ( that's a public van bus system.. but its privately owned 15 passenger vans that just pull over anywhere on highway.. perfectly safe.. but sorry.. not leaving my girls to do that alone )

I learned that while we paid portions for everyone ( except step daugthers friend who is 24 and has a good job) that three of our travellers still owe us their portion( which was a fraction of the vacations costs) .. only my son paid his portion for himself and gf..

I learned that my daughter "ran out" of tip money on the 4th day ( it was their responsibility to bring their own tip money) ... and rather then stiff the maids etc.. I had to "lend" her more money..

I learned that four girls in one room take four times longer then two adults to get ready.. and that when they blow a fuse in the room by using four hair straightners and have four phones charging.. .. they are actually stupid enough to do it a SECOND time the next night.
I learned they expected /needed US to phone the front desk and explain they needed maintenance because while my step daughter did phone.. she said the lady " didn't speak English and couldn't understand her " so she HUNG UP on the desk clerk. We speak no Spanish really.. but somehow we were able to communicate just fine with the desk clerk when we phoned down.. sigh..

I experienced the joy of our step daughters friend vomiting during the flight.. sitting right beside moi.. loverly .. and she didn't know what do to with barf bag! Yes.. this is the 24 yr old.. so of course,, I had wet wipes ready( er I was aware of vomiting when it happened obviously) and had to kindly suggest she take vomit bag to washroom and ask stewardess and maybe rinse off her face.. I was in middle seat she was on aisle so I couldn't get up to help her first.

I learned that its important to always be the mommy with the bottomless purse with all sorts of things in it.. like .. when you go to the ruins of Tulum and everyone decides to jump in the water at the beach there cause the waves are bigger and body surf.. then your daughters friend emerges from the waves with a face of blood cause she got face slammed and has got a nose bleed.. dig out those kleenexs.. and then figure out what to do with handfuls of the blood soaked tissues , cause there is no garbages there and its a pristine beach .. ( I had to squish the soggy things down the neck of a empty water bottle so I could carry them up back into the ruins to find a garbage can) .
I had to do this without appearing to be grossed out as poor girl felt bad enough..

This may sound like we had a horrid trip.. but it wasn't really, it had some horrid aspects, and I would not do it again.. but honestly there were some good times that made up for it.
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Old Dec 10th, 2014, 10:16 PM
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PS I learned that when we say dinner is a 6:30 and no one is ready till 7.15 that when we arrive at restaurant and have to then wait almost an hour, that people look at ME like I should have not suggested that restaurant cause they had to wait so long for table and they were hungry..
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Old Dec 11th, 2014, 01:37 AM
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bi-polar or just ill mannered?
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Old Dec 11th, 2014, 08:08 AM
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No I don't think its just bad manners.. I think she is ill. It would have been easier to deal with if I though she was just rude and immature.. as it was , we all felt we had to walk on eggshells.. and be patient.
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Old Dec 11th, 2014, 08:56 AM
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Fully sympathize with your problems.

I once did a trip to Paris with a colleague I didn't know that well - attached to a business trip. And she turned out to be 1) pour little me who couldn't figure anything out and hated everything in Paris that was different from NYC and 2) was LATE for everything. (She had said she had been to europe before - but it turns out she was with her parents and they did everything - even though she was more than 30).

I finally solved the latter by telling her the wrong time for dinner reservation - and when she still wasn't ready - just giving her a piece of paper with the name and address of the rest and telling her to get a cab on her own (she was afraid of the Metro).

On the other issue - on day 2 I would just tell her my plans at breakfast. And she could come with me and do what I wanted or figure out her own plans. After one day spent sitting in the lobby of the hotel since she was afraid to go out, she decided to come with me. When she started complaining I kept offering to put her in a cab back to the hotel.

It was the longest 5 days of my life.
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Old Dec 11th, 2014, 09:34 AM
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Bad travel companions ( who may have been fine back home but go all Mr Hyde on holiday) suck.. lol

Being responsible for their happiness and itinerary is a thankless job.

Being in the OPs position.. frankly.. I would quit or schedule elective surgery for that time period so "sorry,, can't go" . Remember.. these are neither family or friends really,so she is basically going to get all the blame for any problems because shes supposed to be the one in charge.. and she can't really "fight back" ( I at least could rant at my kids to hurry up etc)

I have a dear dear friend.. love her to death.. took her for her first trip to Paris.. and discovered she is clueless about history( had no idea who lived in Versailles at one time , and found the French Revolution to be an interesting piece of NEWS) lol ,, and hated museums.. and every single moring she would get up and say " so what are we going to do today?" ... lol

I have travelled with family, friends and my hubby.. and frankly I like travelling solo or with hubby best.. ( even though I don't regret spending time with my kids and "building memories" with them)
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Old Dec 12th, 2014, 07:57 PM
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<<Being in the OPs position.. frankly.. I would quit or schedule elective surgery for that time period so "sorry,, can't go" .>>

It would seem the OP sees her position differently, that she was in total denial as to the enormity of the task or her inability to execute it, and unable to refuse her boss, but most interested in a free trip.

One can only wonder the current status.
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Old Mar 9th, 2015, 01:27 PM
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The trip is still happening but was moved to October. The jerk who made his wife cry backed out. Thank God!!! That couple is out and boss is coming. For those wondering the mom has depression not dementia. So here's the thing, I was hoping to take my personal vacay in October but will use it late May/early June instead. Which is better? Does it matter? I have 17 days of personal time and want to spend 5 to7 days in Paris. I also want to go to Berlin Barcelona Stockholm or Istanbul. I could also split the time between Paris and the Caribbean. Boss gave the OK to use part of my expense account in Paris (Paris only!) to scope it out - hotel/meals only. I want to use this time to rejuvenate but at same time get familiarized where to take them. FYI they want to stay near the Eiffel tower. Obviously I don't have to stay there but since I'm using ea, might be best to stay nearby. I'd like to make dining reservations before I leave. Is La Fourchette similar to Open Table? What are the best restaurants in Paris? Bare in mind although I will be alone, I will most likely take them to the same places including museums and all that.
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Old Mar 9th, 2015, 01:44 PM
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Unless your boss has specifically rejected the idea, there is no reason why you can't plan this trip using a travel agent and booking tours for the group. The tours can be small group tours that allow them to travel on their own. This might include a city tour one day, a trip to Versaille, to the Loire Valley to see some chateau, a trip to the Normandy beaches and Mount St. Michel, a trip to Giverny to see Monet home and gardens. They might like going to Rheims and the champagne country and also to the wine country. These little tours could fill most of their days. There also some nice little walking tours given by Paris Walks. You will have the lovely opportunity to make some meal reservations for them. Then they will need some scheduled free time.

I'd look at this as a fun project -- and good research for yourself to enjoy Paris in a way that you were unable to when you rushed through it before.
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Old Mar 9th, 2015, 07:43 PM
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By the way, as you have already gotten an inkling from the previous posts, shepherding this group may be like herding cats. I suggest that once you get the plan put together with the help of an experienced travel agent, you produce an itinerary and distribute it. You will need to be pleasant, but firm as your tone will dictate how well people will follow directions. Your charges will need to know that you will be on a strict timetable aside from any scheduled free time. They will have to be at meeting places on time, and that you cannot sacrifice the enjoyment of the group for the tardiness of a few.

One suggestion I have for a nice lunch or early dinner is Jules Verne in the Eiffel Tower. You must make reservations early. In all my years of going to Paris, I have never been able to get dinner reservations (don't plan early enough). Try to do dinner, but if you can't get reservations, lunch is also very nice. You can take them out on the terrace to get an aerial view of Paris. By the way, with reservations, you will be able to take a special elevator up to the restaurant without waiting in the long line to go up into the tower.
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Old Mar 10th, 2015, 12:39 AM
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1) Fantastic the boss is coming, make him do the herding
2) If you are staying in a hotel get concierge to book restaurant, shove the whole thing on him and test him during your first stay. Try and get most of the places near the hotel so you can walk rather than crash across town, just makes people feel they have some home turf
3) Tours out of town, great idea, uses limo/van and people have to be there on time, makes them responsible not you. Get Rheims and Versailles on the list now.
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Old Mar 10th, 2015, 03:37 AM
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I think lunch at JV is more appealing--you can actually SEE Paris--and it is like a live tourist map!!
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