Paris Small Group Tours with Annie and Elyse, Episode 152

Paris small group tours with Annie and Elyse, Episode 152


Paris small group tours

A few months ago Annie and Elyse decided to take the plunge and organize some Paris small group tours. Elyse has extensive experience as a tour leader, but Annie had none up until now. But, what do you know? The tour was lots of fun and we’re ready to do it again!

On today’s episode we reminisce and discuss future plans. Why should you listen even if you have no desire to go on a tour with us? Because we share a lot of travel logistics gems in this episode, listen and learn!

Would you like to tour France with Annie and Elyse? Visit Addicted to France to choose an upcoming tour.

What You Will Learn About in this Episode

4’30 While leading the Inaugural Tour we ran into a lot of tour groups where there were so many people that it was just a one-way conversation.  It’s like factory tourism. What we’re doing is totally different because our groups are so small.

5’16 Touring with Annie and Elyse is like touring with family.

5’50 Because group members chose us based on the podcast, they were looking forward to it and knew what they were getting into.

6’20 We had group members from all over the US, we also had various ages, and it all worked out really well.

7’10 Our next Paris Tour is going to be October 1st through Oct 7th 2017 and we hope to announce 4 more Paris tours in 2018 as well.

8’50 Our tour started by going to a wine bar called Chez Nous, followed by a river Cruise on the Seine River. Next time we’ll probably start a little earlier on Sunday and visit the Luxembourg Gardens.

9’45 Two guys who thought the Luxembourg Gardens were ugly. When you look at something with no context, it’s hard to see the beauty or appreciate anything.

11’30 On Monday we didn’t start too early

12′ We lucked out on all the places we went to eat. Annie’s goal was to keep it around 15€-20€ for lunch and 30€-35€ for dinner. We were looking for good value and we found it!

13′ France is not a good place to keep a strict diet. No vacation is good for your diet, really, is it? We eat a lot of meat and dairy in France. Lots of duck and lamb, fish (fish is usually the “diet” choice on a French menu). But we also don’t eat fried food very much in France.

17′ We’ll be looking for a good audio solution to use all the time. We had a whisper system in some of the museums, but even there, they limit you to a specific amount of time. So we’ll be looking for a good solution.

17’50 Monday activities: Conciergerie (where Marie-Antoinette was held before she was beheaded), Sainte-Chapelle, restaurant Saint-Régis.

19′ Annie being recognized by her voice, an eerie experience for sure!

20’41 Notre Dame, Place de la Concorde, the Orangerie. “Droit de parole” complications. They give you an appointment at a specific time, which is not always suitable.

22′ Tuesday: Orsay Museum which isn’t very big as far as Paris museums are concerned. Lunch by the big clock. Arc de Triomphe and Champs Elysées. In future tours we will do a drive by night that will include all the big sights of Paris by night.

25′ Wednesday: Louvre Museum. If you want to have some peace in the Louvre you have to get off the beaten track and choose other pieces that are of interest to you ahead of time. There are lovely sections of decorative arts, music, Egypt, Roman and Greek, Babylonian, Islamic Arts, etc. Next time we do a tour we will spend a little time with each participant to help them decide about a good section for them so they can go explore that part and enjoy the Louvre with some peace and quiet.

29’30 Montmartre: Annie is not in love with the area, it’s too touristy and crass. Elyse will plan a different itinerary where we don’t spend so much time in the middle of the crowds. Wine tasting with a sommelier. Next time we’ll take the time to have dinner right after the wine tasting.

31’20 Thursday: Opéra Garnier, Galleries Lafayettes, Musée Rodin, then we went to Montparnasse, ate at a crêperie, we got soaked that night.

34’20 Friday: Marais walk with Elyse, lunch at l’As du Fallafel, Picasso Museum, dinner at Bouillon Racine on rue Racine.

37’40 Saturday: we split up that day. Annie went to Père Lachaise and Steve from Florida helped greatly because of his surveyor powers. Elyse went to the Pantheon, Sorbonne, Saint-Eitenne-du-Mont church, the Cluny Museum and the Latin Quarter in general. Then we all met together at the Centre Pompidou which was an add-on, and had some free time.

45’30 Next time we will add more shopping time and we’ll give people the choice of two different shopping areas. We’ll also add some time at a flea market or food market and a drive by night Uber ride around Paris. Next time we’ll choose a concert with more approachable music, probably not Notre Dame.

48’40 We will also add some excursions one day before the tour and another after the tour. We’ll do a day at Giverny on the Saturday before the Tour and a whole day at Versaille on the Sunday after the Tour. For 2018 we’ll set some dates for a Tour in April, another for May, then one in September and one in October. We won’t do a Tour in July and August because it’s too hot and June is too busy in Paris.

55′ Annie didn’t grow up wanting to be someone who evangelizes about France and a tour organizer, but Paris small group tours are so much fun, this is something worth investing time into.

56’38 Thank you for your support new Patreon donors Nancy Calkins, Todd Costella, and Stephanie Ellis. Thank you also Sophia Semensky and Paul Goess for tipping your guide.

58’37 Feedback on the previous episode on using Uber in Paris: using Uber between Disneyland and Paris city center. They had a really good experience using Uber in Paris, but it is true that most Uber drivers in Paris do not speak English. They had one bad experience with an Uber driver who never showed up at all and they grabbed a taxi instead. The Uber to get back to the airport to go home went well, but the ride took 1.5 hrs because the traffic was heavy.

Feedback on the Inaugural Tour from Steven Struck, his impressions and experience as a tour member. He also shares about his experiences moving to France.

People who have been to Paris before should not discount this tour because they are going to learn so much, my head got filled every day. And for people who have never been to Paris, what a great way to see Paris for the first time. Steven Struck, Inaugural Tour member.

Conclusion

Paris small group tours are hard to find because most tour operators would rather go for numbers. But we’re not like everyone else: a small group is the only sort of tour worth doing in our opinion. Hanging out in Paris for a week with people you will get to know and enjoy is the best way to make a lovely break from your daily life and recharge your batteries. We loved the 10 people who toured with us on this Inaugural Tour, we are so glad they chose to come see Paris with us and hope to have many wonderful small groups again.

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Tips for Using Uber in Paris, Episode 151


Blair Bell and her husband, Tips for using Uber in Paris

On this short episode of Join Us in France we are discussing tips on using Uber in Paris and those tips apply to a lot of big cites in France also. Blair compares the cost of Uber with taxis and public transportation. This was Blair’s third trip to Paris and because she was 34 weeks pregnant, she and her husband decided to mostly use Uber whereas in previous trips she had mostly used other modes of transportation.

Would you like to tour France with Annie and Elyse? Visit Addicted to France to choose an upcoming tour.

 Tips for Using Uber in Paris, Episode 151

What You Will Learn in this Episode with Timestamps

2’52 The biggest difference between using Uber in the US and in France is the language barrier.

3’25 Uber Pool vs. Uber Black: If you use the Uber Pool option, because it’s a big city, you will have a lot of people riding with you and it will add on to the time it takes to get where you want to go. Uber Pool is sometimes half the price of Uber Black, so it’s worth it if you’re not in a hurry.

4’05 No Uber Pop in France: Uber Pop is the Uber service with older cars.

4’30 To get an accurate bid you need to set your pin location properly. Sometimes you have to enter the address manually.

6’00 It’s hard to get a good estimate of how long before the driver will pick you up with Uber in Paris because of the traffic conditions.

7’10 Tips on what to do on May 1st in France. Blair suggests taking an organized tour on that day and going away from Paris with a group where everything is organized.

8’33 When using Uber in Paris you will get to use your French, and it’s good to also have the Google Translate App.

9’15 Uber Pool is a better option in the US than in Paris, that could be that it’s because there are fewer Uber drivers in Paris.

9’40 Uber in Paris is cheaper in August than during the rest of the year. That’s probably because it’s mostly tourists calling Uber in August, demand goes down, so prices go down as well.

10’25 Uber is worth it if you have more than two people in your party. To go from one of the Paris airports to either the city center or to Disneyland Paris, it’s definitely worth it. A taxi between CDG Airport and the left bank will run you over 60€, the same ride on Uber is at least 15€ cheaper.

11’35 Comparing the price of metro tickets to Uber in Paris. Blair and her husband took 20 trips with Uber in Paris. Twenty metro tickets for 20 trips for two would cots 60€ if bought in packs of 10 (it would be 76€ if buying single tickets). Those same trips with Uber cost them 185€. So Uber is about 3 times the price of taking the metro.

13′ Install the Uber App before you come to France, you will use the same App with the same credit card.

13’40 French cars also have a license plate on both the front and back of the car, so it’s easier to recognize the car if you don’t know European cars.

15′ Basic French phrases you will need when using Uber in Paris:

  • c’est à gauche = it’s on the left
  • c’est à droite = it’s on the right
  • allumez la climatisation s’il vous plaît = turn on the AC please

16’30 Some things Blair and her husband enjoyed in Paris: Paris Picnic. Blue Bike Tour was great too.

19′ What else did you wish you knew before you went? Uber in August is cheaper, if you go the rest of the year consider mixing things up and maybe using the bus system (see our episode on comparing the Paris Metro with the Paris Bus and details on how to use them both).

19’50 To go back and forth to the airport definitely use Uber. Here is information from the Uber website on where to wait for your Uber at CDG: from terminals 1, 2A, 2C, 2D and 2F, exit on the departure level. From terminals 2E, 2G and 3, exit on the arrivals level. Head outside and wait at the curb. Then enter your terminal and door number so your driver knows where to find you.

21’45 Air France buses between CDG and Paris city center.

Conclusion

Using Uber in Paris is a good option in many situations, even if you’re on a budget. Between the airport (CDG) and the center of Paris Uber turns out to be cheaper than RER tickets for 4 people, it’s also a lot more pleasant. Listen to this episode so you understand the ins and outs of ironing out the pesky details.

If you’ve used Uber in Paris and would like to give voice feedback to be included in an upcoming episode of the podcast, call 801-806-1015.

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A Slice of Life in the Lubéron, Episode 150

Slice of life in the Lubéron with Heather Long

Some people have all the luck: Heather Long got to spend a slice of life in the Lubéron and comes on the show to share her experiences and some delightful cultural misunderstandings that she experienced along the way.

In this episode we chat about restaurants and places she particularly enjoyed and why she recommends them. She also explains why you should not let yourself be intimidated by difference and that French people are a real and eager to get to know you and share their culture with you. Life in the Lubéron is simple and satisfying in ways that will surprise you.

Places mentioned in this episode

Lubéron, Ansouis, Lourmarin, Mérindol, Pertuis, Gorges de Régalons, Gordes, Vacqueyras, Gigondas, Cassis, les Calenques de Cassis, Marseille soccer, Cucuron, Bonnieux, Roussillon, Abbey de Sénanque

Recommended in this episode

Pizzeria Nonni in Lourmarin, L’Art Glacier in Ansouis Château la Dorgonne in La Tour d’Aigues, Château Constantin now owned by William Chase in Lourmarin, La Perle de Jade Vietnamese restaurant in La Tour d’Aigues, La Cave à Aimé in Mérindol, Fontaine de Vaucluse. Book: Footsteps – The Luberon and Surrounds

Related Episodes

If you like this episode you should check out Episode 110 on the Cannes Film Festival going on right now, Episode 66 on Arles, Episode 65 on the Pont du Gard, Episode 37 on Marseille.

Join Us in France Book Group on Goodreads

Would you like to tour France with Annie and Elyse? Visit Addicted to France to choose an upcoming tour.
 Support the show on Patreon.

A Slice of Life in the Lubéron with Heather Long

What You Will Learn in this Episode with Timestamps

[1’25 ] Thank you for joining the Patreon support Mike August and a shout-out to your husband’s most excellent podcast Scriptnotes.

[3’18] The Inaugural Paris Tour is happening this week, if you’d like to follow our adventures, ask to join our Facebook Group. To learn about our most current tour offerings go to Addicted to France.

[4’47] This whole episode is going to be about making other people drool about what you did in the Lubéron.

[5’17] The village of Ansouis, do you say the “s” or not?

[6’17] Heather introduces herself and why she and her husband spent two months in the Lubéron. This village was a good place to experience full immersion.

[7’51] How did you pick this lovely place in particular?

[8’25] One criteria was a walk-able town.

[9’55] The difference between a “maison de village” and a “lottissement” .

[10’20] A long-long time ago in many “maison de village”, the ground floor is where the animals used to live and people setup their house above the barn.

[11’26] On a different trip they stayed in Mérindol where they farmed silkworms.

[12’26] Let’s locate Ansouis and the Lubéron on a map.

[14’25] Scenic drive between Lourmarain and Gordes

[15’46] Books by Peter MaillePeter Maille made the Lubéron famous in the English-speaking world. What makes this area so charming.

[17’58] Why is France so scenic? There is a reason for this!

[19’22] Great books and movies about the Lubéro: Manon des Sources, Jean de Florette, and other books by Marcel Pagnol. Another good one is Les lettres de mon moulin (a collection of short stories, including “le curé de cucugnan” that Annie mentions). Uncorked is the book we’ll be reviewing soon on the podcast. You join the Join Us in France Book Group on Goodreads if you’re a reader.

[21’57] Playing “pétanque”, the bacci-like game.

[24’54] The unspoken yet very rules rules pertaining to drinking wine in France (and alcohol in general).

[25’15] Cooking with local foods: duck, rabbit, oysters. Eating outside by candle-light. Buying Paella and Rotisserie chicken at the market.

[29’31] Getting to know local markets when you stay for a while, and finding the ones that are more to your liking.

[30’34] Pizzeria Nonni in Lourmarin.

[31′] Some of the funny things that happened to them in France. Grocery shopping in Pertuis and how French grocery carts are different in France. How you should weigh fruits and vegetables before you get to the checkout. Feeling like a dumb American tourist.

[36′] Don’t be intimidated by difference, try things even if it’s new and strange!

[36’38] Attending a celebration  in the village and misunderstanding how village celebrations work. French guys trying to get the American visitors drunk.

[41’45] Spectacular fireworks display and getting to know people in the village because they weren’t afraid to attend this village celebration.

[42′] French people can come across as unfriendly because they don’t smile at you on the streets and they don’t talk to you on the streets.

[43’16] Bring your own bags at the grocery store! Using bio-degradable bags for loose produce.

[45’22] How did you find the house you were staying in?

[46’47] What are places you visited that you recommend?

  • L’Art Glacier near Ansouis
  • Château la Dorgonne in La Tour d’Aigues and the way they do the visit is original and delightful, they send their two dogs along and you can see the vines and the olive trees
  • Château Constantin now owned by William Chase in Lourmarin
  • Hiking in the Lubéron following path markers
  • Mushrooming
  • Gorges de Regalons near Mérindol (walk through a crevasse, many caves too, you can come up on the top of the mountain if you keep going long enough)
  • The scenic town of Gordes with art galeries
  • Vacqueyras and Gigondas, great places for wine, not as well-known as Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Vacqueyras has a great wine cooperative where you can buy the wine on tap

[50′] Americans may think that French people are fancy when it comes to wine, but we’re actually not for the most part. French people don’t drink wine at the wrong time of day, but it doesn’t matter if you drink it out of a plastic jug.

[60′] In Vacqueyras you will see the street lined with big “platane”(plane) trees and the Café du cours (not “coeur” as I said on the show) where they have a great duck barbecue dish.

[61′] Pizza trucks are dangerous in France!

[62′] Vietnamese food in La Tour d’Aigues, La Perle de Jade, they make great Vietnamese hot pot or fondue

[64′] Les Calenques de Cassis which are more difficult that it seems they should be.

[65′] Soccer match in Marseille where the fans are extremely intense: the sing, they chant, they dance, you can’t hear the person next to you talking.

[66′] Camargue to see the flamingo, the horses, the salt bays.

[67′] Cucuron is a delightful little town with a great market—funny name, it sounds like “rounded behind” in little French kid parlance.

[68′] Little wine bar called in Mérindol La Cave à Aimé.

[72′] Fontaine de Vaucluse, natural pool that floods the area around in the Spring, but it’s a dreamy beautiful blue the rest of the year. There is also a nice market there and the town is lovely too.

[75′] Bonnieux, it’s along the Gordes drive and it’s worth a stop. You can drive almost all the way to the top and then walk, there are beautiful trees, it’s a lovely place to stop for a picnic or stop at a restaurant. It’s steep and it overlooks the valley, so it is picturesque.

[77′] Roussillon and the red rocks. It’s a pleasant town to walk through, it’s a lovely place for a hike because it’s so different from other places in France or even in the Lubéron. Don’t just go through the town, but do hike around. There is a place in the city where you can pay an entry fee, but you can see the same things on other hiking paths.

[79′] Abbey de Sénanque, the most photographed lavender fields in Provence, the products the monks make there are wonderful, truly potent lavender products. The right time of year to see the lavender fields in bloom is late June to mid-July.

[81′] The light and scents of the Lubéron are what make it special. The environment there is unlike the rest of France. You get the sequedas, the dry air, lavender, thyme, rosemary, that grow wild, and when you step on them as you hike you get wonderful sensations. That’s why Van Gogh and Cézanne painted there, the light is gorgeous there.

Conclusion

The Lubéron has so much to offer, it’s hard to put your finger on only a few reasons to go spend some time there. Heather tells wonderful tales of discovery and of making genuine connections with locals. She went through the obligatory confusion about how things work in France, which is always entertaining to Annie as a French person who expects all of those things. Most of us never get to live there, but we should at least visit, don’t you think?


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