This year for our birthdays, my best friend and I found an incredible deal to visit Paris. This deal included our flights, where we'd stay, some meals, and all the activities we wanted to do. All for under $2,000 a person too; we just couldn't pass it up. Little did we know that this trip would be even better than we could have imagined especially for the price and even with a couple of speed bumps along the way.
- To start we booked the trip in May 2019 with $500 deposits per person.
- The total trip cost $1984.53 per person. We had roughly 5 months to pay off the rest. We set up a payment plan schedule of 10 instalments of $150. We do this for all of the trips we book together because it's the easiest way to get everything paid off and to budget accordingly each month.
Now what do you get for $1984.53?
Roundtrip flights with seat selection, (1) Personal Item, (1) Carry On, (1) Checked Bag PP
*We flew American Airlines.
Roundtrip transfers from Airport & the hotel
7 Nights At the 3 Star Hotel: Hôtel Elysées Union (breakfast included)
Two day park tickets to visit Disneyland Paris & Disney Studios With Transfers
Skip The Line:Louvre Tour & Wine Tasting
Palace Of Versailles Tour- Half Day With Transfers
Eiffel Tower Climbing Experience With Summit Access
Yeah, we were really excited about piecing this vacation together.
Our Story Begins...
Our birthday trip had a rough start with flight delays, cancellations, and ended up with us having to spend a night at a hotel in Dallas with our long flight to Paris being pushed back a day. MSY was having power outage issues from a thunderstorm the night before which wasn't supposed to be as big of a deal as it ended up being. This also meant that we would not be able to visit Disney Studios as one of our scheduled Disney park days. To chill out from the stress the delays caused we got massages at Express Spa in the DFW Airport plus we had a long time before the flight boarded. Luckily no one else was seated in our row on the flight so we were able to spread out more which made the journey much more comfortable.
Once in Paris we grabbed our luggage and called the transfer company to get picked up. We weren't waiting long before our ride arrived and we hopped into a van along with 5 other travellers. We were the first to get dropped off and from the second we stepped out the van I could not contain my excitement for starring me straight down the street was the Eiffel Tower. It was a scene straight out of a movie!
We checked in and were advised my the receptionist to head downstairs quickly before they stopped serving breakfast. The receptionist also told us we could wait a little bit for a better room with a view had become available. We figured why not since they could hold our bags and we were starving for real food. Thus begins my 6-day binge on croissants (not sorry).
After my first delicious croissant love affair, we were able to bring our bags up to the room. It was super cute and the perfect size for my best friend and me. The most amazing aspect of our room though was the picturesque view. You open the french doors to the Juliet balcony and turn to your left to see the same amazing view of the Eiffel Tower we previously saw when first arriving at the hotel.
The firm beds were fine the first few nights but I definitely missed my fluffy bed by the end of the trip. The wifi worked very well at the hotel too. Oh! And our bathroom had a semi soaking tub which ended up being optimal for relaxation time after all the walking we did.
Once we unpacked our luggage, we headed out to the grocery store a couple of blocks away. The surrounding neighbourhood was so charming and that everything one could hope to see on such a trip. Here's what we bought at the grocery, "Carrefour City," and the local flower shop, "Des Fleurs":
We were lucky enough to be able to check out another style of room the hotel offers: The Two-Bedroom Apartment Suite. CLICK HERE to watch another video I made showing what our room was like and the inside of the two-bedroom. Once all of this was completed we were able to watch the Eiffel Tower Light Show for the first time before getting ready for bed with the big park day ahead of us.
My birthday! We were spending the day at Disneyland Paris. Another dream come true for a mega Disney fan like myself. I did feel like the park was smaller than the other ones I'm used to going to, but when I tell you my feet hurt at the end of the day, unlike any other park day I've had. It was bizarre.
We had another stroke of luck this day because the Alice in Wonderland Maze was supposed to still be down for refurbishment, but it was open when we got there! We were able to manage to experience every major ride and all the minor ones we wanted too (without Fastpasses to boot).
I also have to say Space Mountain in Disneyland Paris is beyond out of this world. Now the graphics/StarWars videos on the ride are not that great of quality. However, the ride's track outdoes both Mountains in America by a long shot. There were two upside-down loops and this weird sideways loop de loop thing. I couldn't help but laugh from the outrageousness of it all and I am a total scaredy-cat. *TIP: USE THE SINGLE RIDER LINE FOR LESS OF A WAIT*
Instead of returning to the pickup location with the transfer bus that brought us to the park, my best friend and I decided it would be a glorious time to try the public transportation. That was an experience and a half. We ended up making a new friend, who was originally from Paris but currently lives in Morrocco. He was 100% smitten with my bestie. A well dressed photographer of sorts but I was unable to find him on a Google search once back at the hotel. He had dreadlocks with one puka shell attached to the front-most dreadlock on the side of his face. We discussed comic books and the most recent Marvel movies on our train ride back towards the city. He was definitely an interesting character.
My travel companion accidentally riped her metro ticket while on the train and had to figure a way to get a second ticket. It was a very stressful and funny ordeal; we definitely stood out like basic Americans. I stood on one side of the turnstile while my bestie was stuck on the other trying to find another ticket booth. Keep in mind it's basically midnight at this point so there is hardly anyone around to easily assist and Jacie's phone was on 3%. We had a portable charger with us but my best friend had forgotten to bring her cord with us that day. Luck was on our side again as she was able to locate a lovely Parisian man who spoke enough English and my best friend understood enough French to communicate and help her find the ticket area to get back through the turnstile by me. *TIP: Do NOT lose your metro tickets OR rip them in half.* Once we got through the metro we made it back to the hotel safe and utterly exhausted.
Louvre & Wine Tasting
My best friend's birthday! We slept most of the morning and I had breakfast in bed with fresh-squeezed orange juice mimosas. We headed out around 5 PM to meet our tour guide in front of the Arc De Triumph Du Carousel. We made friends with a married couple, Patricia and Leo all thanks to Leo wearing a Saints' football beanie. By the end of the tour, we also made friends with a family from Los Angeles and another retired couple who was wrapping up a 6-week trek across France's wine country.
Thanks to being in a group we skipped the long line when entering the Louvre. Our tour guide was a little late for our walkthrough but was very knowledgable about the pieces she showed us in the museum. She is getting her PHD and writing a book on music festivals.
The tour focused on "Psyche Revived By Cupid's Kiss," "Winged Victory," "Venus De Milo," and the "Mona Lisa." I may have strayed from the group a little bit to check out other pieces. Once we finished at the Louvre, our guide walked us a few blocks away to Ô Chateau for the wine tasting.
Our Sommelier, Rudy, was a delight and ended up bringing out a fourth bottle of wine for us to try. The charcuterie board served with wines was delicious as well. Bestie loves wine and had a marvellous time. It just so happens the 4th wine Rudy brought out ended up being the first wine I can truly say I am a big fan of. We ended up taking two bottles back to the hotel with us.
Unfortunately, it seems the wine rather liked us a bit too much as well because we received a noise complaint once back in our hotel room. We were profusely apologetic but have also had a good laugh about it since then. This was definitely one of my favourite nights.
Palace Of Versailles
We visited the Palace of Versaille in the afternoon through another group tour. This one was provided by ParisCityVision. If you book any tour or activity through their office, you must get to the ticket pick up location early as the line is very long and not organized efficiently. The bus ride to Versaille passed several historic monuments and the bus driver pointed out the tunnel where Princess Diana died.
*TIP: Get to the pickup location early to be first in line on the bus. Sit on the second level front seats for a giant window to look out of and for great pictures.*
Again a major bonus of going to such historic locations in a guided group is the skipping the line perk. Our tour guide was very passionate about the history of the palace; however, the speed of the tour was slower than we would have liked. It didn't allow us enough time to explore all of the gardens, so next time we plan to go with the group and then walk off after getting through security. That way we can explore and see everything at our own pace.
We ended the day with drinks and dinner at Le Musset which was just down the street from where the tour bus pick up/drop off is located. Bestie highly recommends the Crème Brûlée as they made it her favorite way (extra torched).
Our Last Days
Unfortunately, due to weather, we were unable to climb the stair of the Eiffel Tower and by day 5 I had a solid sore throat and completely lost my voice (which upon returning home I'd discover was strep throat). Instead of climbing the Eiffel Tower on this rainy day, we decided to walk the nearby tourist shops to get souvenirs for family. Once we finished shopping, we ate lunch at a very cute cafe, Chez Ribe, which does not have a website for me to link to it. Bestie ordered an Irish Coffee and a ham & cheese omelette; I ordered apple juice and the onion soup. BEST ONION SOUP EVER! We then caught an Uber back to the hotel.
We then used our remaining time relaxing and resting at the hotel. I made a trip to the pharmacie around the block for medicine to help with my throat.
*TIP: Download French Google Translate Prior To Leaving As It Will Work Offline*
We made friends with the girl in our row on the flight home. Jacie and her recommended RomComs to one another to kill time in the air. I watched Thumbelina, The Aftermath, CoCo, and listened to a variety of music. The flight attendants served ice cream on this flight which was definitely the highlight of my travel day and so appreciated as I could not eat anything else with my throat. After clearing customs in Texas, we boarded our final flight home. Once home I passed out in my much-missed bed with my dog cuddled up next to me.
- We will always stay at the Hôtel Elysées Union. The location was perfectly located in the city center, you could not beat the view we had from our room, the staff was amazing, and I'm still drooling over the breakfasts.
- The activities we chose were great and we will do them again. However, we will not always stay with the group because I like to wander a bit more. Just skipping the lines and the transfers made using the group tours well worth it.
- Coca-cola and Kitkats DO NOT taste the same outside of the US. It should not have come as a surprise but it still did. I don't think I've gone that long without drinking any soft drinks before. I did up my water intake exponentially this trip which helped with the other beverage consumptions we were partaking in.
- Sometimes delays are the best thing that could happen to you. We would not have had the upgraded room with the glorious view of the Eiffel Tower had our flights not been delayed/cancelled. We also would have been dying and playing catch up on rest all week had we been able to do the first day at Disney. Next time I will schedule our Disney days not back to back so to avoid exhaustion.
- Travel insurance is that one. Because I purchased travel insurance, we are looking at potentially $1,000 being refunded back to us from the delays in the trip and unexpected expenses. I'll update this post after the final check comes in and on where we decide to go to spend that $1,000.
If you haven't seen the youtube videos of this vacation yet, watch them here.