Author Topic: LAXtraveler's Paris Trip Report 2011  (Read 6242 times)

Offline LAXtraveler

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LAXtraveler's Paris Trip Report 2011
« on: March 15, 2011, 02:56:25 PM »
March 5, 2011 (Motzei Shabbos)

Shabbos ended at 6:35pm. Rush to LAX at 6:55pm (arrived at the airport at 7:20pm) for our flight to LHR departing at 8:35pm. Make it to the airport and the lady at the FC check-in counter says “made it with only 15 minutes left to check in.” We were relieved we made it and then went to relax a bit in the OW Lounge. Not the most amazing lounge, but enough to relax our feet and then get to the plane once boarding had already commenced.

BA268 LAX-LHR. FC was full on this flight (and was still OF – which was very nice still even though it is getting old). Changed into our PJs and got ready to leave. We were seated in 5EF so we could dine together and speak softly while not having to get up and move around. The flight attendants were always nice and provided great service. The special meals we had ordered were delivered nicely on new china and silverware so it was as if we had the regular meals anyway. About 2 hrs into the flight we were finishing up our last course and getting ready to sleep. The FAs made our beds by putting on the mattress pad, laying out a nice duvet cover and putting a big pillow at the head of the seat. After sleeping a good 6-7 hrs we both awoke and watched a movie. After the movie we were served a hot breakfast and by the time we were done eating there was only 30 minutes to landing. Changed back into our clothes and prepared for an early arrival into LHR.

Arriving early and getting through Flight Connections mighty quickly, we had plenty of time to go up to the CCR for a little break. We sat on one of the outside couches overlooking T5B, got some drinks and relaxed for over an hour. Our next flight to CDG was departing from T5A so the walking time to get there was only 5 minutes.

BA318 LHR-CDG. Flight was only 45 minutes but we received a hot meal service that was quite good. This was my first experience in BA’s CE cabin and I was very disappointed. It is a shame that these are the standard J class seating in intra-European travel. No matter, it was so short it didn’t really make too much of a difference.

Arrival into CDG was smooth getting through passport control and getting our bags. Within 10 minutes we were outside the terminal waiting for the Roissy Bus to take us to Opera in the center of Paris (great value at only 9.40 euro).

Walk from Opera to the Westin Paris-Vendome takes about 10-15 minutes, but really isn’t that bad. Check-in at the Westin was painless and we were given our Jr. Suite on the 4th floor immediately. The check-in desk was very nice and before we even finished checking in (and before asking) asked if we were going to need the late check out that comes with SPG Gold. I declined since our flight home was a morning flight. We spent 8 nights at the hotel and got great use of the large room we had. The only downside of the room is that the room type we booked is not available we a view of the Tuileries Gardens and the Eiffel Tower (only the smaller rooms or perhaps some of the larger suites have that).

March 6-13, 2011
Our week in Paris was fantastic. We did so much it is amazing it was only a week long. Some of the things we did were the following:
•   Louvre Museum (guided tour in English)
•   Musee D’Orsay (self guided audio tour)
•   Musee Rodin (self guided book tour)
•   Versailles (self guided audio tour)
•   Le Marais Walk (self guided book tour)
•   Montmartre Walk (self guided book tour)
•   Rue Cler Walk (self guided book tour)
•   Opera Garnier (guided tour in English)
•   Baccarat Museum (tiny, but cool)
•   Champs Elysees Walk (self guided book tour)
•   L’Orangerie (self guided book tour)
•   Ile de la Cite (Notre Dame and Deportation Memorial) and Ile St. Louis (Berthillon sorbets)
•   Arc de Triomphe
•   Eiffel Tower
•   Seine River Boat Tour (Bateaux Mouches)

Shabbos in Paris

Shabbos was really great. We were able to get a meal with a young family who live in the 16th arrondisement for Friday night dinner. This is a pretty high end residential area where the Jewish community has been moving into over the last 5-10 years. It was a really nice experience and the people we had dinner with were fantastic. The walk back to the hotel was a little far, but totally worth the extra time considering the company and experience we had being with people from the community. The next morning we went over to the Great Synagogue in the 9th. It is an old beautiful shul reminiscent of many of the old shuls in Europe (like the one in Rome). It is intricately detailed and has many colors and stained glass throughout the building. There is also a large pipe organ on the back balcony. Apparently the shul is a popular place for Jews in Paris to get married. (Unfortunately there is no tour available and the only time to see the main shul is Shabbos morning) After shul we made our way over to the Chabad of Champs Elysees for lunch (apparently there were other places closer to make reservations that we were unable to reserve). No matter we met a few other nice travelers at Chabad and enjoyed a pleasant meal. After lunch we went back to the hotel to rest, then back to the Great Synagogue for minha/maariv and havdala.

March 14, 2011

Got an early start to head back to LAX via LHR again. Walked back to the Roissy Bus at Opera and got to CDG with plenty of time to spare. Perhaps the most unique thing about CDG (beside for it perhaps being the weirdest designed airport I’ve been to) is that because we were flying CE/F they had an escort take us through the security line up through the metal detectors (would have been nicer had there been a long line, but it was quite short, so didn’t make much difference). Got through security and settled in the Admirals Club lounge for about 45 minutes to have breakfast and coffee before boarding the plane.

BA307 CDG-LHR. Although a very short flight we were on a B767 for this flight. Seated in the first row of CE we had plenty of space in front of us. Considering our flight was in the mid-morning it was weird that they served us a meat meal for our short flight. No matter, we had already eaten breakfast and were preparing for our next meal in the CCR. Flight only took 45 minutes again but we were delayed coming in because of circling near LHR. Flight connections was pretty quick again (although north security was pretty long, even for fast track).

T5 Layover. Arrived into CCR ready for our 1.5 hrs in the cabana we had pre-booked. Before we walked there however we went over to Elemis to book some facials for after lunch. Assigned Cabana 1 we were escorted in and I took a shower (even with the nasty drain noise). Relaxed for a while and watched some TV while we were whiling away the time. After a very nice rest we walked over to the dining room to get our lunch. We had ordered a special meal request to be served in the CCR and had made sure it would be hot at 1pm. We were seated in a booth and the server informed us only one meal had been recorded as being ordered. But seeing that they had made a mistake she did note that there was a breakfast meal that was available if we would like. So I took the meat lunch meal and my wife had the breakfast. My meal was a delicious beef casserole with some good breads and veggies on the side.

After our meal we went over the Elemis to get the facials we had booked earlier. We each thoroughly enjoyed the 15 minute treatments we got. Even though we got facials, they put you in massage chairs that are doing a full back and neck regimen while the therapist takes care of your facial. Refreshing and relaxing I almost forgot I still had an 11 hour flight ahead of me.

After the facials we went downstairs to pick up a couple things at duty free and head over to T5B where our gate had been announced. Got over the Galleries Lounge in T5B which was also very nice. Got some last minute snacks and drinks and then boarding was already commenced.

BA269 LHR-LAX. Got on the plane (and again OF) and escorted by the CSD to our seats. This time we were in 2AK. I really enjoyed these seats. Aside from the fact that we were seated with a huge aisle between us, the size of the area and the windows were great (as opposed to the center sectioned 5EF). Seat 1K was occupied by Barry Manilow who had been in London for an awards show the night before (thanks Wikipedia for that tidbit). Changed into PJs and were ready to go. Departure was delayed a bit because some passengers never showed up so their luggage had to be removed. After the slight hiccup we were in line to take-off.

After take-off the fantastic crew asked us when we wanted to dine and began preparing the meal service. My wife and I each did some reading and the time started to fly by. At meal time we chose to dine together for our late lunch/early dinner meal. Again our special meal was prepared exquisitely on new china and silverware and was 4 courses-fish starter followed by salad, main course of stuffed chicken breast and a dessert of chocolate mousse and cake. All paired with some good single-malt scotch.

Following our meal we both got our beds made and watched a movie followed by some sleep. Since it was a day flight I wasn’t able to sleep as much as our flight LAX-LHR, but was nonetheless restful. After waking up I started another movie and meal time was almost upon us again. After my wife awoke we chose to dine together again for our “light meal” – some tea sandwiches, scones and other pastries. Another great meal and service.

After the meal we only had about 40 minutes left to landing. Started to brush my teeth, finish up some last minute reading and then changed back to my clothes in preparation for landing. Although border patrol took forever at LAX last night, our bags were ready to go by the time we got to them and then got through customs pretty quick.

All in all it was a great trip and we had some really fantastic experiences. Sorry the TR doesn’t include huge details on activities in Paris, but I figured that was more self explanatory (and not necessarily quite as important to those on this forum) as the flights and hotel experience.


Food in Paris

There are way too many places in Paris to even count. We went to a bunch and enjoyed some more than others. Here is a list of the places we went to:

•   Il Palazzo (dairy)
•   L’as du Falafel (meat)
•   Pitzman Essen Bench (dairy)
•   Korcarz bakery (parve/dairy)
•   Micky’s Deli (meat)
•   Kavod (meat)
•   Darjeeling (meat)
•   Le Chateaubriand (meat)
•   Inte Caffe (dairy)


Offline Avid Reader

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Re: LAXtraveler's Paris Trip Report 2011
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2011, 03:34:24 PM »
Nice report!

Did you ask for the junior suite in advance or only at the hotel? Is it common to get this with SPG gold?
Care to share how many miles/points this trip cost you?

Offline Dan

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Re: LAXtraveler's Paris Trip Report 2011
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2011, 03:42:57 PM »
Great trip report.
Now let us know more about how each activity was and how the restaurants were!

And next time stay in Paris don't miss the Park Hyatt, by far the highlight of any trip to Paris IMHO.
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Offline LAXtraveler

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Re: LAXtraveler's Paris Trip Report 2011
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2011, 03:43:57 PM »
Nice report!

Did you ask for the junior suite in advance or only at the hotel? Is it common to get this with SPG gold?
Care to share how many miles/points this trip cost you?

I booked the suite in advance using points. It was 22,500/night (a very worthwhile rate considering the standard room is 20,000 points and this is almost double the size). We had 8 nights straight in the room so the 5th night was free (5for4 nights redemption).

The flights were not the best use of our AA miles but we did it because of a number of other reasons that we are changing our plans for a summer trip so this was the only trip we could really take for the time being. It was 125,000/pp RT plus all the crazy taxes/fees on BA. Even with all that I am happy we chose BA over AA as the service and quality of seat, etc. is far superior than AA (esp. if required to take the 757 TATL).

Also, I forgot to put this in my TR, but we used Rick Steves' Paris 2011 tourbook and thought it was really amazing. Even without the book you can go to his website or iTunes podcast page and download many self guided tours from there. Probably 75% of the stuff we did and learned about came from that tour book.

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Re: LAXtraveler's Paris Trip Report 2011
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2011, 03:46:50 PM »
Great trip report.
Now let us know more about how each activity was and how the restaurants were!

And next time stay in Paris don't miss the Park Hyatt, by far the highlight of any trip to Paris IMHO.

I will try to update with the activities and food reviews later. This report already took my whole morning pretty much. Since I was approved and spent on the Hyatt card I could have switched for 2 nights to the PH actually, but we decided it wasn't worth the schlep and packing/unpacking again. Gd willing we will be in Hawaii in winter time and use our free nights then.

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Re: LAXtraveler's Paris Trip Report 2011
« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2011, 03:51:12 PM »
I will try to update with the activities and food reviews later. This report already took my whole morning pretty much. Since I was approved and spent on the Hyatt card I could have switched for 2 nights to the PH actually, but we decided it wasn't worth the schlep and packing/unpacking again. Gd willing we will be in Hawaii in winter time and use our free nights then.
GH Kauai, and PH Paris are both excellent hotels.  But they are are polar opposite experiences.

How much were the BA taxes?
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Re: LAXtraveler's Paris Trip Report 2011
« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2011, 03:52:08 PM »
Great Report LAXTraveler!

Gotta love the First Class flight followed by bus to the airport. Only on DD's!

Offline Dan

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Re: LAXtraveler's Paris Trip Report 2011
« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2011, 03:54:07 PM »
Gotta love the First Class flight followed by bus to the airport. Only on DD's!
;D
Did the same myself!  Almost missed my return flight too because of it.

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Re: LAXtraveler's Paris Trip Report 2011
« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2011, 04:24:16 PM »
@laxtraveler. Thanks, great report!

Offline LAXtraveler

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Re: LAXtraveler's Paris Trip Report 2011
« Reply #9 on: March 15, 2011, 05:06:39 PM »
;D
Did the same myself!  Almost missed my return flight too because of it.

We actually got there pretty quickly and had plenty of time to relax in the lounge because of it. Thanks for the idea to take it, Dan, it was really great.

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Re: LAXtraveler's Paris Trip Report 2011
« Reply #10 on: March 15, 2011, 08:40:32 PM »
Rodin; D' Orsay; Louvre: Seems like you guys really like art!

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Re: LAXtraveler's Paris Trip Report 2011
« Reply #11 on: March 15, 2011, 11:27:27 PM »
Rodin; D' Orsay; Louvre: Seems like you guys really like art!

Ya, we do like art. And we also like to see some of the most famous pieces of art (even if we didn't like it that much). But yes, we do like art and really wanted to see the amazing pieces that are nowhere else in the world.

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Re: LAXtraveler's Paris Trip Report 2011
« Reply #12 on: March 15, 2011, 11:41:23 PM »
Do you have any info about kohanim going into the louvre? Do they any mummies or other dead bodies?
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Re: LAXtraveler's Paris Trip Report 2011
« Reply #13 on: March 15, 2011, 11:52:39 PM »
Do you have any info about kohanim going into the louvre? Do they any mummies or other dead bodies?

I have no idea. I am not a kohen so I have never had to deal with such issues. Sorry I can't be of more help. Maybe a look around their website can help you figure it out.

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