Make Your Next Trip Extraordinary

What an amazing trip with a lifetime of memories! A 2-hour private tour after close at Sainte-Chapelle at the Golden Hour…. YES PLEASE!!!!

I have been to Paris many times. I have always done my own thing and enjoyed it. I love Paris. This trip we were taking my 82-year-old mother who mentioned she had always wished she had gotten to Paris. Needless to say, I wanted to make it extra special for her and do a few things I hadn’t previously done. I knew that meant reaching out to someone on Wendy’s WOW List and let me tell you, Jennifer and her team did not disappoint! After speaking to Jennifer the first time and giving her details and some background she came back with a sample itinerary that was just jaw dropping. She offered things I didn’t even know were possible!!!

We planned 7 nights in Paris in early May in order to benefit from spring but beat some of the summer crowds waiting to descend on Europe.

On our first evening in the city we took a 2-hour tour of the city in a Vintage French Car. It was such a cool experience, it felt like we were in a movie! We got to zip around the city with our informative guide who also expertly and strategically parked the car and took amazing pictures of us all over the city. It was the perfect way to kick off our stay in Paris.

We had a fantastic walking tour of the Marais with a focus on Jewish history. It was informative, moving and tasteful as it incorporated a lot of food tastings at specialty shops as well. We had a gourmet picnic set up for us in the Luxembourg Gardens. It looked like a postcard! It was a gorgeous day and perfect for some down time and lounging around while enjoying the gardens and former palace grounds. We were able to stroll through Saint-Germain-des-Prés and the Latin Quarter. We also had a walking tour of Montmartre, which our guide Roberto planned and paced perfectly for my mom. He was super informative and such a gentleman, always offering his hand to my mom on the stairs when needed.

Jennifer and her team planned two ½-day trips for us — I love Paris but to get out of the city for a bit is always so nice. I didn’t want to do Versailles again and she suggested Vaux le Vicomte, the inspiration for Versailles! Our guide Alex was superb. The story behind Vaux Le Vicomte, the owners and history were so interesting. You could see nuances to Versailles if you have visited Versailles. Truly a beautiful chateau with a tragic history and — no crowds!!! The second half tour day with Alex we spent in Giverny. I have always wanted to go but never made it. Well, I finally made it and it did not disappoint. One of my favorite places. If only you could sit in a comfy chair in the gardens with a book (before the mosquitos come out of course!). Alex was such a great guide — knowledgeable and fun!

To cap off our trip, the crème de la crème, we were given a 2-hour private tour of Sainte-Chapelle after close!!!! 2 hours all to ourselves in Sainte Chapelle at the Golden Hour! It was absolutely magical! There are literally no words to describe how special this was. Perfect way to end our trip.

Jennifer and her team kept us informed daily of our next day’s itinerary, guides, times, meeting locations and contact information. It was just such a special time to spend with my mom and Jennifer and her team planned it so well with tours, day trips and downtime it could not have been better! I seriously don’t know how Jennifer and her team do it with the amazing custom options, but I am so glad they do! Next time we go to France it will be focused on the countryside and I will definitely be in touch with Jennifer and her team to help make that trip memorable!

My wife, Cindy, and I spent two weeks in France with the help of Jennifer Virgilio. The entire trip was fantastic. Upon our return, Cindy accurately exclaimed that it was “like a fairy tale.”

We spent four nights in Normandy at Villa Lara in Bayeux, three nights at Les Hauts Loire in the Loire Valley, five nights at the Bristol in Paris and two nights at Le Grand Controlee in Versailles. Each of the hotels was fabulous. We ate at numerous incredible restaurants and were accompanied on our trip by fantastic guides arranged by Jennifer. Just some of the highlights of our trip included our day at the Normandy beaches with Stephane Lamache, our incredibly informative guide (who also took us to Mont St. Michel, Honfleur and Etretat), our day with French chef Dominique Malgogne at her house, our tour and dinner at the Eiffel Tower, our dinners at Epicure, Jules Verne and Shabour in Paris and the experience (the private tours and the Royal Feast) at Le Grand Controle at Versailles. Our tours of Musee d’Orsay and the Louvre with our guide Isabelle, as well as the Galleries d’Or were also terrific.

Our trip was expensive, but oh so worth every penny. Jennifer and her team were excellent. Jennifer’s suggestions and connections were indispensable and she helped Cindy and me plan a trip that met all of our expectations. Jennifer was supported by an excellent team on the ground. They all had the right contacts, excellent knowledge and great responsiveness. In short, they listened and executed.

We did not want to come home!

Travelers Sheila Morse and husband Dick Smith in the garden at the Rodin Museum on a cloudy day, Paris, France.

Sheila Morse and husband Dick Smith in the garden at the Rodin Museum.

1. Jennifer and her team were gracious and tactful; I appreciated their insights and guidance, and wished I had gone with more of their suggestions.

2. We were so grateful for the greeter at the airport jetway, who helped us get a wheelchair after my husband had mistakenly walked off the plane and thus disqualified himself for the airport wheelchair service. (The French airline staff person at the end of the jetway was rude and unhelpful so Jennifer’s greeter smoothly solved that initial negative experience.) That person accompanied us all the way to baggage claim and out to meet and transfer us to our driver. He could not have been more courteous or helpful! This was a service that Jennifer’s office organized for us quite late, after all arrangements had been made and paid for.

3. The driver from the airport to the hotel waited for us to register and deposit our bags and then took us on to our restaurant, one that I thought was scheduled for the evening of our arrival but was, in fact, not reserved until the next evening. This error was caused by a synching mistake on my part, not Jennifer’s. The driver cheerfully and graciously returned us to the vicinity of our hotel, near several restaurants, so that we only had a short distance to walk after dinner.

4. There were two other mishaps, neither of which were related to Jennifer’s service or arrangements:
• We had planned on a guided food tour of the Marais on our first day in Paris. Unfortunately, I got severe food poisoning the night before and could not eat anything or be far from our hotel that day. Jennifer’s office graciously stated that they would refund that portion of our fees and also inquired more than once that day if I needed medical care or a prescription. Knowing that was available was a great comfort, despite not needing it.

• They’d reserved dinner at Paul Bert. It turns out that there are two restaurants in the neighborhood with similar names. We showed the taxi driver the address yet turned up at the wrong restaurant, which said we had no reservation. I texted Jennifer’s team, who immediately confirmed that they had indeed reserved for us. I showed the same text with address to the host, who again showed me there was no reservation but graciously made room for us. He also did not tell me that we were at the wrong address and the correct one was just 100 meters away. Perplexing, but no fault of Jennifer’s.

I can’t think of the number of times I’ve been in Paris over the decades, either to visit or work. Certainly more than 20. But my husband had never been. This was, overall, my least favorite visit. Paris was crowded and rushed, the weather was miserable, and public transportation was not easily handled by someone with mobility difficulties (my husband). Having said that, everything that was right about the visit was as a result of working with Jennifer! We had a terrific guide — Katja — who was personable, gracious, knowledgeable, and fun to spend time with. Evening alerts from Jennifer’s team were detailed and much appreciated (and communications from Polina for the duration of our stay were courteous, attentive, and timely!). It felt like the city was girded in scaffolding, which obstructed much that we might have otherwise enjoyed viewing. I think that a fall visit, after the Olympics, would have been a wiser choice, but our Paris itinerary was sandwiched between a visit to Ireland and an organized tour of Normandy.

Katja’s expertise in guiding us through the Orangerie and Rodin museums, the Louvre, the “Hidden Passages,” and Sainte-Chapelle and the Conciergerie was deeply appreciated. I have visited most of these sites before, but never with anyone who could help us understand so much about the architecture, the period, the history, and the art. We had truly engaging conversations and Katja’s mini-lectures stimulated a desire to read more history on our part! The walks and conversations with Katja were truly valued. We walked from the Orangerie to the Rodin on the same street I’d walked several years ago and there found a small shop selling hand-crafted books: The covers and pages are all handmade to order. It was a delight to find them still there 20 years after my first visit, albeit somewhat smaller.

We had great meals at every location recommended by Jennifer, who also secured reservations at places recommended by friends. We ended our time on a truly indulgent experience — Ducasse Dining on the River. This was a 4-course dining experience with wine pairings on a restaurant cruise boat. I thought this might be a “touristy” thing to do but Jennifer assured me otherwise and, of course, she was correct! There was a table of 8 businesspeople and several tables of small groups or couples celebrating anniversaries or birthdays; we may have been the only tourists. The food was exquisite and every morsel provided a culinary treat! Service was impeccable and even in the rain the views as we travelled up and down the Seine, from and back to the Eiffel Tower, were stunning. Very romantic!

Such a splendid evening. As during the rest of our visit, it was raining. Ducasse staff called a taxi for us that arrived in minutes, making departure as smooth and enjoyable as the rest of the evening.

On my first evening in the city, I was given a private tour of the Eiffel Tower (no waiting in lines for me!!) and got to see everything from the underground operations to the recently-restored office of Eiffel on the summit. Dalida provided amazing insights of what it took to build such a structure and what it takes to keep it running—with millions of visitors each year. The evening was topped by a 7-course dinner (with wine, of course) at the Michelin two-star restaurant Jules Verne on the second level of the tower.

Jennifer also got me a private tour of the Palais Garnier—one of the most beautiful opera houses in the world. Sophie led me through the many practice rooms, the massive stage and scenery storage (5 floors above and five floors below the stage!!). And for those aficionados of the Phantom of the Opera, do NOT reserve Box 5—it comes with bad luck….and yes, there IS a lake under the opera house, complete with live fish and small boats.

Finally, I was paired with a fellow historian—Frederic—who guided me through the city for 5 days. I revisited some old haunts—Montmarte, Rodin Museum, Saint Chapelle, the Concierge, the Marais and Les Invalides, and ventured to Giverny and Versailles to get my fill of Louis XIV and Monet. When it was time to return to reality, Jennifer’s team whisked me to the airport, through security and customs to my waiting aircraft. I am so grateful to Jennifer, all of her local experts, and to Walid and Camille for keeping me on schedule for this amazing journey.

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