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Travel tips from Condé Nast Traveler magazine's Wendy Perrin.
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September 01, 2009

$1,000 Business-Class Fares to Paris

The wide, plush Biz Seats on transatlantic airline Open Skies
The wide, plush "Biz Seats" on transatlantic airline OpenSkies don't fully recline but do offer 51 inches of legroom.

by Wendy Perrin

Deal of the Day If you're thinking about exploiting some of the bargains in Europe this fall or winter, you might also think about snapping up OpenSkies' $1,000 roundtrip Biz Seat fare (excluding taxes and fees) between New York and Paris from the start of November through the end of March. "I can't remember a time it's been this cheap to Paris in premium class," says eagle-eyed biz-class fare watcher Joe Brancatelli of JoeSentMe.com. He considers Biz Seat on British Airways-owned OpenSkies to be "the best value in the sky."

Keep in mind that this fare isn't just for people whose final destination is Paris. If you're willing to make airport connections in order to save money, it can work as the New York-Paris leg of an itinerary beyond Paris. (Just remember that OpenSkies flies you into Orly and not Charles de Gaulle.)

Book by: September 8

For travel from: November 1 - March 31

The catch: In testing this deal--by plugging fictitious travel dates into OpenSkies' booking system--I was not easily able to find the lowest advertised fare of $499 each way. But I did easily find one-way fares of $509. Once you add in all the taxes and fees, that total roundtrip fare is $1,136.

February 04, 2009

On the Road, with Twitter Your Only Guide

Benji_lanyado_in_paris
The Guardian's Benji Lanyado TwitterTripping through Paris.

by Wendy Perrin

Check out what's unfolding over at the online water cooler known as Twitter: U.K. Guardian travel writer Benji Lanyado is in Paris with no advance plans, basing all his travel decisions--where to stay, what to see, where to eat--on tips sent to him, in real time, by the people following him on Twitter. Yes, folks, it's the latest, greatest, most cutting-edge form of travel: the TwiTrip. Click here to follow Benji's progress and here to read the Paris recs he's been receiving.

Twitter is not just changing people's trips. It's changing people's lives. But I don't need to tell you what a big deal Twitter is because people like The New York Times' Clive Thompson and MSNBC's Chris Elliott already have. And I don't need to tell you who the travel twitterati are -- the people you should be following on Twitter if you want to know what's going on in the world of travel -- because several lists have already been published, including this one and this one.

So instead I'm going to list some of the non-travel-world people who make Twitter such a fascinating destination. Following their Twitter updates ("tweets") allows me to see inside the brains of some of today's most influential thinkers and find out what's going on in the world almost before it happens. Here are just a few of the "tweeple" every smart twitterer should know about:

Continue reading "On the Road, with Twitter Your Only Guide" »

September 16, 2008

Paris Question from a Reader

Paris_017p The Ile de la Cite in Paris, where a tourist boat recently sank. Photo: David Lefranc, Paris Tourist Office

by Wendy Perrin

Did you all hear about the small tourist boat that sank in the Seine on Saturday near Notre Dame?  Bizarre, huh?  But of course our intrepid Paris-bound readers are not to be deterred:

"We will be in Paris Oct. 18 and 19 and are interested in trying to find a package which would include a cruise on the Seine, dinner at Alain Ducasse's Jules Verne restaurant in the Eiffel Tower, and transportation to and from the hotel," wrote Sohlfest. "Ideally, we would like to book this soon and through an agent in the U.S. so that we could pay in dollars and not euros. Can you give me any contact information if there is an agency in the U.S. that would make this possible?"

Continue reading "Paris Question from a Reader" »

July 11, 2008

Question About Where to Find Sunflowers (!)

by Wendy Perrin

"Dear Wendy,
I love sunflowers.  Can you tell me when and where in Italy or France one can see the biggest fields of sunflowers?
Thank you, Entropy71"

Any of you flower hounds got any ideas for Entropy?

July 11, 2008

Question About How to Spend an Airport Layover in Paris

by Wendy Perrin

Here's a question from Irishalley56 that I haven't time to answer. Any takers?

"We are looking for the best way to get from the Charles de Gaulle airport to the Beauvais airport. We have 14 hours between flights. Can we make a quick stop in town for a bite to eat?"

Note to Irishalley56: Not sure how many people will want to respond since, if they have a great answer, they're better off entering it in our Airport Layover contest. Then again, perhaps Michael Kinsley himself would like to take a stab at it: He had a ten-and-a-half-hour layover in Paris himself the last time he raced around the globe for us. Then again, that was twenty years ago.

May 08, 2008

Paris Travel Tips, Part 2: What's Free or at Least Cheap

Paris_017p
Paris's Ile de la Cite (above) is charming at night, although my favorite Parisian island oasis is the Ile Saint Louis.
Photo: David Lefranc, Paris Tourist Office

by Wendy Perrin

Yesterday I started to answer TravelGal's question about what to do, see, and eat in Paris from her base in the Latin Quarter in late May/early June. Since the suggestions I shared can be a bit pricey, given the dollar's weakness against the euro, I promised to finish up today with a few recommendations of things to do that are cheap or even free. These tips come from one of my favorite France specialists, Howard Lewis, who is on Conde Nast Traveler's annual list of the country's best travel agents:

(1) Shop in a couple of Paris's neighborhood food markets. These outdoor markets, a tradition dating from the fifth century, reflect the local color of each of Paris's 20 arrondissements and provide great insight into French daily life. The best and most famous near the Latin Quarter is the Maubert Market (go on Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday between 8 a.m. and  1 p.m.). Don't forget to bring a bag so you can stock up for a picnic lunch.

(2) Stroll through the historic Marais district, which is full of trendy boutiques and cafes. The best time for this is Sunday afternoon (it's a Jewish area, so many shops are closed on Saturdays).

Continue reading "Paris Travel Tips, Part 2: What's Free or at Least Cheap" »

May 07, 2008

Tips for Travelers to Paris

Paris_001p
The nexus of Place de la Concorde, Rue de Rivoli, and the Tuileries, Paris.
Photo: William Abranowicz, Conde Nast Traveler

by Wendy Perrin

"We leave May 29 for five days based in the Latin Quarter," writes TravelGal. "I've been in Paris only once before, 25 years ago, so we have five weeks' worth of things we'd like to see and do. With so many enticing options, it is possible that we'll be the only tourists to visit Paris and NOT visit the Louvre! Any tips on the latest fabulous things to see, do, or eat?"

The last time I saw the Latin Quarter was a whopping eight years ago, when I surprised my then-boyfriend (now husband) with a birthday jaunt to the City of Light. So I asked two of the Paris specialists whom I trust most and are over there all the time (and who, consequently, are on Conde Nast Traveler's annual list of the best travel specialists) for their current must-dos. Tomorrow I'll share Howard Lewis's tips on what to do for FREE--or very cheaply--in Paris these days. For now, here are Jill Jergel's recommendations:

(1) Buy a four-day Paris Museum Pass (most hotels sell them), which will allow you to bypass the lines and walk right into Paris's wonderful but packed museums. When trying to squeeze museum visits into your tight schedule, remember that the Musee d'Orsay is open late Thursday evenings; the Louvre and L'Orangerie are open late on both Wednesdays and Fridays; and the Grand Palais--where there is currently a can't-miss exhibit on Marie Antoinette, displaying many of her personal possessions and providing fabulous insight into France's most famous queen--is also open late on Wednesdays (and closed Tuesdays).

(2) Take a guided walking tour with Paris Walks. These fun and highly informative tours meet at Metro stops and don't require advance reservations. They're hosted by some great ambassadors to the city and are an excellent way to focus on a specific atmospheric neighborhood that interests you, at a cost that won't break the bank.

Continue reading "Tips for Travelers to Paris" »

July 21, 2007

Passport Scam At Charles De Gaulle???

Charles_de_gaulle_airport_near_pari
I shot this while transiting through Charles de Gaulle Airport near Paris, France, June 22, 2007.

by Wendy Perrin

You wonder why I love the blogosphere?  It's the immediate and invaluable feedback.  Example: I post a question about how to get a response from an airline that's totally ignoring you ("The Mystery of The Missing Miles"), and who should stop by to solve the problem ("Delta Reinstates Missing Miles!") but Mark Ashley of Upgrade: Travel Better?   Another example:  I post a question about AmEx Membership Rewards ("Surprise Fee For Redeeming Miles"), and who should swing by with the answer but frequent-flier expert Randy Petersen -- founder of THE essential tools for road warriors, WebFlyer and FlyerTalk -- followed by Gary Leff, who keeps all of us mileage junkies in the know with View From The Wing

Clearly some very savvy travelers are reading The Perrin Post and generously offering their input.  So I'm gonna take advantage of the wonderful resource that this presents and throw out one more travel problem that has me stumped.  Can any of you with your ear to the ground shed some light on it?

My friend Sally and her husband Bob -- totally competent travelers and well-organized, upstanding people  -- were flying Air France from Charles de Gaulle to Boston last week (Friday, July 13).  They arrived at Air France check-in at 9:15 a.m. -- four hours before their flight -- and were shown to a boarding-pass machine by a female Air France employee. Bob inserted his passport into the machine (which scanned it), then filled out on the touch-screen the additional info requested (country of origin, address, date of birth, place of birth, etc.)  Then came Sally's turn.  While she punched in her info, two uniformed Air France aides hovered around, looking over her shoulder.  After the process was completed, the machine spat out six documents that Bob and Sally collected: two boarding passes, two itinerary receipts, and two passenger manifest information sheets.  Bob took his boarding pass, and an Air France aide rushed him to the luggage-check area.  Another aide grabbed Sally's papers AND HER PASSPORT, and they rushed after Bob. Given that the flight was not until 1:15 p.m., and there were no lines, the Air France aides seemed to be rushing them unnecessarily.

The luggage-check guy had Sally put her suitcase on the conveyor belt, and the aide plunked Sally's papers down on the counter in front of him.  Sally suddenly realized she did not have her passport in her hand, nor was it on the counter with the rest of the papers. No one but Air France employees had spoken to her or touched all those pieces of paper, and no other passengers were nearby.  If the passport had been dropped, Sally says, an Air France employee would have noticed. "I can only conclude," she says, "that the Air France employees conspired in some fashion to distract us and take my passport.  There was no place to lose it.  I suspect the two women and the luggage check-in guy."

Continue reading "Passport Scam At Charles De Gaulle???" »

December 06, 2006

My Final Day In Cannes

Img_1669_1
Peter Greenberg and I took time out from the ILTM conference for lunch today.

By Wendy Perrin

Today I met up with Peter Greenberg, travel editor of NBC's "Today" show, at the historic Carlton Hotel's brasserie. As usual, we swapped travel war stories and tips. I told him to check out Mardin when he goes to Turkey for New Year's and the Hermitage Museum's storage rooms when he goes to St. Petersburg in February. He told me how to tour the island ports on my upcoming cruise and where to do my Christmas shopping (Bangkok).  Most of all, though, we talked about the pumpkin soup.

Lunch_1
Brook Wilkinson, also from Conde Nast Traveler, joined us for lunch.

The amazing soup, which arrived atop pumpkins, was filled with chunks of chestnuts and served with foie gras ravioli.

Continue reading "My Final Day In Cannes" »

December 05, 2006

Night On The Town In Cannes

Night_lights
Brook Wilkinson of Conde Nast Traveler and Nina Wennersten of Hippo Creek Safaris on the Rue d'Antibes earlier this evening.

By Wendy Perrin

After a long, LONG day spent meeting dozens of travel planners--tour firms, travel agents, villa rental companies, hoteliers, cruise lines--who've come from all over the world for the annual ILTM conference, our faces hurt from all the smiling and chatting.  I asked Nina Wennersten, a safari specialist on our annual list of the world's best travel planners, to join the Conde Nast Traveler gang for dinner. We nursed our sore jaws and feet with Bellinis and curried lobster at Laffable and toasted the Hotel Martinez's concierge who recommended it.

Continue reading "Night On The Town In Cannes" »

December 04, 2006

Shopping In Cannes

Beach
December in Cannes on France's Cote d'Azur: A pleasant, breezy 60 degrees.

By Wendy Perrin

The conference that my colleague Brook Wilkinson and I are attending here in Cannes didn't start till this evening, so we got to spend most of the day just kicking around.  First we had lunch with Virginia Irurita of Made For Spain, the Spain specialist on my annual list of the world's best travel planners (in Conde Nast Traveler's August issue each year). Virginia just started a blog herself so that her clients can keep up with her as she travels around Spain.

Lunch
Left to right: Virginia Irurita, Brook Wilkinson of Conde Nast Traveler, Alonso Alvarez de Toledo of Made For Spain, and me at the Horse Croisette cafe.

Afterward Brook and I strolled along the Rue d'Antibes, Cannes' famous shopping street. First we stopped at LeNotre, a gourmet-food boutique and cooking school.

Pastries
We drooled over LeNotre's pastries . . .

Continue reading "Shopping In Cannes" »

December 03, 2006

Magical Restaurant In Provence

Wpbrook_1
Me (left), my deputy Brook Wilkinson (right), and the remains of our Grand Marnier souffle at La Vignette Haute.

By Wendy Perrin

I just had one of the most memorable dinners of my life.  A bunch of us who are in Cannes for the International Luxury Travel Market drove to Auribeau sur Siagne tonight to dine at an extraordinary castle/farmhouse called La Vignette Haute.

Img_1488_1
One of La Vignette Haute's entrance rooms leads to . . .

Entering
. . .the main dining room.

Continue reading "Magical Restaurant In Provence" »

November 29, 2006

Speaking Of Comfort On Air France . . .

Plane_trip_italy_2
Charlie (3), Doug (1), and me flying Air France from Paris to JFK, Oct. 2005

By Wendy Perrin

My last post addressed some of the advantages of flying Air France instead of Delta. A couple more advantages are illustrated in the photo above.  Thanks to Air France's seatback video screens and kiddie channel (which kept Charlie entertained), and the cuddly bunny pillow it gives toddlers (and which Doug still sleeps with to this day), I was actually able to get work done at my laptop. Now THAT's a good flight!


November 24, 2006

Cruise To Mediterranean Islands

By Wendy Perrin

Question from a reader:

"My wife and I have been searching for a cruise that visits the islands off the coast of Spain, France, and Italy. We've had no luck.  Is there a ship of any size that will do the trick?  Thanks."

Great question.  Alas, few conventional cruise lines include more than one such island (if any) in their itineraries, primarily because (1) their ships are too big (the island ports don't have the infrastructure to support a 2,000-passenger vessel's maintenance/supply needs) and (2) the cruise lines can sell more berths if they market bigger-name ports that more Americans have heard of (e.g., Portofino and Monte Carlo, as opposed to Ibiza and Elba).  But DON'T DESPAIR:  I've got a few ideas for you . . .

Continue reading "Cruise To Mediterranean Islands" »

November 02, 2006

Small Charming Hotel In Paris

061102_hotelmarronniers_1By Wendy Perrin

Question from a reader:

"Can you recommend a hotel in Paris to accommodate 2 adults and 2 children, ages 12 and 9, for 1 night?  I've made a tentative reservation at the Hilton for 534 Euros, but would prefer a smaller, charming French (non-chain) hotel."

534 Euros?  Yikes!  I don't know what your specific room requirements are, but I can tell you that my favorite small affordable hotel in Paris is a charming, low-key 3-star called the Hotel des Marronniers (pictured at left).  It has an excellent location on a quiet street about a two-minute walk from the St. Germain des Pres metro stop and amid the fun cafes and nightlife of the 6th arrondissement.  Some of the single and double rooms are small (avoid the low-ceilinged ones on the top floor), but there are rooms for 4 on lower floors, and you're staying there only one night.  (The elevator is small too, so you might need to make two trips with your luggage.)  A room with 4 beds costs 250 Euros, including tax.   You can find other Paris hotel options here.

        

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