Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Paris Weather

From group member Ken Jesse.


You may like to send the following message to all on the tour:

To see the current weather and the 10 day forecast for Paris, go to: www.intellicast.com then enter "cdg" into the search box. "cdg" means Charles De Gaulle airport.


September 22, 2009 ISO Paris Trip Update

Dear Fellow ISO Paris Trip Member:

It is almost here—in just a few days we are off the Paris. I just spoke to one member, and she told me she can hardly wait. I just love the anticipation of getting ready for a trip—especially to Paris! I hope you share my feelings.

Stephanie Chipman and I will be at Froggys restaurant this Thursday, September 24, 2009, from 5 to 7 if you want to stop by and join us. Stephanie will be handing out additional trip information and sharing some of our favorite Paris secrets. Froggys is located at 1975 Wabash Avenue, near the Chatham road intersection, at the former Willie Mac’s Country Café. We will be in the bar section, just on the right as you enter the restaurant. Cash bar, starters are on us.

When we planned this trip we decided to make it as independent as possible. While traveling with friends, making new ones, and supporting the charitable cause of the Illinois Symphony Orchestra, you will still enjoy the flexibility and time to discover Paris secrets of your own. The very busy, very helpful Paris tourist office is just a short walk from the hotel. Need to book a show? Want to take a sightseeing tour? The tourist office is a great place to start.

If you haven’t had a chance to read the Rick Steve’s Paris Guide and discover the wealth of information in it, I suggest you give it a read. Very good basic information is included in the guide book, such as how to use the Metro, walks in Paris, and as we have already discovered, it contains the best guide to Versailles. Read it to make sure you get off at the right train station to visit the palace—it is confusing.


Wednesday, September 30:

Most members will be leaving Springfield via Classic Limo from the Crown Plaza on Dirksen Parkway. There is a scheduled stop in Bloomington.

Airline FYI: Ticketing is done via e-tickets. Check in should be available 24 hours in advance. The airlines will allow two checked pieces of luggage for no charge, not to exceed 50 pounds per bag. Extra checked bags are assessed a fee of around $100. So, pack light and leave room for your souvenirs. We always pack an additional folding duffel bag—Walmart sells them for $12.

Thursday, October 1:

When you arrive in Paris you have to clear customs and immigration. We will guide you to the nearest ATM at the airport to procure Euros. ATM machines are universal in Paris, and traveler’s checks are nearly impossible to cash anymore. As you leave the international arrivals exit at Charles De Gaulle, your Planet Travel Rep and Bee shuttle driver will meet you and transport you to your hotel.

FYI: Your passports may be collected by the hotel clerk—this is routine. Some of the travel books I’ve read mention that this is required at European hotels, and explains that American make a bigger issue out of it than it is.

Expect that your room will not be available until 3 p.m. You can store your luggage with the bellman (we suggest a one-euro tip to the bellman). Room keys should be available at 3 p.m.

We are planning a quick meeting at the hotel to pass out additional items, including Metro passes and Museum passes.

It’s my first day in France, I’m jet lagged, what do I do? Explore your neighborhood. Walking shoes on, find the Maille Mustard store, the finest grocery store in all of Paris (some of our most interesting European finds have been in the grocery store), shop the ultra-chic designer stores, or walk to Galleries LaFayette and Printemps department stores, have lunch in an upper-floor cafeteria-style restaurant, and enjoy a panoramic view of the city on the outdoor terrace. Stroll back to the hotel, get your room key, and take a nap—remember Parisians eat dinner later in the evening, so many restaurants do not open until 7 or 8 p.m.

Some group member will be posting their daily plans near the elevator. Feel free to join them. You can also join fellow travelers for breakfast each morning in the breakfast room.

Friday, October 2:

Many members will be taking the D-Day battle tours in Normandy. We have emailed them separate information. For those staying in the city, have fun.

Saturday, October 3:

Get ready for the all-nighter called Nuit Blanche. Museum admissions are free. (Don’t start using your museum pass until Monday.) The free tabloid that’s distributed at all of the Metro stops will have a map and guide, and be sure to inquire at the Paris tourist office for more information.

Sunday, October 4:

If you’re rested from the all-night festivities, join some group members at a 4 p.m. concert at the church Eglise Saint-nerry, located near the contemporary art museum Pompidou. The Metro stop is Hotel de Ville.

Monday, October 5:

The Louvre is open and waiting for you (check Rick Steves’ guide if you want to make sure you see the most famous artwork). Stephanie Chipman is going shopping.

Tuesday, October 6:

To feel positively royal, head to Versailles. We suggest that you plan on spending the day to explore the vast palace and the extensively landscaped grounds, and La Petit Trianon, the private sanctuary that Marie Antoinette used to escape from her queenly life.

Wednesday, October 7:

End your day at the Eiffel tower where you can walk to the Port de la Bourdonnais to board the boat that will transport you down the Seine, while you enjoy a leisurely dinner. Seating opens at 7 p.m. Dress is evening casual—it might get chilly, so be prepared for 50-degree evenings.

Thursday, October 8:

Prepare to leave the hotel at 8 a.m. for the flight home. You will be met at O’Hare by Classic Limousines for the rip to Springfield.

As generally happens, you will be amazed at how quickly the vacation is over. But you can relive it through your pictures, souvenirs, and the stories of your great Parisian adventure. I want to thank you for your support of the Illinois Symphony Orchestra and I hope you choose us for future travel needs.

Bon voyage,

Donald C. Fuener

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


    Join Stephanie & Don

    Last Minute Paris Musings & Our Personal Paris Travel Packets Provided


    September 24, 2009

    5 p.m. – 7 p.m.

    Froggys Bar Area

    1975 Wabash

    Springfield, Illinois

    Cash bar.

    Starters are on us.

    Your browser may not support display of this image.

Versailles - Jardins du Château de Versailles - Bassin et parterre de Latone

French Frog Facts

Frenchmen, properly Parisians. So called from their ancient heraldic device, which was three frogs or three toads. “ Qu'en disent les grenouilles? ”—What will the frogs (people of Paris) say?—was in 1791 a common court phrase at Versailles. There was a point in the pleasantry when Paris was a quagmire, called Lutetia (mud-land) because, like frogs or toads, they lived in mud, but now it is quite an anomaly. (See Crapaud.)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Paris Dinner Cruise Information

Catching up on some of the activities while on our trip. We will be posting addtional information as well as sending a more detailed itinerary to you this week.

For example:

Here is a link to information about our Paris dinner cruise.

Using the Paris Metro

Dick Cheney asked us to post some information about using the metro while in Paris. Here is a couple of links that will help you navigate the system.

Here is a link to a quick handy guide to using the Paris Metro from Rick Steves.

Another link to using the Paris metro from about.com that includes a downloadable map to the system.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Have you taken a Google City Tour?

The latest experiment (citytours.googlelabs.com) from Google Labs suggests multi day travel itineraries using Google maps.

Google is becoming more involved with travel. If you’re making a trip to Paris France, for instance, you can let City Tours take you from the Pantheon, the Picasso museum, to the La Cinémathèque française and more. All sites are within easy walking distance from our hotel. You can customize your itinerary by adding or removing popular places to visit from its list, or you can type in your own spot. You can also divide a five-day trip into a day-by-day itinerary. It’s a quick and easy primer for those who are first-time visitors to a city.

Here is a link to google city tours.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Eating in Paris

Somehow a stroll down the streets of Paris has a way of revealing just the spot to retreat from a long day of shopping or site seeing. You will find a filling feast with your eyes, as well as your heart, soul and as you pick a place to dine whether you mood calls for a “laid back” open air, bistro to people watch and reflect upon the events of the day s with your closest traveling companion and plan out tomorrow’s adventure over a glass of port accompanied by the finest wine and cheese - or – you wish to follow the back brick road to the oldest restaurant in Paris “A la Petite Chaise” where you might make a little history of your own by dining with artists, politicians, actors, writers and others in the place where, “some very “close” relationship s continued after desserts and Singers poured out their hearts with love ballads under the restaurant windows. You can visit the website where you can take a virtual tour of the restaurant and check out the menu. Most of the site is in French, but you can go to the English page first to read about the history at www.alapetitechaise.fr/english.htm

Mixing up your selection between the higher priced more leisurely, late evening experience that is common to Parisians and the stops at the Bistros or Beautiful Pastry shops during your day trips provides variety and creates a balance in the pocketbook. All the walking also offsets added weight you might think you’ll gain on your “Sweet Paris” side tour, and you may be surprised to find that the portions, ingredients and artistry of the pastries are able to fill you to your hearts content and you actually drop that excess baggage you carried with you as you began your trip. I actually found myself walking into pastry shops, spending 15 minutes walking around as if they were art museums and leaving without tasting one morsel, but feeling incredibly full and enriched because of the aroma and sites I’d experienced. Even the grocery stores, opened wide with the owners waiting eagerly to greet their customers are a treat to just “visit”, but if you’re a gourmet cook, there are many gourmet provisioners with original touches that you’ll want to seek out. Who knew a year-round, boutique could be found that is entirely devoted to apples and apple products and just viewing food and its presentation could be just as satisfying as visiting the Louver and “calorie free”!

A coffee table book, “Gourmet Shops of Paris” by Pierre Rival may be just the thing you want to pick up and view with your friends over a cup of coffee and your choice of a handmade almond crème, chocolate or raspberry, a specialty at the locally owned Incredibly Delicious located at 925 S. 7th St | Springfield, IL 62703 | Phone: (217) 528-8548 | Fax: (217) 528-7355 | Website: www.incrediblydelicious.com.

Or, if you’re so inclined – you can invite your friend(s) in and prepare your own preview delicacy by making one of 50 recipes included in a most delectable, informative and entertaining book which my friend just introduced me to on her face book page. We both agreed that reading “The Sweet Life in Paris” and discovering the writings of David Lebovitz and then going to Paris would be a perfect way to enjoy this book! Check it out for yourself on the author’s website http://www.davidlebovitz.com or the “Fans of The Sweet Life in Paris” http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=96649418593 and read a few pages at http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/asin/0767928881/davidleboviswebs#reader

Also, as you look over the extensive list of restaurants that Travel Planet has provided, consider where, when and how you’ll be traveling and --the energy you’ll have-- on any given day based on your overall itinerary. There is so much to feast on in Paris, that it’s best just to resolve yourself to become a sampler of the gastronomic delights of Paris and to savor and hope that one day you’ll be able to experience more of when time allows. Before you depart, pick your favorites from the list, talk with the hotel concierge when you arrive and take it all in stride by living in the moment

Bon Appetite!

Stephanie Moore Chipman

August 18, 2009