Holiday Bliss: Top 5 Reasons Paris Should be Calling your Name

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Wintertime has a bad rap of being gloomy, dark, cold, and insufferable.

A Paris holiday is the exception indeed! Let the City of Lights soften your winter blues. Paris becomes a glitzy, sparkling wonderland, bustling with beautiful people, food, and sights. Everyone in Paris enjoys the breathtaking Tour Eiffel, but not everyone gets the inside scoop. Here are a few tips for people who want to make the most of their Paris holiday:

These are the top 5 reasons you need Paris this winter holiday. Be in Bliss, you deserve it!

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5. The Christmas Markets

Of course you have heard of the bustling street markets that dazzle with their seasonal delicacies, flashing lights, and twinkling charms. Imagine taking a stroll in these seasonal Christmas markets, where you can grab a warm cup of mulled wine to warm up the belly. But, here’s an insider’s tip: A few of the formerly Michelin starred chefs have taken stands at one of the markets, and are offering tastes of great bistro food, and even music….Gourmet bistro food on the streets? Only in Paris!

 

 

mulledwine

what will you choose?

 

What will you choose in the sea of possibilities?

4. Bright Lights of the Streets and Storefronts

‘Tis is the season of giving (and of course treating yourself!) so don’t forget to pack lightly so you can fit all your new finds from the dazzling storefronts that glisten with light. Remember, the markets aren’t the only place to shop. There are fabulous finds in the 6th and also along the Grand Boulevards. Don’t forget Bon Marche, where you can indulge yourself in every category of purchase.

 

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stores

3.  La Seine

There is nothing quite as dreamlike as the reflections of all the lights on the main vein of Paris like La Seine. Stunning to stroll along, or perhaps view on your way to or from Christmas mass at Notre Dame or ice skating at Hotel du Ville……. Can you say romantique?
In past years the weather was nice enough that we brought some special gourmet treats and treated our clients to an impromptu “casse croute” and a street performance!  Worried it’ll be cold? Not a problem –last year we switched it up and had oysters and Champagne under the Tour Eiffel.

 

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2. The Magnificent Monuments

Imagine the stained glass windows of the cathedrals illuminated as the winter light passes through them, or how about the fairytale-like views leading to L’Arc de Triomphe? Surely there is nothing more magnificent than the glittering lights of Paris and her beautiful adornments!

monuments

 

 

and the TOP reason you need Paris this holiday season……..

1. The Food and Drink

Your taste buds will thank you for treating them to such excellent Parisian fare! It’s foie gras season, chocolate season,  truffle season, chestnut season, and more. The holidays are the culinary pinnacle of the year! From Champagne to Burgundy to Bordeaux, the wines enchant. From discreet patisseries to private dinners in the home of a chef (formerly of three Michelin star Arpege), discover foodie Bliss.  And share that holiday cheer with the new friends you meet along the way!

Yes that is a golden trees of delicious macrons, all for you!

Yes that is a golden trees of delicious macrons, all for you!

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a dish from a recent vacation in Paris!

Tour france visit paris over the holidays

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Tour France. Holidays in Paris

 

Tour France French food Paris for the holidays

Tour France Paris for the holidays

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Give yourself an incredible present this season: a holiday in Paris with Bliss!  Be an insider and put the treat in your retreat! Contact wendy@blisstravels.com for more tips and info!

 

A bientôt,

Wendy Jaeger

Bliss Travels

Tour France: Bliss Travels Featured on “Places to Visit in France!”

Bliss Travels was featured in an article on Places to Visit in France as a great way to tour Paris for the Valentine’s weekend!

Places to Visit in France said:

Go with an “insider”!

This is our favorite option. You get alone time with your sweetheart while seeing the hidden, more intimate parts of the city that you wouldn’t get in a big group. One of our top choices is Bliss Travels, a luxury travel company that specializes in food and wine (so prepare for a gourmet trip). They are also offering a special Valentine’s weekend trip where everything is taken care of for you, but where you will not be with a group! Check out their site here: http://blisstravels.com/tour-france-valentines-day-in-paris

Read the rest of their article (and pick up some travel tips) at Visit Paris for Valentine’s Day. Sound tempting? Then check out Bliss Travels‘ special holiday deal on our Valentine’s Day in Paris package!

The "I Love You wall" in Paris is a beautiful reminder of your loved one!

The “I Love You wall” in Paris is a beautiful reminder of your loved one!

A bientot,

Bliss Travels

Tour France: 6 Culinary Treats to Eat in Paris Over the Holidays

6 Holiday Paris Treats! 

Tour France

One of the great things about French food is that it’s so seasonal….Unlike our large supermarkets where you can find “n’importe quoi, n’importe quand” (anything, anytime), that’s not the case in France. April/May are for strawberries and asparagus. July and August for peaches and melons, and so on. Well, the December holidays, though not during a “growing” season, have some of the most special culinary treats of any time of year. This is the time of year for….

Tour France

1. Foie Gras. Too hot to keep well (and too rich) for summer. This is prime time for foie gras. Best served with dried fruits, fruit breads, chutney…Don’t miss out on this. There are even “stands” at some of the Christmas markets that serve this as street food. And also, there are fabulous specialty places that make or bring in the best of the best. We have a restaurant we frequent who does this beautifully.

Photographer Anthony B makes this foie gras with fig look as good as it tasted!

2. Oysters and Champagne. Yes, you can have this along the streets or by the river bank during the holidays only. The vendors are set up, and a heater or fire is not too far away. Contemplate the lit up night sky while having these treats. Best of the best, at the best time of year. Walk to find the best market streets or by the river bank, where the views are “manifique”.Tour France Paris over the holidays

3. Chestnuts. In many forms. Roasted, and sold on the streets, or pureed and served with lamb or venison. Or candied and soaked in cognac (and sold by the best gourmet shops. Try Fauchon for this special treat. They do it particularly well.) A nutty but sweet flavor, that can be an accompaniment to both savories and desserts (think, Angelina’s Mont Blanc)!

photo by Sarah Miller Photography

4. Anything…in a Truffle Sauce. (Still remembering that dish as it simmered for Christmas Eve dinner in a little –very little– bistrot we frequent, on the Left Bank). I met the chef that morning as I was out shopping and he was taking a cigarette break. When i commented on the heavenly smell coming from his kitchen, he invited me in. He showed me the boudin blanc and the truffle sauce he was making. Also cooking a stuffed game hen for the night, he gave me a personal recommendation –Get the hen, and then ask for the truffle sauce. It was sublime!


5. Warm Wines. As we stroll the Christmas markets, there are vendors who sell warm mulled wine, both white and red. They add calvados or cognac to them for an added degree of “warmth” and you take your cup and stroll along the miles of markets looking for your favorite artisan products or gifts. We visit several of the markets each year and highly recommend you too visit more than one. Because some specialize in art and antiques, some are filled traditional gifts and crafts, and others have the best foods…Tour France Holidays in Paris

6. Chocolates. This is the time of year the really fine, and very perishable chocolates come out of hiding–and in full view. Perhaps you’ve heard of the wonderful Maison du Chocolat. Truly a great place. But, there are some remarkable, amazing, smaller (lesser known outside of Paris, but feted as masters in Paris) chocolate houses….And dare I say, it’s worth going to Brussels to experience some of this magic. We often do day or overnight trips to Brussels for just this purpose (along with some mussels, or amazing savory waffles).Tour FranceWe love these little holiday treats. Inexpensive and deceptively light. Try one!
Tour France Paris for the holidays

Contact us if you’d like to celebrate with Bliss!
www.blisstravels.com

 

Paris for the Holidays: Tips & Travel Bargains

Tour France: Paris for the Holidays: Tips & Travel Bargains

Paris sparkles over the holidays. In so many ways. We find it pure Bliss and the best way to celebrate. Below are tips for bargains and beating the mad holiday travel rush.

Traveling over the holidays can be exciting –and a great deal. As the New York Times points out, holiday travel bargains can be found by checking flights on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and keeping your schedule flexible. In addition, they point out that purchasing 8 weeks in advance is ideal for airline bargains.

Trusted traveler programs also help make your trip easy and pleasant. Global Entry (apply through the US Government sites) can help you bypass long customs and immigration lines. While others may wait hours, you can proceed to a kiosk where you are allowed to use the automated system. This typically takes less than 5 minutes.

There are also “trusted traveler programs”. If you qualify, these can help you navigate airport security so much quicker!

The same sort of “ease” is true for vacations and hotels if you book early. Booking early can get you great deals and save you time and trouble later in the event that your favorite activities book up. If you book trips where transfers and activities are included, you will often save money and always save “hassle” and time.

Visit the big things: Notre Dame for Christmas mass –just for the experience. And the Christmas markets for hot spiced wine, delicacies, crafts, gifts and little trinkets.

 

But, don’t forget the less obvious, less touristic things. The holidays are a food and wine lover’s paradise. Champagne, oysters, scallops, foie gras, roast meats, truffles and chocolates…all winter fare. Don’t miss out! Try the French hot chocolate, thicker and less sweet that what Americans typically have. Try the homemade chocolates and seasonal pastries (we always do a private tasting and wine pairing over the holidays. Yum.)

And of course, non chocolate desserts!

And truffled pizza, mais oui! The best ever! This is really Bliss –in our opinion! Let us know if we can help make your holidays special.  Contact us now for great travel deals during or after Christmas.

 

5 Holiday Treats You Can Bring Back from Paris for Family & Friends!

It’s all just too good! Right? That’s what you’re thinking as you take another bite of something wonderful or walk by another specialty shop or Christmas market chalet…Too much to try and too little time!

And what about your sister, best friend, mother, boss, neighbor….Wouldn’t it be great if they could just taste this? Maybe then they’d believe you that it really and truly is better in Paris!

So for those of you who are traveling to France over the holidays (you lucky guys and girls), even if you aren’t traveling with Bliss Travels, here are some treats you can safely bring back to the US to share and extend that fabulous holiday experience (video)! Continue reading

Black Friday Travel to Paris for Christmas Sale!!!

dFor Black Friday only, Bliss Travels is offering any of it’s Paris trips for sale at 10% off the retail price, if a deposit is made by the end of  Black Friday (anytime between now and the morning of Saturday November 26, 2011). The Ultimate Gift…Paris over Christmas at almost $1,000 off for two people!

That means $460 off for Paris over Christmas, per person! Must make deposit via paypal from the website by November 26th. Contact wendy@blisstravels.com  with questions.
Marketing never looked so good! Stroll with us, wine in hand.

 Enjoy the holiday in a new way!

Discover Bliss Travels – a personal, small group experience.

 


5 Tips for Eating and Drinking in France Like a Local

Eating and drinking are different in France. Why? Because the culture is different. If you are going to travel to France –or anywhere, for that matter –why not try it “their way”. If nothing else, it should provide you with an interesting experience and a better understanding of the culture. So, here are some tips for how to do both like the locals. I bet you’ll have a few “ah ha” moments when you realize you may have misinterpreted things in the past!

1. How to order Coffee! Seems simple enough, doesn’t it? Well, I don’t know about you but I think it’s complicated wherever you are. In the US Starbucks has turned ordering coffee into a multi lingual tongue twister. In France, it’s very simple –as long as you follow the custom! Cafe au lait (or any coffee served with milk or cream) is a  breakfast drink, and not generally served after noon, or with meals. A “cafe normal” or “espresso” is just that –expresso in a small cup, served with a small cold glass of water. that’s served during “coffee breaks”, at cafes, and after meals. Can’t take “expresso”. Then order a “cafe Allonge” (literally “stretched out”) or a “cafe Americaine” –both are watered down espressos –in other words, a typical strength coffee.

2. Dessert comes Before Coffee. Not with. You can’t have it with. The waiter will say yes, but if the place is any good –or even remotely authentic– this won’t happen. Don’t worry. It’s better after! You finish your meal, and get the nice “pick me up” of the cup of coffee. Need something sweet?  Never fear. Coffee comes with a little something sweet, always –a chocolate (in the basic cafes) or tiny pastries of some sort in the “nicer” restaurants.

3. Sauces in France won’t make you fat, and don’t come ‘on the side’. “Hmmm”, you say, “how is that possible?” Glad you asked. Because the meals are balanced, the portions, including sauces, are smaller, the food is very fresh, and we don’t snack endlessly on things between meals because the meal itself is completely satisfying. If you order sauces on the side, you will (a) either ruin your meal, or (b) consume more of the delicious sauce than you would have had you let the chef dress the dish with what was probably a teaspoon to a tablespoon of sauce (rather than the 1/4 cup they might bring you).

4. Be Patient. We really value prompt service in the US. But, that’s not the case everywhere else in the world. It’s neither bad nor good, it’s just different. Don’t expect a waiter to run to your table when you arrive. It’s customary to allow people to “settle in” and relax before pressing them for their food orders. Also, don’t expect the check to be delivered as soon as the dessert spoon (or coffee cup) drops from your hand. Unless you’re at a sidewalk cafe (or the place knows you’re American and is trying to accommodate you). It is the height of rudeness in France to plop a check down on the table unbidden. It is tantamount to telling the diner to leave. You are at the restaurant to enjoy yourself. You are meant to relax. Thus, nobody is going to bother you by asking you to pay or leave, until you are ready to do so. So many times I hear stories from clients who say that “the French do not like Americans.” And their justification for that is that the “waiters ignored them”. They were left to languish at the table with no service and couldn’t get the check….Time to reinterpret that behavior. The peaceful enjoyment of your meal and the people that you are with is what the French dining experience is about. So, you will not be bothered to leave or pressed to order. Enjoy it for what it is. You’ll be home soon enough!
5. Order from the Prix Fixe menus. The specials and the meals really are special. They are not “left overs”. They are the market fresh items. Order the 3 or 4 courses. In most places the portion sizes in the prix fixe menus will be made small enough to make this an enjoyable tasting experience as opposed to an endurance contest. As a general rule, the larger the number of courses, the smaller the portion size of each course. The goal of these multi course menus is to give you a taste of what’s best and leave you happy, not to overload you with food so you feel like you got supersized and not to make you feel you need a stretcher or a stomach pump.
Any ideas for customs you wish to explore, let me know. We’d love to discuss it!