The writer and his son on a Monograms tour at the Eiffel Tower // © 2014 Kenneth Shapiro
Feature image (above): The Basilica of the Sacre Coeur, in Montmartre, Paris // © 2014 Kenneth Shapiro
This spring, I had a few days before a French river cruise began, so I decided to spend some time in Paris with my 13-year-old son Henry. It was Henry’s first time in the city, and we have friends who live there, so I wanted a program that offered both structured and escorted sightseeing, as well as plenty of free time. The Paris Getaway offering from Monograms, part of the Globus Family of Brands, was the perfect fit.
When we arrived in Paris, a Monograms representative picked us up at the airport and transferred us directly to our hotel — after a long, overnight flight, having someone else worry about this part of the trip was very welcome.
Our hotel, which was also booked through Monograms, was the Pullman Paris Montparnasse. With more than 950 rooms, the hotel is modern and comfortable, and our standard double guestroom was certainly big enough for the two of us, especially by European standards. The hotel’s buffet breakfast was a great start to our day, and we also enjoyed the small cafe off the hotel’s lobby. Centrally located and with easy access to the metro, the Pullman Montparnasse proved to be a great base for exploring the city.
All Monograms itineraries include a half-day guided city tour, which gives travelers the opportunity to see the essential tourist sights while still having time to explore on their own. This coach tour was a highlight of our trip. Henry was especially impressed by our visit to Notre Dame Cathedral and the Eiffel Tower.
The guided tour of the Louvre was a favorite for me because I know how difficult it would have been to see the highlights of the museum on our own. The half-day tour ended in the Louvre, giving us the opportunity to continue exploring the museum if we wanted, or venturing out on our own from this central location.
In addition to the included half-day tour, Monograms guests can choose from a list of optional excursions. These day-trips include full- or half-day private guided tours, dinner cruises on the Seine River, dinner and a show at the Moulin Rouge, tickets to Disneyland Paris, a trip to Versailles and more.
We opted for the additional half-day private guided tour following our group tour, which is available for an extra fee. We met our private guide, Patricia, at the Louvre and proceeded to a walking tour of Montmartre. This historic quarter was home to some of the greatest artists, such as Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Edgar Degas and others.
As we walked through the hills of Montmartre, Patricia shared fascinating stories of Paris’ past and gave us a glimpse into what it is like to be a Parisian today. By the time our day together was over, it felt like we had made a new friend in the city, and Patricia was able to provide us with personalized recommendations for the rest of our stay.
The following day, Henry realized a dream with a trip to Disneyland Paris arranged by Monograms, including transportation and park tickets.
Local Host Program
One of the unique features of a Monograms trip is access to a “Local Host.” This is an employee of Monograms who lives in the city, works out of the guests’ hotel and can help clients with their travel needs, including dinner recommendations, transportation questions, airport transfers and more. Guests can also purchase additional tour options from the Local Host.
One recommendation I would have for clients on a Monograms trip is to make sure they have either a cell phone plan that allows for making calls abroad or they are comfortable using the local phone system. Even though we had our Local Host’s phone number, we found it challenging to reach him when he was not at the desk in our hotel.
Overall, our four-day, three-night Paris Getaway was a highlight of our time in France, and Henry has already told me he can’t wait to go back and see more. For my part, I was grateful to have someone else handle all the details, allowing me to enjoy quality time with my son in one of the great cities of the world.