By: Trena Holloway, Senior Travel Consultant
Have you ever dreamt of visiting London, Paris or both? Have you been there, done that, but want to do something different and off the beaten track? Have you ever noticed that everything you want to do is not even on an itinerary listed on a tour, and the dates are even wrong?
I am an independent type traveler, which means I like to be able to go when, or where, I want to go. I like to able to do as much or as little as I want. Sleep in? It’s ok. Sip wine and watch people go by at a Cafe, done. Visit a Museum? Great! Like a lot of people, we had specific dates and times that we could travel.
Well London and Paris have been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember. I was fortunate enough to be able to take a London and Paris Independent Tour with Insight Vacations back in the fall.
I had never been to London or Paris before and as you know there are tons of hotels to choose from! Left bank, Right bank, this quarter that quarter…and with Insight Vacations, they basically took all of that out of the equation. Insight had done all the research for us, and yes, it’s included in their Independent tours, and I have to tell you, they were in the most perfect location in each city.
I had a list of places I wanted to see! Buckingham Palace, Tower of London, British Museum. I also wanted to go see Stonehenge, Bath, and where Harry Potter was filmed, I wanted to go to the Louvre in Paris, and the Eiffel Tower, I wanted to sit at a cafe and watch the people go by, and guess what…I got to do all of it!
When we arrived in London from our international flight, we went down to baggage claim, recovered our luggage, and proceeded to customs. Right when we walked through the exit, we immediately saw an Insight representative with our names on a sign. We waved and he greeted us with such English charm, and immediately got our bags and took us to our hotel.
Upon arrival we were taken to the check in where the tour representative for Insight, Jay, was waiting for us. We were then handed a refreshing drink and sat down to plan what we wanted to do on our vacation. We had actually already picked tours online before we got there, but Jay just wanted to advise us of all our options and answer any questions we may have.
The next morning we went down and enjoyed a breakfast buffet. A full breakfast buffet is served every morning on an independent tour and that was a great inclusive item that saved us lots of time and money. Jay had said that we could do a city tour, which was also included that day if we wanted, so we did. The good thing about the city tour, was it showed us how to get around London and where all the highlights where.
Throughout the trip, we did what we wanted. We did a private tour of Buckingham Palace, and saw the changing of the guards. Also, we went to Stonehenge, Bath, and Cotsworth. We did a tour to the British museum and did a “hop on and hop off” all around the city. We had 5 days and 4 nights in London, and it was wonderful! Did I mention our hotel was located in the Marble Arch area, right where we needed to be!? It was called the Thistle Marble Arch.
The day before our departure, there was a letter slipped under our door explaining what time our luggage would be picked up from our room and when to meet down in the lobby after breakfast.
After breakfast, we met downstairs and were greeted by an amazing Frenchman named Alan. Bojour Bojour! He was dressed so nicely! You could tell immediately we were going to be taken care of, and we were! I was impressed by this Insight representative, because by the end of the trip, I felt like I had gained a wonderful new friend.
Alan took us on a brand new motor coach to the train station in London Independent London and Paris , and we were going to Paris…. yay!! Under the English Channel on a train…..very cool!
If we were to have taken a cab and checked in on our own it would have been a nightmare. We were taken underneath the rail station and we sat and watched our luggage being taken off and put on a VIP belt. We were told that it was all taken care of and it was! Very convenient!
We were escorted off the motor coach and into the train station. Alan told us he would meet us on the other side of customs. This was almost too easy! He handed our tickets to us to board the train, and we were now on our high speed train to Paris!
After about 2 hours we arrived in Paris. We departed the train station and were escorted to our brand new motor coach again, and of course our luggage was already being put on the coach. This is how I want to travel every time!! After we all got on, we did a city tour on the way to the hotel. How nice to see the city in all its glory. Alan really knew the city inside and out.
He advised he would check us in personally, and he also made sure that everyone had their rooms, bedding, and any other requests we all had. Alan told us to go relax in our rooms, and that he would be waiting in the lobby to discuss options and answer any questions we may have about the city and what we may want to do during our stay. He was there every morning and afternoon.
The Millennium Hotel Paris Opera could not have been in a better location. The lobby area was classy, so was the brasserie where you get the included breakfast buffet every morning. Even the rooms with their high ceilings and classic furniture reminded me of a time when France was grand. Lots of places to eat, drink, shop and only a short drive to get anywhere in the city. Galleries La Fayett shopping centre is a short walk away and Sacre Coeur, and the lively Montmarte area is literally yards away from the front door.
Alan suggested we go to the Moulin Rouge one night for those who wanted to go do an optional excursion and he took care of the transportation, tickets, and everything. We had such an amazing time doing what we wanted to do! The Eiffel Tower was amazing and was the Louvre. At the end of our 3 night, 4 day stay in Paris, I can say Merci, Merci to Insight Vacations and the awesome staff— Je suis désolé(e), mais je dois y aller – I’m sorry, but I have to go.
I will return one day, to do another Independent or Escorted Tour with Insight Vacations since they offer so many different locations of the world, amazing accommodations, and hassle free vacations.
London and Paris Independent with Insight Vacations
Senior Travel Consultant
Direct: (281) 269-2619
Fax: (281) 269-2690
Toll Free: (800) 935-2620 X 119