Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Paris-Your Dream in Color

You’ve read an enticing article, roamed the Internet travel sites, day-dreamed about sipping a café crème along with the locals at a sidewalk cafe in a setting straight out of a movie. You take a breath and book yourself on a Paris tour, and the dream begins. This has been the recurring story of many of my tour members who travel with me each year.

The Tuileries Garden showcases the entrance to the Louvre
The Parc de Monceau provides a haven set in timeless beauty
 In 2004 I created Paris du Jour and began offering Paris tours designed especially for women. I had the idea that women would love to meet other women in their culture, up close and personal, to get a glimpse of what it's like to live in France. With the small group concept, women can join the group with friends or travel solo to experience a fabulous week together. Not only Paris sights but amazing dinners with fabulous Bordeaux wines and champagne lunches served  in private homes are unique pleasures of all Paris du Jour itineraries.

In 1998 my son had started a travel business in Paris. So what's a mom to do but check out the city where her only son now called home.  At first I spent many short trips getting acquainted with this new city. I walked meandering tiny rues, getting lost and finding my way again, but always thrilled with what I discovered along the way. I sipped copious cups of Paris coffee, and each little bistro or brasserie became my new favorite. I indulged in afternoon patisserie stops, walked shaded paths in lush garden parks and felt humbled by such gorgeous architecture everywhere.

Paris is Paris, unique in the world and claimed by many as their favorite spot on the planet. With such an alluring reputation, Paris opens her arms every year to thousands of travelers who revel in her magic.  I fell in love with the city too, and I couldn't wait to share it with others. Because of the many people I had met and the world I had discovered, I decided to bring others with me to discover their Paris and meet gracious hosts who would welcome them into their world. My passion for Paris had to be shared.  Paris du Jour was born.

In two weeks another small group of women will arrive in Paris with anticipation of their adventure too. Some for the first time, some returning to the call of the city again. One of my June travelers put it this way. While sitting at her desk, listening to the January ice hit against her office window, she escaped for a minute to the internet, dreaming of Paris.  She found Paris du Jour, read the June 2012 tour itinerary and called me. In June over a lovely dinner in a charming Paris restaurant, she shared her story and simply said...”I am living my dream.”
Fountains and gardens and artful statues-Paris perfection

Friday, March 4, 2011

Mardi Gras and the King Cake~a French Tradition

I spent five glorious days in my home town of New Orleans enjoying  Mardi Gras season, a tradition of my city's French heritage. Best of all was traveling with a friend new to the celebration that most citizens in the city have grown up with from Day 1. Part of that tradition is The King Cake. Oval in shape, the original King Cake consisted of dough much like a brioche and was heavily sprinkled with sugar in the three colors of Mardi Gras- purple, green and gold. The custom has its roots in the European Christian feast called Twelfth Night or Epiphany and commemorates the visit of the Wise men to the Christ child. On this feast, gifts were exchanged, and a cake was baked with a tiny toy baby inside. Whoever discovered the baby in his serving was the King. Guests celebrated the good fortune of the King. This custom came to New Orleans with the French and Spanish settlers and is still a vibrant and well loved practice today. Starting on the twelfth night after Christmas, King Cake parties are celebrated. The person finding the baby in his or her slice of cake is the king or queen, must wear the crown and give the next party. The parties continue until the first day of Lent known as Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras Day or Fat Tuesday precedes Ash Wednesday, and it is the last day of festivities of the Mardi Gras season. Every year thousands of King Cakes are shipped all over the country and even to other parts of the world.  True to my heritage, I brought four cakes home to Austin for family and friends to enjoy. In France during this time my friends are enjoying the same tradition and festive parties that bind us by shared culture and tradition.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Introducing the Amuse Bouche!

Planning a dinner party for friends inspires creativity and the desire to offer something special to your guests. Introducing a new culinary experience can spice up the fun. The French like to begin the meal by offering the amuse bouche.
def: \a-'myuz bush\ [Fr. amuse the mouth] Defined as a small bite before the meal begins, the amuse bouche often delights both the mouth and the eyes as well. 
While in Paris I had been inspired by friends who prepared delicious dinners and offered the amuse bouche in a variety of presentations. The choices seemed endless. I just had to treat my friends to the same experience. I purchased several sets of petits verres, small glasses used especially for serving the amuse bouche. The styles varied from simple to sleek, clear to colored, striped or dotted. It was just as much fun selecting the petite serving spoons that would be the second surprise for my guests.

 The holiday season was the perfect time to include this item on my dinner menu. I prepared creamed soups topped with minced chives or gazpacho drizzled with vodka cream or a layering of boiled baby shrimp with minced crabmeat and a touch of spicy cocktail sauce. The new offering received rave reviews! Even my gentlemen dinner guests did not seem to mind the elegant but smaller serving portion, and they used those cute little spoons with cautious flare. Guests were delighted with the presentation and this new dining experience…..Just another way to share the culture of my French friends.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Marking Milestones---Celebrating Life's Special Moments with Paris du Jour

Women love to celebrate, and a trip to Paris for many women is a way to mark a special milestone in their lives.
It has been such a joy to meet women who travel with Paris du Jour for the purpose of marking a significant event in their lives. They come alone or with a group of dear friends to celebrate the beginning of a new decade that holds promise for new beginnings and defines life’s previous experiences.

 Elizabeth from Houston decided to celebrate her 50th birthday in grand style. She invited nine special friends to join her. Pre-planning by her creative friends led to many surprises for Elizabeth from the moment she arrived in Paris. Charles de Gaulle Airport was the scene for excitement as ten Texas women draped in hot pink boas arrived in the early morning hours.   Flowers, champagne, cards and gifts welcomed her from the moment she arrived at the Paris hotel. A surprise pajama party---pink pj's with French poodles, of course!--added to the fun.  Paris du Jour added some special fun to the week's activities. Une petite pâtisserie decorated with sparklers and elegantly presented with a glass of champagne followed a beautiful meal on the dinner cruise. The menu for the cooking class was pre-planned around Elizabeth's favorite foods. The festive birthday themed table was beautifully decorated by our hostess in her lovely Paris apartment. A little Paris mimento was presented each morning to Elizabeth from Paris du Jour before the day's activities began. For la célèbration extraordinaire, a birthday luncheon in a Normandy hunting estate was a perfect event to end a magical week.

Birthday table set for Elizabeth's luncheon...the setting in a traditional Normandy style estate in the French countryside.

Celebrating birthdays and successes or surviving life’s difficult challenges provide occasions to seize the moment. Women love to share their joy with other women in small groups. Whether it's by fulfilling a dream of taking a trip to the top of the Eiffel Tower, or by walking along the tiny rues of Paris and marveling at gorgeous architecture, or by enjoying hospitality in a lovely Paris home for a gorgeous dinner with new friends….women create memories that will last a life time.


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Creating the Perfect "Girl" Trip to Paris for Energetic Women

Just a bit of Intro…..Many people have asked what ideas inspired me to create my company, Paris du Jour. In 2004 I decided to create Paris du Jour with the idea that women would love to meet other women and share their culture.  We know that as women, we love to visit each other’s homes, and then share a glass of wine or cup of coffee while we chat. Women in other cultures enjoy those Venus moments as well.  I thought that a travel company could showcase the famous sights of Paris and then add an exciting perspective, meeting the French up close and personal.  It is a perfect match for traveling women to meet French women who are eager to share their lifestyle and open their homes to visitors from abroad. In the comfortable setting of a private home, we all enjoy genuine hospitality whether we share delicious champagne and some decadent chocolate or a scrumptious meal presented by our hostess. Whatever the setting, The Perfect Girl trip is born.
I never envisioned my new Paris venture as something that would fill a niche for women who love to travel, but happily, that is the case. I have found that many women have the desire, time and money to travel, but for a variety of reasons, they have no travel buddy. Their husbands prefer golfing trips with the guys or hunting trips…and they don’t mean hunting for the perfect Paris treasure!  Many women have good friends who are just dying to get away, but job commitments keep them at home. Other friends are involved in caring for parents and cannot commit to a trip abroad. So what’s a girl to do? Joining a small group tour for women provides the answer! Finding a group of women to share the Paris experience provides the comfort zone many women are seeking rather than setting out solo for their travels. A previous Paris du Jour traveler from Vermont said it best.  While she happily packed and eagerly planned for her Paris du Jour tour, her friends asked who she would be traveling with.  Her reply… ”Seven friends I haven’t met yet.”   That is an attitude I see more and more as women contemplate their Bucket List.  A trip to Paris is usually at the top.  Experiencing Paris with Paris du Jour is a great way to discover beautiful Paris, alone or with “new friends.”

Thursday, December 23, 2010

April in Paris - Put it on YOUR 2011 Calendar!

Monet's Garden in April - picture perfect!

Dashing through the snow?  Your one-horse, open sleigh filled to the brim with last minute lists of holiday errands? Relax and take a deep breath ... Spring is just around the corner, and you can spend it in beautiful Paris!

Put April 7-14, 2011 on that new 2011 calendar, and plan to join a group of enthusiastic women who love all things Paris! Visit our website and print the April 2011 tour itinerary. Share it with your best friend over tea and Christmas cookies.  Then plan your exciting Girl Trip to Paris! The City of Light is magical in any season, but in spring Mother Nature unveils her artist's palette of color that dazzles Parisians and visitors alike.

If you or your friends would like to experience Paris in April, contact us and we will send tour information for your booking. For our new readers and visitors to our website, we welcome you and invite you to join us in Paris for the delightful Spectacle of Spring.

Best wishes for a meaningful holiday season,

Cheryl Mebane

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The City of Light has become the City of Locks.

Only in Paris!

If you are looking for a creative way to profess your love, Parisians have a new way to seal the deal. To be in vogue, grab your Sweetie and your padlock, race to a bridge that crosses the Seine, declare your love, then link your lock to a special spot chosen just for the two of you.
For seriously locked couples, tossing the key into the river waters might be a sure sign of undying devotion. Having doubts? A combination lock might be a good choice ... We saw many.

Plan now to join us in 2011! We hope to have upcoming tour dates on our website.

Do come join us!

Cheryl Mebane