Auto Europe Offers A-ROSA 2015 Cruises, Larger Selection of Options, Early Booking Savings

August 25, 2014 on 12:00 pm | In Austria, Belgium, Cruise Boats, Europe, France, Germany, London, Netherlands, Paris, Road Trips, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom | Comments Off

Goddess Swimwear from Today ShowAuto Europe in conjunction with David Morris International, is offering A-ROSA Cruises for 2015 with now over 200 departures including Rhone/Saone, Rhine, Danube, Moselle and Main rivers in Europe.

Yes, 2015 promises to be the year of choices on A-ROSA Cruises in many areas designed to allow guests the freedom to make their vacation one that fits their lifestyle and preferences that day.

A sample of these increased options for 2015 include: Guests choose what to drink with A-ROSA’s open bar policy, not just wine and beer, and choose when they enjoy a drink starting in the morning until the wee hours of the night, not just during lunch and/or dinner.

Guests also choose their own excursions to fit their activity level and interests, no excursions are “assigned” to them. In addition, guests can choose to enjoy their dinner two ways; from a four-course, plated service or a more casual, yet sumptuous buffet with cooking stations Also included for 2015 is pre-paid gratuities, port taxes and fees, and complimentary wi-fi. All offers subject to change without notice.

Fares have been reduced on many of the 2015 sailings and with their early booking incentives, save $1,000 per couple when you make a 2015 reservation by Dec. 31, 2014. In addition, singles save more as every sailing has waived Single Supplements in at least one category and up to three children sail free with just one adult (ages 2-15).

Auto Europe services over 10,000 car rental locations in over 135 countries worldwide. In addition, through their tour division, Destination Europe, they offer scheduled airfare to Europe with over thirty carriers and service three-, four and five-star worldwide hotels.

Read more travel news at

Grape Escapes Expands Vineyard Tours To Piedmont, Turin – A New UNESCO World Heritage Site

August 24, 2014 on 11:22 am | In Adventure Travel, Dine Drink, France, Italy, London, Paris, Rome, United Kingdom | Comments Off

As Grape Escapes expands tours further into Italy, they are offering guests the chance to not only experience some of Piedmont’s finest wineries but visit one of the world’s newest UNESCO World Heritage sites. The 2 night stay in Turin will include visits to 3 wineries across 3 different regions allowing guests to sample fifteen different wines. Prices start from just £505 per person for a mid-week or weekend getaway.

Offering flexible trips throughout the year, guests will be based in the heart of Turin as the tour begins on the first evening with a tutored tasting session of 3 local wines, cheeses and snacks. With a chauffeur and an English-speaking guide on the second day, there will be a tour of the estates and cellars in the wineries of the Barola, Barbaresco and Roero appellations. On return to Turin, the day is ended with a 3 course evening meal including 3 Piedmont wines, served in a local restaurant.

For its exceptional testimony to a culture and civilisation, the Piedmont region has recently been awarded UNESCO World Heritage status. UNESCO considers these sites to be of outstanding value to humanity and an irreplaceable source of life and inspiration. The Piedmont region covers ten thousand hectares of beautiful vineyard landscapes where vine pollen has been found dating back to the 5th Century BC, from when Piedmont was a place of contact and trade between the Etruscans and the Celts.

The tour is an opportunity to experience some of Italy’s finest wines and visit first hand one of the world’s 101 UNESCO World Heritage sites.

For more information call +44 (0) 1763 273 373 or visit

See the Sunrise With Bedouins, Trek Taal Volcano or Do Yoga Paddle Boarding in the Seychelles, With Raffles

August 22, 2014 on 8:10 am | In Adventure Travel, Africa, Asia, Cambodia, China, France, Middle East, Morocco, Paris, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Singapore, Turkey | Comments Off

At Raffles, we know that a day that begins well for our guests, will end well too.

From a daybreak detox in Paris or sunrise yoga in the Seychelles, to Tai Chi in Singapore or a Bedouin breakfast in the Dubai desert, here are just a few recommendations for catching the magic moments of stillness in the early morning – as the world wakes up and the bustle of another day begins again.

A Bedouin Breakfast with Raffles Dubai

Dubai lends itself perfectly to early mornings; before the heat of the midday sun comes into full force there are a few precious hours to be enjoyed. Guests of Raffles Dubai can rise early, escaping the city under the cover of darkness. The destination: the desert – all rolling sand dunes and striking silhouettes as dawn rises. Discover wildlife on a sand safari, before arriving at a local Bedouin retreat to learn breakfast recipes handed down from generation to generation. Take the opportunity to hop on board a camel, try your hand at falconry, experience traditional Yowalah dancing and enjoy a delicious breakfast at sunrise. This is a rare opportunity to glimpse the rich, authentic history of Dubai in pristine desert surroundings. Return to the bright lights, hustle and heat of the city safe in the knowledge of a stolen few hours of peace…

Sunrise Yoga Paddle Boarding at Raffles Praslin, Seychelles

What better way to start the day than with some carefully guided sun salutations… on a paddleboard… in the Indian Ocean… at sunrise? Raffles Praslin, Seychelles’ yoga master Sajeesh Pazhayidath regularly guides guests through sunrise yoga classes to the sound of the sea. But instead of just listening to the sea, guests are now being encouraged to practice yoga on the sea itself. Paddle Board Yoga helps develop core strength and balance. The board provides the perfect platform to increase the intensity of the yoga workout by creating a continuous challenge to balance and adapt to the motion of the board. This challenge adds to core stability and creates greater strength, flexibility, and balance.

Guests can enjoy a private sunrise session, with the idyllic ocean backdrop and natural surroundings providing the perfect environment for total relaxation and rejuvenation. Raffles Praslin, Seychelles resort is perfectly positioned to catch the best sunrise on the island, as the sun creeps over the mountains to one side, slowly moving high into the sky as the day goes on.

Trek to Taal Volcano with Raffles Makati

Taal Volcano is the world’s smallest active volcano; just the right size for a challenging yet achievable start to the day. Taal Volcano sits a boat ride away at the centre of Taal Lake, just fifty kilometres from Raffles Makati. The ethereal lake was formed when a much larger volcano cooled and collapsed to leave an open caldera which, over several thousand years, filled with water. Leaving Manila in darkness, visitors will arrive at the lake as the day begins, taking a beautiful boat journey across the water to the shores of the volcano itself. From here, a trail leads to the rim of the main crater, a breezy 45 minute walk – with an astonishing view waiting at the top. At the centre of the island, visitors will be surprised to find another highly sulphuric lake at its centre, and within that another small island. The views from the top of the trail both inside the caldera, and outside across the Philippines are at their best in the early morning, as the hazy dawn light gives way to bright sunshine.

Tai Chi in the Botanical Gardens with Raffles Singapore

The martial art of Tai Chi has long be revered for its natural benefits to health; a calming, slow-moving art traditionally practiced outside to lifts stress and build core strength, all fostering a healthy mind and body. The tranquil greenery of Singapore’s Botanical Garden is the perfect sanctuary for starting the day gently; slip out of Raffles Singapore to match up to the expertise of the locals. The gardens are a cool retreat from the morning bustle; catch the scent of frangipani and fruit trees drifting on the breeze, and slowly sway your body and hands in accordance with the soft movements of the Tai Chi teacher. The Botanic Gardens were originally the brainchild of Sir Stamford Raffles in 1822 – not only the founder of modern Singapore, from whom Raffles Singapore takes its name, Sir Stamford was also a keen naturalist. The gardens were moved to their current site in 1859, and remain an incredibly important botanical institute for the city. This is a natural wonderland for setting a slow pace of life for the day; return to the haven of Raffles Singapore ready for breakfast in the iconic Tiffin Room.

Modern Art ahead of the crowd with Raffles Istanbul

Offering a new perspective on a timeless city, Raffles Istanbul sits at the heart of the Zorlu Center, a new hub for fashion, food and the arts on the European shore in Beşiktaş – a next generation bazaar where fashion, performance and art converge. When it opens on 1 September, the hotel will let guests in to the best kept secrets of the cutting edge of the city. Start the day with a dose of exciting modern art: the concierge will arrange a trip to be first through the doors of some of Istanbul’s best galleries… the Istanbul Modern – Turkey’s first private museum to show modern and contemporary art exhibitions – on the shores of the Bosphorus as the sun rises over the city, or SALT, the contemporary art space, which opened in 2012. Return to Raffles, inspired, for coffee with a view from the private balcony of your bedroom as the world wakes up.

Morning Calm at Raffles Makkah Palace

As one of the world’s most holy cities, Makkah is at its most magical in the early morning as the call to prayer wakes the city. Visit the legendary Zamzam Well, a miracle rising from beneath the sand which has generated water for thousands of years or the Jabal Al-Nour (Mountain of the Light), a mountain lying east of Makkah from which Abraham built the Kaaba. Catch the Qasr As-Saqqaf at its most peaceful: one of the oldest buildings in Makkah, this is typical of the traditional architecture of the city, with unique Islamic motifs. Or visit the Qasr Khozam, the palace of King Abdul Aziz, built more than 80 years ago with stone bought from the west coast of the kingdom. Part of the palace has now been converted into a museum of archaeology and ethnology. Or within the hotel, slip into the Raffles Makkah Palace library – the only library of its kind – with a collection of more than 2,000 Hadith and classic Islamic texts on its shelves.

A Champagne Breakfast at Angkor Thom with Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angko

The temples of Angkor Wat are undoubtedly Cambodia’s most majestic of experiences: ancient monuments telling stories of hundreds of years. Angkor is at its most magical as the day begins, as the sun rises and the jungle around the temples wakes up. Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor guides its guests away from the main tourist sunrise spots to a hidden spot of Angkor Thom. Breakfast is served… tropical fruits, fresh pastries, and a glass of champagne as the cool dawn light lifts to reveal the 54 faces carved into the rocks at Bayon, and the charming figures on the Terrace of Elephants. Spot monkeys beginning their day, and make the most of the early start to discover the secrets of an ancient world before the sun rises too high in the sky and the cool of the pool at Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor calls.

Cambodian cooking with Raffles Hotel Le Royal, Phnom Penh

The cooking class at Raffles Hotel Le Royal has been described as “one of the most bespoke cooking classes South East Asia has to offer.” Early birds catch the best of Phnom Penh here, travelling to the local market with Chef to collect the freshest produce and finest ingredients of the day before the rest of the city wakes up. Returning to the hotel, guests will learn the secrets of Royal Khmer Cuisine: Raffles Hotel Le Royal was gifted exclusive rights to recipes from the Palace kitchen by King Father Norodom Sihanouk during his reign. Six dishes will be created in total using rice – a sacred component of Khmer Culture – and fish and shellfish fresh from the Mekong and Tonlé Sap rivers. Herbs and spices come fresh from the market, and the lesson ends with guests tasting their own culinary creations.

A Morning Detox at Le Royal Monceau – Raffles Paris

Le Royal Monceau – Raffles Paris has the perfect recipe for a healthy, energizing start to the busy Parisian day; a morning mini-detox. Runners can take a turn around the Parc Monceau, just a short hop along the Avenue Hoche, while water babies can enjoy some peaceful lengths in the hotel’s pool – longer than any other hotel swimming pool in the city – for starters. On, to the stylish surroundings of La Cuisine breakfast, which marries gourmet food and wellbeing in a tempting spread. Begin with a cleansing ‘Royal Booster’ smoothie, packed with vitamin C rich Chia seeds, fresh fruit and spices. Next, choose organic eggs cooked any way – perhaps an egg white omelette – or seafood, rich in Omega-3. There is also seasonal fruit platters, an ‘Alternative Milk Bar’ (soya, almond milk, coconut water) and gluten-free cakes and bread, dried fruits, organic cereals and grains. Don’t miss the delicious Granola Ispahan by Pierre Hermé – a reinterpretation of a classic with oats, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, puffed rice, grated coconut, pistachios, pecan and almonds, flavoured with honey and rose, dried raspberries and lychees.

China’s most glamorous beach at its best: Raffles Hainan, Clearwater Bay

Every day marks a new beginning on Hainan as birdsong fills the gold coast of Clearwater Bay, and the world wakes up to a refreshing breeze off the sea. Make the most of the restorative early morning light with a range of outdoor activities. Take a yoga class on the beach, or jog along the water’s edge leaving footprints in the sand. Borrow a bicycle and be carried along the coast in no time, or head for the gentle pick-pock of tennis balls on court for starting the day à deux. Or simply take a wonder along the beach, collecting shells, and spotting crabs and small fish starting their day in Hainan style. This is China’s most glamorous beach at its best; all to yourself.

Dawn flag raising ceremony with Raffles Beijing

While most tourists are still sleeping, guests of Raffles Beijing can join Raffles Ambassador John Spooner to witness the traditional and atmospheric Flag Raising Ceremony at Tian An Men Square, the largest city square in the world. The raising of the national flag is accompanied by a marching military band as the day begins in Beijing and the sun appears over Tian An Men. John will share his knowledge of the history of the ceremony, as well as taking guests on a journey through Beijing’s past. Opened in 1917 as the Grand Hotel de Pékin, Raffles Beijing Hotel’s graceful French-Orient façade has long stood as an icon of the city’s historical heritage. Just over six years ago, a new chapter began when it was fully renovated in 2006 by Raffles Hotels & Resorts.

About Raffles Hotels & Resorts: Raffles Hotels & Resorts is an award-winning, luxury international hotel company with a history dating back to 1887 with the opening of Raffles Hotel, Singapore. The portfolio currently comprises ten luxurious properties, from secluded resorts to city hotels in key locations around the world: in Singapore, Cambodia, China, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, the Philippines and Paris, each one is an oasis of calm and charm. The company is embarking on a new phase of expansion, with openings in key destinations scheduled over the next two years. With a compelling mix of cultures and styles, every hotel in the Raffles family has its own individual personality, with its own story to tell and its own sense of place. However, each one is proud to draw on the timeless essence of Raffles – to deliver thoughtful, personal and discreet service to well-travelled guests.

Raffles Hotels & Resorts is part of FRHI Hotels & Resorts, a leading global hotel company with more than 110 hotels and resorts worldwide under the Raffles, Fairmont and Swissôtel brands. The company also manages Fairmont, Raffles and Swissôtel branded luxury private residence clubs, whole-ownership residences and serviced residences properties.

LAST-MINUTE DEAL; Holiday in Paris from $1,269 with Air‏

August 20, 2014 on 12:13 pm | In France, Paris | Comments Off

Plunk your money (or credit card) down by August 28 and you can spend Thanksgiving or Christmas in Paris starting at $1,269 from New York or $1,377 from Chicago. This phenomenal deal includes round-trip air fare to Paris, 6 nights accommodation in the 3-star Comfort Hotel Mouffetard, and daily breakfast. Departures are every day from November 1 to December 27, but the package must be booked and paid in full by August 28.

Now that you can get an authentic turkey dinner in many Paris restaurants, Thanksgiving is a great time to enjoy the city. You can zoom to the top of the Eiffel Tower, see the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, visit the Palace of Versailles, or even relish a cup of the world’s best hot chocolate at Angelina on the rue de Rivoli—all without the summer crowds. (TourCrafters offers optional tours of many Paris attractions.)

Christmastime, when the City of Light lives up to its name, is magical. There are Christmas illuminations on the Champs-Elysées and Place Vendôme, window displays at Printemps and other department stores, Christmas markets and ice skating rinks in several squares and wonderfully festive meals in many hotels and restaurants. Most impressive of all, there are Christmas services in the beautiful Gothic Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris.

The cozy, contemporary Comfort Hotel Mouffetard is on one of the most interesting old streets in Paris, close to the Latin Quarter, the famous Mouffetard Market and a metro stop, and surrounded by charming little shops, cafés and restaurants. Those who want something grander can upgrade to a 4-star hotel in Montparnasse, from $1,607.

TourCrafters has a similar last-minute deal to Vienna and Prague that includes some extras. The price starts at $1,539 from New York, $1,595 from Chicago.

All prices are per person, double occupancy, and are subject to availability. Fuel charges are included, but are subject to change by the airline. Airport taxes of $109 per person are not included and must be paid prior to departure. A supplement will be charged for weekend departures.

For more information, visit , click “Special Offers” and then “Deal of the Week.” For reservations, call 800-482-5995.

Hotel Openings And Palace Distinction For French Hotels

August 10, 2014 on 11:03 am | In France, Paris | Comments Off

The Peninsula Paris is located in the heart of the 16th arrondisement just a few steps from the Arc de Triomphe and the Avenue des Champs Elysées. The elegant 19th century property first opened in 1908 as one of Paris’ most famous “grand hotels”. Following the wartime occupation of Paris, the hotel was then converted into the UNESCO headquarters and in 1958 became the conference centre for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs until 2009. For the past 6 years it has undergone a complete renovation and now offers 200 rooms, rooftop terraces and six dining venues.
Prices start at: €1,095

The Hôtel Plaza Athénée has been closed for the past 10 months for extensive renovation work including an expansion into three adjacent buildings. Fourteen new rooms have been added and the hotel now has a total of 208 rooms and suites. In addition, a new ballroom and further meeting space has been created. The hotel is located on Avenue Montaigne near the Champs-Élysées and the Eiffel Tower. The Hôtel Plaza Anthénée is a member of the Dorchester Collection.
Prices start at: €995

The Shangri-La and Mandarin Oriental hotels in Paris and the K2 in Courchevel have all been awarded the exclusive ‘Palace’ status. Only 16 hotels in France carry the Palace label. Established by the French Minister of Tourism in November 2010, the Distinction Palace is designed to award official recognition to the finest 5-star hotels. They must have exceptional qualities that embody French standards of excellence and contribute to enhancing the image of France throughout the world.

Peninsula Paris

Hotel Plaza Athénée

Place hotels:

For more information:
Atout France
+44 (0)20 7061 6640

Fat Tire Bike Tours Announces Paris Vacation Giveaway

August 4, 2014 on 9:39 am | In France, Paris | Comments Off

Goddess Swimwear from Today ShowSpring vacation to Paris?

Oui, s’il vous plaît!

Tourism innovator Fat Tire Bike Tours today announced the 2014 Fat Tire Paris Giveaway. Throughout the month of August, the bike, walking, and Segway tour operator will award weekly giveaway prizes and a grand prize of one free trip for two to Paris, France.

The grand prize Paris vacation for two features roundtrip airfare on Air France, transfers to and from the airport, a five-night stay at the Fat Tire Flat and a customized trip itinerary with unlimited tours of Paris offered by Easy Pass Tours, Fat Tire Bike Tours, City Segway Tours and Classic Walks of Paris.

Weekly giveaway prizes for two include: a Versailles Bike Tour, Bikram Yoga session, Paris Day Bike Tour, Skip the Line – Louvre Tour, free Fat Tire t-shirts and more.

To enter for a chance to win a free trip for two to Paris, France, click here.

“Paris is the most magical city in the world, and there’s truly no better way to see the sights and learn the history up close than our customized and engaging tours,” said Crissa Woodruff, Marketing Director for Fat Tire Bike Tours. “We’re thrilled to be able to offer the contest winner a spring getaway to share with someone special.”

For complete contest rules and to enter, visit:

The 2014 Fat Tire Paris Giveaway starts August 1st at midnight (Paris time) and ends August 31st at midnight (Paris time). Weekly winners will be announced on August 8, 15, 22 and 29.

The grand prize winner will be announced September 2. Travel to Paris, France must occur between April 7, 2015 and April 31, 2015, and the winner must specify which 5 nights they will stay at the Fat Tire Flat in Paris, France by October 1, 2014.

For more information about Fat Tire Bike Tours, please visit:

About Fat Tire Bike Tours
Established in 1999 by David Mebane, our mission is to provide safe, fun, and unforgettable experience through superior customer service that creates memories and smiles that last a lifetime. Since its beginning, the tourism company has grown to offer a wide variety of bike, walking, and Segway tours throughout Europe and North America. All of our tours have been designed with you, our guest, in mind. It’s our goal to bring each customer a fantastic private and personal experience. We achieve this through limited group size, world-class tour guides, and 5-star customer service.

Five ‘Fantastique’ Flavours of France

August 4, 2014 on 9:26 am | In Dine Drink, France, Paris | Comments Off

Goddess Swimwear from Today ShowFrance – it’s the world’s most visited country. But why does it hold such a special place in people’s hearts?
According to luxury tour operator APT, a river cruise and land journey can certainly offer an insight into this very question – the type of holiday that leads you outside the city limits and into a land filled with a rich concoction of art, architecture, history and gastronomy.

Need some more persuasion? Here’s five reasons why APT can’t get enough of ‘fantastique’ France:
1. You can sample wines as diverse as the scenery
Swirl, smell and sip your way through France’s world-famous wine regions, where ancient terraces have witnessed millennia of winemaking. Just outside of Bordeaux, is Saint-Émilion, home to numerous globally acclaimed vineyards. Here you can savour the lovely full-bodied Merlot-based blends that are the dominant wines of this region. Further east, nearing the Mediterranean, the balmy Rhône River and its surrounding landscapes favour the fruit-driven notes of Beaujolais reds.

Stop by a family-owned vineyard to discover proud winemaking traditions and learn why local vintners prefer France’s historic waterways and their surrounds.

Tip: Slip into one of Saint-Émilion’s cellar doors for an intimate wine tasting that reveals the artistry of local viticulture.

2. Art is at its heart

You’ll find world-class art scattered across all corners of the country. Normandy is where poetic landscapes moved the likes of Monet, Sisley, Pissarro, Cézanne. See for yourself some of Monet’s greatest inspirations: the water lilies at his garden in Giverny and the intricate facade of Rouen cathedral. Impressionism is not the only art form that blossomed in France. A former bohemian centre, Paris’ historic Montmartre district attracted impoverished artists such as Dalí, Modigliani and Picasso. Soak up the magic of Saint-Rémy, where Van Gogh produced Starry Night, and stop by the tiny hilltop village of Saint-Paul de Vence, famed for its boutique galleries and studios.

Tip: Purchase a Paris Museum Pass for unlimited entry to 60 museums and monuments in and around Paris, allowing you to peruse the city’s many treasures of art at your leisure over a number of days.

3. Every holiday leads to the delicious

From flakey pastries to soft oozing cheese, succulent seafood and warm crusty bread, France is all about ‘food, food, glorious food’. Discover Normandy, famous for its apple orchards – where cider and Calvados producers ply their trade – and its acclaimed Camembert cheese. Whereas the Atlantic Coast is a haven for seafood aficionados. Outré-fresh fish is on the menu in Cap Ferret; and in Cancale you can slurp oysters plucked right from the bay. For another authentic taste of France, gather an impressive selection of produce from Lyon’s famed Les Halles de Lyon market. If you’re able to tear yourself away from the gastronomic delights of Lyon, Saint-Rémy will reward you with the chance to sample golden-green olive oil from the press. And how best to discover the ultimate French delicacy? Join a truffle farmer and his dogs to sniff out some of these rare treasures.
Tip: Michelin-starred chef Paul Bocuse is a huge fan of Lyon’s local ingredients and his restaurant L’Abbaye de Collonges is an essential stopover for an insight into haute gastronomy.

4. Architecture more beautiful than you can ever imagine
France gathers some of the world’s most iconic structures, as well as buildings so extraordinary you need to pinch yourself to believe they’re real. Grand Chateaux, both ancient and modern-day, will have you reaching for your camera. Richard the Lionheart’s Château-Gaillard stands proudly atop the vertical mountainside of Les Andelys; sprawling clipped gardens flourish at Château de Villandry; and Château de Cheverny tempts travellers with its stately charm. Frolic through the endless fields of Provençale lavender surrounding Grignan Castle and experience the epitome of Belle-Epoch extravagance at Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild on the French Riviera.

Tip: In Summer, head to Mont Saint-Michel at sunset and be captivated as the World Heritage-listed Abbey is illuminated in a stunning light display.
5. Relive major moments in history

Lose yourself in Carcassonne’s historic centre, encircled by remnants of a 12th-century fortification, while Sarlat’s collection of Medieval honey-coloured buildings and atmospheric cobbled squares are magical. Amble through Avignon’s tiny lanes to the Palace of the Popes; in Rouen visit the market square where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake and follow in the footsteps of French royalty at the Palace of Versailles. And on the Norman coast, visit the vestiges of D-Day or look back on one of the most significant encounters of World War I at Somme Battlefields.

Tip: You could happily lose yourself for days in the 8,000 hectares of stunning parks and gardens at Versailles, so leave yourself plenty of time to explore.

To book an APT French river cruise and luxury land journey call 1300 196 420, visit .au or see your local travel agent.

Paris Hotels Tell Guests to ‘Pay What You Want’

July 23, 2014 on 7:12 am | In France, Paris | Comments Off

Five Paris hotels have launched a program that allows guests to “pay what you want” after completing your stay, according to AFP, per Yahoo! News.

The program, which will run until Aug. 10, features five three-star and four-star hotels located in the tourism hotspot’s 9th and 11th districts, including Hotel Tour d’Auvergne, Grand Hotel Francais, Plaza Opera Hotel, Hotel Villa Boheme and Hotel Villa Opera Lamartime. Guests can literally pay whatever they want based on their impressions of the hotel, from their rooms to the customer service. The offer may even be extended if everything goes smoothly for hoteliers.

Aldric Duval, head of Hotel Tour d’Auvergne, spurred the bold offer, which aims to alleviate concerns about sky-high accommodation prices in the city while also expecting guests not to abuse it.

“It’s a fair price operation, one of confidence in the client,” Duval said, via the AFP report.

Si Zyad Si Hocine, the owner of Grand Hotel Francais, said he was confident “guests will pay a fair price,” per the report.

The offer will be available only to those who make bookings through the official website, Two to three rooms have been aside by each of the hotels for the offer/social experiment.

TravelPulse’s Take

Hey, it’s worth a shot.

The five hotels probably won’t make as much money as they normally would with a “normal” room rate in Paris, but it’s going to be interesting what guests are willing to pay.

For example, will guests consciously abuse the system? Will they research the going rate for a Paris hotel room and pay accordingly? Or will they take it as simply an invitation to book a (really) cheap rate for a hotel, regardless of the service?

One thing to point out is that this is a social experiment more than anything. If it doesn’t work out for these hotels, it’s not a huge loss, considering a) the offer only goes until Aug. 10, b) they are currently only featuring two to three rooms each under the program and c) it’s good publicity, which could boost bookings in the future based on the sheer idea of it.

It’s also important to note that the offer doesn’t have to end on Aug. 10. You guests out there have some say based on what you pay. So, if you want this offer to continue, pay accordingly.

FYI: The best available rate for a double room at Hotel Tour d’Auvergne as of this writing was 169 euros (so you guests have no excuse to pay less out of ignorance).

Some of the best hotels in the world (in fact, you could say most of them) have experimented to try to stand out from the competition. Sure, sometimes it goes sideways, but it’s important to try new things in the ever-evolving hospitality world (and ever-evolving world) more often than not.

And, again, it appears to be a smart experiment by these five Paris hotels, considering there isn’t a whole lot to lose and they could reap the benefits on publicity alone.

Read more travel news at

Jetstreams for Travel Discounts

Top 10 Music Festivals in France this Summer

July 22, 2014 on 8:19 am | In Festivals, France, Paris, Webbandstand | Comments Off

Atout France, the France Tourism Development Agency, announces its top 10 summer music festivals in France roundup. Please see the festivals detailed below.

Côte d’Azur
Midi-Festival, Hyères, July 25 & 26
Located on the French Riviera, this indie-rock festival will celebrate its 10th anniversary this year welcoming highly-regarded artists such as Panda Bear, François & The Atlas Moutains and more.

Les Eurockéennes, Belfort, July 4-6
Located on a beautiful natural reserve, Les Eurockéennes offers three days of concerts covering a wide spectrum of music, from rock, pop, hip-hop, electro and more. This year, the festival welcomes international stars such as: The Pixies, Stromae, Franz Ferdinand, Foster the People and more.

Les Siestes Electroniques, Toulouse, June 26-29 and Paris, July 6, 13, 20 & 27
Founded in Toulouse, Les Siestes Electroniques showcases emerging electronic musicians at free open-air concerts in both Toulouse and Paris.

Nord-Pas de Calais
Mainsquare, Arras, July 3-6
An annual international music festival taking place at the Citadel, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Mainsquare attracts internationally renowned groups to its 2014 roster including: Jack Johnson, David Guetta, MGMT and Woodkid.

Beauregard Festival, Hérouville-St-Clair, July 3-6The 6th edition of the Beauregard Festival will turn the charming Château de Beauregard into a veritable concert venue welcoming 32 bands from a wide variety of genres. Highlights include concerts by The Pixies, Foster the People, Stromae, Blondie, Vanessa Paradis amongst many others.

The Peacock Society, July 11-14
Nestled in the lush greenery of Parc Floral is The Peacock Society, a fresh summer event for fans of the electronic music scene. Concert lovers can experience a vibrant music “playground,” where the infectious vibe and good beats take over the warehouses and pavilions of the garden.

Rock en Seine, August 22–24
This annual three-day music festival takes place in Paris’ Domaine National de Saint-Cloud. This year, the festival will welcome renowned acts such as: Arctic Monkeys, The Hives, Queens of the Stone Age, Lana del Ray as well as many up-and-coming artists.

Francofolies, La Rochelle, July 10-14
Dedicated to French language music and the French chanson tradition, Les Francofolies in the seaside city of La Rochelle showcases internationally renowned artists as well as rising stars of the French music scene.

Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur
Marsatac Festival, Marseille, September 25 – 27
The largest music festival of its kind in Provence, Marsatac was originally dedicated to hip-hop music but has since branched out to encompass rock and electronic music.

Webbandstand for Concerts and Performing Arts

Louvre Museum New Room Opening

July 22, 2014 on 8:08 am | In France, Museums, Paris, Webbandstand | Comments Off

New Eighteenth-Century Decorative Arts Galleries

Collections without equal in the world and an “epoch of perfection” in French art.

On the first floor of the north wing and in a portion of the west wing of the Cour Carrée, an exceptional renovation project is entering its final phase: the complete redesign and reinstallation of the galleries dedicated to decorative art objects from the reign of Louis XIV and the eighteenth century. This project is the last part of the Department of Decorative Arts’ renovation work under the Grand Louvre plan.The Louvre’s extraordinarily large and comprehensive collection of eighteenth-century decorative arts is without equal in any other museum, illustrating the exceptional talents of France’s eighteenth- century artisans and artists in this field, whose work is admired around the world. In order to give this outstanding collection a presentation better allowing the public to appreciate its treasures, the galleries are undergoing a spectacular transformation. The new exhibition spaces are due to open to the public on June 6, 2014.

A unique collection

The eighteenth-century collections of the Department of Decorative Arts offer a broad perspective on interior decoration, featuring works, mainly of French origin, produced by leading manufactures or independent artisans along with others handled by fine art merchants, spanning the period from the reign of Louis XIV until the French Revolution. They include wooden paneling and painted wall decorations, tapestries and rugs, joinery and cabinetry, gilt-bronze mounts and objects, marble and hardstone sculptures and carvings, silver and gold pieces, jewelry, scientific instruments, European ceramics, and imported objects in lacquer and porcelain. The fact that the large majority of these pieces were originally commissioned for royal or princely residences makes them particularly remarkable, in comparison with those on view in other museums dedicated to decorative arts, in Europe and the United States.

It was only a good number of years after the Louvre’s founding that luxury arts and crafts under the reigns of Louis XIV, Louis XV and Louis XVI became a focus of its collections, through two key events. The first of these was in 1870, when historic furnishings and objects were rescued in the nick of time from the Tuileries Palace and the Château de Saint- Cloud, saving them from being engulfed by flames. The second occurred in 1901, when the Mobilier National, the French government agency whose duties include the conservation of heritage furnishings, made a permanent loan to the museum of a large number of masterpieces made by Parisian cabinet-makers and tapestry workshops that had originally graced the rooms of royal and imperial residences.

In the twentieth century, numerous riches were added to the collection through the generosity of leading connoisseurs and collectors, such as Isaac de Camondo and Basile de Schlichting, both of whom made major bequests to the museum, received in 1911 and 1914, respectively. During this same period, the museum also acquired a number of remarkable pieces from stately homes either torn down or altered in the nineteenth century.

A new exhibition design

The galleries on the first floor of the Cour Carrée’s north wing, whose existing installation had dated for the most part from the early 1960s, were closed in 2005 in order to be brought in compliance with current fire and safety regulations. Among other works, this involved the creation of staircases on either side of the Pavillon Marengo. In addition, the exhibition design in place until 2004 was still, save for a few more recent alterations, the one created by Pierre Verlet between 1962 and 1966.

Renovation work begin in the fall of 2011, after preliminary studies conducted by Daniel Alcouffe, the head of the department at the time. The architectural concept for the new galleries is the work of Michel Goutal, following an exhibition design by Jacques Garcia, in collaboration with curators in the Department of Decorative Arts under the direction of Marc Bascou, and with technical assistance provided by the Louvre’s Department of Project Planning and Management.

Visitors will thus discover a new 2,183 sq.m exhibition space, consisting of 35 galleries, with more than 2,000 pieces on display. The galleries are grouped into three main chronological and stylistic sequences:

- 1660–1725: personal reign of Louis XIV and the Regency
- 1725–1755: height of the Rococo style
- 1755–1790: return to classicism and the reign of Louis XVI

Exemplary Grand Siècle pieces will be presented in the historic Council of State chambers, while the north wing of the Cour Carrée will be given over to a suite of period rooms, allowing visitors to view objects in context, paired with galleries featuring themed display cases, presenting the department’s collections of ceramics, jewelry, and works in silver and gold, while also allowing visitors to fully appreciate some of the era’s greatest masterpieces.
The new structure of the galleries, following a chronological organization for the most part, aims to underscore both the history of techniques and the history of styles. The presentation also highlights the period’s most celebrated palatial residences as well as the leading figures of the time, including artisans, artists and their patrons. Through royal or princely abodes either not having survived or now serving different purposes (Saint-Cloud, Bellevue, Tuileries, Palais-Bourbon, etc.), Parisian “hôtels particuliers” (private mansions built by the aristocracy, such as Le Bas de Montargis, Dangé and de Chevreuse), not to mention the elite’s country homes (Voré, d’Abondant), visitors are invited to explore a wide panoply of places and atmospheres that contributed to the blossoming of French decorative arts in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, thus creating a fitting historical backdrop for the presentation.

Visitors will thus encounter members of the royal family (Louis XIV, Louis XV and Louis XVI, the prince de Condé, the comte d’Artois, Mesdames de France (the king’s daughters), Marie-Antoinette), but also the king’s mistresses (Madame de Pompadour and Madame du Barry), nobles of the royal court such as the duc de Chevreuse and the marquis de Sourches, and wealthy financiers such as Claude Le Bas de Montargis, the keeper of the royal treasure, and the tax collector François-Balthazar Dangé.

The collection naturally includes pieces by the period’s greatest creative geniuses in the decorative arts, some of whom enjoyed prestige across Europe during their lifetime to an extent difficult to appreciate today: the cabinet- makers André-Charles Boulle, Charles Cressent, Bernard II van Risemburgh, Jean-François Oeben, Martin Carlin and Jean-Henri Riesener; the silver- and goldsmiths Thomas and François-Thomas Germain, Jacques Roëttiers and others of his family, and Robert-Joseph Auguste; and the painters and decorators Charles Lebrun, Jean-Baptiste Oudry and Charles-Antoine Coypel. The most celebrated of these were granted the royal privilege of free lodgings in the Galerie du Louvre alongside their workshops and became the first in a long line of renowned masters in the decorative arts, such as André-Charles Boulle or Tomas Germain. Truly laboratories of invention, their workshops served not only French kings and courtiers, but also their counterparts outside France, thus contributing to the dissemination of French culture and setting fashions for the other courts of Europe.

The visitor experience is also enriched through multi media equipment and information panels contextualizing the pieces on display, with historical and sociological references elucidating aspects such as the development of taste and the world of production, the universe of intermediaries and merchants, as well as the changing shape of commissions and uses.

Period rooms: Exploration of a French art of living

Within each sequence of galleries, particular attention is paid to the design of period rooms, making every effort to reinstall the decoration and furnishings in their original configuration. Other rooms bring together “recollections of interiors,” stylistically coherent groupings of furniture and objects within a recreated decorative setting.
This museological concept of period rooms, adopted from the nineteenth century by certain historical or decorative arts museums, meets the expectations of a broad audience, making this luxurious art of living immediately perceptible and easier to apprehend, in all its unequaled elegance and refinement, and restores the most magnificent inventions of decorators and master artisans to their natural environment.

The period rooms thus created provide the opportunity to reconstruct documented decorative groupings, accompanied by period furniture, such as the drawing rooms and library of the Hôtel de Villemaré, the Grand Salon of the Château d’Abondant and the ceremonial bedchamber at the Hôtel de Chevreuse.

In collaboration with other departments at the museum, the galleries will also feature ancient or modern paintings and sculptures, pastels and engravings, either on a permanent basis or in the form of a rotating presentation. For instance, the famed portrait of Louis XIV by Hyacinthe Rigaud will be displayed in one of the Council of State chambers, where one of the world’s most beautiful groupings of Boulle furniture pieces will also be on view.
In addition, the new exhibition design allows for the installation of major painted decorations, such as the panels by d’Oudry from the Château de Voré or the ceiling frescos from the Palazzo Pisani in Venice, attributed to Giovanni Scajario (1726–179 ). The Pavillon Marengo will house an extraordinary cupola painted by Antoine-François Callet (1 741–1823) for the Hôtel de Bourbon-Condé.

A project funded entirely through the museum’s own resources

This renovation project, with a budget of €26 million, is entirely funded through the museum’s own resources as part of the Louvre Atlanta project and is made possible by the generous support of its main sponsors: Montres Breguet; the members of the Cercle Cressent chaired by Mrs. François Pinault; the American Friends of the Louvre and their Cressent Circle; the Société des Amis du Louvre; MGM China, Pansy Ho, Yan Pei-Ming and a number of Hong Kong patrons; the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and their major patrons Cynthia Fry Gunn and John A. Gunn; and with additional support provided by Kinoshita Group.
Jacques Garcia has graciously shared his skills and expertise by contributing the exhibition design for the new galleries.

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