For the past few years, international travel for work hasn’t been in my cards.  So, when a high-profile project I was leading for the America’s led to an international meetup in Paris, I was not disappointed. 

In fact, I was pretty excited.  Work had been so busy the past year that I couldn’t even think of taking my annual international vacation.  But that doesn’t mean I didn’t want to.  In fact, I was yearning for it so this was perfect in a sense.

Since this is a work trip, I usually fly in the day before business kicks off to get settled and rested, then out the morning after the event.  But it’s been a few years since I was last in Paris, so I decided to stay and play a few extra days in the City of Love on my own dime. 

After all, I was already there, so it would have been a waste not to enjoy this beautiful city and all that it has to offer.  Even if it was in mid-summer, busy with tourists and warmer than I usually prefer.  My first meeting was Monday night, so taking a mid-Saturday flight and arriving early Sunday was perfect. 

Paris is always a good idea.

– Audrey Hepburn


Logistics and Excursion Planning

The thing about work travel is, being a good steward of the company’s money comes before your desires or convenience.  At least in my opinion.  When staying a few extra days on a work trip, it is imperative to separate your days accordingly from a reservation and/or expense standpoint. 

This is usually pretty easy as flights don’t usually vary much, if at all, from a Tuesday to a Thursday, and they’re usually cheaper on a weekend.  The hotel is where it can get tricky, especially if you are attempting to use points for your personal days, which I was on this trip.  

TB TIP: Don’t let the travel times via online maps fool you, everything will take longer via foot, car, etc. than listed. It’s Paris after all and the traffic is abundant.

So now the planning process. While some view this as a daunting task, trust me, it’s fun when you know the ins and outs. Here’s how I navigate it:

  • Find a Marriott property that suits my desires for this trip (each of these wants must be checked yes):
    • Newer, clean property in a nice area of Paris.
    • Onsite restaurants for brunch and good dinners since I’ll be onsite throughout the day in an unknown area.
    • High floor room for the best views and most quiet sleeping experience.
    • Is reasonable on a corporate rate code to keep the work expense down.
    • Stay on points is available (it usually is, but out of country can be tricky and sometimes it’s not an options). Also, inquiring into any fees that apply to foreign travelers is a must; you’d be surprised what I’ve encountered when not asking that question.
    • An Elite Lounge with access to free beverages, food and happy hour throughout the day.  
  • Check American Airlines and their partner sites for the lowest cost, most direct flight.  
    • LAX to CDG was the most logical and cost effective.
    • Business and/or First Class wasn’t an option as its’ a work trip, so any upgrades I could get via my status were a plus.
    • Air Tahiti Nui, a One World Alliance Partner, had a new fleet of Boeing Dreamliners making the trip that were far from full.  So, the fare was low, and I got a great seat in economy plus with nobody next to me; this means I can raise the armrests and lay down flat.  
    • LAX has a lovely Admirals Club Lounge (including Flagship First exclusive lounge access), which is vital to my travel experience.
  • Excursions:
    • I jumped on Viator to see what, if any, excursions were available on a Sunday afternoon.
    • Wine and cheese are a must in Paris, so I needed an excursion geared at this.
    • The Eiffel Tower tour is always fun, and while I’ve done it in the past, I wanted to try it again and see what had changed.
    • Since Notre Dame had their tragic fire, an indoor tour wasn’t an option, but I wanted to see it from outdoors at least.
    • The Louvre is remarkable and worth a trip when in Paris as the exhibitions change regularly.

Travel Day

While I wasn’t up at 4 am, getting up at 5:30 am on a Saturday to make the LAX trip was close enough.  This particular Uber trip was an interesting one; my driver, who I felt bad for, was close to running out of gas and didn’t have the funds to fill his tank. 

At this point, I really had no other option if I wanted my travel day to go according to plan, so I gassed him up.  $10 would’ve got us there, but as I said, I felt bad for him, so $30 it was.  Upon arriving at LAX’s Tom Bradley International terminal, I was less than pleased to find out they had closed their TSA pre/Priority lane AND Admirals Lounge. 

Essentially, there was NO VIP experience, and I was left to wait it out like everyone else in the terminal.  It could be much worse, at least I was close to my gate and could view my plane while sipping on a dirty martini.  

Boarded and ready for takeoff, my noise cancelling headphones were in and I was ready for a long nap… after the first beverage service of course.  If you haven’t flown on a Dreamliner yet, it’s a must.  The takeoff is unlike any other commercial jetliner, and they fly so smooth that a good night’s rest is actually a reality.  An hour in, I was sound asleep and didn’t wake up for 7 hours.  

The thing about Paris is, it’s magical (in its own way) and unlike any other city in the world, as all of the great ones are.  The smell, the energy, the people, you can’t replicate it and who would want to?  So, on my descent into CDG after a 9-hour flight, yes I’m excited to once again be in Paris. 

Wide awake, mind and heart racing, I’m ready to take in the Parisian culture once again.  And after an easy customs and passport stamp experience, I was at my hotel within 20 minutes.  The Renaissance Paris La Defense is a rather remarkable property. 

Granted the La Defense district of Paris is more of a corporate, financial type district, but it’s clean and beautiful in its own way and full of modern art and walkways.  Unpacked and napped, it was time for a quick shower before my walking wine and cheese tour in the 3rd arrondissement (district) of Paris. 

Pic Credit:

Walking tours are my favorite for a variety of reasons:

  • You see a lot at your own pace
  • You can venture into areas cars can’t reach
  • You get to interact with the people you’re walking with
  • Little shops and storefronts are your destinations
  • Tourist spots aren’t on the agenda

Alas, after 2 hours of joy, the tour was over and I was ready for a quick stop to the Faubourg Saint-Germain to catch a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower then back to the hotel and bed.

Day One – A lot of Play & A Little Work

This was the best possible workday one could have while traveling.  I had dinner with the international crew, but the day was mine until 4 pm.  After a relaxing night of deep sleep, I started my day in the Elite Lounge with fresh-pressed juices, pastries and breakfast meats. 

The only thing better than a good breakfast is a good FREE breakfast.  Now for some caffeine, and back to the room to get ready and hit the road.  I was excited because today was my first full day out on the town, and I had booked a four-hour walking tour of Montmartre and Sacre Coeur; areas of Paris I haven’t previously explored.  

Something I’ve learned about tour guides over the years of traveling, they can be really fun and laid back or very high energy and sticklers for being punctual.  I was caught off guard by the morning traffic in Paris; Google Maps had said it would take about 25 minutes from my hotel to the historic Moulin Rouge. 

That being said, I was 15 minutes late for the tour.  My heart was racing, and I was crushed afraid that the tour would leave without me.  I tried calling the tour company, but no luck.  However, things have a way of working themselves out, and not only was my tour guide still in front of the Moulin Rouge, but she was alone.  The other people who signed up didn’t show, so I got a private tour all to myself!  

Since this was a morning tour, the weather was still very nice; about 75 and perfectly sunny without a cloud in the sky.  I’m a huge fan of easing into the day, and this was the perfect early morning tour for an easy start.  Montmartre is a beautiful area full of hills, quaint neighborhoods, little French café’s, greenery and history. 

My tour guide was a funny and incredibly intelligent 28-year-old girl who was giving tours as a side hustle, and it could not have been a better match.  We walked and talked (okay she talked, I listened and asked questions), took in the scenery and absorbed every ounce of Parisian culture.  From 100+ year old stone drinking fountains to a housing sight for up-and-coming artists (including Vincent Van Gogh), this area had so much nostalgia to offer that I was in a state of euphoria.  

We completed our walking tour in a quiet neighborhood with an enticing café that the tour guide admitted was one of her neighborhood go-to’s.  After A LOT of walking, I was famished and made my way into the café for a drink and some Parisian cuisine. Satisfied in every way, I did a little shopping in some local boutiques and called an Uber to my next tour. 

Oh, yeah, I double booked myself today.  Before heading back to the hotel for my dinner meeting with Team Toshiba, I was going to stop off at the Arc de Triomphe for a terrace view (trip to the top) of the city. 

Pic Courtesy:

There are only a handful of cities in the world that have a piece of my heart, and this view of Paris was a good reminder of why it owns one.  

Day Two – Work Work Work… and A Little Play

While this day was consumed in work, I can tell you every minute of the previous day was in my heart… Including the traffic which made me late.  I left 30 minutes earlier and was 10 minutes early to Toshiba France, so feeling blessed and no longer stressed was my mood for the day. 

After work, which was quite the awesome experience with all of my fellow international Toshiba leaders, I was ready to enjoy my hotel and a martini fireside.  Sure, it was summer, but actually cooled off nicely at night and fireside was calling my name.  Everything about this hotel was beautiful, including the restaurant and patio. 

Envision clean white tile, stainless adornments, and black accents to complete a modern European motive.  Yes, this is what hard work in the corporate world yields every now and then, and I was so grateful to be sipping my martini in Paris.  

Day Three – 8 Hours of Walking Paris

Sometimes I’m a little overambitious and booking an 8-hour tour was pretty much that.  Sure, we work 8 hours a day, but walking around during the hottest part of the day in Paris humidity… well let’s just say it can wear on you.  This was an epic tour though, and I had to do it. 

It started at what remains of the Notre Dame cathedral, which really is sad to see after the fire.  From there it was a walk of some other historic Parisian sights before a tour of the Louvre.  Although I’ve visited the Louvre before, it’s still a beautiful sight to see.  I was surprised at how busy it was for a weekday, but still worth it.  Sidenote, the Mona Lisa is tiny and in a very large room with a giant crowd of people, so don’t anticipate a close-up picture without a long wait.

After an hour-long break for lunch at a fun restaurant that had an elaborate selection of ice cream and desserts, the tour was back on.  Next, we were headed to the Seine River for a boat tour and some short-lived relaxation.  Although I live in So-Cal near the ocean, a boat ride never gets old. 

And this one was extremely gratifying as we got to learn about the bridges, government buildings, history, etc.  If you haven’t seen a grand European bridge yet, it’s a must.  Several of the ones in Paris are adorned in gold and hand-sculpted stone sculptures that will leave you in awe.  

The next stop was the Eiffel Tower.  Let me be brutally honest here, it’s a must, and incredible to see.  However, this is a very tall tower which means A LOT of stairs!  Yes, they have elevators up, and I took one.  However, going down is more of a dare so to speak.  There is a race up and down the stairs annually, so it was a challenge for me to take the stairs down. 

And I did… but before that, let’s talk about the Tower first.  It was built over 130 years ago for the World’s Fair to showcase France and their place among the world’s innovators.  It has been an icon ever since, and for a good reason; it’s GORGEOUS!  The view from the top is remarkable.  I also bought a cold glass of white wine to accompany the view, so all-in-all it was perfect!  The only thing left was to see it lit up at night. 

And on that note, I didn’t take into account how long it stayed light in France during the summer months.  Sooo I walked around.  Took in the street vendors, tourists, people watched, got bored, went to a restaurant and ate dinner, had a drink and before you know it, 11 pm was upon me and the Tower was lit.  It was worth every minute of the wait, and all I can say is plan accordingly to make sure you see it! If you come to Paris and don’t see a lit Eiffel Tower, you will regret it.

Trip Summary/Recap

There are only a handful of places I’ve visited that have so many special and desirable elements wrapped up in one location.  History, culture, incredible food and wine society, a river for cruising, and architectural masterpieces that will leave you speechless at a glance. 

Paris, for all that it is and is not, is one of my favorite places in the world.  If I had the opportunity, I’d take work trips there every month and love every minute of it.  Don’t take any opportunity for granted, and love every minute of the ride.  You never know when it may be your last opportunity.

Tips & Tricks


  • Light and soft clothing.  It is warm in Paris during the summer, and you don’t want to be buried in thick clothing and sweat.  
  • Wedge type heels in place of stilettos; the cobblestone streets will destroy spikes or knock you down.  Neither of which are pleasant.
  • Jump on Yelp, go by the reviews, and make reservations!  The locals love to eat out, and most of the smaller venues will have a wait if you don’t book ahead.


  • The traffic is TERRIBLE!  If you didn’t think it could be worse than LA, NYC or SF, think again.  It is!  So plan accordingly.  If Google Maps says your 20 minutes away, figure 45 with traffic.  There’s nothing worse than being late to an excursion or special event.
  • Public transport, train/subway/etc. is easy and inexpensive, but ridden with crime in the form of petty theft.  I strongly recommend you avoid it!
  • The weather is HUMID and warm in the summer months.  Plus, you are in a different area and need to stay hydrated, I recommend bringing a packet of Liquid I.V. for each day you’re in Paris and Europe as a whole.
  • The cab/Uber drivers can be quite cranky, just go with the flow and be patient
  • Your hotel should be willing to mail postcards/letters for you, so don’t worry about tracking down a post office.

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