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Crazy Horse and Croissants

The Ultimate Paris Girls Trip

The bustle of the holiday season is in high gear. The twinkling lights, the tempting treats, the endless shopping, the middle-of-the-night panic attacks, the ticking clock – Help!!

Don’t you wish you could put your mind – if only for a few moments a day – on something more relaxing, something just for you and two or three of your besties? How about a girls’ weekend away? And how about you up the ante a bit and make it a few luxurious nights in one of the poshest places in Paris?

Now we’re talking.

Just ask Ashley Lancer, executive luxury travel designer for Valerie Wilson Travel. This Westport-based travel guru says whisking your crew to France for a few days of fun along the Seine is totally doable and the perfect anecdote to the yuletide rush.

“There are so many ways to see Paris,” she says. “There’s the art trip, the romantic trip… Why not the bougie girls’ trip?”

And Ashley knows just where to unpack those bags once you get there. Two of the spectacular hotels in the Dorchester Collection are in the heart of the city, offering very different, but equally luxe accommodations.

“I think seeing a hotel is like seeing a museum,” Ashley says. “They each have their own character.”

With the gorgeous blooms and promenades of the Tuileries just outside and the Louvre and Vendôme a short stroll away, Le Meurice is truly in the center of it all. The stately hotel’s newly restored rooms and suites pair perfectly with its old-world grandeur, reminding Ashley of New York City’s Plaza along Central Park.

A grand lobby greets guests, who stay in sumptuous suites of white lounging couches and tasteful marble bathrooms. Dining options include the two-Michelin-starred Restaurant Le Meurice Alain Ducasse, an ornate space inspired by the Salon de la Paix at the Château de Versailles.

In need of a little "you time"? Schedule a purifying facial or volcanic hot stone massage at La Maison Valmont pour Le Meurice, the only Valmont spa in Paris. 

If Le Meurice is Paris’ Plaza, Hôtel Plaza Athénée, its sister Dorchester Collection hotel in the 8th arrondissement, is more Upper East Side or Madison Avenue chic. With its red awnings and renovated bar with a striking glass bar top and blue ceilings, this hotel has a sexy, oh-so-Parisian flair.

Featuring a Dior spa and unforgettable dining adventures at Jean Imbert au Plaza Athénée, the hotel also boasts sweeping views of the Seine and the Eiffel Tower and suites offering spacious living rooms, walk-in wardrobes – even a grand piano.

Once you’ve chosen a launching pad, it’s time to plan a girl's trip with the right blend of lively activities and time to relax and savor your friends and your surroundings. With a decade of travel planning to her credit – she recently designed a once-in-a-lifetime odyssey to Antarctica for 92 – Ashley is ready with her top 10 tips for girls who just want to have fun.

  1. Meet in person well before you leave and go over the itinerary. Does your dream Versailles visit include arriving in a helicopter? Would a friend like to linger over masterpieces at Musee d’Orsay, while another wants to shop ‘til she drops? Is a third pal always ‘fashionably late?’ Flexibility is your friend.

  2. Stay awake! After a long ‘cross-the-pond flight you might think tucking in for a cat nap is the first order of business. Au contraire! Fight the urge and stay awake until it’s bedtime in Paris. You’re more likely to conquer jet lag and acclimate to your new normal. 

  3. And book a later flight – say, 9 or 10 p.m. If you land at midday, you’re more likely to make it until French bedtime and wake refreshed.

  4. Want a fun and low-impact way to get the lay of the land after you land? Try a retro sidecar tour. Let a savvy local scoot you along cobblestone streets to charming haunts the tourists haven’t discovered. Be sure to stop for a few photos. 

  5. Linger over breakfast. Ease into your first full day on the continent with a leisurely petit déjeuner before a more lively activity. Ashley recommends a foodie walking tour of Le Marais, where you can visit a market and see how real Parisiennes eat and shop.

  6. While you’re there, stop in at Café Louis Philippe, a 200-year-old restaurant serving iconic bistro fare such as escargot and luscious boeuf bourguignon.

  7. Speaking of food: Splurge on bread, butter and cheese! They don’t include the same questionable additives you might find here and, well, what happens in Paris stays in Paris.

  8. Shun the more touristy Moulin Rouge and grab a table at Crazy Horse, where you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back into a 1920s cabaret. “You have to be ready for it,” Ashley says. “It’s very French, very burlesque, very in-the-moment and very fun!”

  9. SHOP! What’s a girl's trip without a shopping spree? While you should see the Avenue des Champs-Élysées and view the Arc de Triomphe, remember all those streets you traveled on the sidecar tour. You’re likely to find better boutiques and a more authentic experience in Le Marais or on the Left Bank.

  10.  Download Splitwise. This godsend app tracks and organizes your expenses over the trip so you can settle up with friends quickly and fairly without endless discussions over who had two glasses of Merlot at lunch.

One of the best things about Paris, says Ashley? The climate is temperate enough to make girls' trips a go in December or May.

“Paris is good all year ‘round,” she says.

For more information on these fabulous hotels:

dorchestercollection.com/paris/le-meurice

dorchestercollection.com/paris/hotel-plaza-athenee

or

To Contact Ashley Lancer Executive Luxury Travel Designer:

ashleyl@vwti.com  | O 212.532.3400 | D 212.592.1294

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