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June 9, 2010

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WHERE'S JOHNNY JET?                    Paris

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Cheerio from Europe! I've made so many trips here in the past few months that I'm going to write about two of them this week so I can catch up. Last week I told you about my incredible experience on OpenSkies, the new business-class-only service (for cheap) from D.C. (or N.Y.) to Paris. Naturally, I will pick up there and show you some pics from my one-night stay in the city of lights. In addition I will tell you about this week's flight from New York to London on Virgin Atlantic in their Premium Economy class, and show you around Seabourn's newest cruise ship, Sojourn. The Sojourn's naming ceremony brought me to London and the party didn't disappoint, as the weather was perfect and Twiggy was the ship's godmother.

First of all, if you are following me on Twitter (@JohnnyJet), then you probably saw that when I touched down last week I wrote, "I don't think I've never not smiled landing in Europe," a comment that garnered a lot of Retweets (that's Twitter lingo). But seriously, how can you not smile? First of all, air travel is freaking amazing! Secondly, so is Europe. I LOVE both and I'm so happy and fortunate to be here. It's also a great time to come since the euro has just dropped to $1.19 as of Monday-pack your bags!

My trip to Paris was in early May and the weather went from 70 to 34 in just a few days. Unfortunately, I was there for the cold snap, and it wasn't pleasant. From Orly airport we were stuck in morning rush-hour traffic but it wasn't too bad. To get to the 6th arrondissement took about 40 minutes. Since it was too early to check in, our hosts (OpenSkies) brought us to a Parisian café for coffee/breakfast.

Café Le Luco is your typical picturesque Parisian café, and I'm sure we would've sat outside if it had been warmer. Inside I was shocked at how good the service was, but I think one reason might've been that the general manager (a German man) was there to whip the usual French slackers into shape. It was unreal—just like the jams and fresh-baked baguettes and croissants. Le Luco is on Louis Marin plaza near the Luxembourg Gardens, and is open every day (except Sunday) for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Le Luco, Paris 5ème Rive Gauche, 107 Boulevard Saint Michel 75005 Paris; Tel.: 01 43 26 78 38; email:;

The sun came out and warmed the air by a few degrees, so I sucked it up and walked to the hotel, which was just on the other side of Jardin du Luxembourg (Luxembourg Gardens). If it was a warm day I could've spent hours just hanging out in the 6th arrondissement's largest public park (224,500 square meters, or 5.5 acres). It was commissioned in 1611 by Marie de Medicis, the widow of King Henry IV, who decided to build a palace in imitation of the Pitti Palace in her native Florence. Today the garden has just over a hundred statues, monuments, and fountains that are scattered throughout the grounds. For more info, log on to

We were put up at the four-star Le Six, which is a boutique hotel with 35 rooms and 6 suites, all nonsmoking. It's located in a residential neighborhood between the Luxemburg Gardens and lively Montparnasse, in the heart of the Left Bank (still the 6th arrondissement). The rooms are a good size, quiet and nicely decorated. The faux marble bathroom was beautiful and had a towel warmer (love that on cold days) and Molton Brown toiletries. Other amenities included windows that opened, free Wi-Fi, flat0screen TV with satellite, minibar, and air-conditioning. There are two elevators; one is old school and the other is modern but still a tad small. What do you expect—it's Europe.

The same German manager who was at the café was in control here, too—they must all be part of the same company, or the man is just committed to providing incredible service for his groups. To make an understatement, the service was spectacular, and the staff all spoke perfect English. Two examples: A bellman ran down two flights of stairs to get me a new keycard since I had left mine in the room—he was back within two minutes. Then, the front desk was happy to provide me with a metro ticket (they charged it to my room) since the machines in the station require a credit card with a chip and I didn't have any euros on me at the time. Hotel Le Six, 14 rue Stanislas, 75006 Paris; Tel.: +33 (0)1 42 22 00 75; Rates start at 200 euros.

For dinner we ate across town, which was about a 20-minute jaw-dropping scenic drive. We passed the Seine River, Louvre, Musée d'Orsay, and then finished it off by driving down the Champs-Élysées past the Arc de Triomphe to Le Petit Pergolèse. Le Petit Pergolèse is a small happening, hip restaurant with simple and traditional French dishes. The chef is Frédéric Lagrange, and the colorful art collection belongs to Albert Carre. The menu is only in French and written on tasteful chalkboards on the wall, but since we were a large group (15) the food had been pre-arranged.

They began by serving crazily addicting killer cheese rolls the size of golf balls. Then out came a sample of mushroom risotto, which was followed by salmon. A few of us in the group don't eat seafood, so when the manager/waiter plopped it down I said, I'm sorry but I don't eat seafood. He said with attitude, Salmon isn't seafood, and almost refused to take it away. The French guy sitting across from me said, You know you are in a true Parisian restaurant when the waiter argues with you. So true. If I was in America I would've walked out, but it's France so you have to roll with the punches. It turns out "seafood" in France (possibly all of Europe) refers to shellfish, not fish, so it was a communication mishap. He then brought me a regular salad, and the main course was chicken over mashed potatoes. For dessert, a pear tart with vanilla ice cream hit the spot. The food and atmosphere was good, but the company was better. The restaurant is open every weekday for lunch and dinner. Le Petit Pergolèse, 38 rue Pergolèse, Paris; Tel.: +33 (0)1 45 00 23 66.

DID YOU KNOW: Most restrooms in France are coed, so you could be sharing the bathroom sink(s) with the opposite sex—always a trip for me.

One of the best places to view the Eiffel Tower at night is from Parvis or Right of Man and Freedoms. Normally people refer to it as Trocadero or Palais de Chaillot (the two buildings in between). It's the place to be and there are a ton of African street vendors selling all kinds of trinkets.

Some of the group wanted to hit a bar and we weren't in the mood to go far away, so a hotel employee suggested Charlie Birdy, which is a lounge a block away from the hotel. It turned out to be a great call—we had fun hanging out, listening to R&B, and watching the cool bartender from Madagascar do some bar tricks, like light the bar on fire.

Although I didn't go back to the U.S. the following day like 99 percent of the folks on my trip, I could have and it still would've felt like I'd spent more than 26 hours in France, because arriving at 7 a.m. makes one day feel like two (especially if you take a short nap in your bed).

We hop on the TGV for 4.5 hours to visit another country. Hmmm… I wonder what that could be. Stay tuned!

*PLEASE tell us what you think of this week's newsletter!

Note: This trip was sponsored in part by OpenSkies

Copyright 2010 JohnnyJet, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Pictures From

The Trip


Le Luco


French Breakfast




Luxembourg Gardens


Beautiful Flowers


Window Shopping


Walking To Hotel


Hotel Le Six


My Room


My Bed




Drive To Dinner


Le Petit Pergolèse




Cheese Rolls




Coed Bathroom




Eiffel Tower




Charlie Birdy


Next Week


  • You're right, the Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles is great -- I tell everyone to go there. Too bad it's not closer to downtown; they'd get more visitors. Jim F - Florida

  • My husband, myself, and our three kids, ages 3, 7 and 9, went to Brazil on a volunteer trip over Christmas through Hands Up Holidays out of London. ( They offer trips all over the world - they are a great company run by a great guy - Christopher Hill. I did quite a bit of research for that trip - wanting to find just the right fit for a young family over the holiday. I chose HUH for many reasons, but one was that Christopher was able to find projects for us that our 3 year old could participate in and two, because we were able to customize our trip down to the hour which allowed for a perfect balance of work and rest for our first foray into "voluntourism" - which we will participate in again and again over the years to come. Stephanie Z - Connecticut

  • I AM TOTALLY JEALOUS!!! Susan S – Baltimore, MD

  • Seeing all of your photos and videos of the fabulous places is giving me a huge itch to travel. I'm actually thinking of going down to Costa Rica by myself to a surf and yoga camp for my 40th birthday. See, you have inspired me. Julie W – San Francisco, CA

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