"Experience" gift for someone visiting Paris?
September 12, 2017 7:04 PM   Subscribe

My parents will be visiting Paris soon celebrating a milestone occasion, and I'm looking for suggestions of something I can arrange online for them. Share your Parisian wisdom and anecdotes with me!

Unfortunately I don't know yet where they are planning to stay in the city, but think I need to move on my gift decision w/out all the info at hand. This won't be their first trip to the city, but probably the first in ~40+ years. Not sure about budget yet, but let's say $300 usd, but flexible. I don't really know what things cost - my sense is something like dinner for 2 might get up there, which is ok. They're celebrating the type of occasion we might have otherwise thrown a party for, etc.

A Parisian coworker suggested a gift card from Ideal Gourmet, with the caveat that he didn't know much about it, and it's hard to find recent reviews. Have any MeFi's used it?

If I do go with Ideal Gourmet I have some questions:
- the gift card that is good at many different restaurants seems like a good idea, but I'm worried they might be stuck with a single menu. They are familiar with prix fixe meals and somewhat adventurous foodwise, but it would be nice if the menu had one or two options on it. For the money, I don't want it to feel like a Groupon.
- if I do pick a restaurant, any suggestions? This seems like the safest in terms of ensuring a good experience, but feels like it might lock them into availability for the restaurant/their own plans. As far as I know they don't actually have an itinerary (it's a last minute trip)

Any other ideas? Amazing guide tour recommendations that I can purchase online? A show not to be missed? My coworker also suggested a museum pass, but the one he pointed me to seemed geared towards people looking to cover a lot of museums in just a couple days, and that's not their style. The only restrictions are my father is mildly allergic to bell peppers, and has a hearing condition that makes being in loud environments painful (so no rock shows). They are experienced, low key travelers, enjoy good food, art and music experiences, etc.

Thanks so much!
posted by littlerockgetaway to Travel & Transportation around Paris, France (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: airbnb has some cool looking experiences. Check 'em out.
posted by beccaj at 7:15 PM on September 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: The tasting menu at Atelier Robuchon
posted by Dashy at 7:26 PM on September 12, 2017 [3 favorites]

Best answer: A Paris By Mouth food tour? I think you can buy the ticket online (commit to a date and time) and give them the information. These particular food tours are highly recommended and very well reviewed, see also New York Times recommendation.
posted by cushie at 7:34 PM on September 12, 2017

Best answer: My in-laws bought Mr. Weeyin and I a Seine dinner cruise as an engagement gift some years ago. Paris at night from the river was lovely and the food and wine was excellent.
posted by weeyin at 7:58 PM on September 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

I second Dashy's suggestion of L'Ateliel de Joel Robuchon, if they like French cuisine and want a great culinary experience for far less than a traditional restaurant. The drawback is that you can only reserve for the first seating (6 pm, if I recall correctly, which is insanely early in Paris). But the food is well worth it.

Anything aimed at tourists (e.g. Seine dinner cruises, Crazy Horse, Moulin Rouge, etc.) isn't worth it unless you know they like that kind of thing.

The Jules Verne restaurant in the Eiffel Tower has a pretty good reputation for its cuisine, and though you pay a premium for the location, it would probably be worth it for a special occasion. You need to make reservations months in advance, in general, but there might be exceptions or cancellations.
posted by brianogilvie at 8:04 PM on September 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

A helicopter tour would be a memorable present for them. Several companies offer variants (Paris, Versailles, the Loire Valley castles, etc.)

They're all easy to find on the Internet.
posted by Kwadeng at 8:57 PM on September 12, 2017

Best answer: Book them onto the chocolate tour with Paris walks if they like chocolate. They'll visit a bunch of small independent chocolatiers and get samples while hearing about the history of chocolate and Paris. Iris Amice is the tour guide you want. For your budget you may even be able to book a private tour with her - chocolate tour (which she developed), montmartre, louvre or other. Google for her contact information if there's nothing scheduled with her through Paris walks.
posted by hazyjane at 11:50 PM on September 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: You can also get a private tour of the Louvre. There's more than one on offer, this one gets your parents into the museum without having to wait in line.
posted by From Bklyn at 2:53 AM on September 13, 2017

nthing Paris by Mouth. My husband and I are not generally into guided tours, but our tour of the Latin Quarter was the highlight of our trip!
posted by BusyBusyBusy at 5:59 AM on September 13, 2017

Best answer: A full tea at the Mariage Freres tea room -- I swoon just thinking about it. Throw in a can of French Breakfast or Marco Polo and you have a nice experience + souvenir.
posted by acm at 9:44 AM on September 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: A classical concert production company puts on evening concerts in Sainte-Chapelle with chamber groups and small orchestras. At the concert I attended a couple years ago, the acoustics were hit-or-miss from piece to piece (depends on your tolerance for reverb due to the ceilings), but the musicians were great, and it's one of the most gorgeous venues I've ever caught a concert at.
posted by bassooner at 10:33 AM on September 13, 2017

Response by poster: You all are wonderful, these are great suggestions! Off to do some research, but Merci beaucoup!!!
posted by littlerockgetaway at 11:27 AM on September 13, 2017

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