I feel like the outsider with this, but I’ve never really had an interest in going to Europe. I think because there is SO much to see and do while in Europe and it always felt too overwhelming to me. I don’t really care about going to museums or seeing specific popular attractions, that honestly gives me anxiety just thinking about all the crowds involved in those places. So instead, I usually book my travel for the Caribbean where I know I can sit on a stunning beach, drink a delicious cocktail, and have some awesome food. But when Under30 Experiences contacted me about hosting another trip, I just couldn’t say no! Back in 2016, I hosted a trip with Under30 Experiences in Costa Rica, but this trip to Paris sounded even more my style since it is based all around food and drink…the only thing I really care about. And I’m SO glad I said yes because this was one of my favorite trips to date!
But I also have United Airlines to thank for setting the tone for an absolutely fantastic trip!! I was so incredibly lucky to work with United on this trip and they sponsored my flights to Paris which means I got to experience Business Class and the United Polaris Club. And let me tell you something…it was LIFE CHANGING. Truly life changing. I’ve never been more comfortable in my entire life, I’ve never slept better on a flight, and I’ve never been more well fed throughout almost an entire day of travel. It was magical. And now I’ve been doing everything in my power to make sure I rack up points with United so I can make a trip like this one happen again.
If you’re like me and never experienced Business Class before, let me give you the run down so you can start racking up those points and experience it yourself someday, too! When you’re flying United Business Class, you’ll be able to stop in their Polaris Club in a handful of airports. I was able to stop in the Newark Polaris Club to refresh before my long flight to Paris. In the Polaris Club you’ll find a ton of different comfortable seats to relax in, private phone rooms, private daybeds with Saks Fifth Avenue bedding, shower suites with spa products, personal valet services including steaming garments, a private dining area with table service, a bistro-like buffet with a ton of dishes and healthy choices, and a cocktail menu with signature drinks. It’s safe to say it’s AWESOME!! I was able to grab lunch, sip on a coffee, and soak up the fast wi-fi to work before I hopped on my next flight. It makes the airport so much more enjoyable and less overwhelming.
But flying on the new Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner was the best part about this entire trip. It was the most beautiful plane I’ve ever been on with superior service. Truly superior. This aircraft includes United Polaris Business Class, which I was lucky enough to sit in. Every seat is an isle seat, the seat recline all the way to a lying position, and every seat comes with comfortable Saks Fifth Avenue bedding (which I want to purchase for our house now), multiple pillows, headphones, a pack of sleep supplies, and an amazing entertainment system. It’s hard to tell from this photo, but the chair automatically reclines all the way into a flat position so you can easily nap or sleep through the entire flight! It’s SO comfortable. So comfortable.
But you won’t want to sleep the entire flight because United Polaris Business Class offers an amazing menu with appetizers, main dishes, and a full dessert tray. When you sit down, you’ll receive a glass of champagne, juice or a full water bottle, then you can glance at their full menu to choose what you’ll be eating for dinner AND breakfast. It was so easy to eat healthy on this flight and not have to worry about packing my own snacks for once! On one of my flights, I enjoyed a Thai-style lemongrass shrimp with green papaya and mango salsa. Then I had a hake fish fillet with lemon risotto, and kale for a main dish. Since I was trying to keep it healthy on this flight, I stayed away from their dessert tray, but the staff came around with a sundae tray filled with ice cream, toppings, and even some beautiful macarons and tarts to choose from. It was like I was already in a Paris cafe while on my flight. It was truly unlike anything I’ve ever experienced and I hope I can make it happen again! Time to figure out those points!!
After the most fantastic flight of my life, I landed in Paris to meet my Under30 Experiences group and check into Hotel George before hitting the ground running. I can’t lie…I was pretty nervous for this trip. But I know I wasn’t the only one with those feelings. It’s nerve-racking traveling to a completely different country to meet total strangers. You really don’t know what to expect or even know if your personality will align with the others, but I was lucky to get an AWESOME group. On the first day or two, it’s definitely a little awkward with some weird silence at times, but all of us did our best to be open with the experience and getting to know each other pretty quickly. We spent the first day getting to know each other, learning some of the history of Paris from our local guide, then ate at some local restaurants to enjoy some French food and LOTS of bread!
After our first day in Paris, we woke up the next morning to make our way to Burgundy, and on the way we stopped at Château de Fontainebleau to tour the palace and grounds. I don’t care much about these type of tours but I’m so glad we went in this one to see some of the styles dating back to even the Renaissance Era. And it really helped break up our 5 hour drive.
After we toured the palace, a few of us stopped in at Le Troubadour for lunch where I enjoyed duck confit and wine. The only regret I have about this trip is not enjoying more duck confit while I was there. This meal was so delicious, hearty, and got me excited for even more delicious meals ahead.
After another few hours in our bus, we checked into Château de Barbirey in Bourgogne, France. This château is a place of beauty with beautiful rooms, grounds, and delicious meals cooked for us every day! This château hosts so many different types of groups, including events like weddings. If I were to get married in France, this spot would be FANTASTIC. It’s located in a sleepy little town, but there are still so many different spots nearby to visit! Or you can simply sit on the property all day while sipping on wine. It’s one of the most relaxing spots I’ve ever been to!
While we were staying at Château de Barbirey, we had a personal chef cooking us dinner every night. And every meal was authentic French food which mean it was filled with butter, cream, and more butter. It was magical. For one of our meals, we enjoyed truffled potatoes and coalfish with sorrel sauce. It was so hearty and cooked to perfection! French food is magical.
Every morning in Burgundy, we woke up early to work out together! I created workouts for everyone to “enjoy” before breakfast and busy days! You can see the workouts I created for everyone here. We weren’t able to get in too many workouts, but we stayed plenty active with constant walking, biking and even hiking! It was incredibly easy to stay healthy and in shape while in France!
One of the most common questions I received during this trip on instagram was about gluten. When I’m back in the states, I rarely ever eat gluten because our crops are not properly taken care of. Most crops are sprayed with pesticides, causing issues to the grain itself, but our soil is also terrible. All this creates pretty awful crops, especially our grains. So I simply stay away from them. But while in Europe (and New Zeleand), I was able to eat whatever I wanted. And that meant I enjoyed a local bakery croissant every single morning. And never once had a stomach ache from it. The only time I had a stomach issue was when I overdid it on sugar. But when it came to simply pastries, I always felt great afterwards. It was so fun to enjoy the local cuisine without worry. Such a shame we don’t respect our crops and animals in the US like they do in other countries.
One of our days in Burgundy was spent in a town called Beaune at the local La Cave de L’ange Garden for an eye-opening wine tasting. Back in the US, wine tasting usually includes an explanation on the wine and that’s about it. But at La Cave de L’ange Garden, we learned how to correctly experience and enjoy our wine. And while we were there, I had THE BEST sparkling wine and cassis of my life. I’m even placing a huge order today to get some sparkling wine and cassis for my house and for friends to enjoy. If you want to experience yourself, you should totally order the Dom Vincent Brut No 1 and the Crème de Cassis de Dijon. This black currant liqueur is THE BEST THING YOU WILL EVER DRINK. I plan to order probably 5 bottles for the house. And I don’t even like alcohol that much. It’s that good.
After our wine tasting afternoon, we headed back to Château de Barbirey for a cooking class with a French chef who barely spoke English. This cooking class was so much fun because it really got people talking and got them out of their comfort zone. You could definitely see some of the people who were comfortable with cooking, but they were forced to slice and dice and try something they maybe didn’t quite love. And because of that, people started talking more, laughing and just enjoying themselves. I loved it! We all made ravioli together for the first time together, stuffed with salmon and topped with a fennel-apple slaw. We also make roasted chicken with the most delicious creamy sauce on top that was made with rendered chicken fat. It was F*CKING AWESOME. I’ll now be saving all my chicken fat for dishes at home.
I can’t even explain how much I loved this meal. It was a thing of beauty.
Then after dinner, we enjoyed a ton of different French pastries that I picked up for everyone while in Beaune. The lemon tart was my absolute favorite!
The next morning, after an early workout, we grabbed biked from the château and made our way down the canal to a ton of different towns throughout the area. This was one of my favorite days because it was so incredibly active. We worked out, then biked for hours, then hiked! I loved it! And during our bike ride, we stopped in at a local tiny restaurant ran by a British woman to enjoy an absolutely delicious lunch. One of my favorite parts about France is that many of the simple sandwiches that are made with only a baguette, ham and tomato, are often topped with SLABS of butter. You will think it’s some sort of cheese then bite into butter. That grossed out some people, but to me, that’s perfection. Bring on the butter!!!
Then after our bike ride, we headed out on a hike nearby with to 12th century castle ruins!! How rad is that?! 12th freaking century!!!
After our last amazing night in Château de Barbirey playing games and really getting to know people’s personalities, we headed back to Paris the next morning and went straight to Chez Nous. And I’m SO GLAD we went to this spot. It was the absolute cutest wine bar with fantastic wines, cheeses, and cured meats. The Cerdon Renardat Fache 2018 is a sparkly rose that I LOVED so much. This is another wine I want to try to find here in the US or order online. It was so bomb. But what I think I loved the most…the burrata. I don’t really ever eat burrata at home, but when I have, it’s fine. But at Chez Nous, it was like biting into the coldest, most refreshing glass of milk. It tasted like what cheese SHOULD taste like. While we were there, we enjoyed 5 (or more) glasses of wine, so much bread, butter, cheeses, cured meats, AND macarons, and I left feeling satisfied without being overly full. That was one of the best parts about France – you can eat so much rich food, but you never feel like crap because they care for the food they use. And they don’t use sketchy ass ingredients in their food OR their wines. I love it so much there.
For our last full day in Paris, some of us headed to Lafayette Gourmet which is this giant mall with tons of shops and lots of different spots to enjoy food. I wanted to try the tiny truffle restaurant to experience real truffles for the first time so we ate at Maison de la Truffe and had lobster truffle risotto and truffle gnocchi. Both = perfection. Lafayette Gourmet is a food heaven because it’s filled with a ton of different types of food like pasta, Asian, burgers, Mediterranean, fish & chips, and more! If I had more time and a bigger stomach, I would have grabbed a handful of plates from all these spots to try!
Then for our last night in Paris, we went to the cutest little crepe restaurant, Lucette Fait des Crêpes. I enjoyed a smoked salmon and sour cream buckwheat crepe then the most decadent nutella and whipped cream crepe. The last crepe was the first time I felt overly full and uncomfortable the entire trip…because sugar is sadly poison. Other than that, I felt amazing my entire trip and came back feeling better than when I left. No joke. I’ve never ate more rich foods in my life and it makes me want to eat that way all the time! It was amazing!
Then after our last meal together, we headed to a spot to see the Eiffel Tower and it’s 130th anniversary laser show. I never really cared about seeing the Eiffel Tower and I still feel pretty whatever about it. I found that going to the popular spots to see historic structures like this one were overly crowded and filled with tons of people smoking. Not my scene. But it was beautiful. And it took us an hour and 15 minutes to walk back to our hotel, which really helped work off some of the crepes from earlier. And we were also able to see a ton of the different neighborhoods throughout Paris, which I loved!
This trip to France with Under30 Experiences was such an amazing trip and I’m so glad I did it! The women (and man!!) were all so different and fun to get to know, and the travel was perfection. I couldn’t have asked for more on a 6 day trip. The food, the wine, and the views were all exactly what I hoped for. And I loved that I always felt safe in Paris, even while walking the streets late at night. Europe was never on my list because it always felt so overwhelming to plan and figure out everything to do, but Under30 Experiences made it all so easy. All you have to do is sign up for a trip and show up! They plan the rest and you just have to be open to new people, new cultures and new experiences! I hope to do another trip with Under30 Experiences in the future! Until then, it’s time to plan my next trip to somewhere else in Europe and start racking up the points so I can fly business class with United once again!
Huge thank you to Under30 Experiences for putting this trip together and building the entire itinerary!
And thank you to United for sponsoring my travel and making it the most memorable travel experience of my life!