This is the introduction to a surprise visit to Champagne and Paris. The trip came as a result of an offer I couldn’t refuse. It was free!
One day I received a letter congratulating me with having won a free weekend in Paris. Hotel and airplane was included, as well as transfers between the hotel and airport. I was confused and felt inclined to dismiss it right away. I had a year or two earlier purchased some stuff from the company providing this generous offer and was on their mailing list.
It turned out that they had made it an extra service to offer customers a free weekend. Listening to others from near and far, and studying the pamphlet I realised that this was not a scam, but serious business. I could rely on them, and it was actually a free weekend.
Of course there is not such a thing as a free lunch, even on such a surprise visit to Champagne and Paris.
I would be able to bring along my partner or friend at a favourable cost, and the company would arrange a whole series of voluntary excursions in and around Paris for us. There you have the business case: Almost all free-riders go with their partners and as most customers are older than 30 they would be more inclined to go on guided tours. Paying extra, of course.
I went alone and I was the only in the group of 40-50 unknowns who did.
What to see in Paris?
I had only been to Paris a couple of times before. In 1991 I spent a few days travelling through Europe on an InterRail ticket. In 2001 I had a day to myself on my way home from a job excursion. I felt I had seen many of the highlights before and wanted to find new places, in addition to revisiting the old familiar sights.
I was also tempted to join one of the tours offered by the agency, a day trip to the district of Champagne and the town of Reims. In the end I booked that guided bus tour.
Here is the guidebook I used in Paris. It’s in Norwegian: