• An Exclusive Week in Paris with Mystery Writer Cara Black

    Hosted by Donna Morris, Best Friend in Paris  

    October 14 - 20, 2018 | Optional Trip Extension October 20 - 23

    Join Cara and other Cara Black mystery-lovers for an exclusive week in Paris.

    $4250 based on single occupancy. There are no single supplements to pay.

    On some days, you’ll spend time with Cara exploring some of the most memorable scenes associated with the cases of private investigator Aimée Leduc. On other days, you’ll have time to spend in some of the small gems of Paris – the lesser-known museums, the spectacular parks, the cafés, the shopping arcades that are home to specialty boutiques, antiquarian bookstores and other treasures.

    Your Trip Leader will be Donna Morris, of Best Friend in Paris. She has lived in Paris for more than 10 years. Whether you’ve been to Paris before or not, she’ll help you get to know the city a little more like a local. She and Cara have collaborated on several trips to Paris and both have a keen curiosity for all things Paris so the trip promises to hold fun surprises!

    Our boutique hotel, the Relais Monceau, is located in the Paris neighborhood described in Murder in Clichy, in the 8th arrondissement. We will meet in the hotel salon each evening with Cara to sample French wines and discuss the days’ events, with a bit of book talk thrown into the mix. For dinner, we’ll break into small groups, depending on your desires; Donna will help you with reservations. No one will ever dine alone—unless he or she prefers solitude!

    Ready to pack your bags? Click here to register.


    Please note that we may change this itinerary depending on changes in time or availability of some of our destinations. We’ll also adjust in case of weather or other unforeseen events.


    Saturday, October 13
    Depart from your home city for overnight travel to Paris. (Airfare not included in trip price.)


    Sunday, October 14
    Arrive in Paris and take a taxi or private car to the Hotel Relais Monceau.


    Since people will be arriving at different times, the afternoon is free. Some things you might do near the hotel: visit the Nissim de Camondo house museum, have lunch at the Jacquemart-André; meander the morning market on rue de Lévis; or simply take a stroll to the Parc Monceau, one of the most beautiful parks in Paris.


    6:30 pm. Group meets for wine and hors d’oeuvres in the hotel salon.

    Monday, October 15
    We’ll leave the hotel this morning to explore Murder on the Quai, a prequel to the series, published in 2016.


    Looking back to 1989 and the fall of the Berlin Wall, Jean-Claude Leduc, Aimée’s father, receives a disturbing call from a contact in the former East Germany. Obliged to travel to Berlin, Jean-Claude leaves his daughter in charge of the agency. Aimée is in her first year of medical school, but struggling. In her father’s absence, cousin Elise comes to beg for help in solving her father’s recent murder on the quai. Aimée has but one lead. A card for a club with just the first name of a woman, Candy. So commences Aimée’s first case as an unlicensed, amateur private eye…


    After lunch, join Donna for a boat ride on the Seine. It’s a unique and fun way to see the city!


    6:30pm. Group meets for wine and hors d’oeuvres in the hotel salon.

    Tuesday, October 16
    Today, we’ll follow Donna for a stroll through an outdoor market at Maubert-Mutualité in the 5th arrondissement and then a short visit to the Police Museum. Hands down, one of the more interesting museums in Paris. And one that is little known. The museum offers more than 2,000 original relics dating back from 1667, when Louis XIV created the post of Police Lieutenant up until the Liberation from German forces in 1945. Aimée would approve.


    Afterwards, we will have lunch in the area around rue Mouffetard, one of the Paris’s best food streets. For those who don’t know the Latin quarter, it’s a wonderful area to stroll and discover. Sites to visit include the Pantheon, the Arènes de Lutèce, the Cluny and the Institut du Monde Arabe.


    6:30pm. Group meets in the hotel salon for an aperitif and conversation.

    Wednesday, October 17
    Today, Cara will take us to scenes from Murder in Montmartre, published in 2006.


    Aimée’s childhood friend, Laure, is a policewoman. Her partner, Jacques, has set up a meeting in Montmartre with an informer. When Laure reluctantly goes along as backup, Jacques is lured to an icy rooftop, where he is shot to death. Laure’s gun has been fired, gunpowder residue is found on her hands, and she is charged with her partner’s murder. The police close ranks against the alleged cop killer. Aimée is determined to clear Laure. In doing so, she encounters separatist terrorists, Montmartre prostitutes, a surrealist painter’s stepdaughter, a crooked Corsican bar owner, and learns of “Big Ears”—the French “ear in the sky” that records telephonic and electronic communications—which the Security Services monitor.


    We will start at the seedy Place Pigalle and find our way up to the Sacre Coeur and Place des Tertres. The area known best for its artists and charming streets.


    6:30pm. Group meets for wine and hors d’oeuvres in the hotel salon.

    Thursday, October 18
    Today, Donna will lead us on a walk through a few of the historic covered passages before heading to the Marais. In Paris the 17th century saw the beginning of covered passageways lined with shops with the real expansion occurring in the first half of the 19th century.


    The passages wind from Faubourg Montmartre down to the Palais Royale. Today, there are some 20 or so of these passages left after the Second Empire’s renovation of Paris. Passages Verdeaux, Jouffroy and Panorama are some of the finest examples.


    In the Marais, we’ll stroll through the old Jewish quarter and have lunch on rue de Rosier, famous for it’s many falafel stands and restaurants. The Marais is rich with history and museums, including the Picasso, Victor Hugo’s home, the Shoah Memorial and the Pompidou Center.

    6:30pm. Group meets for wine and hors d’oeuvres in the hotel salon.

    Friday, October 19
    Today is Murder on the Left Bank, Cara’s latest novel, publishing in 2018.


    Murder on the Left Bank is set in late September 1999. Aimée is juggling her life as a mother with work at Leduc detective and is pulled into a new case looking for a missing Cambodian girl. Her investigation takes her to the 13th arrondissement, dubbed the new ‘Left Bank’ leading her to the Gobelins tapestry works and street artists in the Butte aux Cailles. And murder.


    6:30pm. Group meets for wine and hors d’oeuvres in the hotel salon.

    Ready to pack your bags? Click here to register.

    $4250 based on single occupancy. There are no single supplements to pay.

    Optional 3-day Extension
    Saturday, October 20 –  Tuesday, October 23

    Join Donna for three more special days in France. We’ll visit a chateau just outside Paris and hit the flea market in Saint Quen and do plenty of shopping to fill your suitcases before you return home.


    Saturday, October 20

    We’ll take the RER A train to visit the lovely Champs-sur-Marnes. Fully restored just a few years ago and now open to the public, the chateau was originally constructed in 1703.


    Sunday, October 21
    We’ll head this morning to the Marché aux Puces du Saint-Quen, the largest flea market in the world. It’s evolved in recent years as one of the more interesting places to see and be seen. The markets are enticing as ever but now enhanced with great places to stop for lunch. There are blocks and blocks of fine antiques, “junque,” and everything in between. Don’t worry; you won’t get lost; Donna has spent many an hour rummaging through bins!


    Monday, October 22
    Close to our hotel are both the Galeries Lafayette with it’s stellar food hall and Printemps. Both have floor after floor of fashion, housewares and shoes! We’ll start at the Madeleine and stroll our way to them. This neighborhood is a shopping mecca so get your lists started!


    Tuesday, October 23

    Depart for home.

    Ready to pack your bags? Click here to register.

    The optional 3-day extension is $1,750. There are no single supplements to pay.

    Details and Price

    The price of the trip is $4,250 based on single occupancy. There are no single supplements to pay. The optional extension is $1,750.


    Here’s what’s included:

    • Six nights at the Hotel Relais Monceau in the stylish 8th arrondissement
    • Hot breakfast every morning, including bacon and eggs, with fresh squeezed orange juice
    • Paris Navigo pass for Metro and buses
    • Six-day museum pass
    • Daily tours of Paris, three led by Cara
    • Wine socials every evening with the Donna and Cara
    • Full set of Paris Metro maps by arrondissement
    • On several days, your choice of activities. Donna will accompany you and others, or you can set off on your own
    • Directions for how to get to all the significant places on the trip by Metro or bus from the hotel, and how to return – plus guidance on what to see and where to eat
    • Restaurant reservations made for you if you like. We’ll provide you with a list nearby restaurants as well a some away from the hotel
    • Personal consultations with Donna to help you plan your days

    What’s not included: lunches and dinners, transport to and from the airport, tickets to museums and attractions not covered by the museum pass, your flight to Paris and back home and anything else not listed under “What’s included.”


    How to Register for the Trip
    The first step is to fill out the registration form by clicking here. Our friend Sheila Campbell of Wild Blue Yonder Trips handles the accounting for our trip. You can reserve your place with a $600 deposit, payable by check, made out to Wild Blue Yonder (Wild Blue Yonder, 1001 Spring Street, Suite 623, Silver Spring, MD 20910). If you’d rather pay with a credit card via PayPal (there’s a 3% surcharge), email Sheila at scampbell@wildblueyonder.biz and we’ll send you a PayPal invoice.


    Physical Requirements for This Trip
    Please note that we travel around the city exclusively by Paris bus and Metro – and there almost no escalators or elevators in the Paris Metro system. Even the Louvre is short of easy access. Plus, of course, we’ll be taking several long walking tours. So you’ll need to be able to walk several long blocks at a time without a rest stop, and navigate flights of stairs.

    A Few Frequently Asked Questions

    Who should come on this trip?
    This is the perfect trip to take by yourself; you’ll make new friends and will always have people to do things with if you like. Or come with a friend or spouse or partner. You can spend time with each other and also have time to pursue your separate interests. The trip is also perfect for any small group that wants to travel together but doesn’t want the hassle of planning it all in advance.


    Do note, though, that we travel primarily by Paris Metro – and there are very few escalators and virtually no elevators in the Metro system. Sometimes there are long walks even in the Metro when changing stations. You should be able to negotiate stairs and walk for some time on uneven pavement.


    How much does it cost?
    The price of the trip is $4,250 based on single occupancy. There are no single supplements to pay. The optional extension is $1,750.


    Do I have to pay a single supplement?
    No. This trip is priced based on each person having his or her own hotel room.


    I’m coming with a spouse or partner and we want to share a room. Do we both have to pay the full rate?
    For people who share a room, we offer a discount of $150 each. We’ve priced the trip primarily for people to have their own rooms, because French hotel rooms just aren’t as large as those in the U.S. But of course you can share a room if you prefer.


    How many people will be on the trip?
    The maximum number of people is 10.


    When is the trip?
    The trip begins on Sunday, October 14, and ends on Saturday, October 20 with an optional extension from Saturday, October 20 – Tuesday, October 23. Since most flights to Paris are overnight, you’ll fly out from your home city on Saturday, October 13 to arrive Sunday morning, October 14 in Paris. Do note that if you arrive on one of the very early morning flights, your hotel room may not be ready for several hours. The hotel will store your luggage so you can set off to explore on your own.


    Why do you call this a “trip” and not a “tour”?
    We’ve included the things we like best about group travel, including the convenience of having someone plan daily itineraries. But there are lots of things we dislike about tours, so here’s how this trip is different:

    • You’ll see Paris through the eyes of Cara Black and her fictional detective Aimée Leduc, visiting places most tourists have never been – maybe even never heard of.
    • You’ll never board a tour bus (a city bus on your own, yes, but never a tour bus).
    • You won’t follow a tour guide, trying to keep up through crowded museums, listening to canned lectures.
    • You won’t be seated at long tables for big group meals at “We accept bus tours” restaurants.
    • You won’t have early morning calls to leave the hotel.
    • On several days, you have a choice of activity with Donna or you can take the day for your own interests.
    • You’ll pay only for the things you actually do. You won’t be dragged to places you don’t care about.
    • You only unpack and pack once – we’re not touring, but staying in Paris to really get to know it well.

    Tell me about the trip leaders.
    Cara Black is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of 17 books in the Private Investigator Aimée Leduc series, which is set in Paris. Cara has received multiple nominations for the Anthony and Macavity Awards, a Washington Post Book World Book of the Year citation, the Médaille de la Ville de Paris—the Paris City Medal, which is awarded in recognition of contribution to international culture, among many honors. She spends lots of time in Paris and loves to introduce the city to others.


    Donna Morris has lived in Paris for the last eleven years. She will become your best friend while you’re here. She created her company, Best Friend in Paris, in 2009 and spends her days exploring the city and sharing the treasures she’s discovered with her newfound friends. She speaks fluent French and has a passion for the food and wine of France.


    What is the Hotel Relais Monceau like?
    Most Americans, when they come to Paris, stay on the Left Bank. We love that area…except that it’s full of Americans. So we’ve chosen instead a typically French 4-star hotel in the 8th arrondissement, on the Right Bank. It’s in a beautiful, chic neighborhood where there are few other hotels – but within a block or two are a street market, an artisanal bakery, delightful cafés, Jacquemart André and Nissim de Camondo mansions and the Parc Monceau.


    When you walk through the front doors of the hotel, there are quiet salons for you to relax in on either side, plus a small bar where they’ll open a bottle of wine for you and put your name on it for the next day if you like.


    The bedrooms are simply furnished, but of a nice size by European standards. Windows open to the air, with classic French shutters to close at night for privacy and quiet. The bathrooms have double basins, plus a tub and shower and wooden floors. There’s a small dressing room area that can be closed off from both the bedroom and the hall, and most rooms have a hair dryer and mini-fridge.

    We usually see few Americans at the hotel; most of the clientele are French or European. But the hotel staff speak English and are terrifically friendly and helpful.


    What’s included in the breakfast?
    Like many French hotels, the Relais Monceau offers a wide selection of croissants, rolls and pastries, cheeses, cold cuts, hard-boiled eggs, fruit, cereal, French yogurt and so on. But – unlike many continental hotels — they also have scrambled eggs and bacon or sausage and fresh-squeezed orange juice every day. And, of course, coffee, tea, other juices, still or sparkling water and milk.


    Is there internet access at the hotel?
    Yes, free WIFI comes with your room.


    What will the weather be like?
    Fall in Paris is typically cool. It may rain lightly on some days, but we don’t expect hard rain. Because of its latitude, Paris starts getting dark in the late afternoon – but then all the lights make the city sparkle. Paris weather can vary wildly from year to year, so our advice is to come prepared for just about anything. Bring clothes suited for cool weather, an umbrella, a jacket and – most important of all – very comfortable walking shoes.


    What to wear?
    Like most cities these days, people wear just about anything during the day in Paris. Jeans are fine. At night, if you’re eating in neighborhood restaurants, you don’t need to dress up – jeans or casual slacks or skirts are fine.


    Why aren’t lunches and dinners included in the price?
    Restaurants that accept tour groups are usually the last places we want to eat. And there are just so many delicious choices for meals in Paris that we want everyone to be free to eat where and when they want. One day you might eat a sandwich for lunch, looking out toward the Eiffel Tower; or you might choose to browse the food stalls at one of the many street markets.


    Alternatively, we often make lunch the biggest meal of the day, maybe even eating at a restaurant that would be too pricey at night. You’ll choose where you’ll eat, and with whom, and how much you want to spend.


    I don’t speak French. Can you help me figure out what to eat?
    Absolutely. We’ll provide a list of common menu terms, and let you know how to do things like ask for the check.


    Why aren’t there guided tours on this trip?
    Frankly, we sometimes just get tired of listening to tour guides talk, when we’d rather explore for ourselves. Plus, these days, many places offer audioguides where we can choose which information and how much we want to listen to. We encourage you to pick up the audioguides in museums if you’d like some deeper information. And, of course, there’s plenty of information in printed guidebooks and on the web.


    Is it safe to walk around by myself at night?
    As in any city, it makes sense to be aware of your surroundings after dark. But in Paris it’s usually quite safe to be out on your own or with a friend in the evenings.


    What you do have to watch out for in Paris is pickpockets in the areas where there are lots of tourists. They’re wily, so we recommend that you leave most of your money, credit cards and passport in the safe in your room, just taking with you what you need for one day. A handbag that you can sling over your shoulder and tuck high under your arm (with a good zipper) works better than bags with long straps that dangle below your waist.


    I’d love to come on this trip, but I already have a favorite hotel in Paris. Can I stay there?
    Because we’ll be doing so much coordination from the Relais Monceau, and all our walking and transportation directions start there, we don’t think it’s practical to stay in another hotel. Plus, staying elsewhere would make getting to the evening wine and planning meetings difficult. Of course you can stay somewhere else, but the price of the trip wouldn’t change, so it wouldn’t be a good value.


    Some friends are going to be in Paris while I’m there. Can they come along with us?
    Because we want to keep our groups small, we can’t invite your friends to come with us on our daily excursions. But you can bring them to our evening get-togethers. Please give us a day’s notice, and there’s a €10 per person charge for the wine and snacks.


    Do you require us to buy travel insurance?
    We strongly encourage it. Please read our Terms and Conditions below carefully to see our cancellation policy. Please be aware that trip insurance companies are very strict about what they will and won’t reimburse you for, so read their policies closely as well.


    What are the physical requirements of the trip?
    We travel around the city almost exclusively by city bus and Metro – and there are almost no escalators or elevators in the Paris Metro system. Even the Louvre is short of easy access. Plus, of course, we’ll be taking several walking tours. So you’ll need to be able to walk several long blocks at a time without a rest stop, and navigate flights of stairs.


    If I want to stay longer than six days, can you arrange that?
    Yes. There’s so much to do in Paris that you could easily stay another three or four days. You can stay on at the hotel if rooms are available and we can arrange this for you. Just let us know. You can also arrive early, but we may not be available to assist you with your days as we’ll be busy getting ready for arrivals.


    Make sure to scroll down and read all the Frequently Asked Questions and Terms and Conditions.


    If you have more questions, you can contact:

    Donna Morris
    Best Friend in Paris

    Terms and Conditions

    Please read this information carefully, as payment of a deposit represents your acceptance of the following Terms and Conditions.


    Trip Prices
    Trip prices include hotel accommodations on a single or double occupancy basis, breakfast at the hotel, daily public transportation passes, a 6-day museum pass, Paris city maps, evening social events to plan the next day’s activities, and the services of the trip leaders as outlined in the trip description.


    Not included in the trip price are entrance fees to museums and other attractions not included in the museum pass; public transportation costs outside of Paris Metro Zones 1 – 5; airfare and airline baggage fees; lunches and dinners; hotel, restaurant or airport tips; costs of passports and visas; personal expenses such as beverages, laundry or room service; internet wifi except as established in the trip description; airport transfers or any other services not specified in the trip description.


    Registration and Payment

    A deposit of $600 per person confirms your reservation. Deposits may be paid by check made out to Wild Blue Yonder, Inc., or credit card via PayPal. There is a 3% surcharge for PayPal.


    Your deposit is refundable for two weeks from the date it is received by Wild Blue Yonder, except for deposits made less than 90 days before a trip departs; those deposits are completely nonrefundable. Two weeks after the receipt of the deposit by Wild Blue Yonder, deposits are not refundable for any reason and will be forfeited if you cancel your trip reservation. Cancellations must be in writing by either letter to Wild Blue Yonder or email to scampbell@wildblueyonder.biz. Cancellations become effective on the date they are received by Wild Blue Yonder.


    Once your reservation deposit has been paid, you will receive a confirmation email and further information to help you plan your trip.

    We reserve the right to cancel any reservations that are not paid in full at any time after the final payment is due. If you make your reservation after the final payment due date, payment in full will be required immediately.


    Full final payment is due July 8, 2018.


    Cancellations and Refunds

    For any cancellations made before July 8, you will forfeit your deposit but will be refunded 75% of other payments you have made. If you must cancel your trip, the effective date of cancellation will be upon our receipt of your notification, which must be made in writing either by email or letter. After July 8, no refunds are possible. Should you have to cancel your trip at the last minute, we cannot offer refunds, because we will have already paid the costs of your trip to our vendors.


    We strongly recommend that you purchase trip cancellation insurance when you pay your deposit for this trip.


    Changes to Your Reservation

    After July 8, if you make any changes to your reservation, a $100 per person administrative fee will apply. Changes are subject to availability and cannot be guaranteed. If your reservation changes from double occupancy to single occupancy, you will be charged the single occupancy rate.


    Travel Documents

    You are responsible for securing your own passport, valid for at least six months after the completion of your trip, and with at least two blank pages for French entry and exit stamps. No visa is required for visits to France.


    Health and Medical Issues

    We welcome most travelers, but you must be in good health to participate in our trips. This trip requires a reasonable amount of walking – up to a mile, possibly uphill or on uneven pavements or cobblestone streets and streets without curb cuts. You must be able to climb several flights of stairs and board buses on your own. We regret that we cannot provide individual assistance if you require the use of a wheelchair or have other personal needs; in such cases you must be accompanied by a companion who will assist you, and you will have to incur the costs of taxis or other special transport.


    If you are unable to navigate this amount of walking, you will not be able to participate fully in the trip, and we suggest you choose another type of trip. We cannot provide individual alternatives to the planned group activities. If your fitness level does not allow you to keep up with the group and/or travel on public transportation, you will be responsible for planning your own activities and for any additional costs incurred (for instance, but not limited to, personal taxis, train tickets and entrance fees).


    Trip Insurance

    We strongly recommend that you purchase both trip cancellation insurance and traveler’s medical and evacuation insurance for your trip. Please note: Medicare is not valid outside of the United States.


    Arrival and Departure Dates

    It is your responsibility to make sure you arrive on the specified trip start date. We cannot refund part of your trip if you arrive late or leave early, unless you have notified us of your different start or end date by July 8.



    The liability of Wild Blue Yonder and Best Friend in Paris, individually or jointly (referred to hereafter as Trip Planners), is strictly limited. In no event will the Trip Planners be liable for amounts in excess of the amounts payable to the Trip Planners in accordance with the terms hereunder, nor will Trip Planners be liable for any consequential indirect or incidental damages arising from this agreement. Trip Planners purchase accommodations, transportation and other services from independent suppliers not under our control. We serve only as agents for these suppliers in securing trip arrangements, and therefore will not accept responsibility and liability for wrongful, negligent or arbitrary acts or omissions of these independent contractors, their employees, agents or representatives.


    Trip Planners are not liable for injury, damage, death, loss, accident, or delay that may be caused by events not within our control, including but not limited to, without limitation, acts of terrorism, war, strikes, defects of any vehicle, adverse weather conditions, natural disasters or the negligence or default of any third party, nor for personal accidents.


    In consideration of, and as part payment for, the right to participate in the trip, the undersigned, on behalf of himself, his dependents, heirs, executors, administrators and assigns, agrees to release the Bookstores, Wild Blue Yonder and their officers, employees, representatives or agents, and the tour operator and its officers, employees and agents, from liability for personal injury, death, property damage or loss suffered by any person in connection with this tour, even if caused by the negligence (but not the reckless, willful, or fraudulent conduct) of tour staff or other related persons or entities. In addition, by registering for this trip, the applicant certifies that he or she is mentally and physically capable of full participation in this tour. By registering for this trip, the participant agrees to all of the Terms and Conditions herein.


    Trip Planners reserve the right to correct errors in advertised prices. We reserve the right to cancel an advertised trip, decline to accept a reservation or remove a person from a trip if it is determined by us to be in the best interests of the health, safety or general well-being of other trip participants. Should you be removed, you will not be entitled to any refund for unused or missed services or costs incurred as a result of termination of your travel arrangements, including, without limitation, return travel, accommodations, meals and incidentals.

    We will make every effort to conduct our trip as planned, but we reserve the right to make itinerary and other changes as necessary. If unforeseen circumstances require us to change a hotel, we will make every effort to select alternative accommodations of the same quality. The forgoing terms and conditions and all aspects of the relationship between Trip Planners and you shall be governed by the laws of the State of Maryland.

    Ready to pack your bags? Click here to register.