The GILTEDGE Incentives team was lucky enough to treat a special group of professionals to a Paris incentive trip during the thrilling Rugby World Cup.
Our story unfolds in the bustling Place de la République, from an elegant Seine River dinner cruise under the glittering Eiffel Tower to exploring the city’s wonders in vintage Citroen CV2s.
The incentive getaway was a whopping two years in the making – and it was a dream to discover that none of the travellers had ever been to Paris and that many of the group had, in fact, never travelled out of the country before. What an honour it was to share this experience with them!
The main aim of the trip was built around the Rugby World Cup tournament with tickets to see the Springboks play in their quarter-final (and win it, which they did), and with a client who wanted more than rugby, but an entire experience, it was a busy and all-encompassing few days in the city of lights!
Welcome to the most romantic city in the world
Arrival was smooth and the city seemed to welcome and envelop the group as we checked into our hotel on the Place de la République – a large pedestrian square that is the site of a wide range of popular urban activities, exhibitions, and in particular, political events here in the city.
After an interesting few hours watching the protestors and riot police, it was time to glam it up a little and head out for dinner. A welcome to this city is always a special event, but even more so while sailing on the Seine River, on the beautiful Bateaux Parisiens. A floating dining and entertainment venue, the historical sites and bridges are lit bright for your delight, and the Eiffel Tower sparkles in the distance. An incredible array and selection of fine meals and wines are served throughout the experience and smooth Parisienne Jazz provides the perfect accompaniment!
Sightseeing in Citroen CV2s and walking and tasting tours
It was another early morning as the group met in the lobby of the hotel, to be introduced to a row of vintage open-top Citroen CV2 vehicles. These characterful, ancient Citroens that were first built in 1949, have in fact now become legends in the city. It is an incredible way to enjoy the iconic Parisian attractions, such as Avenue des Champs Elysée, Place Concorde, Arc de Triomphe, and Trocadéro, to the Eiffel Tower, Les Invalides, Pont Alexandre III to name but a few, while the roof is down, and with your driver providing you all of the information as you drive through the city.
The qualifiers were given green berets for the experience, to make them feel more like a local, although green for our beloved Springboks, and there was ample opportunity for picture taking, laughter, and a stop for a glass of sparkling along the way. All in all, not a terrible way to spend a Saturday morning! It had not quite ended there as we boarded the elevators of the Grand Old Dame herself, the Eiffel Tower. Located on the 1st floor, Madame Brasserie offers a refined menu, in a glorious setting, that is almost like a peacock, mesmerizing one with the incredible vantage point and views over the entire city below.
And what a highlight it was with our interactive walking and tasting tour of one of the cities’ most dynamic neighborhoods, Le Marais. Can you say “give me cheese”? A 3 hour, salivating delight through cobblestone streets, ancient bakeries, famous Macaroon shops, olive, and charcuterie vendors, culminating in a visit to one of the oldest and most beautifully preserved markets in the area, where the red carpet was rolled out for the group, as local wine, fresh breads, an incredible array of cheese and local meat specialties were laid out for our pleasure.
A morning delights from beginning to end and there was just enough time to roll ourselves back to the hotel, before heading off for the main event, the rugby at Stade de France.
Making the most of the final day in France
Electric bikes helped us to explore our way further around the city on the final day, with an incredible luncheon of local pate and then “moules en fritte” (mussels and fries) enjoyed in the artistic area of the Montmartre, which is located at the very top of the Montparnasse area of the city. All of these delights were “washed down” by a lovely local beverage in the most beautiful and quaint of settings.
An early start awaited the group on departure morning, so it was decided to go out in style with a night of incredible jazz music and Italian specialties at the glorious L’Important venue. A combination of old-school dinner club style combined with great food, and incredible music, that then ups the ante to become a dance venue during the later part of the evening, was definitely the way to spend the last night here in the city!
Let us not forget the rugby, very important to our time in the city, suffice to say, it had begun as the objective, but along the way, it became part of the various experiences and excitement that made this trip so memorable for the qualifiers. It was the trip of a lifetime for many, and there was so very much more that could have been done, had there been the time! Based on the time at hand, it was an all round “taste” of Paris from every angle, and the city, and its people more than embraced their guests from around the world!