Monday, June 20, 2016

French Needle Paris 2016 - Thoughts

Lisa had asked us all to fill out a form to give her our thoughts on this first French Needle tour. I thought I would share it will all of you, but I think it was clear from my previous posts that I was VERY happy.

First of all the trip exceeded my expectations. Lisa and Karine were amazing hosts. I was a little hesitant since I didn't know anyone in the group going in, but I had so much fun at the end. I don't think I got homesick at all. We had an amazing group of ladies and our common interest of embroidery brought us together. It's been four weeks since we came back and we are still in contact with each other, swapping progress reports and ideas. I'm really hoping we get the chance to see each other again. Maybe in Paris for a reunion tour ;)

The hotel we were staying at was amazing. It was a really small place located in the Latin Quarter and was very french. Even though it wasn't one of those huge 5 star hotels, I think we enjoyed it more because it was small and homey. It didn't have a touristy feel to it and was away from all the crowds which I loved.

Our tour guide was as awesome as his name. If you are ever looking for a tour guide, Vincent's your man. Every morning he would come pick up us and take us around Paris in a mini bus. On the way to the current day's activity he would tell us stories of each district and history of the city. Our favorite part was to hear him talk about "La Terreur". I think I learned more about French history on this trip than I did at school. And it wasn't the type of touristy facts that gets spit out by rote. Vincent would research the places we would be visiting and point out things that different member of the group would find interesting. And if he didn't have an answer for us, he always got back to us with one. Awesome Guide also offered transportation to and from the airport.

We did have a very tight schedule. There was so much to see and I will admit that it was sometimes annoying that we couldn't stop in certain places or had to rush in others. But that is the price we pay when we go with a tour group. It just means that now I know where to go on my next Paris trip.

The food was great in the sense that we were trying real Parisian food where Parisians ate. Not a single tourist trap in sight and I would enjoy going back to any of the restaurants we ate at. My favorites I think would be Au Port du Salut (black truffles and dessert), Bouillon Racine (the soup) and Laduree (macaron!). A plus, they did try to offer choices for those who don't eat red meat, which was great :) One thing I think we would have all loved to see was more salads/vegetables, but that's only because we're not used to all the heavy french meals. This we mentioned to Vincent and the very next day, we got a salad at lunch :)

I think we enjoyed all the activities that were scheduled for us in one way or the other.

  • Cluny Museum: I think this should be added to the itinerary, if only as a suggested activity on the first day for those interested. The tapestries are well worth the visit.
  • Sajou: Loved going to the shop. I spent a fortune but I loved every minute of it.
  • Class at Sajou: I think this class needs to be rethought. I liked the fact they were offering a whitework class (you all know me), but considering the fact that this type of embroidery doesn't work well with the Sajou thread they had picked... I think what they should have done was pick a more appropriate embroidery technique or maybe even just a Sajou pattern that allows us to try out all their different threads. For example, if I had tried the Retors du Nord thread at the shop I would have bought more of it.
  • Lesage: I would love to say that we should have taken a lunevill class, but even I will admit that would have taken way too much time out of the trip. So I would say keep the ribbon embroidery class. We learned so much just from the teachers and the experience of stitching at Lesage is priceless :)
  • Droguerie and Mokuba: Loved both shops! Wish I bought more ribbon.
  • Passage de Paris: Great walking excursion. Would have loved to have more time to explore.
  • Au ver a soie: We all enjoyed buying the thread, but if that's all we wanted we could have bought online. I think we were there more to learn about the history of the company and how thread is made. Maybe next time try to have someone else give the talk? Or just replace this activity with something else entirely.
  • Choir at Notre Dame de Paris: Lovely idea and not something we can often experience.
  • Versailles Malmaison: I'm actually glad Versailles got replaced with Malmaison. Versailles would have been very crowded and very touristy, and that's not what we were there for. Because we were all travelers and not tourists :P I will admit I wish we had more time to walk around the gardens though (and yet it doesn't trump having tea with Frédérique)
  • Musée de la Toile de Jouy: Very interesting.
  • Tea with Frédérique: This is most likely a one off thing, but we all enjoyed it immensely.
  • Fashion Forward: The exhibit was very interesting, but I found that the guide was trying to give us too much information. I liked the exhibit, but would have been fine just going through it without a guide.
  • Dinner with Helene Le Berre: One of the best parts of the trip. I loved meeting her in person. Although I wish she wasn't sitting so far :(
  • Basilique du Sacré-Cœur: I know we snuck that in, but I think it should be something that is added. Kind of like going to Mount Royal at night when visiting Montreal. It gives a lovely view of the city.
  • Musée Nissim de Camondo: Great museum to visit.
  • Laduree and free time: Karine offered to make reservations for lunch at Laduree, which was amazing, but it does take away from free time as the restaurant is very busy. I didn't really care, but for those who were making plans to (re-)visit other locations, they didn't have time.
  • Bateaux Parisiens: Great dinner experience, but maybe move it to a different night when we don't have to wake up super early the next day to take a plane. I got a little queasy towards the end from the constant rocking when people were getting off, but I think I was the only one.
If anyone is interested in the French Needle tour, definitely contact Lisa at She already has a waiting list of people for the next tour. This is a trip of a lifetime and a great way to experience a city with other people who share your interests.


  1. Love, love, love your trip description and all the wonderful details. You probably mentioned this in one of your posts, but my memory isn't the greatest, so I'll ask it here--do you speak french? Were there english translators on the tour? Thanks again--I almost felt I was there.

  2. Very nice wrap up - you can "hear" Your pleasure in your words. I'm so glad it was such a positive experience - I think Paris is a fabulous city.

  3. Awesome review. I'm so happy you shared everything....a truly once in a lifetime experience.

  4. I've just spent a very long time reading all your posts about your trip. It sounds amazing! I have only been to Paris once and loved visiting the city.
    You seemed to have packed so much into your time there and really experienced another side to the city that tourists don't get to see.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and photos.