November 22, 2014
Here at Smart Meetings, we’re not saying that there’s ever a bad time to visit France, but (especially for Americans) it’s hard to think of a better time to cross the pond and see the best of what France has to offer. Although the reasons to make the journey are far too many to comprehensively catalogue, here’s ten of the best:
- At just $1.25 USD, the euro is the lowest value it’s been in years. (Thanks, Greece!) While the Eurozone might not be too pleased with this fact, it’s fantastic news to foreign travelers. Europe, France included, has a reputation for being notoriously expensive, but right now your dollar goes a lot further than it did just a few years ago. Nobody, economists included, knows how long the low exchange rate is going to hold, so Americans wanting to take advantage of Europe’s financial woes ought to do it soon.
- Getting to France has never been easier or more luxurious. Air France recently invested more than $750 million into a full redesign of its cabins, with upgrades to every class. Each flight has amenities aplenty, including menus designed by Michelin-starred chefs and complimentary glass of champagne for every passenger. Air France serves 11 cities in the United States, such as Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and San Francisco.
- Once you’re in France, getting around is just as simple, thanks to Rail Europe’s high-speed trains that connect all the major cities and some neighboring destinations, like Milan and Geneva. The train can even be a destination in itself! Wine-tasting journeys are available where passengers sample wines from regions that the train concurrently passes through, providing stunning views of the very vineyards the wines came from in unparalleled comfort.
- In the past four years, 16 French hotels have been bestowed the unique classification of Palaces de France. This prestigious honor promises comfort and elegance on a completely different scale, with customized services, decorations provided by world-famous artists, designers, painters and sculptors, and chefs competing for Michelin stars with every property. It is, simply put, a hotel experience unlike any other, and it’s totally unique to France.
- The region of Burgundy is hardly a hidden gem, but it’s famous for a reason—it’s home to some of the most famous and prestigious vineyards in the world, and the birthplace of chardonnay and pinot noir. World-class labels such as Chablis, Meursault and Puligny-Montrachet are all easily accessible along five wine routes, along with restaurants and historical destinations.
- Burgundy’s 600 miles of canals and rivers provide a unique travel experience in large hotel barges, known locally as peniches. Guests spend several days leisurely sailing down the waterways on barges that can accommodate up to 24 people, with American and British crews that can provide a running commentary on the sights passing by. Space for bicycles is available for those wanting to make periodic onshore excursions.
- One of France’s most underrated locales is the region of Poitou-Charentes, located on the western coast in between Aquitaine and Pays-de-la-Loire. It’s home to fascinating historical sites, a rich gastronomical heritage, stunning natural beauty and quaint villages. Adventurous eaters should be sure to try Poitou’s famous oysters (consumed raw with perhaps a squirt of lemon juice), for the region’s oyster farms harvest some 60,000 tons of shellfish every year–more than half of France’s total production. And of course, Poitou wouldn’t be a proper French destination without its own delectable variations of cheese.
- Poitou’s most famous export, though, is cognac. In fact, only six tightly-controlled growing areas surrounding the town of Cognac, on the banks of the river Charente, are legally allowed to call their aged brandy “cognac” at all. First produced in the 17th century with the introduction of double distillation, cognac is now a global industry led by big brand names like Camus, Courvoisier, Hennessy, Hine, Martell, Meukow, Otard and Remy Martin. Covering an area of 200,000 acres, the vineyards of Cognac are second only to Bordeaux as the largest wine-producing area of France.
- American history buffs should be sure to check out the Hermione, a replica of the ship that the Marquis de Lafayette sailed to America to provide French reinforcements for George Washington during the Revolutionary War. Launched in 2012, the 32-gun frigate is going to be recreating Lafayette’s historic voyage in 2015 by sailing across the Atlantic and stopping in New York, Boston, Yorktown and Newport. It’s second only to the Statue of Liberty as an enduring symbol of Franco-American friendship.
- Some parts of France are a lot closer—and more tropical—than you might think. Guadaloupe, a group of islands in the Lesser Antilles just southeast of Puerto Rico, is a French territory in the Caribbean that combines island culture and Continental amenities, with its food a unique mix of Creole ingredients and French techniques. Pointe-a-Pitre International Airport (PTP) on the island of Grande-Terre, receives weekly flights from Miami.
For more information on the many sights and wonders of France, check out us.rendezvousenfrance.com.
November 21, 2014
Your community of attendees and their networks may just be your best untapped resource to help promote your event.
November 21, 2014
Business travelers with Venice on their 2015 itinerary may need to leave wheeled luggage behind or face the city’s new 500 euro fine.
November 20, 2014
Have you thought about hosting one or more food trucks at your next event? How you go about organizing food trucks depends entirely on your event, but here are a few ideas to take into consideration during the planning stages.
November 20, 2014
Mastering social media while planning an event can be overwhelming, but it certainly goes a long way for promotion and attendee engagement. Here are a few things to consider when creating a social media strategy for your next event.
November 19, 2014
JetBlue has revealed changes in bag fees and cabin interiors that may disappoint fans of the airline.
November 19, 2014
The month of November has been chock-full of great news for Philadelphia and its meetings and events scene. The City of Brotherly Love even got a little divine intervention to bolster its numbers earlier this week when it was announced that Pope Francis will come to town in September for the 2015 World Meeting of Families.
“We are absolutely thrilled that Pope Francis will be visiting Philadelphia in September 2015 for the World Meeting of Families,” says Jack Ferguson, president and CEO of the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau. “The meeting is expected to attract more than 10,000 attendees to the Pennsylvania Convention Center and we anticipate that the papal visit will draw upward of 1.5 million attendees to our city, so it is a great opportunity for Philadelphia to gain international prominence.”
The World Meeting of Families, scheduled for Sept. 22-27, is a triennial global event that will take place in the United States for the first time. It is designed to highlight the intrinsic values families bring to society.
Ferguson, who will serve as chair of the hospitality/visitor experience committee for the World Meeting of Families, is among many city and state officials who acknowledge this amazing opportunity to showcase Philadelphia.
“To have Pope Francis make his first trip to the United States and to have him come to our commonwealth is an incredible blessing and an incredible opportunity,” said Susan Corbett, wife of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett. “Philadelphia and all of Pennsylvania have so much to offer culturally, recreationally and historically and we welcome the chance to share it with the world.”
The Pennsylvania Convention Center will serve as the key event space. It offers 1 million sq. ft., including the largest ballroom on the East Coast. Located in the heart of downtown, the convention center is walking distance from more than 10,000 guest rooms.
In other news this month, the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) announced it will return to Philadelphia for its 2023 Scientific Assembly. ACEP 2023 is expected to draw more than 12,000 attendees using 21,855 total hotel room nights and generating more than $29.6 million in economic impact for Philadelphia.
Philadelphia was also selected to host the final event of the Brand USA 2015 MegaFam in May. Organized by Brand USA, in partnership with American Airlines and British Airways, the 2015 MegaFam finale will bring 100 top-selling travel agents from the United Kingdom and Ireland to 22 U.S. states before the grand finale in Philadelphia.
Last but not least, it was reported this month that Philadelphia ranks No. 13 among U.S. cities for overseas visitation. In 2013, the city drew 673,000 overseas visitors, marking a 13 percent increase from 2012.
“This increase in overseas visitation is the direct result of the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau’s international consumer marketing and public relations campaign,” Ferguson says. “Since the launch of international marketing efforts in 2002, we’ve seen Philadelphia move from No. 21 to No. 13 in ranking of overseas visitation. Our plans are to continue this momentum with new and innovative sales and marketing initiatives, including a focus on emerging target markets.”
November 19, 2014
Complete with hotel refreshes and a new entrepreneurial spirit, Downtown Las Vegas is in the midst of a major redevelopment project. Here is an inside look at what’s happening today in the original Sin City.
November 18, 2014
Just in time for the holidays, when indulgence becomes commonplace for most of us, this writer retreats to Mii amo, a spa famous for its wellness programs.