Planning an event in France is everything but easy. When I started as an event planner in Paris, I thought: “Everything feels cookie cutter, it’s all the same: the Louvre Museum, the Chateaux Versailles, the chocolate factories, the Eiffel Tower..." Don’t get me wrong. Paris is one of the most amazing cities in the world, if not the most beautiful city at the very least. Every creative human being on the planet has written about her. For good reason!
Yet the local suppliers offered tours and venues straight out of their database, the tried and true. Stepping out of what works was just too risky. I get it. This was wonderful for the average tourist that had never been to Paris. It was good enough. However, a lot of the people I work with, from Europe or the United States, are either very seasoned travelers looking for unique experiences or startups on a budget. Paris is expensive and to find a unique experience with a big group on a tight budget is a challenge. Because Paris is built for individuals or small exclusive groups of less than 10 people. But when we are talking about 100, 200 or more than 1000 people, it is easy to hit a wall in finding creative solutions that local agencies are willing to execute.
An Event Planner In Paris
Starting our business in Paris 15 years ago was challenging. As an American myself, I had a hard time just getting them to understand what the needs of the client were. The French had their way of doing things, and that was that!
I would say: “This is what my client needs and this is my idea, can you help me?”. They would say no: “No, ce n’est pas possible” (it is not possible). This is a standard phrase that everyone makes fun of, even the locals, and it is what you’ll hear a lot. And one of the things we learned to do very well is to get around that. To make it possible.
Our Creative Ideas For A Paris Incentive
Here are a couple of original solutions we came up with along the way to give you ideas on what’s possible. With or without a good budget. If you’re planning to bring your top performers or your whole team to Paris for an incentive and a great experience, Prelude Events says c’est possible! (It is possible). ☺
The Story Of The Up And Coming London Startup On A Tight Budget
We put our client on the bullet train from London to Paris in the morning. Straight out of the station, we organized a bike adventure, sending their luggage off to their hotel rooms with a rented truck and our own staff. Cruiser bikes with big tires waited in position with a power bar and bottled water. Their treasure hunt throughout the city began! An activity for 400 staff, investors and customers ending in the Tuileries Gardens for a picnic.
Now, normally this is “ce n’est pas possible”. But as the Louvre owns the gardens and charges six figures to privatize, we got creative! We made many tiny teams of 10 and sent them into the park to find their “flag” where picnic blankets awaited. Here we discreetly delivered abundant box lunches with Parisians in berets on bikes with company logo balloons and t-shirts. That is how we got around renting the park for a large group. We made it part of a treasure hunt and they were able to view the main attractions of Paris by bike, on safe scenic flat routes. Since Paris is like an outdoor museum!
That evening we had a delicious casual dinner together, all 400 guests. We negotiated the takeover of a large Brasserie near the famous Opera house. Meal minimums and no rental fee to privatize since we occupied the entire venue. Typical delicious French cuisine that all enjoyed and we stayed within budget. The venue was located within walking distance from their hotel to save on transfer costs.
We privatized hop on and hop off double decker buses and created our own hidden secrets of Paris route. To give the guests unique insights into the historical city, off the beaten path of the main tourist attractions. We stopped at the charming La Crêperie with 30 euro per person, to enjoy the art of Crêp making, and tasting of course! At last, we left them at the train station at 5 PM, where their luggage was waiting. Returning by TGV back to London with a paper bag of edible treats. The budget only allowed for one overnight so we made the best of it!
The Insurance Company That Wanted Something Special For 500 Guests
Late Afternoon Arrival Day 1
After arrivals and check-in, and a bit of down time, we engaged our guests at a beautiful pavilion in a Parisian park. With wine tasting, hosted by sommeliers, followed by an excellent French buffet, and talented Jazz band to kick off the welcome night.
The following day we offered private tours of the Louvre Museum. With a light team building where guests had to identify artwork with clues that led them to an award. An excellent bottle of French Champagne of course, what else!
After the Louvre Museum adventure, we offered the guests a choice of several quarters in Paris to explore with a private guide. Latin Quarter, Montmartre, Champs Elysees or Marais. Each quarter offering individual charm and history to indulge.
The evening ended with a gala dinner in a beautiful palace, with the Phantom of the Opera theme. We provided masks and we hired a leading Parisian opera singer from the royal opera. Her amazing performance, lifted within the acoustics of the palace, intrigued tears, goosebumps hairs on the back of necks throughout the room. She was that emotionally moving, she was that good. Guests that never thought of Opera in their lives were changed forever. The masks and added props at the photo call booth with opportunities for autographs and photos with the artist were also a home run.
We privatized vintage cars in Paris with fun chauffeur hosts, that took the guests on a customized gourmet tour. Tasting stops at all the hidden treasures that are not necessarily commercially well known but locally known. From the best baker in Montmartre to the best chocolatier in the Latin Quarter. Including a truffle stop, surprise wine stop and shopping opportunities, ending with champagne on top of the Eiffel Tower. Everyone was delighted!
For the final night dinner, we privatized a Yacht for 500 guests, and brought in professional Can Can dancers to welcome the guests on board. Catering a beautiful gourmet dinner as we sailed through the Seine in the evening, passing the main historical landmarks (The Louvre, Ile de la Cité, Grand Palais, Petit Palais and Musée d'Orsay) flooded in lights. A site to remember for a long time. But when the Eiffel Tower lit up at nine and our vessel stopped for the photo call, we created souvenirs for life. The evening was a complete success.
A buffet breakfast with a moving speech by the President was their farewell, not to be left empty-handed. We delivered a framed picture of their yacht photo shoot with the Eiffel Tower lit backdrop with carry-on packaging. They departed with smiles into their private transfers to the airport.
Do you have questions about Paris as a destination for your incentive? Planning an incentive or still deciding if the City of Light would be the right choice for your event? We'd love to help. Just talk to us!