Richard Nahem, an ex-New Yorker living in Paris, leads private insider tours showing visitors the Paris most of them never see on their own (www.eyepreferparistours.com), and also writes a popular insider's blog www.eyepreferparis.com.
Tourists in Paris have a plethora of ways of seeing the sites of the city, including bicycles, tricycles and Velibs, buses, cars -- including driving your own Maserati sports car or sitting in the uncomfortable back seat of a Citroen CV -- Segways, rickshaws and mini-trains. In this crowded field comes a new refreshing way to see the Paris in a luxury bus like no other before.
Bustronome is a custom-built bus that serves multi-course gourmet lunches and dinners while touring the highlights of Paris.
We were a little curious about how a tour like this worked so we chose the night tour, which started at 7:45 pm on Ave. Kleber right off the Place Etoile/Charles DeGaulle. Standing almost three stories high the big, shiny bus awaited us. We were escorted to the second floor, where tables were set with fine china. In the center of each table was a Lucite structure to hold the glassware, so we were relieved that we wouldn’t have red wine spilling on our laps. We were immediately offered a glass of Champagne and relaxed before the bus took off, taking in the 360-degree view of the Arc de Triomphe from the glass-wrapped terrace around us.
The bus departed at 7:55 pm and slowly circulated the streets, touring the Champs Elysees, Trocadero, the Eiffel Tower (timed on the hour so we were able to see the glitter lights sparkle), the Champs de Mars, the Opera Garnier, Musée d’Orsay, the Grand Palais, the Hotel de Ville and Notre Dame. A lavish six-course meal was served during the almost three-hour tour. The winter menu by chef Vincent Thiesse consisted of smaller plates, including a porcini mushroom custard, a sea scallop carpaccio garnished with grapefruit and pistachio, turbot fillet with a pumpkin and safran sauce, roasted veal with potatoes, Cabecou -- a soft goat cheese from the Midi-Pyrenees -- and a pineapple and passion fruit cheesecake. The bus moved at a leisurely pace so that it never felt bumpy, even though the glassware rattled somewhat on the cobblestone streets.
Another thoughtful feature of the service was instead of having the historical information about the sites blaring through the speakers, on the back of the menu was a map of the different points of interest. You were given an electronic pointer so you could tap on each spot of the map and it would automatically dispense the history through a speaker in the pointer.
Bustronome is available seven days a week and offers two-hour lunch tours from 12 pm to 2 pm for 95 euros per person with drinks, including Champagne, wine, and coffee or tea, or 65 euros without. Dinner service is two and a half hours from 7:45 pm to 10:15 pm for 125 euros per person with drinks or 85 euros without. The good news is Bustronome can prepare a vegan menu and can also do private or customized tours.
Bustronome is a luxurious an unhurried way to experience the splendors of Paris.