Thomas Jefferson once said that “A walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of Life.”
Indeed Paris, no matter what time of year you visit, is likely to make you fall head over heels in love. And perhaps no one knows this better than Chloe Johnston, founder of CJ Tours, a Parisian connoisseur and fashion maven who is passionate about creating memorable and personalized Parisian experiences for ladies around the world!
- What is it about Paris that you love so much, and when was it love at first sight
I first visited Paris at age 12 and my love affair with the city began then. It deepened over time, as I was lucky enough to return once a year for a visit. There’s something about Paris that just makes my face light up. Whether it’s getting lost in the streets, discovering the vast history that Paris has to offer, people watching in my favorite café, shopping in one of my favorite boutiques, indulging in chocolate, or just visiting with my Parisian friends – the city is one that you can’t help but fall in love with.
- When was the idea for CJ Tours born?
Growing up in an entrepreneurial environment, I always knew I wanted to start my own company. After attending graduate school in NYC I was able to make this dream a reality.
I would return home from annual trips to Paris, and people would always ask where did you get that?! Consequently, CJ Tours was born and started offering four hour shopping trips for those already traveling to Paris with a range of boutique tours, vintage, flea, market, as well as customizing private tours.
- So, what is CJ Tours?
We not only focus on the hidden gems of the city, we create lasting memories for our clients. We understand women and how they evolve. We have unique relationships with our designers adding that personalization to each tour and each piece. We started off by offering 4 hour daily shopping and private tours. From our relationships we were able to bring some of those unique Parisian finds to the US through our online boutique featuring one of a kind jewelry, handbags, scarves and vintage pieces. We just recently launched some of our extended tours that allow us to plan an entire trip for our clients.
We also offer something named 50 and Fabulous which understands that women reach a certain age with their child and/or career and need to focus on themselves- we provide hotel or apartment, airfare, wine tastings, cooking classes, shopping, spa treatments, and private meetings with our designers. Other extended tours include: Girlfriend Getaways, Mother Daughter Trips, and She Said Oui for that bride to be looking for her wedding dress, to outfit her mother, or bridesmaids. Whether you are looking for the perfect trip to Paris or want us to source that item you can’t get overseas to purchase right now, CJ Tours is the answer.
- What are some upcoming events around the world that may be of interest?
We are hosting a French wine and cheese event on February 5th at the Union League of Philadelphia. In addition, we are part of a few charity organizations and host ongoing events. You can consult our website for exact dates and locations. Our second fashion show will take place in April. And last but not least, we are in the process of launching some really exciting new additions to the company so stay tuned!
- As a part-time local, what are your Top 5 favorite travel-tips for visitors to Paris that diverge from the cliché tourist-guide-book trails?
The Paris city council has compiled a list of more than 30 routes to follow depending on your interests, including those centered around art, history, architecture, music and some of the paths carved by the country’s leading artists, philosophers and writers both past and present.If you are a first time traveler to Paris, obviously you want to see some of the musts; such as iconic Museums, and the Eiffel Tower. Keep in mind that the bigger museums have evening hours – I recommend going then! If you really want to go up the Eiffel Tower I suggest booking a lunch or a tour to avoid the long lines and crowds. There are plenty of places in Paris to steal a nice view over the city though (such as Pompidou, the Arc de Triomphe, and Parc de Belleville)
If you want to be mesmerized by the sparkling beauty a night, then I suggest booking a dinner someplace such as Les Ombres – you will be looking right at her!
For a memorable Parisian souvenir, I suggest having a necklace made just for you! We know just the place.Not into jewelry? Try a tour of the catacombs – perhaps a little creepy but memorable none the less. Which other city in the world offers such an underground treasure chest of history and suspense?
Take in a concert at either the American Cathedral or one of the many churches in Paris…you can find them on line or in Pariscope…..
Head over to the Hammam in the Grand Mosque for a massage and check out Days for Women. It is divine and different. You have to really GO to understand these two d’s. Take tea afterwards!
River cruises are popular in Paris however I recommend only going at night. You will have a chance to see some amazing bridges from a perspective that you can only get from the boat. Pont Alexandre III being my favorite!
Was that more than five? Paris is teeming with opportunity. Oh, and yes – try either the covered markets or the Sunday Market at Bastille or Place Monge.
Last but not least – eat your baguette out of the bag – they’ll think you’re French!
- Where are your favorite places to taste the best of Paris?
You don’t need to travel all over Paris to find a great restaurant. Ask your concierge or the agency with which you book your trip. Personally I recommend La Fontaine de Mars in the 7th. Book well in advance.
For budget romance, I suggest Le Coupe-Chou for appertifs or the Ice Kube bar at Kube Hotel.
Le Train Bleu is always a winner and a good fit for all. Teeming with history you can walk right off the metro and marvel at the stunning interior!
- What is the best way to get around Paris?
Walking! Walk as much as you can, and soak everything in. The Metro can help too!
- Paris is such a big city that first-time and seasoned travelers alike sometimes feel a little overwhelmed with booking a place to stay. Any tips for a comfortable and well-located home-away-from-home?
Rental France offers short term vacation rentals. Haven in Paris offers luxury services. And of course we at CJ Tours also offer a host of accommodation suited to your personal needs.
- The good-girl’s gift guide. Collecting Parisian trinkets to bring home as a small gift – what do you suggest we purchase, and where?
Handbags are always a winner, large or small. Check out Catherine Loiret or Perrin Paris for something unique!
For Chocolate we love Michael Chaudun in the 7th but there are many excellent chocolatiers in Paris. Do a little tasting and find your own! Mariage Frères or Dammann Frères have a nice selection of teas.
Don’t forget Mustard! Go to FranPrix and get Amora… under 2 euro and we love it!
Last but not least the famous Macaron. But that’s another story and deserves a post of its own!