We love taking the time to look back on some of BikeTours.com’s favorite moments. And it doesn’t get much better than an engagement!
Back in 2013, BikeTours.com travelers Hal and Sarah won a 3-day trip from BikeTours.com during the USA Cycling Professional Road Cycling National Championships in Chattanooga and were treated to a VIP weekend in Paris to experience the final stage of the Tour de France on the event’s 100th anniversary year. Hal took the opportunity of a trip to Paris to propose to Sarah. Check out the story below!
Here’s their report from adventures in Paris, and read all about their VIP access to the Tour de France final stage.
We arrived at the Hotel Icone in Paris around 1:00 p.m. local time (or, as the rest of the world would say, “13:00”). After getting acclimated to our surroundings, we took the afternoon to explore the Second Arrondissement, where our hotel was located. While we walked around the city we took in the sights: street vendors, fruit stands, cafes, and high-end clothing shops. The area was crowded with locals and tourists.
Exploring French cuisine
Later that evening we took the Metro to dinner. Before the trip, Hal did a lot of research to find both tourist friendly but still authentically French food to eat. (We didn’t want to look like “dumb Americans” but our language skills definitely needed work!) We arrived at the restaurant Esens’All, where the chef greeted us both in French and English.
We sat toward the back of the restaurant so we could have a little more privacy. Our waitress greeted us and explained the concept of the restaurant: a fusion restaurant mixing Asian and French fare. This restaurant had no menu — the chef decides what he will make each day and the only decision you have to make is if you want six or eight courses. We both selected six courses not knowing what to expect.
We let the waitress select our wine pairings. On the second glass of wine and the fourth course of food she poured the last bit of a bottle into my glass and said, “You know in France, finishing a bottle of wine like this means you will be married within the year.” Hal and I clinked glasses “Cheers!” and smiled at each other. We had discussed getting married several times in our three-year relationship but never a timeframe, so the comment was brushed off.
Wow! What a delicious meal! Between the entree of veggies and cucumber soups to the pork tenderloin at the end, Esens’All was everything the reviews said it would be.
A proposal to remember
After the meal, Hal and I caught the Metro back to our block. Talking about how great our meal was, I started to wonder if we knew where we were going. Paris felt quiet this late at night, but still awake.
As we turned the corner to the hotel Hal crossed to the opposite side of the street (the sidewalk appeared to be under construction), and as we crossed he turned to me and said “… you know I love you right?” “Of course, I love you too!” I said.
He grabbed my hand and reached into his pocket while lunging to his knee. Before I could process what was happening he said “Will you marry me?” I burst into tears of overwhelming joy! After the tears subsided he said “Well go ahead and put it on your finger!” The most beautiful ring I have ever seen — a brilliant cut solitaire on a white gold band. It was PERFECT!
Right there in the middle of an empty Paris street, he asked me to spend a lifetime together. I couldn’t be happier! We walked back to the hotel and I turned to him as we stepped in the door and said “Did I even say yes?!” and he laughed at me as I clarified “MY ANSWER IS YES!”
Checking out the sites
The next day, we wanted to check out some Paris sites. We purchased a museum pass from the office of tourism and walked to the Louvre. The pass allowed us to skip the absurd line and walk directly into the pyramid. We descended the stairs into what felt like an underground world of people crawling around in all directions. We immediately decided to head towards the Mona Lisa. We walked through rooms of sculptures and paintings I never thought I’d actually see. When we found her, the room was packed with tour groups and art enthusiasts alike, all marveling at her brilliance. It was an interesting sight. We spent another two hours walking through the never-ending hallways of the Louvre, which can only be described as a French version of “National Treasure.” It felt like the museum just kept going lower and lower into the earth with more delicate and intricate pieces of art.
After the Louvre, we walked down the Seine River to Notre Dame. We toured the stunning church and marveled at the stained glass. It was amazing to think that people attend their church services in such a gorgeous building.
Love locks on the bridge
We stopped to buy a lock from a local street vendor. It was four Euros for a lock with a key. We took it to the pedestrian bridge and wrote our names on it. We locked the lock on the bridge and threw the keys into the water. There are several bridges throughout Paris on which you can hang a lock. The lock symbolizes eternal love — quite fitting for a newly-engaged couple!
The Eiffel Tower by night
After sunset Hal arranged for a car tour. Our driver, Travis, arrived at our hotel just as we were walking back from dinner. The open-top car was perfect for a warm night of cruising around. Travis presented us with a bottle of champagne and began the tour. We drove to Sacre-Coeur on top of Montmartre just as the sun was going down.
Travis was a Paris native and an aspiring musician and was familiar with Tennessee, where we live! He drove us around the city explaining what each building was. He drove us through the Louvre, past the Arc de Triomphe, and then arrived at the Eiffel Tower at the top of the hour. The glittering lights illuminated the sky as people stood in awe of its greatness, a definite must see if you are ever in France!