Have you ever spent hours researching places to visit on a vacation, only to get there and find out you’ve walked into a tourist trap, or that your dream restaurant doesn’t have a gluten free option, or that the art exhibit you wanted to go to was sold out months before? Sometimes planning a vacation is a lot of work. But it doesn’t have to be.
Paris, Perfected provides customized travel itineraries for those planning a trip to the City of Lights. Skip the hours spent on figuring out how to hit every monument in three days, the parsing through conflicting Trip Advisor reviews, and trying to figure out if that one Instagram-famous street is actually worth going to. A personalized plan costs between $100 and $250, depending on how much you want it customized, and how fast you need it, and will include recommendations for accommodation, restaurants, shopping, entertainment, and more.
The woman behind this unique boutique travel company is Meghan Donovan, a blogger, travel consultant and francophile who took the plunge in July of 2019 to start her own business. Meghan grew up just outside of Chicago, but first visited Paris in the 90s when her family spent two years living in London. “I was just a little fourth grader but I remember having that very quintessential first Paris experience in the fourth grade, thinking, this city is magical and I can’t wait to come back here.” Before starting Paris, Perfected, Meghan spent fifteen years building her brand with the blog wit & whimsy, “A lifestyle site that toasts elevated, fulfilled living.” Based in New York, the blog is the perfect guide for anyone walking that tightrope between NYC and Paris style.
She started the blog in college, where she spent a semester abroad in Paris in 2005, and decided that she couldn’t leave the city alone. After graduating, she worked in PR in New York for companies like Wells Fargo and Intel, before deciding five years ago that she wanted to focus on private consulting and content creation. She started visiting Paris at least once a year, and sharing a ton of French content with her readers. “I was just realizing how many of my DMs and emails were about wanting to get recommendations from me… People would really start to sense I think that my Paris was different from the Trip Advisor Paris or the Kardashian Paris or the types of Paris you could discover easily with the Internet.” She realized that she could monetize her vast knowledge of the city, and use a new platform to give clients an experience beyond what everyone else was offering. “I want to find what’s new, what’s interesting, what’s up-and-coming, what’s local, versus what you can find easily through a Google search.”
Within six months of the launch, Meghan had booked more than 150 unique trips, each completely curated. All of her recommendations are personally vetted, based on her own experiences there, and if she hasn’t been somewhere a client is interested in, she will put in the legwork to make sure they know exactly what they’re getting.
Opening a travel company in the months before COVID-19 hit did force her to pivot somewhat in terms of her brand, but she has managed to make the best of it. She started doing more COVID-safe “travel” content, like ‘A Francophile’s Guide to Staying Inside.’ And just last month, she launched a private membership option for Paris, Perfected fans for $60 a year that gives them access to virtual events (including an upcoming virtual wine tasting), discounts on custom itineraries, and a vast array of tips and francophile finds. “It’s just a way for me to have a really cultivated community where I share all things francophile.”
Meghan is optimistic about her prospects post-pandemic, but she does admit that it will take some time for things to get back to normal. “Since it’s not officially open people are still a little trepidatious around booking… but I’m really confident and hopeful that come fall I’ll be really busy booking peoples’ itineraries.”
So what are some of her favorite things to do in Paris? “I always go to the Marais on one of my first days.” Coffee at Ob-La-Di, followed by a goat cheese salad at Café Charlot, or the lunch crepe special at Little Breizh. Followed by shopping at Sézane and people watching at Place Dauphine or the Musée Rodin, or a cooking class at La Cuisine Paris. “I always recommend a cooking class to clients because I think it’s a really nice way to spend a little less time on your feet for one day and just get a better sense of what food means to the French people.”
Meghan had planned on expanding her guide in 2021 to include popular day trips from Paris, like Normandy and the Loire Valley. Travel restrictions have put a damper on this, but don’t be surprised if those options pop up sooner or later. The pandemic may have paused our plans, but that’s all the reason to start making new ones as soon as possible.
“After everything endured the last year, we all deserve a dose of Paris.”