How to Get 20-50 Percent Off Restaurant Meals in Paris

La Fourchette App

La Fourchette App

La Fourchette is the European equivalent of Open Table or Yelp.

You can search for nearby restaurants, read reviews, and make a reservation online.  The website is owned by TripAdvisor.

You can also find restaurants offering twenty to fifty percent off menu prices with a prior reservation via the La Fourchette app.

On our recent trip to Paris, I opened the app to search for nearby restaurants.

We were staying at the Radisson Blu Le Metropolitan hotel in the 16th arrondissement — on points, of course.

20 Percent Off Radisson Blu Metropolitan Restaurant

20 percent off dinner at Le Metropolitan Restaurant in Paris

20 percent off dinner at Le Metropolitan Restaurant in Paris

The Radisson Blu Metropolitan hotel is in an upscale residential district near the Trocadero Gardens.  The hotel has modern decor, an indoor swimming pool and steam room, a mid-sized restaurant, and a head on view of the Eiffel Tower.

The first restaurant to pop up when I opened the La Fourchette app was the hotel restaurant at Le Metropolitan.

The offer was for a 20 percent discount off of menu prices if you made a reservation on the app.

Other restaurants had offers of 30 percent or 50  percent off, though many of these offers excluded the set price “menu du jour.”

The app lists tens of thousands of restaurants in France and elsewhere in Europe; not all restaurants offer discounts.

In Paris, I noticed that many of the places with special offers were ethnic restaurants serving sushi, couscous, kebobs, or other specialities.

Click here to get an idea of other restaurants that are offering discounted meals in Paris.

Earn Loyalty Points with La Fourchette

You can earn loyalty points for each reservation you make with La Fourchette.  They call the points “Yums.”  You can cash in your “Yums” in for discounts at participating restaurants.

$5 off $25 at Clydes Restaurants in DC Area

$5 off $25 at Clyde's Restaurants

$5 off $25 at Clyde’s Restaurants

Normally I wouldn’t blog about a $5 discount, but this deal for Amex cardholders amounts to a 20 percent savings at my favorite restaurant — Clyde’s.

Clyde’s has 14 restaurants in the metro DC area.
While each has a unique atmosphere and decor, the food is uniformly excellent.  The menu changes frequently and features locally sourced ingredients.

Through July 27, 2015, Amex is running a “Plate of Metro DC” offer.

You can get a $5 statement credit every time after you charge $25 or more in a single transaction at participating restaurants.  You can enroll here:   www.amexnetwork.com/plateofmetrodc.

July Monthly Special at Clyde's

July Monthly Special at Clyde’s

I was able to enroll both my Amex SPG card and my Bluebird card.

To maximize your savings, you can purchase $25 gift cards at Clyde’s restaurants, that can combined or be used for future meals.

Other participating restaurants are listed here:

 

 

Giveaway to Getaway

Enter the Giveaway for 1,500 IHG Points

Enter the giveaway for 1,500 IHG points!

I’m giving away 1,500 IHG (Intercontinental Hotel Group) points to a reader who newly likes my Facebook page.

IHG Rewards Club is a program of hotels like Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Intercontinental Hotels, Crowne Plaza, and others.

I earned these points through the IGH Share Rewards promo that is running this summer.

I’d like to share my points with you!

In one week, I’ll select a winner randomly and post the results on Facebook.

You’ll need to contact me with your name and email address so I can send you the points.

1,500 IHG reward points could be just what you need to top off your account for your next award stay!

The Secret Terrace Cafe at the Louvre

The Terrace Colbert

The Terrasse Colbert in the Louvre has a convenient outdoor snack bar.

There are at least 15 restaurants at the Louvre museum in Paris, and all 15 of them have a long line at lunch time.

Except one.

In the Richelieu wing, on the “first” floor (which is really the second floor), just past the entrance to the Cafe Richelieu, there is an open door which looks like a service entrance.

There is a banner on the door, but if you are coming from the opposite direction you will miss it.

The door leads past the Cafe Richelieu espresso machines to an exit onto an outdoor terrace overlooking the courtyard of the Louvre.

Welcome to the Terrasse Colbert!

Statuary of the Terrace Colbert

Statuary of the Terrace Colbert at the Louvre
Image via Wikimedia Commons

There, you will find some long tables set with chairs, and a small cafe.

This cafe is not mentioned in the official literature from the museum, so I suspect that it is seasonal.

You can rest your feet among the statuary and enjoy the view.

The snack bar at Terrace Colbert at the Louvre

The snack bar at Terrasse Colbert at the Louvre

The selection at the snack bar is quite limited — just a few types of sandwiches, soft drinks, and packaged ice cream.

But you will be able to rest your feet, enjoy the fresh air and the view of the famous pyramid, and avoid wasting precious time standing in line.

Enjoying the atmosphere at the Terrasse Colbert

Enjoying the atmosphere at the Terrasse Colbert

Here is a map to help you find this hidden gem!

Location of the Terrace Snack Bar at the Louvre

Location of the Terrace Snack Bar at the Louvre

Exclusive: First Look at Paris Orly OpenSkies Lounge

Pets are welcome in the new lounge at ORL

Pets are welcome in the new OpenSkies/British Airways lounge at Paris Orly

On our way home from Paris, we stopped in the spanking new British Airways/OpenSkies lounge at Orly Airport (ORL).

The new lounge, known as 212 Orly West, opened on July 4, 2015.

It is located airside in Hall 3 in the Orly West terminal.

After clearing security, the lounge is on the lower level.

The lounge is open from 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, with catering adapted to flight times.

The following passengers are eligible to visit the lounge:

  • OpenSkies Biz Bed customers traveling to New York
  • British Airways Club Europe customers traveling to London Heathrow
  • British Airways Executive Club Gold and Silver Members
  • oneworld Emerald and Sapphire card holders

Lounge Rats Will Enjoy the British Airways/OpenSkies Lounge at Orly West

The menu of food and drink offerings at the OpenSkies/British Airways Lounge at Orly Airport in Paris

The menu of food and drink offerings at the OpenSkies/British Airways Lounge at Orly Airport in Paris

I am not much of a lounge afficiaonado so I don’t have much basis for comparison.

But I can share some pictures of the food and beverage offerings and the accommodations.

There were a variety of snack items available including raw veggies, fresh fruit, yogurt, nuts, and potato chips, as well as a number of uniquely French foods.

There were freshly baked rolls, and three types of croissants to choose from, and small sandwiches.

Beverage choices included French wine and champagne, the usual juices and sodas, and espresso.

All in all, one could make a nice lunch from the spread at the lounge, but the food was nothing to write home about.

Fresh rolls and Viennoiserie

Fresh rolls and Viennoiserie

There was a nice selection of pastries available for dessert.

French pastries at the new OpenSkies lounge at Orly airport

French pastries at the new OpenSkies lounge at Orly airport

I would bet that the lounge caterer also provides the in-flight meals on OpenSkies, as several of the food offerings were the same.

Fruit tartare at 212 British Airways Lounge

Fruit tartare at 212 Orly West lounge

The pasta salad with salmon was delicious!

212 Orly West British Airways Lounge

French wine, cheese and salmon pasta salad

You can pour yourself a drink or a glass of champagne at the self-service bar.

You can pour yourself a drink at the self-service bar

The liquor selection at the new lounge at ORY

212 Orly West Lounge Has Modern Furnishings

The seating at the 212 Orly West lounge is comfortable.

Casual seating at 212 Orly West

Casual seating at 212 Orly West

There are electric outlets at each seat to charge your phone and laptop.

The windows are reminiscent of airplane windows

The windows are reminiscent of airplane windows

212 Orly West is a quiet lounge, so there are no announcements of flight boardings.

A Crested Chinese Powder Puff enjoying the amenities

A Crested Chinese Powder Puff enjoying the lounge amenities

As you would expect, there are free newspapers and magazines.

Modern furniture at the new lounge at Orly West

Modern furniture at the new lounge at Orly West

There’s a television in the reception area.

212 Orly West OpenSkies Lounge

Is that a money belt she’s wearing, or . . .

After relaxing for a while, it is time to board the plane.

We could see our airplane from the lounge

View of our airplane from the lounge

Orange is the New Sim Card for Paris

Orange Sim Card

The Orange Holiday Plan provides mobile coverage in Paris.

After dropping our bags off at the hotel, the first thing we did when we arrived in Paris was to head over to the Orange mobile phone store.

My husband and I both have the El Cheapo T-Mobile cell phone plan, which does not offer international coverage.

He has an android, and I have an unlocked iPhone.

For 40 Euros each, we purchased Orange Holiday Sim cards, to give us mobile coverage on our vacation.

Orange Holiday Mobile Phone Plans:  Two Weeks for 40 Euros

The Orange Holiday Sim cards give you access to a prepaid plan good for two weeks.

For 39.99 Euros, you get:

  • a French phone number
  • 120 minutes to call from Europe to the U.S. (and any other country in the world)
  • 1000 texts, from Europe to any country
  • 1GB of mobile internet in Europe
  • Free access to Orange wifi hotspots
  • An option to purchase a top-off card
There are a lot of Orange stores all over Paris.  The technician inserted the Orange sim in my iPhone and checked to make sure it was working properly.  I was good to go!
The feature I was most interested in was mobile internet access.  In most areas, 4G service was the norm on my iPhone.  This was especially convenient for looking up information on the fly, such as transit routes, and museum locations and hours.
For a one-time charge of 40 Euros, we were able to feed our internet addiction while in Paris, yet retain our cheap monthly plan of $30 per month at home.
What’s your mobile solution when traveling abroad?  Please share in the comments below!

Redeem Capital One Venture Points Multiple Times

Erase Your Travel Charges , Then Erase them again

Erase your travel charges. . . then erase them again

We are taking the Amtrak train up to Newark (EWR) airport in order to catch our Open Skies flight to Paris.

I purchased the train tickets with my relatively new Capital One Venture card, which has a generous 40,000 point bonus (worth $400 towards travel) for opening a new card after meeting the minimum spend requirement.

The Venture card has a “purchase eraser” feature that allows you to offset travel purchases with points earned from the card.

You earn 2x points on all purchases, and the annual fee of $59 is waived the first year.

Capital One Venture Card is Essentially a 2 Percent Cash Back Travel Rewards Card

I am really rocking this card.  It doesn’t get much love in the miles and points world, but I look at it as a 2 percent cash back card that can accumulate points in a “travel savings account.”

I hear via the grapevine that it may be possible to get Capital One to waive the annual fee after the first year.  For the meantime, I am putting my everyday spending on this card.

I got to put the Venture card to the test for our upcoming trip.  After purchasing the train tickets, the charge posted to my account as a travel charge which could be offset via a credit from the purchase eraser.

Erase the Same Charge on your Capital One Venture Account More than Once

I applied the bonus points to the ticket cost of $122 for two one-way tickets to Newark.  I noticed that the charge was still available to be credited.  So I tried again, and a second $122 credit was applied to my account.

That means that the same charge can be wiped out more than once.

Use Your Capital One Venture Points to Partially Erase Charges

The return train tickets were $163, which I eliminated via the purchase eraser.  Just for kicks, I applied the remaining balance of my points toward that charge again.  I didn’t have enough points to cover the full amount, but I received a partial credit on my statement for a portion of the charge.

That means that you can apply points toward partial credits on travel charges, even if you don’t have enough points to completely offset the charges.

These two features mean that the Capital One Venture Card can function as a two percent cash back card, as long as you have a few travel expenses greater than $25 charged to your account.

Have you had a similar experience with the “purchase eraser”?  

Free Lonely Planet “Guide to Pride”

Guide to Pride -- Free on iTunes

Guide to Pride — Free on iTunes

Guide to Pride is Lonely Planet’s selection of 20 of the biggest Gay Pride events around the globe.

The guide covers the who, what, where, and when of each city’s Gay Pride celebration.

You’ll also find color photos of major attractions, along with expert travel tips on where to eat, sleep, and drink in each city.

Guide to Pride is available to download free on iTunes.

Published in June 2015, the digital guide is 46 pages long.

The book devotes a two-page spread to each city, so it is by no means comprehensive.

It’s really intended more as an inspiration to travel!

Included:

  • Amsterdam
  • Atlanta
  • Auckland
  • Berlin
  • Buenos Aires
  • Cape Town
  • Dublin
  • London
  • Madrid
  • Melbourne
  • New York City
  • Paris
  • Puerto Vallarta
  • Reykjavík
  • San Francisco
  • São Paulo
  • Sydney
  • Taipei
  • Toronto
  • Vancouver

Fun Things to Do for Tweens and Teens in Melbourne, Florida

The Brevard Zoo is a fun time for teens.

The zip line at the Brevard Zoo is a fun time for teens.

This past Spring Break, I took a rather spontaneous trip to Florida with my teenage daughter and her friend.

We took the Amtrak Auto Train to Sanford Florida, and had just five days to explore.

Of course the main point of a Spring Break trip to Florida is the beach, and we planned to spend time on both the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.

For my part, I was hoping for some relaxation on the beach:  sand, surf, and shells.

The girls were looking for more active adventures!

Melbourne Beach on the Atlantic Ocean

Florida did not disappoint!  Barely ten minutes out of Sanford the girls spotted dozens of alligators sunning themselves in a pond.

We caught our first sighting of a mermaid upon arrival at the Radisson Suites Oceanfront in Melbourne Beach.

From our top floor balcony, we could see dolphins — at least I hope they were dolphins — swimming along the shore.

The sun was pretty intense in late March.  We found that the best beach times were in the mornings and late afternoons.

The girls wanted to see more wildlife so we headed out to the Brevard Zoo.

The big attraction here was not the zoo itself, but the zipline over the gigantic alligators.  This turned out to be a treetop course of obstacles and ziplines that takes over an hour to complete.  It was quite strenuous.  Drink plenty of water beforehand — I saw a couple of people pulled out due to heat exhaustion.

The girls really enjoyed the Treetop Zipline adventure.  The Brevard Zoo itself was small.  The best part, I think, was the extensive display of meercats.

Melbourne is near several attractions that we did not see:  the Kennedy Space Center, and the Washington Nationals Spring Training Ball Park.

The Foosaner Art Museum in downtown Melbourne also looked interesting.

Sanibel Island and the Gulf Coast

From Melbourne, we headed across Florida to Fort Myers on the Gulf Coast, where we met up with some friends.   The girls got some shopping in at Fort Myers Beach.

Kayaking at Cape Coral

Kayaking at Cape Coral

We stayed at the Colony Inn Condos on Sanibel Island.  

There, you can rent a fully furnished one-bedroom apartment, just steps from the beach.

The Colony Inn is a bit of the old Florida on what has become an overcrowded and quite ritzy Sanibel Island.  I recommend it if you are looking for reasonably priced place to stay near the beach.

The girls loved hunting for shells along the  beach at Sanibel Island.  The sand here was finer than on the beach in Melbourne, and the water was fairly calm.  There were plenty of shells for the picking.

The highlight of the trip, however, was the kayaking we did in Cape Coral.

The girls spotted dolphins and manatees close to shore!  It was quite a thrill to see a manatee at such a close distance.

 

2 out of 3 Banks Rescind Annual Fees on My Travel Rewards Credit Cards

Keep Calm and Call the BankAre you averse to paying bank fees?

I enjoy the benefits of travel rewards credit cards but I do not like to pay hefty annual fees.

Many premium rewards credit cards waive the annual fee for the first year.

But when your one-year anniversary rolls around, the fee will post on your credit card statement.

Call the Bank to Request a Fee Waiver on Your Credit Card

Here’s a hint:

  • Don’t close your credit card account when the annual fee comes due without calling your bank first.
  • Ask the bank representative what incentives they can offer you to keep your account open.
  • Ask what other offers may be available so you can weigh all the options.

The banks spend a lot of money to recruit you as a customer.  They advertise on TV,  in magazines, and on websites.  They send out multiple mailers.  They pay affiliate commissions.  They offer refer-a-friend bonuses.  Moreover, many banks offer generous sign-up bonuses worth $400-500 or more.

The banks would lose all their “investment” in you if you close your account after the first year.

Ask and Ask Again

You might be surprised how generous some banks are and how anxious they are to keep you as a customer.

Before or after your annual fee posts, you can call the issuing bank and find out whether they are willing to waive the annual fee or offer points or other incentives for you to keep the account open.  Some banks have a grace period of 30 or 60 days after the annual fee posts during which you can cancel the card without paying the fee.  Check with your bank on their policy.

I had a number of anniversaries coming up on my cards this spring.  I called the banks, and here are the results.  These are just a few data points. Everyone’s credit and spending record are different and everyone may have different offers available.

Chase Bank Offers $95 Statement Credit on Ink Plus Business Card

I have had the Chase Ink Plus business credit card for just one year.  Before the annual fee posted, I called to inquire about retention bonuses.  Right off the bat I was offered a credit of $95 on my account to offset the $95 annual fee.  I accepted this offer.  I am happy to keep this credit card open because I find the five times Ultimate Rewards points it offers for office supply purchases to be quite valuable.

Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Business Credit Card:  No Soap Radio

Another card I had with Chase was the Southwest Rapid Rewards Business Credit Card.  This card has an annual fee of $69 which comes with a 3,000 mile bonus.  In past years, Chase has offered me an extra 3,000 miles to keep this card open.  This year, I had no luck with an increased offer, and I closed the account.

Meanwhile, I will continue earning Chase Ultimate Reward points with the Ink Plus card, which can be transferred to Southwest Rapid Rewards points.

Barclays Bank Cancels the Fee on the AAdvantage Aviator Red Credit Card

When US Air merged with American Airlines, my Barclays US Air credit card became an American Airlines AAdvantage Aviator Red Card.  When I called Barclay’s, I was told that there would be no annual fee for the first year of the Aviator Red card, because it was a new product.  However, an $89 annual fee did post on my statement.   I called the bank again and they rescinded the fee.

I will keep the card open for the coming year, because it offers a ten percent rebate on flights booked with miles, discounted award tickets, and free checked bags for myself and my family.

Citibank American Airlines Card Offers 3,000 Miles

I have both the business and personal Citibank American Airlines Platinum Select cards.  I called Citibank to inquire about the grace period on my business Citibank American Airlines Platinum Select World MasterCard.  While I was at it, I asked if they had any special offers available.  Citibank offered me 3,000 miles just for asking!

When the annual fee came due, I called again but there were no retention offers available so I cancelled my business card.  I already have another American Airlines business credit card (see above) and did not see the need to keep two cards open.

A few weeks later I called Citibank to inquire about special offers for my personal American Airlines Platinum Select World MasterCard.  This time I was offered 3,000 miles, but I must spend $500 on the card within the next three months in order to receive the bonus.  They had several other offers available, but this seemed the least troublesome.   I will inquire about retention offers when the annual fee comes due.

Amex SPG Credit Card

Amex recently announced that it was raising the annual fee on its Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) credit cards from $65 a year to $95 a year.  My annual fee comes due in August, and I was told that the increased fee will not take effect at that time.  Even at $65 a year, I am hard pressed to justify paying an annual fee to Amex.

In years past, I have never gotten more than 1,000 SPG points for calling in.  When the annual fee posts I will decide what to do depending on which special offers are available.

* * *

Hey, two out of three banks ain’t bad!  If you would like to share your experience in the comments below, it will help other readers who are seeking fee waivers or other bonus offers.

Click here to compare current credit card offers.