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Catch The Points Guy Recap Week 3: Paris

by on October 12, 2012 · 23 comments

in Catch The Points Guy, Chase, Chase Sapphire Preferred

After a fun weekend in Madrid, the next stop on my “Catch The Points Guy” itinerary was Paris for some fashion, fine dining and a visit out to Champagne.

Additional Avios
To get from Madrid to Paris, I decided to transfer Ultimate Rewards points to British Airways Avios again and redeem them for a flight on BA’s partner airline, Iberia. Flights for the day I needed to travel were running around $500 one-way, which is pretty expensive for a two-hour flight! However, an economy ticket from Madrid to Paris requires just 7,500 Avios according to BA’s distance-based redemption formula. This redemption would have gotten me 6.7 cents per Avios, a really good value in my book.

The breakfast buffet in the Iberia Lounge.

As you know, I’m quite tall, so I searched for business class award seats instead, which cost double economy awards, so 15,000 points total for this route. As soon as I found an available award seat, I transferred my Ultimate Rewards points to my BA Executive Club account instantaneously and booked the ticket.

Now, intra-European business class is basically the same as coach just at the front of the plane with the middle seat blocked off, but at least it gives me that little bit of extra legroom I need not to be crumpled up and miserable, and I still got a great value from my points using just 15,000 Avios and $26 for the flight.

I thought 15,000 was a bit of a splurge, but the extra points for business class also got me lounge access at Madrid Barrajas and a nice meal onboard.

Delicious menu offered on Iberia Business Class from Madrid to Paris.

As I talked about in this post, there are a few tricks to using British Airways Avios to book partner awards – mainly because it’s difficult searching for award seats on partners using britishairways.com, especially in Europe since the system will prioritize routing you on BA flights through London, but when you search routes not serviced by British Airways, you can search partner airlines and find your award ticket that way.

I flew directly from Madrid Barrajas to Paris Orly, which I like better for intra-European flights since it’s closer to the city and accessibly by Air France bus and RER, though I took a taxi because I was in a hurry.

Points for Priority Club
I planned to spend three nights in Paris, but since it was July (high season!) hotels were extremely expensive and award night availability was tight.

In fact, there were no nights available at my favorite hotel in the city, the Park Hyatt Paris Vendome, at which I could normally redeem a free night by transferring 22,000 Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt Gold Passport.

The Intercontinental Le Grand where I spent a night using 40,000 points and $70.

Instead, I ended up booking one night at the Intercontinental Le Grand and two nights at another Priority Club property, the Crowne Plaza Republique.

I had the option of redeeming Ultimate Reward points directly through the Ultimate Rewards travel portal at a fixed rate of 1.25 cents each, but since rooms were close to $800 at the Intercontinental Le Grand, one night would have cost me 64,000 points. Instead, I was able to transfer Ultimate Rewards points to my Priority Club account and get a standard room for either 50,000 points outright, or a cash-and-points redemption of 40,000 Priority Club points + $70. I took the cash-and-points because that $70 saved me 10,000 points.

For my other two nights in Paris, I stayed at the Crowne Plaza where rooms were quite high as well, so instead, I transferred Ultimate Rewards points to my Priority club account and again used the chain’s cash-and-points option to reserve a room for 25,000 points plus $70 per night.

So all in all, spending $210 saved me 30,000 points, which works out to the equivalent of paying .7 cents per point to keep those points for another higher-value redemption in the future.

Ah, Paris!
Of course, it wasn’t all about redeeming points – this was Paris, after all! The weather was gorgeous during the few days I spent in the City of Lights, so I spent the days strolling the grand boulevards, shopping around the luxury fashion boutiques along rue St. Honoré, and got sorbet on the Ile St. Louis, and hung out in the Tuileries Gardens.

Hanging at the Arc de Triomphe.

In the evenings, I took full advantage of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card’s 2x points category spending bonus on dining with full-on feasts at great restaurants like cozy Mon Vieil Ami on Ile St. Louis, a little bistro in the Marais called Les Philosophes, as well as at celebrity chef Joel Robuchon’s L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon on the Champs-Elysees where I ordered the eight-course tasting menu so I could taste specialty dishes including a foie gras mousse with parmesan foam and shaved white truffle; fresh Brittany lobster in a creamy cauliflower veloute with colorful Alpine flowers; quail caramelized with apple puree, and for dessert – well, one of the desserts – citrus cheesecake with Tahitian vanilla, pineapple coulis, summer berries and basil sorbet. It was expensive, but at least I was earning my double dining points on the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

Fantastic citrus cheesecake for dessert at L’Atelier.

I wanted to get out of the city one day, so I took the TGV high-speed train 45 minutes east to the ancient city of Reims, capital of the Champagne region in whose cathedral the kings of France were crowned for centuries.

After a brief historical walk around, though, it was time to get to the real reason for coming here: the wine.

Getting ready for the cellar tour at Pommery.

I spent the morning touring the sprawling underground cellars, or crayeres, at Pommery a famous champagne house that pioneered the brut style of champagne. They also display rotating art exhibits like one that I saw exploring the interaction of art and sound in their cellars, which makes the tour that much more interesting.

After my tour and tasting, I went for a leisurely lunch at one of Reims’s best-known restaurant, Brasserie du Boulingrin, a 19th-century brasserie with a huge menu of champagnes and classic French dishes.

Full and happy, I got back on the train to Paris and prepared for the next leg on my journey. So check back in on Chase Sapphire’s Facebook page next week to see where I was headed and for more chances to win weekly prizes and the Grand Prize trip for two to Paris.

Note: I was compensated by Chase for my participation in this campaign, but all opinions expressed are completely my own.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author.s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.

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  • Grigaitis

    Great comments! Thanks for sharing!

  • travelfan

    Nice trip, though I hope in the future you’ll refrain from foie gras since it’s produced in an unbelievably cruel way.

  • Michael

    What a great time. I stayed last weekend at the Radisson Blu Champs Eleysees using points (great redemption value) and dined at the Rubuchon restaurant next door. Fantastic!

    What was the prices for the round trip to Reims and the tour and the brasserie lunch? That is something I have never considerd (done the day trips to Giverney, etc.) and am interested…

  • Promark33

    Wow, this is just a full fledged promotion, not an article. What a joke.

  • JohnnyGan

    Triumph to the points guy for molesting boys in France and Spain during this trip paid for by Chase!

  • Wendellsykes

    Chase is paying this guy to touch more young bo ys???

  • Matthew Smith

    If you weren’t getting compensation, there’s no way you’d use 50k UR for one night at an Intercontinental. The Hyatt Vendome is 33k for a Suite or 22k for a regular room. I understand it wasn’t available, but I would assume the non Chase-TPG would have used other Marriott or Hilton or PC points to book a different room instead of transferring 50k for one night (That’s an int’l business one-way on UA).

  • Matthew Smith

    BTW – I actually have no issue with your arrangement with Chase. I think you are clear that it is a compensated role. This is no different than in-line advertising on facebook or pulse or many other sites. And frankly I still enjoy reading about your experiences and restaurants. Although it might be good to show when it’s not a great UR redemption value (e.g., 50k for 1 night at IC … you could trade that 50k on FT for about 4 nights!).

  • Suzannehendrix

    TPG, just how $$ was the Joel Robuchon meal? Was it worth it?

  • thepointsguy

    All in it came to $250 a person with wine and tax/tip

  • thepointsguy

    For this promo I had two options: pay for stay or use points- I couldn’t use my own pre-existing point balances. So, since neither Hyatt was available, I opted to so Priority Club cash & points since room rates were so high

  • Pingback: Catch What Exactly Guy Recap Week 3: Paris - Income.ly

  • Adam

    oh cute!

  • Ace

    Hard to believe its possible to spend that much for a restaurant in the basement of a drugstore, but for us worth every penny.

  • http://twitter.com/jamucsb Jamison

    LOVED every bit of this article – i want to be like you when I grow up

  • Suyen

    Will be in Paris next month and will see if we can go to Reims per your recommendation! Thank you! I’m guessing you didn’t have issues using Chase Sapphire, though it has no smart chip? I have one myself but have been thinking of getting a card with a chip like the on from SDFCU. Maybe I don’t really need one?

  • Stvr

    Hey TPG:

    Let me give you a pro tip that I’m surprised you didn’t know. (Aren’t you the “Points” Guy?)

    You can use Cash + Points bookings with Priority Club to actually “buy” points at about 0.7 cents each.

    So when you use UR points for that kind of redemption, you’re effectively using them for a VERY low value redemption. I think UR points are best used when you’re getting 2 cents each, not 0.7 cents.

    Just a tip for your next trip to a city where there is an Intercontinental!

    Happy travels!

  • arcticbull

    Didn’t you get to pick your cities? Even if not, wouldn’t you want to try and schedule your tour around best value redemptions? Isn’t that what Chase is doing this for? As a point-savvy guy, if I saw your redemptions as the example of what to redeem for with the Sapphire Preferred, there’s absolutely no way I’d get that card. These are just weak. You’re not doing Chase any favors!

  • arcticbull

    The worst part is it’s not even a good one! A good one would showcase how awesome the card actually is through HIGH value redemptions. This is just an unfortunate use of Ultimate Rewards.

  • rick b

    For the right meal it’s worth it once in a great while. I dropped $300 at the French Laundry one day and it was totally worth it. Just skip 10x $30 mediocre dinners and you got the money.

    TPG, do you travel alone on most of these trips? I was thinking of doing a big 2 week tour of Europe by myself but kind of worried if I’ll get bored in the evenings if no one wants to go with me.

  • Jonathan Lien

    TPG,

    You are quite tall. I would have love to see more pictures from that fantastic restaurant. I have never been to Paris but want to go someday.

    http://www.beyondcareersuccess.com

  • SqueakScolari

    No it’s not. The geese line up to get fed.

  • WH!

    why did Chase compensate you for this article? Aren’t you already rolling in the dough from all the ads and referrals. would rather have more objective advice than an infomercial.

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