France By Marina – Innovative Tour Company of the Year 2018 in Paris

We are very pleased to announce that have France by Marina has been selected as a winner for Innovative Tour Company – of the Year 2018 in Paris! – by Travel and Hospitality Awards.

Travel and hospitality is a uniquely distributed guide to the best hotels and tour companies around the world. They carry out five programmes picking the best in each continent, Asia, Americas, Europe, and Australasia. TH process is carried out entirely online and is not bogged down by expensive events or prohibitive entry fees.

The Luxury Travel & Hospitality awards is an independent global awards programme founded in appreciation of tour companies, activity providers, transfer companies, hotels, apartments, restaurants, wedding planners & spa’s all over the world, from small boutique choices to the bigger more recognisable brands.

To find out more about what we do and to see some of our past winners follow this link

France by Marina Tours has been nominated as a potential winner in the 2017 Holiday & Tour Specialist Awards.

Over the past 12 months the Luxury Travel Guide have been inviting subscribers, hotel guests, travel agencies and industry experts to vote on individuals & companies throughout Europe whom they feel are deserving of recognition.

We are pleased to announce France by Marina Tours has been nominated as a potential winner in the 2017 Holiday & Tour Specialist Awards.


Celebrating & rewarding excellence, these awards recognise all holiday & tour options from large operators to small, independent guides.

During the judging process our panel consider areas such as;

  • Service Excellence
  • Local Knowledge
  • Online Visibility
  • Use of Technology
  • Marketing & Branding
  • Employee Satisfaction
  • Cultural Understanding
  • Diversity
  • Communication Skills
  • Disability Provisions 

The Beginning

Everything has a beginning at one point. When 5 years ago I didn’t know how to move on, my youngest son Rauno told me: “I don’t know anybody who knew more about Paris than You do and I don’t know anything that would make you happier than presenting Paris to others. Why couldn’t You move to Paris and do what You really love?” That was the moving factor. I did move. First I tried to manage on my own and didn’t force Andres to come along and cut ties important to him. At some point it became clear that it’s not the same alone and together it’s much more fun and easier. And so it has been. Together. Things went how they did, but I started writing this blog this morning thanks to Rauno delicately advising me: “Mom, You tell such interesting stories, write them down for others to read.” That was it. That’s how today’s public blog began.

Many of my clients have said that I should write a book. I have no plans to write a book, beacause I am better at speaking than and people should do the things they are good at. About the clients, whom I greatly respect, I am not going to write because these stories are private. Also, I’m not going to write about my colourful coursemates because that is also private, although they all deserve a book, but I will talk about them, intertwining this with the stories on my tours.

I write here only about my new personal experiences in France and Paris through my eyes. I’ll also write down interesting facts about France’s cultural history, that I find out from studying at university and which might interest others. So, a beginning has been made.

I’ll start off with my first school presentation in French in The Basilica of St Denis and how I failed like the France national football team in yesterday’s final.

St Denis is not only a famous football stadium where 80 000 spectators cheered the final between Portugal and France and where the French became the World Cup winners in 1998.

St Denis is a holy place. In the face of being a suburb of Paris, where a substantial amount of non-French people live and where the Métro Line 13 brings millions of black people to sleep, here also lies one of the first Gothic churches in the world. In the middle of the town square. By the way, this church was built before the Notre-Dame de Paris. All of the kings and queens of France are buried there and the marble headstones are stunningly beautiful.

The church has an entrance fee. I hadn’t been there before either. The area didn’t seem safe enough.

But here comes story about my failure.

When I said in school that I’ll have the famous topic about the tombstone of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI in the Basilica of St Denis, then I didn’t know what I was doing. I honestly thought that this school was easier, that I know almost everything and getting the tour guide certificate would be just a formality. Absolute majority in our school had the same thought.

The reality was far worse. Art history and history of architecture five times a week and so on. And maybe it’s too easy in French, so some subjects were in English. In a word, I’ll be repeating that studying in school is hard but I’m also thankful that I undertook it because it is extremely interesting and educating.

As I know almost everything about the kings who lived in Versailles, I picked the topic about their tombstone. Because I knew that Louis XVI and his Austrian princess Marie Antoinette were executed by guillotine, buried in a mass grave like peasants and dug up after a regime change to have buried in the Basilica of St Denis. And how hard could it be to tell this? A little bit of research about the creators of the tombstone and to the stage!

This presentation took place in february. I think it was below zero Celcius and the church was very cold because they were restoring the stained glass of the rose window. There was two hours of freezing while standing and listening before my presentation. After exiting the cold crypt (where Louis XVI was buried with his wife), the professor hurried outside the church to the vestibule, to the only warm corner, and said: “Laikjõe, now your presentation, please.” How could one do a presentation about something which you passed by so that you didn’t even realise the passing? I’ll be honest, there was no tombstone in this corner. Tombstone was in the church and we were outside. And then everything went bad. I couldn’t manage it.

I couldn’t describe something that nobody had ever seen and I didn’t have a picture printed out, because why should I show a picture of something that we should be ablet to see ourselves? When speaking about Mona Lisa, everybody knows the picture, but a tombstone that shows a kneeling queen who is bent a bit too forward, like searching the floor for glasses – that’s hard to imagine. Anyway, the professor instantly corrected my first sentence when I started off confused, misnaming the first burial place. My preparation notes said in black and white “Cimetiere Madelaine” and I said loudly: “Cimetiere des Innocents.” Total defeat. I stuttered all the way to the end but it was no success story. Instead I was ashamed that the professor had corrected me, sad that there was no tombstone and I had the desire to do better next time. Like the football final. France national team must move on despite feeling terrible today.


Have a beatiful day and until next time!

Marina, outside of Paris, Monday, 11 July 2016

Bastille Day in France

Celebrated on July, 14, Bastille Day is the French national day and the most important bank holiday in France! Setting the storming of the Bastille in 1789 as an essential part of the French History. The 14th July has become a major public holiday, traditionally considered as the symbol of the French Revolution.

Bastille Day

The French Bastille Day is definitely a joyous national day that causes popular celebrations in the streets as well as political events. The best way to experience the 14 July bank holiday – widely known as Le 14 Juillet – is to go to Paris, more precisely on the Champs Elysees. Expect military parades, public speeches and fireworks, but also convivial gatherings in all cafés and restaurants!

Every single town in France actually commemorates the Bastille Day with excitement and pride as this national day represents the first step to the French Revolution which eventually led France to Republic. On July, 14, patriotic feelings break out throughout the country, French people wear blue, white and red, “tricolore” clothes or make-up and sing the typical Marseillaise (the French anthem) after one – or more! – glasses of Champagne!

Bastille Day in Paris…

Beginning in the morning of the 14th July, on the Champs Elysées in Paris, Bastille Day is the opportunity to admire the French military. Saint Cyr and Polytechnique cadets parade, along with official troops, whilst the French Air Force, Patrouille de France, carry out flying in the sky.

A popular custom on Bastille day in Paris is going for a friendly picnic in a public park, socialising, enjoying French food and wine, before watching the fireworks from the Place de la Concorde for example.

In many French villages, people traditionally get together on July, 13 to enjoy a typical Barbecueand sing and dance all night long – taking the advantage of the relaxing public holiday the day after!

The President of the Republic normally attends all the Parisian festivities and ends the 14th July ceremonies with a public interview from the Elysée (President’s official residence).


French National Day

The well-known storming of the Bastille has become a benchmark in terms of Revolt and Liberty all over the world!

Referring to July 14 1789, when a massive crowd of Frenchmen rose up and invaded the prison, Bastille Day is considered the beginning of the French Revolution. Capturing this prison, a symbol of the Ancient Regime, indeed marked the end of Louis XVI’s absolute and arbitrary power and led France to the three ideals of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. Bastille Day has been known and celebrated as the creation of the Sovereign Nation and what would be the “First” Republic of France (in 1792).

Bastille Day became the National Holiday in 1790, originally called Fête de la Fédération(“federation feast”), to celebrate the first anniversary of the storming of the Bastille and the end of the French Revolution.