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Paris Paris, in a Dream


10+ Posts

Paris, in a Dream​

By Kim from NJ, Spring 2006
A last minute trip to Paris to accompany my husband on business gave me the opportunity to explore the city on my own for a few days, followed by two wonderful days with him.

This trip report was originally posted on slowtrav.com.

A Little Bit of Background​

The days have slipped by since we returned and I realized this morning if I don’t start this trip report now, while it’s fresh in my mind I may never start it. While I took notes in detail on some things, others I let slide. I need to capture my daily rhythm now.

First a little background for this trip came and went so quickly. About the second week of May, Chris called from his client and said, “I’m going to Paris in June. I have enough frequent flyer miles on American for you to go too. Come with me.”

Paris had never been on my radar until I started reading the SlowTrav trip reports. And even then, a pipe dream, some day in the distant future. But when Chris said, “Come with me,” well who was I to argue?

First came the booking of a hotel, two actually. Originally, Chris thought the client wanted to stay in Neuilly Sur Seine, at the Marriot Courtyard. So without hesitation, I jumped on a weekend getaway rate there of €111 a night including breakfast. Chris had to work during the week, so I booked those nights as a tag-on once his company stopped paying.

Next, came the begging and pleading. You see there was the matter of our two girls, and who would watch them. I would have loved to pull them from school and taken them along but June tickets to Paris were definitely out of our price range. So the begging and pleading of my mother (you never approach my father for such things), began. In the beginning, because of a previous engagement, she agreed to watch them Monday night and Thursday until we returned Sunday. A generous friend agreed to watch them the other two nights, Tuesday and Wednesday. I arranged with the school system for special busing for my elder and we were set. At the last minute, my mom’s friends cancelled their plans and she was able to watch the girls the entire time.

Okay, so begging and pleading done, I needed airline tickets. I spoke to an incredibly helpful agent at American because though they charge an extra $15 to book over the phone with frequent flyer miles, I find when booking with miles, you get greater service from a person than from a machine. Unfortunately, we did not have enough miles in the account for the unrestricted seats. Chris would after his next two trips but we’d be close to departure then (as it was May 18 or so and departure was June 12) and would have to worry about getting on the flight not to mention, pay an extra surcharge because we’d be booking within the three week of departure window. She suggested I buy miles; I called Chris on my cell phone and he agreed.

After much finagling, she found me a flight out of JFK to Paris departing at 9:30 pm, arriving about 10:30 am. JFK worked fine because as it happened Chris and his client were meeting there for their 7:30 flight on Air France, so we could take one car service and I could just wait in the airport the extra couple of hours. She reserved the tickets for me for two weeks but urged me to buy my extra miles immediately because it could take 72 hours to get them in the account and in a little more than that, I’d be within the three-week window and facing that surcharge.

After hanging up with the agent, who, also by the way, gave me suggestions for things to do, very friendly, I went on-line and bought my extra miles. In the end, it cost me $300 but heck, I was going to Paris and at that point, I didn’t care. The miles appeared in the account the next afternoon, I called American back and firmed up my reservation!

Now I had my tickets, I had my baby-sitting covered, and we had a hotel ... well almost. Chris informed me, the client had changed his mind. Well actually, there were two clients, Matt and Paul. Paul changed his mind. He wanted to stay close to their office, in the 9th arrondissement so they changed our hotel from the Marriott in Neuilly to the Ambassador on Boulevard Haussmann in the ninth. For the next three weeks, Chris and I went back and forth about staying in the ninth for our last two nights or moving out to our reservation in Neuilly. Five days before departure, we booked a small three star property in the ninth, not far from the Ambassador (there was no way we could afford the Ambassador for those last two nights) at €85 on Parisby.com. Now we had two hotel reservations for our last two nights. In the end, we determined to wait until we were in Paris, and could get the lay of the land before deciding, so more on this later.

Children, done. Hotels, done. Airfare, done. Let the cramming begin. I printed every trip report that mentioned Paris from SlowTrav.com, I posted in the France forum endlessly with questions. I purchased two guidebooks, Eyewitness Guide to Paris because I like the high level descriptions for initial planning, and the pictures, and Unofficial Guide to Paris because I liked the irreverence of the Unofficial Guides for Disney and London and the “tips” they offer. Friends sent guidebooks, The Collected Traveler Paris, Unexplored Paris, The Paris Map Guide, thanks Colleen and ShopAround. I set Tivo to capture anything on Paris, and it came up with two shows from the Travel Channel by Sam Brown. I scoured the web looking at everything and anything I could find. I ran out of time.


View from Arc de Triomphe
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Flying Solo​

No kidding, the car arrived at 3:00 to take us to JFK (yes, that’s my husband who wants to be extra careful getting to the airport – and heck, with the Belt Parkway in the travel plans who can blame him) anyway, 3:00, the car is fifteen minutes early, and I am still printing material off my computer. Yikes. Who can throw a trip together in three weeks?

After a bit of a fiasco with our May pickup last year at JFK and two missed pickups for my parents (don’t even ask), Chris dropped Yousef as our driver. Now he uses Arden, and Harry from Arden picked us up in his town car. Our ride to JFK was completely uneventful, except for one thing. Chris’s phone rang as we hit the Staten Island Expressway. It was his boss. Chris’s long-awaited promotion finally came through – yeah! How could you ask to start a trip to Paris better than that?

We dropped Chris at the Air France terminal and had a bit of an adventure finding the American International terminal (still don’t know if it’s 8 or 9) but needless to say, it’s not well marked, and confusing with the parking for the terminals being miles away (and marked with the same colors as the terminal itself). Harry dropped me off with a, “See you Sunday,” and I headed in.

The check in line was about half-dozen people deep but didn’t take long to get through. And after all, what was my rush? I had five hours to wait. The check-in person, also extremely friendly, suggested I go stand-by on the earlier flight. After a split second of thought at how funny it would be for me to arrive at the hotel earlier than Chris, we both agreed it would be a bad idea, as it was scheduled to take off in an hour, I would have to run to catch it and it looked full on her computer.

Oh at first, she had trouble finding my reservation, using my name, but when I produced my reservation locator from my “book” she not only found it but complimented me on my organizational skills. “No children,” she commented. “Two, actually,” I replied. She nodded in approval. Yeah, she’s correct; it’s definitely harder staying organized with the kids but definitely worth it.

I should stop here to talk about my “book” for a moment. I’ve done this for the last three trips we’ve taken and it works well. In my Paris book, I organized my printed material two ways, one by arrondissement and one by day. By arrondissement, I had restaurant recommendations from Slowtrav.com, Patricia Wells, my friend, Kathy, who spent much time in Paris for work, and Dave Leibowitz’s food blog. I also had recommended shopping, markets, and sites to see (pretty much in that order, getting an idea of where my priorities lay)? This way, if I find myself in an area, and I need a restaurant, or want to do some shopping, notes were easy to find.

The second section contained things by day. In that way, I could wake each morning, and see what’s available to me for that day without checking opening times and such. Each day listed more than I could do but this gave me an easy pick and choose method.

The other sections in the book were, confirmations (from where the aforementioned plane reservations came), SlowTrav notes (e.g., ordering in a café, food and wine, etc.), thematic tours for the Louvre, and the French food glossary; also from slowtrav.com.

Okay, enough about the book, back to the story. After I’m checked in, with no checked luggage, I took the long, I mean, long, did I mention it was a really long walk to my gate. At this moment, let me talk about my luggage for a second. I traveled with the LL Bean 21” Pullman and the matching overnight bag. Chris had my workout clothes in his bag, since he took the larger bag and could check it. Without the workout clothes, and the honking big sneakers that go with it, my bag had more than enough room for my stuff.

I got to the gate and I was alone. No gate agent. No other people. I sat and read The Collected Traveler, Paris and after about an hour, I got hungry. An aside, I like not checking my bags because I like getting off the plane and leaving, no waiting. What I don’t like about not checking my bag, when you go to get a snack, when you go to the bathroom, when you go for a stroll, those bags have to go with you.

So my bags and I went in search of food. There was a café about four gates down from me where I bought an incredibly greasy croissant with tomato, mozzarella and pesto, so much for Weight Watchers. I also bought a banana and an apple for later. Back to the gate, where I was eventually joined by a large group of students, who I believe were from somewhere in South America. The time flew by and soon we were boarding.

I boarded with group four, row 27 seat A (A for window, not aisle – inside joke). It was a 767 with two-three-two configuration and eventually, my seatmate, a man maybe a few years younger than me, joined me. Like the ride to the airport, the flight was uneventful. They served a choice of chicken or lasagna, I opted for lasagna, showed King Kong and Last Holiday and that was it. I of course, popped my sleeping pill just after take-off, ate my dinner, and fell asleep before they cleared my dinner stuff away. I woke as they served a breakfast croissant, yogurt, coffee, juice, watched the end of Last Holiday and we landed.


You Think? Rodin Museum
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Arrival - Ah Paris​

With my bags in tow, I got in line with the others at immigration. It didn’t take long, maybe ten minutes and then we were free. I didn’t realize that right from immigration, we exited into the main terminal area but once I got my bearings, I made a b-line for door nine and the Roissy bus which would take me to the opera district.

I want to make a couple of asides here. One, I am not a good flyer. I don’t like to fly. I get nervous. Yet, no problems on this trip. Two, while I love to travel, usually the first day or two unnerve me, being out of my element. Yet, no problems on this trip. Go me.

Okay – so I found door number nine, and on the sign, it said Roissy bus. Cool. I was at the right place. I waited outside for a few minutes with another couple and an older woman, talking to herself, who eventually stomped off. Don’t ask me what she said; it was in French.

As I looked around, making sure I was in the correct place (did I mention I can be compulsive, but only when I travel), I noticed a sign that requested you purchase your tickets for the bus ahead of time. So I headed back into the terminal and the machine near door 10 (aka gate 10). After futzing around to get it in English, it tells me the machine does not have tickets for the bus and to please purchase them at the ticket counter. I went back out to the sign that requested I purchase tickets ahead of time and see in addition to the machine, it suggests I purchase tickets at the ticket counter by door 11. I headed back inside and walked down to the next door, which I believe should be door 11, after all, 9, 10 and then 11, right? No it was door 1. Huh? Turned out, I crossed the magical border from Terminal 2A into Terminal 2C. Yes, I was confused. Back to my friend, the sign, who if I had read correctly the first time, would have told me the ticket counter is located by Gate 11 (aka door 11) in Terminal 2D – across the very busy road. Forget it; the bus driver was going to have to put up with me buying my ticket on the bus. At least I had exact change, €8.40 (Note: at last check the price was raised to €8.50).

When I had arrived at the bus stop, I spied a Roissy bus across the way at Terminal 2D, so I must have just missed one. About 20 minutes later, another one rolled in. They’re supposed to run every fifteen minutes during this part of the day, but 20 minutes wasn’t so bad. Though by the time we stopped at several other terminals (have I mentioned how large CDG was), it’s 12:11. When we hit the road after having originally boarded at 11:47, I’d already been on the bus for almost 25 minutes.

Now the publication materials for this bus state it should be 60 minutes into Paris. From the time I got on until the time I was left on Rue de Scribe the trip took 90 minutes. I am not sure if the advertised 60 minutes counts from the time the bus leaves the airport or if the traffic getting into the city forced us to be longer than expected. I’m thinking the former rather than the latter. Anyway, once on the bus, I stow my luggage in one of two bins I see. The bus was one of those type joined in the middle by a large accordion-like object. The bin near the front of the bus didn’t have any open seats nearby from which I could watch my luggage (not that it mattered as there turned out to be only one stop, once we left the airport), so I moved into the second half of the inchworm and stored my luggage in the bin there.

The bus never filled. And other than one stop, within the city to let a man off at the bus depot (I’m assuming he was a driver at the end of his shift), we had a pretty easy ride into the city, albeit with the aforementioned traffic. As we drove through the city streets, I tried to see if I recognized them from my cramming of maps, but I didn’t. The only thing I did recognize was the Moulin Rouge as we drove past.

As already mentioned, the bus stopped on Rue de Scribe (where by the way, you can catch it for the return trip to the airport, though we did not do that), just a few feet away from the American Express office (the departure point for the airport is actually in front of the Amex office) and across from the opera. Once I grabbed my bag and got off, took out my map, I headed towards the Galleries Lafayette and Boulevard Haussmann. After one wrong turn, where the road sort of divides after the Galleries, a bit of back-tracking, I arrived at the hotel.

I went to check-in explaining my husband had arrived earlier, and after checking my passport, she handed me a note from Chris and the room key. According to the note, he had gone out for a run but would return shortly. Yet, when I arrived at our room, number 104, way down the hall from the elevators, he was there, having just showered. A nice surprise as I didn’t expect to see him until dinner that night. By the way, I’m not going into great detail about the hotel here; you can check out my review, link in web resources.

We made arrangements to meet in the lobby at 6:30. I unpacked my clothes, changed and we headed out in two separate directions, he to have lunch with Matt, his client, and head to the office, me to have lunch, explore a bit and shop.

First, I headed back to rue de Scribe looking for the Tourism office where I wanted to buy the museum pass. It’s a bit confusing because there’s a sign for the Tourism office next to the Amex office, but it’s a closed and empty storefront now. Turned out the tourist office was within the Amex office, to the left of the entrance. I purchased two museum passes, a four-day (45€) for me and a two-day (30€) for Chris. You can buy these at any time but they’re good for consecutive days once you activate them. Activating them sounds like there’s something electronic involved but there isn’t. You activate them simply by writing your name on the back of the pass and the date of the first day of the time-period in which you’re going to use them.

I have to share something ironic at this point in my story. I came across many Parisians who spoke English, passable English, and not at all but willing to work with you. But don’t you think it would be a job requirement for the people working in the Tourism office within the Amex office to speak English? Even if just a little? Anyway, we made ourselves understood to each other but I still find it ironic.

After getting my museum pass, I hit the streets. I started to wander aimlessly, down the Rue De Scribe, to the Rue de Capuchin, ending up near the Madeleine. Which, at the time, I thought, I should peek in and see what this building is all about, but of course didn’t, and never did get another opportunity. Down the Rue de Madeleine, where I started to get hungry so stopped for a ham and cheese on a baguette and bottle of water (€5.50). I love how they ask if I want dessert too, even for lunch. I opted out of the dessert; for me the ham and cheese is a big enough indulgence but then couldn’t resist as I walked along the Rue de Madeleine, stopping at a little ice cream stand in front of La Maison Du Chocolat for a small cone of café (€2.30) to hold me over until I could find a bench on which to enjoy my sandwich. Yummy ice cream, but if I had only known the indulgences that waited me inside, I may have passed. Alas that would be another day.

On down the Rue Madeline, where I ducked into Go Sport, looking for cool cycling shirts but nothing really floated my boat. I finally ended up at the park at the end of the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, where I snagged a bench in the shade on what ended up as the hottest day of our trip.

Was it the fact that I had eaten only airline/airport food for the past few meals, or was it that I hadn’t eaten bread, or ham and cheese for that matter in a very long time, I do not know, but that was one honking good sandwich! Can it get any better than sitting on a park bench at the base of the Avenue des Champs-Élysées on a beautiful June day?

Ooh, I forgot to mention one very important thing, my best purchase of the entire trip. Forget your Kir Royal, your champagne, your foie gras, your perfume and all the fabulous fashions; just make sure you purchase a Plan de Paris! I stopped at a newsstand on Haussmann and picked one up for €6.5; the hands down best purchase I made. It contains a complete index of street names in Paris followed by maps of each arrondissement, sometimes covering two pages, sometimes four, depending upon the size of the arrondissement. It fits in the palm of you hand and is just essential for easy navigation. It also contains bus and metro maps.

So I ate my €5.50 lunch, looked around and then studied my Plan to figure out my next move. Chris had asked that I do some shopping today in the hopes of finishing it before he joined me in my adventures later in the week. In this vicinity (the 2nd, 8th and 9th arrondissement) I noted three stores that sold Nomination Charms and one other store, Decathlon that I could check for bike shirts. One store selling nomination charms was located on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, one was further north, and one was on a street that runs parallel to the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, Rue du Faubourg St. Honore. Now if I had paid attention to the name of the store (Parfums Caron Sa), I probably would have thought better of that decision and headed for the store on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées but of course, I wasn’t thinking.

The walk to the store was hot, and I crossed the street purposely to stay in the shade. Now I chose this street thinking, “Hey, I’m off the touristy Avenue des Champs-Élysées, so I should be able to find stuff at good prices.” Right? Uh, no. This street had some funky, expensive, well, stuff. As I got closer, I feared what I might find.

So what did I find? A high-end perfumery that sold some fancy Nomination stuff but no charms. Of course, as I mentioned before, if I had paid attention to the name, I’d have known that – duh! Strike one.

From there I headed back towards the Opera by way of the Rue Royal, Rue Madeline and Rue Capucines. By the way, did I mention how enormous the Madeline and the Opera Garnier appear? I’m still bumming that I didn’t take the time to check out these buildings. Anyway, along my route, I find the Decathlon sporting goods store and pop in to check out the bike shirts. They have stuff starting at €20 and rising but nothing cool for Chris. I tuck the location in the back of my head in case I decide to return later for some inexpensive bike gloves. Strike two.

Next stop, Brentano’s. I’m in search of the elusive Paris Blue Guide. It hadn’t been printed since 2001 and therefore hard to find. I like Eyewitness Guides for planning but once I’m at my destination, I like the Blue Guides for the in depth historical information. So I thought, maybe the English language book store in Paris would still have a copy. A lovely saleswoman who spoke English well helped me but as I feared, no go, because, as she said, “It hasn’t been printed in a while.” She offered to order it for me if I would be in Paris for a while. I thanked her but told her I am only there for four days. For four days, she suggested the Michelin Green Guide. I thumbed through the Green Guide, but in the end, decided to pass. Strike three.

Okay – as if I hadn’t covered enough ground in my jet lagged body, I had one more stop to make. Remember when I mentioned about our two hotel booking that we decided to resolve once in Paris, well now was the time for that resolution to occur. I headed back down Haussmann passed our current hotel and turned left on Rue Du Faueberg Montmartre and a right onto Rue Geoffroy Marie. If my previous neighborhood reminded me of the Manhattan’s Upper West Side, this one definitely reminded me more of the lower east side or the lower east side and Chinatown combined.

Ethnic establishments filled the streets from kosher bakeries, to Arabic and Chinese restaurants. I traveled down the narrow, broken walkways and found the hotel near the far end of Rue Geoffroy Marie, on the left hand side.

I entered into a small room, with a reception desk straight ahead, and small sitting area to the left. A woman behind the desk asked if she could help me and I asked if I could see a room. She told me they had no rooms available and I realized she misunderstood my intent. So I explained I didn’t need a reservation but already had one, but had hoped to see a room before hand. She asked if I could come back in the morning, which I agreed but then she asked my name. When I told her, she looked into her system and told me not to worry that I had a very nice room. She also told me that we could drop our bags early in the morning and check in after two. I left feeling a bit better about the hotel, but also feeling a bit shut out. How do you get a hotel to show you a room ahead of time?

Back towards the hotel I trekked, but it being too early to meet Chris, I opted for a stop at the Cordial Café a block from the hotel on Haussmann. It was time for me to partake in this quintessential bit of Paris culture. I snagged a table outside and faced the street. One Perrier and one chardonnay later (€8.30), I unwound watching the world go by. Of course, at one point I panicked, realizing I was across the street from the office of Chris’s client, and I was drinking their competitor’s product. I hoped no one saw me but figured I could feign ignorance as I had no idea the name of their product.

So there I was, writing in my journal, sipping my wine and water, and reveling in the fact that less than twenty-four hours earlier, I was in Jersey and was now in Paris. Then I noticed the most peculiar thing I had seen (well until the next day anyway). Everyone sitting outside had turned their chairs and had their backs to the street. I thought the entire point of Paris café life was to see and be seen? Confused, I looked over my shoulder and realized the World Cup match had started and everyone was staring at the large screen TV inside the café.

Eventually, I finished my drinks, paid my bill (you have to love when water is more than wine), and headed back to the hotel. Chris was in the lobby waiting and told me that Matt, his client, would not be joining us for dinner as he was beat. So Chris and I took out my little notebook of restaurant possibilities and decided on Madeleine 7. Kaydee had reviewed it on SlowTrav and it was close enough for us to walk, and didn’t seem to fancy – a good first night choice. The concierge called to let them know we were coming and requested a table outside while we went to the room to freshen up.

We walked over to the restaurant, tracing my route from earlier in the day. I’m not sure what I expected, I think a bistro, but the place was really a café with tables inside and out. When we arrived, others were drinking outside, apparently an after work crowd, but one table was set aside, with a red table cloth, white china and silver flatware. This was to be our table. The maitre d’ sat us, gave us menus and within a reasonable amount of time someone arrived to take our order.

Chris, of course, started with six escargot. I think he’d turn into a snail the way he eats them in Paris. Hmm ... come to think of it, he does move like a snail when doing chores around the house. Anyway, I had a tomato and mozzarella salad. Why is it Europe gets tomatoes like I remember from my childhood – you know the ones that actually taste like tomato? Compared to our anemic supermarket tomatoes, these rocked. For our main courses, I had duck and Chris, well I’m not sure but my receipt says Esc. Veau Normande – I could have sworn it was a veal or beef dish but who knows. His came with fries and mine with these mini fried potatoes reminiscent of McDonald’s hash browns (and that is not a bad thing). We shared a bottle of Badoit (that’s the client’s product) and a half bottle of Bordeaux. For dessert we shared the tarte pommes because I’m a sucker for apple desserts and to keep with the apple theme, two calvados. Wow! That stuff is fire liquid. Ouch. Our total bill came to €88.30, which I don’t think is too bad given all we ate and drank.

Other than the chain smoking twenty-somethings at the next table I cannot recall anything negative about the meal and to be totally honest with you I rather enjoyed sitting next to them, remembering what it was like going out with a group after work, unwinding. I liked the vibe. Oh and really what was there to complain about? We were in Paris!

We returned to the room late, probably about 11:30 but who knew, the sun didn’t even set until after 10:00. I already loved this city.


Kim & Chris at Madeleine 7

On My Own - St. Chappelle, Notre Dame and Marais​

Chris set the alarm pretty early six or so, so that he could run and I could walk. Before we left on our separate routes, we decided to meet back in the room before breakfast so we could have that together before he left for work and I left to tour.

My route this morning took me down Boulevard Haussmann to Rue Halevy to Boulevard Capucines to Rue Royal to Rue Rivoli. I turned left and walked in front of the Louvre then down passed the parking garage on Rue de L’aAminal, then down along the Seine. I passed the occasional runner along the way and though I was speed walking, I did take my camera with me and did snap some shots. Walking along the Seine did give me pause though, as the unmistakable aroma of urine in the summer heat wafted my way, not to mention spying the occasional vagrant sleeping under a bridge. I high-tailed it back up “above ground” at the next available staircase and made a mental note to curse Chris when we returned to the room for suggesting this walk along the river.

The Jardin des Tuileries had just opened as I approached so I strolled through before retracing my steps to head home. Having the gardens to myself, and getting a cool spray from the morning sprinklers proved to be an unexpected but refreshing surprise.

We compared morning adventures once back in the room (about 7:30 or so). Chris enjoyed his run and commented that you could tell the French runners from the Americans. The former had coordinated outfits while the latter ran in shorts with whatever crappy t-shirt they grabbed from the drawer. I commented on the fact that he had a coordinated outfit but he just mumbled that it wasn’t as nice as the French and hopped into the shower. Oh and for those keeping track, my morning walk was 2.29 miles or 6056 steps (I wore a pedometer while in Paris).

Down to breakfast we went, which the Ambassador serves in their adjoining restaurant. It’s buffet style and in addition to the normal continental offerings, you could find eggs, limp bacon and warm potatoes. I crave eggs after a morning workout, but Chris was right, these weren’t the farm fresh eggs we enjoyed in Castelmuzio, but tasted more like a reconstituted dehydrated version of something served in our college cafeteria. I did love the steamed milk used to make a café crème and the pain au chocolate didn’t suck either. Oh, and of course I had some of the yogurt but the famous fig variety still eluded me.

After breakfast, Chris went off to work and I went to tour with the agreement that we would meet in the lobby at six thirty in the evening. I followed the route I pretty much took this morning as I was headed to Ste-Chapelle. I was wearing my new Rockport Sandals and all I have to say is, ouch. I should have broken them in before the trip better. Along the route, across from the Louvre, I stopped in a pharmacy and purchased some band-aids and the French version of blister blockers. At a park bench across from the Louvre, I sat to do some first aid and I have to say – those things work great!

Across the Pont Neuf, then some navigating and double-checking and I found myself in front to of the Palais de Justice. With a little more detection, I figured out it was one entrance for both destinations but the line on the right was for the Palais and on the left, for Ste-Chapelle and headed through the metal detectors and in. Mental note, need to do some research on Palais de Justice. Why were all those people waiting? What’s worth seeing there?

Now I forgot to mention this, but before I left our hotel room, I wrote my name on the back of my Museum Pass, and dated it with the current date. That gave me four consecutive days to visit museums and monuments without additional payment or lines. At Ste-Chapelle, I avoided the first line, not a long one, but did manage to edge out a decent size tour group, feeling all powerful. The normal price was €6.50, €5.30 for professionals and tours, and €4.50 for 18 - 25 year-olds.

Downstairs you’ll find your normal hollow cavern with a gift shop along one wall. I believe this is where the plebes used to pray. But up the stairs and wow! How do you describe Ste-Chapelle, it’s like Technicolor television for the middle ages. Just beautiful. I knew the moment I sat on one of those benches that line the walls, this would be a must-see stop for every trip to Paris. Yes, I hadn’t been there for 24 hours yet, but I knew I would return. Some things that struck me, how I wish I had a pair of binoculars, 40 year-old eyes suck. Yet, I could still make out Cain killing Abel, Moses with the Pharaoh, and was that Queen Esther with a giant hamentashen on her chest? Only kidding.

I spent a good amount of time there, trying to just absorb it but man, after a while, it’s like that robot from Lost in Space, “Danger, Will Robinson, danger.” You can only take so much before your circuits overload.

So back out into the glaring sunlight, but not until after I checked out the gift shop to make sure I wasn’t missing the opportunity to buy something truly remarkable. I didn’t. Now, onto Notre Dame.

I have to admit here, I hadn’t read Hugo’s book (though I was reading Les Miserables during this trip). So my experience with the story basically related to the spoofs I had seen on cartoons growing up, and then later, the Disney movie I had seen with my girls. Oh and not to mention all of Chris’s talk about flying buttresses, which seemed to fascinate him. Ow, sorry, rolled my eyes so hard there, they hurt. Okay, so, I’m not sure what I was expecting but an incredibly large church in the middle of an equally large courtyard swarmed with tourists wasn’t it. I guess I’d always expected the church to be buried within the city, I don’t know, maybe like Saint Patrick’s in New York City. Anyway, I headed in. I strolled through the church, wondering at what I saw, and wishing I had my Paris Blue Guide. When I came across the treasury, I tried flashing my museum pass, but no go, it was an extra charge. I paid and went through there too.

After I left the church, I headed for the Crypte Archeologique, because I’m all over anything ancient. Plus, I knew that one was covered by my pass. There was no line to get in and other than a group of American high school students on tour, no one else was down there. I have this note in my tiny journal:

“St. Genevieve de Ardents: At the very bottom is all that remains of the foundation of the church of Saint-Genevieve de Ardents, demolished in 1747. The church was established in the Cite during the great Norman siege (885 – 886) to house relics of Sainte Genevieve, patron saint of Paris ...”

Okay – now I’m really wishing for my Blue Guide or for some basic knowledge of Parisian history. Who was Sainte Genevieve? Why was she the patron saint of Paris? Why were the Normans laying siege to Paris anyway? I thought the Normans were French (I mean they came from France to conquer England in what, 1086 or something). My knowledge of French history sorely lacks. And I have to say, since my return, I’ve set my Tivo to pick up stuff on French history from the educational channels. And other than shows on the revolution (but nothing post revolution) and World War II, there’s not much out there. It’s as if the country didn’t exist until the 1700s and then disappeared again from the mid-1800s until 1939. I need to hit the library.

Oh, another interesting note on the crypts for all of you Harry Potter fans. On one of the little signs set up for us tourists to read was this:

“Nicolas Flamel, said to have made his fortune in alchemy, had a portal built here at the end of the 15th century.” I’m assuming they mean portal as in an entrance to a tunnel or mine. But anyway, how cool? So JK Rowling based Mr. Flamel from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s (or Sorcerer’s) stone on a real person? Or, maybe, the entire story is true. Maybe Harry Potter is an expose by Rowling of another world we muggles know nothing about (creepy music please).

St. Chapelle, check. Notre Dame, check. Crypt, check. Now it was time for the next item covered by my museum pass on the Isle de la Cite, climbing to the top of Notre Dame. You see, I was on a mission to get the most bang for my buck from that museum pass. I walked back across the courtyard to the church, and around the side looking for the entrance to the Towers. Unfortunately, the line looked to be about 75 to 90 minutes long and as I was on limited time, I decided to pass this opportunity in order to fit in some other things on my “agenda.” I did take a stroll around the church, though, and saw Chris’s flying buttresses, so now I know what he was talking about. It also reminded me, I should read Ken Follet’s Pillars of the Earth, again.

Time to leave the Isle de la Cite and head up to the Marais, where I had decided to spend the rest of my afternoon. Along the way, I stopped in a café for an espresso (€1.10). As I was sitting there, taking pictures of my drink (don’t ask), a French man struck up a limited conversation with me. As expected his English was much better than my French and I really regret not being more proficient in the language of the country I am visiting.

Okay, after my caffeine pick-me-up, it’s time to delve deep into the Marais. I have a few stops I want to make this afternoon. I’m looking for a chocolate store recommended on SlowTrav, the famous falafel place, and of course, the elusive nomination charms. Not to mention two museums, the Carnavalet, and the Musee d’Art et d’Histoire de Judaisme.

I get turned around in the Marais. Part of it is me and part of it is the street names, I think anyway. There is a Rue du Temple, a Rue Vieille du Temple and a Boulevard du Temple, which totally screws me up. A lot of needless walking ensues.

First stop though is Cacao et Chocolat on 36 rue vieille du Temple, where I drop a pretty penny, on three different types of chocolate confections for my mom, Becky and Sammi. Nice stuff – would have loved a free sample. By the way, they also have locations on 29 rue de Buci and 63 rue Saint-Louis-en-l’Isle.

Next stop – some falafel. Now I hadn’t had a good falafel since I used to work in New York City and would visit Moshe’s falafel cart on 47th between Fifth and Sixth Avenue about every third week or so. So, when I heard that there was a place in Paris known for its falafel, I had to give it a try. L’as du Falafel is located on 34 rue de Rosiers, closed Friday night and Saturdays. Luckily I had seen a picture of the place on the Internet, so I knew what to look for because there were several falafel places along this street that I could have tried.

The place did not disappoint. First, there’s a window in the front of the establishment at which you can place to-go orders but there’s also a dining room inside. Not realizing the latter, I opted for getting a falafel from the window and eating it on the street. I would really have liked a bottle of water to go along with it but since I still hadn’t figured out how to order a bottle of plain water (i.e., not fizzante), nor which still water belonged to Chris’s client, I suffered my thirst in silence. Anyway, good falafel, nice addition of the mildly pickled cabbage and roasted eggplant.

Sustained with deep-fried food, and having found a café at which I ordered a Bedouit for €2.50 while standing at the counter (I remembered the name at least of the gassy water), I headed over to the Musee Carnavalet, the museum of the history of Paris. You get in free to this museum, though they still give you an admission ticket, so no need for the museum pass here.

I grabbed an English language map, and wandered through the museum, all the while wishing I had studied my Parisian history or at the very least re-read A Tale of Two Cities before my trip. I jotted down some random thoughts with regard to the museum and here they are:
  • There’s a copy of the Declaration of the Rights of Man – interesting to hear the Italian women standing next to me translating it. I did better understanding their translation than the document.
  • Louis XVI’s portrait makes him look pudgy, not pompous, hapless maybe. Definitely not a cruel tyrant that deserved his outcome.
  • How come many of the portraits have a 5:00 shadow? Was that the fashion? Did they just have to sit for that long?
  • I never knew there was a Louis XVII. Was there a daughter too?
  • Did the First French Republic parallel Rome in anyway?
  • Why does the name Marat sound so familiar (later I found out about him).
  • Was Francois I related to Henry VIII of England? They look alike to me.
  • Catherine de Medici was no looker; it’s a good thing she brought good cooking to Paris.
  • What is that thing on Henri de Lorraine’s face?
After wandering around the museum for some time, I tried to find the Prehistory to Gallo-Roman period section but could not. Even after asking a docent, with his directions I still ended up at a special exhibition, not in the Roman era. Okay – enough and I still had one more museum on my agenda for that day. Oh, let me mention here too, that I found this museum pleasantly not crowded.

Next up, I trekked down the Rue Des Francs Bourgeois, to the Museum of Jewish Art and History. A wonderful thing happened in this museum; they introduced me to the audio guide. After going through security, both me and my bag, I went to pay admission, another museum not covered by my museum pass. I opted to pay the extra €2, allowing me access to the Dreyfuss exhibit, for a total admission of €8.50, which included the audio guide (apparently, no matter what, the audio guide is included in the price of admission).

I hadn’t done an audio guide, well gosh, I think the last time I did one was when my parents took me to the National Gallery in Washington DC when I was a young child. It bored me out of my mind and frustrated me to no end that this audio guide was on a tape, and you couldn’t skip around but had to listen to the entire thing, start to finish. The man’s voice made me want to sleep.

These new audio guides were digital – you punched in a number of something that interested you, and you could hear information about it. Something didn’t interest you, you could skip it. Plus, often, it offered me information on a subject merely by punching in an additional number – perfect! Oh, and the next day, I learned what a good deal the admission, including the audio guide really was at €6.50 because in other museums you could end up paying an additional €5 for an audio guide above the cost of admission. My only complaint about the audio guide, I wish everything had a number.

I wandered through the exhibits which contained history and artifacts from Jews not only in France, but Europe and then expanded to the rest of the world. Here are some notes I made while touring the museum:
  • There was a picture of Judith after she cut off Holofernes head; her pose reminded me of the depictions of Perseus after he cut off Medusa’s head.
  • The Torah ornaments from China looked like silver pagodas.
  • Gravestones from the 1200s contained Hebrew writing justified in the same manner as the Torah.
  • Chanukiahs from the 1300s
  • Purim collection from Spain circa 1310.
  • It now makes sense to me why there’s little artwork left pre 1492 and for the period of 1492 until the 1700s.
  • I can read the Hebrew in an Ashkenazi liturgical book from 1312-1313. I think that’s pretty cool.
  • According to the Talmud, “Since the completion of the world, g-d has devoted his time to forming couples.” The original J-date I guess.
  • The Sephardic section has these vests that remind me of Johnny Bravo. We chose him because he fit the suit – remember that?
  • Until the 1800s the Jews were treated as a nation within a nation in France. Then it was decided, “Deny the Jews everything as a nation but give them everything as individuals.” That’s one way to assimilate.
  • Boris Taslitsky created some haunting paintings of the barracks in the concentration camps.
  • Four paintings/prints by Marc Chagall reside at the museum. Le Salut looks like a thin Fidel Castro. Le Morte has an image of a fiddler playing on a roof. Which came first the print or the play?
I also briefly toured the Dreyfus exhibit though somehow ended up entering this special exhibit at the end (it was organized chronologically), and had to return to the beginning. Plus, there was no audio guide information on it (how quickly I had become dependent), so no real impressions remain.

Okay, after finishing up my second museum for the day, I needed to do some more shopping. I knew there was a store nearby that sold Nomination charms and if I had a bit better in my planning, I would have visited that store after the Carnavalet museum because it was located closer to that, actually past it I believe, along Rue Des Francs Bourgeois. So it was back down the street, in the opposite direction from my hotel. So much for my giant loop plan without back-tracking. Luckily, though, I did manage to secure three French flag charms but sadly no Eiffel towers.

I did find another cool store along the way though with all sorts of funky neat items. It was called La Chaise Longue, located at 20 Rue des Francs Bourgeois and in it I bought the cutest Scottish terrier salt and pepper shakers (€20). Yes, we own a Scottie, named Fala.

Oh and I saw the funniest thing as I was marching up and down Rue des Francs Bourgeos (I’m thinking of just calling it Rue des Francs; I’ve been all over that street today, I feel like we should be on a first name basis). Anyway, the funny thing, a man, riding a bicycle, in workman overalls, grabbed one of those large garbage cans on wheels, filled with trash and was riding down the street with it in tow. One hand clung to the can, and the other steered the bike. I suppose that’s one way to collect trash and must definitely help keep unemployment down.

Now it was time to traipse all the way back towards the hotel. I got a bit turned around at one point, and with my head buried in my Plan, almost bumped into a young man, who proceeded to then try to “dance” with me in the street. You know, blocking my way here and there. Finally, I looked him in the eye and said, “No.” He got the hint. You know, maybe another time I would have found it cute but I was hot, tired, and my feet hurt. I was in no mood.

Okay, after one course correction I was back on track. I walked past the hotel and since I had some time, went to my spot, the Cordial Café. Another glass of wine and bottle of water, and though my feet didn’t feel much better, (I knew the next day would be a sock day), I felt almost human again. After writing in my journal a bit, it was time to meet Chris back at the hotel.

He was in the lobby with Matt, and we decided to have dinner together but first Matt was heading out for a run. Chris and I enjoyed a drink in the lobby bar (lousy service though I must say - hard to get anyone’s attention and it was filled with smoke) but fun in that another World Cup Match was on the wide screen television. While Matt ran, we went through my notes and decided on Le Grand Colbert for dinner as it wasn’t a far walk and the part it played in the movie Something’s Gotta Give, drew us in. We had the concierge make us a reservation for four people, not knowing if Matt’s boss, Paul, would be joining us but wanting to be safe, just in case. As it turned out, poor Paul was on conference calls to the States until after 10:30 and never did make it to dinner.

Later, we hit the road walking down Haussmann, past where it turns into Boulevard Montmartre and hanging a right onto Rue Vivienne. It was an easy walk. Matt, having also seen the movie, thought it pretty cool that we were dining there and he and I strained our necks a couple of times trying to determine at which table Dianne Keaton, Keanu Reeves and Jack Nicholson sat.

Now there’s always some pressure when you take “the client” out to dinner. From a good restaurant standpoint and from a “my wife is interacting with my client standpoint.” I can at least say Chris did well with the first choice. Since Matt’s still a client, I guess I didn’t mess up the latter part too much.

We started with a round of drinks, Martini for Chris, champagne for Matt and my new favorite, a kir royal for me. An aside here, we bought some cassis on the way home and this became my drink of choice throughout much of the summer. As a matter of fact, after introducing several of our friends to it one hot summer night, we ended up kicking several bottles of champagne at one seating. Ah, good times.

Okay for our first course, Chris went with the escargot, Matt with an arugula and Parmegiano salad, and me with this salmon tureen dish that I thought was something different but still good. For our entrees, Chris and Matt shared the Chateaubriand that had the best roasted potatoes (I’m into side dishes), while I enjoyed a lamb curry dish. We washed it down with some red wine but don’t ask me which, I do not recall. For dessert, the profiteroles for me, some crème brulee for Chris and I do not remember what Matt had but for some reason ice cream tickles my mind. The profiteroles, covered in a chocolate sauce, were wipe the plate clean, best I ever had. The gentlemen followed with some dessert drinks Calvados, I believe (oh and don’t ask about the discussion on how you pronounce Calvados), and hours later we rolled out of the restaurant to head home. Oh, but not before making a reservation for the next night. Since Paul hadn’t joined us, and Matt thought Paul would love this place, we decided to return. I’m always torn on returning to a place. I feel often, you get better service, more attention on the return, but with a limited number of meals in Paris, who wants to repeat – tough call.

We returned to the hotel, and collapsed into bed. Today I walked 11.24 miles. Oh and one more thought, if the area around Haussmann, reminded me of the Upper West Side, then the Marais reminded me of the Village or maybe Soho.


Jardin Tuileries Early in the Morning

Still Chugging Along - D'Orsay, Rodin, Arc de Triomphe​

Well today dawned, well not at all that we could see because it was cloudy and misty this morning. Chris ran but at this point in time, I don’t remember going out and am pretty sure I bagged a walk. After all, given how much I walked yesterday, I really didn’t think I needed to do it again today. I was glad for the rain besides the excuse it gave me to lounge in bed until 7:00, it made me feel more justified in donning my sneakers too today rather than some semi-fashionable sandals.

After breakfast, Chris and I went our separate directions again. He off to the office, and me, off to the D’Orsay museum. I learned to cut down to Boulevard des Capucines and then down Rue Royale. Along the way, I passed Ladurée, made a mental note to return, and l’Orangiere. I debated visiting the newly opened l’Orangiere as there was no line at the time, as a matter of fact, it was hard to determine if it was open at all and where the entrance might be due to the lack of crowds, but in the end decided to bag that idea.

Another note about the rain, at the last minute, I had decided to bring my red raincoat. While it never poured, more like misted, for a while I thought it was a good decision … for a while.

The D’Orsay is easy to find, after I crossed the bridge, I hung a left. A small crowd lined Entrance A, but because I had my handy-dandy museum pass, I got to use the currently empty Entrance C. Through security, metal detectors and x-ray machines, and I was in. After yesterday’s experience, I made a b-line for the information desk where they sold the audio tours (€5) and picked up one of those handy dandy gadgets. Again, my only complaint about the audio tour, every single item did not have a corresponding number that I could punch in. Oh, and another note, the other thing I did was check my raincoat. It forced my note-taking book into my back pocket, but what the hey – comfort was paramount not appearance.

I started on the ground floor with some sculptures and paintings, working down the right side of the room, from the entrance to the clock on the far wall. Where I used to live, they turned a train station into a shopping mall; here they turned it into a museum. I’m sure someone can draw some conclusion about our cultures based upon that observation.

Okay - now let’s separate the geeks from the rest of you. Do you know that statue of Goethe by Pierre John David d’Angers? Well doesn’t he look like Londo on Babylon 5?

And again, what’s with the five o’clock shadows? The portrait of Prince Napoleon by Flandrin displays one too. Fashionable, who knows?

About half way through the first floor, I realized I was a bit hungry. Now ask anyone that knows me, I do not do well with hunger under the best of circumstances but in a crowded museum, lugging a bag filled with stuff, well, it’s a recipe for disaster. Luckily, the museum not only has a restaurant on the top floor but a small cafeteria, and a self-serve café, where I was able to purchase a chocolate muffin and then use the coolest machine to get a café crème. When you pay for your food, you tell them what coffee drink you would like then they give you a token to use in the machine. This isn’t your typical college hall crappy coffee machine but some decent stuff, with a choice of crème, cappuccino, and espresso among others.

Once fortified, and after having given some Americans directions based upon the map I had also picked up in the lobby, I headed down to the impressionists. Now I’m pretty sure I’ve told this story before somewhere but I’m going to repeat myself at the great risk of boring anyone who may already be familiar with it. “Tough,” as my Mom always says.

I am not a big fan of Monet. I know, sacrilege to some, but I just don’t get it. Back in college, my friends and I went to the Met to see a special exhibit, and it wasn’t long before I started cracking jokes. I mean, what did he do, set up ten different easels to paint the same darn bridge from ten different angles? Or, did he change canvases every hour to get that same flipping bridge in a different light throughout the day? Boring. But I was young then, so I earnestly wanted to give him a try again that day. You know what? My opinion hasn’t changed, boring. You know what else? According to my audio guide, that’s exactly what he did – set up several easels or had different canvases for different times of the day. Now, please don’t take offense. If you like Monet, more power to you. I’m no art aficionado but I know what I like and he just doesn’t do it for me.

Now, let’s talk about some of the other artists on that third floor because all I can say about them is wow! Van Gogh, Degas, Gauguin, Toulouse-Lautrec, – oh so beautiful and cool. Lautrec, just for the material he used to paint on and his subject matter – so different from his contemporaries; Loved it. The jury is still out on Matisse, love the colors but part of me thinks he did Luxe, Calme et Volupté using square-shaped bingo markers.

Something else to note about the museum, while the first and second floor were decidedly easy to navigate, that famous third floor could be almost unbearable with the crush of humanity (or so I thought until I tried to get near the Mona Lisa the next day). Yet, what amazed me wasn’t the amount of tourists, but the amount of school children, all ages, sitting listening to their teachers in front of these masterpieces. Some great class trip, huh? I had seen them the day before, at the Jewish Museum too, but there were so many more here and well behaved. Just amazing to me. I love my kids, and I think the kids at my daughters’ schools are relatively well behaved, but I’ve chaperoned a few class trips in my time, and they’re free-for-alls. As a matter of fact, I often find the only cure for these things is a comfy couch and a good martini.

After a good dose of impressionism, it was time to head back down to the second floor to get a good dose of reality in the “realism” period and pop into the symbolists too. I had never heard of any of these artists nor had I seen any of these paintings before hand but I have to say, I enjoyed them; a lot of them struck me. No big surprise to find I’m more of realist. Liked Wheel of Fortune (no, not the game show), by Edward Burne-Jones. Before I got close, I thought School of Plato by Delville, was really an erotic version of Jesus and his Disciples. Shows you where my mind was at. Speaking of which, do you think the school children breeze right by Le Sommeil and Origins of the World by Courbet – yowza!

Okay – after I felt like I had digested as much artwork as I possibly could, I headed out to the now clearing skies. I explored the area on this side of the Seine, did some window-shopping, and restaurant looking and finally settled on a seat at an outdoor table at a non-descript café where I enjoyed a croquet madam (€8) with side salad and a large bottle of beer. Ooh, did that go down real smooth.

After lunch, I walked over to rue Recamier to check out a possible restaurant, La Cigale Recamier, for dinner Saturday night. In my mind, I couldn’t come to France without getting a soufflé and this restaurant was known for them. I looked over the menu, and it fit the bill, so I walked in and asked if I could make an 8:30 reservation for dinner on Saturday. Luckily, they spoke English, and it was an easy thing to do. Unluckily, they were already booked for outside seating but could accommodate us inside.

That done, and with plenty of time left in the day, I headed over to the Rodin museum. It turned gorgeous, but of course, I now had to lug that darn raincoat. By the way, that morning was the only morning I needed the raincoat. I’m thinking, in the future, damn the fashion, maybe I’ll just bring the anarack I have that folds up nicely and clips around my waist. Anyway . . .

I wasn’t so much interested in the Rodin museum for the museum itself but for gardens which I had read about in Steph’s Paris trip report. While I enjoyed the indoor exhibits, and admired, once again, school children listening raptly to their teacher describing a piece of art, I enjoyed strolling through the garden, admiring sculptures and sitting for a spell even more. The Rodin museum charges €6 entry but since I had my handy-dandy museum pass, I walked right in.

After touring the rooms, and spending time in the garden (and taking a break in their facilities – not bad), I headed back out on to the streets and made my way to the Tuilleries, to walk down the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. I did note along the way, the line for L’Orangerie was incredibly long now. Guess I should have gone when I had my chance but given my revelations on Monet it was probably best I didn’t.

Okay – Avenue des Champs-Élysées, what to say? Honestly, I enjoyed window shopping in the Marais, and on that street off the Avenue des Champs-Élysées more than on this famous street. To me, I guess, it didn’t feel any different then walking through a mall, or down Fifth Avenue. Within a few blocks, my walk basically became a march to get to the Arc de Triomphe.

Now l’Arc de Triomphe stands in the middle of this huge traffic circle the likes of which even Jersey hasn’t seen. Luckily though, I had set TIVO to pick up anything on Paris it could find for the three weeks before departure and one of the things it snagged was Sam Brown’s Passport to Europe. On it, she explained about the underground passageway that connects the Avenue des Champs-Élysées with the island that contains the Arch in the middle of that huge circle. Of course, finding the entrance to said tunnel, took a couple of different attempts at different corners before I found it. Don’t ask me which corner because unfortunately, I didn’t write it down but I seem to remember a brown side as opposed to a blue sign.

Anyway, down, across and up you go and pop, you’re under the Arch. The tomb of the unknown soldier is also located there but I was there to climb. Yes, you can climb to the top, and given my new physical abilities I wasn’t going to let this climbing opportunity pass me by (I missed climbing to the top of Florence’s Duomo because of my weight). I flashed my handy dandy museum pass and in I went (avoiding the €8 fee). The climb to the top wasn’t bad and it had a couple of exhibits along the way where you can also stop to catch your breath.

Once atop though, you get an amazing view of the city in all directions. It was a bit windy and cooler up there, so be prepared. After moving around the entire top, snapping pictures all the while, not just of me, but of some Japanese tourists who asked for some help, I figured it was time to head down and back towards the hotel.

I checked my Plan and noticed that, Avenue de Friedland that also left from the circle like a spoke, went back towards my hotel and eventually turned into Boulevard Haussmann, so I made my way down that path. Along the way, I stopped in a bakery, and picked up a pain au chocolate for a snack and then a bit further down, found this amazing looking chocolate shop (Au chat Blue, 85 boulevard Haussmann). I picked an assortment of items for me and Chris to have as nibbles in the room, and made a note to try to get back there on Friday or Saturday, unfortunately, I never did.

Once again, I arrived a bit early to meet Chris. He was meeting an associate from his company’s Paris office and asked me to drop by about 6:30, so I stopped into the Cordial Café for another glass of wine and to update my journal before returning to the hotel for drinks with Chris and his associate.

After a round of drinks, it was soon time to head to dinner. We were returning to Grand Colbert tonight and in addition to Matt, Paul would be joining us. Or maybe I should say Chris and I were joining Paul and Matt. Either way, off to Grand Colbert we went for our 8:30 reservation.

We were seated at a different table more towards the front and in the midst of the action. I have to say though that details from the evening are a bit vague now because I didn’t take many notes and Paul generously picked up the tab (and thus the receipt). I do recall a very nice bottle of red wine, Chris and I sharing the chateaubriand, and I had fresh berries for dessert in lieu of the delicious profiteroles from the previous night. Oh and I started with the arugula salad that Matt had previously – everything from what I recall was delicious.

I also remember some great conversation, not to mention a $10 bet over the pronunciation of the word Calvados, and some enjoyable speculation about the couple two tables away. Having just been to the Carnavalet the day before I can honestly say, the man was a dead ringer for Louis XVI, and he and his “date” did not utter a single word to the other the entire time they sat there. As we were leaving, about 11:30, people were still being seated – amazing.

On the way home, we stopped at the Hard Rock so Matt could pick up some t-shirts for his daughters. We toyed with the idea of getting some for ours, but bagged in the end. Once back at the hotel, we said our good-byes. Matt and Paul were leaving in the morning while Chris and I were staying on to enjoy two more days in Paris.

Today I trekked 9.39 miles.


Children Listen Raptly

Who's The Tall Guy With Me - Louvre, Mmm Mussels, Wine, Good Wine​

In the morning we weren’t up too early or too late. Chris wasn’t scheduled to run today, so we packed up our belongings, checked out of our hotel and moved our belongings to the new hotel, Lausanne, several blocks away. Maneuvering through the streets didn’t prove too much trouble except when we needed to navigate a curb.

After dropping our bags at the hotel, and explaining to them the necessity of storing Chris’s briefcase (aka laptop) behind the desk as opposed to off to the side of the lobby with our other bags, we headed back out. We had passed a kosher bakery on the corner with some delicious looking items in the window and decided to pop in for a snack. We picked out something that looked like a donut and something that looked like a bow tie and with some pantomime and broken English, figured out there was seating upstairs. The gentleman behind the counter offered to bring our items, plus two coffees, which more resembled Turkish coffee than espresso, up to us. Both items were good, and drenched in honey – like nothing I’ve had anywhere else. The coffee was good and strong too and once satiated, we headed back out.

Today, we headed for the Louvre. Huge crowds filled the courtyard by the pyramid but I remembered reading somewhere that there was another entrance underground we could use with our museum pass, or something like that, and we headed over to the Richelieu entrance, where we did find an alternative entrance where once again we flashed our passes and headed in. I had bought Chris a two-day pass at the same time I had bought my four-day pass and he activated it that morning.

First disappointment, I forgot to check my walking routes for the Louvre ahead of time and didn’t realize that the Egyptian walk was closed on Friday. Bummer. We decided to follow the Renaissance walk but I have to say, once you head in that direction (i.e., towards the Venus di Milo and/or the Mona Lisa) forget it; it’s like getting swept into a riptide. Better to float with the current until you find a piece of calm water and can swim out of it. So, it was in this manner that we saw the famous statue first, swept along with hundreds, if not thousands of tourists.

I’m going to make an aside here too. While I enjoyed having Chris along, in a way, it required a bit of adjustment too. The previous two days, I had strolled through museums on my own, stopping where I willed, staying as long as I wanted or not at all in front of any or every piece of artwork that I saw. With Chris along, I couldn’t do that. Sometimes he would linger, but more often than that, I would – so it felt a bit inhibiting keeping up with his pace.

On the positive side though, it was fun teasing Chris a bit. With notices all over about the fiction that is The Da Vinci code, and basically, not to believe everything you read, I had a good time, pointing out Mary Magdalene in several pictures and asking innocently, “Is that a wedding band on her finger?” Chris would give his usual, “funny” and sulk off in reply. I thought it was pretty funny though.

You know, there’s just too much art and information overload for me to even try recapping everything here but a couple of things I noted:
  • I think it would be interesting to take a tour of the Louvre as a historical building, forget all the artwork inside; the décor is amazing in spots.
  • Shouldn’t the Venus di Milo really be called the Aphrodite di Milo since it was from ancient Greece and not ancient Rome?
  • What/who defines good art? This came up as a topic for discussion as we tried to glimpse the Mona Lisa. If we got within twenty-people of the portrait, it was a lot, talk about crowds – I’ve never seen a mob scene in a museum like this. I don’t do crowds like that so we didn’t last long but our brief glimpse occasioned the question, “What makes the Mona Lisa so good that everyone swarms to see it?”
After moving up and down the great hall, we had enough of the Renaissance and though I really wanted to see a Vermeer, I felt petered out, so we headed downstairs, and a way from the crowds rather than towards the Dutch artists. Along the way, we made a pit stop and then visited some seriously old stuff in the Mesopotamia section before we finally left.

Time for our next destination, lunch. I wanted to take Chris out for mussels and fries, yes I know that’s Belgian more than French but hey, we were pretty close to Belgium. Before we left, some people on SlowTalk suggested a chain place called Leon de Bruxelles for Moules Frites and that’s where we headed, to the location on St. Germain.

Along the way I had a slight mishap. Don’t ask me how but I rapped my knuckle on one of those pylons that stick out of the sidewalk, preventing cars from driving atop them. Well, before I could get my wedding band off, the knuckle swelled to the size of a colossal green olive – the kind Chris likes in his martinis. Shoot. I needed food and I needed a beer and I needed them immediately. Luckily, within another five or ten minutes or so, we found the restaurant and were seated at a table by the open windows along the sidewalk.

The menus were plastic coated but don’t let that deter you – any place that recommends beers to go with each of its dishes cannot be all bad and this place wasn’t. We started with an order of mixed fried seafood that contained things like calamari, small fish (maybe sardines, anchovies, or something similar) and something else. The calamari was different in that it was cut and fried in long thin strips (think French fries) rather than the ringlets we usually get. It was all good though. Afterwards, we each had a pot of moules, Chris ordered the moule au Roquefort, which I questioned since I always thought you shouldn’t do cheese with fish, let alone, a strong cheese like Roquefort, so I ordered the Moules au curry madras. Well, Chris was the winner that afternoon – I liked mine don’t get me wrong, but his was amazing. And those were the best mussels I’ve ever had – plump, tender and golden. Between that, the fries, beer and bread for mopping up the gravy – oh man, my mouth still waters at the thought. I want to open one of these up in New Jersey!

After lunch (€53.90), we headed over to Rue de Buci in search of some gelato, stopping along the way at Olivier & Co in search of some truffle paste for Chris, and other tiny condiment things for me (e.g., anchovy paste, fake chocolate olives). Next, Amorinos for gelato – yowza – gelato ain’t cheap (€4 each) but it wasn’t half-bad but after lunch, I had to force most of it down (no small feat).

Finally, completely sated, we headed back towards the hotel via the metro. I hadn’t used it yet but promised to take some notes for the website, so thought this was as good a time as any. After a couple of blunders, basically, trying to put bills into a machine that would only take credit cards or coins, we finally figured out how to purchase a carnet (10 tickets), which comes out as ten individual tickets, which can easily be divided among different people to use.

Next, we figured out our route and which direction we needed to go and headed down to the track. Lastly, we boarded the train and watched as others unlatched the doors to leave, and had it down. The metro in Paris is easy to use and I highly recommend it.

Once back at the hotel, we completed the check-in process, grabbed our bags and headed up in the tiny elevator to our room on the top floor. To say we were under whelmed with our room would be accurate. It was of a weird configuration, hot, and lacked screens on the window but for €90 a night, and only two nights, we would definitely survive. We unpacked our stuff, rested a bit and then prepared to head out again. But not before, Chris fiddled with the air-conditioning hopefully turning it on.

We headed out again, and I’ll get to that in a moment. But I want to note something else, as we walked down the street, heading back towards the Rue du Fauberg Montmarte then to the metro at Grands Boulevards, we walked past a young Chasidic (i.e., ultra-conservative sect of orthodox Jews) man, talking to two shop keepers. As we passed, he said, “Shabbat Shalom” to us. A traditional greeting Jews use on Shabbat (Friday evening until Saturday night). My instinct was to reply, “Shabbat Shalom” back. To which he lit up and we began a brief conversation when he realized I was Jewish. He’s Chabad, a group of Chasidic Jews concerned with bringing disenfranchised Jews “back to the fold.” He’s from the US and was living in Paris for the time. I think many US Jews fail to realize that there is a large population of Jews in Paris (I think it’s the fourth largest in the world). Anyway, he offered me Shabbat candles to light that night. I’m not sure the hotel would have approved and we didn’t return to our room until well after sundown but I did appreciate the sentiment.

Now, something I forgot to mention before was that we were trying to do this part of the trip “on the cheap,” as Chris’s company was no longer subsidizing us. Another thing you should know is that we were interested in doing some sort of wine tasting while we were in Paris because both Chris and I were totally intimidated by French wines. We feel comfortable with Italian wines, US wines, but French? Forget it, we couldn’t tell a Burgundy from a Bordeaux. So before we left, I found O Chalet, a wine tasting class but we ended up not signing up because of the “on the cheap” motto. However, when Chris received his promotion on the car-ride to the airport, we thought, “Let’s celebrate!” So, when we arrived, I e-mailed O Chalet and scheduled a Friday afternoon class.

Olivier, the sommelier who operates O Chalet out of his loft, offered the Grand 7 class (seven wines, two hours) on Friday afternoon about 5:00. He lives over in the 11th and gave us directions to his loft (including security access code via e-mail), so off we headed via metro. After getting turned around once, upon departing the metro we easily found his loft. I have to say, I liked the feel of this neighborhood, it had plenty of ethnic restaurants, as well as some cafes and a decidedly neighborhood feel. I would definitely consider it for an apartment rental, though it’s considered off-center.

Up we climbed several flights of steps to Olivier’s apartment, knocked and joined two other couples (from the Netherlands I believe), and two other girls from New York City. Later we were joined by some Brits too.

First Olivier introduced us to a map of France, and explained the different wine growing regions. He had a dry sense of humor and liked to tease the Americans but also had no problem ragging on the French wine industry and their “lack of marketing know-how.” Which, I realized is the difference between us feeling comfortable with buying French wines versus US wines.

He started with whites, and of course, with the first pour, taught us how to taste wine (examining the wine in the glass, the swirl, the scent, the sip and swish, etc.) Then, as we tasted the different wines, we talked about the different regions and the types of grape grown in each.

Things I think I learned (don’t be too harsh on my facts; I scribbled my notes and they became less discernable as the tasting went on):
  • A light wine means your wine was not harvested too late
  • Legs are made up of sugar or alcohol
  • Thicker legs – more sugar
  • Slow Leg – dry wine
  • Skinny slow leg – dry wine
  • The longer the wine lasts on your palette after you swallow the better
  • French Chablis – use chardonnay grape
  • Champagne – the second fermentation happens in the bottle, in Prosecco and other sparkling wines, it usually happens in the tank
  • Alsace – known for pinot blanc, pinot gris and dry Riesling
  • Bourgogne – has white and red wines – the whites are Chablis – Chardonay the reds are the Pinot Noir grape
  • Beaujolais – a light red, the gamay grape
  • Southern wines – higher alcohol, like Italy, before more sun and more sugar. Shiraz big grape in Vale du Rhone.
  • Bordeaux – white and red wines, always blended grapes
  • The coloring of the wine at the edge of the glass is from oxidation, the more difference the older the wine.
At this point, Olivier offered to sell any of the wines we tasted as well as some others. We did not buy any though.

By the time we left, we were approaching the dinner hour and decided to head across the Seine to the pizza place I had investigated yesterday. We weren’t in the mood for a big meal and it had been a while since I’d eaten pizza (probably about a year), so we thought we’d give it a go. Plus, I felt guilty about staking out their restaurant the day before.

Did I mention my stakeout? I think I forgot. Anyway, in my mass of notes, someone mentioned this restaurant. I thought it was a review on the web but not with exact directions, or something – I don’t know for some reason I thought I needed to find it. Anyway I did, and as was my habit during this trip of taking pictures of cafes, food and menus for SlowTrav, I took a picture of this place’s menu too. They saw me and came out asking me what I was up to. Who could blame them? I gave them one of my cards and did my best to explain about the website and the reviews and they kindly brought me inside, gave me a tour, explained how they had facilities for private parties (i.e., a good place for a get together), and sent me on my way.

Anyway, so back to the metro and across to Rue du Bac where we walked over to the pizza place Vecchia Pizzeria (also known as La Scala on 5, r Paul Louis Courier 75007 01 42 22 78 56). I had secretly hoped they would recognize me from the day before and perhaps treat us, I don’t know not with favors but just that friendly way proprietors do in Italy when you return for a second visit but no such luck. It wasn’t that crowded and we sat towards the rear where we shared a salad, some other antipasti and two pizzas. I’m afraid I don’t have much in the way of notes at this point in the trip, but enough to say the pizzas were good and meal not overly expensive. If I can dig out my credit card receipt for the meal, I’ll post the cost. Found it! Dinner that night was €48.70 and I believed we shared some house wine and dessert too.

It was still relatively early when we finished, about 9:30 or ten and since I had yet visited the Eiffel tower, Chris thought it would be a good time to head in that direction. First though we checked at the Batobus, hoping they would still be running and we could take a boat ride to the tower, with Paris coming to light. You see the amazing thing about Paris in June, the sun doesn’t set until around 10:00. It was still light out when we started. Unfortunately, the buses had stopped running so we decided to stroll and along the way got to see the most amazing site, the Eiffel Tower lit up. I know some people may think it cheesy but I liked it. The show lasts for a good long time and is truly unbelievable.

The other thing that happened as we made our way to the tower, we ran into the in-line skating parade that takes place in Paris, at different points on each Friday nights. There were thousands upon thousands of people on skates. I’d never seen anything like it. We were at the tail end, so people moved relatively slowly, except for the few hot-doggers who moved in and out of the crowd. Police and ambulances brought up the rear and I could see how both would be needed in that mass of humanity. The parade basically headed in the same direction as us, and since Kim and crowds don’t do well, we decided to find a metro and head back to the hotel.

When we arrived, we discovered a man working in the lobby. Did I mention that when we returned during the afternoon, there was no water in the rooms? They had a pipe burst and were working on fixing it (another cause for consternation at check-in). Anyway, they informed us that they had just turned the water back on and it should reach our room soon, to let the taps flow for a bit.

They were right – it took about five minutes but the water did arrive. Do you know what else arrived? Tiny gnats! See our room was hot as my kitchen when I run the broiler, though Chris thought he had turned the air-conditioning on in the afternoon, so we tried opening the windows, but those pesky little bugs flew in. Chris fiddled with the air again, and it turned out he had turned the fan on but not the air, so we closed the windows, got that running and within an hour or so, the room cooled nicely. We didn’t sleep well, but we slept.

Because we learned to use the metro, walking today totaled only 8.62 miles.


Eiffel at Night

Our Last Day - Market, Cluny, More Mussels​

We rose pretty early this morning as Chris wanted to run. While he dashed off to the Seine, I showered, dressed and headed in search of breakfast. As I may have mentioned, the hotel breakfast did not come included with the room. I wanted to find a small café where I could indulge in a café crème, and croissant, while sitting in the sun, writing my journal.

While Paris reminds me of the best parts of New York in so many ways, it didn’t that morning. New York may be the city that never sleeps but Paris, while it stays awake late, definitely sleeps in on the weekend. At 8:00, cafes weren’t open yet but in the process of washing down sidewalks, which I love and setting up tables. Eventually, after strolling down Haussmann a bit, I found a café ready to do business, and for a few brief moments, my table sat in the sun. I enjoyed my breakfast, writing and soaking in this last morning of Paris ambiance.

After giving a French woman directions (with my trusty Plan – and why do they keep asking me? The last thing I look is French; I’m not that chic), I headed back to the hotel to meet Chris. He showered and we headed out, along the way grabbing a quick bite for him and an espresso for me. We hit the metro again and headed over to the 5th where I was to finally experience the French market.

We went to the Saturday market at Place Maubert, which was not large but lovely. In addition to the normal food stuffs, there was some clothing and jewelry too. I bought a nice pair of silver earrings that I love and that remind me of Paris whenever I put them on. I love souvenirs like that. As we strolled through the food stands, vendors offered us tastes of things, which I also love. We ended up buying some salt, herbs de Provence and curry mustard to bring home. By the way, I’m out of curry mustard now but would kill to get more – it’s fabulous in dishes, in salad dressings, and on sandwiches. Next trip, I may just bring a suitcase for curry mustard. We also bought some canned duck liver pate, little sausages, bread and hard cheese with which we planned to make a picnic the next day for our flight home. Oh, not to mention, some fresh figs, which didn’t make it to the plane because we ate them as we walked.

After the market, we headed over to the Cluny where we were to meet Pedmar (aka Pedro) from the SlowTalk message board for a tour of the museum. Pedmar lives near Versaille and belongs to an American expatriate (aka expat) group that gets together on occasions for functions around the area. On this morning, an American art history professor, who also lives in Paris, was giving a tour of the museum and she graciously offered for us to join them. JanetH from the message board was also going to meet us.

We arrived at the museum a couple of minutes early and waited in the courtyard. We did not need to buy tickets as the Cluny is covered by the Museum pass, which we both had. As we milled about in the courtyard, we noticed others milling too and finally approached each other, which is how we found Pedmar and Janet. That’s the thing about these types of get togethers, they’re always a bit awkward for the first three or four minutes until you figure out who it is you’re meeting.

The tour through the museum was very interesting; I love museums with a guide. We saw the Gallery of the Kings, the Roman ruins and of course the Unicorn Tapestries, to name a few things – all wonderful and none of which I’m going to try to recap here because 1) I don’t remember the details well (bad Kim, didn’t take good notes) 2) I probably couldn’t do justice to them if I tried.

After we said our thank-yous and good-byes, Chris and I, creatures of habit, decided to head back over to Leon deux Bruxelles for lunch, again. Yes, I know we’re horrible but when we find something we like, we tend to stick with it. That afternoon though, I did switch my order, actually, now that I think about it we shared. Again we ordered the Moule with Roquefort but instead of the curry, we got a Moule with a tomato base that included chorizo sausage – good but the Roquefort still won. Total cost, €37.

After lunch, which was a bit later than normal, we hiked it back up towards the hotel, stopping at Decathlon, Fauchon, La Maison Du Chocolat and Galleries Lafayette along the way. We wanted to pop in to Ladurée but the line was too long. Another note, while most of these stores were relatively empty during the week, they all did a brisk business on Saturday. In Fauchon, we bought some goodies for the kids, in La Maison, we finally tried the famous macaron (yumm), in Decathlon we looked for the elusive “cool bike shirt” and in Galleries Lafayette, we picked up some sauterne, some other desert wine flavored with peach, which a nice gentleman had given us a free sample and in the non food court, a journal for Becky.

Funny story about the food area of Galleries Lafayette, I saw a box of miel smacks (aka honey smacks) and took a picture because I thought it funny. Another “gentleman” scolded me though.

After our shopping excursion, oh and one more stop at another store to pick up some Channel No.5™ for Mom (a thank you gift), we returned to our room for a bit of a rest and to pack for our journey home the next day. Though, before I returned to the room, I went on a quest. You see the duck pate we bought at the market came in a can and I was in search of can opener we could smuggle aboard the plan, so that we might enjoy our snack. We knew we couldn’t bring it into the country, but we could definitely eat meat products on the plane.

First we popped into the market on our street but no luck. Chris returned to the room and I made a sweep of the surrounding neighborhood, two convenience stores, two markets and at least one mile later, I found the opener. Phase one was complete. By the way, while in all those locations, I also checked for the elusive fig yogurt I’ve heard so much about but no luck – couldn’t find it anywhere.

Okay – so after packing and a rest, Chris once again decided I must see the Eiffel tower. Again, we toyed with the idea of the Batobus and realized what we should have done was bought a two day ticket yesterday and utilized it both days – the two day option is the real bargain but we didn’t (one day costs €11 but a two day for an adult, €13). Now we didn’t know if we’d have enough time to ride the boat, see the tower and make our 8:30 reservation at La Cigale Récamier So we opted to take the metro to Ecole Militaire station and walk to the tower from there.

I have to say, the tower looks much closer to Ecole Militaire station than it actually is. The nice thing about the walk though, once you figure out the correct direction, which is easy once you get sight of the tower, is that it’s through a large open park, which seems to be a huge hang-out area for the younger crowds and also seems to get some outdoor concerts. And the entire time your making this walk, the tower looms in the distance.

Well, we arrived and yes, I have to admit, it’s impressive. Huge but at this point on a Saturday night still way crowded. We opted not to even try to venture into the mass of people waiting to go up and since we were heading to dinner after this, I was not up for getting sweaty climbing. We milled about a bit, Chris explained a bit of the history of the construction (he’s into that stuff, not so much me), we headed back to the metro and our dinner reservation at La Cigale Récamier.

I chose La Cigale Récamier because to me, how could you travel to Paris and not have soufflés? Plus, I know Chris loves soufflés. As I mentioned earlier, we could not be seated outside so inside we went, in the middle of the restaurant, next to an older couple dining with their 20-something daughter. I was a bit intimidated here, only because I think this is our first true Parisian experience in that the menus are in French and we’re not getting much help with the English from the harried staff. The restaurant was packed and who could blame them?

Chris, using his new found knowledge, chose a French wine, which unfortunately, they no longer had. The waiter though suggested another, less expensive bottle which I have to give kudos for. Something that irks me to no end (and I think bothers Chris even more) is when you go to a restaurant, order a wine, they don’t have it but immediately suggest a more expensive bottle. We went with the waiter’s suggestion and I was comforted by the fact that the family at the next table seemed to be enjoying the same bottle. It was good, and hopefully in my notes somewhere, I’ll have the name written down. Ah, Henri Darnat 2004 Bourgognie.

Okay – this is all fuzzy and I have to come back and fill this in when I get home and have my notebook as to what we ordered. I cannot remember appetizers other than to say they were delicious (ah for me, fois gras with pickled onions – also enjoyed by the woman at the next table for €7.95). For an entrée, I opted for the wild mushroom soufflé with morels, while Chris had some steak dish (filet balsamico). He was not thrilled with his dish – it was not bad, it was good, it just didn’t thrill him. I however, loved my soufflé, round one to me. For dessert, we were back to the soufflés. Chris opted for a Grand Marnier soufflé, his old favorite, while I go with mine, chocolate. Yum and yum.

During the meal, the couple next to us pointed out a man, who just walked through the restaurant and was sitting outside. He’s a former President of France, whose name escapes me but who later I looked up on the Internet. Of course they realized, we had never heard of him, until they put his tenure in office into the proper time frame. Still it was nice, of them to include us in their excitement at the famous spotting. They were celebrating their daughter’s birthday – and before they left we wished her a happy birthday too. Oh which also reminds me, a regret, they gave her this fabulous, cool-looking watch, that Becky would have loved. I should have asked them where they bought it but then again, as this was our last night, I wouldn’t have had time to pick one up anyway. Dinner ends up costing us about €98 a bit of a splurge but what the heck, really not too bad for all we ordered.

We took the metro back to our neck of the woods, and strolled down Haussmann towards Faubourg Montmartre and our hotel. Now, if there were any doubt among you that Chris and I travel to eat, or that Chris and I are pigs, let me put those doubts to bed. Along the way, on Faubourg Montmare just up from Montmartre, we passed one of those crepe stands that are basically everywhere. Having realized that we would be departing in a few short hours, and had totally missed the opportunity to try one of these famous street-fair items, we decided to partake. Can you say Mr. Creosote? Yes, that was us, after having eaten a full three-course meal, enjoying a ham and gruyere crepe on Saturday night, stuffing our faces with delicious delight.

Today’s mileage came in at a weekly low, 7.68.


Chris and His Mussels

Oh No, Say it Ain't So - Time to Go​

We had a 10:30 flight so arranged to have the hotel call us a taxi at 7:00 am. Completely uneventful trip to the airport, at what cost I do not recall. Hopefully though if Chris has his expenses, I can get a number. Anyway, checked in, we headed to security where phase two of the can opener plan had to take place. You see, it was sharp and I wasn’t sure we would get it through security. Sure enough, security pulled me aside for something in my bag but it turned out it wasn’t the can opener at all. It was our wine opener which had a small knife that popped out of one end in order to slit the semi-metallic wrapping around the cork. I apologized of course and they confiscated it but the can opener made it to the plane.

We did some duty free shopping, where Chris found his orgeat (finally) that he uses to make mai tais and boarded the plane. Because of Chris’s status, we were able to secure exit row seats, which if you can’t fly first class is definitely the way to go. We also brought along Chris’s laptop and the power cord (American has outlets between the seats), so we were able to watch the three movies we’d also brought, Crash, Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, and Monty Python and the Holy Grail (which we both fell asleep during). All in all, between the movies and our picnic, it was a pleasant flight home.

The rest of our journey was the usual aggravation – long delay through immigration, a wait for our car service caught in Sunday traffic on the Belt, and more traffic on the return via the Belt but other than that a fabulous, albeit, quick trip.


Sunset o'er Seine


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