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Paris Wonderful Paris, Even in Winter

Sharon J

100+ Posts
By Sharon J from Texas, Winter 2007
A late-planned, quick trip to Paris, March 5 - 9, 2009 for Sharon J and her husband.

This trip report was originally posted on SlowTrav.com.

Last Minute Trip and Arrangements​

Sometimes, I think the best trips are made at the last minute. Personally, it keeps me from over thinking everything. While talking to our neighbor over the fence one evening, they mentioned that Continental had some great airfares to London and Paris. I couldn't wait to get to my computer and see what was out there. Great fares, indeed! $298 round trip, non stop from Houston to Paris, but only two weeks to get everything in order. Plenty of seats available, but put them on hold just long enough to make sure I could find an apartment or hotel. Since it would only be four nights, I wasn't sure I could find an apartment.

Our favorite location is in the 6th where all those wonderful streets, Rue de Buci, Rue St. Andre des Arts, Rue Mazarine, Rue de Ancienne Comedie and Rue Dauphine all blend together and run into one another at one intersection. There were four hotels I knew about that were in perfect locations for this area and it was just a matter of them having an opening and at what price. All had openings, but the Hotel Left Bank, (Best Western), offered us the best price. We placed our reservation and paid for the airfare and in two weeks, we would be on our way.

Sharon J

100+ Posts

Departure and Arrival​

Our plane departed Houston at 6:35pm and left on time. It was a 777-200, which is a nice aircraft, but we hate the seat configuration, 3-3-3. As it turned out, there were plenty of empty seats and we had a row to ourselves, leaving an empty seat between us. Finally, we were on a plane with personal entertainment centers in the seats. It does help the time pass by. The flight was a bit over nine hours and we arrived on time, the following morning. Everything went smoothly with luggage, customs and finding the Yellow Shuttle Service. We arrived at the hotel before noon and our room was ready.

This was our first stay at Hotel Left Bank and it was very comfortable. It is in a perfect location, which made for a pleasant stay. We unpacked our things and headed out for lunch. We walked the half block to the Cafe La Buci where all the streets intersect and enjoyed our first meal in Paris. We were pretty tired and went back to the room and decided to rest for a bit before dinner. Okay, I know we're not supposed to nap, but we fell asleep and woke up about 6:30pm. I actually slept so soundly, that I thought it was 6:30 the next morning. What a surprise when I discovered I only slept for three hours and it was still the same day! We both felt great and got cleaned up for our dinner at Pizza Cesar, 76 rue Mazarine, which is one of our favorite Italian restaurants in Paris. As usual, our dinner was wonderful and the wait staff, (all Italians) were warm and friendly.

After dinner, we were quite ready for bed and looking forward to our first full day in Paris.

Sharon J

100+ Posts

Friday, March 6th, First Full Day​

We woke up about 8:30, which is pretty late for us. We dressed and went downstairs for the hotel's light breakfast. We enjoyed the fresh Croissants and orange juice each morning.

We walked to the Odeon Metro Station and bought two all day passes. This was the day we were really looking forward to, as we were visiting the Musee Jacquemart Andre, (recommended on this board.) We found it fairly easy, but decided to walk down to Galleries Lafayette first, as it was a bit early. During our last trip, I had forgotten to take my husband into the store to show him the beautiful stained glass dome and I love seeing it over and over as well. This was not a trip for shopping, so we walked back to the Musee, 158 Blvd Haussmann.

This was such a beautiful mansion and actually turned out to be my husband's favorite thing we did during the entire trip. One of the upstairs rooms was closed for renovation, but I guess it's just an excuse to go back again. We also liked that we were given audio guides as you entered the home at no additional cost.

Our next mission was to walk over to Champs Elysees to find the Laduree Bakery. Oh my gosh, what a beautiful store. It made me feel like a little girl walking into a magical place. People were lined out the door and I really wasn't there to purchase much, but did find darling vinyl shopping bags, which I bought for myself and daughter.

We were finished with all the things we wanted to see in that area, as we had spent quite a bit of time during previous trips on the Champs Elysees and caught the Metro back to the St-Michel Station.

There is a little Irish Pub named Corcoran's, 28 rue St. Andre des Arts that we enjoy, and my husband always loves a good Guinness. They also have great hamburgers and fish and chips. We were about an hour and a half too early for dinner, so sat and enjoyed the beer and all the young people until we could eat. A lot of students from the Sorbonne spend time there, so it's a fun place. We finished our dinner and decided to walk up to take a look at the Sorbonne. We had never taken the time to walk by and were disappointed that we couldn't enter the campus or in this case, very large building. They had very tight security and since it was around 9:00pm, we didn't want to spend too much time walking around the area.

Just a perfect day. I've forgotten to mention that the weather has been brisk, but not too cold and no rain.

Sharon J

100+ Posts

Saturday, March 7th​

We had another busy day planned, so headed out around 9:30am. There was another cookie store near the Bon Marche I wanted to find, as I had seen a wonderful book on their website, which I wanted to purchase. We finally found the store, but there were no books inside and they were very busy, so I assume you can only purchase them on their website.

We then walked up to The Chapel of the Miraculous Medal, 140 rue de Bac. This was something my husband and I were looking forward to as our beautiful daughter miscarried her first child last August and we wanted to leave a little note and say our prayers for her. We were very distraught when we found the Chapel closed for renovation. Perhaps our thoughts were enough.

We walked back down to 131 Blvd. St. Germain for mussels at Leon de Bruxelles. My husband loves mussels and was really looking forward to this meal. I, on the other hand, being a Southern California girl, only see them as those ugly black things clinging to the beach piers and want no part of them. Thank goodness, they did have fish and chips on the menu. He ordered the Mussels with melted cheese, and Esgargot garlic butter sauce. I'm surprised he didn't lick the plate, he enjoyed them so much.

After lunch, we headed to the little wine store mentioned in the 25 most romantic things to do in Paris thread, La Derniere Goutte. It was near our hotel and we had scouted it out on our first night. We knew they had a wine tasting on Saturdays, so wanted to make sure we stopped by. It is a small store at 6 rue de Bourbon Le Chateau and jam packed with wine. We walked inside and a woman was explaining her wine to a young couple. We could see that they might be busy for some time, so we decided to leave. As we were walking away, a nice lady stuck her head outside and asked if we were there for the tasting and we said, "Yes." We went back inside and she poured us a glass from each of the three bottles being tasted. Turns out she was American and had lived in Paris for many years. Also, turned out that she was from Southern California, so she and I had a good visit. Wonderful store and we did purchase one of the bottles we tasted to drink later in our room.

Finally, we were off for a boat cruise, which we have never done in all of our visits. We walked over to Le Pont-Neuf and bought our tickets. The weather was starting to look a bit grim and sure enough, a few minutes after the boat departed, rain drops started dropping. Thankfully, it didn't last long and we all stayed pretty dry up on the top deck of the boat. We enjoyed the trip and a photographer took a picture of each family or couple, which we could purchase after the cruise. Since we never have anyone to take pictures of us together, we thought this might be a nice memory for us.

After the cruise, we realized it was getting late and we wanted to visit Sainte-Chapelle, Palais de la Cite, 4 Blvd. due Palais, so we hurried off. We arrived about 4:10pm and got in line. When we finally got to the ticket window, there was a sign that said we could not do both the Chapelle and Conciergerie that late in the day. The ticket man told us we were in the wrong line for only viewing the Chapelle. Geez, one would think they would have had something outside to tell people that bit of information.

We hurried off to the other side of the beautiful gates leading to the Palais and there was absolutely no line for the Chapelle. Very tight security, however, which took a few minutes. We bought our tickets and walked into the lower part of the Chapelle, and thought, "This Is It?" We laughed that this was probably the quickest tour we had every done and also wondered what all the hoopla was about.

I noticed a young boy going up a very small set of stairs, as were about to leave. I decided to see what was up there. The stairs were tight and circular and seemed to go on forever. I finally came out and immediately saw the most beautiful room I have ever seen in my life. My husband said, my mouth actually fell open. There are no words to describe the stained glass windows. Something I will remember for the rest of my life and will probably now return to over and over again. We did learn something interesting that day. Many of you may know this word, but we didn't and my husband is no slouch in the vocabulary department. The word, "Boustrophedon." Each window is a chapter from the Bible and each story starts at the bottom of the glass. Boustrophedon is a way of reading from the bottom upwards; alternate lines are read in opposite directions, right to left then left to right....Amazing! If you have not visited this Chapelle, DO NOT miss it. After five trips to Paris, I can say I finally saw what I thought was the most beautiful place in all of Paris and that's saying something. It would be best to try and see it on a really sunny day, but even on a cloudy day, it was impressive.

As we were leaving, we suddenly remembered we had forgotten to buy our picture from the boat cruise and hurried back. Thankfully, the picture people were still there and it turned out really nice. The cost was €10 and €3 extra if we wanted it emailed as well, which we did. Thought it might make a good Christmas picture for next year.

We were really tired now, but since we had passed on lunch, were pretty hungry and found a little pizza place on Rue Dauphine (sorry I can't remember the name) before heading back to the hotel. This had truly been a wonderful day in Paris.

Sharon J

100+ Posts

Sunday, March 8th, Our Last Day​

Today was Louvre Day and since it was raining outside, a perfect thing to do. We saw some of the Louvre on our very first trip to Paris many years ago, but I am not a huge art fan and only went back because my husband took a lot of art courses in college and adores it, especially the Impressionists. I know I must sound like a clod, but it's just not my thing. Give me buildings and history and I'm in heaven, but I knew this was something he really wanted to do. We had missed Napoleon's apartment the last time, so that was something I would enjoy.

Since it was Sunday, we were expecting huge crowds, but it really wasn't bad. We spent hours there and I spent a great deal of time sitting on the benches, so my husband could take his time. There were some rooms I especially enjoyed, including the really large painting of Napoleon crowning Josephine as Queen.

We ended our time at the Louvre in Napoleon's apartment and all I can say is, "Wow." We counted the chairs around the dining room table and it seated forty eight. Truly stunning rooms.

We had pretty much worn ourselves out and had planned on having a wonderful last meal at Cesar's again, but dropped by to make a reservation and they close at 6:00 on Sunday night, so decided to skip dinner.

Kind of a let down after so much activity over the past three and a half days, but we returned to the hotel, drank our bottle of wine, and packed our things for the long trip home the next morning.

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