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Trip Report An unexpected trip to Paris-Fabulous!

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Unexpected Paris trip back story…

This was totally unplanned…well unplanned up to the end of Oct when my SIL and her DS who I have known since I will like 12yrs old started saying we should go to Paris for a week. I’m like well- I don’t think that’s even in the realm of possibilities for me. I have just gone on the biggest trip of my life (so far) 5 weeks to Italy and France in June-just 4 months ago.

More phone calls back and forth and okay if you guys are going how can I not go? And let’s do it if we can all get Frequent Flyer tickets.

Much easier for them than for me, I live in Hawaii, so it means flying over the Pacific and then the Atlantic-lots of flying and we are talking one month away now. Can I even get a ticket?

Yes I can, with multiple connections and not the best routing I can get a ticket, so with the blessing from DH and rescheduling work it went from yes it can happen to YES it is happening!

So now the planning starts fast and furious.

I will go for 10 days and the girls will go for 7.

In a previous life I traveled for work and had no problem traveling alone. But this was different-there would be no one meeting me at the other end-no planned meetings, no one waiting for me.

This would be my first Europe trip alone-well for 3 days anyways. And I was excited and freaked out all at the same time.

I read multiple threads on traveling solo on this forum which helped, but truth be told the part that scared me was- what if I got sick?-which is totally irrational cause I rarely get sick. But there it is-that was the part that scared me about being in Paris alone.

I gathered all my gumption and boarded the plane…no turning back now.

Turns out I did not get sick-or at least when I was alone-I did have a sore throat later in the trip-but no big problem as I went to the pharmacy and got lozenges.

The 3 days I spent alone were just as everyone says…the freedom to do whatever you want, when you want is wonderful. I have traveled lots with a few chosen girlfriends and have never had anything but the best of adventures , but to stop somewhere or leave somewhere without conferring with someone else was really an unexpected pleasure of being alone that far outweighs the fear.

Day time was glorious. Night time not as much. I would rather have been with someone, especially when eating dinner. The one night I ate dinner in a restaurant I was within sight of a group of French girlfriends having a great time which made me feel lonely. Now why this did not bother me in the least during the day eating lunch in restaurants who knows, but lunch was no problem for me.

Also I tended to not stay out as late as I do normally- usually being back at the hotel before 8 at night.

As I said, booking so late gave me the worst routing ever. I left the Big Island, flew the opposite direction to Honolulu, then to Kauai, where I changed airlines to fly to San Diego-with a bonus of staying the night with my girlfriend who lives there. I was suppose to leave San Diego at 8 am to go to LAX and wait for 6 hours for my flight to Chicago but decided to splurge and pay an additional $230 to spend the day in San Diego and leave at night, routing directly thru London and arriving at CDG at 5:30 in the evening. Man I really wanted to go on this trip to go thru all this! The good thing was there was no one on the flight from SD to London and I had 3 seats to myself and had a great sleep.

Waking up and flying into London was really cool-I have never been to London but seeing the Thames, and the famous landmarks made me put it on my list of places to visit soon.

The other thing I decided to do in the name of being safe and stress free is to splurge and take a taxi into Paris. I had the idea that I would try and find someone to share a taxi with to split the cost, and even though I did see two potential women traveling solo I was too tired to go thru the motions of asking plus I needed to stop at an ATM and get euros and I wasn’t real sure where one was.

After walking a bit I found an ATM and then out the door and into a waiting Taxi.

We sailed along just fine until we hit the after work traffic. I must remember-5:30pm is not a good time to land at CDG. The fare was 80 euro-ouch…but once again I chalked it up to being safe and stress free. I am a splurge and budget kind of traveler. I budget on some things so I can splurge on others-and being stress free and safe are necessities I am willing to spend the extra money on.

This is my 6th trip to Paris and I have never stayed in the 5th arrondissement or a hotel. So for my first 3 days I am staying at Hotel du College du France. I chose this hotel based on location & price, plus the good reviews on trip advisor. The room and bathroom were really small, but were clean, had a comfy bed and the staff was friendly. The hotel’s location was excellent for exploring the 5th arrondissement and also an easy walk to the St Michel metro, St Germain, Isle St Louis and the area around Notre Dame and the Seine. I would stay here again.

www.Hotel-CollegedeFrance.com

Next up, my favorite things in the 5th arrondissement and what I did with myself in Paris for 3 days.

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    Can't wait to read more! I stayed at that same hotel on my last trip to Paris and liked it as well. In my opinion, Paris is the ideal place for solo travel. I'm glad you got to enjoy a few days on your own there.

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    Before I was married I took a number of solo trips (primarily because my friends couldn't afford either the money or time) -- primarily to England -- and I really enjoyed the freedom to do as a I pleased.

    Have only taken a couple solo trips since I got married, but
    when our interests diverge my husband and I will often go our own ways for the day -- for example, on our last trip my husband spent all day at the Paris Auto Show -- that would have bored me to tears. I spent the day at an art exhibit, shopping, and had tea at Laduree.

    Look forward to your report -- the hotel looks like a good option.

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    Excellent start! Looking forward to more. You are a trooper to have undertaken that crazy air itinerary. Did you use FF miles? Just the nine hours from our place on Maui back to our home in Chicago used to wipe me out for at least a week. I give myself two days to acclimate at the front of international travel now, after learning the hard way that jet lag is not my friend. So look at those three days on your own as having had time to adjust your body clock and enjoy a taste of solo travel.

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    Merci for reading and encouraging me to continue this trip report
    ...and to continue to travel solo.

    Even though I think I prefer to travel with someone, I will do another solo trip at the end of an upcoming trip with 2 friends in May-this time for 4 days in Aix. Maybe practice will make perfect-I’m willing to try.

    After checking into the hotel I go out to walk a bit and see what is in my new neighborhood. I realize quite quickly that I forgot my Paris plan book (map) and only have the card from the hotel which has a small map-darn-but I should be ok.

    I walk down a section of St Germain Blvd that is new to me and my instinct tells me to turn around and go to where I know in the 6th arrondissement to find some dinner.

    I turn up rue Saint-Andre-des-Arts & see La Crêperie des Pêcheurs and think a crepe sounds nice right about now- an easy light meal after so many hours of traveling.

    I enter into a very small and quirky dining room. I am seated at a very small table for one with an even smaller chair. The room and the chair makes me feel topsy-turvey-or just not straight.
    I settle on a crème fraiche, tomato, mushroom & onion crepe with a salad, which turns out to be pretty good.
    Looking around I see the room is like being in an old wooden ship, there are brass portholes, and compasses hung on the walls & ropes with rigging running along the wood beamed ceiling. Ok, I get it now-The Creperie of Fishermen…it all makes sense.

    Not feeling like I want to sit on this chair a minute longer I skip what probably would have been the best part-a desert crepe.

    I head over to Notre Dame to see the Christmas tree in front, as I had caught a glimpse of it when in the taxi but the lights were already turned off, so instead head to Shakespeare & Company.

    One of my favorite places to be in Paris is in a bookstore and Shakespeare & Co is one of my favorites.

    For those who do not know, this bookstore has a long history in Paris and quite a cult following. It sells books and holds readings in an even more quirky space than the crêperie.

    This store has a soul to it which I think in part comes from its history of owners and patrons and partly from the space itself. Every nock and cranny is filled with books. Up the rickety stars there is a small alcove with a typewriter and rooms with beds for- well I’m not sure who for but maybe the young people that work in the store?

    This particular store is not the original store, which was run by an American, Sylvia Beach, who befriended struggling writers like James Joyce and Ernest Hemingway, but the later version owned by another American, George Whitman, whose daughter now runs the store.

    Sorry to go on…but I did say bookstores are one of my favorite places in Paris.

    As I am browsing the books by the register I overhear a young American man talking to the cashier, another young American man, about the book he is reading-a Dizzy Gillespie biography & how cool he was-which seems a fitting conversation in this bohemian atmosphere. He heads upstairs and I wonder is he one of the people that sleep in those beds?

    It hits me fast…I need a bed-I need to sleep-time to go home to my little Hemingway hovel in the 5th arrondissement.

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    irishface-Adventure…yes that is how I think of all my trips.

    Nikki happy to return the favor as I have enjoyed your reports of the not so usual Paris visit.

    “…I have the right to dare everything…” Paul Gauguin.

    I see this quote at the Musee d’Orsay.

    And that is how this day begins-with the feeling of a whole day in Paris to do whatever I dare- or not.

    I had a plan for this morning but decide to abandon it and just walk.

    After a stop at Eric Kayser on Rue Monge, and a gothic church I end up on the back side of Notre Dame and run right into The Deportation Memorial.

    While waking up slowly this morning I listened to Rick Steve’s Historic Paris Walks podcast & heard about this and was interested as the book I brought to read while on this trip is the Book Thief which takes place in Germany in the days before WWII. And now here it was right in front of me without me even trying to find it.

    I feel like I need to ask permission to tell about this as it is not my story. But it is a story that needs to be heard again and again so please forgive if I don’t by my telling, give it the justice it deserves.

    This is a moving memorial to honor those Jewish residents of Paris that were deported to the German concentration camps of World War II.

    You walk down a narrow concrete stairway which leads you to below street level where beyond steel bars you can see just a glimpse of the outside & the river flowing by. There is a long dark hallway with walls covered by 200,000 lighted crystals that represent each of the French victims deported. At the end of the hallway in a darken space is the eternal flame of hope. “They went to the ends of the earth and did not return” is etched in a plaque on the concrete floor.
    The inscription which is also at all Nazi sites, Forgive but Never Forget, is above the exit.

    This memorial left a huge impression on me. Amazing what the human spirit had to and can endure.

    Back up to street level and the blue sky of Paris I walk thru the park with people enjoying their freedom and take a good look at Notre Dame-beautiful!

    Back on track with my plans for the day-

    A benefit of going to Paris early December is museums without crowds. My plan is to buy a 2 day pass with the top of the list l'Orangerie and the Frida Kahlo & Diego Rivera exhibition.

    I hop on the RER to Musee d’Orsay buy my pass, check my coat-best tip-and start in the art nouveau rooms. I love this style-they have some fabulous pieces here.

    The great thing about the museum pass, besides skipping long lines, is the freedom to leave before you get art fatigue because you know you can come back.

    In search of lunch I go to the café on level 5 of the museum. With a view of the large clock I have a good chicken caeser salad.
    An American girl sits next to me and orders a dry martini-just that-and looks at me and said it sucks sightseeing on your own. I say, yeah, but the flip side is you can do whatever you want. She said yeah-like order a martini lunch-Touché!

    I leave the museum and walk across the Tuileries to rue du Rivoli and window shop the Limoges, Lalique and Daum crystal, scoping out to see if my splurge piece is here. Maybe a Lalique piece, but its early in the trip so I keep going.

    I go into another favorite book store-WH Smith. This is more like a Barnes & Noble which I do not have where I live.

    I am browsing the language section and see the sales girl writing down information. Then I hear her talking to a customer and he said “thank you for the list of addresses on where to find these books I will give it to my driver”.
    Who saids that?
    Who has a driver?
    An important man from Cameroon that’s who!
    I know this because as I leave the store the sidewalk is blocked off and there are official looking cars with flags from Cameroon.

    My next stop is Brentano’s on rue Opera, but because of the sidewalk detour I end up on rue du Mont Thabor and it is time for a rest and a drink. I was going to go to Angelinas but right here is a pretty looking cafe. Very old world Italian with a French twist- Da Rosa, great place to refresh.

    Thinking a little clearer after this rest I decide to make it a full museum day as I am already over in this part of town and I have the pass. Brentano’s will have to wait for another day.

    I walk back thru the Tuileries which is really pretty this time of day as the sun is starting to set casting beautiful lighting on the trees.
    I walk thru the garden over to l’Orangerie to see the Frida Kahlo & Diego Rivera exhibition.

    I am really looking forward to this exhibit as I have seen their work many years ago in Mexico. It does not disappoint. I had read a book about Frida Kahlo before I came so was aware of her work and her short time in France-which she did not like much as she thought the French were too stuffy. But I did not realize that Rivera had spent time here with Mondrian & Modigliani and adopted the cubism style of Picasso & the vivid colors of post impressionism. I have only know his work as the big social statement murals that I saw in Mexico, but here there were paintings of his that were done in the cubism style and beautiful portraits and florals with brilliant color.

    I moved into the rooms to see Monet’s Water Lilies. It was near closing time and there were very few people in these rooms. In one room there was only one other person. It was a great place to sit down and relax.

    To complete the museum day I go back to the Musee d’Orsay which is open late and go see my favorites-the Impressionist.

    I sit on a bench and text back and forth with my DH for awhile and marvel that I am half way around the world by myself and how fortunate I am to see all I have seen today!

    Then it’s time to head back to my neighborhood and dinner. I stumble around and can’t decide where to eat…so end up going to the grocery store and back to my room to eat.

    Whew…what a big day in Paris!

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    I am on for the ride.

    You have packed in a lot for one day - thanks for taking time to post this. I do agree with you about 'art fatigue'! So nice to be able to go back later and absorb some more beauty.

    If you remember, it would be nice if you could post some of the prices that you pay. I may be going to Paris in summer, and I am starting to think about the budget.

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    Great report, very enjoyable. Love the Book Thief, wonderful story, it's now being made into a movie starring Geoffrey Rush. That must have been very moving, I will put that on my list.

    Would love to know your thoughts on the hotel too.

    Looking forward to your next instalment.

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    Hi Fabulous France,

    Really enjoying your trip with you – merci. Wow, you really covered a great deal that day going from the Orsay to the Orangerie and back again across the river to the Orsay. But so worthwhile I am sure. When I trekked from one to the other, it was raining hard so the distance seemed formidable.

    I loved the lower level of the Orangerie, especially the Modiglianis – it’s a spectacular collection.

    Kudos for soldiering along solo and sharing your adventures. Looking forward to more…

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    Those beds at Shakespeare & Company are for writers/employees to sleep on. A man who spent a year there in one of those beds wrote a wonderful memoir: "Time Was Soft There" by Jeremy Mercer. It's an interesting and entertaining read... like your trip report is. ;^)

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    I did cover some ground but you know this is my normal pace in Paris-GO- I have some much to see.

    But I have also learned to take it in small chunks and rest in between-I love watching the world go by sitting in a café chair or on a garden bench.

    Thanks ParisAmsterdam…I was hoping someone knew the story on those beds! Can’t wait to read the book-I already requested it from my library.

    kovsie & Maudie- I actually prefer to stay in apartments-more room to relax and a nice place to eat -rather than just a bed, but for a solo trip a hotel works out better.
    I paid 98 euros a night for the hotel booking directly thru their website. It was a very small room as I stayed in a single, not much room to walk but had everything I needed –a place to put my luggage & little desk- it had a comfortable double bed, it was clean, in a great location and the staff was really lovely.

    The museum pass was 39 euro for a two day pass. If you plan on visiting multiple museums I think the pass is worth it to skip the entrance lines and also to be able to leave when you have had enough art and come back to see more after you are rested.
    Their website is www.parismuseumpass.com

    My thoughts on museums are:
    - Only go if you are interested. The thing with art is you don’t know what may appeal to you. A pass gives you the advantage of leaving if the art doesn’t move you without staying and wasting your time just because you paid $ to get in.
    -I don’t like crowds in museums so I don’t go in the busy season of summer-too many other things to do then to try a see art over a bunch of heads.

    Next up my last full SOLO day in Paris-

    And it was a good one-
    A Paris walking tour in the 5th arrondissement, the Crown of Thorns mass at Notre Dame and a few more uses of the museum pass.

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    Merci, TAW.

    Last SOLO day in Paris:

    This morning I have planned a walking tour of the 5th arrondissement with Paris Walks.

    I have never taken a tour with them before and also have not spend any time in the 5th so I thought this would be a fun new to experience a new area.

    I enjoyed it so much I will now take one each time I am in Paris. They are cheap at 12 euro, informal, interesting and last about 2 hours. Here is their website which lists the different tours they offer:

    www.paris-walks.com

    Not wanting to be late I skip my usual chocolat chaud & pain du chocolat and head to the Cardinal Lemoine metro entrance.

    The tour group meets at 10:30 am. What is amazing is how slowly this city wakes up- there are not very many people on the street and I find my way easily even though I’m not sure of where I am going. I see about 8 people talking in small groups on the sidewalk so this must be it. I walk up and ask, & yes that is what they are waiting for. A few more people arrive and then finally our guide.

    Dang, I would have had time to stop and get a chaud chocolat-hate starting the day without chocolate!

    Our tour guide is Chris, an Englishman with a good sense of humor, who now lives in Paris. In total there are about 16 people, mostly couples but a few solo like me.

    Chris immediately has our attention as he takes us through the windy streets of the 5th arrondissement, pointing out things I would have surely missed had I been on my own.

    Our first stop is a private courtyard where we hear the story of Sylvia Beach, the owner of the original Shakespeare & Company bookstore and her sponsorship/friendship with Irish writer James Joyce. The apartment where he penned most of his novel, Ulysses, looks out onto this courtyard.

    As with any good tour guide Chris tells us enough bits of juicy gossip to keep us interested and forgetting that even though we are standing in a serene courtyard, it is a very chilly December morning in Paris.

    We continue on the windy, charming streets of the Latin Quarter, stopping at old buildings and schools to hear a little bit of their history.

    We come up the side of Saint Etienne and stop at the steps made famous from the Woody Allen movie, Midnight in Paris. These are the steps where the main character, Gil, gets picked up and swept into the past with characters from Paris’s “lost generation”.
    Even if you do not like Woody Allen movies, if you love Paris, you need to see this film.

    After waiting for a funeral service to leave the church, we go in and have a 10 minute or so rest sitting in the pews, while Chris tells us about the significant features of this church.

    We continue on past Place de la Contrescarpe, which I know nothing about except that it is very picturesque, and onto the wonderful food street Rue Mouffetard.

    All along Chris is feeding us little tidbits to draw our attention to what we are passing by.

    We end the tour at the bottom of Rue Mouffetard.

    Rue Mouffetard is one of those perfect Paris streets, with the butcher, baker & candlestick maker…well not really candlestick maker, but you get the idea.

    Now I am starving.

    When I get tired or hungry it is hard for me to make a decision and this is one of those times.

    I see a shop with a line of locals which I take as a good sign so I get in line.
    I choose a quiche and a slice of pomme de tarte.
    But then I forget how to say that I would like the quiche hot…so dumb…really!
    I mean I can say chocolat chaud quite easily, why can’t I remember how to say that I want the quiche chaud, s’il vous plait.

    Arghhhh…luckily the French speaking man next to me was able to do it for me so that I did not have to have a cold quiche for lunch.

    I walk back to Place de la Contrescarpe and leaning against the rail have a wonderful lunch with a fabulous view.

    The hotel is a straight shot down the road from here. I pick up a Starbuck’s mocha and go to my room to rest and enjoy my mocha and pomme de tarte.

    I think about going to the Panthéon as I have never been and it is covered under the museum pass, but decide to go to Notre Dame for the once a month Crown of Thorns mass.

    I have been to this before so I won’t go into detail, other than to say I knew to sit on an aisle for the best viewing and was more aware of what was going on then the last time. Sitting behind me were a man and women with heavenly voices that added a nice touch when there was singing.

    If you want to read more about the Crown of Thorns ceremony you can get to my other trip report by clicking on my name (I wrote about it in my “Paris Glitters” trip report).

    Fully rested after sitting in such a relaxing space I head outside hoping to see the lights on the tall Christmas tree outside Notre Dame-no such luck.

    I pop into St Chapelle as it is right here, admission is covered under my museum pass and it was built to house religious relics including the Crown of Thorns, all logical enough reasons for me to stop.

    It is undergoing restoration so part of the windows were covered and the chairs that normally line the walls were gone which made everyone crowd into the center making the space uninviting. After the quickest visit ever I leave and continue on my way over to the Musée des Arts Decoratifs.

    I love the Musée des Arts Decoratifs; you never know what you are going to see here.

    Today I start in the jewelry gallery. The jewelry is stunning, a lot of art nouveau pieces. I am the only one in these rooms, not like the time I was here and the big jewels from Cartier, Tiffany and Van Cleef & Arpels were on display. That time it was shoulder to shoulder people and I even saw someone using a penlight to get a better look. Still, the pieces displayed today are dazzling works of art. I especially like the Rene Lalique jewelry.

    I move onto the other galleries looking for something to catch my eye and was just about to give up when I wander into the rooms that display furniture in real room settings. Here among all the craftsman furniture are mannequins posed in all sorts of manner dripping in costume jewelry and beautiful gowns. Cool!

    I leave the museum and go downstairs to the Carrousel du Louvre.
    I stroll in and out of shops that catch my eye-I love the hat shop-not too pricey for some cute hats, but I don’t buy one yet.
    Surprise, there is Mariage Frères Salon de Thé here. Maybe it’s been here for awhile, if so I've missed it. I love this place. Their teas smell so good. I always buy some to bring home along with their incense-Fall in Love.

    It’s Friday night and the Louvre is open late. This is not my favorite museum, in fact I really don’t like it all that much, but I am here, and it is the last night of my museum pass so I go in. I don’t stay long-I watch a class sketching for a little while, swing by the Mona Lisa and just basically walk by all the other paintings & sculptures on my way out.

    I catch the metro, get off at Pont Marie and make my way home via Isle St Louis,the whole time enjoying the Christmas lights strung across streets and the festive window displays.
    Nothing like walking in Paris in December to make you happy.

    Tomorrow the girls come!

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    Hi again Fabulous France,

    Wow, what a wonderful action-packed last day. I also did that walk with Chris which was called (at least a few years ago) “Hemingway Walk.” It was so informative for a reader like myself. And I second your suggestion that those interested in the City of Light should see MIDNIGHT IN PARIS.

    Enjoyed your description of the “Crown of Thorns” mass at Notre Dame. Agree that the Louvre is not my favorite either, so overwhelming. But it is a magnificent building which must be visited at least once, eh?

    Thanks for the wonderful report. Looking forward to more. My guess is that you will choose to take another solo jaunt in the future, don’t you think? :)

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    I'm glad I'm not the only person who doesn't really care for the Louvre! It took three visits to Paris and a very rainy February day before I spent time in the museum and even then, I think I made it only a couple of hours before leaving.

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    Hi indyhiker,

    You wrote: “I'm glad I'm not the only person who doesn't really care for the Louvre!”

    I believe that is because the Louvre is so massive and overwhelming. I must say that I enjoyed looking out from its gigantic windows at the architecture on the opposite wall and the courtyard below with its Pyramid Entrance when I was drifting through its cavernous spaces. The newer Carousel Entrance is really a huge shopping center which turned me off.

    Basically, the Louvre's holdings are of classical art before the Revolution of 1848. Fortunately, the Impressionist work and later art of the 19th century were removed to the Musee d’Orsay in 1986, the site of an obsolete train station build for the 1900 Exposition Universelle.

    Bottom line – my preferences for “doable” museums in Paris are the Orsay, Rodin, Orangerie (with Monets waterlilies and fabulous downstairs collections of Impressionist and those who followed them), along with the Marottan- Monet in the 16th.

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    Count me in with those who don't love the Louvre. Not really my kind of art and it's just so massive.

    OK, so I just got back and already there is something else in Paris that I have missed. Musée des Arts Décoratifs....how have I missed this?

    Great report FabFrance...love your day at D'Orsay and L'Orangerie!

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    Merci for the compliments.


    latedaytraveler-thanks for your input & your right- I love the building and the energy of the Louvre and especially the glass pyramid.
    I have a great memory of my first trip to Paris-in a spontaneous moment passing the Louvre around midnight- myself, SIL and my other SIL's 16 yr old niece asked the guard nicely (ok, we talked him into it)if we could view the full moon from under the glass pyramid-what a sight that was.

    For me it is the art in the Louvre-it just doesn't move me like I want my art to. There are a few things I do love-the Winged Victory of Samothrace is amazing ,as are the chandeliers of the Napoleon apartments.

    Denise-I know...always have to go back to see what I missed-not a bad problem to have!


    Open my eyes, look at the clock-WHAT!!!! ITS 11:10am!!!!!
    OMG
    I am suppose to meet the apartment manager at 11:00.
    Bonjour…désolé…désolé…I will be there as soon as I can.
    Throw everything in my suitcase.
    Kiss Kiss on both checks from the hotel owner as he puts me in a taxi…merci… au revoir… come again.


    Catching my breath in the taxi in the short ride over to the apt. The girls show up 5 minutes later. We have a joyous reunion while the American apartment manager tries to shush us saying that the French don’t like loud noises…Really?!

    The girls:
    My SIL-PS-who is one of my best friends. We have traveled together a lot (this is our 4th trip to Paris-last time we stayed a glorious 3 weeks); and her sister-L- who I have known since I was 11 or 12-basically forever-but as life does our paths took different turns and we have seen each other only a few times over the years. L has been to a lot of places in Europe but this is her first visit to Paris.

    The apartment is lovely-very feminine & french.

    We choose bedrooms, settle in a bit and now it is time to go explore the neighborhood & pick up groceries.


    I had never been to the 2nd arrondissement before, but after a few recommendations from some of the regulars on this forum we choose this apartment as it is right next to rue Montorgueil and staying here will allow us to explore a new area of Paris.

    I can now say I loved this area and would stay here again. But really, I can also say I love the 5th, 6th and 7th arrondissements too. They each have their own appeal which outweighs, in my view, any advantage one of these arrondissement might have over the other-or maybe it’s just the classic case of love is blind- I Love Paris.

    We rented this apt. from Adrian Leeds, the realtor on the HGTV show, House Hunters International. This is my second time renting an apartment from her agency – A very easy & professional transaction, and beautiful apartments.

    www.adrianleeds.com/parler-paris-apartments/la-greneta

    Rue Montorgueil is a buzzing pedestrian street. It is wonderfully decorated for the holidays with garland above most shop doors. Lights’ shining across the full length of the street adds to the charm.
    First a stop at the grocery store for the essentials then we have fun deciding where to gather our food for tonight’s dinner. The cheese shop gets us two different types of cheese, my favorite comté and another of the saleswoman’s choosing, roasted chicken & those potatoes cooked in the drippings from the deli, baguette from the boulangerie, and the best for last, an assortment of deserts and a fluff of salmon with artichokes from Stohrer.

    Stohrer’s is worth a trip here even if you are not staying in the area-it’s a beautiful patisserie/deli that has been here since 1730!

    We round the corner to our street push open the big wooden door and step into “our” courtyard which has a small decorated Christmas tree-sweet- and trudge up the 4 flights of the old,wooden,spiral stairs to our apt.

    Whew…we made it! No wonder I always lose weight after a trip to Paris.


    After dinner we head out to the Marais.

    Ok, here is another confession…I don’t really like the Marais, but so many do I think there must be something I am missing.

    So tonight we are off to explore a new area in the Marais. We take the metro and get off at Republic with the destination of Merci. A boutique I read about that is similar to the store in the US, Anthropologie, but with a café-men & women clothing, books and household decorative items…a little bit of everything and part of the proceeds goes to charity. Great concept, ok store.
    I really want to find my favorite boutique, Cakes Betrand which just opened a small store near here and I want to try the caramels from Jacques Genin. We find one out of the two, Cakes Betrand, so I guess I will be going back to the Marais so that I can try those caramels.

    We walk all the way home, passing the BHV department store which has cooking themed windows in fantastical displays-chandeliers made out of brass spoons over glittery table settings with pastries under glass domes.

    And the night is not over…we stay up and talk till 3 in the morning…good times!

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    FabulousFrance, I totally agree with you about location. We've stayed in apartments all over Paris and each experience had its own positives and we saw Paris from a different perspective each time. I prefer the 6th.

    I hope you eventually found Jacques Genin. It is quite easy to walk right past it!

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    FF, I'm really enjoying your report, but haven't had time to post until now. You had the best of both worlds - solo time followed by time with "the girls." (Although I might want to reverse that in my own situation - too many 3AM mornings with the girls - ha ha.)

    Looking forward to the rest of your adventure. (P.S. I don't care for the Marais either - shhh!. ;-))

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    Judy-never made it back to the Marias so another trip is in my future for the caramels.
    YankyGal-yes I think your right, the best of both worlds and Paris too.

    PS and I wake up to L coming into our room with a tray of coffee and pastries-Nice way to wake up.

    Today is Sunday and we are off to the Vanves flea market.
    This is my favorite flea market in Paris.
    It feels like you can find a treasure here-more like a garage sale of regulars rather than hundreds of slick brocante dealers like at the legendary Puces de Saint-Ouen.

    Last time we were too busy talking to realize that we took the wrong exit out of the metro. This time we pay attention and it is an easy couple minutes walk from the station to the sidewalk where the flea market is held.

    We stroll the flea market sometimes together, sometimes apart, searching for that treasure among the junk and interesting bits of what nots. I come away empty handed again but it is the thrill of the hunt that keeps me coming back.

    We are near the end walking slowly together and an older French gentleman ask if he could walk with us for awhile, we should have said-only if we can take your picture-but instead just say yes and we have a funny little conversation with him about life and the passing of youth.

    Back to rue Montorgueil we pick up a quiche at Stohrers and a fresh baguette to go with our leftovers from last night’s dinner.

    After food, a rest, and champagne we bundle up to head out and brave the cold night air to walk in Paris.

    We walk up rue Etienne Marcel a short distance to the covered passage, Galleries Vivienne, which has bright red flocked Christmas trees and strings of white lights draped over walls-stunning.
    Other than a guy walking by talking on the phone, it’s just us and the red trees.

    We continue walking to Place Vendôme which is also deserted tonight. Just one other couple in the square who are in Paris for the weekend from Atlanta-yes people really do that, come to Paris for the weekend!
    Around the perimeter of the square are small Christmas trees with white lights, and one tall tree next to an all white carousal. Beautiful!

    We make our way to rue Saint Honoré for some leche-vitrine. Which is French for window shopping.
    Which word for word translates to licking windows.
    Which I think is a perfect translation-as that is what we do down the entire rue Saint Honoré.

    Prada had some beautiful vintage Hawaiiana looking luggage in their windows - blue and red florals against a black background
    -just my style.

    The windows at Hermes are a treat as usual.
    This year they had tropical & desert nature scenes in pastel colors.
    Oh those cowboy boots had my name all over them.

    Too bad the stores were closed-Haha!

    But I have to say, because the stores were closed it was really nice to be able to walk without any crowds. Plus really these are stores that I don’t buy at anyway, but just enjoy looking at the amazing craftsmanship and designs, so maybe this will be the way I “shop” rue Saint Honoré from now on.

    We cut across rue Boissy d’Anglais and head to the Christmas Market at the Champs Elysees.
    I have been to this Christmas market before. My take is it is just like a county fair. It does not hold much allure for me, but since we were right here we decide to show it to L.

    Bam, this is where all the people are-it was very crowded.

    The best thing about it was we stopped at the booth that had wood grilled Norwegian Salmon plates for 10 euro-really tasty.

    We walked until we found the nearest taxi then jumped in and called it a night.

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    I am loving your trip report. We leave February 21 for 8 nights. We were going to stay in the apartment you rented but my husband had to have foot surgery so we opted for the Notre Dame apartment for the elevator. He is ok but we didn't want to chance anything flaring up if possible. I have found them very prompt and easy to work with so far.

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    Thanks. This is our 8th trip to Paris since 2006. Can you tell we are kinda obsessed? LOL Seriously, my aunt and her friend are coming with us and they have never been and are so very excited.

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    Thanks latedaytraveler...I have missed that in the Louvre (not my fav but this gives me a reason to go back and like it better). Guess I need to start planning another Paris trip.

    I LOVED that Hermes window...who could come up with that???

    I also am not a Marais fan and I definitely prefer the 6th. I love the apartment you rented FF!

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    Irock5-Paris obsession-think a few us of have it!

    Denise-the Musee des Arts Decoratifs entrance is on rue de Rivoli. I think you will enjoy this museum-and while it is technically part of the Louvre-it is nothing like the Louvre.

    I loved the apt-yes, I could live there no problem!

    In the spirit of exploring never been to places in Paris we venture to the border of the 7th & 15th arrondissements to do a little shopping on rue Commerce.
    We take the metro across town and get off at La Motte Picquet Grenelle.
    This street has all the stores that you see everywhere in Paris- Sephora, Zara, Princess Tam Tam, H&M & Monoprix.

    Nothing really special here except it turns out there is Saoya en Provence, a jewelry store I had been to in Aix. Before I had passed on buying anything in a store where I loved everything-but not today! I bought an earning holder, very unique in an art nouveau style. If you haven’t already figured it out, I really like art nouveau design. It is so feminine and flowing. I also found out they have another store on rue de Rennes in the 6th- which will be very convenient on my next trip.

    I have only been up the Eiffel Tower once, and that was via the private elevator to the Jules Verne restaurant. After that experience it’s hard to get excited about going to the Eiffel Tower, but we are just down the street so off we go.

    It is really cold as we are walking up the Champ de Mars to the tower.

    But hey we can handle-we are 3 girls that started our friendship back in elementary school and now we are in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower!
    We meet 2 young girls from Japan and have fun taking photos of them-of us- and of us and them.
    After the excitement wears off we are back to being 3 women of a certain age with not a chance that we are going up that tower in the cold, instead we are hopping in a taxi to go back to a warm apartment.

    After we recharge with a bite to eat and a rest we take the metro to Saint-Germain.

    Ahhhh feels like home.

    We hit the Zara & Monoprix on rue de Rennes.
    I am addicted to the Spanish nuts at the Monoprix so I needed to get 5 bags!

    The Christmas market is set up on Blvd Saint Germain. It is smaller and more relaxed than the one at Champs Elysees.

    We think about stopping at Café Deux Magots, but keep walking to rue de Buci before we stop.

    Home is a fast, direct ride on the metro from Saint Michel, where we get comfy in our PJs and stay up until the early hours of the morning again.

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    This morning we are up and out early…amazing given the time we went to sleep-but we have motivation.

    Our motivation-City -Pharma in Saint Germain (26 rue du Four)-home to every lotion and potion a girl could want-at a discount.

    French pharmacies are great.

    They are not your usual Walgreens.
    Either they have been there forever and have ornate signs & wooden accents that give them a beautiful old world charm; or they hold that elixir that will make you feel better without a doctor’s appointment.

    Or, in the case of City-Pharma they hold the promise of a magic potion to make you look better, hence feel better.
    As this two story with no charm store, with its floor to ceiling shelves and crowds attest to, most women fall prey to this promise.

    Count me in.

    I am always in search of that cream that will make my out of control hair behave or that serum that will take years off my aging face (by the way -still searching even after a basket full of products from City-Pharma).

    This time I am prepared, I have my researched list of products and it is the first stop of the day so I have the stamina to fight the crowds.

    Well done, we are out of there in record time with all our goods.

    This is the first time I have had a list and what a difference it made.
    Usually I wander around, bumping into people, not sure what to put in my basket. There are so many products, all with the labels in French, that without a list it is difficult to figure it out even with the help of those nice salesgirls in their white lab jackets.

    This neighborhood is where I stayed on my last trip and near City-Pharma there is a great pâtisserie that we frequented daily, but I don’t remember the name or maybe I never knew it.
    It is on the corner of rue Guisarde and rue Mabillon. They also have nice baguette sandwiches to pick up for picnics at Jardin du Luxembourg.

    We head there now to sit down and enjoy some chocolat chaud, pain du chocolat and a breakfast quiche.

    The pâtisserie is across the street from Catherine B, the shop that sells vintage Chanel, Hermes and other eye candy objects. It is actually 2 very tiny stores that look like you would think a shop selling vintage wares should look like. The full name of the store is Les 3 Marches of Catherine B, but I have only seen 2 stores, never the 3rd door or store -I will need to investigate this next time.

    The morning is beautiful-nice and sunny-we head to Jardin du Luxembourg with a few stops along the way- Nadine Delepine at 14 rue Princesse which sells sweet handcrafted jewelry, Annick Goutal for some perfume, and Saint Sulpice Church which is serenely empty this morning with the exception of a few people in prayer.

    We enter the park passing up Angelina’s, which has that delicious dark rich hot chocolate-but it is too soon to stop after our cup from this morning.

    The park is sublime.
    The empty gravel walkways with the light coming thru the bare winter trees has us sighing with its beauty.

    We wander around the park, up on the terrace with the statues of Queens & Saints, we take in the pond & the view of the Eiffel Tower from here, then around to admire the Medici Fountain.

    Luxembourg gardens- A reason I Love Paris!!

    Making our way out of the park we roam the streets back to Blvd St Germain stopping at any window or store that speaks to us.

    On rue Jacob we stop in Ladurée for some macarons and then go into a small antique store next door full of treasures, with one almost finding its way home with me but sadly I discovered I had left my credit card back at the apt-guess it wasn’t meant to be. The man who owned the store was really chatty & said he loved visiting the United States.

    We stop for a late lunch of oysters at a restaurant on rue de Buci that I had passed by so many times saying I want to eat here someday…today was that day.

    After lunch we continue walking & stopping all the way to the Seine.

    We get to the Pont des Arts just as the sun is setting and watch the sky turn to dusk looking at the view of the river and the rooftops of the Île de la Cité and beyond.

    Beautiful Skylines-A reason I Love Paris!!

    We continue walking past the Louvre which is closed today and admire the buildings.

    Then we cross over to Place Colette where we are mesmerized by a young man dressed in black dancing as if he is one with a crystal ball to the sound of classical piano music in a circle that he never crosses. His movement was fluid .The crystal ball moved from his fingertips to his hand up his arm and around his body and back around again to his fingertips where he held it up to the sky. It was quite magical to watch.

    Onto the Palais-Royal where for some reason we step into the crammed space of the tiny smoke shop on the corner. The woman proprietor was quite the character. There were pictures of her and “famous” people hanging and propped up every which way. The shop was so filled with pipes, hookahs and smoking paraphernalia that she literally had to step over and move items to get to us. Even for non-smokers it was a entertaining place to be.

    Home is now just a short walk to rue Etienne Marcel and a left onto rue Montorgueil.

    Days like today are why I love Paris!!!

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    Today we are off in a new direction.

    So many times I have come to Paris and can’t help but return to my favorite places; those iconic places that I can’t wait to experience again-the pâtisseries, the book stores, the gardens, the churches and the museums.

    But sometimes you have to break the habit.

    Today is one of those days, a day for new discoveries.

    We push open the big wooden door of our courtyard, step into the street, and instead of turning left we turn right.

    We round the corner and see that the laughter that L hears at night coming from below her bedroom window is a comedy theater on a street whose name is her middle and last name-what’s the chance of that!

    Across the opposite way is a shopping passage-Sweet!

    I love the shopping passages they are just so Parisian. And to think I didn’t even know about this one which is practically at our doorstep.

    Le Passage Du Grand Cerf is nicely restored and shiny with holiday decorations.
    It begins with a jewelry store with sparkly objects. Shinny and sparkly gets me every time-like a moth to a light.

    We spent quite a bit of time in a store that has imported items from Morocco and India-colorful lamps, maritime items and all kinds of interesting thingies.

    The last shop of this passage is a florist with stunning displays of orchids and bulbs under glass bell jars.

    Out of the passage we get a little turned around but soon find our way back to Etienne Marcel.

    Today we are in search of a Passementerie, a Mercerie and Millinery.

    I love the sound of these words.
    They conjure up a Paris of the past.

    They are stores that sell ribbons, buttons, tassels & hat making supplies.

    This whole area was once a thriving district of dressmakers, tailors and hat makers.
    You still catch a glimpse of that with some store paying homage to the history. One store selling jeans had a display of black vintage sewing machines lined up one on top of the other across their walls of windows. There must have been at least 100 machines-a very creative display.

    We follow our map, making rights and lefts, past the Bourse(the Paris stock exchange) and finally get to Ultramod.

    This store is seriously cool.

    It has been here since 1890.

    You walk in and immediately get the sense of its importance in the trade. It’s rumored that the French haute couture designer Jean Paul Gaultier shops here and back in the day Givenchy.

    The explosion of color is everywhere.

    PS gets down to the business of choosing her ribbons, and I just try and take it all in.

    The buttons glued to the outside of boxes that line one full wall look more like colorful mosaic tiles then buttons.

    I slip across the narrow street to the Millinery shop.
    Here pilled high are hat forms, bands and feathers, netting and more.

    Back across the street PS is finishing her selections which we give to the salesman wearing an apron to protect the whiteness of his crisp oxford shirt.

    He measures out the meters of ribbon on what I am sure is the original wood cutting table.We pay at the cash register that is not a modern scanner style register but in keeping with the feel of the store an old fashion tall type with round metal strike-keys.

    Leaving this shop we stumble onto our next discovery of the day- Passage Choiseul.

    This one does not have the shine like some of the other restored passages.

    It is mostly restaurants filled with workers from the nearby offices & shops, a couple quirky antique stores and a whimsical home decor shop.

    The name of the shop is-L‘effect bulles-the effect of bubbles.On the card I pick up below the name of the shop is “boutique de jolies trouvailles- boutique of pretty works”-it certainly is.
    The owner is as sweet as her shop. She is standing in her pretty office which is a glass conservatory and enjoys telling us about the different things that catch our eye.

    The passage ends at rue des Petits Champs. At one end of the passage is a vintage inspired jewelry store-Jacqueline Singh. I immediately see in the window a pair of earnings that are perfect for a new blouse I brought-black & blue dangling earnings with Swarovski crystals. I have to have them but the shop is closed.

    To stall some time for the shop to open and because we are hungry we decide to eat lunch in the Japanese restaurant across the passage.
    As soon as we walked in we knew we had made a good choice, even if it is an odd choice, to eat at a Japanese restaurant in Paris.
    The restaurant was comfortably empty as the lunchtime crowd had gone back to work and the food was great.

    After lunch the jewelry store is still closed so we head over to Brentano’s book/gift store on rue Opera.

    On the way there we pass an old fashion candy store. The kind of store you would want to take a photo of as it is so charming-so I pull out my camera and the shopkeeper yells NON!
    Desolé I say and quickly put the camera back in my purse, feeling very scolded. Sheepishly we are looking at the candy when we hear loud voices in French.
    The shopkeeper who yelled at me is now arguing with another customer. The shopkeeper quite dramatically shows him the door…and we quickly follow.
    He turns and said to us in perfect English, I don’t know why she has to be that way; she is rude to all her customers.

    Oh well we shrug.

    We make it to Brentano’s and I forget all about the mean shopkeeper cause now I am in my kind of heaven, a bookstore with cool other stuff from stationary and cards to kitchen gadgets and now that is Christmas time, ornaments.

    I can’t buy another book, I have already bought 3 on this trip and books are heavy. So instead I buy 2 mercury glass canisters-which are not heavy at all-in fact they are so light that one of them crumbles to pieces on the long journey home.

    Before we leave Brentano’s I see the man from the candy store and he said to me, “they are much nicer in this store.” I just smile and agree.

    On our way to rue de Rivoli, on a side street near rue Saint-Honoré we see a tiny, tiny antique shop with a cigarette holder in the window that L is interested in-she thinks it might be a fun souvenir to have after our time spent in the smoke shop. I open the door to ask the price. I look one way and don’t see anyone and look the other way and there is an older gentleman standing patiently in the only available space.

    He spoke no English but his smile spoke of welcome & a life well lived.

    I wonder how many years has he had this shop? Where does he get his treasures? Where does he live- up the staircase that I see in the corner? How long had he been watching us looking in his window?

    We stroll on rue de Rivolli, PS & L buy trinkets for their grandchildren, and I, not having any grandchildren, buy macarons at Angelinas.

    We cross to the Tuileries garden to watch the light during that magical twilight hour.
    The gardens are lovely with just a few people walking,the trees leafless for winter and with the green chairs empty.
    Wow, so pretty.

    We walk under the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel with the giant horses looking down at us, pass the glass IM Pei pyramid of the Louvre, and in front of the Hotel Louvre, which is silhouetted in red lights, we catch a taxi home.

    Ahhhh Paris.

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    If there was a day that I could do over this would be the day.

    Which, as I type that I’m like what am I saying?!!!

    I mean, really, come on-I’m in Paris-and the day had some really good moments-even great moments-but it was one of those days that I should have done a little differently so that it could rank up with all the other days I have had in Paris-which have been nothing shy of Fabulous!

    It starts off really good.

    We need to meet a friend of a friend to give her a package.

    The friend works near Champs Élysées. I think, ok not on my list of places to go in Paris, but it is near the Grand Palais where the Cartier exhibit is so that should work-meet friend of friend, give her the package, and go to the exhibit-perfect.

    We are meeting the friend on her lunch hour so we have to time to stop off at Saint-Eustache which is 5 minutes from our apt. This was one of the highlights of the day. Saint-Eustache is a magnificent Gothic Church. For most of our visit we were the only ones in the church. One day I hope to return for an organ concert.

    On our way to the metro we bump into one of Passementerie and Mercerie stores that was on our list, but I had reversed the store name and street name so we could not find on the map and here it is.

    La Droguerie is not as old as the ones from yesterday but just as colorful. PS finds some more things to buy, which she said she does not see in the US, and I just took pictures, until I was told they were not allowed.
    Oops, once again-désole.

    We head into the Les Halles metro entrance and immediately get lost. We know we don’t want to go to the underground shopping mall, but how to get to the metro? Even with the directory on the wall it takes us a little while to find the metro entrance. This place is huge, a very large station with lots of metro lines. It is a long walk-5 minutes or more- down smelly walkways to our line. Avoid this metro station if you can.

    We get there in a flash, meet my friends ’friend and now yeah…we get to go to the Cartier exhibit.

    We get to the entrance and PS & L say they don’t really want to go-What? I do-but ok-we won’t-its okay I did see the jewelry exhibit at Les Arts Décoratifs earlier in the week-so I’m okay with it.

    …Well I was okay with missing it until I read denisea’s report and she said it was one of her favorite things she saw!

    What should we do instead?

    PS and L want to stay outside and do the other side of the Christmas market, and at the time I’m like ok whatever, we are here, I’m ok with that and we can get some of the delicious Salmon again.

    It’s only in hindsight that I realize I wasn’t.

    I should have said, ok you guys go and I will go in the Cartier exhibit and we will meet up in a few hours, which everyone would have been good and happy with.

    But I didn’t, so off we go to the Christmas market for the second time on this trip, and if you count my visit from another trip I now know for sure it is not on my list of things I want to do in Paris. I need to remember there are so many more places in Paris I would rather spend my limited time at.

    I also need to remember to its okay to break away from whoever I am with-we are not joined at the hip.

    We end up doing both sides of the Christmas market because of where we started from.

    Now where to?

    We are right here at the Champs Élysées and L has never been so you gotta see it once-right?

    But wait I have seen it more than once and it is not a favorite place of mine.
    But I think ok, I do love the Guerlain store- upstairs it is more like a perfume museum, beautiful bottles in beautiful displays. And of course there is Ladurée’s too. So off we go.

    We make a stop at the Zara home store. This is a real nice store for linens and tableware.

    We stop at the Monoprix and discovery downstairs a nice selection of Paris souvenirs. They have a little of what you see everywhere plus some unique items.

    Stop at the Sephora-just because.

    We cross the wide boulevard with a stop in the middle to admire the view. Really this is a great photo stop-the lights, and the view of the Arc de Triomphe one way, the big Ferris wheel at the Tuileries Gardens the other way and the rush of traffic and people around you-Cheap Thrills!

    We stop at Ladurée where I would have liked to have a drink in their bar, but instead we just use their upstairs bathroom.

    Next stop the Louis Vuitton store to admire their display of vintage steamer trunks on the wall.

    All in all not a bad time on the Champs Élysées.

    Now what?

    We decide to hop on the metro and head back to the 9th arrondissement to see the lights at the department stores.
    We are in front of the George V metro station so down we go.

    Everything is good until L gets stuck. She is wedged in the small space between the turnstile and the metal swing doors to freedom. The doors are frozen shut and even with the nice french people swiping their passes they will not open.

    PS goes back to find someone as we try and figure out what to do. Someone suggest for her to crouch under the turnstile backwards and come thru another gate…so that is what she does- But not without consequence as we will discover later.

    We get off at Place Madeleine and make our way around the square stopping at Ladurée because this time I am getting something!
    I try the salted caramel macaron and also get a few of my favorite- vanilla. The salted caramel was blissful.

    I am happy now…strolling around the beautiful place Madeleine eating my macarons!

    The theme this year is red and white.
    The trees that line the street have burst of red lights in them; the decorated Christmas trees have white lights with red lampshades on them; And the buildings and lamp post have swirls of red & white lights. Stunning!!!

    We make our way down blvd de la Madeleine to the Grand Department stores to see the lights.

    We take a new side street as a short cut. Paris streets are not straight so when you think oh, I will just take a right here and it will lead me to the street I want to go…sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t.

    Today it doesn’t but we find a shoe store instead. L tries on shoes while we sit and rest and comment on the shoes.

    Ok, back on track we find the lights.

    Prada Fantasies at the Printemps- Dresses, shoes, bags, jewelry.

    Love it all!

    Every window is wonderful.

    Me-Energized from the splendor in the windows-That was cool, let’s go see the big Christmas tree at Galleries Lafayette.

    PS & L-No, not really into it…let’s find a taxi instead.

    Me-What? No…we are right here…and it’s the big Christmas tree.

    PS & L-No… it’s cold and we are tired and hungry.

    Me-Oh, ok…I guess we can come back tomorrow?

    That is how the conversation went…

    How it should have gone is…

    ME-Okay, I want to take the extra ½ hr since I am right here and I really want to see the Christmas tree…you guys go ahead and get a taxi and I will meet you at the apartment.

    But it didn’t go that way-so back on rue Montorgueil we stop at Café du Central for dinner.

    We sat inside because it was cold-the food was okay-but could have been made better if we would have sat outside under the glow of the holiday decorations, watching the world go by.

    So this is how it went, a day of good times but mostly misses….

    My take away lesson is to seize the moment, even if it means separating from my travel partners.

    Wondering what my fellow Fodor’s travelers would have done?

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    Definitely gone to the Cartier exhibit. It will be gone before we arrive. My aunt and her friend are coming with us and neither has been to Paris. They want o go to Versailles and we told them we will happily direct them to the train but we don't really want to go. They were completely fine with it.

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    Definitely would have split up - it really is OK to do that - and met for dinner. Besides, it makes for more interesting conversations over dinner when you each can talk about the different things you did that day.

    Still enjoying your report and enthusiasm, FF!

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    Fab, I'm still loving your report and don't want it to end! You sound like a great travel companion, always down to see something new. Who wouldn't wanna see a BIG Christmas tree in Paris!? When D and I were in Italy and he had to work on some occasions, there was that one day I wish I could say I "broke away" but instead got comfortable and lounged on the balcony while he worked, "wasting" precious exploring time! Ahh...hindsight's 20/20, definitely shoulda woulda coulda gone out on my own. The beauty is we'll have more to look forward to when we return! ;)

    Learning so much from your TR, thanks for all the details!

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    OMG, I feel awful that your are conflicted about missing the Cartier exhibit. I got so lucky that we got to go to the Cartier exhibit...only by reading a fellow Fodorite's blog (how I missed those huge posters in the Metro stations is beyond me). Maybe you wouldn't have loved it???

    As soon as I get back from Paris, every single time, I am made aware of something I missed or still have not seen. We all have to accept that we will never get to see it or do it all.

    I will agree with the others that I would have said "A bientot" to the others. We both have really gotten less concerned with what others think, especially when traveling (which I very rarely do with others, for this reason). It's rare that you will travel with others who will want to do the same thing you want to all day, every day. I no longer have the patience to go do something I don't want to because of someone else (not always an attractive quality, I am sure).

    So, when on vacation everyone gets to do just what they want...completely OK to split up. I just think we all don't get enough time away, so you have to just say..."sorry, I really want to see "XYZ...", so you guys go ahead and have a great time. See ya back at the ranch".

    Live and learn and do it better next time!

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    I agree with Denise. We frequently travel with others and enjoy doing so.

    One of the first things we make clear, however, is that we've seen most of the sites that they may want to see and we will not be joining them. We will help them with scheduling, getting a guide, etc. I actually enjoy helping plan a week in Paris for others!

    We also let them know what we plan to do and welcome friends to join us if it suits their schedule.

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    I have the luxury of traveling on my own most of the time, but when I am with others I try to make it clear that we will not be joined at the hip. When I traveled with my sister, going off on our own sometimes helped save someone's life. I am sure that when we were in Holland, one of us would have ended up floating face down in a canal if we hadn't agreed beforehand to work independently every few days.

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    I'm back with the last day...
    But first- thanks for your comments about splitting up with your travel companions.
    Your thoughts make total sense ( I knew they would).
    I will reread these before each trip.
    I have been really lucky that this has not been an issue for me in the past, and so did not know how to react in the moment.
    But now I do.
    That said I also realize that you can't see and do it all each trip and that's why we go back!
    ps-kerouac thanks for the tree-I feel like I saw it now,
    and Denise-no bad feelings-at least you got to go to the Cartier exhibit-so in a way I did too.

    The last day-

    So many places and things left undone-doesn’t it always feel this way? Never have my fill of Paris. But I am fortunate in knowing that one day soon I will return-May 13th to be exact.

    Today is a day to go back to some of our favorite places, the flower market near Notre Dame and Isle St Louis.

    But first we need to go back to the places we visited last night on rue Montorgueil.

    You see last night changing into our PJs, L realizes that one of her diamond stud earrings is missing.

    Damm!

    We search the obvious places in the apt and come up empty.

    Double Damm!

    We go to the restaurant, to the grocery store and candy store…everyone is real nice and sympathetic.

    The mademoiselle at the candy store even gives us some chocolate.

    At the boutique, that has the fabulous hat I ogled over daily walking by and I tried on last night, the nice mademoiselles are so concerned about the lost earning they take all of L’s info just in case.
    While waiting I decide to buy the hat. My head is cold and it’s my last chance-reason enough don’t you think?

    But no luck in finding the diamond earring.

    We decide that it probably happened when L was stuck in the metro. When she dipped down to escape she had to twist her body in an unnatural way and her earning probably got stuck on her scarf and pulled out when she stood up. In the fiasco and relief of freeing herself she did not feel it pull out.

    She has a real good attitude about it and said…I hope someone that needed it finds it.

    Now we are ready to start off on our last day, me wearing the hat and a quick detour planned before we head to Isle St Louis.

    We will quickly walk back to get the earnings from the store that was closed yesterday.

    Well it was would have been a quick,if you pay attention and go straight there.

    But we don’t.

    We don’t realize that we are on the wrong street until we are right behind the Palais Royale.

    One word difference in the street name can make a huge difference in where you end up! Rue des Petits Champs vs rue CROIX des Petits Champs.

    Happily when we discover we are lost we are in front of a fairy statue that I have never noticed before. It also had a plaque about Colette, the French writer. It is on Place André Malraux. I will need to go back next trip and check it out. I am curious as why the Colette plaque is here and not at Place de Colette?

    We find the jewelry store very easy and I am in sparkle heaven.
    Turns out this is the same store on Cour du Commerce Saint Andre where I have admired many things many times.

    Jacqueline Singh is the name of the store and is owned by a very nice Indian man who tells me there is no Jacqueline Singh. He named the store Jacqueline because it sounded French and his last name is Singh, so viola…Jacqueline Singh.

    And there they are…the midnight blue crystal earnings.

    Monsieur Singh ask if I want to try them on but my hands are so cold I can barely get them to work to put them on. I really don’t need to try them on as they were mine the minute I laid my eyes on them but I want to wear them so I keep trying till I get them on.

    After all that effort I am starving so we go back into the Japanese restaurant across the passage and I get the same thing as yesterday - minus the beer as I think I am getting a cold- so opt for hot tea instead.

    Today the restaurant is packed with workers on lunch but there is a table upstairs right next to the window where we have an excellent view of the comings and goings on the street.

    At one point a guy with 7 huge dogs walks by. Dog walker or are they all his and they all live together in a small apt on the 6th level? Of course part of the fun of people watching is making up their stories.

    After lunch we head towards the Opera metro station where I am secretly thinking, yes…now we will go see the big tree at Galleries Lafayette. But when I mention how close we are to it no one but me wants to go still…dang!

    Okay then, since I am the only one that knows how to get to the metro station I will take us the long way around and go by Repetto’s on rue Paix - no one will be the wiser.

    Wow what a beautiful street. For some reason on my 5 other trips to Paris I have missed this street. Repetto’s is almost to the end.

    The windows have small ballet dioramas-LOVE!

    I go in the store and once again am back in heaven.

    This time tutu heaven.

    There are displays of two beautiful ballet costumes-one pink and one black-both so exquisite in their design.
    I ask if I can take pictures and the Mademoiselle said bein sur.

    Oh, it is so nice in here.

    My younger self was a ballet dancer so I am thrilled. There is a young women trying on Pointe shoes and there are tutus everywhere.

    And the circular tables with all the colors of shoes are to die for. I may have to come back and buy a pair in the spring when it makes sense to wear ballet flats.

    I take a card from counter –“Repetto-Paris Creation and confection of handmade tutus”-Sweet!

    Okay back on the street the metro entrance is just around the corner.
    We stop and take pictures of the Opéra Garnier. Which later I think, shoots, we were right across the street why didn’t we go in? The gift shop and the stairs are reason enough to stop in as they are both so beautiful. Oh well- next time.

    Getting off the metro at Pont Neuf it is a pleasant walk to the cute shops. There are two rows of shops with flowers filling in the spaces in between so that you are walking in a garden of color. This is a good place to find Christmas ornaments, garden decorations and just a nice stroll in a pretty setting with pretty things to look at. It is right next to the Cite metro which has a beautiful art nouveau entrance.

    We leave with our small packages and head to Notre Dame.

    This will be my 3rd time at Notre Dame this visit so I sit in the back row while PS and L do the shuffle with the hundreds of others. This church is beautiful for sure, but I like the calm of the churches with only a few people in them. It’s interesting to me what draws crowds while other places and things just as magnificent have people just walking by paying no attention.

    While the girls are buying a stain glass from the vendor stand I go and light a candle at the Virgin of Guadalupe chapel, saying a prayer of gratitude to my parents and my absolute good fortune that I am able to experience travel-as travel feeds my soul. My parents took me on fabulous vacations when I was young -they were adventures really, not vacations- and I fell in love with travel on those trips.

    It is late in the afternoon when we cross the bridge to Isle St Louis and it is like a ghost town.

    What is up with that?

    No one is sitting at either of the two corner cafes, we go in to warm up with a drink. There is only one other party in the café-I am really surprised. Where is everyone?

    We have our drinks, use the bathrooms and with a wink from the waiter we leave.

    Onto Isle St-Louis. This is the 2nd Friday evening I found myself here and I will say it again-it is empty.

    No people.

    We go into a few shops, and then jackpot, once again when it strikes me its bull’s eye. A beautiful wrap bracelet of fresh water pearls has my name on it. Right price range-I don’t even hesitate.

    They also have a smoky black pearl one that if there in May on my next trip to Paris I will need to get.

    We go in and out browsing in the stores not wanting to get to the end because I know that will be the end of this journey.

    Last stop is the hat shop-I don’t know the name but they are handmade hats and the creator is usually in the store as she was tonight-super cute hats-but I already have my hat. I sit on a small stool and admire them as PS tries on different ones to get for her daughters.

    We are headed back to the metro but instead jump in a taxi as it is starting to rain and before you know it we are home and have the blues of packing and goodbyes ahead of us.

    I will wrap this up a’la DeniseA…

    Favorite new restaurant-the Japanese restaurant in the 2nd-Akita, 40 rue des Petits Champs.

    Favorite new church-Saint- Eustache-2nd arrondissement.

    Favorite new patisserie-Stohrer’s-#51 rue Montorgueil

    Favorite new street-rue Montorgueil

    Favorite new thing I did-Paris Walks www.paris-walks.com

    Favorite sights-the holiday decorations that makes Paris that much more magical, and the graceful dancer on Place Colette.

    Favorite mode of transportation-taxis-so easy and worth it when cold and tired.

    Favorite new (to me) macaroon-Salted caramel from Ladurée’s (the ones from Bon Marche Epicerie were not bad either-or anyplace else if I am being truthful-I didn’t have a bad one & would love right now).

    Favorite jewelery stores-Saoya en Provence-rue du Rennes & Jacqueline Singh 40 rue des Petit Champs

    Favorite new lotions & potions-Caudalie

    Favorite memories-too many to mention, but among the top ones the conversations had with store vendors, Jardin du Luxembourg without throngs of people,late night conversations in the beautiful apt enhanced by the bubbly, and exploring the 2nd & 5th arrondissements.

    Favorite part of trip-the 1st three days alone and knowing I can not only do it but enjoy it!

    “To Breath The Air of Paris Preserves the Soul”
    Victor Hugo

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    Terrific report -- thank you for taking the time to write this. This will be so helpful to us as we plan to be in Paris this September and will be staying in the 5th.

    Merci beaucoup!

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    I love Isle St Louis and I know that hat shop! I love to go into Diwali on rue St Louis en Ile.

    Good move on getting into Repetto! And I still haven't made it into St Eustache-next time!

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    Thoroughly enjoyed your trip report! My husband and I are going to Paris this fall and will split up for a day so he can go to the Paris Auto Show and I'll do something on my own -- maybe shopping and one of the Paris Walks, or I may look into a cooking class or a photography walk.

    When I was in college I did a month in Paris with a school group and some of us took a trip to London for a weekend. We went to Westminster Abbey and my friends didn't want to go into the royal tombs area because they really weren't interested in history and didn't want to pay the fee. I went in alone, but I kind of resented that I felt pressured to go quickly because they were waiting for me. Also near our hotel there was a play I really wanted to go to -- Mary Queen of Scots (not sure if that was the title) with Claire Bloom and Glenda Jackson. I could kick myself for not going on my own. After that trip I decided not to be afraid to go off on my own. Back then I wasn't very assertive -- still not very assertive, but more so than at 20.

    I've gotten a lot of great suggestions of things I want to do when we're in Paris next. Thanks so much!

    Kerouac - thanks for posting the Christmas link -- it was great fun to see and definitely makes me want to go for Christmas sometime!

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