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Trip Report Bonjour from Paris! (Monica, Louisa, and Elizabeth)

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Paris France, Friday, 8 May 2009

I have arrived in Paris! It’s a gloomy morning, but I already knew it would be an overcast day. Checking the weather report before I left, I saw cloudy and rainy days for Paris. Today is also a holiday – VE Day. My friend Louisa and her daughter Elizabeth will join me in a few hours. They booked the 10pm flight so they wouldn’t have to miss a day of work. I was glad to have the day off, as it took me a while to pack.

I flew on Air France from Dulles International, which left an hour late, due to air traffic, yet we still arrived on time. The flight was smooth all the way to Paris (on a Boeing 700-200) and the flight was full. After dinner, a couple drinks, and a movie, I tried to sleep. As always, I can never sleep sitting up. The two men next to me talked the whole night too!

I booked my shuttle service to Paris with www.airport-connection, which I booked online two days ago. Two years ago, I took the Air France bus to Gare de Lyon and then a taxi ride. I decided this time to have door-to-door service, which was a treat. Round trip price was 50.40 euros paid by credit card, so I just had to tip the driver. After landing at 6:10am, 20 minutes getting through passport control, and getting my checked bag, I called the toll free number to let the company know I was ready for pickup. I only had to wait outside for 5-8 minutes. We were on the road by 7:20am and I was at my apartment 25-minutes later. There was only couple in the van with me. There was no traffic at all due to the holiday.

Louisa booked our 2-bedroom apartment via www.vacationinparis.com. The apartment is on the 2nd floor up two narrow staircases. Carrying my two heavy bags was not fun. I had told Louisa that the next time we travel together and get an apartment, it WILL be in a building with an elevator! The building is quite secured with a keypad outside and an interior door, which a key is used to get in. The apartment is quite charming in a Parisian way: Two small bedrooms one with a large bed and the other tightly fit with two twin beds. The entire apartment is only 43 square meters. There’s a small bathroom with the toilet in a separate room, a tiny kitchen with refrigerator, microwave, stove, and washer/dryer. The living room is a combo living-dining room with a couch, two chairs, a table with 4 chairs. It’s perfect for three people, but not more.

There is free wifi – Louisa checked with the rental agency, who told her we needed took up to a lan line, so I brought a cable. The problem with the setup is that the hookup is next to the tv, so I had to move the t.v stand close to the dining table so I could use the netbook on the table. However, although a small problem, it’s really nice to have access to the internet and emails.

There is a bookcase of travel books and novels. So, if anyone wants to rent this place, you really don’t need to bring a Paris guidebook. The one main window faces the interior of the building, so it’s nice and quiet.

I tried to nap a couple hours but couldn’t. I walked around the area for about an hour and went back to the apartment to wait for Louisa and Elizabeth. They arrived about 12:30pm and after freshening up, we headed to L’as du Falafel where we sat and enjoyed the falafel special (7 euros each). They were just as delicious as the last time (May 2007). The street was crowded with a long line of people waiting for a table or to order their lunch at the take-out window. Busy, busy, busy! Great place, so don’t miss it for a delicious, inexpensive lunch.

After lunch, we wandered around the area and headed to the left bank. We visited Notre Dame (packed!!), the flower market and walked along rue de Rivoli. After stopping at Franprix for breakfast items (juice, fruit, yogurt) and some wine, cheese, and crackers for our pre-dinner happy hour, we relaxed in our apartment.

It’s just before dinnertime. We made reservations at Bistro d’Oulette (38, rue des Tournelles, Tel: 01 42 71 43 33. http://www.l-oulette.com/baracane.php info@l-oulette.com) where we dined two years ago. We hope it’s just as good as it was back in 2007.

More tomorrow!

Monica ((F))

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    Hi Monica, Reading your report is making me even more anxious for my trip to start. I leave for Paris Wed. May 13 .Looking forward to the GTG on the 23rd. Thanks for name of the bistro. If tomorrows report says that it is still good I will book for my first night in Paris.

    Have a great time.
    Tina Kaminow

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    Let's see, I came out of the movies ("A Complete History of My Sexual Failures") at Les Halles at 12:50, wandered around rue Rambuteau to the Pompidou Center, tried to find the BHV medical supply store which has moved, so I failed, checked out what had changed on rue Sainte Croix de la Bretonnerie, and then finally entered rue des Rosiers. Yes, about 13:30. Yes, I definitely saw you. I was taking photos for an upcoming photo essay entitled "How to look like a tourist" and if you are lucky, you won't be in it. :)

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    I'm trying to decide if I like trip reports or "live feeds" from Paris better... and I've decided I like them both!
    I'll be coming along with you to Monica (still a month before I am physically there finally!)
    V

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    Monica,

    Is your apartment in the Marais? vacationinparis code? Thanks.

    Kerouac,

    Hope you post your "how to look like a tourist" photos here. I won't see myself, but I'm sure I'll find an approximation of what I look like!

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    Hi Monica,

    I have been waiting to read that you were there! Hope you have as wonderful a stay as we did. We have eaten at Bistro d'Oulette several times when it was Baracane....really enjoyed it. If you look around while you are there, you will see Gerard Mulot, a fairly new addition to the neighborhood....fantastic tarts!

    Will be looking for your reports..have a great time!

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    Monica - sounds great! I'll be staying in the Marais in July for a week and have already planned to eat lunch at L'As du Fallafel on our first day, walk down to Place des Vosges, and then back over to Pompidou to check it out and get our museum passes. I cannot wait to try these fallafels that I've heard so much about!

    I, too, was planning on a mid-day nap (after 1pm check-in) as we will also be arriving around 6 a.m., from Boston. Its interesting to hear that you could not sleep. I'm thinking I will be WAY too excited to sleep, but I'm hoping to work it in b/c I want to stay out later that night! I'm trying to figure out what time I should make dinner reservations for. What time did you finally end up falling down tired that first evening?

    Kerouac - I hope you won't be doing that essay in July, b/c I just bought a backpack to haul around all of my items... how else do you get around with two cameras, cell phone, a map, trip notes, wallet, umbrella, sweater for the evening time, etc? I will definitely stick out as a tourist, but not sure how to get around that! Any suggestions? ;) (I'll wear a scarf, but not sure that will help out much! Maybe I should get one of those big handbags that cigalechanta talks about, too! ;)

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    Glad to know I'm not on the "tourist" list.

    Thanks for the responses everyone.

    Dinner tonight was delicious!! Louisa and I ordered the escargot appetizers. Not in the shells or in butter and garlic. Along with the escargot, there was diced artichoke hearts and what looked like huge pine nuts, but I think they were almonds. The appetizer was in a light green sauce of some sort. Elizabeth had a cold asparagus soup. For my plat, I had the duck with the potatoes au gratin and a salad; Louisa had a beef dish wrapped in a cabbage leaf and 'stuffed' for a pate/foie gras. Elizabeth had sea bass. All of it was very good! Decadent desserts all around with a chocolate like fondant and I had a sort of apple pie with a crisp puff pastry on top and a side shot of chilled-icy grand marnier. Total bill about 150 euros with a nice bottle of white wine.

    We walked around after dinner and now back in the room getting ready for bed.

    Tomorrow we'll be doing a walking tour of the Marais at 10:30am with Paris Walks. I hope for a sunny day tomorrow!

    Monica ((F))

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    Hello Monica, I am enjoying the "live feed" very much. I love trip reports but feel like I am going along for the day, anticipating the next adventure.

    I will be so happy to return to Paris late September. I can't wait to walk the streets again.

    Thank you.

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    Hi Monica, Hope you had good weather for your walk thru the Marais. Please do let us know how you liked the walk.

    Looking forward to meeting you and the others at the 5/23 GTG. I'm getting excited about my upcoming trip to Paris even though I'll only be there for 3 days. New job, no vacation time earned. But I'll make the most out of my 3 days and they'll sustain me until the next time.

    Pat.

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    Ooooh, I just found this. I am home for Mother's Day so am reading this on my blackberry. Sounds like you are having a wonderful time. We will be drafting you very soon now -- in the teens now. Keep posting!

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    love your journal.
    i was in paris with my daughter in april and your report is bringing it all back to life.
    we went to giverny also but did not encounter the masses that you did.
    but then again, all the flowers were not in bloom either.

    eagerly waiting for more to transport me back.

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    Hi Monica
    Thanks so much for organising the Get together, we really enjoyed ourselves meeting everyone. Looking forward to the next one. Enjoy Provence, you lucky things.
    Schnauzer

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    Hi friends,

    When I posted my web site link, I actually meant to add the journal itself here, so let me start fresh and copy all that I've completed so far. ;)

    Paris France, Friday, 8 May 2009

    I have arrived in Paris! It’s a gloomy morning, but I already knew it would be an overcast day. Checking the weather report before I left, I saw cloudy and rainy days for Paris. Today is also a holiday – VE Day. My friend Louisa and her daughter Elizabeth will join me in a few hours. They booked the 10pm flight so they wouldn’t have to miss a day of work. I was glad to have the day off, as it took me a while to pack.

    I flew on Air France from Dulles International, which left an hour late, due to air traffic, yet we still arrived on time. The flight was smooth all the way to Paris (on a Boeing 700-200) and the flight was full. After dinner, a couple drinks, and a movie, I tried to sleep. As always, I can never sleep sitting up. The two men next to me talked the whole night too!

    I booked my shuttle service to Paris with www.airport-connection, which I booked online two days ago. Two years ago, I took the Air France bus to Gare de Lyon and then a taxi ride. I decided this time to have door-to-door service, which was a treat. Round trip price was 50.40 euros paid by credit card, so I just had to tip the driver. After landing at 6:10am, 20 minutes getting through passport control, and getting my checked bag, I called the toll free number to let the company know I was ready for pickup. I only had to wait outside for 5-8 minutes. We were on the road by 7:20am and I was at my apartment 25-minutes later. There was only couple in the van with me. There was no traffic at all due to the holiday.

    Louisa booked our 2-bedroom apartment via www.vacationinparis.com. The apartment is on the 2nd floor up two narrow staircases. Carrying my two heavy bags was not fun. I had told Louisa that the next time we travel together and get an apartment, it WILL be in a building with an elevator! The building is quite secured with a keypad outside and an interior door, which a key is used to get in. The apartment is quite charming in a Parisian way: Two small bedrooms one with a large bed and the other tightly fit with two twin beds. The entire apartment is only 43 square meters. There’s a small bathroom with the toilet in a separate room, a tiny kitchen with refrigerator, microwave, stove, and washer/dryer. The living room is a combo living-dining room with a couch, two chairs, a table with 4 chairs. It’s perfect for three people, but not more.

    There is free wifi – Louisa checked with the rental agency, who told her we needed took up to a lan line, so I brought a cable. The problem with the setup is that the hookup is next to the tv, so I had to move the t.v stand close to the dining table so I could use the netbook on the table. However, although a small problem, it’s really nice to have access to the internet and emails.

    There is a bookcase of travel books and novels. So, if anyone wants to rent this place, you really don’t need to bring a Paris guidebook. The one main window faces the interior of the building, so it’s nice and quiet.

    I tried to nap a couple hours but couldn’t. I walked around the area for about an hour and went back to the apartment to wait for Louisa and Elizabeth. When I walked out the building door, a woman walking east asked me – in French – if the Place de Bastille was “that way.” Oui, Madam! She smiled and walked on. That made me feel good. She probably thought I lived in the building. They arrived about 12:30pm and after freshening up, we headed to L’As du Falafel where we sat and enjoyed the falafel special (7 euros each). They were just as delicious as the last time (May 2007). The street was crowded with a long line of people waiting for a table or to order their lunch at the take-out window. Busy, busy, busy! Great place; so don’t miss it for a delicious, inexpensive lunch.

    After lunch, we wandered around the area and headed to the left bank. We visited Notre Dame (packed!!), the flower market and walked along rue de Rivoli. After stopping at Franprix for breakfast items (juice, fruit, yogurt) and some wine, cheese, and crackers for our pre-dinner happy hour, we relaxed in our apartment.

    It’s just before dinnertime. We made reservations at Bistro d’Oulette (38, rue des Tournelles, Tel: 01 42 71 43 33. http://www.l-oulette.com/baracane.php info@l-oulette.com) where we dined two years ago. We hope it’s just as good as it was back in 2007.

    Dinner tonight was delicious!! Louisa and I ordered the escargot appetizers. Not in the shells or in butter and garlic. Along with the escargot was diced artichoke hearts and what looked like huge pine nuts, but I think they were almonds. The appetizer was in a light green sauce of some sort. Elizabeth had a cold asparagus soup. For my plat, I had the duck with the potatoes au gratin and a salad; Louisa had a beef dish wrapped in a cabbage leaf and 'stuffed' with a pate/foie gras. Elizabeth had sea bass. All of it was very good! Decadent desserts all around with a chocolate like fondant and I had a sort of apple pie with a crisp puff pastry on top and a side shot of chilled-icy grand mariners. Total bill was about 150 euros with a nice bottle of white wine.

    Our waiter, Stefan, was very friendly. He chatted with us throughout the night. He took care in helping us select the right wine for our dinner, especially since we all had something different to eat. We had three choices and ended up with an inexpensive bottle (19 euros) of white wine. While talking to him he stated he lived in Allentown PA for a short while, and wow, he really hated that town! He was pretty funny. We enjoyed our dinner so much that we decided to make reservations for another visit.

    We walked around after dinner and now back in the room getting ready for bed. Tomorrow we'll be doing a walking tour of the Marais at 10:30am with Paris Walks. I hope for a sunny day tomorrow!

    Saturday May 9th

    We had an enjoyable day. We meet up with a group of people for the 10:30am walking tour of the Marais, which is run by Paris Walks. It lasted just over two hours. We walked around the St. Paul area, went inside Hotel Sully, and ended up at Place des Vosges. It was a nice tour, but I enjoyed the French revolution tour (from two years ago) a lot better than this one.

    After our walking tour, we had lunch at Café Hugo, which is located in the Place des Vosges. All of us had the Croque-monsieur, which was very good (6.10 euros each). It came with a small green salad with vinaigrette dressing.

    After lunch, we stopped by Chez Janou, a restaurant Louisa and I enjoyed two years ago, and I made 8pm dinner reservations for the next night. Both of us were looking forward to going back for dinner.

    Next, we visited the Carnavalet museum, which is the history of Paris. There is no entry fee and quite manageable. We arrived at the right time, as it was just beginning to rain. We saw many paintings, furniture, sculptures, etc.

    Near our apartment on rue St. Antoine is a small kitchen gadget shop. All of us bought a couple of small items. I purchased a silver (plated?) champagne bottle stopper. There are lots of neat items in the store to purchase.

    Our plan for the late afternoon was to visit the Bastille area; however, Elizabeth’s camera was not working properly. We all took turns checking out all the functions but no luck. Knowing we would be in Giverny the next day, I suggested we head to BHV to see if they had an electronics/camera department. BHV was just down 4-5 blocks from our apartment building. Lots of people were out shopping. There were lots of digital cameras to choose from, but in the end she bought a Nikon coolpix. Most likely it was more than the price in the States, but she has one for the rest of her trip.

    Back at the apartment, we had some cheese and crackers with our wine. Our plans for the evening were to meet up with some fellow travelers in the 5th Arr. I booked Restaurant Perraudin, which was recommended by some friends of mine. The three of us walked over to the Left Bank. It took 10 minutes longer than I thought it would take. Twelve of us had a great time together – Julia, Linda and Marna, Leslie and Alex, Trish and John, Paula and Michael, and the three of us . We had the back room to ourselves. The special of the evening was a veal dish with a wide pasta and mushroom sauce. The meat was slightly overcooked but the dish was very flavorful. Julia and I shared a bottle of Chardonnay. My meal with the wine was 31 euros. The waiter did a great job in taking care of us and seemed very patient with our questions.

    After a few group photos outside the restaurant we all said our good-byes. A few walked with us to the right bank, stopping at Notre Dame to take some night shots. On the way to the apartment, we stopped to see the Hotel de Ville lit up. Paris is certainly a beautiful city!

    May 10th Sunday – Mother’s Day

    Today we took the metro to the Saint-Lazare train station and bought tickets to Giverny (Vernon). It was a beautiful sunny morning, so we were excited to have a lovely day at Giverny. We caught the 10:36am train and by the time we arrived (about 45 minutes later) the train was full. To get to Giverny, we took a shuttle bus, which was 4 euros round trip. Seeing how many people were on the bus, I knew we would encounter crowds at Giverny. Sure enough! There is a large parking lot where the bus dropped us off. From there was a 5-7 minute walk to the ticket office. We waited in line for ONE hour to buy our tickets. While waiting in line, we ate 5 -euro ham/cheese sandwiches. They were good for such a simple lunch. Dark clouds slowly moved towards us. I wondered if we should have started our day earlier, but when we left and saw the line just as long as when we were in line, I don’t think it would have made a difference when we got there.

    Since I had been here before (with my Mom in 1999), I got tickets for just the gardens, rather than a combo gardens/Monet’s home. Once inside, the beauty of the gardens awed us. Huge pink tulips were planted in front of the house with other complimenting flowers. There were many other flowers in the garden, all colors, and all types: Red/white tulips, gardenias, plenty of rose bushes but not yet bloomed, yellow tulips, iris’s’, purple tulips. Near the ponds and atop the one bridge were wisterias. The smells were incredible and sweet. The area was just too crowded to take any decent photos of the bridge and wisteria.

    At one point, while taking photos, a French woman asked to see what I just took. She was quite impressed and asked if I was a professional photographer! What a compliment. She told me she was a professional photographer. We chatted for a few minutes with the help of her two friends that she was with. They were visiting from Chicago.

    We spent about 2.5 hours in the gardens. Half way through, the sun came out again. It turned out to be a beautiful day – and it was mother’s day too. It was non-stop tourists snapping hundreds of photos…well, maybe it was me that snapped hundreds of photos! :)

    Back in Vernon waiting at the train station, we ran into the photographer and her friends. I had told Louisa that I regretted not getting her name and email address, so it was nice bumping into her again. In fact, she was the one that came up to me saying she too regretted we didn’t exchange information earlier.

    Back in Paris, we had our usual wine and cheese/crackers and relaxed. It turned out to be a great day despite the crowds. For dinner, we dined at Chez Janou. Louisa and I ordered the same dishes as the last time. The portions seemed to be larger. I had the risotto with four scallops, and so did Elizabeth. Louisa had the pasta with escargot. We shared two appetizers: A mixed sautéed mushroom dish and baked mussels. The restaurant was 100% full at 8pm when we arrived. There is no smoking in the restaurants, so it was a treat sitting inside with the French. The place was very lively and such a typical French restaurant.

    We chatted with a mother/daughter who were from New Zealand and they had been in Europe for five weeks already. I wish I had that amount for vacation at one time. When they left, we met another couple who were from Washington State.

    Another great day!!

    Monday May 11th

    Today was a day of city sightseeing. We woke to a cloudy day with temps around 62. After showers and breakfast, we took the metro to the Sacre Coeur. I walked up the steps to the left of the funicular, while Louisa and Elizabeth walked up the center. It was misty and the rain was the type I find irritating: that spitting rain where you almost don’t need an umbrella but you do. It even felt like the rain was swirling around sideways.

    Feeling sticky and humid after the stair climbing, I had hoped the interior of the church would be cool for us. Not so. I sat, while Louisa and Elizabeth toured the church. I watched one worker keep people in line and keep people from taking photos. There are signs all over that say “No photos”. While sitting, I decided it was just not a good day to visit the arch de triumph and Eiffel tower – not great all for photo ops, so I suggested to the two that we visit St. Denis instead and save the other two sights for a sunny day. They were agreeable.

    We wandered around Place du Teatre and ended up near the Moulin Rogue for lunch. It was a diner–type restaurant that was listed in my Paris walking tour book. I had a delicious salmon dish with julienne vegetables, while the other two had a Croque-monsieur. Everything was good and inexpensive.

    After a quick peak at the Moulin Rouge and busy street, we took the metro to St. Denis. This was the highlight of the day! I was amazed with the list of names of the kings, queens, and other royalty that was buried here. Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette are buried here. There were many displays of sculptures and plaques on the walls. This reminded me of the kings/queens buried at El Escorial in Spain, although the opulence in Spain was more prominent.

    Back in Paris, we freshened up and headed out for an inexpensive dinner at Leon Bruxelles. Two of us had moules et frites and Elizabeth had salmon. I had the moules with a light curry sauce and Louisa had Moules a la Provencale. And for dessert, we all had Belgian waffles with a decadant chocolate sauce.

    Back at the room, we packed up and hit the sack.

    Tuesday May 12th

    Early departure for Provence. After showers and last minute packing, cleaning the apartment, and throwing out the trash, we schelped our luggage down the two flights of stairs. Once outside, Louisa ran across the street for some croissants and sandwiches for our TGV train ride to Avignon. It took about 15-18 minutes to get a taxi. There’s a taxi stand near the metro stop. I stopped one taxi driver only to find out that he was on his way to the dentist. Taxi ride was 11 euros with all our luggage. Not bad.

    We waited an hour for our train while Louisa headed to the post office to turn in the key. What a pain in the butt that was. You would think that the rental agency would provide a prepaid envelope to return the keys OR let us leave them in the apartment. More on the apartment later.

    Our track number was announced but we didn’t see “17” so I sent Elizabeth to find it. It was on the other side of the station, so we hustled over. Once on board, we settled in for a 2.5 hour train ride. Louisa was able to get PREM tickets, so it was a very inexpensive ride. We left a gloomy Paris and arrived in a sunny Provence. No one collected or validated our tickets.

    A quick check-in at Europcar and we were soon on our way to St. Remy in our grey what-cha-ma-call-it car. We spent 10 minutes shoving our luggage in the trunk and back seat of our car. What a nightmare. I already knew then that I have no room for any purchases. Hmmmmm, must look
    out for another travel bag.

    Thirty minutes later we arrived at Les Sources, where I had stayed back in 2002. Avern, the owner, was a little surprised to see me and apparently forgot our arrival date. I had booked a two-bedroom apartment. She was so sweet to offer us two separate apartments for the same one price. It’s so nice to be a repeat customer, as I’m sure she wouldn’t do this for just anyone. We were thrilled. She treated me like an old friend. She put in the same room as my stay in 2002. What a treat. Elizabeth really appreciated the atmosphere of the place, as it reminded her of her grandmother’s house in Florida – a beautiful and special place.

    For the late afternoon, we spent about two hours wandering around St. Remy checking out the lovely narrow streets with the many tourist shops. We stopped at an olive oil store and sampled the fresh-made olive oil.

    We shopped at the local grocery store for our wine, cheese, and paté and headed back to our ‘home’ to enjoy the sunset with our wine and snacks. Avern made reservations at Le Cigalon, which she highly recommended. We walked to town, which took about 15 minutes. We had a fabulous meal. We started with kirs’ and a suze followed by a bottle of semi-dry rose wine. I had a paté sampler with a small salad, which I’ve wanted since I arrived in France. The other two had a seafood salad with calamari, shrimp, and fresh baby bib lettuce with light vinaigrette and a hint of pesto. Louisa and I both ordered the seafood sampler, which included salmon, scallops, shrimp, and another fish, along with a vegetable mousse and a vegetable coulis; and a vegetable rice dish. Elizabeth had scallops with the same sides. For dessert, I had the chocolate fondant, which was THE BEST I ever had. Service was great and always with a smile. We all were quite impressed. This is a fairly new restaurant and we highly recommend it to other fellow travelers. The presentation was unique and modern. We sat on the terrace in perfect evening weather. After our meal and some flirtation with our waiters, we were offered an after dinner drink, so we had lemoncello. It was a nice ending to a wonderful evening.

    Wednesday May 13th

    Today was market day in St Remy. We began our morning with coffee, tea and croissants that Avern provided to us. We also had some fruit that I bought and yogurt. Quite a healthy breakfast. Avern told us not to buy anything at the market, as the prices in Les Baux were 20% less expensive. We spent the morning walking around the market enjoying the lively atmosphere. It was crowded but not too bad. I imagine mid summer is terrible with the crowds. We enjoyed a variety of food samples: olives, cheese, honey, olive oil, different salami’s and other cured meats, etc. After a couple of hours (maybe a little less), we went back to the B&B and got the car. It’s nice to be able to walk from the B&B, rather than trying to find a parking space.

    For the afternoon, we visited Les Baux. We drove down route 27, which is a narrow road and found a couple of stops for photo ops of Les Baux. The area is quite spectacular with the olive trees and huge rocky formations. The castle, what remains of it, sits atop a rocky plateau. In the distance we could see the many cars parked so we knew it would be crowded with tourists.

    I found a parking spot quite easily. Parking is 5 euros. All of us did some shopping, had crepes for lunch at Au Porte Mages, which was very good, and just wandered around the small streets. The crowds really wasn’t too bad.

    On the way back to St. Remy we stopped at Glanum. Both Louisa and Elizabeth went in (I was there on my last trip) for a short while and which they both enjoyed.

    So, now I am caught up! We are having some wine before dinner. I made reservations at La Gousse d'Ail. Hope we enjoy our dinner.

    Tomorrow we are off to Uzes, Pont du Gard and if we have time, Tarascon.

    Schnauzer, See you soon!!

    Monica ((F))

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    so this is what giverny really looks like!

    i was there in early april and although some of the tulips and daffodils were in bloom, it was nothing compared to this.
    love your photos.

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    Your photos are indeed beautiful, I have been trying to decide if I wanted to brave it out there alone, but your post may have been the inspiration I needed! I think my apt. is very near you, my e-mail is rosiecaro@aol.com, it would be fun to compare notes. Caroline

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    Hi, Monica! It was great to meet you on May 9th! Thanks again for setting up the Fodors GTG!

    Michael and I are back from our week to Paris - had a wonderful time, though that weather was definitely "changeable".

    I had to smile -- I, too was on rue des Rosiers on May 8th, the day we arrived, and we, too, were on line for L'As du Falaffel! We must've been there after 1:30, though, since I'm sure I would've recognized you, Monica. I don't know about you, Keroac, and I hope I don't recognize myself in your upcoming photo essay!

    Travel report to come in a few days...

    Paule

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    Thanks for the photo complicments. Definitely get to Giverny in May!! It's worth it even if you are traveling alone. It was easy to get there and back.

    I am behind in my journal by at least three days, but I will say the three of us are at our B&B (Les Mas Perreal close to St. Saturnin les Apt) sipping some delicious Tara Hautes Pierres white wine enjoying the spectacular setting.

    Lots of rain yesterday as we drove from St. Remy but today and I believe the next several days will be 100% sunshine. So, so , so glad we are here.

    Off to dinner in 20 minutes where we will sit outside on the terrace of Le St. Hubert.

    More later,

    Monica ((F))

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    Hi Monica,

    I've enjoyed your reports, and am glad to hear that you have made it to the Luberon. As you say, it looks like we're in for several days of beautiful weather.

    Charley and I are looking forward to our dinner on Wednesday!

    Kathy

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    I'm glad you finally got some sun. We came home to NYC late last night to warm, hazy weather and woke up to a cool, damp, foggy day! It seems like the weather was following us.

    Beautiful pix of Giverney.

    Paule

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    Hi Monica,

    Your pictures are exquisite. John and I are home now--Baltimore has been very humid, and annoyingly "spitting" rain just like in Paris for the past few days. Pouring at the moment.

    Thanks so much for organizing the GTG. We enjoyed the unexpectedly pluralistic company very much.

    I look forward to more pics from your adventure.
    Your fellow Marylander,
    Trish

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    Thanks again for the compliments of my photos!

    More of our trip:


    Thursday May 14th

    Lightly raining raining today. We had a full day of sightseeing to include Uzes, Pont du Gard, and Tarasco. Avern brought some croissants and coffee for breakfast. She’s a great hostess. We drove to Uzes, which is a lovely town. There are many small streets to wander around. Uzes is quite enjoyable. We had lunch at La Fontaine (Place Albert 1er, 04-66-22-17-25). We all had salads. I had mine with smoked salmon (12 euros). The salads we have been eating are quite large and filling

    Most of the day was overcast. When we arrived at Pont du Gard, the sun came out at - perfect timing for our photo taking. The river was quite high. I remember 10 years ago my cousin Reenie and I walked along the river, but not this time.

    Our last stop of the day was a short visit to Tarascon. I visited the castle (6.50 euros) and got to see the king’s toilet! Just a stone seat with a hole, which is located about three stories high. I climbed a few floors to the top for some great city views, although by that time it started to rain – and it RAINED the rest of the night.

    Back at Les Sources, we met up with Michael, who is from Arizona and on vacation with a friend. Both are bikers. I had made dinner reservations in town, but he suggested we join him at one of his favorite places “Les Lavendes”, which is located just west of town. We certainly enjoyed our food. The portions were huge!! We all began with a kir. I started with their “salad cesar” (9 euros) which had goat cheese rounds, slightly melted on toast points; followed by a liver and pasta dish (10 euros). Oh my, it was rich and delicious. I am still amazed at the portions and prices. We could have easily shared one salad and one pasta dish. I hated to leave what I didn’t eat and my dish looked liked I barely touched it. Louisa had a pasta dish with mushrooms and Elizabeth had pasta with roquefort. Yummy!

    Back at the B&B, it was still pouring.

    Friday May 15th

    It was time to leave St. Remy and continue to the Luberon area. We woke to another cloudy and rainy day. After breakfast and our goodbyes to Avern, we loaded the car and headed to our next place – Les Mas Perreal near St. Saturnin les Apts. It was about a 1.2-hour drive. As we drove from St. Remy with the rocky terrain, we arrived in lush green Luberon. Along the way we passed Gordes, which is a small town set high up above the main road.

    We arrived at the B&B where Kevin was waiting for us. The B&B is set back from route D2 and is quite lovely. The surrounding area is filled with vineyards. We checked in to our place and headed out to lunch in town, which is just a few minutes drive from the B&B (or probably a 25-minute walk).

    St. Saturnin is very small and set along side a hill. It’s a quiet town, which I really like. We had lunch at L’estrade, which was very good. Louisa and I both had veal ‘meatloaf’ with a mushroom sauce and noodles and Elizabeth had a salad with fried Camembert. With wine, it was 15 euros per person. In looking at the rest of the menu, we know we will return for dinner one night.

    After lunch, we headed to Roussillon and stopped along the way at two wineries. We sampled several wines and bought three bottles. Prices were quite reasonable. Roussillon was a great town to visit. We wandered around the small streets as the afternoon progressed. There are lots of shops and restaurants. Great views too! We’ll come back another time for some sunset views.

    Back at the B&B, we had a bottle of our wine and relaxed before dinner. In town, we ate at Restaurant des Voyageurs, which was excellent; however, the place was so quiet! Four other tables were filled with customers, but you could hear a pin drop. The three of us began to talk, not loud, but enough to get the rest to talk. For dinner we enjoyed the volute asparagus soup; baked salmon with a barley rice dish and zucchini. Next was a cheese course (choice of roquefort with nuts or chevre) and dessert: strawberries. With wine, dinner came to 33 euros per person. While waiting for our first course, we looked out the window and saw two rainbows!

    Saturday May 16th

    Our plans for the day was to visit Aix-en-Provence, but Kevin suggested the market in Apt, which is located about 10-15 minutes from the B&B. Good decision, as we spent a couple of hours at the market followed by visits to Lourmarin, Cucuron, and Ansousis – instead of rushing to Aix in the afternoon.

    Our day started with breakfast in the kitchen of the B&B. There are tables outside, but one table was already filled with guests and the other chairs were still wet from the rain. We enjoyed everything that was served.

    The market in Apt was great! We were given instructions to enter the town the “back side” and found a parking spot on the street. We all shopped a little and enjoyed the lively atmosphere. I did buy a duffle bag for 20 euros since I knew I needed one for the trip home.

    Next we headed to Lourmarin, which is a beautiful town. We had lunch at one of the main squares that had 3 cafés/restaurants. I had a Croque-monsieur, which I think was the best I’ve ever had. Lunch with wine was 8.50 euros. It was very nice to sit outside and enjoy the town’s atmosphere. There was a wedding party at the café too.

    The last two towns we visited were Cucuron (shopped for a couple of ceramics) and Ansouis. Both are small towns. In fact, in Cucuron, I saw a man with his dog. Twenty minutes later, we saw him again in Ansouis! He was at a café having a beer. Small area!

    Back at the B&B, some wine, and then dinner. We ate at Le Saint Hubert in St. Saturnin. I had a paté with a salad, olives, and a raisin ‘jam’ followed by duck confit with vegetables and a potato au gratin. For dessert, I had crème brule. Everything was excellent! The chef came out and talked to everyone at all tables. He had his white apron on but from behind we could see his shorts and hairy legs. (Dinner 26 euros per person with a bottle of wine). We enjoyed our dinner so much, we made reservations for our last night.

    More soon!

    Monica ((F))

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    Monica, it sounds as if you're having a great time. Thank you for posting those beautiful photos of Giverny. I've decided on your recommendation to visit Giverny. Can you keep the sun out for a few days longer? I'll be there on Thursday so if you could arrange sunshine on Friday I'd be mighty grateful.

    Looking forward to meeting you and the other guests at Restaurant Perraudin on Saturday.

    Pat.

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    Here's more from my trip!

    Sunday 17th

    Sunday was a full day of towns and sightseeing. Again, we had another beautiful, sunny day. We started with a delicious breakfast at the B&B and then headed to L’Isle sur la Sorgue around 9:30am. It was probably a 30-minute drive to the town. It was market day, and wow, what a market! It was packed with people and sometimes difficult to move about. All of us bought some things and while Elisabeth (our B&B hostess) told us to bargain hard, it didn’t work. No one would budge on his or her prices. There were many displays of foods, soaps, purses, Provencal materials, jewelry, shoes, etc. In one area is where antiques are sold.

    Before heading to our next stop, we had lunch at Le Petit Jardin. We sat outside and watched the market people pack up their goods for the day. I had a salad with fried goat cheese, tapenade, sundried tomatoes, and parmesean cheese. It was delicious!

    Before heading to Abbey de Senanque, we stopped at one of the lookout points for Gordes for some fabulous photo ops. A dozen cars were parked and people took their photos. We went to the Abbey, stopping along the way to take a photo from above. We could see the fields of lavender and I can just picture the valley in full bloom! We missed the tour for the abbey, so we just bought a few postcards and walked around the grounds before heading to Gordes.

    In Gordes, we enjoyed some gelato while walking around town. It’s not as charming as some of the other towns. I think the best part about Gordes is the views of it from the lookout point.

    For dinner, we dined at La Fontaine, which is located in the small town of Villars. It’s located just a few miles from the B&B. A pleasant town. We dined outside with several other diners. Louisa said, “Lets splurge, let’s live it up” in choosing the 16 euro wine over the 15 euro wine. Too funny. We started with a kir (Louisa had her suze). For the starter, I had the crevettes salad and sliced duck for my dinner. For dessert, a decadent café tiramisu. I couldn’t finish it, but it was delicious!

    Service was good and it’s a place I would highly recommend to fellow travelers for a satisfying meal (30 euros for dinner, dessert, and wine).

    Monday 18th

    Today we visited four towns, first stopping at Pont Julien. All of us were not impressed, especially after seeing the Pont du Gard. The day was beautiful as we drove along. Our first stop was to Bonneiux, which is a lovely town that sits on a high hill. It was fairly quiet since it was still early.

    Lacoste was next, which was located across the valley from Bonneiux. I took photos of each town in the distance. Same small streets with shops and a restaurant or two.

    We had lunch in Menerbes at Le Galanbet. The menu of the day included a tossed salad and escalope turkey (they were out of pork), in a mushroom sauce, and thinly sliced French fries (12 euros).

    Our last stop of the day was to Vieux Oppede. I remember the parking area from my last visit, but not the town itself. Louisa was pretty tired, so she stayed behind. Elizabeth and I walked for a short while but didn’t go up to the top – too hilly and we were getting tired too.

    We made a quick stop at Goult to find a grocery store, but nothing was open since many places are closed on Monday’s. We stopped in Apt at a large “Walmart” type store and bought food for dinner (35 euros): Assorted cheese, paté, proscuitto, shrimp cocktail, olive tapenade, bread and three bottles of wine (No, we didn’t drink all the wine that night). We sat at our B&B next to the pool eating our delicious dinner.

    Kevin gave us some cherries to snack on and told us to pick our own in his yard. Louisa and I picked some for the next day. There were about 10 trees but only one was ready for the picking. The B&B is set among vineyards and is quite beautiful.

    Before bed, I had my computer on and saw a message stating Tony was online on Skype, so I clicked on the “respond” link and we talked for about 10 minutes. It was pretty cool to talk to him via my computer. I couldn’t figure out how to get the video on.

    Tuesday May 19th.

    Today we visited Aix en Provence, which is located about an hour south of Apt. We parked the car at a car park just north of the city and took the local bus into town. Kevin had told us about a shuttle bus, but the local bus came by first. As we got to town the bus driver (a woman) asked me where we were going so I told her. She pointed in the right direction and told me she would not be going that way. I tried to hand her my money for the bus ride (1.10 euros) but she smiled and said no.

    Aix is a beautiful city. It's quite manageable on foot. Being a Tuesday, we hit their market day. I have been shopping a little. I picked up two beautiful leather purses, both made in Italy. One was 55 euros and after trying to get a discount (these vendors will not budge on their price) I got it for 50 euros. I later saw the same purse in a store for 140 euros. What a deal!!! Elizabeth bought one for 35 euros and the same purse was 65 euros in the store. Louisa was disappointed that she didn't find one for herself. However, she was thrilled with her Provencal tablecloth.

    Cours Mirabeau is a beautiful small boulevard lined with plan trees dotted with cafés. We enjoyed the market, although they started to blend. We even saw some of the vendors we met at other markets. I guess they travel to all of them.

    We had a great lunch at Chez Charlotte (32 rue de Bernardines). We dined in the back terrace. Not much of a view but the weather was beautiful and we sat under a canopy. I enjoyed their excellent terrine foie with toast points followed by veal escalope with a rich mushroom sauce with chanterelles. Louisa ordered the same dishes and Elizabeth ordered some vegetable dishes. With a demi-carafe of white house wine (50cl), our lunch came to 19 euros per person.

    We walked around for a while, to include part of a Cezanne tour. We passed her his mother and sister used to live and a café where he hung out with other friends. The old town area was beautiful with wrought-iron balconies.

    After a short visit in a Monoprix, we decided to take a break at an outdoor café. We ended up leaving after waiting at least 20 minutes for a waitress.

    It took a short while to find the right bus stop to get back to the car park. The drive home took about 1.5 hours via Cavaillon. I didn’t feel like driving up the same windy road from the morning. Traffic was pretty bad in a few towns.

    After our usual break at the B&B with some white wine, we drove to Ruslilon for dinner. Louisa had called for reservations and requested a table on the terrace. We had lovely sunset views. R is m favorite town in the whole area!!

    One of the waiters joked with us throughout the evening. For dinner I had a salad with cured ham, cheese, sun dried tomatoes and a side dish of poached egg on top of toast. It was an unusual combination, but very good. I also had lamb with zucchini, a small salad, and stuffed baked potato. Everything was very good. (28 euros for dinner with a bottle of wine).

    So far we have had perfect weather since we arrived in the Luberon area. Tomorrow is our last day in this area and then we head to Paris on Thursday.

    Wednesday May 20, 2009

    This was our last day in Provence! Today was another beautiful day. Sunny skies and temps in the low 80s. It felt like it was the hottest of all our days in Provence.

    After a great breakfast of fresh sliced strawberries and yogurt, apple crepes, fresh-baked bread and croissants, we took a drive to Sault, which is located about 30 minutes north of St. Saturnin. It’s a drive up a windy road. It was market day and a very nice one because it was very small and not crowded. Throughout our market visits we ran into several of the same sellers. They go from one market to the next with their goods. Today I saw one who sells a delicious variety of cured meats. We’ve been able to sample the meats, some cheese, various tapenade and even honey.

    Our next stop was at Simiane la Rotonde, where an old chateau is located. We walked around this hilly town for just a short while, as our main sight of the day was the Abbaye de Valsaintes. A fine photo op is of Simiane la Rotonde as you get closer to the Abbeye.

    The gardens at the Abbeye were beautiful filled with various roses and other flowers. We couldn’t visit the monastery but we did get to go inside the church, which had been restored some time ago.

    On the way back to St. Saturnin, we drove through Rustrel, which is a small town. Along the way we stopped to take photos of a large poppy field. It was quite beautiful with its spread of bright red. Of course, it would have been so wonderful to see the lavender fields in bloom. We saw many fields of lavender. Someday I’ll return here to see them in bloom. For now, I have a couple of pretty postcards.

    Lunch was quick at “7 degrees Sud” in St. Saturnin. We shared a pizza (made to order), which was pretty good. (8 euros).

    Back at the B&B, both Louisa and Elizabeth started to back their bags and trying to fit all of their shopping goodies in. I, on the other hand, went back out to take more photos of the poppy fields. There were two closer to St. Saturnin. For one field, I found a way to get close to them via a tiny dirt road, most of which was covered with weeds. Great photo op! The other field I discovered just today, which was located very close to our B&B. Funny that I didn’t see it before.

    When I returned from my short drive, I had to jump in the shower, as it was quite a hot afternoon. I packed most of my bags, which seemed overwhelming at first. Lots of small items to pack.

    Right now it’s 6:35pm and we are sitting outside enjoying some wine and typing (me), reading (Elizabeth) and writing (Louisa). We have dinner plans tonight with some fellow travelers.

    Tomorrow we are off to Paris. We’ll have to get up very early to get to the train station on time and we were told that it’s a holiday, so traffic might be heavy around Avignon.


    Thursday May 21, 2009


    Off to Paris! We got up early (6am), as Kevin stated today is a holiday and that traffic would be bad. That wasn’t to be. It took only an hour to get to Avignon, which was easy (D973; N900, N7). We dropped Elizabeth off with the entire luggage before dropping off the car. Again it was a struggle to get our luggage on board to the second level, but two women helped us. We are now settled in our chairs with me facing backwards.

    Dinner last night was very good. We met up with Kathy and Charley at 8pm. Our waiter from the other night remembered we wanted to sit on the terrace, so he had a nice table set up for us. The evening was beautiful and company great. I had the same appetizer as the other evening and fish for my main dish. Dessert was a rich chocolate-like cake, which I couldn’t finish.

    More soon!

    Monica((F))

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    I got home a short while today after being picked up and a quick lunch with Tony.

    It was a great trip and I'll post the rest of my journal tomorrw. And I'll get more photos posted soon.

    Monica ((F))

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    Finally, the rest of my trip report!

    Thursday May 21, 2009

    Dinner last night was very good. We met up with Kathy and Charley at 8pm at Le Saint Hubert in St. Saturnin les Apt. I met Kathy via Slowtrav.com. Our waiter from the other night remembered we wanted to sit on the terrace, so he had a nice table set up for us. The evening was beautiful and company was great. I had the same appetizer as the other evening and fish for my main dish. Dessert was a rich chocolate-like cake, which I couldn’t finish.

    We talked to Kathy and Charley about our time in Provence and they shared with us information about their touring business called The Luberon Experience (http://www.luberonexperience.com/). They organize and host small group tours of Provence a few times a year exploring the area while basing in one location.

    Off to Paris! We got up early (6am), as Kevin stated today was a holiday and that traffic would be bad. That wasn’t to be. It took only an hour to get to Avignon, which was easy (D973, N900, and N7). We dropped Elizabeth off with our entire luggage at the train station before dropping off the car at Europecar. The office didn't open until 9am and we had arrived 30 minutes early. We had no problems with our rental car. Just to let anyone know, there are two options when renting a car from Europecar (booked via AutoEurope prior to the trip): You can return the car completely filled or completely empty. I chose returning the car full. There was a gas station a couple of miles from the train station, which I figured would be less expensive than using the gas station closest to the train station.

    The TGV station in Avignon is set up so that one stands at the right location next to the track for the correct car. We were at section "Z" for car 18. Again it was a struggle to get our luggage on board the train to the second level, but fortunately, two women helped us. Settled in our chairs with me facing backwards, our ride north began.

    It was a nice train ride back to Paris. Along the way we saw blue skies, then gray skies, then blue again when we hit Paris. It was just a short taxi ride from Gare de Lyon to our hotel on the left bank, Hotel des Grands Hommes, which is located right in front of the Pantheon. We had gone to the taxi queue (out the train station and to the far right) and only waited a few minutes since the line moved pretty quickly with all the taxi drivers.

    We had negotiated a good rate for a triple room. The original price was higher than what we wanted to pay, so I told Louisa to tell the person at the hotel the price was unaffordable but that we really wanted to stay there and would they be willing to accept a lower price of $x? The hotel countered our price with a slightly higher price, but one within our budget, which we accepted. Good deal! It never hurts to negotiate a lower price with hotels in Europe (or anywhere for that matter).

    Grands Hommes is located next to the Pantheon, which our room on the third floor had a great view. The room was set up with two twins pushed together and one single twin at the other wall for me. The room was small but we managed fine. There is no counter space for shelving to speak of in the bathroom. The toilet was in a separate room. There was a room safe and even a mini bar, which we used to chill our white wine and bottled water. We had a full view of the Pantheon and front plaza. There’s always lots of activity there with tourists and students.

    For the rest of the afternoon, we hit the Maubert market, which was about a 10-minute walk from the hotel. Some of the vendors were already packing up for the day. Elizabeth bought three pashmina's (5 euros each - same price as from two years ago and from the same vendor), while Louisa and I bargained for two carry-on rollers. I needed a new one, as the wheels on my old one started to break from the weight of what I had packed (netbook computer and all my camera equipment). We were able to get the seller to drop his price a little since we were buying two.

    We had lunch near the Pantheon after dropping off our shopping items (and wine that we purchased). We all had a salad and quiche Lorraine at Le Soufflot. It was very good and reasonably priced for such a touristy area (9.90 euros each). It was nice to sit outside and people watch while we ate. Our waiter kept asking if we wanted any drinks, but we were thirsty for water.

    After lunch, we visited the church of Saint-Etienne-du-Mont, located just east of the Pantheon, which is one of the most beautiful I’ve seen. It is one of the brightest churches’ I’ve been in. Others like Notre Dame are dark. The church is dedicated to St. Geneviève, patron saint of Paris. The pièce de résistance is the fabulous stone rood screen, which begins on one side of the nave at the spiral staircase to the other side with another spiral staircase. The workmanship is exquisite. While walking around, we noticed many well-dressed people taking their seats. A wedding was about to begin! What a wonderful church to be married in. We stayed long enough (next to the front doors) to watch the bride walk down with her father, who was dressed in military uniform.

    We also visited Eglise Saint Sulpice. It was an attractive church, but not as impressive as Saint-Etienne-du-Mont.

    There is a great store in the Marais (92, rue St. Antoine) that Louisa and I have been too a couple of times. We discovered that there are 4-5 other locations. It’s called La Vaissellerie (www.lavaissellerie.com). All of us wanted to go back and buy a few items, one being a clear plastic wine bag, which is the latest "must-have" item. You place your bottle of wine in the bag and fill with water and ice cubes. Lots of restaurants use these bags for their customers. We found the store on 85, rue des Rennes and wow, what a TINY store! It was probably 1/6th the size of the one in the Marais and it was packed with merchandise from floor to ceiling. It was hard to squeeze by people, but everyone was polite. In addition to the wine bag, I bought a Paris clock for my office, and a heavy plastic food tray, which I plan to use as my "table top" for my netbook computer when I'm lounging at home.

    In our room, we had some wine and relaxed. For dinner, we dined at Le Petit Prince de Paris, which I had the hotel receptionist make reservations for us for 8pm. I dined there with my cousin several years ago. It was just a short walk to the restaurant, which is located in the heart of the student quarter. In fact, we had to pass two cafés that were filled with students enjoying their drinks and company.

    The restaurant has a cozy, yet lively atmosphere and is decorated in dark reds and oranges. Music played in the background ranging from French to American oldies to songs from the 50’s. Tables were closely placed to one another. The place filled up within 20 minutes of our arrival. In fact, we had to squeeze into a corner table with two chairs and a corner "couch", which had colorful pillows to lean against. Our hotel receptionist had told us the restaurant needed our table by 10pm; however, once we were settled in, the waiter took his time in serving us.

    I had a delicious starter of escargot with a field green salad and roasted red pepper sauce, followed by chunks of lamb with potatoes and artichokes in a brown sauce. The Menu was 22 euros and we shared a bottle of wine (standard procedure in our travels).

    Friday, May 22nd

    Friday was a gorgeous day with clear blue skies, and the air crisp and cool. The day barely topped 72-73 degrees. While Louisa and Elizabeth went out to tour the various museums, I headed to Notre Dame. It was a perfect day for picture taking atop the Notre Dame tower. I arrived at 9:30am and already there was a line. I was about 40th in line. I talked with two different couples while we waited for the tower to open. Just after 10am, the line began to move. Approximately 20 people per group can go up, with groups every 10 minutes or so. Two sets of school children were let in first. By the time I got in, 1.5 hours had passed since I first arrived. But it was worth the wait. The line behind me extended a good distance and I guessed that those at the back of the line had a 2 or more hour wait. I purchased the 2-day museum pass not knowing if I would use it enough to get my moneys worth.

    Up 400 steps to the top, the views were wonderful. Gargoyles stare out towards the Parisian skyline. Looking north, I could see the Sacre Coeur in the distance with its ever-white façade. In another direction were the Eiffel Tower and the gold dome of Les Invalides where Napoleon Bonaparte is buried. To the south was the Pantheon.

    Back down to ground level, I walked around the area. The flowers alongside Notre Dame were in full bloom. Along the quai the bookstands were open for customers, selling old books, posters, cards, and souvenirs.

    I headed towards rue Buci for lunch and found a small restaurant called Vins et Terroirs (66, Rue Saint-André des Arts 75006; 01 46 33 00 77). There are two levels to the restaurant and I sat downstairs. The room was small with a bar on the backside, tables close together, dark red walls, and floral-shaped hanging lights. Three older French women sitting next to me were enjoying fish for lunch. I had a delicious house terrine, thickly sliced, and salad, followed by salmon and rice. With a glass of white wine, I paid 14.90 euros. While in the restaurant, I listed to songs from Frank Sanatra, Aretha Franklin, and Dionne Warwick. Oh how the French like American music.

    In the afternoon, I visited the Louvre for about two hours. I saw Mona with her smile, the Winged Victory, and Michelangelo’s sculptures - The chained slaves. The museum was packed with visitors, so two hours was plenty of time for me. One can spend days and days at the Louvre and barely scratch the surface.

    Back over on the left bank, I visited Saint Chapelle, which is a favorite of mine because of the beautiful and colorful stained glass windows. The sun was still bright and helped light up the windows.

    For dinner, the three of us dined at Petit Pontoise (9 rue de Pontoise, 5e), which was recommended by our friend Sandy. It was located about a 15-minute walk from our hotel. The welcoming dining room filled up quickly, mostly tourists. The night air was too cold to sit outside. There was no menu but just a la carte. It was probably our most expensive meal of the trip, but it was very good. I had a baked Camembert cheese topped with nuts and honey and a side salad, followed by a scallop dish with julienned zucchini and bean sprouts topped with a light vanilla sauce. It was delicious and not overly sweet. The portions were huge, which made up for the pricey menu. (51.50 euros per person with wine). Reservations are a must.

    Saturday, May 23rd

    Saturday was my last full day in Paris. Louisa and Elizabeth were off to Versailles for the day. I had considered a day trip to Senlis, but decided to enjoy more of Paris. I had a Markets of Paris book with me and saw that there was a Saturday market at Saxe-Breteuil in the 7th Arr. I headed out to the Maubert metro and discovered the food and vegetable market in full swing. I snapped away taking lots of photos and had a taste of some goodies: foie gras pâté and cheese.

    I hopped on board the metro and got off at Segur. I couldn’t find the market! I followed the directions from the book, but for some reason, I was turned around – and I’m normally very good with directions. Later on looking at my map, I realized my mistake. I was off by a couple of blocks. How disappointing; however, it was nice to walk in an area I usually don’t visit. The area is quite residential and didn’t have a touristy feel. It was a nice sunny day, but turned to rain when I was eating lunch at Pizza Tina. I had a delicious pasta carbonara and some white wine while sitting at a table out on the sidewalk. It rained lightly for a while, so I sat back, enjoyed the food, and chatted with the Sicilian owners. The older gentleman wore three heavy gold chains, one with a large Italian horn pendant.

    I stopped at a pharmacy and picked up a couple of beauty products, including some 'dry shampoo'. Having fine, baby hair, I have to wash my hair every day. Louisa had told me about this great product. I picked up two bottles and it does work very well! I also picked up some eye cream.

    As I walked along the area, the Eiffel Tower kept peaking out between buildings and trees. I didn't go all the way to the tower, but enjoyed taking partial photos of Paris’ symbol.

    I headed over to the right bank to l’Orangerie, one of my favorite museums, which holds some fabulous paintings by Monet. Along the way, I saw a couple with their photographer taking their wedding photos. I took several and gave them my card and told them I would be happy to send them copies. They were quite appreciative. The museum, located near the Tuileries gardens, is quite small with two large oval-shaped rooms with Monet’s paintings – Les Nympheas. There’s also a lower level with works by artists such as Cézanne, Utrillo, and Picasso.

    I had enough of walking and needed to get back to the hotel to pack up my luggage before dinner. However, I took the metro to St. Michel and decided to walk around the area for a few minutes. The area was quite busy with tourists shopping, eating crepes, and enjoying the many cafés in the area. I even saw a few gypsies, which I avoided.

    Louisa and Elizabeth enjoyed their day at Versailles and got to see the fountains running. Louisa had hired a private guide and felt it was worth the money for the convenience and information. I may have to do that on a future trip.

    For dinner, we met our fellow fodorites at Perraudin (http://restaurant-perraudin.com/), where we had dined on the 9th. There were 17 of us and we sat in the main dining room at two tables. We were a noisy but fun group! I had hoped we would get the private room, but it was probably too small for such a large group.

    For my meal, I started with - Profiteroles de chèvre chaud au coulis de tomate (Goat cheese profiterole with tomato coulis) and then the chef’s recommendation of a steak with roquefort sauce and fries. The steak was almost 2” thick and cooked saignant, very rare, like I like it: Mooing. Seems like most enjoyed their dinner, although I heard the Bœuf bourguignon was just passable.

    Our waiter, the same one from the first night, took good care of us and seemed to enjoy the tourists in the restaurant. We had several photos taken with several cameras that another waiter joined in to help take the photos. Finally we had to have a photo of the waiters!

    Tod, from South Africa, was very sweet to give gifts to everyone – collector’s stamps of Nelson Mandela. As we all thanked her, she said, Finally, I can get rid of them! I’ve been carrying them for two weeks! The stamps were in small ‘books”. I did a Google search and came up with this about the stamp: http://www.nelsonmandela.org/index.php/news/article/new_stamps_mark_birthday/. It’s really nice to have this collection, especially since I’ve been collecting stamps since the age of 10. After our goodbyes, the three of us headed back to the hotel where I finished packing and went to bed.

    Sunday, May 24th

    I woke up at 6am for my 7am pickup with the shuttle service Airport-Connection. However, they were late. In fact, they had to use another company to pick me up (and 4 other passengers), as their driver was late to work. One passenger said that Airport-Connection is always late on the pick up for the airport. I still arrived at the airport on time – 8:20am. There was no traffic being a Sunday.

    Check in was fast and I had no problems with my luggage. Security was tight. I was randomly picked for inspection of my carry-on suitcase and purse. I had to open everything for a female agent to check and wipe with a ‘wand’ to check for chemicals or explosive material or whatever they look for. Clean bill, I headed to the gate.

    The flight home was smooth, food good, and good service. Tony picked me up, as usual. We had lunch in Leesburg, and then home. Lucy was happy to see me.

    Summary

    It was a great trip and as always, I wish I had a few more days added to my vacation. Paris is a wonderful city to visit and I never get tired of its sights, museums, and cafés and restaurants. It was good to meet our fellow fodorites and Slowtrav friends – we had lots of fun at our three get together’s. The French we met along the way were friendly and helpful, especially those at our hotel and B&Bs.

    I loved visiting the markets in Provence. We saw quite a few and I didn’t get bored with them, even though much of the products were repeated at each location. The markets were so colorful. I enjoyed smelling the various French soaps, tasting olives, honey, pâtés, wine, and even pickled garlic. I was tempted to buy a tablecloth, but I have some material at home that I just need to sew the edges. I’m thrilled with my bargain – my 50 euro purse, which I saw the same one in a store for 140 euros.

    Now it’s time to plan my next trip: A 2-week transatlantic cruise in November!

    Monica ((F))

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    Monica,
    Thanks again for doing ALL (and I know it must have been a lot) the work for the terrific GTG! I had no idea you liked your steak so rare; I would have peered over to spy on it and pay attention to mooing if I had. I thought my salmon was terrific.

    I have enjoyed reading your, Louisa's and Elizabeth's adventures both in Paris and in Provence. When can we expect more photos? :D

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    Very well written and interesting report Monica. Thank you. I've enjoyed your resto recos, and yes, Le Petit Pontoise is spendy - I paid 115E for Dad and me for dinner. So nice to sit outdoors on a nice night though!

    Restaurant Perraudin was a great value, and I can say that especially after having gone to a number of other places so far on our trip.

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    Hi Leely2,

    It was great meeting you and the rest of the gang. Maybe we’ll meet on a future trip. I still need to post all of the GTG photos. I have tomorrow off so I can get some of it done this weekend. And I’ll start posting my trip photos, one town/city at a time. I took a lot of photos and need to weed through them. Stay tuned!

    Yes, I like my steaks pretty rare. ;)

    Hi flygirl,

    Thanks for the compliments. Le Petit Pontoise was expensive, but quite filling and delicious. Of course the exchange rate doesn’t help. One of my lunches was 19 euros (which included wine) and that came to about $26! Yikes! For lunch! Perraudin was good. Try to get to Chez Janou in the Marais if you can. Great Parisian atmosphere.

    I must add to my journal that while we loved having non-smoking dining rooms, the outdoor cafés were filled with smokers. Smoking policies are never a win-win situation for everyone.

    Monica ((F))

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    What a lovely informative report Monica - it was so nice to meet you and all the other wonderful Fodorites at Perraudin.
    Thank you for organising such a large gathering of the Clan!
    Hope to see photos soon - I will put mine in with a Trip Report in a few weeks.
    It was an absolute pleasure to present you all with a little bit of Africa, and of course there is non other greater in stature than Madiba - glad to hear you are a stamp collector! Had 25 albums just in case the dinner party had ballooned in the two weeks I was out of contact!
    Hope we bump into each other in Paris again.

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    As always, Monica did a great job with the trip report. Just a few notes from me. First of all, it was nice meeting everyone at both GTGs and then reading other trip reports from those who are still traveling or are back home including Tod, Schnauzer (love your report from Italy!), Paule, and Leely 2.

    I was the one who didn't want to include big cities in the Provence part of the trip but in retrospect I would have allowed some time for Avignon and more time in Aix and would have eliminated some of the smaller towns. Or, I would have allowed more time in Paris (there's just never enough time, is there?). Since this was my daughter's first trip to France we got the museum pass and it was nice to be able to see a number of museums more easily. It was particularly helpful on our last day when we tried to fit in everything in at the end.

    We started with a trip to the Monge Marche, which was nice on a Sunday morning. I was looking for some things to fill my suitcase with since I bought another bag a few days before for just this reason but alas, no more pottery or linens to be had. We did find some nice chunky bracelets with lots of beads and silver and a few inexpensive necklaces. Then we were off to the Cluny. I had put off seeing this museum before because I wasn't that interested in tapestries but it was spectacular and I'm so glad we went. Then we were off to Saint Chapelle, the Louvre, and finally L'Orangerie.

    It was a great trip and now I'm busy sorting through all the pictures. Thanks to those of you who gave advice on where to buy a camera and to Monica, of course, who really helped in the final decision. I'll see if Elizabeth will post some of her pictures so you can see the results. She loved the trip too but I think Rome and Italy will always be her real love. She spent the semester in Rome a few years ago and so it will always be a special place for her.

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    Hi Tod,

    You were a trooper carrying the extra weight of the stamp gifts. Thanks again!! My grandmother (she’s 100 years old now – we’re having a huge party at the end of the month for her) got me started when I was very young and I was able to collect stamps from many countries. Hope to bump into you again in our future travels. Hey, I’ll be in Rome in November for a few days prior to my transatlantic cruise! :)

    Thanks Louisa for adding your comments. Glad you decided to visit the Cluny museum. It’s one of my favorites!

    Monica ((F))

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