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Trip Report Eight Days In Paris - Old Favorites and New Experiences

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DAY 00 - MON MAY 19
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This is our fifth trip to Paris since 2001 (not counting a day trip from London in 2005). We planned to do some things we’d done before and some new things, as well.

Disclaimer: We are not foodies. Linda, my wife, is more adventurous with new foods than I, but we both tend to order things we are familiar with and favor restaurants we have enjoyed in the past. Please -- no flaming over all the pizza we ordered. :-)

Linda usually sleeps pretty well on the overnight flight — with the help of Nyquil — but I have real difficulty sleeping sitting up. The day before we left I checked the seating and saw that the plane (a 2-4-2 cofiguration) had a lot of free center rows, so I took a chance and moved our seats from two outside seats to the end seats of a center section. The gamble paid off — the two middle seats remained vacant, and I got to lie down on three seats and had a reasonably good night.

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DAY 01 - TUE MAY 20
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We arrived pretty much on time. Exiting the airport was breeze — only a couple of people ahead of us at immigration control — and we don’t check luggage. We took the CDGVAL to Roissypole.

We have Navigo cards …but we do not have chip-pin credit cards…we use a no-fee Cap One card abroad. The lines for the ticket machines were actually longer than the line at the ticket window, so we used the window. But our card was rejected, anyway. Luckily we always save about 75-100 Euros from our previous trip for just such situations.

NOTE: The weekly pass was a bargain, since we ended up using bus or Metro 27 times through Sunday, an average of ~0.75 per trip. We would get a carnet for our last two days — Monday & Tuesday.

Our hotel is across from Place Baudoyer on R. Rivoli. With a weekly pass and ticket to Paris (parcours complement) loaded onto our Navigo cards, we took the RER to St Michel. We had determined that — given the construction at Chatalet, and checking Google maps — and since the weather was OK — the very pleasant walk from St. Michel past Notre Dame was quicker than either walking from Chatalet or transferring to Line 1 and getting off at Hotel de Ville.

This is our third stay at Hotel de Nice — sort of our regular place now. The rooms have quirky décor that we like and the people are great. They gave us a very good rate (return customers?). We emailed them a picture of Linda on the balcony of our room a previous visit, and they honored our request for the same room. The location is great for walking (on the west edge of the Marais) and transport. I highly recommend this hotel.

We left our luggage and went out for a walk. Through the Marais up to Pl. Republique, then picked up some sandwiches, drinkable yogurt and salad at a Franprix, had a picnic at the beautiful Place du Temple (really a little park).

Then we stopped at one of our favorite museums, the Carnavalet — the free museum of the city of Paris. This, to us, is a must-see. Lots of paintings, furniture, historical items relating to the city, including some great art nouveau and art deco items.

When we exited the museum, it had started to rain a little. Actually, we were under constant threat of rain the entire trip, but we mostly had occasional light showers.

After a stop at an ATM, we checked into our hotel and took a two-hour nap. I know that most folks recommend toughing it out the first day, but we find that we actually acclimate ourselves to the time change with afternoon naps, even on the first day.

For our afternoon, we took the bus to St. Sulpice, then walked to St-Germain-des-Pres…we had forgotten how wonderful these two churches were. Then we walked back to the hotel.

Dinner was a quick but tasty pizza, salad and wine at Pizza Sant’Antonio, right across a small place from our hotel. Then we walked to the Amorino on R. Vielle du Temple for ice cream: chocolate and amarena (cherry-vanilla) tonight.

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DAY 02 - WED MAY 21
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Generally we like to eat breakfast in our room. Place Baudoyer across the street hosts a market on Wednesdays and Saturdays, so the plan was to have the hotel breakfast (they included two free days) today, and buy strawberries and oranges later in the day at the market for Thursday through Saturday.

The hotel breakfast was pretty much what you’d expect…just bread, croissants, orange juice, and coffee.

Our morning walk was from the book History & Mystery, 24 Walks. It took us through Park Monceau and its nearby streets. This was an area we have never been to before, and we loved the walk. Highlights included the beautiful park, the Alexandre Nevsky cathedral and a number of luxurious residences.

Just as the walk was ending the rain started. We headed to the Musee d’Orsay. We had bought our tickets online before leaving the US, so entry was quick. We had skipped this museum on our last visit, and that made it more of a treat this time.

I will not attempt to describe the vast array of amazing paintings, since everyone knows this is a must-see in Paris. But I will say that this museum does an exceptional job of displaying the art…often on a black wall and well-lit — the colors just jump of the canvas.

Many museums have reasonably-priced cafes — the Orsay does not. (At least, we couldn't find one.) We just had some mediocre carrot soup (€9 each).

On the way back to the hotel we stopped at the market in Place Baudoyer to buy our oranges and strawberries for our breakfasts. Then we saw a vendor selling roasted chicken and potatoes to go. We bought some and had a wonderful lunch in our room.

Short nap.

We decided to walk over to Notre Dame, but the lines were long, so, instead, we took the Metro to Tour Montparnasse and went to the top, a new thing for us. Great view of the city! After about ten minutes at the top we heard thunder and headed down. By the time we got outside, it was pouring. The bus was closer than the Metro, so we hopped on the #96, which took us back to Place Baudoyer and our hotel (by which time the rain had stopped)…a very nice ride.

NOTE: There is often a lot of discussion on Fodor’s about whether to use the bus or the Metro. There is not definitive answer. We use both liberally depending on time of day, weather, distance, and whether we feel like seeing the city on our journey.

After a short rest in our room, we went to a restaurant that we frequently go to — Equinox — on Rue des Rosiers. They have a €15 three-course menu that — if you choose wisely — can usually be pretty good.

Linda had deviled eggs and I had herring & potato salad for entrée — both very good. We both had pork ribs for the plat…also tasty but (as one might expect with pork ribs) somewhat fatty. For dessert Linda had crème brûlée and I had a really tasty gateau Basque (a type of cake). And, of course, wine.

Since dessert was included, no Amorino tonight. We were pretty tired at this point, so we went back to the hotel for the night.

This was a good day with a bunch of new things.

[…more to come…]

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