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Trip Report Paris and Beyond, March April 2011, a serial report

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We are at a Marais apartment after a short ride from Boston on AF337, a 747-400 that was only one third full. It was like the old days; we each got a row to ourselves to sleep. Very professional crew who happily supplied 3 cups of albeit not very good coffee for breakfast. Bad food in coach. Of course, the fact that the plane arrives at 5:30 AM doesn't make it attractive to leisure travelers, though business travelers can make connections and get in a full day of work without any trouble.

We couldn't get into our apartment until late morning, so we killed some time waiting in the airport railroad station, then took the RER into Paris, transiting the nightmarish station at Chatelet-Les Halles where you transfer from the railroad to the Metro, in our case Line 1. Some lovely Africans helped us carry our suitcases up several flights of stairs, and we bumped them down others. What a mess! But when we came out of the Metro at St Paul, we were in Paris for real!

**Lessons learned:
1. We are in our later 60's and are too old to deal with the transfer at Chatelet, which we used to do without strain. Next time, we will find a different way into Paris.
2. It would have been worth searching for a day room at an airport hotel, napping, and going into the city when we are rested. We were able to drop our bags but did not get real possession of the apartment until mid afternoon. We were pretty whipped by the time we got in.
3. Some RER ticket machines do now take US non chip-and-pin credit cards, though we used the ticket window since I needed to break a 50 euro bill.

After getting into the apartment to tidy ourselves a bit and leave the bags, we went to the cafe on the corner, where we have been eating for twelve years or so. We had a big delicious rich lunch, since we hadn't had any breakfast, and watched the French passing by. Lots of kids on Razor scooters, including two little boys wearing kippe, one tennish, the other about 4, and navigating traffic like madmen.

I ate muscshrooms stuffed with snails and steak tartare. My wife had echine de cochon noire after a slice of house pate. The place was full of slim young women who in the US would be eating salad and yogurt at their desks instead of chowing down on big steaks or duck with pasta and glasses of wine. We had a nice conversation with an Italian woman at the next table. She is resident in France and a grandmother, so we had three things to talk about: food, our countries, and granddaughters!

Then we went for a walk through the Place des Vosges and down through little narrow streets to the river Seine. We walked along the river a bit enjoying the new bright green spring leaves on the trees, then came back through St Paul for a nap. After, we went to the G7 mini supermarket, which is about the size of a 7-11 where we bought a few supplies for overnight. For supper, my wife had a bowl of cereal, and I had some garlic sausage and fresh tomatoes. Yum! And about all we could handle after our lunch.

I think we will have an early night, but it is still very light out at almost 8, so sleeping may not be so easy. Lots of advil for the aches and pains. A friend joins us early tomorrow, and we are going to the opera Friday evening.

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