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Trip Report Paris at Christmastime - Trip Report

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Thank you to everyone who helped with suggestions to the few questions I asked. I searched and read thru old posts more than I asked my own questions but still, thank you everyone for your help!

We had a fantastic week long trip in Paris. We squeezed in two day trips, Versailles & Reims, along with some standard 'must do's in Paris; museums, cathedrals, etc. And boy did we eat! I speak a little French, enough to order and ask for info, but not much beyond that. I was impressed with how accommodating the city was for tourists, especially English speaking tourists. I wish NYC was that way for our visitors. I tried as best to speak French and usually got my answers in English.

Why did we choose Paris? Why not! I had never been out of the US (except for some caribbean islands) Husband has been but years ago and did not have much control of the itinerary. Like he would with his wife? :) This would be our first trip together since our Honeymoon in February of 08.

We flew Continental from Newark, NJ on Dec 23. Our 10pm flight was delayed 2hrs (after we boarded) due to engine failure. Nothing like engine failure to get me excited for my first trans-Atlantic flight like engine failure! They were very nice to us tho, we got beverage & snack service while we waited and some kind of 'continental currency' for our trouble. I was just glad the engine worked. We had a great flight, most of which I slept thru. Passed thru the airport with almost no time wasted. Yay for my first passport stamp! Got a cab to our hotel.

Our hotel, Best Western Eiffel Park on Rue Amelie, was picked randomly. I checked a bunch of websites & travel books for suggestions. I wanted to stay near the Eiffel tower. I wanted wireless for our laptop. I wanted affordable. BWEP was all those. We loved our room. It was comfortable & clean - all we needed after a long day of sightseeing. www.eiffelpark.com The staff was very helpful & polite. Most spoke great English.

Our first stop after checking in was my beloved Eiffel tower. You'd think living in NYC I'd be less than impressed with the tall buildings & monuments but I'm not. I love them. I could sit in the park around the ET for hours at a time..ok it's winter, maybe 30minutes tops. I used my little bit of French to order us hot chocolates & donuts for a snack. There was no time to go up tonight, another day/night!

For dinner I had made a reservation on opentable.fr. Knowing that Christmas Eve is a very 'family' night for the French (and most American families I know) I did not want to be wandering around Paris looking for an open place to eat. Great thought. Too bad the restaurant I made a reservation with was closed. No mind, we could make this work right?! Given the combination of our hunger & sleepiness (and ok I was a little cranky) we ate at some awful Italian place. They had menus in English and everyone loves pasta right? No it was awful but at least we ate. Ok, not exactly an authentic start to our trip but tomorrow is another day!

We used the metro to travel to and from 'dinner'. We had some Euro coins a friend gave us after her recent trip which were so helpful. We bought 2 carnet of 10 tix knowing we'd take the metro a lot. We use the subway here in NYC so much so it didn't take me very long to figure out the maps and get us to where we needed to go. If you are from/have spent time in a big city with a good mass trans. system, you won't be intimidated.

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    Christmas Day!!! YAY!!

    We woke up in a little jet-lagged haze. Late, by my sightseeing standards, at 10am. We ate a quick breakfast of granola bars I had thrown into our luggage as 'you never know' snacks before heading off.

    Today's schedule included: Pompidou Center for some modern art fun, a walk thru the Marais, including the Place des Vosges. Dinner at Market.

    We purchased passes for Pompidou using the automatic machines. I did not want to buy or use a Museum pass yet. Surprised the machines took American cards. For the most part, at least in the beginning of our visit, the museum was pretty empty and we got to enjoy some great art all to ourselves. The views of the city from the exterior escalators were awesome. There was not a cloud in the sky. We at lunch in the museum at Georges. The view was great & so was the food. Pompidou was not a 'must do' on our list but a great choice for a day when most sites are closed.

    We walked from the museum thru the Marais and enjoyed window shopping from the streets. It was pretty peaceful and quiet. Place des Vosges was romantic, even in winter. :) We walked to the Bastille and got on the Metro. I decided we should get off a few stops early at Concorde for a little 'extra walk. As if we didn't walk enough today! We walked along the Champs Elysees for a bit, turned back around and crossed the Seine at Port Alexander I believe .

    After a little freshening up we were off to our dinner at Market! We took the Metro back to Concorde and walked to the restaurant & explored around there a bit. Fun stores with cheery window displays & decorations. At night the Champs Elysees was all light up with great sparkly lights --- tons of families out enjoying the night. The Christmas market was open on the sidewalks and there were people still buying & selling gifts & food.

    Market was a delicious meal. I cannot for the life of me remember what we had as our main course, but I do remember dessert! Chocolate cake & the exotic fruits. Delicious. The wine was excellent. The staff was very helpful and spoke great English, even apologized that they did not have a dessert menu in English! I actually think dessert sounds better in French anyway. Jean-Georges does it right here, yet again! Our fellow diners were a mix of french & english speakers. Some were dressed up (my husband wore a suit, no tie) some were more casual.

    Our meal took about 3 hrs and it was a great way to spend Christmas night. We walked back to our hotel and caught the midnight twinkle of the Eiffel tower on our camera! We said "Joyeux Noël!" and sent the video off to our familes via the wireless back at the hotel, which luckily worked in our room too.

    Tomorrow: Versailles!

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    NYCBella,

    Enjoying your report very much! I've always wondered about the Best Western Eiffel Park hotel since the pictures for the rooms are so limited. If you don't mind me asking, how much were the rooms per night?

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    With the holiday over I looked back at my planning notes and thought Friday would be a good day for Versailles, spend the weekend on a museum & cathedral tour (with a 2 day musuem pass), and go to Reims on Monday where we had a reservation at Mumm for a tasting. Tuesday, do whatever we feel like. On we go!

    Bright and early (I think we left by 10am instead of just getting up at 10) we left for the RER-C train, which luckily stopped nearby. I tried to buy our Passport ticket (with train and admission) from the Metro station but the attendant was kind and directed us to the SNCF station. It is SO hard to try to listen to a different language, translate in my head, think about a response and try to translate so early in the day! I'm still not use to the speed of the language and wish I had taken more classes in college The girl who helped us at the SNCF station knew English, I heard her speak English to her co-worker, but would only speak to us in French. Whatever. C'est la vie. Maybe my French is better than I give myself credit for? HAHA

    In true 'once a girly-girl, always a girly-girl' fashion (or perhaps just the hidden 5year old who always loves a story about a princess & queen) I dressed up today in a sweater dress and low heel boots. How could you not go the 'palace' all dressed up? :)

    When we got to Versailles we were hungry and ate at a crepe place near the train station, I think A La Cote Bretonne. We either left too much or too little of an extra tip (we tried to round up a few euro even when it was included...good karma and it is the holidays) because they made a big fuss over it and asked where we are from. At home we think of our selves as good tippers with cabs & restaurants and try not to stress over this.

    Versailles was breathtaking & exhausting. I'm glad we did it early on in our trip or we may not have had the energy for it. The Passport was awesome - we skipped the verrrrrry long line for a short one. The Chateau was overwhelming - in so many ways: beauty & the amount of tourists trying to see it all. I liked it but the gardens and less crowded Trianons were more my style& comfort. The Jeff Koons exhibit in the Chateau was a surprised for us, especially since we had just seen it in July at the Met. Museum of Art at home. Perhaps it is supposed to show the contrast between the art of the Chateau & Koons' art but we weren't a fan of the two together. I did take a few pics tho, love the bright pink balloon doggie!

    The rest of the estate - oh my greatest love. I don't think we were ready for the size of it all. Just when you think you've seen it all, there's more. The story of Louis XVI & Marie-Antoinette, I've loved it since I first heard it, despite the sad ending. In the afternoon by the Grand & Petit Trianon I got to experiment a little with our camera and the sun starting to cast shadows. On our walk back we saw the sheep grazing and I almost forgot my feet were tired. We also decided this will not be our only trip to Paris. We will have to come back in the Spring sometime, if for nothing else than a warmer weather trip to Versailles. I would love to see it all green and in bloom. I bought some souvenirs for my younger sisters who I played princess with as a little one many a time. Just silly ribbons that say Marie-Antoinette on them but I know how much they would love it here and it seems a bit more meaningful to them than a mini-Eiffel tower.

    On our way back to the train we grab a Starbucks. The man behind us in line and my husband strike up a conversation. Nice to have a few seconds to chat in English with a new friends about our adventures. His daughter is studying in Paris and the whole family has come over for the holidays. What should he bring to dinner at her host family's house? I suggest some sweets - still thinking of those yummy desserts we had last night.

    At the train station we hit our first snafu. My train ticket works no problem and I am thru the turn-style. My husband's will not work. He waits on a line to buy a new ticket only to realize his american credit card will not work and he does not have enough coins to pay. Woops. I am waiting nearby and luckily have a few coins to help buy the ticket. He waits on line again and luckily 2nd ticket is a charm. We are back to Paris in no time.

    We eat tonight near our hotel at La Terrasee du 7eme. I have a delicious bowl of onion soup and announce "we are coming back here again!!" Sea-bass & steak main courses are amazing. Our waiter is great - friendly & efficient. We continue to invite Mr. Bottle of Bordeaux to dine with us and enjoy the people watching out the windows. Have we really been here 2 days already?!! We already love Paris.

    to be continued...

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    My sister and I went to the Pompidou and did some shopping in the Marais on Christmas day several years ago. It's one of my best ever Christmas memories!

    Unfortunately then I cooked dinner in our apartment...

    Really enjoying this.

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    Thanks Leely, it's nice to be on vacation, but it's even better to be home!

    MomDD - small world! How was your trip? I hope you had as great a trip as we did.

    Anna - the hotel rates varied during the week getting higher the closer it got to New Year's Eve. We started to 105Euro went to 125 for one night, then 135, then 150 and finally 215!!! for our last night. We didn't break 1,000E in total which was all we were hoping for. They serve breakfast for 12E per person but we never used it.
    It was a small room for sure but with just 2 people we were ok. I booked using venere.com

    Night everyone!

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    NYCbella - we went to that starbucks too on the way back...we were at the train station when the trains were not running - there was a bit of chaos - not sure what was going on, but everyone kept getting off and on different trains :)

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    Ahhh the weekend in Paris. Too bad we had too much to see to sleep in!!

    Saturday & Sunday were whirlwinds. We bought our 2day museum pass from Orsay to use for the weekend. Considering our timing of day trips it made sense to just do a 2 day pass.

    Saturday
    Musee d'Orsay - ahh the old train station, so pretty. What a great space for a museum. There was a great special exhibit Mystery & Glitter. All pastels from the collection. There were some beautiful Degas & Manets. I loved them. We had lunch in the museum at the self serve 'fast food' restaurant. Yummy sandwiches & bottles of orangina - i love 'fast food' here.

    Afterwards we we walked...all the way to Notre Dame. The wait to go in was awful, tons of people trying to cut. "Children, Children" they would say and I'd pretend to not speak English. Sorry if that's bad of me to do but I'm a teacher and a stickler for not cutting in line!!! Perhaps I will feel different when I have my own kids, but for now I don't let people cut. Anyway, ND was beautiful inside but hard to enjoy with so many people. We sat for a while and took it all in. We have St Patrick's and St John the Divine here in NYC but we were blown away by the beautiful windows & exterior architecture. We walked around to the back and even saw a lonely rose bud in the garden!

    With about a hour left to closing we hopped on to the very short line for St.Chapelle. The downstairs had Christmas decorations - yay so festive! The upper chapel with all it's stained glass was of course amazing. It's beautiful and a different feel from Notre Dame.

    Afterwards, we took the metro to Sacre-Coeur. It's a beautiful structure. We got there at sunset and have some really pretty pics of the city - great views of course! The neighborhood has a much more 'city' feel to me (reminds me of NYC's chinatown!) with so many vendors, people, the narrow streets - it's not for me.

    Did we really do 4 sites in one day? We ate dinner Saturday back at the Terrasse. Yum.

    Sunday -
    I let my husband have control of the schedule for the morning. Off we went to the Army Museum & Napoleon's Tomb near our hotel. We focused on the WW I & II rooms, which I seem to enjoy the most. As an added surprise we saw Marshal Foch's tomb near Napoleon's. When Foch visited the US my husband's grandfather translated for him, so he was super excited to see this. As we passed the church I heard singing and caught myself saying "Why are there people in church today...oh it's Sunday." I think forgetting what day it is may be a sure sign that the vacation is going well.

    Orangerie Museum - small but sweet! We could have sit in the Water Lilies room all day. It was beautiful I loved the Renoir & Cezanne's in the gallery too.

    Walked thru the Tuileries Garden - empty except for a few runners. Would love to be here in the Spring. This is becoming a trend, we cannot wait to return in warmer weather.

    Lunch near the Louvre. Again the delicious 'fast food' sandwich :) We took some travel book advice and used the underground entrance to the Louvre in the 'mall'. We were sidetracked for a little while while I looked in some stores! Once inside we headed for the Denon wing and saw the big 3 - Mona Lisa, Winged Victory of Samorthrace and my favorite lady the Venus de Milo. It was SO crowded in here and this not really my favorite kind of art.

    At the metro stop near the Louvre I had my first 'oops' and 'lost' one of my tix. There was a huge line for the ticket machines and the turnstiles at the station. An older woman cut in front of me (perhaps the only people I let cut). Her ticket didn't work but i wasn't paying attention and slipped mine in and before I knew it she was thru on my ticket. Perhaps I will stop letting old people cut now. We took it as a sign and just went for a coffee at Starbucks. My husband now refers to it as "when you go louvred!"

    We went to the Gare de l'Est for our train tix to Reims for tomorrow. Come to find out there was a SNCF office in our neighborhood where we could have skipped the long line but oh well. It was good to go there the day before and know what the station was like.

    It was really cold & windy tonight so we thought hey let's go to the Eiffel Tower. We knew it was a little silly considering the weather but we didn't want to run out of time so we went. We stood in a long line in the cold for tickets, was squished into elevators, etc etc. The view was pretty and I can now say I've been to the Eiffel tower. It's more romantic from the ground but if you want to do it, go up!

    Tomorrow: Champagne at Mumm


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    Ahhh Reims - I was so looking forward to seeing some vines and tasting champagne. Sadly, no vines to be seen at Mumm in Reims. Must do a driving tour someday of the champagne region with a DD of course. My first choice of a tour was Veuve Clicquot but when I emailed in the Fall they said they were closed over the holidays. I tried Mumm and was excited they had open spots.

    Gard de l'Est was busy but we had been there Sunday and knew what to expect. We found our seats on the train no problem. The highspeed train had us to Reims in 45minutes - husband was impressed! We got sandwiches before we left and ate lunch on our way. We got to Reims with no problems

    We had two hours until our tour at Mumm and just wandered around the town. We made plans to go to Notre Dame after our tasting so we wouldn't feel rushed. The city was much more urban than I thought it would be. I guess I thought champagne house = small town but that was a mistake. It was pretty quiet as we explored but then again it was the Monday after a long holiday weekend. We saw the Roman Ruins and a bunch of construction going on nearby.

    We got to Mumm about 15minutes early and were told by the security guard we could not go inside to wait. Whatever. So we walked around the block and came back after 2. When we got to the visitor's office we were scolded that the video had started already. Make up your mind!!! We managed to survive the tour of the caves even though we did not see all of the video - hehe. There were tons of bottles! It was great to hear about the champagne making process and it made me appreciate our tasting a bit more. We did a grand tasting and tried 3 kinds of champagne. I of course loved the most expensive one. Figures. We chatted with some fellow Americans who as it turns out we have some common interests with. One couple had the tour & tasting arranged thru their work so no one from Mumm bothered us as we chatted long after the rest of our group left.

    Afterwards, we were hungry of course and wondered back to the main drag of stores & restaurants. We went in an pub that had a menu on the outside only to find out they don't serve food until after 7pm. Oh well. My cranky side came out and I think we almost ended up sitting in the train station for 4hrs until our train came haha. I blame being hungry, sorry honey. Anyway, I came to my senses and we grabbed some quick snacks from a bakery and set off for Notre Dame. The city was busy by now - everyone out and about after work.

    When we got to the Cathedral we couldn't find the main door and walked around the back of it first. Ooops. By now it was past 5pm so we took some great pictures of the church in the dark night sky. Beautiful and a bit sppooky too. :) Inside, we had the place where so many kings of France were crowned all to ourselves. There were only a few other people there, it was very overwhelming to be in such a place alone. My emotions got the best of me and I shed a few tears. Husband paid a donation to light a few candles. Like in Paris we sat for a while but this Notre Dame was a bit different for us, more personal. I won't gush more but it was awesome.

    We walked back to the train station to get out of the cold and waited for our train back to Paris. Hungry for a proper meal, we ate back at Tribeca on Rue Cler. We were seated between 3 older German tourists and a young teenage french couple. Clearly not the best table in the house. The couple was playing the universal cat and mouse game of "I won't let you grab my knee but I can grab yours" and the girl must have gone to the bathroom 4 times to change her hair. LOL Ahhhh young love. Our meal wasn't as great as the other night - not sold on Tribeca despite the great reviews we read. I will rave thought about the carrot soup - delicious and sweet!

    Tomorrow: our last day in Paris! Laduree, Chanel and a little bit of snow aka the perfect goodbye!

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    NycBella - so enjoying your report as I was there at the same time. I also tried to get into Veuve to be told they were closed. Although I wish I could have gone - it would have been boring for our children and dd was sick..but I am loving re-living our time there!:)

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    NYC Bella-enjoyed trip report-my family is planning on doing a very similar trip next year-flying out day after Christmas and coming back after New Year's Day...including day trip to Versailles except will have our 2 children with us-and children no excuse to cut in line I agree wholeheartedly -but have seen many solo adults try such antics also...;-)

    Did you find very many restaurants closed? (Doesn't sound like you had problems eating... (one of my worries...read many restos close week between Christmas and New Years...

    I love to just look at Paris too...sigh...

    Great Report...

    Patricia

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    I'm glad everyone is enjoying the report! It's been nice to write and re-live our trip.

    PatriciaJennifer - Some restaurants on our small street were closed all week. Sunday night was the only night i stressed about finding a place to eat as I knew it's a night many places close early or are totally closed. We had a few options to choose from near our hotel and didn't have a problem in the end. It was one of my big concerns when planning the trip but I realized it's a city and you'll be bound to find someplace open!! Worst comes to worst, you try to find a fast food place.

    My family just received the box I sent to them last weekend with souvenirs. I didn't buy much for us or for them but I tried to get a few meaningful things. My dad got a Paris mug from Starbucks (haha) that is from the city serie. My mom, an Eiffel Tower. And my sisters got silk ribbons from Versailles. It was really hard to find a gifts! I was also trying to get something they couldn't get elsewhere. They were all happy so I succeeded! I also threw in a French Glamour magazine and a few holiday catalogues from the dept. stores.

    While on the subject of souvenirs, this is what we brought back. 2 Christmas ornaments to always remind us of the trip. An Eiffel Tower. Some post cards of the windows from churches & a few of the city. I bought a picture book "My Versailles" that I thought I could read to my 1st graders but upon further inspection at home I see a page with a photo of a painting of a woman nursing and a fully exposed breast. Not gonna fly with 1st graders. LOL. We picked up some things from the grocery store too: strawberry jelly, chamomile tea, and a large tin of Nivea cream. Random, but I can have toast with jelly & tea on Saturdays and think of Paris. Oh and chocolates from Gosselin that I cannot believe we have not eaten already hehe. We checked everyone in our luggage except for the chocolates - no trouble with them at security. When we got back to the states we checked off on the form that we were bringing in food, were questioned but didn't have to take anything out. Yay!!

    More from our last day in Paris later!

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    Jennifer - jumping in here - Only one resturant that we wanted to go to was closed from 12-24 - 1-2-09. It was recommended on this board and was on the corner of our street - and Italian place. Other then that - everything we was really open. Far more then I thougth would be.

    Bella - enjoying your report!

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    Hi NYCBella,
    I'm enjoying your trip report! We were in Paris around the same time as you. I laughed about cutting in line-and being "louvred" because I'm a primary grade teacher, too. I was interested in reading about your visit to Reims. Though I didn't get there, I did my best to buy champagne from Reims and have a Paris tasting or two or three!

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    Up late tonight to watch University of Florida play some American football - go Gators! Thanks everyone for your comments & for reading!! I'm working on a travel blog with some pictures. When it's ready I will post a link so you can see some pictures with this report.


    We woke up on our last day in Paris ready for a day of whatever. As we stepped outside the hotel we saw it was raining. "I packed an umbrella!" ~husband to the rescue! And we were off!

    W started the day of 'one last time...' with croissants from a boulangerie on Rue St. Dominique and coffees from Columbus Cafe. H used to live off Columbus Ave & got a kick out of the name. The agenda in my head included shopping, shopping, shopping & maybe Saint Sulpice. H had brought up the idea of a souvenir from Paris for me as my Christmas gift but I couldn't make up my mind so I figured we could walk the Champs Elysees, stop in to Chanel on Rue de Cambon so I can say I went there. Maybe a fun lipstick from Sephora that you can't get in the States. We got off the Metro and I hoped for the best.

    It was mid-morning and the emptiness of Chanel intimidated me so we didn't go in, just looked at the windows. H was so patient while I gawked. I love the classic look of all things Chanel. The smell of roses when you open a fresh lipstick. I could go on, but I'll spare any men who are still reading this far :) I just love fashion!

    We walked from Cambon allll the way to the C-E. What a walk! It rained off and on and we were glad to have the umbrella. I wore a skirt so no icky wet pant legs for me! We window shopped along the way and enjoyed the left over holiday displays. The windows at Laduree were Cinderella themed with a big pink coach sticker? on the window (maybe it was real) with macaroons and other treats. I thought about eating at the C-E location should we get hungry later on. We walked and walked and I couldn't see anything I liked. I started thinking about Chanel. My husband could tell I wanted to go back. "Lunch first?"

    Laduree - no problem getting in for lunch, although the line at the bakery counter was gigantic. I cannot put into words how delicious my salad was. The presentation was beautiful: 2 long slices of cucumber made a cup to hold the rest of the ingredients, yummy tangy dressing. I followed up my healthy entree choice by ordering the violet pastry for dessert. It was a puff of heaven with that sweet special taste of violets. If you've had the square violet candies you know a little bit what this tasted like. YUM YUM YUM. The decor of the place is extravagant, even in the ladies room.

    When we left, it was raining cats & dogs - down to the Metro we went and back to Chanel. My H gave great advice "Don't let anyone make you feel like you don't belong in here and don't let anyone make you buy something you don't really love. This is YOUR souvenir". Did I ever mention how much I love him??? As we entered, I heard the unmistakable sound of a Texan. That sweet southern drawl I love so much, but this time it was awful. A couple, not much different than my H and I, I suppose, only they were on their cell phones talking SO loudly to someone back home. H & I looked at each other and giggled. "Talk about the ugly American...".

    For as indecisive as I was I give the lady who helped us (Claire) tons of credit. They did not have the item I wanted (a pink heart shaped brooch, incase any Chanel fans are curious) and I paced back and forth from one area of the store to the next trying to find something else but I really wanted the heart. As we decided to leave it began to snow outside and I was determined to walk in the snow in Paris for a truly romantic moment with my H so off we went. What follows for the afternoon was a 'hunt' of sorts for the pin at another Chanel boutique, Galleries Lafayette, Printemps & Bonne Marche. No luck. So I did not get my Chanel souvenir, nor another 'expensive' souvenir, but I know I'll be back to Paris. No hard feelings Chanel!

    We ended our search at Bonne Marche on purpose so we could go see Saint Sulpice. Like Notre Dame Reims we were there in the evening and it was rather empty. The murals by Delacroix were beautiful. I was looking up at the ceilings when I spied - Pere Noel!!! Well, at least a balloon of Pere Noel. It's the funniest picture of the trip - a Santa balloon stuck up in the ceiling of this great church. HAHAHA As we walked back to our hotel we stopped in Gosselin and got some pretty boxes of chocolate to bring back home with us.

    For our 'one last...dinner in Paris" we went back to the Terrasse. I really came to love this place, can you tell. We had the same waiter for the 3rd time. Somewhat embarrassing but nice that he knew us and we felt comfortable with him. He asked us where we were from and we chatted a little about traveling. "Oh, New York City? Ah, you live in the place in my dreams, and I live in the place of your dreams eh? Let's change keys now!" How true, how true. The grass is always greener. I was suddenly a little bit homesick for my beautiful city! I know I know, we could have eaten somewhere new every night but we liked this place. ::shrugs::

    On our last trip to the park near the Eiffel tower we saw there was a ledge of sorts on the lampposts. We managed to figure out the right place to put the camera and how to set the timer and snapped some great shots of us with the Eiffel tower sparkling in the background. A young couple walked by and offered to take our picture too. "Where are you from? New York City? Ah we go there tomorrow for Times Square? Will you be there? " I almost laughed in the poor guys face. You never appreciate where you are from until you've been somewhere else for a while.

    When we got to CDG on New Year's Eve we were over 3hrs early (by maybe 20minutes) and by Continental's standards too early to check in. WTF? When we finally were thru security we had some food and got sandwiches to bring on the plane for the looooong flight back. Despite knowing there was lunch served I knew we'd get hungry again. So many families waiting to board the flight with us....many many many babies and small children. When we got to our seats we were asked to switch so a family could be together. As the flight attendant asked us this, the mother pulled out her breast and started nursing her baby so if there had been any doubt in our minds she made sure we moved. That's right, I don't like line cutters or nursing in public. Get a burp blanket to cover yourself up, even on an airplane. Sorry, I digress. We got the exit row and tons of extra leg room. Luckily our seats still reclined too. For perhaps the only time in my life I will say "Thank you mother of the crying baby on my long trans-Atlantic flight!" I watched great girly movies since I couldn't sleep : The Women, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 & the classic It's a Wonderful Life.

    Our arrival back at Newark was eventful. Dial 7 was as reliable as ever to get us back to our doorstep. We go in around 5pm NYC time - the jet lag took over and we fell asleep on opposite sides of our couch, only to wake up 15minutes to midnight. LOL

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    Oh Bella - I was wishing you got your pin! I am so sorry! I got my Hermes scarf in Paris as my Christmas and Birthday gift (my b-day is 12-19)...

    I cannot believe about the nursing Momma..oh my. :-O

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    NYCBella - enjoyed your report very much. I swear we must have had the violet tart at Laduree when we ate there several years ago... when you described it, I could almost taste it! Their food and macarons are so flavorful that when you bite into it, there is this huge burst of flavor into your mouth!

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    Thanks everyone!

    MomDD - What a great present! We did not stop in Hermes, I was too 'set' on Chanel. Louis Vuitton was tooo crowded we could barely move in there and didn't stay long. With the way the dollar is I had a hard time justifying buying anything high-end I knew I could get back in NYC. I said to my husband at the end of the day "Well at least you know what I like at Chanel, you can get me a present any time you want now!" He rolled his eyes LOL I may keep the Christmas ornaments we got out year round somehow.

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    Loved the trip report...

    anyone whipping their breast to fed a baby on a flight without a cover up is just wrong. I have nothing against breastfeeding in public, but for goodness sake, use a blanket. My DH would have jumped ship in shame.

    Welcome home.

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    How skewed Americans are when they associate breast feeding with shame and disgust. How sad that your first graders can not look at a beautiful picture of a mother lovingly nursing her baby because "omg" there is a breast! I bet they get to watch murders on tv and all kinds of violence, but a breast is bad. Weird logic! Why does the sight of breast freak you out?

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    http://theytravel.weebly.com/

    No pics yet but I'm going to use the snowy weekend to hopefully add some from our trip. Lots of other Christmas/New Year trip reports here on Fodors - great to see well all had so much fun!

    Went to a Longchamp store today and got to chat a little with an employee in French. It was so wonderful to hear the beautiful language again.

    Thanks again to everyone for their help in planning and the positive comments on this report! :)

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