I feel so guilty! I scoured Fodor's message boards for months before I went to Paris, taking all sorts of ideas and hints from all of you, and never paid it back with a trip report.
So here goes!
I am 31 year old woman from Sacramento who has always dreamed of Paris. My boyfriend , Matt, was reluctant at first, but finally agreed to go (I think it was after I threatened to go without him).
I took 4 years of French in high school and was completely confident I could do this. Matt took Spanish in school, so this means I was more or less in charge if figuring things out. When it comes to travel though, I thrive on getting the most bang for my buck.
A few years ago (thanks to Fodor's message boards!) I realized one does not have to stay in a hotel while traveling. All hail the apartment idea! Perfect for an 8 day trip. Months of research on the internet and we finally decided on www.vrbo.com/139753. It was in the 2nd, very close to Rue Montorgueil. All I wanted was a towel heater, or at the very least, a fireplace. Matt wanted a balcony, so we agreed on this one. We spent a total of maybe 20 minutes on the albeit beautiful balcony because of the very cold temperatures, and I could think was 'I gave up a fireplace for this?!'
Anyway, the apartment was perfect in every way. I highly recommend it, and the owners were very pleasant to deal with and prompt in their email responses. There was a computer with internet access, which was worth it's weight in gold, due to the ongoing transit strike (more on that later!). The combo washer / dryer was laughably small, we could wash maybe two pairs of pants, a shirt and if we were lucky, a pair of socks in one load. The drying cycle was more like a moist heat, an undesirable quality for a dryer, so we hung things up around the apartment a lot. But on the plus side, I figured out on day 2 that I could pop my pajamas in the dryer to heat up before I put them on, as well as my towel while I was in the shower. So I guess the towel heater was a moot point after all.
The only down side was the apartment was on the 5th (6th American) floor without an elevator! I was cursing those stairs by the end of the trip.
Arrived in CDG on United Airlines ($800 from Sacramento, woo hoo!). Flight was pretty uneventful, food blah, movie selection blah, seats cramped, the usual. The main reason I chose UA was the 2-4-2 seating arrangement so we'd have our own row. I seriously don't know how people handle sitting next to strangers on such a long flight. Every time I needed to get something out from under my seat, I had to sprawl myself out on Matt's lap (somehow I don't think he minded).
We arrived around 10 a.m. ish, changed some money, were thrilled that all of our luggage made it, and made our way out to the RER station. Lucky for us, the transit strike wasn't scheduled to start until 8 p.m. that night. We got to the apartment about an hour early to meet the apartment guy, so we schlepped our luggage out to Rue Montorgueil to find lunch. We sat down outside a small café and had my first taste of a Croque Monsieur. I love grilled cheese!
We got settled into the apartment, and then had to walk around for a few hours to keep ourselves awake to adjust to the new time. We walked around Notre Dame, into the Left Bank, then back to Rue Montorgueil for dinner. We ate at Le Comptoir du Commerce. I ordered Duck Confit and Chocolate Mousse. Matt wanted to practice his French, so I let him order dessert. We were full so it was our plan to share a dessert. Matt accidentally ordered two mousses, so we had to eat both, what a shame.
We started out the morning by getting Pain au Chocolats from one of the many bakeries on Montorgueil (a tradition we proudly kept for all 8 mornings). This was also our first of many experiences lingering over a Café Crème and people watching. We took the Metro line 14 halfway to the Eiffel Tower and walked the rest of the way (thanks transit strike). We were teased with fleeting glimpses of the ET on our walk, but once we got close, we turned a corner, and there she was in all of her breathtaking glory.
I was really thirsty so I stood in line at one of the snack stands which was under siege from the aggressive pigeons, They kept landing on the counter and the cashier would spray them with glass cleaner to make them go away. A bottle of Evian in hand, we stood in a very short line, about a 20 min. wait. I've seen pictures of the lines snaking through the courtyard in the height of the summer season, those lines are insane. We bought tickets for all 3 levels. The view is amazing. It reminded me of Istanbul, the size of the city is overwhelming, it's just wall to wall city. We mailed postcards from the post office and stopped on the first level for our first of many Chocolat Chauds. After descending, we walked across the street and had our fist crepes.
We walked by the Quai Branly, which was just about to close, and I had the brilliant idea of buying our 6 day Museum Passes there as there was no line. The Museum Pass is a must; skipping lines full of tired tourists waiting out in the cold made us giddy!
Dinner was at Shalimar in Passage Brady. We love Indian food and were thrilled to learn that Passage Brady, full of Indian restaurants, was just a few blocks from our apartment. I got the Chicken Tikka Massala, my favorite. I had a Kronenbourg (also the first of many!). When the waiter was taking away the empty bottle, he asked me something in French that I didn't understand. I said 'd'accord' which means okay. A few minutes later, he brought out another beer, which I had apparently just ordered. Not that I'm complaining mind you. If there's one thing I'd want to accidentally order, it's beer!
Paris Nov '07 Very Belated Trip Report (with pictures)!
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