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10 days in Paris. Never has a trip that started so bad been so good.

10 days in Paris. Never has a trip that started so bad been so good.

Sep 26th, 2009, 09:11 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2009
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10 days in Paris. Never has a trip that started so bad been so good.

Let me start by saying that we had a phenomenal trip to Paris and are already saving up to go back again. First just a little back ground. My wife and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary in the middle of our trip. Since we never had a honeymoon we counted this trip as both honeymoon and 20th anniversary. We have been looking forward to this trip for a very long time.
Day one did start off on a rocky start and continued that way. First our ride to the airport had car trouble. Our flight from Toronto had a stop in Quebec City where our landing was probably the hardest landing I've ever felt but all was fine. On arrival in Paris our flight found that none of the bags from Toronto were on the airplane. We were the last people served at the claim counter and somehow in the confusion our hotel voucher and our e ticket home were left at the airport. Of course we didn't realize this until trying to check in at the hotel.We stayed at an Aparthotel with a kitchenette on Place d'Italie. The concierge was very helpful and we got it sorted out quickly. Then while looking at our room Mrs. Dave stubbed her toe so badly on a door stop we thought it was broken. She was forced to use a cane for the rest of the trip and although it hurt badly she did not let it stop her, just slowed her a little.
We tried to catch the batobus but missed the last round trip by a couple of minutes. We decided to just go for dinner at the cafe across from our hotel and wound up finding our favorite spot in Paris, O'Jules. Lovely food, terrific wine, great friendly service, lovely patio and great people watching at the top of the metro stairs. We toasted to our first day and to how much better the rest were to be, and were we ever right.

The next day when we got up we went back to the batobus station at jardon des plantes and had a wonderful self guided hop on hop off tour of the seine getting off at almost all of the stops to look around the immediate neighborhoods, each more lovely than the last. We stopped at many cafes along the way to try and drink in just a little bit of each area. Later we went to the Cluney museum of the middle ages and just really took our time looking at the incredible displays; many of which were made before my country was discovered. Toured the roman baths, fridgidarium and theatre with all of the fantastic ancient sculptures. Then back to O'Jules for dinner and drinks and a lovely time to be alone in a city so romantic.

Lots more to follow
OntDave is offline  
Sep 26th, 2009, 09:16 AM
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Hi Dave. Enjoying your report so far. We too are just back from 8 days in Paris. Our flight from Montreal was the bumpiest we have ever been on but the landing was okay.

Funny, on the first day I stubbed my toe on a metal ring that was on our balcony floor to hold the shutters in place. It was really sore for a couple of days and at first I thought it might be broken. What a way to start a trip!! Glad to hear that it got better from then on.

Looking forward to more.
Royal is offline  
Sep 26th, 2009, 10:00 AM
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When we planned this trip our general plan was that since Mrs.D speaks french and I am a relentless researcher I would navigate and she would translate. We used the metro for a few days but Mrs.D found the stairs to be too much on her bad foot. For the most part day 3 onward we took the bus and wished we had sooner. It was less crowded and we got to see a lot more of the city out of the bus windows. Many times I made videos of our entire bus ride out the window and they are fun to watch and feel like I'm back in the streets of Paris.
Day three we had been looking forward to seeing the Catacombes de mort but they were closed indefinitely because someone had broken in and vandalized the place. So after reassessing our plans we decided to go to Montmartre to see the Salvador Dali Museum as we are very big fans.We loved the museum very much because it was mostly his sculptures which we had not seen many of. Particularly loved the furniture he designed.
The village itself was very pretty although the shops were all stocked with pretty much all the same stuff. Around place de tetre was a woman playing an auto organ singing Edith Piaf songs and artist selling there wares and although we were going to have a portrait done we didn't see anyones work we liked at the time but were told later in the trip by others that we were there on a slow day as all the area wasn't filled by artist when we were there. Stopped in at the Tabac/Cafe at the stairs of Sacare Cuere for a pop and pastry. Of course through the entire trip snapping pictures along the way. I found that you can not take a bad picture in Paris. Even when they are blurry they are somehow artistic.
After a quick trip to the grocers(Loved the french grocery store)we had a nice dinner in our room then a night cap at O'Jules. By this time I think all the staff there new us as Les Canadiens. And a special shout out to our favorite waiter in all of Paris, Patirce, who saved our butts with a credit card problem on the first night we were there.
OntDave is offline  
Sep 27th, 2009, 06:23 AM
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Our original plan included getting a museum pass as we both really enjoy museums but we had difficulty finding where to get the pass and the museums were free for the Saturday and the Sunday we were there. We decided to find other things to do on the free days to try and avoid the larger crowds.
On the Saturday we decided to go to Arena Lutece in the 5th. We packed a lunch and a bottle of wine(which we found out later we weren't supposed to have wine there) and went to explore the roman arena. We found it fascinating that such a large structure could have stayed buried for as long as it did. Particularly in such a busy area. We were also blown away at the remarkable condition it was in. We sat and ate and watched the young kids playing football and the older people playing patonque from what must have been the cheap seats in its original days from on top of the hill looking down in to what was the box seats where the roman dignitaries must have sat. The arena was something I really wanted to see because you just can't see this sort of thing in North America. We could almost feel the ghosts of the past sitting with us especially when we explored the back area that looked like a holding area for the gladiators waiting to compete, and the walkways to the arena floor.
Later we went for a stroll around Jardon des plants. We were going to walk through the menagerie but it was closing as we approached so we just took our time and sauntered through the beautifully manicured gardens.
After the jardon we stopped in a little cafe on the way home and had a bite for dinner. I can't remember the name of the spot but it was lovely.
As always of course snapping pictures the whole way.(over 2000 pictures taken in our 10 days. I would include some here but am not sure how to. If anyone can help with instructions I will in later posts)
OntDave is offline  
Sep 27th, 2009, 06:35 AM
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Enjoying your report Dave. Mrs Dave is a real trooper!

You can't post photos here at Fodors.

There are several online photo places, http://www.photobucket.com being a popular and free one... you can then link your album there into one of your reports...

(Ont) Rob
ParisAmsterdam is offline  
Sep 27th, 2009, 07:35 AM
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So glad it worked out well in the end and that your trip was very enjoyable!
Can I just mention something more about the Are`nes Lutece in rue des Are`nes, as you seem to have been quite taken with its good condition:

Although a place called Les Are`nes appears in a deed from 1284, and a late 18thC map indicates 'le clos des Are`nes' and a 13thC account mentions imposing ancient ruins next to the abbey of Saint-Victor, nobody believed the arena really existed until the 1860's, when some workmen came across it accidentally, while building the Rue Monge.
Haussmann's remodelling of Paris was not of course to be hindered by such trifles and in 1870 the two thirds of the arena that had thus been unearthed were demolished to make room for a new block of flats on the rue Monge and for the depot and offices of the Compagnie des Omnibus.
The last third, which was dug up in 1883, was likewise meant to be destroyed, but Victor Hugo and others intervened and thwarted the designs of technocrats.

The Roman arena that you can see now consists of the original section and a reconstruction of the demolished part, which was undertaken in 1918.
The Arena's tier faces the East as it did in ancient times, when the river Bievre and its meadows served as a pastoral backdrop to the podium, illuminated, like the performers, by the reclining rays of the sun.

This means you HAVE to go back and try and discover which is the old and which is the new??!!!
Please explain about the wine?? Did someone speak to you about drinking it in public? I would be interested to know. Thanks. Looking forward to some photos!
tod is offline  
Sep 27th, 2009, 08:28 AM
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Thanks for the help Rob here are a select few of our pictures
OntDave is offline  
Sep 27th, 2009, 08:38 AM
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tod we noticed a sign as we were leaving the area that said no alcohol in the arena but nobody said anything, not even security. I think they probably had the sign up in case someone was causing problems, which we were not.
OntDave is offline  
Sep 27th, 2009, 09:03 AM
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Our next day was a day for Mrs.D to take a break as her foot was in quite poor shape. She stayed in and rested and iced her foot. She felt really badly about spending a full day in the hotel room until I made her realize that resting for the day would ensure she could do more for the rest of the trip.
While she rested we decided it would be a good idea for me to just wander our area and take pictures to show her when I came back. While I wished she could have come with me I knew the day of rest would be best for her. On my walk I was really taken with how small parks just seem to be everywhere, and how in our area around Place d'Italie the architecture could go from ultra modern to antique all in the same block. Loved Butte aux Callaise and later took Mrs. D to a jewelry shop there.(What was I thinking?lol)

The following day we made a day of the Louvre. Now let me just say that the Louvre is something I have wanted to see for as long as I can remember knowing what it was, and even knowing in advance that it was huge I just didn't have a sense of the scale until we were there. We started on the top floor Richelieu French paintings and after a quick break and a cafe stop at Palaise Royal went through one of the sculpture gardens and the Napoleon chambers. We both noticed in Napoleons thrown room how everything was set up to look tall including how the thrown itself had very short legs but long lines in the rooms design took your eye upward. A little overcompensation maybe??
We decided to come back on the Wednesday when they were open late to try and take in more of the museum and not feel rushed to see anything.
Back to our favorite cafe for dinner and drinks and get ready for the next day which was our 20th anniversary and the big plans I had made for it.
OntDave is offline  
Sep 27th, 2009, 09:04 AM
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thanks for sharing your trip and your pictures. I am enjoying your report and I liked your pictures, especially sunset and the interiors at Notre Dame. Please continue.
irishface is offline  
Sep 27th, 2009, 09:21 AM
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Great to see your photos OntDave. Improvising trips and discovering unexpected things as you go is the best way to do it, as far as I am concerned.
kerouac is online now  
Sep 27th, 2009, 09:23 AM
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Hi Dave, fellow Ontarian here- I love the photo of your wife having a discussion with Jean Paul Sartre. He looks a bit like Mr Dress Up in wax form! And I've read so much about the Butte aux Callaise, it was nice to finally see some photos.

Hope Mrs. D's foot is feeling better, and looking forward to reading more.
Apres_Londee is offline  
Sep 27th, 2009, 09:41 AM
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The big day. 20th anniversary in Paris. Does it get any better than that? Yes. We didn't want to push the bad foot too far so kept the day relatively light.
Mrs.D loves wax museums so we headed off for the Grevin wax museum. We had a lot of fun there and loved the hall of mirrors and the theatre. While we weren't familiar with some of the French celebrities showcased we were impressed with the way you could interact with many of the figures. Pictures of Mrs.D talking Philosophy with Sartre, chewing out Hemmingway at the bar, singing with Pavoroti and so on.
When we left the wax museum we walked through the Passage(covered shopping area, sorry I don't remember the name of this specific one but you can't miss it from the Grevin museum)
Mrs. D loved the window shopping and I was taken by the antique coin shop. Again some of the coins having been in use before my country was a country.
Then to the nearby Hard Rock Cafe. My 18 year old son was very happy to get a Hard Rock Paris T-shirt.
From there we went home to get ready for the magical dinner plans I had made for our anniversary. I had booked us a table on a dinner yacht cruise of the Seine aboard the Don Juan II. Let me tell you they don't overlook a single detail for this dinning experience. We were greeted by the maitre d who escorted Mrs. D to the upper deck then showed me our table and asked for our wine selection. Each table had there own window and the views were to die for. No sooner did I rejoin Mrs.D on the upper deck than we were met with a glass of champagne. As the ship pulled out of port the sun was setting over Notre Dame. As if the views weren't spectacular enough the meal was one of the best I've had in my life. Between courses we were invited to go back to the upper decks and just before dessert we were along side of the Eiffel Tower timed perfectly for when it lights up. As I said.. magical.
The waiter must have over heard us saying it was our anniversary because with dessert they brought a special fireworks style candle with Mrs.D's. and wished us a bon anniversare. The dessert itself was one of the most spectacular things we have ever seen. It was a sphere of chocolate on a cake. Once served they poured a hot raspberry coolie over it which melted the chocolate sphere over the cake to expose fresh raspberries and chocolate covered pieces inside. We wished the night would never end but when it did the Matre' d had a car waiting for us to take us home. Like I said, no detail overlooked.
OntDave is offline  
Sep 27th, 2009, 09:42 AM
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So very true !
I am enjoying this so much ! I have spent many anniversaries in Paris and there is no better place ( well, there might be but Paris is the best!)
Now gotta go back and keep reading.. I hope Mrs D's toe is fine now.
Scarlett is offline  
Sep 27th, 2009, 10:08 AM
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I'm enjoying your report.

When you write about the throne room in the apartments in the Louvre, you ask whether the long lines in the room were meant to compensate for Napoleon's short stature. But the apartments in the Louvre were for Napoleon III, the nephew of Napoleon. I don't know whether he was also short.
Nikki is offline  
Sep 27th, 2009, 10:27 AM
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Perfect, just perfect.. Happy Anniversary ~
Scarlett is offline  
Sep 27th, 2009, 10:38 AM
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Dave: Your enthusiasm for Paris is so engaging. And your care about your dear wife is enviable. I'm sorry she had the problem with her foot, and you were sweet to go out to take photos for her while she rested.

I think a lot of wives will envy her!!
taconictraveler is offline  
Sep 27th, 2009, 10:57 AM
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Our next day we understandably got a late start but that didn't matter because we were back at the Louvre and they were open late. The only thing our 18 year old son had asked us to bring back was a picture of the code of Hamurrabi so we started there.
Onward through the sculpture galleries and the colossal vase which is very aptly named. (see photo in link above)
We went to the Italian paintings gallery in hopes to see the Mona Lisa but the crowds were very large and impolite, pushing and shoving the whole way so we stayed in the main gallery and were struck by how many people were rushing past some more impressive di Vinci paintings (in my opinion) just to fight for a place in front of the little Mona Lisa. To be honest we didn't feel like we missed anything there.
Then back to O'Jules for dinner and drinks. And yes I know we were not to adventurous with our dinner choices on most nights but we had found a place that made us feel at home and it was close to our room. Many nights we considered adventuring out for dinner but wound up at the same place and glad we did.
OntDave is offline  
Sep 27th, 2009, 11:18 AM
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I see nothing wrong with that.
kerouac is online now  
Sep 27th, 2009, 11:57 AM
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Our last full day and did we ever make the most of it.
After our usual breakfast of espresso and fresh pain au chocolate we were off. Mrs.D's foot was the best it had been and she was bound and determined to take advantage of this fact. We started out with a bus ride to Isle de la Cite. We went into the Notre Dame cathedral and were awestruck. When you see pictures of the cathedral you normally only see the outside which don't get me wrong, is breathtaking, but to see inside the sanctuary was something special. The sun was out in full force and the stained glass windows seemed to shine only on you. I know that sounds odd seeing as there were so many others there but that is the feeling I got from them like a warm glow that went through you. Again like many other things in Paris I did not appreciate the scale of things until I was there. The vaulted ceilings, the glass work, the alter, the plenary, were all much bigger than I ever imagined. The only thing that took away from the Notre Dame was the souvenir stand at the end. That bothered me a little. It seemed to me that it should have been outside of the temple. Of course I understand that the church must have a huge upkeep budget and they have to get that somewhere but it just seemed to cheapen the experience a little. Just me I guess and I don't mean to take anything away from the beauty of the place.
From there we walked across the Isle and crossed the Pont Neuf to walk along the river to Ponte des arts. A quick stop at the Louvre just to grab something at the gift shop we wished we had got the day before, Then a slow leisurely stroll through the Tuelleries Garden. One spot in particular really showed a little bit of the modern with the antique. A ring of sculptures that looked like something out of a Tim Burton movie (sorry I don't know the artist but if anyone does I'd love to know) inside of a ring of traditional sculptures. The contrast between the two was fascinating. We stopped at the cafe half way through for a pint. It was a little pricey but worth it for such a beautiful location. Just a little side note, we tried to have as many French things as possible while we were in Paris. Who want a Budweiser when you can have a 1664. From there we walked to the end of the Tuelleries at Concord. At this spot I found it interesting that it was the take off location of the first manned balloon flight. I found it particularly interesting since it landed close to our hotel.
We were going to go for a bus ride around the Arc de Triumph from here but we were both a little worn out so we took some zoomed pictures of it from Concord and headed for a Metro home because we couldn't find the right bus stop. We started our packing and decided on one more night at O'Jules. A funny story to go with our last night at O'Jules; we had gone to a little wine store on our first day and bought a bottle of Absinthe. It was so strong that even with having a little each night there was still quite a bit left and we knew we would not drink it all. So we decided to give what was left to the staff at the cafe for being so good to us throughout the trip. It wasn't long after we gave it to them that we noticed that the staff seemed a little extra happy that night. Hope this won't get anyone in trouble.
We also met up with two Australian ladies who joined us as it was their last night as well. We sat and laughed and drank wine until they closed and decided since our ride to the airport was coming in a few hours that we would just stay up and enjoy every last Parisian minute we could.
I'm not sure how or when we will get back to Paris but my heart will always have a very special place for that great city. Don't let anyone ever tell you the French are rude or intolerant as some might say. We met nothing but fabulous helpful people and not just because Mrs.D spoke french. My french is not very good and in my excursions for breakfast and other forays on my own people would bend over backwards to help when I needed it.
Je t'aime Paris. We will miss you and never forget you.
OntDave is offline  

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