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Trip Report 1st leg: Paris

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The trip has been a year in the planning and actually being here feels like the amorphous, malleable, melting clocks we saw yesterday at the L'Espace Dali.

Thought I would try to write as I go as even with the best of attentions I never finished my Abruzzo/Amalfi/Puglia trip report - again referencing the Dali clock.

We left Seattle on time (American) but waited on the tarmac for almost 4 hours due to a "malfunctioning window" at JFK. So we lost a few hours the first day in Paris. No biggie except counting on a 6:30a.m arrival, I paid an extra night to get in early to our apartment. Oh well. AA arrives in the 2a terminal at CDG. We easily found an ATM machine and withdrew enough cash for a few,days. Looked for a Navigo pass but decided we were too tired to walk down to the train station where they are sold. there is a well marked Information Booth in the center of 2 a and staffers were helpful.. Took a taxi from CDG. 42euros.

We rented the Truffaut apartment in the 17th. Our greeter was waiting for us at the apartment and did a nice job of explaining all the intricacies of the washing machine, tv, etc.
Our landlord, Doug, was very organized in his dealings with us. Would highly recommend him and the apartment. Nicely furnished and equipped, quiet at night, english news stations on tv, dvd, ipod doc, phone with free calls to home. Small elevator to 3rd American floor with nice little balcony. Very comfortable bed.

As we pulled up to the apartment we were a little worried at the sight of construction vehicles in front of the apartment. Yes, they are continuing the rebuilding and we are rudely awakened at 8am each morning by construction noise. This was especially unsettling to us as we had the same experience in our beautiful rental in Puglia which was so ear shatteringly loud that we could not stay in the apartment during the day. Hmmm. Luckily the weather has been spectacular
And we have been leaving early and coming home late.

The first day we spent moving in, gathering supplies and getting to know the Batignolles area a bit. We like the area. Very residential with lots of families and lots of restaurants and small stores. Place de Clichy is the transportation hub and is about a 10 minute wallk. The area feels totally safe. This is our 5th visit to Paris and the last one we spent in the 9th which we really liked. We now prefer being out of the hustle and bustle and because we spend at least a week (10days this time), we have the luxury of having the time to take bus and metro as needed as well as long walking days.

We ate lunch that day at Joy of Food just down the street from us. we are vegetarians, or rather pescaterians, and this place hit the spot. Very reasonable, pleasant owners and interior and nutritious, home cooked food. We will eat there again and recommend it.

That afternoon we picked up our Navigo cards at St. Lazare Metro Station. We tried at Foucher but were told they do not sell them, need a larger station. The staff at St. Lazare was helpful and took the photos we had brought and assembled the card for us. What a deal, I think we have already just about paid for it. It is also great to be able to use for the bus which we are,learning can be sometimes much more interesting and direct than the Metro.

Determined to avoid as much jet lag as possible we elected to catch the 20 bus from St. Lazure to Pont Neuf at 8pm or so. Walked along the Seine, sat in front of Notre Dame, admiring it in the moonlight. There is a seating and stage area being assembled in the square for the 850 year commeration so the view was somewhat blocked. Nevertheless, we are always thrilled to see it. had some difficulty finding our return bus stop but after using my pigeon French was able to find our way back home walking in the door at midnight. Slept like babies until the drilling started at 8am.

Wednesday was our Montmarte day. Walked up Rue Caulaincort from Place de Clichy threading our way up the hill to the Montmarte Cemetary. Such a beautiful day with blowing fallen leaves scattered among the graves. Visited those we were interested in and those who were unknown to us. Was helped by a kind worker to find Francois Truffuat's resting place which had several yellow and red roses artfully placed upon the tomb. Was happy to see Nijinsky's resting place and had my husband take a photo of me in arabesque (i have a dance history and am grateful for his contribution to an art form I love). Continued our way up and up crossing over to Rue Lepic. Loved the quiet residential area on the upper part of the Rue. Hustled through the throngs in rue Junot to the Dali Museum. Enjoyed it very much. On to the Montmarte Museum which we had never visited before. Loved the views of the vineyards with its' bright fall color. Was impressed with the history of the Commue and appalled at the loss of life during the quelling of their rebellion. Also a little appalled at my lack of knowledge about this period of French history. Also enjoyed the Mini Montmarte on the last floor with the labeling of homes of the not so rich but famous. Did not go to Sacre Couer this time. Did not want to fight the crowds, so we skirted around and headed back down Rue Caulaincort.

On the way home we made a reservation at Atao, 86 Rue Lemercier. Wonderful seafood in a small, bright space with a friendly owner. Informal. We had entrees of mackeral ceviche and clams in sake, moving on to plats of basil covered bream and a sardine mille feuille layered with eggplant. Accompanied by lovely vegetables and finished off with coffee and dessert crepes, a glass each of white (no Sancerre that night) for a total of 99 euros. We choose our meals carefully, most nights cooking in the apartment. Not disappointed wth this one.

Today after another refreshing sleep, our hammering and sawing alarm clock awoke us. Off to an early start with the bus to the 12th for crepes at Au Beurre Sale (55 Ledru-Rollin) (busy, friendly, inexpensive and delicious) and a walk along the Promende Plantee. What a lovely place. Appreciated the landscaping, views out into the surrounding city, and many park benches available for lounging. Tried to get Paris Free WiFi but the signal was too weak there to really use. Opted to nap on a park bench instead. We shared the park with a good number of Paresians including quite a few runners. Took a stroll through the Jardin Reuilly and then onto the Metro Line 6 for a ride to the neighborhood of Butte aux Cailles. Am grateful to Fodorites for mentioning this place. We could easily envision ourselves in a small village in Provence. Stopped for a tarte citron and cafe enjoying the ambience and then a long upright bus ride back to our neighborhood with a stop at Delizius (30 rue des Moins) for some fresh pesto ravioli to prepare for dinner. Excellent. Will surely go back for more dinner fixings.

Tomorrow we hope to ride velibs in Park Monceau. With this weather we have put off buying our museum pass in order to be outside as much as possible but we are now down to 1 week and we want to revisit the Rodin, see the Quai Branley, the exposition at Hotel de Ville, revisit the Pompidou, see the Islamic section at the Louvre, visit St. Denis, hear the organ concert at Notre Dame on Sunday, and meet my goal of a tarte citron every day. Hmmm.

We are really enjoying this vibrant city and feel grateful for this opportunity. We have noticed the homeless are more visible this visit and was surprised to see sleeping bags lined up last night in front of BHV.. It is the bittersweet of travel.

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