Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

4 Cs-Champagne, Cartier, Chanel & Christmas in Paris 2013 were fantastic!

4 Cs-Champagne, Cartier, Chanel & Christmas in Paris 2013 were fantastic!

Old Dec 30th, 2013, 11:39 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 4,596
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
4 Cs-Champagne, Cartier, Chanel & Christmas in Paris 2013 were fantastic!

I’ll start the trip report off with some general info and background on the trip. We have been to Paris several times and this was our second trip over Christmas. We really looked forward to the trip and we love Paris.

Flights – I put my miles to good use and we flew business class on Delta. Going over, we connected through Detroit as it required far fewer miles and it went off without a hitch. 767 business class is super nice as the seats really recline and are the more modular, compartment style. Maybe, the thing I like best is that the display screen is offset so that the person behind you isn’t constantly thumping the screen behind your head! Great service (but the most overdone piece of steak I have ever had), a short nap and we were there. Coming home, we had a direct Delta flight in business class. Amazingly, both flights we walked up and they were already boarding, so no waiting at the gate. We also got super lucky as there was a generator issue on the flight coming home and we took off only a bit late. For a few minutes, we were headed back to the gate after trying to restart the generator multiple times. Thank God for the maintenance crew in Atlanta solving the problem without de-planing.

Arrival – No immigration line and we didn’t check a bag, so no waiting. Our pre-arranged driver from Victor Cabs was waiting on us. Very little traffic and a quick drop off at the office of the apartment management. We stashed our bags and were sternly told not to be late to come back for our check in appointment at 1:30.

Departure – Despite two accidents on the peripherique, we got to CDG in good time. No line at check in (another reason to love biz class), no line at the tax refund desk and no line at security. We were lucky to have access to the Access One priority lines for passport control and security. The Air France lounge was nice but the food options were a bit limited and less than they have been in the past.

Weather – A bit warmer than last time over Christmas. No snow this time. A few rainy days and some wind. The rainy days were not too bad and it was never pouring down.

The plan – No big sites that we have not already been to in Paris. A day trip to Strasbourg was on the agenda to see the Christmas markets. I wanted to visit Musee Marmottan, as I love Monet and had never been previously. The other goal was, not just browse, but to purchase something at Chanel (costume jewelry, I found something I love!) on rue Cambon, the original Chanel salon. We were also looking forward to a Christmas Eve concert at Sainte Chappelle. It was mostly about being back in Paris at Christmas, drinking as much Champagne as possible (which we did-shocking to imagine how many glasses we drank) and eating well (which is easy to do in Paris). The Cartier exhibit was the unexpected “find” for the trip.

Apartment – We decided to stay closer to the 6th and our favorite area near the Odeon metro stop. The apartment was exactly as photographed and advertised. It was between the Pantheon and Notre Dame and around the corner from the Maubert Mutualite Metro stop and market.

The good….elevator, water closet not right in the bedroom, tons of storage space, all appliances you need including a big fridge, lots of room and a really great hairdryer (hey, I have very thick hair).

Only 2 negatives….most days a very “smoky” smell in the apartment from the fireplace and no coffee pods left for us for the Nespresso coffee maker (really?). We learned to close the hall and bedroom doors, to keep the smell out of the bedroom (it really bothered me the first night). We probably should have asked the office to come and put up some plastic around the fireplace to block the smell but didn’t think of it until about the last day. I would say there was a bit more noise from other apartments than we had in the Kir apartment two years ago, but it wasn’t too bad.

The apartment was rented through Paris Perfect but it is not managed by them. One complaint/point of confusion I have (although on our visit was not an issue but it could be)…the apartment is advertised as non-smoking, however, the check in agent said we could smoke but just to open a window. We didn’t ask, as we don’t smoke, so I would worry if the renter previous did smoke in the apartment as that is a deal breaker for me. This management agency does do things a little differently from Paris Perfect, but for the most part it was OK. You do not get a returning renter discount on this apartment.

The link to the apartment is below:

The food – More details to come. We had only one lunch reservation and two nights without dinner reservations. We wanted to visit a few new spots, re-visit a few favorites. Lunch most days was just popping in somewhere for something easy and simple. I have overloaded on too much foie gras, rillettes, pate and the like in the past, so this trip I skipped it to save my stomach (there was still plenty of cheese, beef, pain au chocolat and other good stuff). Below is a list of the more well-known restaurants we went to:
Bistro Belhara, Verjus, L ’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, Les 110 Taillevent, Café Marly, Le Comptoir, and Marco Polo. Again, I will post more information once I get to the “meat” of the TR, but they were all good.

The Champagne- It was all good. One reason I love Paris because you can always get Champagne by the glass and it’s always good. Yep, we had a lot of it. We have come to really enjoy it and for those who don’t know, we have Sparkling Saturdays at our house every week. There were occasional other beverages (beer, red wine, white wine), but for the most part, it was all Champagne and most of that was Rose. We had our first Bruno Paillard Rose, which is a brand we came to know in Paris but never had the Rose before. Delicious…it all was and I am glad I didn’t count the glasses consumed.

What we didn’t get to – a Seine cruise. It’s never been a priority and we just have not gotten to it, although I thought we might this time. Montparnasse tower (and the view without the tower).

What we could have done better - the trip to Strasbourg

Major "panic" moment - my passport went "missing" as we were boarding our flight in Atlanta

Favorite things - sipping Champs at Le Bar at Georges V (and we actually got a table); the magnificent Cartier exhibit, the "added" Bonaparte family exhibit at Musee Marmottan

What I know for sure – My French is still so bad that I still have to show taxi drivers the address since they can’t understand me!

More to come, including links to pictures.
denisea is offline  
Old Dec 30th, 2013, 12:28 PM
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 2,478
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Jumping in to follow along and read tonight when I have more time to savor what I know will be a great trip report!
LowCountryIslander is offline  
Old Dec 30th, 2013, 12:42 PM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 23,815
Likes: 0
Received 6 Likes on 1 Post
Can't wait to read the détails. I'm sure you know that our concept of Paris is not identical, nor should it be since a resident and a visitor will never see the city the same way or want to do the same things. But I am always happy to see what people discover when they come here because for some reason quite a few people continue to ask me for advice.
kerouac is offline  
Old Dec 30th, 2013, 01:04 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 662
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Great start, denisea - looking forward to all the details.

I love champagne and sparkling wine, and remember you mentioning your Saturday tradition - love it!

Carry on...
YankyGal is offline  
Old Dec 30th, 2013, 01:13 PM
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 12,844
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
>>What I know for sure – My French is still so bad that I still have to show taxi drivers the address since they can’t understand me! <<

I know exactly what you mean. Maybe Mark Twain was correct, that the French language is so difficult even the French citizens don't understand it.

Denise, you have another fan but please no food pictures. I have to drive 70 miles to find a good restaurant. just kidding
ziggypop is online now  
Old Dec 30th, 2013, 01:25 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 2,093
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I don't like the Seine cruises in winter anyway. Can't wait to read more.
Micheline is offline  
Old Dec 30th, 2013, 04:39 PM
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 18
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Denise..I think I was there about the same time you were and I did the Seine River Cruise. I was excited for it, but didn't live up to the expectation. I am sure it was because it was raining. So don't feel bad you didn't get to it.

Loved your last trip report on Paris at Christmas - and that actually clinched my decision to go at Christmas. So of course, I can't wait for this TR!
atennislover is offline  
Old Dec 30th, 2013, 04:55 PM
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 2,989
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi Denisea, really loved your last Christmas Paris report and look forward to following this one.

I loved the Musee Marmottan and look forward to your take on it.
latedaytraveler is offline  
Old Dec 30th, 2013, 05:20 PM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 203
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We are looking forward to following your report as we were there at about the same time. We did do the Cartier exhibit as well which we found was very interesting especially the 2900 plus diamonds on the maharajah's piece. We saw Belhara but did not have a meal there and will be interested in your comments.
Thanks for sharing.
waterdog is offline  
Old Dec 30th, 2013, 05:30 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 4,037
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Excited for your report and your pictures. We went to Paris at Christmas the year of "The Storm of the Century" so it may be time to give it another chance. Maybe next year. Something tells me you could convince us.
JulieVikmanis is offline  
Old Dec 30th, 2013, 05:41 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 4,596
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
You all are kind and I may need an assistant to get the report done. I really appreciate the encouraging words and the fun of it is to share what you love and find interesting about a destination. There is certainly a lot to love in Paris.

More is on the way.
denisea is offline  
Old Dec 30th, 2013, 11:14 PM
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 215
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi Denise,

I'm still working on my TR and will hopefully post soon.

Your trip sounds great so far!
Ozgirl07 is offline  
Old Dec 31st, 2013, 02:17 AM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 25,948
Received 4 Likes on 4 Posts
bilboburgler is offline  
Old Dec 31st, 2013, 03:09 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,585
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Can't wait for the details! We never miss a visit to George V on any trip to Paris, if only to see the flowers/lobby displays. We were there in October during fashion week and the flowers surrounded a display of Ellie Saab gowns. I was just stunning.
Judy is offline  
Old Dec 31st, 2013, 03:53 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,427
Likes: 0
Received 11 Likes on 4 Posts
I don't partake of champagne, Cartier, Chanel, or Christmas, but I am greatly looking forward to the rest of your report. Sign me on for the ride.
Nikki is offline  
Old Dec 31st, 2013, 05:03 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,585
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
IT was stunning....I was looking quite ordinary.
Judy is offline  
Old Dec 31st, 2013, 05:10 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 4,596
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
That sounds cool Judy!! Nikki, we only got to see Cartier jewelry....no buying, but hopefully the rest of the report will be of interest.
denisea is offline  
Old Dec 31st, 2013, 05:22 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 4,596
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Day One - Friday, Dec 20, 2013

We looked forward to the trip so much. We really enjoyed Paris at Christmas when we were there before and couldn’t wait to be there again. There is an energy for me that I love about Paris.

So getting there was easy. Strangely enough there is an amazing pizza place at the Atlanta airport that made a good pre-flight meal before leaving Atlanta, so we started with pizza margarita...very French.

We made our way to gate and pre-boarding was announced. I reached into my travel tote and grabbed Chaz’ passport and boarding pass. But, where oh where was mine? Ok, it’s in there…relax. Check another pocket….nope. Check the iPad pocket, gotta be there right? Nope. I just went through security…I had it an hour ago. Check pockets again. Getting hot now. Crap, crap, crap. I am formulating a plan on how to back track, find my stupid passport and get to Paris. Think it through, where is it? My wallet, my wallet, now I remember putting in my wallet (don’t ask why I put it there in the first place). OK, on to Detroit to connect on to Paris. Flight is on time and we had a quick break in Detroit. Got to the gate and they were boarding already and we just hopped on. Easy.

Diego was our Champagne serving flight attendant. He happened to mention that his middle name is Francisco and I started thinking about “Elf”…”Francisco, that’s a fun name to say, Francisco”. Just so happens that Elf was a movie choice so I had to watch it. (and it was almost Christmas).

Great flight except for the poor tenderloin of shoe leather we were served. Oh well, I don’t think Wolfgang Puck is the chef on the flight but the rest of it was excellent and we both got a little sleep.

In and out of CDG and into central Paris (rue St. Paul) in no time. Our driver called the apartment management office and we were dropped off there. Dropped the bags and were lectured about being back by 1:30 for our check in appointment. We were being checked in first and they had 20 appointments that day. We were told in the best school principal tone not to be late or we would be moved to the last appointment of the day. Sufficiently terrified, we left and headed to the Isle St Louis.

A stop at a nice corner café, some café crème and espresso and we were ready to explore the ‘hood the apartment was in. We had sunny beautiful weather and it was nice to come across the little bridge from Isle St. Louis and see Notre Dame. I never get tired of it. We saw a bride and groom having photographed in the park behind the church and that was kinda cool.

Cross the bridge with all the locks behind Notre Dame, go straight across the Quai and our apartment was on that street, half-way up the block between Blvd St Germain and Quai de la Tournelle.

Excited about the location, we turned left onto BSG and right into Dyptique for candles. Two years ago we got the best limited edition Holiday candles and were hoping they would have them again. Not so, but we chose a Cyprus one that had the evergreen scent and headed on to St Sulpice, all the while paying close attention to the time.

We dare not be late for that appointment. We love St Sulpice and always light a candle for a good friend and so it’s a tradition now. There was actually a funeral taking place at the time and a soloist singing Ava Maria. Sad but we felt fortunate to be there and stayed in the back until the funeral procession made its way out.

A little window shopping and we saw an orangutan made of chocolate (at Patrick Roger, I think it was). Never expected to see that anywhere, much less Paris. Very detailed and incredible!

Lunch? Chaz had hoped for Le Comptoir but since we had that appointment, so not today. We decided to head back to Isle St Louis for something over there. We stopped in at Café Med for gallettes and dessert crepes and it totally hit the spot. Nothing fancy but tasty and quick. And we were early for that check in appointment.

Back over the bridge and to the apartment. I hope the apartment is what we were expecting. Up the elevator and into the dingiest hallway ever. Stained carpet…OMG…not what I had in mind. But, into the apartment and it was really good and exactly what we were expecting. Thank God.

Unpack, clean up and out the door to dinner at Verjus (waterdog, we never would have made it to the 7th for drink before our dinner…next time). We exited the Metro and as usual, had no idea which way to go. It’s not a trip if we don’t get a little turned around. Now, it’s harder, as I need glasses and trying to read a map, in the dark even with my readers is pretty much impossible! We figured it out and arrived at about 6:30 at the Verjus wine bar (around the corner and downstairs from the restaurant). So charming, I thought as we walked in.

And, that was followed by the immediate feeling of being a math nerd hoping to get a seat at the cheerleaders table in the high school cafeteria. It was packed and no one was moving even an inch to make room for us. We just got the stare down that says "don't even try it"! We got some wine and essentially stood at the end of the bar and the bathroom entrance. Never mind. It was still a great space. At our reservation time, we made our way upstairs to get our table.

I have seen criticism of Verjus that it is not local and full of English speakers and it is true. Who cares? The food is excellent and that’s what I care about. The bartender was from MN, our waitress was from Romania and one of the chefs was from Boston. Not all the diners spoke English, but quite a few did. Again, the food was creative, fresh and unique. It is a set menu and it’s 60 euros. For the quality, it’s a steal. And there portions are pleasantly filling without being too much. Here was the menu that night:

sea scallop from Mont St Michel,
clementine, grapefruit, olive, heirloom radishes, sumac, herb salad
raviolos of roast pumpkin,
buffalo milk ricotta, nettle pesto, pine nuts,
pickled pumpkin, apple/chervil salad

clams from Galice,
roast sunchoke soup, garlic crouton,
harissa, celery root, thyme oil

skillet cooked duck,
smoked celery root, orange, rye,
red cabbage sauerkraut

wild boar confit
crimini mushrooms, turnips, herb salad, onion
warm egg yolk, horseradish

lime/mint sorbet, bourbon gel, candied mint leaves

Corsican clementine cake
Dark chocolate crumbs, chervil
Pansies and tonka bean ice cream

website: http://hkmenus.com/index.html

reservations: [email protected]

Restaurant: 52 rue de Richelieu* (75001)
in the passage Beaujolais
Bar à Vins*: 47 rue Montpensier (75001)

It was all great but the raviolo was easily my favorite. I also loved the clams with sunchoke soup…that harissa in the background was so good….just a little heat. I highly recommend Verjus! We had a bottle of Champagne but I don’t know what it was – I think Michael Brocard, but am not certain. We tried to get the Pascal Douquet Rose but they had sold the last bottle to a nearby table. We would likely have gone back (at least to the wine bar) but they were closing for the Christmas holidays that night.

We had a wonderful first day in Paris, made it back to the Metro without the map and headed home to bed.
denisea is offline  
Old Dec 31st, 2013, 06:27 AM
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 9,171
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Your apartment was a palace for Paris! Loved the kitchen. I am looking forward to the Strasbourg report and Musee Marmottan.
flpab is offline  
Old Dec 31st, 2013, 06:48 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 2,175
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
My 4-C's for Paris have always been: the culture, couture, cuisine & champagne...
aliced is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Your Privacy Choices -