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A perfect Paris weekend for two first-timers

A perfect Paris weekend for two first-timers

Old May 21st, 2009, 12:04 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2003
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A perfect Paris weekend for two first-timers

In the past I’ve gone to great lengths to pen detailed, day-by-day trip reports but none were as witty and engaging as the ones I enjoy reading. So, I’m going to leave that up to those Fodorites with the gift of writing entertaining accounts of their travels. As for our quick get-away, I’ll hit the high points.

After much angst over taking the RER/Metro to our apartment, DH kindly informed me that he’d prefer a private shuttle and be done with it. So, that’s how we arrived at 51 r. Grenelle at about noon on Thursday, May 14.

*A note here that Shuttle Inter was fine except for the fact that our driver was not there when we deplaned. He did arrive within what I’m sure was no more than 15 minutes, but not before we bought a phone card that throughout the trip was not used once. He was on time for our return to CDG on Sunday.

The apartment through Paris Vacation Apartments was exactly as it appeared on the website: www.parisvacationapartments.com

A studio, the unit was compact and well-equipped. We lacked nothing. The croissants Marie-Laure bought for us were the beginnings of what I’m afraid is now a closet addiction. I could eat them 24/7 and found myself stuffing one last bite in my mouth moments before we left the apartment for good.

*Thanks, Susanna for all the tips and questions you answered! What a respite!!! We highly recommend it for one or two travelers. The washer/dryer was very helpful during our rainy, romantic stay.

Paris is an amazing city, rich in history and beautifully built. I was slightly surprised by the hue of most of the sites I’d only seen via photographs. Of course, with such historic buildings cleanings have to be done infrequently and with care.

We walked just about everywhere with the exception of Versailles, of course, and on our last evening, when my feet finally gave out; we took a taxi to Shakespeare and Co. from the Eiffel Tower. Unfortunately, the famed book shop was closed. A quick glance earlier in the day at our Rick Steve’s Paris said it should have been open ‘til midnight. We arrived around 23:15. Another time difference from the book meant we did not get to visit the Conciergerie. Yours truly was bummed a bit and tried not to mope around St. Chapelle in all its splendor and glory while DH took lots of breathtaking pictures of the stained glass and blue-and-gold fleur-de-lis filled ceiling.

The first day we simply explored, walking the streets of the 1st - 3rd Arr from the Louvre to the Pompidou, gazing into shop windows, snapping photos and generally taking in as much as we could realizing our stay would be short and the next day filled with Versailles.

The latter we loved! We were among the first 20 people in line just before 9 a.m.; however within the hour we were mobbed throughout the Chateau with the exception of the Dauphin’s apartment which was quite a lovely escape from the crowd. I wish the Chateau would offer group-only days so we independent travelers could enjoy the premises without being bum-rushed by robotic visitors led by sometimes drill sear gent-like tour guides. Nonetheless, the throng failed to spoil our visit! There also was a fabulous exhibit on the 17th & 18th century court dress, with jewels, gowns, coronation robes, etc. This too was without crowds, requiring a day pass, which we had, or 15 euros.

For me, the best part of Versailles was the Petite Trianon, the hamlet and the serene and amazing gardens and the grand canal. Perhaps one can take in this popular site in half a day or so, but we took our time and spent the entire day there followed by dinner at a romantic restaurant in town where the server was a sweet girl who patiently helped us limp through the menu. Our choices were delicious! It was my first time having a white fish of some sort, which I could not find in my French phrase book, with a side of ratatouille. Yum!

DH enjoyed a run on the morning of our last full day. We spent the rest of it strolling through the fifth where we had lunch at an Italian restaurant called Pepone on rue Gregoire de Tours before touring Notre Dame, the Deportation Memorial and St. Chapelle. These sites, especially St. Chapelle and the Memorial were free of crowds. Even the long line outside Notre Dame moved swiftly. Less than 5 minutes and we were inside gasping at the sight of historic treasures and feeling God’s presence in this wonderful church. The architecture was simply amazing and inspiring.

We walked from St. Chaplle back to rue de Grenelle and followed 'our street' to Rue Cler where we stopped at a market for a delicious bunch of cherries, a pear and the most flavorful clementines I've ever had. From the Parc du Champ de Mars we took photos of the tower before heading to dinner, afterwhich we walked back to the park for a nightime view of the twinkling Eiffel.


++This time around on our travels I was so relaxed and less militant about our itinerary and found that the “chill” mode gave way to my now favorite aspect of travel – meeting new people! We are in touch with a wonderful family from Queensland we met at lunch on our first day and then bumped into twice at Versailles! Imagine that. Amid all those folks, we saw them not once but twice. Of course, then, we had to give them our contact info and they were sweet and e-mailed us as they traveled through the Lot region. At the Eiffel tower we met a young nurse and her father from CT on the trip of her lifetime. There were others, a couple at dinner one evening and a missionary who just happened to be from the U.S. and has a brother living here in Dallas. She gave us her number.

++Running through the streets of Paris

++The fact that while the Sun King built Versailles on his quest to be worshipped, the grand canal is a perfectly shaped cross.

++Croissants – no explanation needed, I’m sure.

++Dinners at the chic Le Grenier, a vegetarian restaurant on rue de la Buchiere, and at La Fontaine de Mars www.fontainedemars.com

++Another food highlight. Everything was fresh and the cans of Coke seemed not as strong as the ones we buy in our local grocery store. That was nice.

++Packing everything we needed in carry-on only luggage. With the washer/dryer, we could have stayed a week or more on just the 2-3 days worth of clothes we eached packed.


++We found avoiding second-hand smoke virtually impossible.

++Cars were seemingly all black, dark blue, or grey – nicely understated and they were all in good shape

++While stylishly dressed we noticed (and welcomed) the French citizen’s absence of clothing emblazoned with sports logos, designer names, etc.

++Our dining experiences were far better than on our visit to Rome, Venice and Italy.

++The below-ground public restrooms at both Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower were superbly clean. In fact, we found nearly every facility to be well thought out and exceptionally clean compared to many we’ve encountered in the U.S.


To wrap this up, we agreed on our flight home that when our schedule permits we will have to resurrect our original 14-day itinerary for London and Paris. I’m sure there’s more that I’m forgetting to include, but hope this brief report will be of interest and help to future travelers.

Lastly, thanks to all the folks who bother to share their knowledge and experiences via this forum. Whenever I even think I might take a trip, I come to Fodors first because I know here I can find help.

Au revoir and happy travels,

ChicagoDallasGirl is offline  
Old May 21st, 2009, 02:09 PM
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I forgot to mention that we listened to the Rick Steves tours via iPod. Downloaded them before leaving and they were great!
ChicagoDallasGirl is offline  
Old May 21st, 2009, 05:34 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
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Nice report. So many people ask if it's worth going to Paris for a few days. Sounds like you had a great time. We stayed in a PVA apartment two years ago. They do things so well.

Thanks for writing--you write well. Love the "closet addiction" reference!
cw is offline  
Old May 21st, 2009, 06:33 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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I"m so thrilled to hear that you had a wonderful time. Great report, thanks for contributing.

Welcome to the eyeheartparis club!

I worried that the apartment might be too small, since I stayed there without my DH. It is perfect for one and good for two for a short or first trip, where you won't be hanging around the apartment a lot.

Now get planning for the next one!
susanna is offline  
Old May 21st, 2009, 08:10 PM
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You really packed a lot into your short stay; good report!
grandmere is offline  
Old May 22nd, 2009, 04:44 AM
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Susanna - I am so there. I already know that on our next visit I'd like to stay in the heart of the 7th. Perhaps near Rue Saint Dominique and de la Bourdannais. At least I think that's the heart of the 7th.

The apartment was just big enough not to trip over one another. More than two people would definitely not be my recommendation. I agree, perfect for one and good for two.

Thanks, grandmere. Now I'll have to live through your travels as we'll be stateside for a few months. ;-)
ChicagoDallasGirl is offline  
Old May 22nd, 2009, 06:06 AM
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Welcome back CDGirl... Sounds like a lovely trip - and a nicely written highlight trip report!
Canada_V is offline  
Old May 23rd, 2009, 02:05 PM
Join Date: Apr 2005
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You may think you are not as witty & engaging as others, but I found this report very interesting and entertaining. It makes me more determined than ever to make it to Paris....it's on the list.
RSTravelers is offline  
Old May 23rd, 2009, 03:37 PM
Join Date: Sep 2006
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"In the past I’ve gone to great lengths to pen detailed, day-by-day trip reports but none were as witty and engaging as the ones I enjoy reading. So, I’m going to leave that up to those Fodorites with the gift of writing entertaining accounts of their travels. As for our quick get-away, I’ll hit the high points."

I disagree. Your trip report is engaging and well written. My wedding anniversary is next month, I feel like going to Paris instead of New York City because of your trip report!
cafegoddess is offline  
Old May 26th, 2009, 10:39 AM
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Canada - Thanks so much. I failed to mention that the couple we met at dinner at Le Grenier was from Canada!

RSTravelers and cafegoddess - You two are so kind. Thank you for the words of encouragement!!!
ChicagoDallasGirl is offline  
Old May 26th, 2009, 06:40 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
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Hi ChicagoDallasGirl - I'm very impressed you made it out to Versailles before 9am! I hope you got to enjoy parts of it before the crowds descended on it.
yk is offline  
Old May 26th, 2009, 11:04 PM
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yk - I'm not the most punctual person in the world, but somehow we made it even though we encountered a train mishap at the outset of our journey. ;-) We took Robespierre's advice and walkd to the D'Orsay station. Except for our initial boarding of the wrong train - which we later found out might have been the right one after all - this strategy worked wonderfully.
ChicagoDallasGirl is offline  
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