A Week in Paris

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Jun 11th, 2018, 06:31 PM
  #1
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A Week in Paris

My husband and I, both retired, just returned from a week in Paris, followed by brief visits in Beaune, Lyon then a week in Provence where we met up with friends in a rental house. This trip report will focus on Paris only and I will write a separate trip report for Beaune/Lyon and Provence.

We landed at CDG Terminal 1 at 4pm on a Sunday on Norwegian Air flight from Oakland, CA. It appeared that we were the only incoming flight at that time so there was no wait for passport control and the bags came quickly. It was my first time on this airline and we flew premium with 46” of legroom and seats that recline 10-inches, which was comfortable for an overnight flight. They claim they give more air in the cabin so you arrive not feeling so depleted. It’s hard to tell on a 11 hour flight. I would definitely take this flight again.

We took a cab into Paris @ 55 Euro flat fee. No traffic on an early Sunday evening. I was concerned that everything would be closed in Paris on Sundays, but it’s clear that’s no longer the case in Paris. At least in the 6eme on Rue de Buci, not far from the apartment we rented from Paris Vacations. It’s lined with cafes and packed with people every night. We decided to have a light dinner at Cosi on Rue de Seine where you can also take out. They offer organic salads, tartines, and gluten free options. It’s located across the street from Fish/La Poissoniere, where we’ve dined on a previous trip. Same owner too. We picked up some groceries and settled into our rented apartment.

We have been to Paris numerous times, so we don’t feel compelled to see the top 10 sites of Paris. Here are some of the ways we spent our time.

On our first day, we walked around Places Des Voges on the edge of the Marais. Before our departure, I had read a book, “How Paris became Paris: The Invention of the Modern City” by Joan DeJean.” She explains the history of this square, (originally called Place Royale) as well as the significance of le Pont Neuf, the oldest bridge in Paris. The book gives you great insight into the city plan and culture and how the city’s identity evolved from these two public spaces.

We also walked the rue des Martyres. I had also read Elaine Sciolino’s book , “The Only Street in Paris, Life on the Rue des Martyrs” and my interest was piqued. I had been expecting to see some of the old shops she had written about. But since the book was published (or perhaps due to its publication) it has become quite gentrified – cafes, bakeries, clothing stores. It’s bustling and fun to walk. We stopped at the Rose Bakery - Patricia Wells had written about their Carrot Cake - the best in the world, she said. We got the last pice, albeit a bit stale at the end of the day. It was very good, but nothing to write home about. At the top of this street, we caught a smaller city bus that takes you up to Montmartre where we walked around and visited the Montmartre museum. It features the (recreated) Atelier and apartment of the artists Suzanne Valadon and Maurice Utrillo from the early part of the 20th century.

We saw the Delacroix exhibit at the Louvre and first visited the home/studio of Delacroix, located on the lovely Place Furstenberg in the 6eme. We took advantage of the combined entry fee for both museums on the same day (15 Euros). You can also see Delacroix’s murals inside St Sulpice Church, also in the 6eme. The Louvre exhibit is there until the end of July.

I had never been in the 10th or 11th arrondissements, where a lot of younger Parisians have moved. We tried to follow a walking route described in a new book, “Paris in Stride,” but we were disappointed and gave up after a lot of walking from store to store or to a small café that in our opinion wasn’t so distinctive. We ended up having a delicious lunch of Vietnamese/Cambodian food at Le Petit Cambodge. I had not realized it at the time but this restaurant, along with the Carillon across the road were the targets of the terrorists in 2015. (I thought the attack had occurred at its “sister” restaurant also in the 10th).

We went to the Picasso Museum to see the Guernica Exhibit – everything was there except… the Guernica painting. Sounds strange, I know, but that painting remains in Madrid. What we did see was very interesting – Dora Mar’s photographs (and a brief film) of Picasso creating this painting along with documents and other artwork that gave historical context to this massive artwork.

While we were there, there was the annual Museum night – with all museums open, free of charge, until 1am. We saw the exhibit of "1986 Paris riots " at the school des Beaux Arts in the 6eme; the Paris Mint; and we went back to the Musee D’Orsay, which we had visited earlier in the day.

We like good bistrot food. Here are some restaurants we can recommend:

We went to Café Charlot on rue de Bretagne in the 3eme for lunch with a friend who lives in the neighborhood and goes there daily. Very good, well priced. Nice and airy, even sitting inside (while the smokers claimed the sidewalk tables). I really love this area, which is north of the Marais near the Picasso museum. We scheduled our visit to the museum first.

La Cantine du Troquet on Rue du Cherche Midi in the 6eme. It’s a Basque restaurant that was excellent with a friendly staff and an upbeat vibe. Seems to be full of locals. We went with a friend who lives on the street and whose husband is Basque.

Little Breizh – Authentic Brittany-style crepes and gallets made with organic ingredients. There are several Breizh locations in the city, - we ate at a smaller café located on rue Gregoire de Tours, off Rue du Buci in the 6th. Very good. (Digression – there’s a nail salon across the street).

Le Cosi – I mentioned this before. Great place for a well-priced, light meal or take out for your picnic or apartment/hotel room.

Le Mabillon – we had a superb meal – an early dinner before going out on Museum night. It’s on Blvd. St. Germain at the corner of Rue de Seine. It’s a hang out for students at the Sorbonne and it’s very upbeat. The food is excellent. We sat just inside the big, open door/windows on a sunny afternoon, avoiding the smokers on the sidewalk, but still able to watch the world go by. Great people watching for sure.

Le Grenier du Notre Dame – High level, vegetarian restaurant (the first veggie and macrobiotic restaurant in Paris, started in 1978). Really creative, delicious and beautifully presented. It’s located right off the Seine across from Notre Dame on Rue de la Bucherie in the 5th. There are a few tables on the sidewalk (facing construction) and a few tables on the ground floor and more upstairs.

On Rue de Buci -There are so many restaurants to choose from. We had dinner at Atlas – lots of outdoor tables. Expect slow-ish service. And breakfast at Café de Paris. None of the restaurants on this street are known for their terrific food, which seems to be besides the point. It’s just a happening street. Packed in the evenings and all are opened late.

Le Pre Aux Clercs - This was recommended on some Paris food blogs I read. It was just a few blocks from our rented apartment and we met a French friend there. The ambiance and casual vibe is really nice, but what we ordered was pretty bad (duck a l'orange). I think if you stick to more casual fare, you will have better luck.

Mi Va Mi – This is the Fallafel restaurant across from L’As du Fallafel, the better-known, Kosher, mid-east restaurant on Rue des Rosiers in the Marais (the 4th) that everyone lines up for. Friends of mine living in Paris think this place is better – we thought it was very good.

Café Nemours – I always stop there for its outdoor terrace and its location – at the Place Colette metro stop, next to the Palais gardens and near the Louvre. The quality of the food isn’t great, but the ambiance is what you go for and the servers seem nice enough. Great place for a drink, light meal.

Paul – Their bread, pastries, tartines and salads are just divine. Even their concession in CDG was delicious. The one in the 6th has a café with table service. Maybe the others do as well. We brought a tartine and salad for a picnic in the Tuileries. Lovely (there's a Paul Concession in the Tuilleries too).

Shopping- I mostly window-shopped, but I did stop in a few places.

Bon Marche – This “grand magasin” has been renovated since I was last there and it’s beautiful. Worth a visit to see the food emporium on the first floor. Small food cafes inside too.

Galerie Martine Namy-Caulier- If you’re interested in buying original, high quality artwork, you’ll find a good selection by local artists here. I first visited this gallery in 1986 and she is still at the same location on rue des Saints Peres in the 7th.

Nina Kendosa – Several locations – I went to the one on Rue de Buci in the 6th. Nice summer fabrics, casual wear. There's a website you can check out.

Nina Jacob – I always stop in this store in the Marais. In the winter, they carry stylish, boiled wool jackets and capes made by Eva Tralala and I have several in my closet. Right now, they are mainly selling lots of loose, linen clothing for summer.

Fabrice – This is a well-known costume jewelry store on Rue Bonaparte in the 6th. They create creative, unique pieces that make a statement. Over the years, I’ve purchased a few treasures. At least take a look at their windows. It's located down the street from St. Germain church and metro stop.

HOTEL – As I mentioned, we chose to rent an apartment from Paris Vacations. However, after our week in Provence, we took the TGV train from Avignon directly to the CDG airport where we stayed at the Sheraton Hotel located in Terminal 2. (You arrive at the TGV station in the terminal, and take the elevator up two floors and voila! you're at the hotel entrance). Since our flight didn’t leave until late afternoon the following day, we upgraded so we could remain in our room until flight check in time (great decision!). The hotel drove us in their van to Terminal One where our flight was leaving. This saved us at least a half hour of walking and taking the connecting train – with luggage (one broken) and backpacks. The room was very nice, the staff very helpful. The Club lounge was small, windowless and quite dingy looking (very surprising for a Sheraton) and the more casual restaurant- there are two of them - left a lot to be desired, but it didn’t really matter.

Miscellaneous....
We purchased 2 "carnets" of metro cards and used Uber once in a while at night or when we were too tired to navigate connections. Uber cars are everywhere in Paris- all nice cars too. Whenever we called for one, it never took more than 4-5 minutes to arrive. Our rides all seemed to be around 10 Euros. You can also opt to share rides to save money.

Smokers have taken over the café sidewalks. Nonsmokers are inside unless you want to be sandwiched in between the chain smokers. What a drag. Coming from California, we were shocked to see everyone smoking so much.

There are combined museum entrance fees to take advantage of: Musee d’Orsay/Musee de L’orangerie (16E); and D’orsay with Musee Rodin (18E) The D’orsay is free for everyone on Thursday evenings beginning at 6pm. It closes at 9:45p. It’s a nice time to go.
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Jun 11th, 2018, 07:16 PM
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Great report, I'm looking forward to reading about the rest of your trip.

Thanks for the tip about the Sheraton.
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Jun 11th, 2018, 07:44 PM
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Lovely report! Also love the rue de Bretagne area and cafe Charlot. Chez Omar in that area is great for couscous (cash only) and the Marché des Enfants Rouges offers an array of options.
One clarification - do you mean Cosi on rue de la Seine (the chain with locations also in the US for good prêt-à-porter sandwiches and salads) or Le Cosi on rue Cujas with excellent Corsican food? The latter is a favorite of ours.
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Jun 11th, 2018, 07:47 PM
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Thank you for this report - we are flying Norwegian out of OAK to CDG in about two months; glad to hear you liked the flight. We'll be in Paris at the end of our month-long stay in France & Germany - and have a (legal) apartment near the Louvre for our final five nights. We've only stayed in the Montmartre in past stays, so it will be interesting to be a little closer to the center of the city. Thanks for the Uber info - that will be a good way to go when the Metro isn't close by.

Am also looking forward to your Beaune report - we have a gite in Bligny-sur-Ouche for a week before we drop off our rental car in Dijon and take the train into Paris.

Not looking forward to the smokers - also used to the non-smoking culture of CA.
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Jun 11th, 2018, 07:59 PM
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Thanks for all the details. Now I want to go back and check out that jewelry store, Fabrice. Hope I can remember it next time I go, whenever that might be. Not that I need any more costume jewelry from Paris. I intentionally stayed away from jewelry stores on my last visit. But this one sounds tempting...
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Jun 11th, 2018, 09:08 PM
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You seem to enjoy visiting Paris. That's great! I wish to go there too and see the Picasso Museum and all other beautiful places around.
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Jun 11th, 2018, 09:57 PM
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Seamus - The one on rue de la Seine. Do they have locations in the U.S. as well? Good to know about Le Cosi on Rue Cujas. Will remember for next trip! I know about Chez Omar, but didn't make it there.
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Jun 11th, 2018, 10:00 PM
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Nikki - Fabrice is a small but fabulous store. They have very creative designs.
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Jun 11th, 2018, 10:02 PM
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Yes, I never get tired of Paris and each time I go, I like to discover something new. Some day I'll stay for several months.
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Jun 12th, 2018, 03:22 AM
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Stricky, thanks for taking the time to write this TR. We're doing something similar to you, I'm actually flying to CDG this evening and meeting up with my family who arrive on a different flight. We then take the TGV down to Avignon for 12 days in Provence, then a week in Paris and later a week south of Beaune. So I'll be watching out for your Provence and Beaune TRs too...
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Jun 12th, 2018, 06:21 PM
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Terrific plans and I'm sure you'll have better weather than we did in Provence. I'll be posting soon.
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Jun 13th, 2018, 02:07 AM
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Zvi
 
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Thanks for report. I my self was in Paris last week.

Regarding the Guerrnica Exhibition, it is well known that the original work never gets out of Spain and it was specified that the exhibiton consists of preliminary studies for the great work.

I also visited the Delacroix exhibition at the Louvre, the first Parisian retrospective since 1963. Warmly recommended!

For Future visitors it is recommended to visit the Tintoretto exhibition at Luxembourd Museum, ths Corot portraits in Marmottan is a must and also the immersive experience of Klimt in the newly opened Atelier des Lumiers. Really really faboulous!
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Jun 13th, 2018, 08:29 PM
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I love the Marmottan, but didn't get there on this trip. I would have loved to see the Corot paintings. I did see a different show of the Atelier des Lumiers in Les Baux, near St. Remy en Provence, but that show didn't have the Klimt work, which I would have loved. Tant pis! There was so much to do in Paris, I needed a few more days.
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Jun 13th, 2018, 08:40 PM
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Nina Jacob! I have a boiled wool jacket I bought from there, but I've never remembered the name of the store!
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Jun 13th, 2018, 11:17 PM
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Stricky, the Musée Marmottan is my absolute fav, DH and I can spend hours there.

We’re at our rental villa in Sarrians since last evening, beautiful except for the mistral which has been blowing for the last few days, forecast for the next day or two. But it’s gorgeous all the same 😍
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Jun 14th, 2018, 04:19 AM
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Here's the website for Fabrice:

https://www.fabrice-paris.fr/

Note there are two locations, both on rue de Bonaparte.
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Jun 14th, 2018, 06:52 AM
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I think we are staying in your apartment now. We were sharing an apartment on rue Dauphine with friends last week and moved yesterday. Have eaten at many of your restaurants and am now wearing a Fabrice necklace!
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Jun 17th, 2018, 08:35 PM
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Wow! you bought something at Fabrice? Wonderful. Our apartment was on rue des Beaux-Arts, off rue de Seine. Closer to the Seine than to Blvd. S. Germain. Enjoy your trip!
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Jun 18th, 2018, 02:01 AM
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Loving this! We are going to Paris for a week in early fall and your recommendations are incredibly helpful! So excited - we love Paris, too. We're big on window shopping, too, but you've tempted me to consider a purchase or two!
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Jun 18th, 2018, 09:52 PM
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Progol - Enjoy your trip - September is a great time of year to go. One thing I missed seeing is their "high line"- actually the NYC high line was inspired by their mile elevated park called the Coulee Verte (green course) built on top of an old rail line in the 12th arrondissement. It's on my list for my next trip. Also, every September - this year it's on the 15-16, there's the European Heritage Day when all the government institutions are open to the public - including the Elysee Palace. There are other shows, tours, concerts and more events going on. Worth checking out online if you'll be there. So much to do/see in Paris!
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