A week in Paris -- trip report

May 14th, 2003, 05:38 AM
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A week in Paris -- trip report

Hi all,
I gleaned much useful information from all of you on our recent trip to Paris. Just wanted to thank you, and hopefully return the favor by reporting on a few of the highlights of our trip. I'll try not to bore you with too many details, I don't write as well as some, so I'll just give my favorites.

We stayed at the Hotel Le Regent, highly recommended by many of you. It really is a lovely hotel. The room had some character, the bathroom was quite large by European standards. Staff was always helpful. I would stay here again. It was a little bit noisy at night, which didn't bother me, but my mom found it distracting (she lives in a very quiet area, so any city noise might have been bothersome).

Our two best meals were at Chez Maitre Paul and at Les Bookinisites. Had the chicken in yellow wine at CMP, and it was delicious. (Howard, they seem to have removed the free-range children from the menu. Whatsup with that??). Les Bookinistes was the best meal of the whole trip. The cuisine was more contemporary here, but still definitely french. My entree of haricots vert with grilled langoustines was incredible. Lamb with olives and a slice of fois gras was a tremendous plat.

We went to the ballet at L'Opera Garnier, and saw "La Petite Danseuse de Degas". I highly recommend a trip to the ballet as part of your Paris visit. The theater is unbelievable. And the ballet, which was modern and French, was really quite different from a modern American performance. Much more colorful, and interesting IMHO. The main character in this ballet was modelled after the famous Degas statue of the ballerina with the braid, and her hands behind her back. The very next day I had to go to the Musee D'Orsay to see the statue and compare.
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May 14th, 2003, 05:41 AM
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We made two day trips while we were there. One to Versailles, where we saw the horses (details posted elsewhere), the palace, and the gardens with the fountains turned on. We screwed up getting there, though, and got on the wrong train. Make sure you check the destination of your RER train, that it goes to the correct endpoint, as that line splits before Versaille.

We took a one day tour of Loire Chateaux, booked through Cityrama. This was their van tour, with just 7 people and the guide. It was terrific. I definitely recommend this. I thought it would be a long day in the van, but it really wasn't bad. We saw Chambord, Cheverny, and Chenonceau. All different, all impressive for different reasons. it was great.
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May 14th, 2003, 05:46 AM
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Chinacat, glad you enjoyed the trip. The chicken is definitely the better meal at Chez Maitre Paul. (Will I ever live that down!)
Happy to read another favorable report about the advantages of taking a van for a one-day trip. We did the same for our trip to Giverny and found that the comforts are well worth the extra price iver taking a bus tour.
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May 14th, 2003, 05:47 AM
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Beyond that, we did all the normal things for first timers in Paris: the Louvre, the Rodin, the Cluny, Notre Dame, Sainte Chappelle, the D'Orsay.

We used Rick Steve's "Mona Winks" walking tours for the Louvre and Versailles. I recommend this as a decent way to cover the highlights, and I find his writing entertaining. I can understand now why so many people find the Louvre overwhelming. Its impossible to really see the place, or to discover new things or new artists, at least on the first visit. We were too busy trying to see the most famous pieces, it was difficult to look at anything else. I'd really like to go back and see some of the less well known art. But what an incredible place.

Other things we really enjoyed: the Magritte exhibit at the Jeu de Palme, hot chocolate at Angelina's (you guys were right, this stuff is AMAZING), lunch on the terrace at La Samaritaine, walking around and people watching at the Tuileries, having a kir at Altitude on the first level of the Eiffel tower, seeing the Unicorn tapestries at the Cluny, taking the hop-on, hop-off bus (Les Cars Rouges).

All in all, a great week. Thanks to all of you for your recommendations and information.
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May 14th, 2003, 05:50 AM
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Hi China_cat,
So glad you enjoyed your trip.
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May 14th, 2003, 05:55 AM
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Lovely report, china cat~
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May 14th, 2003, 07:52 AM
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How much did the van trip to the Loire cost? The price is not given on the Cityrama website. How long of a day was it? Any more details? thanks for the trip report.
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May 14th, 2003, 07:58 AM
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Great report--do you need reservations for dinner at Les Bookinistes?
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May 14th, 2003, 09:25 AM
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Howard said "Will I ever live that down!"

I believe the answer is no. You should be proud. In a "fame is fleeting" world, you have come up with a line that will be remembered throughout the ages. I'm guessing that people will be going to Chez Maitre Paul 20 years from now ordering the free range children. Shakespeare. Keats. Howard.
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May 14th, 2003, 09:35 AM
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We went to Les Bookinistes on a Friday night, about 8:15, without a reservation and were seated right away. It looked like by 9PM or so people were waiting.

The whole week the only reservation we had was for Chez Maitre Paul because it was a Saturday. And we did hear them turning people away.

Howard, a couple years ago I posted something here, in jest, about wearing crispy pink jogging suits in Paris instead of black. I heard about it for a very long time. No, you won't live it down any time soon. Be proud of having become part of Fodor's lore
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May 14th, 2003, 09:40 AM
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china_cat: So glad to hear that you enjoyed Hotel Le Regent!! I am going to be lucky enough to be back there myself in 4 weeks!!! Can you give me a little more info on your experience at Les Bookinistes? I haven't eaten there yet, and maybe this would be a good choice (particularly since we both enjoyed the same HOTEL!!) Thanks in advance for any help you can provide. Best wishes, glad you had a nice trip!! Dave
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May 14th, 2003, 09:44 AM
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Sally,
the Loire tour cost $200 US/per person. I booked it via e-mail, after inquiring about the price. We were picked up at our hotel at about 6:45AM. Had a quick coffee stop on the way, and got to the first castle, Chambord, at about 9:30. We were returned to our hotel at 7PM.

Our tour was actually a mixed group of French and English speakers. I think this was unusual. We actually bumped into another van from the same company which was all American. I actually liked hearing the guide's commentary in both French and English, because it let me practice my comprehension.

The tour included admissions at the 3 castles, plus lunch. The guide led us for part of the time at each site, and then gave us some time on our own, to walk the grounds or shop for souvenirs or whatever was available at that castle. We spent the most time at Chenonceau, where we toured part of the interior with the guide. Then we went on our own to see the kitchens, and see a small costume museum. Plus there was a tasting room where we could try and buy the estates wines.

the three castles were all very different. Chambord is a big, older castle, with huge rooms and tapestries. Not much to see on the inside, but unbelievable architecture and turrets. We could climb the spiral staircase to the roof and get a great view of the countryside, plus a closer view of the turrets and spires. Cheverny was less impressive on the outside, but had the most furniture and most decorative on the inside. Chenonceau was the largest, and a good combination. An unbelievable location, it's built on a bridge straddling the Loire. The inside was interesting as well, with some art by Tintoretto and Veronese amongst others, and some furnished rooms.
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May 14th, 2003, 09:48 AM
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Howard I thought of you just this morning, when I decided to make the chicken Chez Paul for dinner tonight-LOL!
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May 14th, 2003, 09:53 AM
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David, I'm a bit of a foodie, so I'm always happy to talk about meals. Les Bookinistes is quite close to the hotel. Its on the Quai de Grand Augustins, along the river, about 2 blocks from Rue Dauphine (from le Regent, head to the river, then turn right). We spent about 140E for two of us, which included a 32E bottle of bordeaux. The restaurant is associated with the well known French chef Guy Savoy, who's restaurant of that name I believe is Michelin starred. The wine we drank was bottled for Guy Savoy, was from the Graves region of Bordeaux, and was the best bottle I had all week. (granted, I wasn't spending a ton on wine or food this trip. ) If you check rants and raves you'll find this restarant gets fairly mixed reviews, and I was surprised by the criticisms. Its true, the tables were very close together. I found that to be true everywhere we went. One place we were so close to others we were basically sharing a table, so we chatted with them throughout the meal. Another writer said the restaurant was too much like being in New York. Its true, it was a quality, cosmopolitan, contemporary type of place much like New York restaurants. So maybe its not as uniquely Parisian as some others. But the food was still great.

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May 14th, 2003, 10:24 AM
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china_cat - Thanks much for the detailed info....heading down (or up) Rue Dauphine is something I'm pretty sure I can do in my sleep!!

I'm reasonably sure that I've passed the restaurant before and I'll be sure to give it a try in a few weeks!! I'm going to be in Bordeaux for the first time this trip as well, so the rec for the "wine" will come in very very handy!!
Best wishes, Dave

P.S.- Do you recall if you had a standard room or a "deluxe" room at Le Regent?
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May 14th, 2003, 01:42 PM
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David,
we had a "deluxe" room. It was room #51. I particularly like the bright yellow ceramic tile in the bathroom. there's a picture of it on their website (http://www.france-hotel-guide.com/h75006regent.htm)

Enjoy Bordeaux. and be sure to tell us all about it when you get back.
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May 14th, 2003, 01:48 PM
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Hi China Cat - I had Room #51 with my mother in law last November and found it very efficient for two women travelling together - as you mentioned the bathroom was quite large and the small foyer with the full length mirror was a good dressing area.

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May 14th, 2003, 02:18 PM
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china_cat - Thanks for the info on the room number....It had been a long while since I actually "looked" at Le Regent's website, other than to just get the phone number to make my hotel reservations......

And funny thing: the "other" room on their site looks very, very familiar from my stay there last summer!! I'll have to find out what number it is..

On the downside, however, is that we'll only be in Bordeaux for about 1 1/2 days since there's apparently a HUGE wine event and very few places to stay....So, I'll have to tell you about the food in Provence instead!!

Best wishes, Dave
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May 14th, 2003, 02:46 PM
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Dave, when walking towards the Seine, it is on that last block on the left with lots of windows so you can look in and see the people eating
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May 14th, 2003, 04:25 PM
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china_cat:
I am going to Paris in one week and would love to visit the Magritte exhibit at the Jeu de Palme. Where is this located? I don't think I've heard of it before. Magritte is one of my favorite artists. THANKS!
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