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ramekin4 Sep 8th, 2009 06:08 AM

Aaaaaaaaaaaaah Paris!
Of a rendezvous in Paris, the battle of the stairs and the elusive Dali museum:

Day 1: Saturday August 29th 2009:

My hubby had a conference in Paris, it is his 40th Birthday this month and we just celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary. So who could pass up the opportunity of a trip to Paris to celebrate?.Hubby flew to NJ to drop off our almost 4 yr old with his parents and then flew from PHL to CDG. He got upgraded to first class and had a fabulous time en route!

Meanwhile I flew from Minneapolis to CDG on Northwest. Tiny, tiny plane. My vegetarian meal was inedible. Thank God for cheese and crackers but who cares…I am on my way to Paris!

We rendezvous at the baggage claim and kiss “Bonjour, welcome to Paris!”. Take a taxi and get to our hotel –Hotel Acacias Etoile in the 17eme. Our room isn’t ready yet so we wash up and then head off to Montmartre with his colleague and wife who were first timers in Paris (We had been 2 yrs ago).

First stop-Arc de Triomphe. We decide to go to the top. We mistakenly enter the long, winding staircase instead of the elevator and walk 284 painful steps to the stop along a narrow, winding staircase. Enjoy the views especially the streets that look like the spokes of a wheel. Take tons of photos. Our friends are excited of their first glimpse of La Tour Eiffel. Get near dizzy going down those steps again! (stair count=586).

We are famished and decide we must eat before we proceed to Montmartre. So we stop at Laduree on the Champs-Elysees and sit in their outdoor tent. I have a delicious omelette, hubby has a chicken club sandwich and the others have a salmon club sandwich.Yummy. We pick up caramel and chocolate macaroons and proceed to Montmartre. We each buy a five day Paris Visite pass.

We get off at the Abesses metro stop and think nothing of it when we see a mad dash towards the elevator. Having no clue that the metro stop at that point is bored through a tunnel in the mountain more than 7 stories below the surface, we proceed up the staris.

The never ending stairs. Fabulous murals on the walls yes but on the first day of our Paris sojourn, sleep deprived and unshowered we are unable to drink in the beautiful murals to the fullest. We feel that as though it is fated…we must climb stairs and more stairs! (stair count= unknwn but too many.)

We ride the funicular to the bottom of Sacre-Coeur. The basilica is beautiful inside, very serene. I light a tealight and we meditate for a while. No photography within the basilica.

Outside it is like a party. They are getting ready for an outdoor concert. We wander the streets up and down the mountainside. I find a fabulous jewelry shop- Jeremie Barthod bijoux and buy a pair of gorgeous earrings.We stop at Pylones too and I buy a cute hairbrush for my daughter, the most eclectic vegetable peeler and a little clock. All so beautifully packed for cadeaux!

We get lost trying to find the Dali museum-this way and that but are never able to find it.

We go back to the Abesses stop, make sure we ride the elevator down and get back to our hotel and finally take showers and pass out. No dinner tonight. Sleep takes precedence. We are so excited to be in Paris!

ramekin4 Sep 8th, 2009 06:10 AM

more to come soon!

jetsetj Sep 8th, 2009 06:50 AM

More please..
the stair stories are funny :)
reminds me of this..

when looking for our Paris apt. one described the stairs as
"an enchanting 5 flights up"

Michel_Paris Sep 8th, 2009 07:03 AM

I like the enthusiasm in your report!

Somehow, I feel glad you found the funicular :) and didn't decide to go to the tower of Notre Dame the first day!

More please...

MelJ Sep 8th, 2009 07:23 AM

Nice report--looking forward to Chapter Two!

ramekin4 Sep 8th, 2009 08:03 AM

Of Museums, Kisses and an American conspiracy:

Day 2:August 30th, 2009:

We wake up late but decide not to persevere on missing the morning and instead feeling refreshed, decide; to explore further.

First stop: the local boulangerie/patisserie for a croissant and café crème for me, pain au chocolat for the hubby with the sweet tooth. Delicious, we savor every last crumb.

We take the metro the the Musee D’Orsay. What a beautiful, awe inspiring space- and to think it was a train station-how lovely. It is our first time here and we spend several hours looking at the Impressionists and post-impressionists. We are struck by several paintings- the floor scrapers by Caillebotte, Degas dancers and the models of the dancers, several works of Renoir, Manet, Monet. There are also very cool watercolors and more modern paintings in some of the galleries at the end of the 5th floor. We also reflect on how fortunate we have been to see a lot of Impressionist and post impressionist works at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia where we lived before moving to the Twin Cities. For those Stateside and missing Paris- Philly’s Barnes foundation and Rodin museum have a lot to offer. In fact many of Degas more famous of his dancer series are in Philly.

We also admire many of the sculptures on the bottom floor and on the terraces. Rodin’s terrace holds many interesting work including a large work that was meant to be the door for some museum that felt thru so he kept working away on it and many of his larger sculptures such as ‘the kiss’ were based on smaller models on this door/relief.

Next stop- the Orangerie. We are awed by Monet’s “Nympheas”. I had never imagined them to be such broad, larger than life works. It is very quiet in the water lily rooms as everyone appears awestruck and seemingly transported to Giverny and his real life water lily ponds. I buy a stunning glass pendant mimicking the colors in the water lilies from the gift shop for un cadeau for a dear friend. It costs 14 euro. We kiss in front of Rodin’s “the kiss” located outside the Orangerie and have someone take a picture. Cheesy, but kinda cute too? We then spend some time just relaxing on lawn chairs and watching people and kids in the Tuileries.

I am now hungry. We find a café tucked behind the Orsay- not sure but it may have been ‘le Dauphin’ where we share the most amazing cheese omelet and drink some wine. Delicieux!

Back to the hotel for a short respite and to find a suitable place for dinner. Of course it is Sunday and many places are closed. I remember that “Mon Vieil Ami” is open on Sundays and we make a reservation.

Our little one calls and we skype with her and reach the restaurant late for our reservation but when I explain to the waiter he finds us a spot. Ah- ha onto the American conspiracy. During the entire time of 2.5 hours that we are at the host’s table at Mon Vieil Ami all 14 chairs are occupied by Americans. Some leave, more arrive. Quelle chance! Really, we think of it as the French consirpacy to keep all English speakers on one table but its fun to think if it as the American cosnipracy.

The food- Amazing. Splendid. Unbelievable. As a vegetarian I was in raptures. I had several side dishes as my plat- the mashed chickpeas taste nothing like hummus but instead have subtle curry flavors and garlic. The warm vegetable salad has the most fresh, succulent veggies in a delicious dressing/sauce. And the preserved lemon casserole with potatoes has Moroccan flavors with French that convert into gastronomic wonders. My only disappointment- the rhum baba was just ok. Hubby had the most delicious cod crepe- kind of like a fish cake covered in a thin crepe with a delicious sauce (per his description since I don’t eat fish either). He had a amazing chocolate tart to finish.
We both had entrée+ plat+ dessert for 41 euros. With wine our bill came to 101 euros.

It is late and we head back to the hotel. To dream of Paris!

ileen Sep 8th, 2009 08:08 AM

You write beautifully. Enjoying tagging along with you and experiencing the joys of Paris!

ramekin4 Sep 8th, 2009 09:14 AM

Interrupting my chronological travelogue for some observations:

In Paris:

1. People and the society truly are green. Most carry their own portable, reusable shopping bag as the go from boulangerie to monoprix to charcuterie. The maid in our hotel room would turn off the airconditioning everytime we left. Lights in waiting areas/bathrooms turn on often only once you enter and turn off in 5 minutes or so. They do seem to turn back on if the person is still there. Coming from the culture of blazing lights and token energy saving this was a huge eye-opener. I am not trying to say that people in the US are not conservationist just that the French society as a whole is a lot more committed to being Green.

2. Harem pants are everywhere. From the Champs-Elysees to the Marais. Not sure what I am referring to-here you go:

3. The people for the most part dress just like people anywhere else. The silhouette is just cleaner, the look more tailored, the shoes narrower and lower in height. Altogether more put together.

4. Kindness and good manners are everywhere (for the most part).

Thank you readers for your kind words!

kerouac Sep 8th, 2009 09:35 AM

Excellent report with a fresh tone. Should I call it a "je-ne-sais-quoi" ?

Texasgal2 Sep 8th, 2009 09:37 AM

LOL, harem pants? I think I have some from the early 90's.

Love your report!

ramekin4 Sep 8th, 2009 09:40 AM

Kerouac- I am such a fan of yours. I began to write with trepidation because I lurk often and seldom write. But I had gleaned such useful tidbits from Fodors and Fodorites and love trip reports so much that decided I was going to take the plunge this time!

More to come!

ramekin4 Sep 8th, 2009 09:58 AM

Another observation- I saw many French speaking tourists from other countries in Paris (presumption since they were tourists but could easily be from other parts of France). I'm thinking Belgium,French Canada, Morocco.Other possibilities?

kerouac Sep 8th, 2009 11:49 AM

Even though the French language is declining in Europe, there are still lots of people who speak French. However, I presume that you mean that they were speaking French to each other and not necessarily to French tourist workers.

Well... most of those people speaking French are French from other parts of France. In fact, it has been mentioned that it is the French who saved the tourist season this year in spite of the economic situation. I think in a lot of countries, people went on vacation "at home" rather than going to a foreign country this year.

But in any case, yes, there are lots of tourists from Belgium, Luxembourg and Québec every year... and don't forget Switzerland.

ramekin4 Sep 8th, 2009 05:01 PM

I will be posting day 3 and 4 tomorrow. Stay tuned!

AGM_Cape_Cod Sep 8th, 2009 05:08 PM

Great report. I was luckier at the Abbesses metro stop in that I followed like a lemming everyone else into the elevator. That was a good thing especially since it turned out that I was in the wrong place and had to turn around and go back down. Also I love Monet but my favorite painting in Musee D'Orsay is the floor scrapers by Caillebotte. I am looking forward to reading days 3 & 4 and reliving your trip for my France fix.

ramekin4 Sep 8th, 2009 05:57 PM

Yes I agree the floor scrapers really capture one's imagination!

Anna1013 Sep 8th, 2009 06:05 PM

Enjoying your report! I thought the elevator at the Arc was only for the disabled?

cynthia_booker Sep 8th, 2009 07:49 PM

Very nicely written report. Will look forward to see what tomorrow brings.

MademoiselleFifi Sep 8th, 2009 09:07 PM

Wow, that jewelry looks great! What's their price range?

MademoiselleFifi Sep 8th, 2009 09:50 PM

After a detour to Barthod's website, I read the rest of your wonderful report, which makes me want to go back right now! (51 more days....) Looking forward to the next installment.

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