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Christmas in Paris, long overdue trip report

Christmas in Paris, long overdue trip report

Old Apr 12th, 2021, 01:30 PM
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Christmas in Paris, long overdue trip report

In long-ago 2019, I was planning a trip with my family to Paris for Christmas. This was the third time I had tried to plan such a trip; twice we had to scratch the plans for various personal reasons. I have two married daughters, and a granddaughter. Because I live in Italy and the others live in the US,and not very near each other, we try to have Christmas together alternating between destinations. We have a rotation of hosting families, and about every fourth year, we try to meet in a place that we all enjoy visiting or that we've always wanted to visit. Once we met in Cancun, and once in London. Paris has been the desired destination for some time.

We had a long (and often heated) thread here on Fodor's about the location of an apartment to rent. For those who want to read the whole thing, here is the topic:

Paris for Christmas

For those who don't want to read that discussion, the point was that we definitely wanted an apartment, not separate hotel rooms. Much of the fun of these Christmas get-togethers is hanging out together in the evenings. As many of you know, Paris has restrictions on short-term apartment rentals, and many (if not most) available rentals are not legally registered. In addition, apartments large enough for seven people are very scarse in central Paris, and not exactly affordable. We split the rental three ways, and it has to be affordable for all three families.

In the end we decided on an apartment in Bagnolet, just over the border from the XX arrondissement. Many people, with the notable exception of Kerouac, had discouraged me from staying in Bagnolet, but it was a perfectly nice neighborhood and would have been very convenient to the center of Paris had it not been for the transportation strike.

There was a separate topic mostly about the transport strike around this time. I posted a general update about our experiences with the strike, and also about the Bagnolet neighborhood, in this topic:

Paris Must Be A Disaster!! A Nightmare!!

The apartment we rented was the Paris Express, on Rue de Noisy-le-Sec. It's on a pretty residential tree-lined street. There is a pastry shop just up the street, in the neighboring town of Le Lilas. There is an excellent butcher shop very near the apartment; we gotsome of the makings of our Christmas dinner there. There is also a little produce shop very near the apartment. It was a bit of a walk to the nearest supermarket, but there was one near the closest tram stop, so we sometimes stopped there when returning for the evening.

The Paris Express apartment was one of the nicest I've ever rented for one of these family trips. It was very spacious, with a large well-furnished kitchen, three bedrooms and two bathrooms. The living-dining room was spacious, with a large table, a comfortable sofa-bed (where my granddaughter slept) plenty of places to sit for seven people. The ground level had one bedroom and bathroom, in addition to the living and kitchen areas. There was a large loft with two more bedrooms, another full bath, and another small seating area. The kitchen had all of those little necessities that short-term apartment rentals often lack. There was salt and pepper, sugar, olive oil, tea, and coffee, as well and dishwasher soap and kitchen cleaning necessities. There was sufficient soap, shampoo, and toilet paper. There were several board games and playing cards in the living area. There was a game called Quirkle, which was new to me, sort of like a mashup of Scrabble and rummy, but with shapes and colors instead of letters or playing cards. We ended many of our evenings with a round or two of Quirkle.

Our landlord lived in an adjacent apartment. He spoke no language other than French, but he is very skilled at communicating with a Google Translate app. He translated everything from French to Italian, which only my husband and I speak fluently. I didn't want to ask him to translate into English instead. My husband appreciated the Italian, as his English is very rudimentary. He was a very congenial landlord, and was available to answer questions as needed. He had left copious material to explain how everything worked, as well as restaurant suggestions, takeaway food options, and transportation information.

The only little complaint I would have about the apartment is that the furnishing of the bedroom (at least the one Marcello and I had) was a little sparse. There was only one reading lamp. (A law of nature dictates that the one who has the reading lamp always falls asleep first.) There were no bedside tables to hold your glasses, your phone, or your book. I ended up using a suitcase, and Marcello swiped a chair from the dining area. I think the apartment is fairly new, and maybe they're still working on the furnishings. In spite of this, I would be very happy to stay there on a future trip to Paris.

Last edited by bvlenci; Apr 12th, 2021 at 01:43 PM.
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Old Apr 12th, 2021, 10:44 PM
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I'm glad that things worked out for you, even though transportation strikes can sometimes be a bit annoying. When you live here, it is usually easy to find ways around strikes by playing buses against metro or SNCF against RATP, but such things are often too mysterious and confusing for a first time visitor. And yes, there is nothing wrong with Bagnolet although the vast majority of people who live inside Paris have a visceral fear of anywhere in the eastern and northern suburbs, mostly bred out of total ignorance of what they are really like and relying only on the scariest media reports from maybe 5 or 10 years ago.
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Old Apr 13th, 2021, 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by kerouac View Post
I'm glad that things worked out for you, even though transportation strikes can sometimes be a bit annoying. When you live here, it is usually easy to find ways around strikes by playing buses against metro or SNCF against RATP, but such things are often too mysterious and confusing for a first time visitor.
The strike was quite a bit worse than annoying, but not because it was confusing. Between the advice of our landlord, the RATP app, and Google maps, our options were quite clear. I'll get to that on my next post.
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Old Apr 14th, 2021, 02:27 PM
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Some of this I've pasted from the topic "Paris must be a disaster...", which I linked above.

The strike was more than just a nuisance, but fell well short of a disaster.

Our apartment in the town of Bagnolet,was well served with transportation options, with 2 metro lines, 2 bus lines, and a tram (when all is working). However, during the transportation strike, there was only the tram (3b) and one bus (76). The tram connects with the number 1 metro, which was running almost normally, and the bus goes to Chatelet, within walking distance of most of what we wanted to see.

I had an opportunity to cancel my reservation without penalty two weeks in advance. I considered doing it, because of the strike, but there were the vacations of four people in play. It was too expensive to get a centrally-located apartment for seven,and I hoped the strike would have been settled, or at least paused, by Christmas. Several people on this forum said it was almost certain. One person said no strike had ever continued over Christmas. (You can't say that any more, Kerouac.) We also discussed canceling the trip, but this would have been the third time we canceled a family Christmas trip to Paris. None of us wanted to do it. Anyway, it seemed we would have workable transportation options in Bagnolet.


The RATP app was invaluable, and mostly accurate, for planning itineraries during the strike. For some reason, it always suggested taking the tram instead of the 76 bus. I learned about the bus by poking around on Google Maps. The advantage of the bus is that it began its route in Bagnolet, and so was much less crowded when we boarded than the tram was. Even closer to the center, it was never as crowed as the tram, but it had to contend with heavy traffic. The tram/metro combination had no traffic, but it was so crowded that it was sometimes impossible to get on, and we had to wait for the next one. My daughter said once that she had gone all the way to Porte de Vincennes without her feet touching the ground. The tram stop and the bus stop were about equidistant from our apartment (about half a kilometer, or 1/4 of a mile). However, at night, the route home from the bus stop was through a commercial area with no people about and no open shops, where the walk from the tram stop passed various shops and streets where there were always people about. My daughters were much more comfortable walking home from the tram stop.

Both the tram and the metro suffered from impromptu protests during the strike. The tram was supposed to run its regular route until 8 PM, with 3 out of 4 trams running. But twice we got off the metro at Porte de Vincennes only to learn that the tram service was stopping its run, for the rest of the evening, at Porte de Bagnolet, three stops before Porte de Vincennes, leaving us with a two-kilometer walk to catch the tram. My husband and I are old, but quite fit; one day we walked 12 km. But I felt very sorry for the elderly people who went out to do some shopping, on the assumption that the tram was running, and then found themselves stranded with heavy bags and no tram. There was also no bus from Porte de Vincennes to Porte de Bagnolet, and taxis were not to be found. There was a bus that went about half way, but for us it wasn't worth waiting for. We just walked. One of my daughters has a minor motor disability, and she just couldn't make the walk. She and her wife ended up using taxis to get back to the apartment in the evening.

On the 28th, we took the tram/metro into the center, to visit the Musée d'Orsay. On the way back, there was an impromptu protest that closed the Tuilleries station of the line 1 metro. This is one of the two metro lines that are fully automated, so should have always been running. There were about six stations closed for this protest, which seems to me pure meanness. Again we walked to the next stop.

That evening when we got to Porte de Vincennes, there was some sort of kerfuffle going on in the tram. The driver refused to move unless everyone got off. Then three police officers arrived. They settled things and people began to board. The police officers got angry, because people weren't letting them get off first, and began to shout and shove to get off. I was outside the tram, and had stepped aside to let the police pass, but I was wearing my bag cross shoulder, and one of the officers pushed it and dragged me back a few steps. My husband and I got on the tram, but in the scuffle, my grandaughter (age 14) started to cry. By the time my daughter realized she was just frightened, it was no longer possible for them to get on the tram, and it turned out that no more trams that evening. So my daughter and her family walked back to our apartment from Porte de Vincennes, about two miles.


We also found the G7 taxi app to be very useful and reliable. I had reserved a driver from the airport to our apartment, but on the way back to the airport, the G7 taxi was much more efficient and also considerably less expensive.
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Old Apr 15th, 2021, 03:35 AM
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It seems you all coped pretty well, but after a tiring day of being a visitor, having a long walk home would be exhausting. Luckily there were family members and a good meal waiting back at your lodgings. I'm ready to hear more when you get around to it.
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Old Apr 16th, 2021, 06:02 AM
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Of our party of seven, all of us, except my son-in-law and granddaughter, had been to Paris multiple times. We decided to give my granddaughter precedence in deciding what to see and do. At the time, she was 14 years old, and here is her list:

I think of all of these, my top picks are (not in order):
1. Christmas lights, Eiffel tower, Christmas market, shopping
2. the Orangerie/ Louvre/ Rodin Museum (if you think we could do all of those)
3. Notre Dame/ Saint Chappelle
4. Versailles


At the time, of course, we had no idea of the strike. Kerouac has said that one learns how to cope with a strike, and this is certainly true for someone who just needs to get to work and back, and do some shopping. I've lived through major transit strikes in New York City and Philadelphia. In those cities, the strikers didn't play around: absolutely nothing was running, except the railways, which were a different union. One finds a way to get to work, either by bicycle, walking, or shared rides, and leaves early enough to get there on time. I also once offered to show some American cousins around Rome during a transit strike. In Italy, essential transportation has to be guaranteed during rush hours, and certain minimal services, such as transportation to the airport, have to be kept running. Still, the strike in Rome put a major dent in the sightseeing of my cousins. I decided we could start at the Colosseum, arriving during the morning rush hour, and then walk to the Vatican, stopping at various places along the route, and skipping anything that was too far out of the way. That sort of worked, but it was a very hot day and some of my cousins, who were mostly about half my age, conked out before the end of the day.

To sum it up, a strike can be managed fairly easily if you just need to go about your normal activities, but it's not very manageable for tourists, who generally want to do several different things in different places during the day. It has little to do with not knowing how to get around. It's mainly because it takes longer to get anywhere, and a tourist has limited time.

There are two major sights visitors to Paris usually want to see but that don't really attract me: the Eiffel Tower and Versailles. I've seen the Eiffel Tower many times from the ground and that's enough for me. I've never seen the point of going to the top of buildings or towers; they're usually more attractive from the ground. And the opulent residences of kings and tycoons don't interest me at all. (I once spent a very boring day visiting the "cottages" of Newport with one of my sisters.) I've visited la Granja in Spain, la Reggia di Caserta in Italy. In both cases, the gardens interested me infinitely more than the palaces. Anyway, I bought tickets to Versailles for our whole party, considering it my Christmas gift.

One of my daughters had never visited Versailles on previous trips and the other had visited only the gardens. Both seconded my granddaughter's desire to see Versailles, so I decided to go along. I held my ground on the Eiffel Tower, though. I said that if anyone wanted to go to the top, they were on their own.

I planned a special gift for my granddaughter, who is a serious ballet student. I bought tickets to Raymonda, months in advance. I also bought cancellation insurance, which is something I never do. I must have had a premonition.

Other than these things, I left our schedule free for whimsy. My granddaughter and my daughter-in-law had expressed interest in a baking course, but I couldn't find one that suited both of them.



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Old Apr 16th, 2021, 08:39 AM
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For anybody who just wants to see "opulence," which is a reason that many go to Versailles, it can easily be exchanged for a visit to the Opéra Garnier, which is even more opulent than Versailles. Of course, for people who are really interested in the symbolism of history, only Versailles will do.
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Old Apr 16th, 2021, 10:57 AM
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We all arrived on the 23rd of December. Our host, Silvain, met us; he had asked for a heads-up when we left the airport. He showed us how everything worked, using Google Translate Voice to translate his lessons into Italian. The owners of the apartment were really very thoughtful. The apartment is even furnished with a shopping cart and an extra umbrella. One of my daughters had a dog sitter emergency shortly before our departure; I quickly looked for alternative lodging, because Paris Express doesn't accept dogs. I also contacted Silvain to explain our problem. He asked about the size and character of the dog, and when we sent him a photo of the dog sitting in my son-in-laws lap, he said he would make an exception to the policy, with a cleaning fee and a deposit for damage. In the end, the dog sitter problem was resolved, and we didn't need to take advantage of their kindness.

On our first day, we did a little grocery shopping and scoped out the neighborhood. Marcello needed to find the equivalent of an Italian bar for our morning pastry and cappuccino. We found two places in the immediate vicinity of the apartment. Later, we found an even better place about a five-minute walk away. We got some fruit and vegetables and a few other necessities from the grocer on our street, and two of the group went a bit further and found a small supermarket. We later found a big supermarket over the border in Paris, about a five minute walk in that direction. The family who had just arrived from the US were a bit exhausted, so we ate in and had an early evening.
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Old Apr 16th, 2021, 11:29 AM
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We all arrived on the 23rd of December. Our host, Sylvain, met us; he had asked for a heads-up when we left the airport. He showed us how everything worked, using Google Translate Voice to translate his lessons into Italian. The owners of the apartment were really very thoughtful. The apartment is even furnished with a shopping cart and an extra umbrella. One of my daughters had a dog sitter emergency shortly before our departure; I quickly looked for alternative lodging, because Paris Express doesn't accept dogs. I also contacted Sylvain to explain our problem. He asked about the size and character of the dog, and when we sent him a photo of the dog sitting in my son-in-laws lap, he said he would make an exception to the policy, with a cleaning fee and a deposit for damage. In the end, the dog sitter problem was resolved, and we didn't need to take advantage of their kindness.

On our first day, we did a little grocery shopping and scoped out the neighborhood. We got some fruit and vegetables and a few other necessities from the grocer on our street, and two of the group went a bit further and found a small supermarket. We later found a big supermarket over the border in Paris, about a five minute walk in that direction.

One of the things we needed to do was gather up the necessities for our Christmas dinner. One of my daughters is allergic to so many things that it's easier to ask her what she can eat. The biggest problems for her is an allergy to anything that comes from a cow, including milk, butter, cheese, and beef. She's also allergic to wheat, so I have to look for gluten-free foods, even though the problem isn't the gluten. The other daughter had recently become a vegan. In searching for things we could all eat, I saw a recipe for a vegetarian mushroom Wellington that looked good. Of course, it had wheat in it, and making a gluten free pastry crust seemed just too daunting. Just by chance, a few days before our departure, I happened to see a gluten-free puff paste in a small supermarket in our town. I bought it and froze it to take to Paris. The only other thing in the recipe that I thought might present a problem was the duxelles. However, that isn't difficult to make so I made up a batch the day before we left and took it with us in a smalll jar. We each brought some goodies from home. I brought a small tin of Christmas cookies and a small plum pudding. One of my daughters brought some home-made cranberry sauce, and I forget what else the other daughter brought.

There was a well-furnished butcher a stone's throw from our apartment, which also sold some dressed meats ready to cook. He had a very nice small stuffed capon trimmed with bacon and I couldn't resist getting that for the non-vegetarians in our group, after making sure there was no wheat or beef or dairy products in the stuffing. (It was mostly pork sausage.

Our last errand that night was to find an Italian-style bar for Marcello, whose days must begin with a pastry and cappuccino. Of course, now that's been impossible for most of the past 14 months so Marcello has mastered the art of making a caffe latte at home. He has given up the pastry altogether. Anyway, this was still 2019, and we found two possible places to get Marcello revved up for the day, both within a stone's throw of the apartment. Later we found a much better pastry shop further up the street.

The family who had just arrived from the US were a bit exhausted, so we ate in and finished up our first evening with a lot of laughing and talking.
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Old Apr 16th, 2021, 12:05 PM
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Some of us started out Christmas Day by going to mass at the nearby church of Notre Dames des Otages. I didn't make any connection with the historical significance of this church until I learned when I got there that it commemorated the execution of nearly 50 hostages in the vicinity during the Paris Commune in 1871. The group of hostages included 10 priests, 35 policemen, and 2 civilians. They were executed in reprisal of the execution by the army of some communards in the days before.

The church was very peaceful and the commemoration was a simple marble slab that proclaimed "Dieu est Amour".

Back at the apartment, we opened gifts and started preparing the Christmas dinner, which got served rather late and served as the only meal of the day. Then we had a few rounds of Quirkle.
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Old Apr 16th, 2021, 01:02 PM
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Going over my photos, I see that I skipped a lot of what we did on Christmas Eve. My daughters wanted to do some Christmas shopping, so we took off on our trek to the center of Paris by tram and metro. We got off the metro near the Louvre and went to the new venue of Les Halles. which is really a big multi-level mall. Marcello and I had no shopping to do, and neither us is an aficianado of shopping centers, so we just milled around impatiently while the others shopped.

After Les Halles, we walked over to the Louvre, and admired it from the outside. Then we decided to walk through the Jardin des Tuileries to the Champs-Élysées. It was a beautiful day for a walk, and we had great views of both sides of the river, and the Eiffel Tower. My younger daughter couldn't take all the walking, after walking to the tram, standing in the tram, standing in the metro, and walking around Les Halles, so they took a taxi back to the apartment. They had been to the gardens anyway before we arrived, when they were staying at the Palais Royal (the hotel, not the palace).

That evening, we walked to one of the restaurants near our apartment, La Fleur des Lilas. This turned out to be one of the great finds of our trip. My older daughter is allergic to many different things. We were trying to explain these allergies to the waiter, but our French and his English didn't really meet in the middle, so he called out his chef, who speaks English quite well (and more than a little Italian, too.) We all fell in love with the chef, Rachid, and he fell in love with us, too. (At least with some of us.)

Rachid proposed to my daughter a simple braised chicken breast and a salad. He proposed other things to the rest of us, all of which were really good. There weren't many other diners, so whenever he wasn't cooking, he hung around and chatted with us. He began saying he had fallen in love with me. This joke went on all week, because we kept returning to La Fleur des Lilas. He pretended to be madly in love with me, and Marcello pretended to be insanely jealous. A few days later, he told me that he had fallen in love with me because I reminded him of his grandmother in Tunisia! Later he sent us a photo of his grandmother, and there was definitely a resemblance. On our last night at La Fleur, he brought us some Tunisian tea , some Tunisian olive oil, and some honey from his grandmother's hives. My daughters are Facebook friends with him. If any of you ever get to La Fleur des Lilas, give Rachid a hug from me.

La Fleur des Lilas is a little neighborhood restaurant, nothing pretentious, but with good tasty food. We tried another restaurant on our street another night, Le Soleil da Kabylie. It had some glowing reviews, but it was nothing special. We were the only customers, and the owner/chef/waiter didn't seem terribly enthusiastic about having seven customers. It had the air of one of those bars where everybody stops talking when you walk in. The food was pretty good though.

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Old Apr 16th, 2021, 01:18 PM
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Strike 2

The transit strike was not the only misfortune to strike our company. As I explained earlier, two of us arrived in Paris several days ahead of the rest of our group. By the time they joined the rest of us in Bagnolet, they had both picked up a nasty chest cold. In the next few days, the rest of the group had also come down with this cold. Only Marcello and I were spared. I don't know why we were so lucky. Maybe because we had the bedroom and bathroom on the ground level, while the others were on the upper level, except for my granddaughter, who slept on the sofa bed on our level; she got the terrible cold also. Of course we couldn't see the future plague about to strike the whole world. We sat around maskless, coughing into our hands and eating and drinking together in a closed space with no social distancing. Still, Marcello and I didn't even get a sniffle.

A few months later, my daughter wondered if they might have been early sufferers from the Covid-19. She said she and her wife had arrived at CDG and queued up at immigration at the same time as passengers of two flights from China, one from the north and one from the south of China, (She has lived in studied in China for extended periods, and recognizes the regional accents.) However, a year later, this daughter was diagnosed with Covid-19, so either it was just an awful chest cold or else she got reinfected.

The 26th was the day we had tickets for Versailles. I had researched a complicated way to get there by public transportation during the strike, because it was on the far opposite side of the city to Bagnolet. The cost of a taxi was exorbitant, and we would have needed two. Also, the traffic would probably have been horrendous. Finally, if we missed one of the several connections we needed to make, it was possible that we wouldn't get there at all. My younger daughter, who can't walk very far, said that there was no way she would be able to make the trip under these circumstances. She had befriended a taxi driver a few days earlier, and she called him to see if he could suggest something. He told her it was his day off, and he could take us in his own car, with his wife driving their other car. This was a brilliant solution, so we accepted it.

On the morning of the 26th, my granddaughter woke up with a fever, and a much worse cough. So that ended our plans for Versailles. Her parents wouldn't go without her, Marcello and I were not that interested in going anyway, and my other daughter didn't want to go without the rest of us. She called the taxi driver and told him the trip was off. She said he would pay him anyway, but he refused to accept the payment. We all hung around the apartment that day, reading, playing Quirkle, and talking and laughing. Luckily, my granddaughter was much better the next day.




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Old Apr 16th, 2021, 01:40 PM
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Originally Posted by kerouac View Post
For anybody who just wants to see "opulence," which is a reason that many go to Versailles, it can easily be exchanged for a visit to the Opéra Garnier, which is even more opulent than Versailles. Of course, for people who are really interested in the symbolism of history, only Versailles will do.
I had thought of visiting the Opera Garnier. Originally, I thought that maybe the ballet I had reserved would be shown there, but it was at the Bastille venue, or was supposed to have been shown there. In the end, we just couldn't see everything everyone wanted to see, and there were other things I wanted to see more.

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Old Apr 16th, 2021, 02:05 PM
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I'm having trouble adding photos. It always adds a thumbnail and a duplicate of the thumbnail, and I can't erase them even under the advanced menu. Anyway, this is a photo of our whole group at La Fleur des Lilas, with Rachid in the foreground. The lady on the right obviously thinks we're crazy.
Attached Thumbnails Christmas in Paris, long overdue trip report-1-dsc_0007_burst20191224214927202.jpg   Christmas in Paris, long overdue trip report-1-dsc_0007_burst20191224214927202.jpg  

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Old Apr 17th, 2021, 04:10 AM
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This looks like you have a very convivial group. No wonder you make friends of taxi drivers and restaurateurs. I'm really enjoying your report, no matter what you do or don't do in Paris.
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Old Apr 18th, 2021, 07:21 AM
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Strike 3

Today was the day reserved for the ballet Raymonda at the Opera Bastille. We were really looking forward to it, especially my granddaughter, who is a serious ballet student. It was the first major production of Rudolf Nureyev when he joined the Paris Opera Ballet. If I remember correctly, he reconstructed it from memory, and with his own touches, after defecting from the Soviet Union. The choreography of this production was the original of Nureyev.

We first began to worry when we read that the performance of a few days before had been cancelled because the staff and performers were having trouble getting to the Opera Bastille because of the strike. The next day we read that the performance had been cancelled because the performers were striking in support of the transit workers. There was no indication of whether this was a one-day show of sympathy, or whether all the performances had been cancelled. The morning of the 27th, I couldn't find any information about that evening's scheduled performance, but I was beginning to have my doubts. We decided we would go there in any case, and see what was going on.

Because the ballet was scheduled to end at around 11 PM, and we would have to find a taxi to get back to the apartment (not an easy task during the strike), we left the rest of the day rather free. One thing I wanted to do was go to Sainte-Chapelle, which my granddaughter had never seen, and which my daughters hadn't seen since they were children.

We first went to the Île de la Cité to see Notre-Dame. My daughters and I had been there when they were children, back when there weren't huge crowds. Both daughters had been back since then, and my older daughter had sung there on a choir tour. We were all very saddened by the fire, but we wanted to pass by and greet the beautiful lady. We hung around Notre-Dame a bit too long, and were rushing a bit to get to Sainte-Chapelle. I thought we still had plenty of time, though, but we arrived just a fraction of a minute after they had stopped selling entrance tickets. The ticket clerk was still there, but took no pity on us.

After this disappointment, we visited a Christmas market near the Hôtel de Ville. I'm not big on Christmas markets, being of the opinion that when you've seen one, you've seen them all. I also don't care for scented candles and whatever they do to make these whole markets smell like faux cinnamon. However, as Christmas markets go, this was a pleasant one. My husband and I revived old memories by taking a whirl on the carousel. At our first meeting (not a date, as our kids were along too) we rode on the carousel in Central Park.

We also visited the church of Saint-Séverin, one of the oldest churches on the Left Bank, and the site of the first known gallstone surgery, in the 15th century. The present church, rebuilt after a fire, mostly dates from the 15th and 16th centuries, and is in late Gothic style. It's a beautiful church, which I had never seen before.

Our final disappointment was that Raymonda, as I had feared, was called off. I was really very disappointed, as I had planned this as a Christmas gift to my granddaughter, and she was really looking forward to it. She took it in good spirit, though. We had a very nice dinner at a restaurant near the Opera, whose name I don't remember, got taxis, and returned to Bagnolet.


Last edited by bvlenci; Apr 18th, 2021 at 07:26 AM.
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Old Apr 18th, 2021, 08:01 AM
  #17  
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On the 28th, my younger daughter and her wife returned to the US. After they left for the airport, the rest of us returned one last time to central Paris. Our major activity this day was a visit to the Musée d'Orsay. We had passed by earlier in the week, and I had seen that there was not much of a queue, which surprised me. I assume that the strike was keeping a lot of people home. This day, though there was quite a long line for tickets. Those with tickets could enter through a much shorter queue, so while we waited in the longer line, I bought the tickets on my phone. We split up inside the museum, as each of us had different priorities. There was a Degas exhibit on, which we all enjoyed, especially my granddaughter.

We had lunch in the café of the museum.

I don't remember what else we did on this, our last day. We had no idea that this was the last time we would see each other in person for another 18 months, at least. The coronavirus was already lurking in our midst, ready to overturn all our plans and wreak havoc on our daily routines, but we carried on, laughing and hugging, and sharing germs with all in our vicinity.

Traveling was one of my great pleasures. I have no idea if it will ever be the same for me and my husband again. I had already been thinking that we might not have too many years ahead to take long trips, and cutting two summers out of those remaining years seems like a major bite. Housman, as a young man, said:
Now of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again.

And take from seventy years a score,
that only leaves me fifty more.
I've already had threescore years and ten that will not come again, and how many more does that leave me? My husband is already beginning to feel the weight of long trips, and when I mentioned possibly visiting the US this year, I could see his spirit sag. He said, "It's not the being there, it's the getting there."

I don't want to end this trip report on a somber note, but there it is. We had a lovely time in Paris. We enjoyed Bagnolet, we had a lovely apartment, and Paris is always magical.

I hope you all have many magical trips in your future!
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Old Apr 18th, 2021, 10:54 AM
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bvlenci, thank you for this wonderful TR, especially when we’re all yearning for reports of actual travels. I remember following your planning thread two years back, with special interest in your accommodation, as we also always plan one big family vacation every year.

I feel your pain in losing two summers. I’m not yet at three score and ten, but if the past 18 months has taught me anything, it’s to live every moment to the fullest and try and do whatever you have wanted to. Travel is one of our biggest pleasures and there’s so much we want to see and do, with so little time. It appears this year too will be a washout, though I’m hopeful of being able to get together with my siblings later this summer. We also met in Andalucia last March, the lockdown started the day after we got home and never did we imagine we wouldn’t be seeing each other for so long.

But I agree, let’s be optimistic and hope for better times ahead...
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