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Dolce Far Niente....the sweetness of doing nothing (well almost) in Paris

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Dec 31st, 2014, 09:52 AM
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Dolce Far Niente....the sweetness of doing nothing (well almost) in Paris

So this is our 5th trip together in Paris and our 3rd at Christmas. This may not be the best T/R I ever wrote...but I will try to include the good stuff and things that might be useful to other travelers. I can start by saying we saw very few sites this time. We have seen a lot already and what we have not seen yet are places best seen in warmer weather. I do hope to finally get to Giverny....someday.

Yeah, I know my title is Italian and not French, but it is perfect for the tone and theme for this trip.

Our love for Paris (especially at Christmas) hasn't disminished. We just don't need to see so many sites while visiting. I got the bug for actually buying, instead of just shopping, last year and that is still with me. Shopping was the priority along with more chocolate/candy, champagne and dining.

I did get some small "firsts" in on this trip...

Our first trip to the Champagne bar at Galleries Lafayette
My first chocolat chaud at Angelina
Our first visit to Chartres and the cathedral there
Our first food tour in Paris
My first chèvre chaud salad--maybe my favorite meal
The worst palmier I ever had - anywhere
The shortest shower in the world (apparently made for Hobbits)
Our first flutes from Baccarat-commissioning those for use tonight (NYE)
Didn't get lost once (nah, just kidding...checking to see if you are still reading!)


As always, I am amazed when we leave at what we still didn't get done. That boat trip on the Seine still didn't happen. Museum of Decorative Arts? Nope. A glass of Champs at Tour Montparnasse, nah-uh, the Cluny-dang it but no. There is one thing on this trip that didn't happen that I never thought would ever happen! Will see if anyone who "knows" us can figure it out and reveal the answer in my last post.

The reason for the above unfinished business is a reason to return. So, a short start to the T/R and I will get rolling on it.
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Dec 31st, 2014, 10:06 AM
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Looking forward to more! Love the champagne bar at GL when the tree is hanging.
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Dec 31st, 2014, 10:12 AM
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Excellent. You will be pleased to know that farniente (as one word rather than two) entered the French language in 1676 thanks to Mme. de Sévigné.
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Dec 31st, 2014, 10:23 AM
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Can't wait for more Denise. We plan on lots of walking, eating and drinking on our trip. We are already scoping out restaurants and are looking forward to your recommendations.
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Dec 31st, 2014, 10:24 AM
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Was so happy to see your post this morning and am looking forward to
reading more about your Christmas trip. Thanks so much for posting.
It is fun to read about your Paris adventures.
Sharon
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Dec 31st, 2014, 10:44 AM
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You never stepped foot into Chanel? Looking forward to tr.
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Dec 31st, 2014, 10:48 AM
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Kerouac, you are a fountain of knowledge always! Thanks for the info and for making my title much more French!

Flpab--that would be impossible! But a very good guess nonetheless.
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Dec 31st, 2014, 12:03 PM
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I was thinking of you two all last week and hoping you had a terrific time. Looking forward to this trip report!
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Dec 31st, 2014, 12:39 PM
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This is a long shot, but is it possible that you didn't go to Starbucks?

Also looking forward to reading about your trip!
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Dec 31st, 2014, 12:52 PM
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jmct714...I was thinking the same exact thing!

Denise...we need to know the answer...inquiring minds want to know!
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Dec 31st, 2014, 12:59 PM
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Looking forward to this to compare to our similar trip of ease and relaxation and not doing much of anything in Paris on our 3rd trip. We spent a week, got home on the 23rd of Dec. Perhaps our paths crossed as we wandered about, doing [almost] nothing!
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Dec 31st, 2014, 01:37 PM
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Oh, I have been waiting for this ... a wonderful leisurely read of your stay in Paris over Christmas, denisea!
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Jan 1st, 2015, 12:02 PM
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Hmmm...as a gesture of goodwill on New Year's Day, jmct714 I will tell you that you guessed right. I can't leave LCI in suspense! You all have been paying attention over the years!!! Yep, it's the end of Mr Starbucks in France. For over a week he got his espresso at Le Bonaparte everyday (which we loved). Even at CDG he skipped Starbucks. I never thought I'd see the day! I loved sitting and getting coffee and breakfast at the end of our street everyday.

But, don't think he has quit Starbucks here in the US! Can't see that happening, ever.
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Jan 1st, 2015, 12:46 PM
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Looking forward to hearing about your trip over Christmas! I have been wondering what it’s like at that time of the year (especially the hot chocolate at Angelina).

We have also missed the Museum of Decorative Arts and the boat ride - and we still haven’t been to Versailles - over our seven trips to Paris. Sometimes “missing” something means “finding” something else - more relaxing.
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Jan 1st, 2015, 01:10 PM
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Signing on for the ride.
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Jan 1st, 2015, 01:47 PM
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Looking forward to your always great TR.
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Jan 1st, 2015, 01:56 PM
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Day one- Friday, December 19

The flight over (Delta-business class-which we love) and CDG was no problem until our driver didn’t show. We called and were told 20 minutes, then 5 minutes and finally left in a taxi. We found out later that there had been some accident between terminals but it blows to wait around for a driver after a long flight. I slept a little on the plane but this trip was super tired upon arrival. Hated arriving so early (6am)---not sure what the story with an East coast flight to Europe leaving at 3pm, and I will avoid that timing again, if I can. Dinner is too early and going to sleep that early is hard for me.

Now, what worked is we got checked into our apartment as soon as we got into Paris. We went straight there---unexpected and very welcome.

Here is another first for us…we took a nap. I never do this and usually get a second wind as soon as I get into Paris. It was still dark as we drove in, so no wind for me, at all.
We met Jane at the Paris Perfect apartment Charente at 19 rue Bonaparte. This is one of their offerings that they do not manage, but that was no problem. We were given a quick tour and the low down on the apartment by Jane. They had water, milk and OJ for us in the fridge and clementines, candied chestnuts, chocolates and apples on the entry table.

Jane left and we crashed for a while. Dolce Far Niente….

We got up after the nap, cleaned up and headed two blocks down the street to Le Bonaparte. It’s a great little café with a mix of French and tourists. One note: we had to fight the line at Laduree to get down the street every day. I think that the Laduree on rue Bonaparte must be listed as the “must do” in every Japanese language Paris guide book. Holy cow. I will admit that I have never been that over the top for Laduree and we never even stopped in and it was one block from the apartment.

We met Pierre at Le Bonaparte and he waited on us most of the time. Very friendly, happy to listen to our French or speak English (great for jet lag). The man worked some long hours but was always nice. I don’t think I have ever seen anyone so comfortable with a full tray in their left hand in a crowded space. We were very happy to find that they still had a few pain au chocolat left at that late hour. Chaz was glad to get a double espresso (or two). We left to explore the ‘hood a bit.

We ended up at Odeon and to see if Le Comptoir had a table for us and we snagged one outside. Chaz has to have the beef cheeks every time we go there and they were very good this visit. I got a toasted chicken sandwich that was also good and a glass of Sancerre. No dessert as we had reservations at Verjus for dinner later.

Our tradition is to visit St Sulpice on our first day and we light a candle for a friend. We noticed hardly any lights were on and a number of the stained glass windows that are in need of repair there. Kinda sad, I think. Sometime during the strolling we passed Relais Entrecote and plotted our visit for dinner the next night (another first for us).
I love this area of Paris. So many great little shops and restaurants.

Well, let’s talk about the apartment.
The location is great! Close to the Seine, several Metro stations are right there, great shopping, the golden triangle cafes (although we skipped those for Le Bonaparte), both St Sulpice and The St Germain des Pres churches are close by (BTW - I miss the Christmas market that used to be at St Sulpice). The SGdP Christmas market is only a few stalls and not that interesting. The crepe stand has always been good in the past but we didn’t have one this year.

The floor to ceiling windows were gorgeous but not a big feature as we had very little sunshine on the trip. There is a ton of storage through the apartment and the living room is very large. There was a TV in the living room and the bedroom that we never turned on.

The apartment has plenty of lighting and most are on dimmers switches - nice. Plenty of hot water with great water pressure. Hey, and the hair dryer was very powerful (important for me). The fridge has plenty of room. Kitchen has what you would need (but we don’t cook on vacation). Lots of nice towels. There were instructions for everything and a book about the building and the neighborhood-nice touch.

It was a bit like getting into Fort Knox and the locks (3 that don’t turn that easily-plus a code to get into the building) were a little bit of a pain but OK. At least no one was gonna break in and no one would EVER be able to sneak up on you while in the apartment. Because, while the floors looked like the floors in the Louvre----they were the creakiest floors we have ever heard. Seriously, it drove us nuts and we always try to be quiet in the apartment but there was no way that was happening. Even with your shoes off, squeak, squeak, creak, creak with every step in every part of the apartment.

The bedroom and all of the apartment faces rue Bonaparte and, before this, I had no idea how many crotch rockets are in Paris. I do now. The huge windows are not great for noise blocking. The bedroom does have a second window so it’s quieter but I am glad I had ear plugs. It’s a busy street so you pay for the location with some street noise.

That leaves me the bathroom to discuss. You have to go up some stairs to get to it and that is not a problem for us. There is no elevator in the building so you climb two big flights on a curving staircase to get to the apartment. (Not an apartment for those with mobility concerns). Roomy, lots of storage, and windows for ventilation…it’s all OK until you get in the shower.
There is a scene in the movie “Elf” when he is realizing that he is not an Elf and he has a flashback on all the things he is “oversized” for. There is one where he is hunched in the shower and his head and shoulders are above the shower curtain…it’s kinda like that. I am 5’2” and I could barely stand up in it. Chaz could not at all (he is only 6 feet tall – so not Shaquille O’Neal). Not OK. Throw in the fun of handheld only and it was a balancing act for both of us. The fixtures are gold but who cares of you can’t stand up comfortably?

That’s the story on the apartment. It was comfortable, well located but the drawbacks are enough to make it not doable for us, next time. It wasn’t bad but I wouldn’t rent the same apartment again.

Back to day one---Clean up and change of clothes and we took the Metro to Verjus. This time we were determined to get their early enough to get a seat at the wine bar downstairs which was packed last year. It was practically empty this time but OK with us. AND, we didn’t get lost going there this time!!
We were a little hungry when we got there and in an effort for me not get too buzzed before dinner we ordered there celery root “tots”. They were the perfect pre-meal snack to go with our Champs. It came with a spicy little dipping sauce and both were so good!

Dinner was excellent, as it was last year. The food at Verjus is creative and fresh and so reasonably priced (68 euros). The menu there is set but they will make accommodations for vegetarians and allergies. I have never had anything there that I didn’t love. Chaz also got the wine pairings (+ 45 euros) which loved and were not your average wines…very diverse and generous servings

I promise to post the menu and the wine pairing when I find it. What I did love is that they make their own butter now and serve it with fresh sourdough bread. The butter was super good with lots of sea salt. I could live off good bread and butter. We were very happy we went back to Verjus!!
Again, menu to follow….52, rue de Richelieu 75001 Paris
Hours: MON – FRI, 7pm to 11pm (can book a reservation online)
http://verjusparis.com/

We took the Metro back to the apartment, a little music (a combo of French and Christmas paired to my little portable Bose speaker---so glad we brought it with us) and a good night’s sleep (with ear plugs)!

We are always so happy to be in Paris and especially at Christmas. Tomorrow---lunch at Le Souffle and my annual pilgrimage to Chanel on rue Cambon!
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Jan 1st, 2015, 02:11 PM
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{The bedroom and all of the apartment faces rue Bonaparte and, before this, I had no idea how many crotch rockets are in Paris.}

Oh my.

The meals sound divine, though!
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Jan 1st, 2015, 02:12 PM
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Sounds wonderful!
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Jan 1st, 2015, 02:31 PM
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I had to google crotch rockets. Thought it might be a whole lot of peeping toms.
I also guessed Starbucks!
Love your trip reports denisea
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