I love Paris in the Springtime!!

Old Jun 20th, 2005, 11:48 AM
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I love Paris in the Springtime!!

My past two trips were in the winter, when it drizzles!

My husband (J) and I flew Delta Business Elite out of JFK a week and a half ago (he was flying on business, while I was lucky enough to be upgraded using miles.) I had a slight panic attack before we left, due to leaving our 2 little boys with my parents for the first time. I had flashbacks of my own childhood and just panicked! Once we were at the airport, I calmed down, though -- the margherita probably helped. Our flight left after 10 p.m. so I managed to get about 4 or 5 hours of sleep enroute.

To give you some background, we are in our mid-30ís (Thirty Something!), and have 2 boys (4 & 2 y.o.) and 2 dogs we adopted when we lived in Asia. J was going to Paris on business to attend the Paris Air Show, and I was lucky enough to be tagging along. I came back home on my own, since I didnít have as much interest in the air show AND I didnít want to wear out my parentís welcome with the kids and dogs.

We stayed at Hotel Prince de Galles on George V, right off of Champs Elysees. Initially, we werenít that excited about the neighborhood -- we really like the St. Germaine area, but since J was on business and we could earn mega starwood points, I only pouted for a minute. Afterall, it is Paris! We had booked a standard room and hoped for an upgrade with Jís platinum status, but no such luck with the air show going on. But actually, the room was larger than any standard room I have stayed in in Europe or in New York. It even had a foyer with an upholstered bench and coat closet. The room had a yellow toile theme; no view, except of the hotel restaurant in the courtyard; nice big marble and white porcelein bathroom; the toile theme was carried into the bathroom on the shower curtain.

I liked the hotel neighborhood fine, but it was sort of a pain to get back to in the evening after the metro closed. One evening we couldnít get a taxi either (the lines at the stands were over a block long!) so we walked home -- it took over an hour from the St. Michel metro stop!! My feet never did forgive me. In hind sight, it would have made sense to call the hotel and have them send a cab to pick us up. Oh well, live and learn.

Ok, now if you are interested in reading a Paris trip report filled with information on the museums, monuments, concerts or operea, stop right here. Does anyone remember that wonderful Degas thread about the Perfect Left Bank Day? Well, we had several of these, but there werenít too many museum or monument moments. So many Fodor addicts overplan and have to add-in to their itinerary moments to relax or take it all in -- well, we were quite the opposite. Only because J begged me to take a break from the trip nazi I can sometimes be. We took long walks, spent many hours sipping our cafe au lait(sometimes switching to cafe creme) or wine and basically became reacquainted with each other. It was nice to realize that we are still in love -- in the business of real life (vacation time canít be real -- itís too magical!) itís easy to forget.

Soooo.... after we checked-in, we unpacked. I tried the trick many of you recommend and packed everything in ziplock bags. This really did help with the wrinkles! We freshened up and headed out for lunch. The concierge recommended Bistro líOliviers around the corner, so off we went. Itís a cute place -- very provencal in decor. We both had a glass of Sancerre, but every other person there was drinking red wine. I thought we would see more people drinking white wine in the summer, but this was rarely the case. The food was decent -- I had roasted lamb with ratatouille. J had grilled sea bass, but I canít remember what it came with. In fact, Iím surprised I remember what I had, because I failed to take any notes the entire time in Paris (trying to keep J happy!!) Most of my meals there, I can only remember the appetizer but not the main course. I must have either overdid it on the wine or the first course.

After lunch we headed down Champs Elysees toward Place de la Concorde, and then we turned at Ave. Winston Churchill to head over to the left bank. Unfortunately, Jís blackberry is also a mobile phone which works in Europe. So much of our walk was interrupted by phone calls to him from NY, since it was Friday morning in NY. I managed to entertain myself by playing around with our new digital camera. I took some nice photos of Tour Eiffel from the bridge, as well as some of J working it with his clients.

Now, when I was packing, I managed to pack two pairs of really cute sandals (one was black leather with a short kitten heel -- Iíve never had a problem with it before; the other was a white Born sandal with a 3 inch wedge heel-- it seemed super comfy at home!!) and one pair of black pointy-toed pumps with a short kitten heel (these were to be my evening shoes with jeans or skirts.) I thought the black sandals would be comfortable enough to handle the walks, but after crossing over the bridge, I realized how wrong I had been. By the time we got to St. Germaine, I was beginning to limp slightly. Why hadnít I packed my sensible comfortable but not so cute sandals? J grumbled about this a bit until I reminded him that he is usually the one with the blisters, not me! So we had to go to the Pharmacy for bandaids or some sort of blister helper. I showed the pharmacist my feet and he pointed out some packages with showed feet with pads. I took one back to him to pay for it, but he seemed upset and said something about ďderriereĒ? Iím not sure, but that is what J heard. So the pharmacist picked something out for me -- they were little pads to put over your blisters. Sorry, I can't remember what they are called. They did help, but the sandal kept pushing them out of place when I walked.

After that disaster, we needed some refreshment. It actually was a bit cool -- high 60ís -- so we stopped for our first cafe creme of the trip. Delicious, and we decided we liked each other again, so we continued on to Cafe Bonaparte where we enjoyed a glass of Sancerre and the wonderful people-watching. There was a mime performing between Cafe Bonaparte and Cafe Flore, but he wasnít gathering much of an audience, and we certainly werenít willing to help him out since he wasnít the robot mime from ďEuroTripĒ (yes, I know, studid movie but we liked the mime scene!)

Oh! Nap time for the kids is apparently over, so I will have to resume later...
amarena is offline  
Old Jun 20th, 2005, 04:25 PM
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Amarena, WAITING!
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Old Jun 20th, 2005, 05:48 PM
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Topping this great report. I love the blister scene. My DH is the blister god too, which is why I always have moleskin in my purse.
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Old Jun 20th, 2005, 07:27 PM
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Sorry! I'm alone this week with the kids since J is in Asia for the week, so it's been a busy day. I'm trying to type up the rest during their sleep periods, but it's really turning out to be a long report!

Who'd have thought 4 days of doing nothing in Paris would create a long trip report.
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Old Jun 20th, 2005, 07:28 PM
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We continued on to Rue St. Andre des Arts to visit a vintage jewelry store I liked on our last trip. I buy a pair of earrings for my mother, a charm bracelet with musical instruments for my mother-in-law and a colorful necklace for myself. J waits for me at the Irish pub across the street since the shop is too small for more than 2 or 3 people at a time. We walk to Place St. Andres des Arts, listen to some street musicians, then go down into the metro to get back to the hotel. It takes a couple of minutes to figure out how to use the system, we buy our carnet of tickets, and succesfully navigate back to the hotel.

We had a 9 p.m. reservation at La Regalade, but we are feeling pretty tired by this point. Soooo... we opt for a nap before dinner. BIG mistake! I wake up feeling absolutely horrible. I have never really experienced jet lag before on our travels, other than a bit of fatigue and the usual getting used to a new time change. This was different. Iím also used to getting up in the night with kids. But I was a wreck. J says Iíll feel better once I get some fresh air. We take a cab over to the restaurant which only adds more injury as now I feel nauseous and tired. I also feel bad because J loves La Regalade (as do I) and he made this reservation several weeks prior. But the thought of the sausages and pateís we enjoyed there on our last trip is making me feel even more nauseous. Poor J -- he walks into the restaurant to cancel our reservation. They didnít seem to happy about it.

Now we want to get back to the hotel, but we canít find a taxi stand. We find our way to a metro station and get back to Champs. E. And of course, now I feel fine. Now what? I donít have any Zagat printouts for our neighborhood, and strangely enough, Iím craving pizza. We walk up Rue Washington to check out some local restaurants and end up at an italian restaurant. We order 2 pizzas and then split a pasta. Now Iím feeling very good, and we walk down George V to a little bar and have a drink before calling it a night.

I wake up early, realize Iíve only slept 5 hours but who cares! Iím in Paris. I look over my notes and try to map out a plan for the day. But now Iím feeling sleepy again. Back into bed until J wakes me -- I slept another 5 hours! Itís 1 p.m. I havenít slept past 8 a.m. in the past 5 years -- it feels WONDERFUL!!

We head down George V towards the river and see Chris Rock get out of a car in front of Hotel George V, going into the hotel. Lots of papparazzi out front. Since we had seen lots of Madagascar billboards coming into the city, we wonder if he is in Paris for the french opening of the film.

After a cafe creme, we walk across the Seine and head towards Tour Eiffel. I wanted to try to have lunch at Au Bon Acceuil, but when we get there it is closed. I look at my information on the restaurant and sure enough, it says that it is closed on Saturdays. Boy, I really am slacking off. But we donít care -- we walk around the block to go to La Fontaine de Mars, but pass Cafe Constant on the way. Hmmm... I was interested in checking this place out. But it is now 2:30. Chef Christian is in the doorway greeting everyone. I ask him if we can take the open table outside. He frowns, looks at his watch, says ok, but weíll have to have the plat du jour. I donít speak French, but this was my interpretation of his words and hand motions. Ok by us! We are in Paris and the sun is shining, and I just slept for 10 hours!!

The plat du jour turns out to be rosemary roasted pork with ratatouille. Ratatouille and roasted meat seems to be my lunch theme so far. It isnít super hot, but wow!! Is it tasty! Another glass of Sancerre and a bottle of sparkling water completes the meal. I observe a few men across the street taking a photograph of the cafe. The chef comes out of the restaurant and starts shaking his hand at them. I think he is angry with him, but then he makes the international sign for ďstopĒ , straightens his scarf and poses! Then he waves them all over.

After the meal, and seeing how the chef enjoys being photographed, I ask him if we can get a photo with him. He face lights up, and he asks us where we are from. New York. Oh, blah, blah, blah (in French), something, something, Daniel Boulud? Now, I actually worked as a cook for Daniel Boulud 10 years ago while attending culinary school, so it felt so good to tell him this. He calls the english speaking waiter over so that we can discuss this. I donít think it was quite clear to them that I no longer work for Chef Daniel, but oh well, I tried. It was a lot of fun talking with him, and he also treated us to a couple of glasses of a sweet white wine.

We walk towards the Rodin museum, passing through Rue Cler along the way. I buy my mother another gift here (I know how difficult my boys can be at times!!) I wish now that I had bought the same item for myself. It was a fabric bread or roll holder which was in a blue provencal fabric and it had several little pockets for the bread.

We walk through the sculpture garden which was lovely, but on the other side of the museum, they seemed to be erecting a few structures which diminished any tranquility there. Still, we enjoyed walking through the garden and I just couldnít get over how blue the sky was. We rarely see that blue in New York.

On to Jardin du Luxembourg. It was hopping since it was Saturday afternoon. All the chess tables were occupied, and basically all chairs or benches everywhere were taken. We needed a refresher and my blistering feet needed a break so we stopped at a cafe outside the park. I should note that I had switched sandals for today, but the white pair was creating blisters in different areas from the black pair, so for the rest of the trip I had to keeping switching them to help relieve the pain. I probably should have just bought a pair of flip flops or sneakers, but I was so mad at myself for not bringing something sensible that I just couldnít bring myself to give in. I think J didnít push me to buy something comfortable because he knew I would be less inclined to go to museums or shopping and more inclined to spend time in the cafes.

We walked through the lobby of the Luxembourg Parc which is where I had wanted to stay. Itís nice, and really isnít that far from the heart of things. There were a couple of cafes on the block, and it is only one block to St. Sulpice, which is where we headed next. Took a walk through; admired it. Then walked through an antiques market which was set up in the square. I love french antiques so I walked through quickly knowing it was too difficult to bring anything home. But we slowed down at the wine tasting booth on the other side. Hmmm... shall we? We are in a wine club at home, and had just had an evening tasting pinotís, and this producer was from Bourgogne. Fun! We tasted one which was nice. Then asked to taste the producerís favorite. He gave us a tiny taste, then said he only had one bottle left to sell. Yummy! We bought his last bottle (or so he says), and were told NOT to share it with anyone because it is too special -- only to drink it ourselves with a lovely piece of meat. Yes, that is what he told us in english. I am not trying to decipher his french. In case anyone is interested, the wine is a 1999 Pommard ďLes NoizonsĒ and cost us 59 euros which didnít seem that bad. Who knows, we are novices.

We walked towards St. Germaine on Rue Bonaparte, did some window shopping, stopped for a beer at La Palette which was packed. Suddenly we are starving, so we walk over to Fish on Rue Seine. They are pretty full for the evening so we opt to sit at the bar for dinner. J eats here quite a bit when he is in Paris on business -- he likes that he can eat at the bar and that the servers speak english. I really enjoyed it here. We had some interesting conversations with the bartender and a diner next to me. And the food was delicious.
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Old Jun 20th, 2005, 07:33 PM
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Amarena, I loved your trip report. I'm glad you had a nice visit to Paris. My own springtime visit was drizzly and cold but that is Parisian weather!
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Old Jun 20th, 2005, 08:36 PM
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You can avoid blisters by wearing good walking shoes. It sounds as though you had a good time despite the blisters, so you were lucky, but I've seen lots of visitors with vacations in Paris pretty much ruined by blisters so serious that they cannot walk. Since you won't get any blisters at all by wearing the right shoes, it seems like a shame to blow a vacation on them. Mild blisters can be treated, but since Paris must be visited on foot, and since every day involves more walking, it's hard to keep mild blisters mild.
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Old Jun 21st, 2005, 03:48 AM
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Even if you wear good walking shoes you can get blisters if you wear the 'wrong' socks.
I gave up trying to get the right combination. I wear comfortable walking shoes, ie. Aerosoles or Grasshoppers, mixed-blend socks and, most important of all, sports tape over any tender spots that develop after walking the first day.
No worries about sandals or other warm-weather footwear, as we only travel in the shoulder months.
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