Iwan2go went...to Barcelona and Paris

Old Jun 7th, 2017, 06:03 PM
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Iwan2go went...to Barcelona and Paris

First, as always, thanks to everyone for your advice. It really helped make this a much more informed and enjoyable trip. We (my husband and I, late 60s/early 70s) and our son (late 30s) went to Barcelona for five nights and Paris for one week. We appreciate our son’s help hauling the luggage at times and have christened him The Sherpa.

Our focus was on art and architecture, good food (veggie as much as possible for the Sherpa), parks, and a relaxed pace, and we had a wonderful time. In Barcelona, we stayed in a two bedroom apartment at the Hotel Murmuri, and in Paris we rented a two bedroom apartment from Paris Vacation Apartments.

We left LAX on the Air France 3:20 flight to Paris, connecting through to Barcelona. I love that flight because it’s on the AirBus 380, and we can sit upstairs, which somehow makes Economy class a little less cramped (and you get the food faster). The transfer at CDG took about 30-45 minutes, 2F to 2E, and we made our connection with no problem. We took a cab into Barcelona (cost about 30 E), and checked into the Murmuri.

We loved the location of the hotel, one block from the Casa Mila and one block from the Metro station Diagonal, on the Rambla de Cataluya - we thought it was very convenient, and loved the tree-lined Rambla de Cataluya, with its wide center strip for easier walking, and tons of restaurants nearby. We were on a little side street with our rooms facing the opposite side and it was very quiet. We had a nice dinner at Mordisco, where we were introduced to Patatas Buthan (potatoes with cheese topping, delicious!) and calamari, among other things. The cost was 80 E including coffee and two smoothies for dessert. Then we crashed.

I had reserved a guide for the first two mornings with Sonia at A Guide in Barcelona, which turned out to be a great idea (www.aguideinbarcelona.com). We had a nice breakfast at the hotel, then met our guide Montse for a tour of the Bari Gotic and environs. It makes such a difference to learn the history of a city and culture. We walked past El Call, the Place St Felip Neri, and the cathedral. She took us into the Mercat de Santa Caterina rather than La Boqueria, saying that it was less touristed. We ended up having a tapas lunch at a Basque place (Euskal Etrea, cost 40E). I’d bought the ArtTicket BCN before we left home, so we had it validated at the Picasso museum (avoiding the line) and spent some time inside. Walked back to the hotel to take a nap, then had a wonderful dinner at L’Olive - Bacalla Esqueixat, some more potatoes, gazpacho, wonderful spring onions with Romesco sauce (I loved that!), beans with anchovies, and the typical tomato bread - theirs was the best we had on the whole trip. The cost of dinner for the three of us was 146E, well worth it! Took a meandering walk back to the hotel and to bed.

Speaking of bed, jet lag is now hitting me, so I’ll continue in a little while!
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Old Jun 7th, 2017, 06:11 PM
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Great start! I'm along for the ride.
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Old Jun 8th, 2017, 09:11 AM
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Now that I’ve slept a little bit (woke up the first morning back in LA at 3:30 am, which I haven’t seen in a loooong time) - I looked at my photos to refresh my memory and wanted to add a few things we saw on our morning tour, winding all through the streets and alleys of the lower city.

Montse pointed out several ceramic plaques, one of which showed Castellers - a tradition where people stand on each other’s shoulders to build a pyramid. She explained that it was important to have spectators move in close and support the structure (interesting, no?) - and also to catch anyone who might fall. Sort of like human flying buttresses.

Several buildings were decorated with sgraffito, a technique in which two or more layers of plaster are applied then scraped off in a design. These were all around the city and absolutely beautiful. We also walked past the Block of Discord, with the Casa Batllo and Casa Amatller, on the Passeig de Gràcia, not far from our hotel. Didn’t make it inside, maybe next time.

Many of the streets are named for the kind of shops they held: a chocolate street, a shoe street, so if you needed something specific you knew just where to go. And somewhere in there, I took a photo of another interesting store, “Condoms”, with a subtext reading “Para los pequenos placers de la vida”. Which I assume means something like, "Whoo hoo, if you forgot them, we’re here". It’s somewhere in the Bari Gotic, but good luck finding it, the streets are crazy and we were totally lost.

I was talking at one point to the Sherpa, wondering how much ground we were covering (thinking that perhaps the extra walking might make up for some of the pastries I was consuming), and he said, it’s on your iPhone, on the Health button. Well, this is SO cool. Sure enough, I looked back and Day One showed 5.1 miles.

The next morning we had a new guide, Judit. Sonia had unfortunately lost her voice, but went above and beyond to find someone to fulfill our contract. Apparently this is something all the guides have experienced, and in high season, talking all day, it happens. We really appreciated the service of the company, and highly recommend it - it must have been very difficult to find someone to take her place, and Sonia was so responsive on my earlier emails. They were so well informed, answering every question (even emailing later if they didn’t know something at that time).

We walked a block away, were shown how to use the Metro (easy, two stops away I think), and went to the Sagrada Familia for our timed entry at 9:30 am (I got the tickets a few months in advance, online). Wow, all I can say is, wow. I’d studied Gaudi in my design program at UCLA, but the reality of it cannot be captured in photographs. The complexity of the building, the quality of the light, the contrast of the sculptures on the two facades - all of it was so unique, and so detailed. It was obvious that Gaudi was a reflective and faith-filled man.

From there we caught a cab up to the MNAC - the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya. Let me stop here to say, we would normally never see so many museums in the same day. Our usual pattern is morning museum/garden/ whatever, lunch with wine, nap, walk, dinner, walk, crash. However, after booking the flights and hotel I realized that most things (save the Gaudi sights) are closed on Monday, which was our last full day. Rats. We definitely wanted a guide for the Sagrada Familia, and the Monday time slots were already full, so we had to stick with our original program. Saying this ahead of time, because we would have much preferred to see the MNAC in a leisurely morning, not at noon. Don’t do what we did, in other words.

We still had Judit in the MNAC, and my husband and I wanted to see the shining jewels of the collection, the Romanesque altarpieces. It was amazing - they took the paintings/frescoes from mostly abandoned churches all over Catalunya, sprayed on a some sort of fixative, covered it with a cloth, and lifted the fresco right off the walls. It’s explained inside the museum. A perfect architectural match of each nave, wall, or column was built inside the museum, and the frescos were applied in their new home, and replacement copies were made for the original churches. This was one of the only ways to save them.

We wandered around for a few hours, then Judit left and we had lunch at the museums’ restaurant, Oleum. I think the Sherpa paid for that, so I don’t know the cost. It was beautiful, food was ok. The view from the front of the museum was fabulous. We asked Judit where the Park Guell was, and she pointed across the city: up there, see it? This was our destination a few days later.

From there we walked out, up the hill to the Miro. We did not do it justice, being pretty worn out by now, so left after maybe an hour and took a cab back to the hotel to rest.

A few hours later, we walked virtually next door to Tragaluz for dinner. Great!! Loved it - the decor, the waitstaff, the food. The bread with tomatoes was great, and I had an almond gazpacho soup with melon that was dynamite. Mains were turbot, cod, and a pasta with pesto. Dessert was grilled tiny strawberries in a cream sauce - amazing. Total with wine and tea was 173E - highly recommended.

Day Two: 5.3 miles.
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Old Jun 8th, 2017, 11:24 AM
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Sunday morning we had an early start, an 8:30 train to Figueres to see the Dali museum. There are two train options - the slower one, which puts you closer to the museum, and the faster AVE/Avant, which drops you about a mile away at the Vilafant station. The quandary was, do we take the earlier train and hope we can get into the Dali without a long wait, or buy the online museum tickets but hang around Figueres for several hours on a Sunday, when most things are closed (the museum only offered online tickets after 11:00am). We opted for the faster one, then caught a cab to get to the museum at opening time - which cost a whopping 8 E. What-ever, we got there in plenty of time just as it opened, and had no problems getting a ticket. I will say, though, that the ticket booth was rather small and slow, so if you can get online tickets, it’s probably wise.

Walking through the Dali I kept flashing back to Adrian Brody in Midnight in Paris (“I am DALI!!!”). Made me laugh as I was looking at everything. He was quite the artist! Very, very talented, whimsical spaces. There were some amazing paintings I’d never seen before, of figures made of rocks. And of course the Cadillac in the central open space, with the boat dripping tears above.

We only spent a few hours in the museum, walked around town a little bit (most stores were closed), and walked back to the Valifant station through a lovely little park, glad that we had made the timing decisions we did. Returning to Barcelona, we had a wonderful lunch at Paco Meralgo, not far from our hotel. All seating except upstairs is on high bar seats along counters, and you order whatever tapas you want. It was outstanding. We had the ubiquitous tomato bread, rabbit with garlic, rice with sausages, potatoes brava with garlic, sort of zippy and delicious, cod croquettes, and burrata with pesto - a standout. And more. The waiter was a darling, and a riot. We had a blast. Bill was 82 E with drinks, and I would highly recommend it.

By this time we were out of it, so went back for a nap. I had booked a tapas tour that night (www.foodlovertour.com). It was fabulous!! We met at the Casa Mila at 7:00, then walked to our first restaurant for traditional tapas. The second stop was at a cute little wine bar for “surf and turf”, which included sausages in a cream sauce, roasted artichokes, and other selections, including tripe (which was actually pretty tender and good). From there we went to a lovely restaurant, Bardot, and had a variation on the potatoes and cheese, sort of shaped like a little hat, with some zip. Delicious. I cannot remember the rest, only that one selection was roast beef and one was maybe bone marrow cooked tender and wrapped in a phyllo dough. And two desserts. And as much wine as you could drink, in all three places. Our guide was darling, and when one of the guests mentioned how much he loved beer, a glass was immediately presented. I’d recommend doing this, especially on the first night. The dinner was over around midnight, and while my husband and I walked back, the Sherpa joined some of the crowd for drinks til 3:00. A wonderful day! And I walked...5.4 miles and 11 floors (the app tells you how many flights of stairs, too).

OK, last day in Barcelona, and we slept in til 11:00. How do the Spanish eat so late, I wonder, and still function the next day? It’s a wonderful mystery. Anyway, we walked over to Hotel Praktik Bakery - a concept hotel with a bakery on the ground floor. My brother-in-law had told us about it, and we liked it a lot. Inexpensive, less than 20E, very good.

We now had to choose what to focus on, and decided to walk down to the Palau de la Música Catalana concert hall, down near the Place Catalunya. What a glorious, riotous space! Designed by Domènech i Montaner in the Catalan modernista style, it uses ceramic tile, wall sculptures, a huge stained glass surface-mounted chandelier - it’s like the music has started just being inside the space. We missed the last English tour so took one in Spanish, which was fine. It was a really unique place and I’d put it on the short list of things to see in Barcelona.

From there we dashed over to the football store on the Placa to get a Barcelona jersey for our son-in-law, then walked back to the hotel. My husband opted to stay there, but the Sherpa and I decided we’d walk to the Park Guell. OK, that was some hike, but it was fun. We couldn’t get tickets to tour the portion with the Gaudi structures, but that was ok, we just walked the rest of the hillside park, looking down on the rest.

By now my feet hurt so we opted for a cab and went back. That night we walked across our alley to Mordisco for a farewell dinner in the city, saying goodbye to the food: bellota ham with tomato bread, gazpacho, an interesting mango soup, amaranth salad, and grilled strawberries (they were slightly better at Tragaluz, their sister restaurant). Bill with wine was 120E.

Now it’s at least 10:00 and the Sherpa says, let’s end in a flourish and see the Casa Mila at night! Live on the edge! (he can say that, he’s 30 some years younger than we are). OK, fine, there was an English tour at 10:40, cost about 32E, he treated. Folks, that night tour is NOT worth it. All you see is the bottom floor, then the attic (which is interesting), then you go on the roof for a light show presentation. All they did was project elements in nature on the chimneys. It was too dark to see much, including the steps. You cannot see the apartments, as there are still some residents in the building. I would not recommend it at all. Live and learn, it was fine, and an adventure, seeing the lights of the city below you.

The positive part was that we’d opted to climb the stairs up there...which is like the equivalent of about 6 -7 floors (at least it seems that way). So Day 4 was a record! 9.7 miles and 20 floors. I am Woman, hear me roar. hahaha.

It’s now midnight, and we went off to pack and to sleep - except, in the middle of the Casa Mila tour, I got a text from our airline, Vueling. There was going to be a taxi strike the next morning, so allow plenty of time for your 11:00 flight.

Great. Went to talk to the concierge...you can walk a few blocks down the Passeig de Gràcia to catch a direct train to the station. OK, plan change, get up at 5:00 to get ready and catch the train. Had about three hours of sleep, took the train to the airport, checked in, gave them the luggage and went to have something to eat. Then we walked over to see what the gate was, only to discover that Vueling had cancelled our flight to Paris Orly. Great, again! We went to the Iberia desk nearby (they’re affiliated), and they said, go get your luggage downstairs, go through security again, and see what your new booking is. Thank goodness, we had a new flight at 2:00.

We arrived, exhausted by now, in Paris and took a cab to our apartment.

What would I do again, and what would I change? I’d definitely go on the Tapas tour, and book the guides; see the Sagrada Familia (duh), the concert hall, and the MNAC; eat at Paco Meralgo, Tragaluz, and L'Olive. I’d skip the night tour at the Casa Mila, but do a day tour at one of the others. And I’d stay in the same area, if not the same hotel. Loved it. I’d get a room facing the Rambla with a terrace.

Paris, later! Gotta get some work done.
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Old Jun 8th, 2017, 04:02 PM
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Great report, reminding me of the wonderful week I spent in Barcelona in an apartment on the Rambla de Catalunya, a terrific location. Looking forward to Paris.
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Old Jun 9th, 2017, 04:10 PM
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Your TR brings up memories of my several days in Barcelona staying at The Westin, just off Las Ramblas, an ideal location for strolling, tapas and people watching from one of the many sidewalk cafes... Waiting for Paris��
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Old Jun 9th, 2017, 05:48 PM
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OK, Paris! This was our eighth trip to Paris; some for a few days, twice for a week - it’s our favorite city, and we’ve stayed in different areas each time. For this trip we chose an apartment from Paris Vacation Apartments (from whom we rented a fabulous place on the gardens of the Palais Royal ten years ago), located in St. Germain des Pres, on rue Jacob near rue de Seine.

The location was dynamite, close to the river and some very good restaurants. I was concerned (as others have noted on this forum) about renting an apartment, but was reassured that PVA runs as a commercial enterprise, owning all but two of the apartments. Those they do not personally own have been dropped - this one is no longer on the website (we were the final guests). It was very nice and I’d rent from them again. The weather in Paris was a bit humid and we were relieved to have a place with a washer/dryer; we must have done laundry every other day.

Because of the plane snafu, I had to cancel our dinner reservations at Semilla (boohoo - but I rescheduled for a few days later). Arriving around 5:30, we just got to the apartment and grabbed a sandwich at nearby Cosi for dinner (which is a great little place for stuff like that!).

Our first morning in Paris we went up to Montmartre for a Paris Walks...walk. http://www.paris-walks.com If you’ve never done them, PW offers two to three hour walks all over the city, reservations not necessary, 15E per person. It’s a great way to learn about each area. Our guide (both days) was a wry Englishman, Chris. We learned all about the artistic habitués of Montmartre, saw the moulins, the Lapin Agile, the vineyard; we ended up on the steps at Sacre Coeur. We took the Metro back to StGdPres and had lunch on the boulevard at a little bistro that looked comfortable, called Le Bizuth. It was fine, no great shakes but ok. The Sherpa and I made a grocery run, had a light dinner with fruit, and then we all walked over to the Louvre for the late opening. We walked upstairs to see the French paintings on the top floor, and left at closing time.

Milage for the day: 8.5, 20 floors (in the Louvre alone each floor is, like, four staircase runs).

Next morning, we had tickets for the Pissarro exhibit at the Musee Marmottan, booked online. Last time we went there we had to wait for an hour, so I learned that lesson... Took the Metro over and got there right when it opened, so we could really relax and enjoy the paintings. It was a wonderful exhibit, as was the permanent collection of Monet’s works.

This is located over in Passy, across the river from the Eiffel Tower. The Sherpa and I talked it over and thought, it’s not all THAT far to the rue Saint-Dominique and would be a lovely walk. Unfortunately we didn’t discuss this too much with my husband, who was fine but thought where the h** are we going and when will we be there, because I am hungry. (sorry...)

Any-way, I said - hey! Let’s try one of Christian Constant’s restaurants, he’s got a lot of them here. We’d been to Le Violin d’Ingres for our anniversary lunch ten years ago and it was great. (Let me divert here: I’d made lists on my iPhone of places in each area. I figure, if there’s a really, really good place a block or two away, I want to go there. We are in PARIS, we should eat well. We also wanted to accommodate the vegetarian with us (though he did loosen up some and had a tiny bit of meat. Which could be because I said, buddy, I’m not going to Paris and only eating vegetables. Which I did appreciate).

We got to Cafe Constant right at opening time and snagged a nice table on the ground floor. http://www.maisonconstant.com/cafe-constant/en/ We had a delicious onion soup, pea soup (that was really good), a filet of durade with a delicious risotto - my favorite - roast chicken, and a few glasses of wine. Cost 98E for the three of us.

From there we went to the rue Cler and my favorite cheese shop (Morbier, chèvre, and Comte), the boulangerie (some pastries and a baguette), and walked back home to rest up for - dinner!

Which was at Semilla, just on the corner, and GREAT. I had the most amazing soup with razor clams (“Royale d’oignons doux, couteaux, ecume coquilles/fino”), then a fish dish with peas which was not my fave (“Merlu de ligne, condiment citron, creme de laitue, oignons roses”), and the Sherpa had white asparagus (“Asperges blanches du Poitou roties a las sauge, beurre noisette/agrumes”), which was good. (I am copying off the menu, which I photographed, for those who speak French - and trying to correct the autocorrect). With dessert and a glass of wine each, cost was 223E. Highly recommended.

I gotta say, this was a Thursday night and the neighborhood was hopping! There was a vernissage at an art gallery across the street and people were sipping champagne outside. The restaurants on the rue de Buci were mobbed, people were coming and going - it was light out til 10:30, and everyone was in a party mood.

After a little walk around to settle the meal, off to bed. Activity monitor said 7.6 miles, only 11 floors.

Guess I need to step up my game.
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Old Jun 9th, 2017, 05:54 PM
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OK, wait, I just looked at my photos again of the desserts at Semilla and remembered, wow, were they good. The best was one with little beignets, ice cream, and these jelled cubes. In French: “Gel de sureau citronne, bugnes, glace vanille/cardamome”. Another was wafer thin cookies with sorbet and crumbles: “Sable beurre sale, creme au caramel, pomme, sorbet au cidre”.

I think this was our favorite restaurant of the trip. The wait staff was really great, too.
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Old Jun 10th, 2017, 05:32 AM
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Enjoying Paris with you. I have eaten at the Cafe Constant several times and really like it.
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Old Jun 10th, 2017, 05:46 AM
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Such a good TR, with so many good ideas ! Merci.
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Old Jun 10th, 2017, 06:03 AM
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I wanted to back up a little bit and refine/add a few things, after re-reading this.

First, I realized that I’d said I would “skip the night tour at the Casa Mila and see another place”. I meant to say that I'd choose to see the Casa Mila during the day, and/or the Casa Battlo. Or the Casa Amatller, by the same architect as the Palau de la Música Catalana. With only four days in a city, one needs to choose - or go back again!

Also, we went to the Louvre on Wednesday, one of the two late-opening days. Our son had already purchased his Paris Museum Pass, and we got ours at the Louvre at 8:00 that night (no line, walked right up to the separate Paris Museum Pass desk, which is across from the ticket desk downstairs). The six day pass is about 74E ($83) per person, and well worth it if you wish to bypass the lines, especially in the busy summer months, and especially at the Musee d'Orsay. One of the days I wanted to go into the bookstore at the Louvre and saw a long line from the underground shopping center, the Carousel du Louvre, stretching out. To get into any part of the Louvre, even its bookstore, you need to go through the security line, which I didn’t know before this. However, the following day when I mentioned this to our son, he said, go through the upstairs Pyramid line; there’s a separate line for Pass holders. Sure enough, we breezed past the others, on the left side. So if you’re in this circumstance, try another entrance, or look for the fast-pass line.

I’d also reiterate that I thought this location was excellent, especially as we get a little older and have slightly different patterns on vacation. I can sleep some on the plane, but my husband can’t, and so it takes him a little longer to adjust to jet lag. I also have poured over the maps for months, and have a really good sense of direction...he says I have lead filings in my nose. So finding a place closer in to most of the sights we’re interested in, on an easy-to-find street, has become something higher on the list - then we can sometimes break off, one of us to go home or a different museum, and the other to stay out longer or go (shopping!).

We’ve stayed twice over by the Luxembourg Gardens; in the fifth, by the Cluny; next to Invalides; on the gardens of the Palais Royal; on the Isle st Louis, and on the Tuileries. For us the last three areas and this one, just blocks across the Seine from the Louvre, were the best. There were some excellent restaurant and bistros close by this apartment, and although I prefer the Line One on the Right Bank to get around more easily, there were a few metro stops close by that worked well. I mention this because on another thread there was a long discussion about the St. Germain des Pres location as being too touristed, but we liked it.

We also found it very helpful to put an app called "Find Friends" on the phone. You give permission to the other people to locate you on a real-time map, so you could see where the others were - say, if you were going to meet up. You can set a time limit on it, too, and discontinue at any point. Funny story: I was meeting the guys in the Musee d’Orsay, and my husband was startled - it looked like I was standing next to him (I was one floor above).
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Old Jun 12th, 2017, 09:15 PM
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I wanted to note - I am giving the costs in Euros, and realize that many will be wondering what the exchange rate was at the time. Euro to USD was 1E = $1.12. Almost at parity; just add about 10% for easy calculating. We did leave some tips, about 10% at a nice restaurant, in cash.

OK.... it’s now our third full day in Paris. We walked over to Carton, and I now thank those who mentioned this bouglangerie/patisserie a few blocks away, on the rue de Buci! They have breads and these especially delicious almond breakfast pastries - my mouth is watering remembering them. We’d usually have them along with muesli, strawberries, pears and coffee - one of the perks of having an apartment was that eating most breakfasts there saved a little bit of time and money.

Running a little late, we decided to take the Metro over a few stops to the Cardinal Lemoine station to meet the group for our second Paris Walks, titled "Hemingway's Paris”. Our guide (Chris, again) read relevant passages from Hemingway’s “A Movable Feast”, about his early life in this area. We walked along the rue Mouffetard, up past the Pantheon and church of St Etienne-du-Mont. Here, Chris pointed out the corner near the church where Owen Wilson meets the past in “Midnight in Paris”, which was a kick.

By now it was lunchtime again, and my husband really wanted Lebanese food. He’d seen a place on the walk, but darned if we could figure out where it had been, we’d been winding our way all over the place. I looked on my phone and found one down by St-Julien-le-Pauve church, called Le Loubnane. Although rain was threatening we took a seat outside and had some mezze, chatting with the friendly owner. The food was ok - but my husband’s grandparents are all from greater Syria/Lebanon and his mom was an excellent cook. We decided her food was better, but it was relaxing and fun, a nice break; I don’t know the cost, as our son treated again.

At this point we broke off, our son to yet another museum, us to relax. Later in the evening, leaving my husband “home”, my son gamely accompanied me to the Longchamps store near St. Sulpice. I bought a new light weight cross body handbag, which I’ve been using daily now and love! We walked across the river to a cafe I remembered, Le Nemours, for a light dinner. It was raining a bit but sweet to sit under the umbrellas and watch the actors from the Comedie Francaise next door saunter over for a coffee in full makeup, ready for their evening performance. Total milage for the day clocked in at 7.9 miles.

Saturday morning was a late start, brunch at the nearby Paul’s, where lots of French families were enjoying themselves around big tables - mom, dad, grandparents, and assorted ages of children. We had decided that the guys would go off to the Orangerie, and I would shop, beginning at my favorite jewelry store, Babylone. I’d discovered it in 2006, just around the corner from our Palais Royal apartment, and made a point of going every time. I was SO disappointed to find it gone! I checked on my cell phone, then walked from there a mile or so to the Showroom - it was now another storefront. Well, rats. I kept walking all over the Marais, looking for something to catch my eye and came up empty, so texted the others and took the Metro to meet them at Harry’s New York Bar, near the Place Vendome.

The Sherpa (I feel bad reducing him to that...he’s darling and such a great son. He’s quite an artist (a hobby, not a career), so I’ve decided to call him The Artist from now on). The Artist wanted to do two non-museum things in Paris: the Moulin Rouge, and Harry’s NY Bar. We all nixed the Moulin Rouge as too touristy and expensive, but high-fived Harry’s. It was fun! We sat for an hour, relaxing and searching out familiar college banners on the walls. He treated again, 42 E for three drinks. We split up, stopping at the Carousel du Louvre for some tea at Marriage Freres for our son-in-law and some insulated bags at Maison du Chocolat (which I give as lovely little gifts), after which I went back to Longchamps to get some gifts. Having batted zero in the Marais, I figured our daughters would like their little pouches (they did).

Dinner had been booked before we left LA at Itineraires, which we’ve been to three or so times. http://restaurant-itineraires.fr It’s a small place in the fifth, lovely atmosphere and wait staff, and a gastronomic treat. We got the degustation, which is about ten courses, at a total of 372 E (I’m giving all costs without any tips, which we sometimes left in cash) for the three of us. It was delicious, and we would go again, but every dish didn’t quite hit our palates the way they had in the past. Next time we’ll get the specialties of the house, his amazing foie gras appetizer with thinly sliced mushrooms, and perhaps a fish dish.

Walking back, just after the rain stopped, along the Seine was magical. I love Paris. And I’d walked a record 9.5 miles and 21 floors (not sure where!) on my quests, so that made me happy.

Sunday was a quieter day, a late start and off to the Musee d’Orsay, where we ate lunch in their restaurant and concentrated on the top floor. I always get lost there, despite the map (which I don’t really read, so duh, no wonder). Because it was a train station, the whole central area isn’t “lined up” with the side sections, which we discovered when attempting to go down one floor using the central staircase. It went from top - to - bottom. Oh well. We saw some things we hadn’t seen before, which is great!

That afternoon we made a quick stop in the gift shop of the Musee Les Arts Décoratifs, in one of the long wings of the Louvre. It’s a great gift shop with some very interesting paper and children’s items, books, and jewelry. I got a red sort of beaded necklace, which I can twist into knots. Yay! Got at least one piece of jewelry this time! After a stop in Notre Dame, just in time to see the beginning procession of the evening Mass, we walked back to get sandwiches at Cosi. We made a picnic out of dinner at the nearby Luxembourg gardens. By now it was about 9:00, so after eating we took the long way home through the darkening gardens, a walking day of 8.9 miles.

Our last full day began at the nearby Delacroix museum, a block from our apartment. It was included in our Paris Museum Pass and for that reason, enjoyable. His studio space and gardens were the highlights for me. From there to Saint Chapelle, which is such a glorious, beautiful church! Again, the Pass allowed us to bypass the lines. For lunch we walked to another place we’d liked before, Le Fumoir, which overlooks the Cour Couree of the Louvre (the second, back courtyard of the museum, opposite the Pyramid courtyard). We sat outside and enjoyed the menu of the day, fish for me, total with wine 113E.

I still had a few items to find, something kitchen-y for our other son (which I got at E. Dehillerin, an apparently mythical place for chefs, about a half-mile away past the Bourse, the French stock market), and a tin of foie gras (at a place called G. Detou, a bit further). No more foie gras in California, I think, so this will be appreciated.

I walked through an area I hadn’t been through before (around Les Halles) on the way to meet the guys at the Centre Pompidiou. Not my favorite area. A quick look around at the museum, a few stops on the Isle St Louis for a few more small gifts (hoping for a tarte citron at a patisserie I’d remembered, but they’d run out... darn), and back to pack.

For our final meal, my husband elected to have a light dinner of fruit and cheese, and my son and I went to a little place a block away, Le Pre aux Clercs, for onion soup, a burrata salad, a hamburger and wine for 49E. We sat next to a sweet woman from the US and a darling chatty French couple who now live in New York. Such a nice way to end the trip, and I noted, 8 miles for the last day.

The following morning we left our apartment at 6:30 for our 10:20 flight, knowing I’d need to turn in a VAT refund form, something we had no experience with. Not a big deal, but I hope I did it right! We arrived at the airport (this was a Tuesday) within an hour, had some time to relax and get a bite to eat, and settled in for the 11 hour flight home.

It’s not even been a week, yet it seems like so long ago. It was a wonderful trip, and to be able to share it with our son was so much fun. We realize how lucky we are to be able to travel, and hope we can continue to do so for many more years, and with more family members.

I love looking back on these recollections, years later, to refresh my happy memories, and hope this report will help someone else plan their own special trip.
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Old Jun 12th, 2017, 10:28 PM
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Nice report, sounds like. Wonderful trip!
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Old Jun 13th, 2017, 11:40 AM
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Very nice report! We took the same two Paris Walks as you two years ago with Chris. The Hemingway tour ended up across the street from our apartment on rue Mouffetard. We were in Paris again this April. I love Paris too1

Thank you for writing it and sharing a lot of good details.
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Old Jun 13th, 2017, 01:11 PM
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Excellent report, love all the details.
Barcelona is definitely on my go-to list, I made notes.
We've been to Paris many times so enjoyed reliving many places.
Always glad to get different restaurant tips...Semilla is a new one to put on our list for next time.

Your descriptions made me love my favorite city even more, if that's possible.
Thanks so much for posting.
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Old Jun 17th, 2017, 11:23 AM
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What a lovely trip report. My adult daughter and I will be making our 5th trip together next spring. Usually somewhere and Paris but this time Barcelona and Toulouse. I enjoyed your tips on Barcelona and I can just see in my mind's eye your jaunts in Paris... also my favorite city. Thanks so much.
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