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J'aime Paris au printemps! Marcyís Paris trip report

J'aime Paris au printemps! Marcyís Paris trip report

Jul 11th, 2006, 05:33 AM
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J'aime Paris au printemps! Marcyís Paris trip report

OK, Iíve been procrastinating a little, but here is a brief report of our May trip, which Iím making myself post before I do one on our most recent trip. Better late than never?

My DH were in Paris May 13- 20. Itís our favorite city in the world; weíve been there lots of times and never get tired of it. This time we rented an apartment and fantasized about what it would be like to spend significant chunks of time there when we retire. (Conclusion: weíd love it!)

We relaxed, ate well, shopped a little, and saw some things we hadnít gotten around to seeing even after many trips.

Some highlights of our trip:
1. Our apartment was great! We rented ďLa SireneĒ from Chez Vous, and it was lovely, and in a great location- rue du Dragon, in the 6th arrondissement, close to tons of restaurants, shops, and cafes, and just a couple of minutes walk to two metro lines.

The apartment was clean, comfortable, and cozy, with everything we needed, and Chez Vous is great to work with. I would absolutely rent from them again. I donít think their prices are the cheapest, but they make the whole process very painless, and have wonderful representatives who speak fluent English (actually, the young man who met us at the apartment the first day was British)

Our apartment had a small but well-equipped kitchen- including a tiny dishwasher, a comfortable living room with a TV that got all sorts of channels in French and English, a smallish bedroom with a comfortable bed with nice linens (it was twin beds pushed together and made up as a King-sized bed, which usually I donít like, but on this one you really didnít notice the crack in the middle.) The bathroom was big, with a nice tub with a handheld shower attachment. There was a combination washer/ dryer that we never used, since we were only there a week.

The apartment was at the rear of the building, so we were able to have the windows open if we wanted, without being bothered by street noise.

The first day we bought a huge bunch of peonies at the market, and it was a pleasure to come ďhomeĒ every evening to our sweet, cozy apartment with the vase of flowers on the table, and to enjoy a glass of wine and some cheese in our own little living room.

2. An all-day cooking class and market/ food shopping experience with Paule Caillat, of Promenades Gourmandes.


This truly was a highlight of our trip! Both my DH and I enjoy cooking, although heís much more the ďchefĒ of the family than I am, and he LOVES taking cooking classes when we travel. Itís fun and an additional window into a countryís culture.

Basically for this class, Paule takes a small group to the market in the morning, explaining how she chooses the foods she buys. Paule is a charming petite dynamo who speaks fluent English, and she doesnít hesitate to give you her very French opinion about everything!

Then you go back to her apartment in the Marais, where you prepare a wonderful lunch, under her instruction. Itís very ďhands-onĒ and relaxed. When the meal is ready, everybody sits around the big kitchen table for the feast, paired, bien sur! with the perfect wine for each course.

After lunch you have the option of going with Paule to some wonderful food-related stores, where she knows the proprietors well, and you really are taken ďbehind the scenes.Ē

We went to a fascinating spice shop, where the owner told us all about the different spices, to E.Dehillerin (the famous kitchenware store), where we were able to speak with the owner, and to the Poilane bakery, where we went down to the basement to watch them actually preparing and baking the bread.

I had hesitated about doing this part of the class, because it was quite expensive, and we had been to some of these stores already, but it turned out to be really fascinating, and an experience that we never could have done on our own.

3. Renting bicycles at Versailles
I canít believe that this was the first time weíve ever been to Versailles! We went to the market in the morning (Richard Lenoir- at the Bastille), and bought all sorts of goodies for a picnic lunch, then rode the train (RER- bought the combination round-trip ticket and Chateau entry, including the water show)

We did a quick tour of the main Chateau - too bad the Hall of mirrors is being worked on-- oh, well, weíll just have to come back!

Then we had a lovely picnic by the basin (lake). It was a beautiful spring day and everybody was enjoying being outdoors, picnicking on the grass, riding bikes, and rowing boats on the lake.
We had a fantastic picnic of a fresh baguette with 3 kinds of cheese, foie gras, cornichons, wine, and fresh strawberries and Ladurée macarons for dessert.This is the life!

Then we worked off our lunch by renting bicycles and riding all around the grounds, visiting the Grand Trianon, the Petit Trianon, and Marie-Antoinetteís Hameau (her little thatched-roof village area). Renting bicycles is a GREAT way to see everything- itís so big, itís just about impossible to see it all on foot.
They turn on all the fountains on weekends (Amazing!) and have a water show set to music. I had never thought of going to Versailles as being a lovely day in the park, but thatís really what it was--
We completely enjoyed our time at Versailles, and I would definitely go back there again, and rent bicycles and enjoy being outdoors on a nice day, even if we never went into the buildings. Although the chateauís not bad, either!

4. Seeing the DaVinci code in Paris!
When we realized that the DaVinci code was going to be released while we were in Paris- two days before it was officially released in the US, we just HAD to go see it. Iíd been wanting to go to a movie in Paris, anyway, just for the experience, so this was the perfect time. We checked the theaters and showtimes in Pariscope-- I definitely recommend buying a copy of this little magazine- it lists everything thatís going on in Paris each week, and itís only 40 cents.

We went to an early evening show (We didnít want to miss dinner, after all!) at a theater on Boulevard St. Germain, right by the Odeon metro stop.

Before the movie there were lots of previews, one of which was for Marie Antoinette, with Kirsten Dunst. Iíd love to see that one in France, too, but I guess Iím going to have to settle for seeing it at home.

I enjoyed the DaVinci Code, as I enjoyed the book-- light entertainment, and well-done for itís genre. We didnít notice any unexpected reactions from the audience during the movie. In general, the audience was very quiet. We saw the movie in V. O.- original English version, with French subtitles. It was a little funny, because it hadnít occurred to us that there would be segments of the movie in French, without subtitles! My husband doesnít speak any French (other than restaurant necessities), so there were a few scenes where he wasnít sure what was going on!

I'll try to put together a brief restaurant review to add to this very soon.

marcy_ is offline  
Jul 11th, 2006, 06:06 AM
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Hi Marcy,

Sounds like you had a fabulous trip. Thanks for sharing!

That cooking class experience sounds amazing!

We also enjoyed the gardens in Versailles with the fountains and a bike ride! Wish we had a brought a picnic!

dina4 is offline  
Jul 11th, 2006, 06:12 AM
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Thanks for sharing, marcy.

ira is offline  
Jul 11th, 2006, 06:57 AM
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Just a few restaurants we enjoyed:

1. Le Comptoir du Relais
9, carrefour de l'Odéon
6th Arrondissement M: Odéon
01 43 29 12 05

This place has gotten so popular, with itís new chef, that itís virtually impossible too get a reservation for dinner unless you try months in advance, so we went for lunch, when they donít take reservations.

Even though it was very crowded, we were lucky, and got a table right away.
Anyway, it was excellent, but definitely a much simpler menu than for dinner.

I had a wonderful Nicoise salad and a terrine of foie gras with prunes at the center, and DH had gazpacho and a salmon croque-monsieur (definitely an upscale version!) The desserts were to die for: coffee creme brulee and a chocolate pot de creme. With a bottle of wine and a bottle of water, it was 79€.

2. Lunch at Restaurant Chartier
7 rue du Faubourg Montmartre
9th Arrondissement
01 47 70 86 29

A classic Paris experience! I was a little sceptical about this place, because I had heard stories about the brusque waiters, but ours wasnít like that at all.

Walking in the door is like stepping back in time.
A picture of the interior:

You are seated at a table for 4 or 6 people, so if there are only 2 of you, you are put at a table with strangers, so you could end up next to someone from anywhere in the world. Not a good place to have a private conversation, but sort of fun.
We were seated with 2 young men, one American and one German, who I suspect had just met, themselves. quot;>

They were very nice, and we enjoyed talking with them.

We had the gigot díagneau (leg of lamb), and the steak-frites, and a frozen orange for dessert.

Simple, reasonably priced food, and a unique experience.

3. La Cigale Recamier
4 Rue Recamier
7th Arrondissement

This is a souffle restaurant, and fun for a change of pace. They have a nice patio area to eat outside. As I recall, you can order other things as well, but I highly recommend the souffles.

First you have your main course souffle, then a nice salad, then the dessert souffle. Our main course ones were a bouillabaisse souffle for me and a morel mushroom one for DH, then for dessert a grand marnier souffle for me and a strawberry one for DH. All absolutely heavenly!

With the grand marnier souffle, they leave the bottle of liqueur on your table, and you can pour as much of it on top of your souffle as you want. Yumm! DH found that the grand marnier was pretty good on a strawberry souffle as well!

4. Fish
69, Rue du Seine (6th Arr.)
Tel : 01 43 54 34 69 Closed Monday

This is an old favorite, where we are never disappointed. Itís a wine bar as well as a restaurant, so the wine list is great. The fixed priced menu is very reasonable (I think around 30&euro We go there at least once every trip.

I'll try to add some more later.
marcy_ is offline  
Jul 11th, 2006, 07:09 AM
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So glad you had a good time. BBC TV has been showing a fly-on-the-wall documentary series about Versailles this summer. I hope it gets sold to other countries: it was interesting to see what goes on in learning how to be a guide, the trials and tribulations of setting up the water show, maintaining the fabric of the buildings and so on.
PatrickLondon is offline  
Jul 11th, 2006, 07:14 AM
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That sounds interesting, PatrickLondon, I hope we get a chance to see it here in the US.
marcy_ is offline  
Jul 11th, 2006, 08:47 AM
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I enjoyed reading your report, Marcy!
grandmere is offline  
Jul 11th, 2006, 09:09 AM
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Thanks, grandmere!

More restaurants:

5. Le Pré Catelan
Route de Suresnes, Bois de Boulogne, Paris 75016
Phone 33(0)1 44 14 41 14
Take a taxi (not close to a metro)

This was our big splurge meal of the trip. Itís a Michelin starred (one, I think?) restaurant in the middle of the Bois de Boulogne, and itís absolutely beautiful.
We had the tasting menu-- something like 12 courses, all exquisite, and with service to match-- just perfect.

Our lunch lasted almost 3 hours. It was probably one of the most expensive meals weíve ever had, but it was a fabulous experience.

6. Astier, 44 Rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, 11th, Paris. Tel: (1) 43 57 16 35. www.restaurant-astier.com.

This place is a find! The food is fabulous; very traditional and unbelievably reasonably priced. Itís a simple neighborhood bistro, with a wonderfully laid-back atmosphere (one of the waiters entertained us by balancing a chair on his chin!). The cheese platter is great-- they bring the huge platter to your table and you serve yourself. We practiced our best French on the waiters, and they were so sweet and helpful, and at the end of our meal they brought us each a complimentary glass of eau de vie. Highly recommended!

7. Restaurant Square Trousseau
1 rue Antoine Vollon - 75012 Paris
Tél: 01 43 43 06 00
Metro: Ledru Rollin

We had a mixed experience at this restaurant. Itís a gorgeous typical old bistro, and in a great location for lunch after going to the Marché díAligre.
Our food was excellent: Steak tartare with frites for me, and Jarrel de porc (pork & beans) for DH. But this was our only experience of the trip with gruff, rude service. I donít think we were singled out for rude treatment- the waitstaff (female- unusual for France) seemed to be brusque with everybody. I think I would give it another chance.
marcy_ is offline  
Jul 11th, 2006, 11:28 AM
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Great trip report, Marcy. Could you tell me what the weather was like while you were there? We will be there about the same time next year.
jenblase is offline  
Jul 11th, 2006, 12:25 PM
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Bookmarking for my trip next month. Thanks for the restaurant reviews! Astier looks like a great find. Did you make a reservation far in advance?
CarolineM is offline  
Jul 11th, 2006, 01:08 PM
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Well, I just saw on another thread that Astier is closed the month of August. Thanks for the other tips though.
CarolineM is offline  
Jul 11th, 2006, 03:27 PM
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Thanks for the nice comments.
jenblase, the weather was in the low 70's with occasional drizzles, so overall pretty pleasant.

CarolineM, too bad Astier is closed while you're there. For future reference, we made our reservations the same day for a weekday evening.
marcy_ is offline  
Jul 11th, 2006, 03:36 PM
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Great info ..thanks ! Astier was a restaurant on my to do list mainly because of the Cheese selection, apparently one of the best in Paris !
Marko is offline  
Jul 11th, 2006, 04:34 PM
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As usual a wonderful trip report for those Paris fanatics to use to dream about the next trip. I am glad you went to Le Comptoir for lunch. We stayed at Le Relais St Germain in March and had a fabulous dinner and two great lunches at Le Comptoir.
AGM_Cape_Cod is offline  
Jul 11th, 2006, 04:43 PM
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How did you like the Relais St. Germain?
I've stayed there before a couple of times and liked it, but there has been some talk about it getting a little worn around the edges lately. What did you think?

I've heard that staying at the Relais St. Germain is the best way to get reservations for dinner at the Comptoir, since they set aside a certain number of spots each day for guests of the hotel. Otherwise I think they're booked up about 6 months iin advance.
marcy_ is offline  
Jul 11th, 2006, 05:39 PM
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pjsparlor is offline  
Jul 11th, 2006, 06:27 PM
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Nice report, Marcy; I like your restaurant reviews.

We always end up visiting Fish as well. It's a nice, easy place to dine.
Josh is offline  
Jul 13th, 2006, 06:01 PM
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Thanks Marcy!
indytravel is offline  
Jul 13th, 2006, 06:16 PM
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Thanks for posting- I'm heading to Paris in January-it'll be my 6th time, one city you can never travel too many times to. Great report!
laartista is offline  
Jul 13th, 2006, 07:16 PM
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Thanks for the report Marcy. We are going to Paris next June and I am making notes on things to do and restaurants so your suggestions are
sondi is offline  

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