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Long Paris trip report -- apt. rental, dinner with Jim, etc.

Long Paris trip report -- apt. rental, dinner with Jim, etc.

Old Oct 21st, 2005, 08:49 AM
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Long Paris trip report -- apt. rental, dinner with Jim, etc.

Hello everyone! I don't post much, but I promised myself I would write a trip report to help others. Forgive me if I'm off on spelling or minor details -- but I have receipts available for specific questions as needed.

I'm going to post a couple of days and then continue in the responses. Enjoy!



Hello all! We traveled to Paris from Detroit (through Chicago on American) September 23 – October 2nd. Our favorites: renting an apartment (in the 6th, # 38764 from vrbo.com, Karen was GREAT!), sitting in cafes drinking espresso and people watching, Angelina's hot chocolate, etc. Downers: I had a sinus/ear infection the first few days -- it made the plane landing excruciating (ears didn't pop), but we didn't let it slow us down and I had a Z-pack to fix me up by day 2 or so.

Day one: Travel. We left Detroit at 4pm and headed to Chicago. I was a mess with my infection – the two people in front of my husband and I were talking about colds – she proceeded to take some airborne and asked if he wanted any. He declined and as I had a coughing/nose blowing fit on the descent to Chicago, she gave him a knowing look and said "See…you should have taken some". It was straight out of a commercial. Caught the connection to Paris with no problems. We weren't able to sit together on the long flight. He was in the middle of the middle and I was one row behind him on the right. The two seats on either side of him remained empty as the rest of the passengers boarded so I joined him – until a couple came on the plane. They screamed me out of my seat as the wife claimed that no one would be able to identify his body if he switched with me and then we crashed. He then proceeded to take my husband's center seat so that he could sit next to his wife. We received many sympathy looks and offers to switch seats from other passengers. Landed in Paris and headed straight to the apartment for some rest (taxi at 40 euro). It was ready for us at 11am when we arrived and we took a nice long nap (against traveling rules, I know, but I was sick!). We woke up around 5 and explored our way to the river for a night cruise on the Pont Nuef boat rides. We stopped at a grocery store for a loaf of bread, bottle of wine and plastic cups on the way (we carried a tote bag and never had a problem). There were coupons EVERYwhere – even in the brochure at the ticket booth – but there were still some people without, so we shared our extras with the people behind us. As soon as we boarded the boat and left the dock, I whacked my husband to turn and look – the tower was sparkling! A neat first sighting. The ride was gorgeous (we took the 8pm). After the ride we ate at the Café du Metro on Bd Saint-Germain (not super impressed, my soup was greasy!) and then hit the hay.

Day two: Slept in a little and then walked through the Luxembourg Gardens (a half black from our apartment). We strolled, took pictures, watched children play with sail boats in the pond and then had lunch at "Le Luxembourg". Great panini! We then toured the Pantheon and then walked back through the gardens to the apartment. We freshened up and took the metro from Odeon to Alesia where we had dinner with Jim Haynes. (www.jim-haynes.com). What a neat experience. We were a little nervous and shy, but we walked in to the booming voice "Hi! Who are you?". We introduced ourselves and were then told who everyone was, who to talk to, etc. Too fun! We met people from all over the world and stayed for about three hours. It was quite a packed house and I don't know what they would have done without an outdoor space and nice weather, but we had a great time. As we left my husband praised Jim for what he's been doing all these years and Jim answered by saying "Crazy, aren't I?".
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Old Oct 21st, 2005, 08:50 AM
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Day three: Long walk day. We started late and bought some baguettes in the Rue de Boci market. We walked along the Seine and crossed over to the right bank via pont Alexandre III. We passed the Grand & Petite palaces and headed to the Champs Elysees. We had intended on purchasing museum passes at the tourist office located at 127, but there's no such thing anymore. I was completely honored to be approached for the much-discussed purse scam! A woman asked us if we spoke English and then explained about the purchase limit in the high end purse shops…about half way through her speech it hit me what was happening and I almost laughed as I told her we weren't interested. But I was still tickled to have been "chosen", although I guess that meant our blond-hair, blue eyes didn't pass us for Europeans no matter how hard we tried (no tennis shoes, jeans, etc.). Ah well. We made our way to the Arc and walked around to the north side for some great pictures. We then headed through the pedestrian tunnel and purchased tickets – and were able to get the museum passes for the next three days. I'd seen the Arc on my previous visit to Paris and had said this for years afterwards, but it continues to amaze me how LARGE it is in person (same goes for the tower). Truly amazing and what a view from the top. From the Arc we headed in search of Chanel – I wanted some perfume! We didn't find it but we did find Sephora where I was able to purchase some CoCo Chanel. I know, I know, I can get it at home, but I felt oh so French in the process. Plus they threw in a bunch of little freebie samples, so that was nice. We continued out walk to the obelisk and then back to Rue de Rivoli (Ravioli Street, per my husband) and found Angelina's. Ahhhhhhh. I love Fodor's! There was a wait to sit, but we waited and were not disappointed! We ordered the hot chocolate of COURSE and also some sandwiches (skip!). The hot chocolate was just…divine…amazing…like nothing we'd ever had. I took a picture. We bought some of the mix on the way out and hope it's the same. We keep trying to describe to people why it was so different and it had to be the richness and thickness. I liken the consistency to melted ice cream. We continued through the smaller arc and took some pictures in front of the Louvre's pyramid entrance. We then crossed the Petit Pont and walked in front of Notre Dame and then stumbled into the Latin Quarter. Loved it! We proceeded to eat many meals here throughout our trip. That night we ate at the Horses Tavern and people-watched. The food was great (I had mussels) and the beer (1664) was better.

Day four. We woke up early (earliER, anyway) and had breakfast at Paul's (which we later found out was kind of a chain, like Panera Bread – but who cares, the pastries were to die for and they all seem to have chocolate in them…mmmmm). We headed to the Musee de Orsay, where I almost cried for joy because my left ear finally popped. From Orsay we walked to the Rodin museum and gardens. We had lunch at the garden café and weren't impressed, but perhaps we just chose the wrong items. It's cafeteria style, so I guess there's no one to blame but ourselves. Anyway, I really liked the museum and garden sculptures – probably the garden more! From there we went to Invalides and saw Napoleon's tomb, the WWII museum (which was really neat – a different viewpoint – would have been better if we had done it in the correct chronological order but we skipped a floor on accident -- also there wasn't a lot in English, but obviously I understand that – don't worry, I'm not one of THOSE people), a floor of the Army museum (weapons & uniforms) and then rested in the garden. After the WWII exhibit we kind of skimmed the rest – that's a lot of military in one day. One poor planning note – neither of us had a watch. We usually don't wear watches and mainly rely on cell phones for time, but obviously we weren't carrying them. So throughout the days we never really knew what time it was. This was pain in the museums because if they were close to closing we didn't really know how much time we had, especially in a somewhat deserted exhibit. Not a huge deal. From Invalides we started toward the tower but the rain also started, so we turned back and stopped for espresso on the way home – and also hit an ATM because we were just about out of cash. I should note that we made 4 cash stops total – once at the airport before departure, once on day 4, again on day 6 and a final time on day 8. We used our credit card (MC) exclusively except for twice when it wouldn't work in the portable credit machines that the waiters carry at cafes. Those two times we used our Visa debit card with no problem. From that café we walked all the way home pausing at the St. Sulpice fountain for a picture. We changed shoes and headed to the Latin Quarter for dinner. We ate in a fondue restaurant -- good meal.
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Old Oct 21st, 2005, 08:51 AM
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Day five. Up early again, breakfast at Paul's again. We walked to the Louvre and entered from the Rue de Rivoli side. We didn't plan on spending a significant amount of time and it worked out nicely. We saw the Venus di Milo, Winged Victory, Crown Jewels, Mona Lisa, Wedding Dinner, Napoleon's Apartment & Marly Horses all in about 2 ˝ hours. We then walked a ways to go to Hermes (Herpes, per my husband) so that I could buy a scarf for myself and one for my mother (take that Oprah!). Oh my, did I feel somewhat out of place. But it really was exhilarating! We saw $6000 shoes and many other luxuries…in addition to the cheapest scarves we could find (about $108 each). I chose one for myself and one for my mother and then they were wrapped for me while we browsed and then we checked out with our fancy orange bag and our fancy scarves wrapped in fancy orange boxes with fancy brown ribbon. I swear people looked at me differently while I carried that bag down the street! It was just a taste of a fantasy, and worth every penny to have such a small classic staple become part of my wardrobe. Enough drooling. From there we walked back toward the Louvre and stopped for a bite to eat at the Thermidor on Rue de St. Honre. We then walked to the Pompidou but just snapped a pic as we were on our way to the Picasso museum and unsure of the time (see watch comment above). I surprised myself and loved the Picasso museum while my husband was not impressed. I've requested a Picasso book for Christmas. After touring the house we had some hot chocolate and espresso in the garden and then walked to Place des Vosges for a rest on the grass. We walked through Isle de St. Louis on the way home and window shopped. Dinner in the Latin Quarter again at an Asian restaurant – best pad thai I've ever had!

Day six: Versailles. Well, let's just say that we found our way on the metro ok, but the RER is a different story! We hopped the C line to Versailles and then realized we were on the wrong train – the C7. Right direction, wrong train. So we hopped off and then hopped on the right train – the C5. Only lost about 5 minutes. Then I panicked when we saw Viroflay-Rive Gauche, thinking it was Versailles – Rive Gauche and I dragged my husband off the train. No Versailles. So we waited in the cold (him with no coat) for 20 minutes until the next train passed and then finally found our way to Versailles. We had our museum passes but the entrances and maps were really confusing. We stood in line for a few minutes and then decided to enter elsewhere – which was a good move, but we still had to purchase an audio tour. Which we did with about a thousand other people. The tour of the State apartments was neat, but after that we hit the gardens (pass did NOT cover the gardens) for a little peace and quiet. There's only so much you can take from pushy tour group leaders holding umbrellas in the air. We ate lunch at the first outdoor restaurant we came to. We walked through the gardens toward the Grand & Petit Trianons, which we didn't tour (passes DID cover). We had purchased the book inside the main palace and figured that the pictures were just as good and we'd rather see more of the gardens. We walked to the Belvedere and then back toward the Grand Canal where we took impromptu naps on the grass– what a treat. My husband also had an espresso break. The Apollo baths were closed but we headed to the Orangerie and then up the 100 steps (yes, we counted and there are exactly 100). We hopped back on the RER and made it back to town uneventfully. We went to a Canadian bar we had seen earlier (Moosehead?) and had a beer before dinner. We ate at a small tea house called La Jacobine on rue Saint-Andre des Arts with a bottle of Bordeaux and chocolate crepe for dessert.
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Old Oct 21st, 2005, 08:51 AM
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Day seven: Walked to the post office at the end of the street and mailed a few postcards (mailed on 9/30 and they arrived 10/7). We went to the Latin Quarter and had gyros and fries for lunch. It was the best gyro we'd ever had – and our cheapest meal to date! We headed to Notre Dame and toured the chapel and then around to the gardens in the back for views of the flying buttresses. We migrated toward some jazzy music we heard and found The Wedding band playing on the Pont St. Louis. We listened for a while and bought a cd before continuing to Isle de St. Louis for some shopping. We bought some tea at L'epicerie, some bath products at L'Occitane and then some gingerbread ice cream from Berthillon. "Best Ice Cream in Paris"…we would definitely go along with that! The rain started so we stopped at a café for some espresso and a cheese plate. We headed back and heard a few more Wedding Band songs and then crossed through the flower market on Isle de la Cite. We purchased some wine to bring home from Nicolas, which seems to be a wine-store-chain. Back to the apartment for a quick nap and then took the metro to La Motte Picquet Grenelle to see the tower. It was pouring as we exited the metro but we figured on fewer crowds so we carried on. We stopped at a café to wait it out and let the worst of the rain pass. We continued on and rode to the 2nd floor and top in the rain – it had started getting cloudy so our views weren't the best, but I'd rather be at the top of the Eiffel Tower in the rain then at home… When we came down the lights were lit so we crossed to the Trocadero side to see those views and have dinner at a cafe. Took the metro back home and listened to our new cd…

Day eight: Took the metro to the Maison Rouge stop to see Sacre Coeur & that area. We stopped for some baguettes and walked up the "side" of the hill. When we arrived at Sacre Coeur and saw everyone trudging up the front, center steps we were glad we had taken the route less traveled. The view was amazing and the chapel was gorgeous as well. We paid to tour the top of the towers and mentally scolded ourselves throughout the climbing process. WOW. And we thought the Arc had stairs. I honestly don't think that many people could have enjoyed, let alone completed, that climb. The views paid off, though, we stayed for a while and took some nice pictures. Upon leaving Sacre Coeur we walked along Rue de Clichy toward the Moulin Rouge, café stop included. Honestly…we weren't impressed with this whole area of town. I have a feeling we "missed" Montmartre, but I'm not so sure (did we?). We couldn’t wait to get back to "our" side of town. Of course we knew the red light district would be a little seedier, but we didn't really expect it to be void of any charm, which in our opinion, it was. My husband was totally disappointed by the Moulin Rouge (I had seen it before and knew what to expect). If you haven't seen it and plan on going, rent the movie instead. We then took the metro back to the St. Germain area and stopped at yet another café for a cheese plate and bottle of wine. We enjoyed the sunshine and people-watching and stopped at Nicolas for a bottle of champagne before heading back to the apartment for a quick nap. After resting we took a long walk up and down the Seine from Notre Dame to Pont de la Alma where Princess Diana's makeshift memorial sits. On the way we strolled through the Tuleries Gardens and had some espresso at a café near the Grand Palace. There were some flowers at the memorial. We headed back and had dinner in the St. Germain area at a tiny Italian restaurant called Il Suppli on Rue de Conde. Excellent meal! We shared a bottle of wine but saved dessert for a creperie (craperie per my husband) stand on the street. Oh, sweet crepes! I don't know why it took us until our last night to try a street-side crepe but WOW were we way overdue. I had a sugar & banana crepe and my husband had a nutella. If we had done that from day one it would have been at least twice a day!
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Old Oct 21st, 2005, 08:52 AM
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Day nine: packed up and husband went to the main street to grab a taxi. We loaded up and headed to the airport. We were offered a $500 voucher and a hotel room to stay another day but once my husband is packed and ready to go there's no turning back. Darn it. The rides home were uneventful and now here we are, dreaming of our next trip to France!

Final notes: We did a lot on this trip and I'm glad we spent so much time in the city. Now that we've done the "main" attractions, our next trip can be the smaller sights (I'd still like to see the fashion museum, etc.) and the countryside. Paris was SO good to us; the people, the romance, the food, the weather – it was all just perfect!

We carried the Top 10 book with us, which was nice in the bigger museums (top 10 exhibits in the Louvre, for example). We also had the Eyewitness book which had great maps. We carried a tote bag all week which was nice for maps, tour books, souvenirs, etc. Ditch the purse, ladies – I only used mine once.

I wish we had bought a carnet of 10 metro tickets. We didn't think we'd use the metro as much as we did (which wasn't much), but we ducked in unexpectedly for rain breaks and tired feet breaks. It would have been nice just to "go" instead of getting a ticket each time.

Make sure to test your voltage converter before leaving home. Ours didn’t work! Not a huge deal, the apartment had a hair dryer, clothes iron, etc., but I wish we would have had it to charge the digital camera battery. Our first battery died on about day 2, but our spare lasted the rest of the trip. We were paranoid about it dying with no charging ability, though, so we were super conservative with the camera for the rest of the trip.

If anyone wants more details about our meals, please let me know. I have receipts that have address & meal price for everything – I just didn't post all the details at this time.

And finally, here is a link to our photos (185 of them) via snapfish album for those that want to see for yourselves:

http://tinyurl.com/c3sd6

Thanks for reading!
tesaniedi is offline  
Old Oct 21st, 2005, 09:34 AM
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Wow! Great trip report. Thank you. Brought back fond memories or our June trip.
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Old Oct 21st, 2005, 10:05 AM
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tesaniedi, Loved your report, you packed alot of activity in each day but I still like your style of slow travel. I sympathize with you regarding the ear infection, been there, had them, it didn't seem to slow you down very much. I can't believe you didn't stay the extra day. 9 days in Paris is still not enough time

I agree with you about Montmartre, as many times as we have gone there I have yet to find the charm, but I love the fabric shops near by.

You will remember your times in Paris whenever you wear your scarf, great purchase!!

Looking forward to perusing your pictures later. thanks for the report, Deborah
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Old Oct 21st, 2005, 10:30 AM
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I went to your pictures first before I came back to comment. Great pictures. Cute couple too!
I enjoy the "how" you stayed in Paris, nice and easy, did things without sounding as if you were breathless with the must-dos...lots of tea, wine, cheese plates...etc. Aaaah Paris.
My life just isn't allowing me to plan another trip. SO? Trip reports and pictures can take me back. Thank you!
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Old Oct 21st, 2005, 10:55 AM
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Loved the report and your down to earth, chatty style - thanks for sharing!
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Old Oct 21st, 2005, 11:56 PM
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Really good read, thats the sort of report I love to read. Can a 'dumb' Aussie ask a question? What is

"It was the best gyro we'd ever had" ?

I would hate to miss the BEST anything when we go........8.3weeks and counting.
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Old Oct 22nd, 2005, 06:03 AM
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what a lovely trip report! and thank you for posting photos as well! i am headed to paris in november and again in february...so i am reading reports from paris and furiously scribling notes on some fun things to do. thank you again!!!
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Old Oct 22nd, 2005, 08:21 PM
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Hi. Nice report.
Who did you rent your apartment from?
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Old Oct 22nd, 2005, 08:34 PM
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Great report! What a lot of things you did. And a lot of walking. I bet you lost a pound or two! Nice to hear a first had report about Dinner with Jim.
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Old Oct 22nd, 2005, 09:18 PM
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I'm interested in more details about the dinner with Jim. Trying to convince my husband that we want to do this. My daughter will be an even harder sell. Who was there? Mostly visitors, mostly Parisians, or a mix? Were there people who came regularly, or mostly were there people who were first time visitors like yourselves?
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Old Oct 22nd, 2005, 10:30 PM
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tesaniedi: I enjoyed your report and loved your photos. I am planning to buy a digital camera - can you tell me what camera you used for these photos?

Thanks.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2005, 09:39 AM
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I just had a chance to see your photos. Beautiful!
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Old Oct 23rd, 2005, 09:54 AM
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You two look like you are on your honeymoon NICE!!!
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Old Oct 23rd, 2005, 10:07 AM
  #18  
ira
 
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Hi t,

Thanks for your report.

>One poor planning note – neither of us had a watch. <

Your camera has a clock.

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Old Oct 23rd, 2005, 10:39 AM
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Upon leaving Sacre Coeur we walked along Rue de Clichy toward the Moulin Rouge, café stop included. Honestly…we weren't impressed with this whole area of town. I have a feeling we "missed" Montmartre, but I'm not so sure (did we?)

Unfortunately, you did miss the more village-like part of Montmartre, which would be the backside of the hill, behind Sacre Coeur, where lies the last remaining vineyard and Lapin Agile. And also the streets to the west of Place du Tertre, where the other two windmills can be found, the small Musée de Montmartre, and the Abbesses area...
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Old Oct 23rd, 2005, 11:47 AM
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I loved your trip report! It only makes looking forward to my May visit to Paris more exciting. How long was your metro ride from Sacre Coeur to St. Germain??
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