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MaiTaiTom's Paris When It Sizzles; Paris When It Fizzles Anniversary Trip

MaiTaiTom's Paris When It Sizzles; Paris When It Fizzles Anniversary Trip

Old Feb 20th, 2015, 06:50 AM
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in a spring about 30 years ago, DH worked in Paris for a very short while and I spent several weekends with him exploring the city, including one VERY cold trip to Versailles. It's the cold I remember from that trip, not crowds at Versailles though we timed our visit to co-incide with one of what were then the only 4 days in the year when the fountains were turned on.

Fast forward 15 years or so, and we visited again, again when it was cold, and I have no recollection of crowds. 3 years ago - the same thing.

I recommend February if you want to avoid the crowds; also prebooking your ticket on line, so that any queuing is kept to a minimum.

Loving the TR, Tom, keep it coming.
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Old Feb 20th, 2015, 07:44 AM
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I agree, ann! I am loving this report but w/a sense of foreboding at all of the foreshadowing and what I know is coming. The good feature is that we know that you are OK, Tom!!!
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Old Feb 20th, 2015, 08:21 AM
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elizzie~that sounds like a great solution! I do love spending time with my parents, but as they've aged, they've become more and more rigid about things........and annhig, thanks for the tip on the brasseries and pre-booking tickets for Versailles!

Looking forward to the next installation of this trip report!
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Old Feb 20th, 2015, 09:11 AM
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Wow, we certainly agree heartily on a lot of things, but with your last post, your opinions on two things...

--Jacques-Louis David, "Coronation of the Emperor"

...mean I'm traveling with you and the wife when your Canadian friends tire of you.

I have been to Versailles twice. I have told my kids that upon reflection, I consider it to be "The Prague of Palaces." I hate the train ride there, I hate the cobblestones I have to walk to enter; I detest the tour groups I have to avoid; I hate the temperature(s) I have to endure inside--and often outside.

I need not go ever again, even with a grandchild (I'll put the kid on a train and tell him/her to let me know when to pick him/her up on the return).

On the other hand:
I simply adore Jacques-Louis David's "Coronation of the Emperor" also known by one of those truly long titles:
"The Consecration of the Emperor Napoleon and the Coronation of Empress Joséphine on December 2, 1804"

I head to it every time we hit Paris, even if we're only spending an hour or two in the Louvre (usually trying to find out if the Northern Painters section of the Richilieu Wing is open for a few nanoseconds).

The "Mona Lisa"? Pfft. Winged Victory? Forgetaboutit. Give me this David every time. I certainly don't like Napoleon, and goodness knows, I don't rank David on my Top Ten list of artists, but the painting is just so darn intriguing.

I have been enjoying your trip report immensely. Your descriptions are so darn apt!

I should have added a comment about Le Trumilou. I certainly am not fond enough of it to recommend to others, but my husband asks to "put it on the schedule" if we are staying more than three or four days. He loves their lapin à la moutarde and he likes it that he rarely sees Americans there.

"I've had better rabbit in France," he often says, "but never at this price and never without American accents in my ear."

I look foward to your next installment.
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Old Feb 20th, 2015, 09:19 AM
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I've been to Paris 3 times and went to Versailles the first two times. It's something most people are going to want to do at some point, but once is usually enough. I will say that my second trip was arguably worth it since we went on a Saturday and got to see the fountains in action, and really maximized this by taking a carriage ride through the gardens (something like 80 euros for the half hour for our group of five), but the rest I had seen before and didn't find all that enjoyable the second time around.
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Old Feb 20th, 2015, 09:42 AM
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tenthumbs - your welcome! It's what I do with my Mom. I hear you about becoming more rigid with age. She eats her meals at the same time everyday. And dinner is always between 5:30 - 6:30. No later.

Waiting for the rest of the report!
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Old Feb 20th, 2015, 02:29 PM
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MaiTai - please don't post about L'Ange 20. We cant have word get out.....
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Old Feb 21st, 2015, 05:25 AM
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adding on to the Versailles thoughts - we did the Fat Tire Bike Tour there - and loved it. Mostly because we were on the grounds for most of the day and not in the chateau with the crowds. We stopped at the market and got provisions for lunch. We biked all the way around the large pond (Grand Canal?) with a stop for our picnic lunch. We then entered the chateau - which by this time, was very crowded. The kids weren't interested in being inside after such a nice day outside so we power walked (as much as we could through the crowds) to the Hall of Mirrors... oohed and aahhhed and departed. Getting on the train back to central Paris was another adventure with not everyone's ticket working (a French man kindly pushed my husband through with him as he was stuck outside and we were stuck in), and absolutely no room inside the train - we stood the entire way back.

All in all, we loved seeing the grounds. Fighting the crowds? Not so much. My oldest dd had to do a project recently on Marie Antoinette and it was much more meaningful having seen Versailles.

ok, enough of the tj. back to mtt.
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Old Feb 21st, 2015, 07:50 AM
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Our visit to versailles coincided with the massive heat wave way back in 2003. The trains weren't all that crowded, the chateau, itself, was full but not packed. However, given the heat, everyone was trying to contain tempers and not push too hard. We sought out a macdonald's to get both 'maxi' drinks with some ice and french fries with salt to replenish our systems. All in all, I have decent memories of the place and would love to go back if a custom, night tour was available!
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Old Feb 22nd, 2015, 12:13 PM
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Lots of photos today!

<B>DAY SIX: You Can Fight City Hall (Crowds), A Royal Visit, Smoke Free Dining, Monet Monet, The Path Of Kahn, Crazy Spokesman, Cheese Please, Not You Again, Muscat Love and The Best Meal we Had In Paris</B>


Our Saturday would turn out to be the busiest day in Paris and include a place I had long wanted to step inside but never had the opportunity, a royal palace, a museum that makes quite an impression, plus a garden I had just recently read about that’s located on the outskirts of town. Oh yeah...we’d end the day by dining at what turned out to be our favorite restaurant in Paris. So much for that relaxing Anniversary trip.

I had purposely booked this week in Paris to coincide with the Journées du Patrimoine (Heritage Days). In cities throughout Europe, numerous buildings that are not customarily available for locals and tourists to visit open their doors for just two days.
The Hôtel de Ville was tops on my list to see. It’s a building I’ve seen from only the outside on every trip I’ve made to Paris. Once there was a giant soccer ball displayed in front during World Cup, while on a Christmas visit we watched as amateur ice skaters risked broken limbs as they glided across the ice in front of it.

After a quick stop at (gasp) Starbucks (nothing says Paris quite like a maigre vanille latte), we headed on over.

It opened at 9:30. Tracy and I arrived about 8:45. There were only 20 people ahead of us (including one of Thierry’s apartment dwellers…from Canada, of course… that we had met at the happy hour a couple of nights previously). An intermittent rain did not damper our desire to see go inside.

The Hôtel de Ville is obviously not a hotel at all, but the largest City Hall in Europe. The Mairie de Paris has been the seat of the Paris City Council since the mid 1300s. At a little after 9:30 we were escorted through security and made our way to the interior courtyard.

We passed by a couple of interesting plants that had been made into a large chair and a woman holding a basket. When I saw those weird pieces of “art” I thought Starbucks had spiked my coffee with absinthe, but Tracy assured me I was not seeing things.

Once inside, we started up The Grand Stairway’s 50 marble steps. Wow! In many respects, the Hôtel de Ville actually “Out Versailles” Versailles, and since we were among the first to enter, it did not have the palace masses we had encountered yesterday.

The staircase took us to the Salon des Caryatides (which I hoped had nothing to do with arteries) and then we entered the Salon Puvis de Chavanne, which is named after the artist of the same name (without the Salon). On the walls are his paintings of “Winter” and “Summer.”

We realized quickly that this was not your average City Hall. The gorgeous rooms were so beautiful that my usually reliable transcriber (aka Tracy) forgot to write down notes early, so I’m a little confused (nothing new there) as to which room was which early on in our self guided tour.

What I do remember is…the Baccarat chandeliers inside the Hôtel de Ville are all as big as Peugeot sedans.

The ceilings are nothing less than magnificent.

Each of these reception rooms seemed to outdo the others.

The entire interior is a photo-taking mecca.

The Salon des Arcades was truly spectacular. The painting on the ceiling is called “Salon des Sciences.”

You might think that you’re at Versailles in The Salle des Fêtes (the Feast Hall). The motto of the Republic “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité is written in gold letters on the ceiling.

The floral arrangements made for even more colorful photos.

We walked by a gilded bronze clock that was presented by a major 19th century bronze company during the 1889 World’s Fair.

Next we entered the Bibliothèque de l’ Hôtel de Ville, which in 1890 replaced the previous library that had been destroyed by fire in the early 1870s. If it was arson, I hope they threw the book at him.

The Salle du Conseil (Council Room) was also beautiful. The semi-circular layout has some gorgeous tapestries that were commissioned in the 1860s.

There is a plate located under the central gallery that pays tribute to the Parisian city counselors of the former Seine department who were executed during the German Occupation for taking part in the Resistance movement.

We descended the Escalier de la Maire and were soon back out in the courtyard (the Mayor’s Court).

Our Canadian friend had told us that she was heading to the Palais Royale. Since Canadians had been so helpful on this trip, we followed her lead and made it our next destination.

The day was beautiful as were the gardens at the Palais Royale, which was constructed in 1629 by Cardinal Richelieu.

Louis Philippe II (who became Philippe-Egalitié during the French Revolution) took the reins of the palace in the 1780s and was the person who opened the gardens to the public. He prohibited the police from coming in, so this became a symbol of liberty for the Parisians and was a hangout for intellectuals and artists.

Although he supported the French Revolution, it didn’t do him much good. Egalitié was guillotined in 1793, and after his death the gardens and palace became part of the public domain.

The wait to get in was less than half an hour, and although the Palais Royale didn’t quite have the panache of the Hôtel de Ville, it did have some very beautiful rooms including the Salle du Tribunal des Conflit…

…and the Salle Napoléon.

The chandeliers at this place weren’t too shabby either.

The Salle d’assembly generale was, to me, the most impressive room.

Afterward, Tracy and I walked around the area for a bit, checked out the Molière statue on the Fontaine Molière and then plopped ourselves down for lunch at Le Nemours just outside the entrance to the Palais Royale.

Being an equal opportunity Croque guy, this time I ordered a Croque Madame with a 1664 beer, while Tracy had a goat cheese quiche and glass of vin rouge.

Although outside, the lunch was pleasantly smoke-free, giving my lungs a brief respite (albeit too brief).

It was then back on the metro as we headed to see some impressionistic paintings from Claude Monet out in the 16th arrondissement. The Musée Marmottan supposedly has the most Monets in its collection than anywhere else in the world, and due to the fact there was also a Monet exhibition going on, it was going to be Monet Monet time for us today (although Tommy James and the Shondells and Billy Idol were nowhere to be seen).

The walk from the metro station took us through a lovely park, and though the temperatures were hot again today, the leaves were making an attempt to tell everyone that autumn was indeed on its way.

The Marmottan is housed in an old hunting lodge, and the cost to enter was €11 (plus €3 for the audioguide). Unless you are an art aficionado, I would pass on the audioguide. The descriptions of each piece of art seemed to take longer to detail than the artist took to paint it.

There is no doubting the Marmottan has a wonderful collection of art, and is another of those “little gems” that some tourists miss since it is a little off the radar, especially for those on their first visit to Paris. It is well worth your time to come visit.

Monet’s “Impression, Soleil Levant” was our favorite painting (it was stolen from the museum during a heist in 1985, but was recovered and returned six years later). After gazing at it, I started to sing House Of The Rising Sun.

DIGRESSION: One of the stories behind the song, House Of The Rising Sun, is that it’s about a brothel located in New Orleans. The House Of The Rising Sun was named after Madame Marianne LeSoleil Levant.

Speaking of the sun, that red devil’s heat penetrated into the Marmottan, so after about 45 minutes of walking through what was quickly surpassing the Pompidou Escalator Sauna’s heat index, we exited the premises.

As we walked back through the park (oops, it’s a park…we strolled) there was a man who was giving pony rides to some children. “Wow,” I told Tracy, “Monet Monet, ride the pony.” Tracy was too hot to laugh at my pony tale.

We took the metro to what seemed like the end of the earth (or at least Line 10…Boulogne-Pont de St. Cloud). Very near where we exited the metro was the Albert Kahn Musee et Jardins. On a hot day, the jardins at the Kahn were the perfect escape from the heat.

Albert Kahn was a French banker and philanthropist. In the late 1800s, he acquired this property where he had these elaborate “gardens of the world” established in 1898.

We walked the various paths of Kahn for the better part of an hour exploring Japanese gardens, English gardens and French gardens, while looking at koi carp swimming in little man-made ponds.

Admittance on this day was free thanks to Heritage Days, and there were a number of French families with their children taking advantage of the opportunity. This ranks pretty high on the many attractions I’ve visited in Paris throughout the years. Even with all the kids running about, it was a tranquil experience.

Kahn kept putting money into the gardens for a few decades until the stock market crash virtually wiped him out. Fortunately, he was still able to live here and enjoy the gardens until his death in 1940.

Inside, there is a museum that tells more about Kahn and photography, but we decided it was time to call it a day and head back to Paris.

When we arrived back in the busy ‘hood (the Marais), we saw a rather bizarre man riding an even more bizarre bicycle contraption. I took a photo of him as he rode down the street, and he quickly changed direction and came over to me demanding money for taking his picture.

Feigning ignorance (although ignorance is never really a stretch for me), I declined to give him any money, and he rode off into the sunset to torment others. We used the money I didn’t give him to purchase some wine, bread and cheese. After passing by Les Philosophes (no sign of David Spade berating tourists) we walked back to the apartment for own happy hour (which included another load of laundry).

We had a nice relaxing late afternoon/early evening because we didn’t have dinner reservations until 8:30 at a restaurant that has received a lot of rave reviews recently. While sipping our vin rouge with some incredible blue cheese on a baguette, our little buddy Mickey appeared from under the couch.

Tracy and I breathed a sigh of relief that he wasn’t caught in one of the traps Thierry had laid out. Mickey hung out for a couple of minutes, but when Tracy tried to shoo him outside (coincidentally, with her shoe), Mickey quickly sought refuge back under the couch.

About 8:10, Tracy and I left the apartment, told Mickey he could have the extra cheese and headed for our dinner engagement at L’Ange 20 (8 Rue Geoffroy L’Angevin), which as it turned out was less than a 10-minute walk from our apartment.

At just before 8:30 we walked into this very small restaurant and were welcomed by yet another Thierry, the owner of L’Ange 20. We were seated at a table, ordered some wine and as we perused the menu I felt a tap on my left shoulder. It came from the woman sitting next to me.

As I turned toward her, the woman said, “You again…really? Are you following us?” Sure enough, it was our “friends” who we kept bumping into yesterday after they helped us with the ticket machine on our way to Versailles. She told us that her husband was Canadian (Ontario), but that she was originally from Mississippi. They were dining with his parents and were already eating dessert. She said, “You’re going to love this place.” Once again, she was correct.

I started with foie gras with toasts and fig chutney. This was the first of our “Wow” dishes. Tracy’s starter was also a “Wow.” She had fried shrimp with a salad that included yellow tomatoes and guacamole.

For her main course, Tracy opted for the cod with tomatoes and zucchini. I ordered what turned out to be a “Double Wow!”

I dined on an excellent veal Osso Buco sans bone coupled with an incredible mushroom risotto. It was spectacular!

After our ”friends” departed, we engaged in conversation with a couple of Parisians who were sitting on the other side of our table. They were both quite personable and knowledgeable. One was a waiter at a Michelin starred restaurant, who said he loves L’Ange 20 so much he has to keep returning here.

Now it was time for dessert, and they were both terrific. Tracy had a Mousse au chocolat with caramelized peanuts and whipped cream, while I tried the caramelized apples topped with a macaron.

I also had a little shot of Muscat to top off an almost perfect dinner. The total bill came to €113, which included wine and the après dinner Muscat.

Dinner was so good that we made reservations for the following Friday evening, a night that we believed would be our last in Paris. However, Air France would dictate a change in those dinner (and travel) plans.

We took a circuitous route back to the apartment to lose a few of the calories we had eaten.

Back “home,” before we could turn on the air conditioning, Dennis was wailing at maximum volume.

As I lay in bed, I started having just the slightest hint of a cough. “Nothing to worry about,” I thought. I always get a little cough on vacation it seems. This, too, shall pass.
Tomorrow, we would have to be up early again in order to gain entrance to a famed palace and then enjoy its wonderful gardens. It would also turn out to be my last healthy day in Paris.

<B>Next: DAY SEVEN – Senate Seat, Jardins Galore, Protestants in Paris, The Deluge, A Bourse Is A Bourse Of Course Of Course, The Big Cheese, One Dessert Is Just Not Enough and The Beginning Of The End</B>
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Old Feb 22nd, 2015, 01:14 PM
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Loving this trip report- and can't wait to see what is up next. I'm interested to see how you handled an illness while overseas. DH had been stricken with severe respiratory issues several different times while traveling,
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Old Feb 22nd, 2015, 01:17 PM
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Wow, now we need to schedule a visit during Journees du Patrimoine!! Beautiful photos.

I love the goat cheese quiche at Le Nemours and have it every trip as well as dinner at l'Ange 20. I love their lamb and the tomato goat cheese entree.

Not looking forward to reading about your upcoming illness!
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Old Feb 22nd, 2015, 01:36 PM
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Loved your photos! The man on the tricycle was amazing, or at least his contraption was.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2015, 01:55 PM
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Great photos! Now you've got me thinking about Heritage Days too....
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Old Feb 22nd, 2015, 02:49 PM
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I have read that there are once-a-week guided tours of the Hôtel de Ville interior conducted in French (twice a week during summer) that need to be pre-arranged.

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Old Feb 22nd, 2015, 03:15 PM
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Just when we New Yorkers were about to commit hara kiri the temperature went up to 40ish today… and another Maitai episode appeared!
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Old Feb 22nd, 2015, 06:35 PM
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Hi Tom,

Great report. So clever of you to choose Heritage Days. Really loved the interiors of the Hotel de Ville. Is it ever open to the public other at other times? I agree - more striking than Versailles in my view.

Great pic of Stacy in that hot pink top also.

Glad you enjoyed the Marottan. One of my favorites in Paris - small and doable in a lovely area.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2015, 06:43 PM
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Great photos. Always wanted to see inside the Hotel DeVille.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2015, 10:05 PM
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When I visited the Hôtel de Ville a few years ago to see a Nuit Blanche installation, it was interesting to see the mayor's office along the way because it is the biggest government one-person office in France. The new mayor didn't really want to use it, but since it can't be converted to anything else, in the end she gave up and decided to use it. Oddly enough, the same year I had to go for a meeting in the Saudi military attaché's office, which was nearly as big, so I am thinking that it is entirely possible that there are some bigger and more luxurious private offices in Paris.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2015, 06:40 AM
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DH and I have always wanted to see the inside of the Hotel de Ville. it is his favorite building in Paris. i still recall our first trip to Paris many years ago and stumbling onto that building and being completely 'wowed' by it. The Marmottan is a terrific little museum, but it seems everytime we go there alot of the Monets are lent out to other museums. lovely area tho, we love to walk around there. L'ange 20 - unfortunately not a best kept secret any more. The lamb is to die for!
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