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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 12th, 2015, 09:28 PM
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Yes, can't wait.
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Old Feb 13th, 2015, 08:13 PM
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"Hurry up with Day 5, will ya???"

In-Laws trump trip report next few days. Be back soon.

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Old Feb 17th, 2015, 10:32 AM
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Are the in-laws gone yet???
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Old Feb 17th, 2015, 12:15 PM
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Well are they?
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Old Feb 17th, 2015, 12:16 PM
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I've never tasted a macaron in my life. Are they any good or overrated?
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Old Feb 17th, 2015, 12:34 PM
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Overrated.

If I were maitaitom, I would make all of you peasants with pitchforks and torches wait an extra month for the next instalment.
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Old Feb 17th, 2015, 01:34 PM
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I love macarons.....and you have a mean streak, kerouac!!
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Old Feb 17th, 2015, 01:37 PM
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<<I've never tasted a macaron in my life. Are they any good or overrated?>>

I really, really wanted to like macarons. Years ago, tried them in Paris at Laduree and wasn't crazy about them. During my last trip, I gave it another shot from Pierre Herme. Still couldn't understand the fuss. Next trip, I'm sticking to pastries and chocolates!
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Old Feb 17th, 2015, 04:20 PM
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I vote overrated. Pretty, but. Last time I stood in line at Laduree, fully intending to consider buying one. As I inched towards the cashier admiring the colors I realized I didn't care whether I actually ate any. So I slipped out.
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Old Feb 17th, 2015, 04:21 PM
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Unfortunately, I love pastries and chocolate, too.....
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Old Feb 17th, 2015, 04:24 PM
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Ditto what RobertaL said.
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Old Feb 17th, 2015, 04:53 PM
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Not a huge fan of the macaron -- first time I had one was at a open-air market and it was blah. I thought I'd give them a chance at Pierre Herme and thought okay, these are good. That said, I think they're overpriced for basically an okay one-bite. Would rather spend my money on other pastries.
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Old Feb 17th, 2015, 05:59 PM
  #173  
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<B>DAY FIVE - RER ERR, Man vs. Machine, Strangers On A Train, Cattle Call, Are You Following Us, Mirror Image, Unique Selfies, Best Orange Juice Since Dubrovnik, Gorgeous Jardins, Grand & Petite, Are You Still Following Us, Change Is Bad, The French David Spade, It Won’t Be Lung Now, “Don’t Go American On Me” and It’s Not Really Open Friday Night </B>

<B>http://travelswithmaitaitom.com/palace-aforethought/</B>


Tracy and I were up early, because we had a train to catch. Unfortunately it was not early enough to beat the masses, but more on that later.

We walked over to the Saint-Michel RER station to purchase our tickets for the journey out to the Château de Versailles, where Tracy wanted to return (we had visited once in 1998), while I was indifferent at best about returning.

At Saint-Michel, I encountered a battle with a very obstinate inanimate object. I attempted to buy our tickets by credit card, but the machine would have nothing to do with that. Of course, I took this in stride (if stride means wanting to kick the machine). It was really ticking me off, so I stepped back from this monster that I now disliked more than the woman at the Mélia desk and gave it a harsh piece of my mind.

Other people also seemed to have a problem with this ticket-hoarding gremlin, but being humans, we all found out a way to outsmart it thanks to a very nice young couple who said they were from Canada. They told us all that this machine only seemed to like one thing…cash!

Thanks to a multitude of purchases over the first few days, we had enough coinage to feed the machine what it so desperately wanted, and before it could spit them back at us, out came two tickets to paradise…if paradise means spending a morning with thousands of people crammed into some beautiful, but hot, rooms.

We thanked our newfound (although not Newfoundland) friends, who we ran into a few minutes later on the platform. We all got on the train and away we went…for just a few minutes. Then there was an announcement in French, and we all got off that train and boarded another one headed to Versailles.

When we sat down on train #2, we looked across the row and there were the Canadians. I believe they were now afraid we might want them to trade murders ala Hitchcock. “Criss-cross.”

After the train unloaded at Versailles, a mass of humanity was seen crossing the street on the way to the palace. It looked like the troops storming Normandy, although I think there were more people here.

We arrived at the golden gate of the palace a little before ten, but it was too late to beat any crowds. It did not take too long to go through security, and our audio-tour began…sort of.

The audio guide did not work on the floor where we entered. It was supposed to auto-magically tell us about the chateau’s history, but we had to wait until we reached the next floor to get information by keying in the correct corresponding numbers.

We deftly maneuvered though the crowded palace, attempting to sidestep wayward tourists staring at the ceilings or objets d’art not knowing or caring (or looking) which direction they were headed.

Some of the highlights that I can remember…hopefully the photos will correspond to what I’m talking about, and I doubt they are in the exact order of visiting …include the Colonnade.

I then pushed over a couple of unsuspecting tourists so I could grab a quick shot of the Royal Chapel. Their injuries were only slight I was told.

One room had a statue of Louis XIV on a horse while another featured a stucco relief called the Triumph Of Louis XIV. It’s good to be Louis XIV.

There was a red room, which I believe was the Apollo Room, but I wouldn’t bet my life on that.

We walked into a room called the Abundance Salon, which I assume was named that because there is an abundance of green. It’s also a place where refreshments were served…not to us, but in the olden days.

Of course there was the opulent and crowded, Hall Of Mirrors, which must have been quite a place to reflect…

…and its beautiful ceiling…

…and golden statues.

In the Hall Of Mirrors, I bumped into someone, and sure enough it was the couple from Canada. “Oh, you again,” she said and smiled (I think).

Finally we made our way to the Queen’s bedchambers.

Along the way, we saw some great paintings, including a replica of one of my favorites, The Crowning Of The Emperor by Jacques-Louis David, which was located in the Salle du Sacre.

By 11:30, we had zipped through the apartments, so we gazed around the Royal Courtyard first and all the palace buildings that had more gold than Sutter’s Mill.

We grabbed a quick bite to eat at the palace café. Then it was time to explore the grounds.

I thought we had been transported to St. Louis when the first thing I noticed was an arch, but this was much smaller and, I believe, a temporary addition to the landscape.

Tracy and I were witness to our first “Selfies On A Stick” here as some tourists were having a blast taking pictures of themselves in the garden.

We looked out over the Orangerie, which was the work of architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart. There are orange trees from Italy, Spain and Portugal along with other fruit trees, some more than two centuries old. They and much of the gardens at Versailles were beautiful and still colorful.

Speaking of citrus, as we ambled toward the Apollo Basin on our way to Trianon time (both Grand and Petite), we spied a lonely figure off to the side with a bunch of oranges. He was the “Orange Juice Guy,” and it was the best expenditure of euros (3) on the trip (I had a similar “life-saving” juice experience walking the walls in Dubrovnik).

He told us the oranges do not come from the trees in Versailles, however. “They are too bitter,” he said as he poured the OJ with exactly one ice cube in the cup.

Rejuvenated after a blast of Vitamin C juice, we walked by the Apollo Basin and passed a cute outdoor restaurant that, upon further review, would have been much nicer to dine at than the drab café indoors.

Just past the boat rental, we turned to the right and made the walk along a grassy pathway to the Grand Trianon. Mansart constructed the Grand Trianon in the late 1600s. He described the Grand Trianon as, “a little pink marble and porphyry palace with delightful gardens.” Not being a geologist, I had no idea what “porphyry” meant, but I know that Tracy loves gardens. Fortunately for her, the gardens were still blooming.

Inside, flowers were also a story. The brochure said that when the King slept in the Grand Trianon, the flowers were changed every night. I assume the sheets were, too.

There were some interesting rooms in the Grand Trianon, and the exterior was also interesting.

Our next stop was the Petit Trianon, which had been designed for Louis VV’s mistress. However his first mistress died before its completion, so mistress #2 was the beneficiary.

When Louis XVI became king, he gave the little château and its surroundings to Marie Antoinette, who eventually thought of this as her “sacred place.”

By now, Tracy and I had reached “Château overload,” so we passed on visiting the nearby hamlet, grabbed another fresh-squeezed orange juice at a nearby stand and walked to a place on the grounds where we could catch a bus (€2) back to the train station. The bus made a few stops
along the way, so we got a mini-tour of the town of Versailles.

As we were about to board, our Canadian friends were suddenly at our side. “Hmm, maybe they’re stalking us,” I thought.

Back at the apartment and parched from a long day, Tracy walked across the street to the grocery store where Dennis was hanging out in the afternoon. Tracy bought a six-pack of water, and then she ran into the checker who was very busy…conversing with friends.

Tracy only had a €10 bill (we’d used all our change for the train to Versailles). Tracy said that when she handed her the bill for about 3 euros worth of water, the checker was none too pleased.

“Don’t you have anything smaller,” she asked? Of course, the answer was no.

After a few more looks of disgust from the checker, Tracy received her change, and the world kept revolving.

For once, we actually rested the remainder of the afternoon. It was here that Tracy admitted that I might have been right (there’s a first for everything), and we could have skipped Versailles. Maybe so, but even though we had to endure hordes of tourists (just like us), it is still a pretty remarkable palace.

After doing a load of wash at the apartment, we headed out to dinner. It was a warm evening, so I thought that dining al fresco at a local café might be a nice way to go, and it was just our luck that there was one table available at the nearby Les Philosophes.

Our luck did not turn out to be entirely good. It started off well enough, because we purchased a bottle of delightful Spanish vin rouge, and that’s never a bad thing. It had been only a few moments (I don’t even think we’d had a sip of wine yet) since our last visit when our waiter returned to see if we were ready to order. I told him we hadn’t even looked at the menu yet.

About five minutes later, he returned and asked again. I told him we were not yet ready to order. It was then that the French David Spade reared his sarcastic head. In a condescending voice, he said, “Do you need a translator to come over and explain the menu?”

“No thanks,” I replied. “I can figure out what beef bourguignon is in many languages. We’d like to enjoy our wine for a little bit first. Merci.” So much for those relaxed, long meals in Paris. No one around us was being rushed, and I wasn’t about to be either.
As we perused the menu, that old familiar smell came drifting our way. To my left was a French couple puffing away like there was no tomorrow (and with the amount they smoked during dinner, that could be a distinct possibility).

On my right were three Brits, who I surmised were members of Parliament, because they had a couple of packs of them on their table. I looked at Tracy and said, “It won’t be lung now,” not knowing that I would be foreshadowing our second week in Paris.

People might say that California is one wacked-out state, but I have to admit I like dining in a smoke-free environment. It’s always a little culture shock when you visit another state or country where smoking is more prevalent.

We finally ordered from the little s**t…I mean waiter…and dinner was quite good. We both ordered the beef bourguignon (deconstructed), although we could actually decipher the entire menu without assistance.

Our desserts were even better. Tracy had an Affogato, while I thoroughly enjoyed my Ile Flottante.

As I devoured my dessert, according to Tracy, the Brits were in a rather heavy conversation. I guess one person in the group said something about combating terrorists, and the woman (who had more drinks than cigarettes while we sat there), blurted out something like, “Now don’t go American on me!”

Tracy said the other two people at her table kind of had a look of semi-shock since they knew we were Americans, but I was way too busy sucking up the last of my dessert to get into any conversation involving world politics.

Once David Spade got out of our hair (unlike the cigarette smoke), dinner at Les Philosophes turned out to be a decent choice that didn’t break the bank.

I had read that Notre Dame was open late on Friday night, so we walked down there, but it was closed. On the bridge, we were treated to an impromptu concert by a very talented singer/dancer, who had assembled quite a crowd watching his performance. We listened for about ten or 15 minutes and headed back to the apartment.

As we reached the room, that wailing sound could be heard throughout the complex. Tracy and I looked at each other and we simultaneously nodded our heads and said, “Dennis.” It was our friend from the stairwell and store that was making those crazy noises.

At one point during our stay, Thierry came by to put down extra traps in hopes of catching the elusive and wily Mickey, and he explained that the woman’s family was aware of the situation but still allowed her to live by herself. We understood, and because of the heat, the air conditioning in our room masked her sounds for the most part during our stay, so it was a non-issue for us.

Obviously, she was suffering from some sort of mental illness, and there was nobody, I guess, who could help. We felt sorry for her and also for those who were trying to get a good night’s sleep without air conditioning.

Speaking of sleep, we would need it, because tomorrow was the beginning of that once-a-year opportunity, the Journées du Patrimoine (Heritage Days), and there were a couple of places I definitely wanted to see this weekend that we normally would not be able to visit.

I told Tracy that we just had two more rather hectic days, and then next week we could relax and casually meander the streets and arrondissements of Paris while enjoying some more fantastic meals. Well, I was right on the first count anyway.

<B>Next: DAY SIX: You Can Fight City Hall (Crowds), A Royal Visit, Smoke Free Dining, Monet Monet, The Path Of Kahn, Cheese Please, Not You Again, Muscat Love and The Best Meal we Had In Paris</B>
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Old Feb 17th, 2015, 07:24 PM
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Once again, it was worth the wait - thank you!
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Old Feb 17th, 2015, 07:32 PM
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Yay! A beagle just won Westminster and Maitai's new chapter is up.
(Tho I was really rooting for the corgi…)
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Old Feb 17th, 2015, 07:46 PM
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The photos are lovely (I always read first and then go back to look.)
Vis a vis Strangers on a Train…. sometime ago my husband was commuting from NY to Washington DC. He had an apt there he used from Mon to Thurs. On the train he met a man…. and long story short that man took over the apt from Fri to Sun. At first I was all…oh oh… strangers on a train etc. However, it worked out very well. As it turned out the man was semi retired and owned a mystery book store in Baltimore. I always wondered if all that mystery was an antidote to trusting a stranger on the train.
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Old Feb 17th, 2015, 08:28 PM
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"Yay! A beagle just won Westminster and Maitai's new chapter is up."

Before the Corgis, we enjoyed the companionship of our beloved Bagel the Beagle for 14 years. We watched the finals tonight, and the Corgis rooted for Miss P. Beagles and Corgis rock, baby!

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Old Feb 18th, 2015, 04:27 AM
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Tom,

Fabulous pics of Versailles. So glad you folks went back - saves me a return visit if and when I get back to Paris. Merci!
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Old Feb 18th, 2015, 04:32 AM
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om, the wailing women and mouse. She needs some Ativan for the night. Love the beagle also.
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Old Feb 18th, 2015, 05:08 AM
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I love macaroons and Versailles! The Hamlet that y'all passed up was a delightfully adorable surprise when we visited.

It's a shame that the unintended consequence of the smoking ban is that all the smokers are outside so those of us who like to dine al fresco now dine with concentrated cigarette smoke, sigh.

Looking forward to the next chapters.
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