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Notes on Amsterdam, Bruges & Paris - Sept 8-28, 2014

Notes on Amsterdam, Bruges & Paris - Sept 8-28, 2014

Old Oct 23rd, 2014, 01:53 PM
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Lucky you! The number of days when the temperature in Paris went as high as 29° this summer can be counted on the fingers of one hand. The majority of those days were all during the same week, though.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2014, 02:54 PM
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Kerouac: The day we arrived was unusually hot. Though what baffled us was seeing people wearing jackets, sweaters, scarves and/or boots looking perfectly cool on days that hovered in the mid-20's. How did they manage that? We were melting in the heat, removing as many layers as we could and yet remain decent!
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Old Oct 23rd, 2014, 04:35 PM
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2010 - Really enjoying your report. I can't wait to visit Bruges and Amsterdam - it sounds like we would like them. Looking forward to more about Paris.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2014, 11:31 PM
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FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 19TH

Woke up this morning after a good night's sleep wondering, "Am I still dreaming or am I really here in Paris?" Oh, it was lovely to be me!

We planned to have a leisurely morning in the apartment. DH decided to start a load of laundry knowing that it took 4 hours to complete a cycle and we would gone before the cycle ended. After breakfast, we mapped out a route for this morning's venture out into the neighbourhood: along Rue Monge to the market at Place Monge and then over to Rue Mouffetard. We wanted to check out these shopping areas.

We started out at our usual brisk pace. We hadn't gone far when I had to remind DH that we had no particular destination in mind and no schedule to keep. Today was a day for meandering & discovery. In other words, let's slow down!

It was fun to look into shop windows of boutiques, specialty food & wine stores, bakeries, cheese & meat shops. It was also fantastic to see the displays of flowers and stalls of fresh produce. We were drawn into a few places to look at scarves, to check out the cheeses, jars of condiments and scotch! We did buy a few things: a few supplies for the apartment; a bottle of Macallan single malt scotch for DH who enjoys a sip in the late afternoon; and fixings for lunch. On our way home, we stopped at Franprix for a few more groceries including La Fermiere yoghurt sold in pretty Provencal-blue terra cotta pots. (I would be packing a set of pots to take home!)

When we returned with our purchases, DH's laundry was finished - hurrah! As anticipated, everything was slightly damp and highly wrinkled. I decided to continue hand-washing and hanging my things to dry!

Popped out later, this time in the opposite direction towards St. Germain. First, we went down into the metro station at St. Michel to buy two <i>carnet</i> - two sets of ten tickets. Whether we would use them all or not, they were good to have. Next, we went to <b>Diwali</b> on St. Andre des Arts where we bought scarves for thank you gifts: for our neighbours who looked after our house while we were away and for our friends who took our dog to their cabin for the month of September. Oh, and one for me! The salesperson did a wonderful job wrapping and attaching a colourful Diwali business card with each recipient's name printed on it to the correct bag ... even on mine! Last stop: <b>Paul's</b> for bread.

DH had a scotch on ice and I had a cold Pellegrino. DH read while he sipped on his drink and I wrote in my journal. Occasionally, I found myself gazing out the window at the spires on Notre Dame Cathedral!

We had a dinner reservation at <b>Saigon Pantheon</b> tonight. It was only a 15 minute walk there. It had a contemporary interior and an interesting Vietnamese menu. With drinks, we were served wasabi chips - spicy & addictive! We opted to have the 20 euro and 25 euro set menus. That way we could share 3 appetizers, 3 salads and order our own main-course and dessert. It was a fun way to try a variety of small-plate dishes! The food was very good and we talked about coming back again, perhaps ordering a la carte.

This area of the Latin Quarter had an energetic vibe. The bars were packed and restaurants were filled with diners. It was Friday night, after all ... or perhaps that didn't matter. It could be that it was lively every night!
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Old Oct 24th, 2014, 02:37 AM
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We'll be in Amsterdam next June, have booked the Brouwer hotel, a small B&B on the Singel canal in the old part of town. We then take the train down to Paris where I've booked an apartment in the Latin Quarter, need to get started with planning the rest of our trip, this TR gives me a lot of ideas.
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Old Oct 24th, 2014, 07:28 AM
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<b>John</b>: Happy to have you follow along! If memory serves, you are planning a trip to Paris in the spring, n'est-ce pas?

<b>geetika</b>: It sounds as if you have a nice trip coming up! For me, planning is part of the fun. Glad this trip report will be helpful as you plan your trip.
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Old Oct 24th, 2014, 01:38 PM
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SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 20TH

This was our 5th trip to Paris and we looked forward to a relaxing stay with time to visit new places and re-visit old favourites. It was fun to make plans as we went along, usually deciding the night before. Some activities were weather dependent so we needed to organize our days around the forecasts. And there was the concert we wanted to go to later next week. We got tickets in advance.

We made an early morning trip to the market at Place Maubert to get a bouquet of fresh-cut flowers for our dining table. I picked out yellow & orange dahlias - beautiful fall colours! While we were there, we got some fruit for breakfast. Back at the apartment, I set the flowers in water to hold until later when I had time to arrange them in a vase. We were anxious to set out on this gorgeous, sunny day!

We walked from the apartment to the start of the <b>Promenade Plantee</b>. It is a former railway line that has been transformed into an elevated walkway with green spaces & benches set along the length. Some of the arched viaducts at street level have been converted into artisans' studios and shops. We entered the walkway via stairs on Avenue Daumesnil.

I had read that the Promenade Plantee was the inspiration for the Highline Project in New York City. After walking the Highline this spring, we wanted to do this walk. The length of the Promenade Plantee is about 4.5 km.

There were many families & folks out for a walk; joggers; and others who sat on benches reading or were just enjoying the warm sunshine. What a pleasant way to pass the time!

Along one side of the walkway, there were some tall, modern apartment buildings. I presume for the residents that a walkway is preferable to trains rattling by. Although we did notice some security measures in place to keep vandals away from the buildings. It was fun to peer over the railings on the other side of the walkway to the street below. It would be lovely to see the gardens in different seasons!

We wandered into <b>Parc de Reuilly</b> and a came upon a vendor who sold sandwiches, snacks and drinks. We sat at a shady table with our baguette sandwiches and cold bottled water. The sandwiches were so tasty!

At ground level, we continued to follow the signs to <b>Bois Vincennes</b> along paths and through tunnels. Once off the path, it was quite a long walk to Bois Vincennes and to the Porte Doree metro station. It was about 27 degrees Celsius outside; felt like 40 degrees in the metro. It was going to be a two-shower day for us, <i>certainement</i>.


More to follow ...
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Old Oct 24th, 2014, 08:00 PM
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Hi 2010,
Very much enjoying your Paris segment and appreciate the additional comments on the Fleur de Lys apt! How did the AC work?
Looking forward to more!
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Old Oct 25th, 2014, 05:59 AM
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Hi powhatangal,

The AC worked well. In fact, it blew quite cold in the bedroom. So, at night, we turned the AC off and slept with the bedroom window open. The window faces an air shaft. Not a pretty view but as said before, the room is perfectly quiet.
Hope this info helps!
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Old Oct 25th, 2014, 06:15 AM
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We've had many good meals at Sorza so I'm looking forward to your review. My favorite on ISL though are the lamb chops at L'Ilot Vache just down the street from Sorza.
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Old Oct 25th, 2014, 06:43 AM
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Loved reading your descriptions of Amsterdam and Bruges which we visited a year ago about this time. Bruges became one of our favorite places - we thought we'd daytrip to Ghent and Antwerp, but stayed put in Bruges for four days, wandering the lanes, exploring the museums and shops and cafés. We too loved the market there. And Amsterdam- never enought time to explore all the sights and museums there- although the cycling culture was a real eye-opener ( and we live outside of Portland, OR, a real hub of cycling...). Pedestrians definitely don't have the right of way!
We are now in Prague heading to Paris (our ?th visit) and I look forward to your Paris report.
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Old Oct 25th, 2014, 07:07 AM
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It is nice to have a town/city return to normal after the tourists have left. In Pisa, one only had to walk a block or so from the Leaning Tower to escape things! When we were in Bruges many years ago, I think there was a lace-making group at the Begijnhof facility.

Enjoying being in Paris virtually with you. More please, asap.
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Old Oct 25th, 2014, 09:07 AM
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<b>TPAYT</b>: We were in Paris two years ago when we discovered Sorza. So, we were pleased that it still served up a good meal! Oh, I wish we had the name of your favourite restaurant on ISL. It will go on my list for a future trip.

<b>el13207</b>: We were surprised that we were perfectly content to be in Bruges for four days. I think it's a perfect home base from which to explore the region, either by train or car - next time!

Also, I agree with your comments about Amsterdam. There is never enough time! Had we known, we would have extended our stay to one week in order to see/do more. Vancouver is working towards accommodating cyclists. It's taking a 'build it and they will come' attitude. It would be interesting if the city did its 'bike count' in the rainy fall or winter instead of in the middle of summer. I suspect that our bike culture remains a fair weather bunch!

Enjoy your stay in Paris!

<b>TDudette</b>: << <i>It is nice to have a town/city return to normal after the tourists have left </i> >>... and turn it back to the tourists who are staying! Lucky us! ;-) We likely would have had a different impression of Bruges if we had seen it as a day trip.

More of Paris to come!
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Old Oct 25th, 2014, 12:58 PM
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SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 20TH continued ...

Back from our walk on the Promenade Plantee, we needed to cool off and give our feet a rest! I arranged my dahlias in a vase and DH ironed his laundry! Even his non-wrinkle shirts required a bit of a press - poor guy! We both had a bit of a snooze before it was time to get ready for dinner.

Thunder showers were predicted for this evening. We were glad to have raincoats and an umbrella. As it turned out, we hardly needed the rain gear for our walk to <b>Sorza</b> on Ile Saint Louis. It was busy when we arrived. Glad we had reservations.

The contemporary interior was warm & cozy with its red walls, evidently a good colour to stimulate the appetite. We had a most wonderful meal! DH had tomatoes & fresh mozzarella salad; braised lamb shanks & whipped potatoes and for dessert, vanilla ice cream. I had grilled eggplant drizzled with pesto & balsamic reduction; risotto with scallops and for dessert, panna cotta with berry coulis. We had a demi of red wine. It was lovely to return to Sorza, a restaurant we have enjoyed in the past to find it still good!

It was a pleasant evening for our walk home.
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Old Oct 26th, 2014, 10:26 AM
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SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 21ST

Woke up to a gray day but we decided to make our way to Montmartre for a Paris Walks Tour at 10:30am. We came up from the metro at Place des Abbesses, one of Guimard's canopied Art Nouveau metro stations. Naïvely, we left the umbrella at home and so, when the rain began fall - lightly at first and then, progressively harder - we decided to bail. Perhaps we could catch the Wednesday tour ... weather permitting. The climb down the stairs into the station was easier than the climb up. This station was DEEP!

When we emerged from the Cluny-Sorbonne station, the rain had stopped! We picked up some take away from La Piree Greek Deli on Boulevard Saint-Germain for our dinner tonight. When we dropped off our shopping at the apartment, we grabbed the umbrella. Time for Plan B: Musee Carnavalet in Le Marais.

We had lunch at a restaurant on Rue de Terence under a large red canopy. Here, the seats of the closely-placed tables faced out towards the street. We watched as people scattered when the sky opened up again. Fortunately, the downpour was short-lived and by the time we paid, the rain had stopped. What good luck!

<b>Musee Carnavalet</b> provided a fascinating look at the history of Paris - its architecture, society & culture. Our visit began in the inner courtyard with its lovely parterre with flowers and vegetables growing within. (I daydream about having a parterre in my front yard but alas, we don't live in a stately stone townhouse such as this!) The museum contained rooms of furnishings, decorations/accessories; interesting scale models; and collections of art. Of particular appeal to us was the gallery of paintings depicting street scenes of old Paris.

We took a circuitous route home. I was on a quest to find a shop that carried <i>mywalit</i> and specifically, a zippered credit card holder for my cousin like the one I bought in Lucca, Italy last year. DH was most patient as we went from store to store I had sourced and listed by arrondissement. So far, all the stores on my list were no longer in business - darn! Guess it would have been easier to pick up the credit card holder when I saw it in Lucca!

Our Greek dinner was surprisingly fresh and tasty! We had humus & bread, Greek salad, sweet peppers stuffed with cheese and spanakopita ... though the spanakopita would have been better reheated in an oven rather a microwave. We followed this with cups of tea and the last of our Belgium chocolates which we had been hoarding.

We were glad that we decided to stay in this evening. The weather had turned blustery & cold.
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Old Oct 26th, 2014, 11:00 AM
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ttt
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Old Oct 26th, 2014, 11:46 AM
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Following along - what a great report!
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Old Oct 26th, 2014, 12:33 PM
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Thanks for following along!

Just a few notes about my previous post:

> You will NOT find <i>Rue de Terence</i> in the Marais! It should read <i>Rue de Turenne</i>.

> I do know how to spell <i>hu<u>mm</u>us</i>, that delicious Middle Eastern chickpea dish. <i>Humus</i> ... well, that is something else!

The self-correct feature on my tablet sure makes for 'interesting' reading! ;-)
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Old Oct 26th, 2014, 12:48 PM
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I am still following along and enjoying this report. I try to pop into Musee Carnavalet every time I'm in Paris. I like the building, there's usually something I've not noticed before, and of course it's free so why not?
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Old Oct 26th, 2014, 02:04 PM
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MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 22ND

I was enchanted & inspired by the book, <i>Paris to the Past: Traveling Through French History By Train</i>. I pitched two destinations to DH: Saint-Denis & Rouen. I must have done a good job because we put them on our list of possibilities for day trips.

With jackets in hand and metro tickets in our pockets, we were going to <b>Saint-Denis</b> today. We were aware that Line 13 split at Fourche station. So, what were the odds that the train we were riding would take us in the direction of Saint-Denis University, not Asnieres-Gennevilliers? Do we get off or do we stay on? We decided to stay on and <i>naturellement</i> that was the wrong choice! No worries ... it was just a simple matter of getting off at the next station and backtracking to Fourche station to catch the correct train. It only added about 15 minutes to our trip.

We came up the escalator from the Basilique de Saint-Denis metro station into a shopping mall. According to my notes, the Basilique de Saint-Denis was not far away.

Our initial approach was disappointing. The exterior of the cathedral facing the square was undergoing an extensive restoration and was under wraps. But entering the 12th century cathedral was a different experience. We were not prepared for what we saw: a soaring light-filled interior and beautiful stained-glass windows! It took my breath away! It was an architectural marvel for its time using techniques such as a cross-ribbed vault design, the first in a Gothic cathedral. It was the first time stained glass was used for large windows. There was one rose window that was particularly beautiful.

The Basilique de Saint-Denis is the necropolis (burial palace) of the Kings of France and their families. It was fascinating to see their stone tombs and effigies.

We ended our visit with a walk through the crypt. We were glad to have our jackets. It was cold down there.

Over lunch at Mets du Roy across the square, DH & I thought we would have benefitted from a guided tour today like the one we took of the cathedral at Chartres with Malcolm Miller (2012). There is so much history, architecture and religious art in Chartres and here, in Saint-Denis - much more than I could absorb in a cursory read from a book! I understood why Ina Caro returned to Basilique de Saint-Denis over and over. We may return, too ... one day!

Tonight we went for dinner at <b>Le Trumilou</b> on Quai de l'Hotel de Ville. We tried not to let the pinball machine at the entrance put us off. We were led to a table in an adjacent room. Le Trumilou was in fact, a charming, family-run restaurant. Good, simple food. Friendly staff. DH started with a country pate; had veal with mushroom sauce + pomme frites; and for dessert, an apple tart. I had grilled beef + pomme frites; spinach which we shared; and for dessert, crème caramel. It was exactly what we were hankering for tonight!

Cool evening. Fall has definitely arrived.
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