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Observations and new stuff I learned in Paris

Observations and new stuff I learned in Paris

Apr 17th, 2007, 10:44 AM
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Observations and new stuff I learned in Paris

Part 1 of 2

We’ve been to Paris many times and just returned from a two week visit and I wanted to pass on some observations and hints regarding changes that I observed since my last visit 4 years ago. JFK/CDG flights both ways were completely full. Our group of six adults stayed primarily in Paris with a 3-day trip to Normandy.

Since museum passes are no longer available at major metro stations, we bought ours at the Arts Decoratifs museum next door to the Louvre where there is very little traffic. Using the passes saves considerable time, especially at d’Orsay. Hundreds were in the regular ticket line and only 5 people were ahead of us in the passholders line at d’Orsay.

Lines were surprisingly long at most major attractions, even the Richelieu entrance at the Louvre had a 15-20 minute wait. The lines at the Eiffel tower snaked across the perimeter at the base 30 minutes before opening and the wait at 10pm was still nearly an hour. This is the first time I’ve ever seen long lines at Notre Dame in April. There was a 40-minute wait at the catacombs and an hour wait at St. Chapelle. The hop on/hop off tour buses were packed. I can’t imagine what June/July will be like.

Have alternate plans for closures. The sewer museum was inexplicably closed one day with no notice or explanation on the entrance. Half of the Army museum is closed for renovations. The WWI and WWII parts are still open. Line C to Versailles was closed over the weekend and this resulted in a detour to Gare Montparnasse station and a suburban train to the Chantiers station.

There is a new feature on metro line 3 that I hope will be extended to the entire network. The eight overhead maps in each train car have lights that indicate each stop. As you approach the next stop, the light for that stop blinks and then goes out when you leave the station, leaving only the stops ahead lighted. At a quick glance you can determine where the train is without having to wait till it pulls into a station. There seemed to be an increase in the number of metro trains during the day. On most lines the trains were two minutes apart during the day.

Saw very little dog poo. The new enforcement must be working. Saw lots of jeans. The fashion police must be on strike. Saw fewer musicians on the trains. I kinda miss them. Park Monceau is still my favorite park, but they still won’t let me ride the ponies.

Most in our group used cell phones. Some activated local service and some used Cingular. Surprisingly, we found that those using the older dual band Nokia 6150 phones (bought for $20 on eBay) got better reception than those using the newer quad band phones. Also, you get a really strong signal anywhere on the metro line. I would have thought that the signal wouldn’t be that strong underground.

The consensus of our group is that Jeff de Bruges has the best chocolate for the money and believe me, we tried nearly every chocolate shop we passed. At $15/pound (US), it is about half what most of the others charge. Fauchon had some of the best but it is $45/pound.

jeff49 is offline  
Apr 17th, 2007, 10:47 AM
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Part 2 of 2

We rented a minivan that held six and we took very little luggage to Normandy. We ran into another family that rented a minivan that seated six, not realizing that if you seat six, there wouldn’t be room for luggage for six. Most minivans have fold up seats in the luggage space that if used, reduce your luggage space considerably. Each of the passengers in that family had to hold most of their luggage. They weren’t a happy group. When renting, make sure you know total capacity, passengers and luggage.

We used a GPS (Magellan Neverlost) device for the first time and I will never rent a car in Europe again without it. Easy to program and it gave clear directions in English. I especially liked getting a heads up over a mile from each upcoming turn or lane change. We used it for our three-day trip to Normandy and it worked perfectly. Driving in Paris in rush hour traffic, however, it another story. It is not for the faint of heart. Rush hour, by the way, now lasts about 4 hours in the morning and 4 hours in the afternoon according to one of our taxi drivers. He says it has gotten considerably worse in the past two years. He also told us that 7% of all drivers ride motorcycles and they cause 58% of all traffic accidents. Not a surprise at all.

The automated toilets on the street are now free. Also, the fanciest loo in Paris near Church of the Madeline that previously charged 41 cents is now free.

Someone posted a question about how busy Paris was at Easter. Answer: Very! Another pleasant surprise for me was that the department stores as well as most other shops were closed on the Monday after Easter, the very day my wife had scheduled for shopping.

One in our group left a few days early and chose to take the Roissybus to CDG. He reported back that there was no announcement at the CDG stops so you really need to know in advance which terminal you are leaving from.

The rest of used a taxi service recommended by the owner of the apartment where we stayed. He said they had minivans, spoke English, and had a reputation for dependability. We reserved the day before for a 7am departure and the very courteous driver arrived at exactly 7am. I don’t know the name of this taxi company, but the phone number is 06 07 60 49 14. We will definitely use them again.

We stayed in a 3 bedroom, 2 bath apartment in the 11th on Ave de la Republique less than 50 yards from the St. Maur metro stop. 4th floor with elevator. Computer with DSL plus wifi connection. Large & spacious (1450 sq. feet) with the living room and dining rooms overlooking the street. Grocery stores in three directions. Lots of restaurants nearby and a crepe stand on the next corner. The owner's daughter met us when we arrived and went over everything. This place can sleep up to 8 and it far exceeded our expectations. 200 Euros/night for 14 nights. Found it on VRBO #47170.

In Normandy, we stayed at Logis les Remparts in Bayeux. It’s a B&B that is run by a family that owns an apple orchard and has a cider/calvados shop in the same 18th century building as the B&B. The rate of 53 Euros/night for a double was quite a deal. It’s on a large square with plenty of on street parking and is just two blocks from the cathedral. http://www.lecornu.fr

In anyone has specific questions you can email me.


[email protected]
jeff49 is offline  
Apr 17th, 2007, 01:59 PM
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blh
 
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Thanks for the tips - we're leaving for Paris and Normany in ten days - made note of the chocolate shop and several other tips. Good to know your cell phones got good reception on the metro. Did you have any good restaurant recommendations - especially in Bayeux? Your apartment in Paris sounds like a great deal for a large group. I'm bookmarking it for future trips! Thanks!
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Apr 17th, 2007, 02:57 PM
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BLH

The restaurant I would recommend in Bayeux is l’Assiette Normande located at 3, rue des Chaneines which is very close to the entrance of the cathedral. Lots of traditional regional dishes. Prices were moderate and service was excellent. If you want to call ahead for reservations, the number is 02 31 22 04 61. Do try the regional ciders.

The apartment in Paris was the best we’ve ever stayed in as far as location and amenities. There was nothing we had to buy other than food. All household items including everything from laundry soaps to flashlights and batteries were included. The kitchen was fully furnished with every possible cooking utensil and three sets of dinnerware including fine china and glassware. There was a phone store at the entrance and a pharmacy and tobac directly across the street. Lots of traditional and ethnic restaurants within a two block radius. The owner called several times to make sure everything was OK and to see if we had any questions or needed any directions.
jeff49 is offline  
Apr 17th, 2007, 03:13 PM
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The following is my favorite paragraph in the history of Fodor's trip reports.

"aw very little dog poo. The new enforcement must be working. Saw lots of jeans. The fashion police must be on strike. Saw fewer musicians on the trains. I kinda miss them. Park Monceau is still my favorite park, but they still won’t let me ride the ponies."

I also appreciate the reminder to take my friends to the fancy loo near the Madeleine.
amwosu is offline  
Apr 17th, 2007, 03:22 PM
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Yes, I liked the above quote as well.

The only place you see Fashion Police is on internet message boards. They were disbanded in Europe years ago.
FauxSteMarie is offline  
Apr 17th, 2007, 03:30 PM
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amwasu. I like that. Whose trip report was that?
But also back to JEFF"S post!!!!
cigalechanta is offline  
Apr 17th, 2007, 03:34 PM
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ummm.... that IS in the above post by Jeff.
amwosu is offline  
Apr 17th, 2007, 03:41 PM
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OOPs sorry, I scanned the thread.
Jeff, Monceau th parc I wanted to visit when I saw the film, GIGI. Louis Jourdan was here in Boston in a play and I met him through my friend who did the theater publicity. He was pleasd when I mentioned, I loved his film, "a letter from an unknown Woman," that turned out to be his favorite and how I visited Parc Monceau because of him. (in Gigi)
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Apr 17th, 2007, 03:47 PM
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Maybe Spring is the new summer... I really think Paris is always busy in the spring as it's considered the time to go if you can.

We were in Paris at the end of July 06 and it was busy at the Eiffel tower so we walked up but elsewhere we didn't have to wait more than a minute or two to get into Notre Dame, no lines at St.Chappelle and the Louvre. It was hot though! Maybe everyone was cooling off somewhere else!

Thanks for the report loved your observations re dog poo!
highflyer is offline  
Apr 17th, 2007, 03:47 PM
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Jeff, what a witty, helpful report. We were in Paris for Easter, too. It took me a few hours to grow used to the crowds and get in the spirit.

I didn't see one musician on the trains.

Thanks, and I'm inspired by your conciseness.
Leely is offline  
Apr 17th, 2007, 04:22 PM
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Hi all,

Loved Jeff's observation about dog poo as well! I'm headed to Paris mid-May and I'm pleased to hear the street WCs are now free. Hello NYC?

If anyone is looking for a good little restaurant in the 2eme arr., one of my faves is called "Aux Trois Petits Cohcons" at 31, rue Tiquetonne. www.auxtroispetitscochons.fr, tel: 01.42.33.39.69. Innovative dishes, fairly reasonable prices, and someone who works there must be a native English speaker because the menu is almost perfectly translated. There is a more casual sister property (no white table cloths, simpler food) one street over called "Pig'z", 5, rue Marie Stuart. Tel: 01.42.33.05.89

Look for me to be at one of them the night of May 18th!
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Apr 17th, 2007, 05:05 PM
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Jeff, I enjoyed reading your report. We will be in Paris next week. Could you please tell me where to find Jeff de Bruges and the fancy loo near the Madeleine?
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Apr 17th, 2007, 05:27 PM
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Kay SD

Jeff de Bruges is actually a Belgium company with several shops in Paris and dozens all over France. I’m mostly familiar with the ones on rue Cler and rue Mouffetard but there are many others. Some that are near the center of Paris are:

2 rue de l’Equerre in the 1st
35 rue Rambuteau in the 4th
33 rue St. Antoine in the 4th
66 blvd St. Germain in the 5th
79 rue Sevres in the 6th
71 rue de la Boetie in the 8th

I especially like getting the little program that is enclosed in each box that pictures each selection and describes what’s inside each piece.

If you are facing the church of the Madeline, walk around to the right side and you can’t miss the underground loo. You need to stop in there, even if you don’t have to go. Believe me, it’s worth a visit.
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Apr 17th, 2007, 05:34 PM
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a
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Apr 17th, 2007, 06:48 PM
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blh
 
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Jeff - Did you request the GPS when you rented the car? Do you know the cost? It does sound great - especially since we have been pouring over maps for the last couple of hours!
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Apr 17th, 2007, 06:50 PM
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Thanks for the restaurant recommendation! I've got it in my notes!
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Apr 17th, 2007, 08:16 PM
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My family of six just got home from Paris tonight.

Not sure if I'll get a trip report written, but I wanted to add a bit to Jeff's comments:

Dog poo--you're right that they are inforcing it better--in the tourist areas. Go into the 15th, 11th (where we stayed) and you'll still need to watch your step.

We were treated to TWO men urinating out in the street (one stood right next to the carousel filled with children at the bridge by the Eiffel Tower) and one child (her father dropped her pants, picked her up and held her over the grassy flower beds that surround trees on a boulevard).

The Eiffel Tower lines were exactly as Jeff described them. I've also been there several times and have never seen anything like it. Seems we were there during the European school break, as well as our own. We went back again Monday morning and walked right on.

Now to bed...
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Apr 17th, 2007, 08:44 PM
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goddessintl, I am planning to be in Paris that date as well. A much-deserved decompression from work. If you need a dinner partner, let me know.
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Apr 17th, 2007, 08:50 PM
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Hi Jeff, thanks for all the info. How about suggestions for the best time to go to the Eiffel Tower, day or night?? I know there will be lines, but I mean in terms of the view?? thanxs
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