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October Paris trip report including apartment review

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Nov 1st, 2014, 02:32 PM
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October Paris trip report including apartment review

My husband and I spent October 11 – 19 in Paris. This was our first trip to France since getting an Andrews Federal Credit Union chip and pin card and that made things so much easier for us. It worked flawlessly for buying Metro and train tickets and made things much easier.

This was our third trip to Paris in recent years with the two previous trips being in 2009 and 2010. This was our first time staying in an apartment, which was this one: http://www.vacationinparis.com/listi...ce-one-bedroom
The apartment was exactly as pictured and was a good amount of space for 2 people. The kitchen was well equipped and the bathroom was fine but small. There was adequate storage in the bedroom and the bed was reasonably comfortable. If you can’t handle stairs easily you shouldn't stay here; there were 47 steps and they were somewhat uneven. The location was excellent and we had no real noise issues, but if you wanted to leave the windows open you might be bothered a little by the noise from a bar across the street. The sofas in the living room were not very comfortable and needed replacing; one had a large stain on the seat. The refrigerator had a bad odor inside it despite appearing clean. We concluded that we aren't apartment people, we like someone coming in to freshen things up each day while we’re on vacation.

Saturday was our arrival day and we were able to get possession of the apartment immediately so after we dropped off our luggage we headed out to enjoy a beautiful day. First we went to Galeries Lafayette since we’d never been there before. We enjoyed the views from the rooftop. After a lunch break we started on a galleries and passages walk using this itinerary: http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...es-revised.cfm. About halfway through we ran out of energy and headed over to Luxembourg Gardens for a while. The next day we started with the Paris Walks Resistance and the Occupation, Left Bank tour. The tour was good but not great, we didn’t feel that the guide really brought the stories to life. Also the group was rather large. After lunch we did more walking around on our own and then went back to the apartment to rest. The plan was to go out again in the evening to go to a free organ concert St. Eustache church but neither of us could summon the energy. It’s just as well since we discovered later in the week that the organ was undergoing repairs.

Monday we took a day trip to Fontainebleau. The chateau was not at all crowded and we enjoyed our visit. The website said that the tea room was not open in October but we were pleased to discover that it was open while we were there. Tuesday we started off at Marmottan museum. The current special exhibit is Impression, soleil levant and it is there until January 18th. It was excellent. We had pre-purchased our tickets but this probably wasn’t necessary since it was pretty uncrowded. We spent the rest of the day at the Army Museum. There’s a lot to see here! We saw Napolean’s Tomb and the World War I/World War II exhibit and that’s all we had time for. We could have easily spent a full day here.

Wednesday started off with anther Paris Walks tour - The Village of Montmartre. This one was excellent and gave us a great sense of the area. Our afternoon plan was to go to Musee Nissim de Camondo but we had heard of the show at the Luxembourg Museum, "Paul Durand-Ruel, the gamble of the Impressionists" and decided to do that instead. Good choice, it was an excellent show.

Thursday we took the Taste of Paris Tour with Paris Walks. We enjoyed this tour very much, the food tastings were good, it was a small group, and the guide had lots of good stories. We then visited the Musee D’Orsay, which is our favorite museum in Paris. We had pre-purchased tickets and were glad that we did since it allowed us to skip the line.
Friday we went to Chartres. We had hoped to do the Malcolm Miller tour at noon. We got into town about 10:45 and decided to do the self-guided walking tour offered by the tourist information center. We had to rush through it a bit and got back to the cathedral shortly before noon to discover that Malcolm Miller was not giving tours that day. We should have checked first. So we toured the cathedral using the audio guide and then walked around town some more. A highlight was the International Stained Glass Center, especially the modern stained glass in the basement.

Saturday was our last day in Paris and we visited St. Denis. We found it very easy to get to via the Metro. The contrast between that neighborhood and where we were staying in the 6th was interesting. The cathedral was fabulous, probably our favorite of all the cathedrals we have seen in Europe thus far.
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Nov 1st, 2014, 03:02 PM
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The apt. you chose looked just perfect, except for the stairs. Our 1st apt. in Paris was 67 steps up and since then we tend to chose just 1 floor up.

You sure used your time well and covered a lot of ground each day. What did you do for dinner? We always so enjoy the restaurant reviews.

Thanks for posting.
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Nov 1st, 2014, 03:42 PM
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Well, I don't typically post about restaurants because we're not foodies and by evening we're tired and just want to eat, so we tend to eat wherever we happen to be. One night we went to Le Relais de l'Entrecote and enjoyed it very much. Another night was this place: http://paris-expat.com/bistros/da-pietro/ which had very good pizza. The other meals were pretty forgettable.
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Nov 1st, 2014, 04:29 PM
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Le Relais Entrecote is always good for us. When we've had a busy day and no place picked out we say, Let's go to "One Dish."

Chartres sounds interesting. I'll put it on the list for next time.
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Nov 1st, 2014, 04:48 PM
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Nice report. I always like it when people learn something from a trip: "we concluded that we aren't apartment people". Some are, some aren't, and now you know which you are!

You jumped around a lot in Paris. In addition to wanting to know what and where you ate how did you get around? And how fully did you plan your days?

We too loved St Denis. You brought back a good memory.

Thanks
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Nov 1st, 2014, 11:43 PM
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Nice report. Thanks for taking the time.
I had dinner at Le Relais about a week before you, on the evening we could not find the Fodor's get together at a café in the next block. Having such a satisfying dinner made up for missing the Fodor's group.
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Nov 2nd, 2014, 02:30 AM
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Thanks for sharing. I've made note of the restaurants you mentioned.

I have Chartres planned for a day trip for our visit September 2015. So M. Miller is still giving tours? I've heard his are pretty special. Was the Cathedral impressive and what you had expected?

I have also added St. Denis to my list as so many have mentioned how wonderful it is.
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Nov 2nd, 2014, 05:30 AM
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Pat:

Nce report, very interesting as we have Chartres and St.Denis in our radar. Can you elaborate on St.Dens neighborhood?
Thanks again.
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Nov 2nd, 2014, 06:04 AM
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We spent two weeks in Paris in late September, early October. Although it was my 9th trip, we had never been to St. Denis and found it very worthwhile and interesting. The legend of St. Denis is well represented in the basilica and it is quite interesting to realize how many of the French kings are interred there.

The neighborhood is pretty dodgy and we didn't do much exploring. The Metro is quite convenient and we left the area to find lunch.

I enjoyed your report as we did so many of the things you covered. (But we are food lovers and had fabulous meals in Paris.)
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Nov 2nd, 2014, 07:20 AM
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Nice read! Thanks for sharing, Pat_in_Mich.
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Nov 2nd, 2014, 05:25 PM
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Ackislander, we are big planners so we had a detailed itinerary which we mostly stuck to. We got around mostly by Metro and just bought carnets as needed, but did a lot of walking as well. We love walking in Paris.

We had been to Chartres back in 2009 but returned to see more of the town. The cathedral is pretty impressive.

The St. Denis neighborhood didn't feel unsafe to us on a Saturday afternoon. It appeared to be a very lively working class area with many immigrants.
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Nov 2nd, 2014, 06:04 PM
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Thanks for your report. I like apartments but they are definitely not for everyone! I also once took a Paris Walks tour and it was pretty good, not great. Probably a lot of that has to do with the guide and the size of the group. Anyway, just as you are not an apartment person, I discovered I am not a guided tour person. So I haven't done another. Maybe someday.

I didn't think the area around St. Denis felt dodgy, either. I'd describe as you do, Pat: "a lively working class area with many immigrants."
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Nov 3rd, 2014, 04:49 AM
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Pat:
Thanks for your description of St.Denis neghborhood.also thanks to Leely and Mamcalice for their words . No doubts we will visit St Denis in our next stay in Paris.
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Nov 3rd, 2014, 08:47 AM
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great report. I will be going on my 4th trip to Paris next year and look forward to doing a lot of these things.
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Nov 3rd, 2014, 10:45 AM
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Isn't the Andrws FCU chip and PIN card great? We have had great success with it the past weeks here in southern France on the toll roads. We have been able to breeze through tolls with a simple "insert" the card and voila! Beats having to fumble for euros. We do still have an ample supply, because there still are a couple that haven't worked on the road to Marseille airport (from Apt area).

I have found that my regular Chase Premier Southwest credit card works well too, so I use it when I can for points.

(Neither of these has ANY fees. )
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Nov 6th, 2014, 09:08 AM
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Enjoyed your report, and was interested to see that you prefer hotels to apt's. I've always stayed in hotels on my trips to Paris, but wonder if I'm missing something not going the apt. route. Maybe not!
I, too, loved St. Denis. I went there years ago when Paris Walks did a walk there, which was fantastic.
For some reason they have discontinued that one. I would take it again, it was so good, with all the stories the guide told (she was one of the owners of Paris Walks). I do think it depends on the guide, and the crowd size, as to how enjoyable those walks are.
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Nov 6th, 2014, 10:54 AM
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I picked up a sackful of food bargains at St. Denis' outdoor market, relative to the prices at those in central Paris and even Ménilmontant. I'd love to go back and explore the cathedral and the neighborhood more, take the tram again.
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Nov 6th, 2014, 10:58 AM
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Those suburban markets are indeed incredible. While most of you will not be buying nightgowns for your mother in a nursing home during your holiday, I was flabbergasted to see that I could buy basically the same ones for 3€ when I am used to paying 19€ for them at C&A, which is already one of the cheaper clothing stores in Paris.
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Nov 6th, 2014, 11:18 AM
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I enjoyed your trip report very much.. and I too loved my solo visit to St Denis.. and I agree while area may be "working class" and filled with immigrants.. it didn't freak me out either.. I think some people have different comfort levels.

I stay in apartments and hotels on my europeon visits.. and I actually like hotels a lot.. I like having the maid service.. clean towels each day , bed made etc.. but hubby likes apts.. so we split our time( we usually go minimum 3-4 weeks.. )
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Nov 6th, 2014, 12:33 PM
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Thank you for posting. It sounds like a busy week.

cynthia, we wondered what happened to you. And to be so close.
Le Relais is wonderful.
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