One blissful week alone in Paris...

Old Aug 25th, 2005, 05:23 PM
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Hi Ira.

Well, there is a little bit more to that story. This gentleman, although married, was apparently looking for some extracurricular companionship. "A little variety... makes the marriage better... yada, yada, yada." He said he was just looking for a little "tenderness." Is that what they're calling it these days?

Anyway, you can see how my faux pas made me so terribly embarrassed!
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Old Aug 25th, 2005, 07:43 PM
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This whole trip was born for me out of another Fodorite who some months ago announced she was going solo to Paris (I'm so impressionable), and a fantastic airfare that I found --$580 flying LAX/IAD/CDG on United. The flights were completely uneventful, but I enjoyed sitting next to a young french student on her way from Montreal back to France, who indulged me by letting me practice my french.

TUESDAY, DAY 1

We arrived at CDG around 7 a.m. (Thank goodness for Ambien!) Unlike my last trip to Paris, I was determined to pack light enough to be able to take the RER into the city(8E), without killing myself with luggage. Success! One "B" train later to St. Michel/Notre Dame, one short flight of steps and I was there!

How do you describe the rush you feel ascending from the metro each first time in Paris? It never seems old or worn. All at once, I felt overwhelmed, yet so at home.

Well, I have always been directionally challenged and I hadn't studied the map quite well enough. So, instead of a short walk down rue San Andre des Artes, I took a long walk along the river and down rue Dauphine to my hotel. Oh well, nothing says Paris like the view of the Seine and Notre Dame!

After a long trip, I was thrilled that my room was ready and the hotel was permitting me to check in at 9 a.m. Unpacked, took a well deserved shower (great water pressure and a half shower door!)and hit the road.

I spent about an hour and a half walking aimlessly through St. Germain, taking in the sights, sounds, smells and shops. Although somewhat prepared, I was a bit disappointed at the many August closings that I came across: many of the restaurants I had wanted to try (Allard, Fish and others), Le Dernierre Goutte, and ALL of rue Jacob. I did go into the Anglaterre, and said hello for Miss Scarlett! It is a beautiful hotel.

I stopped for lunch at Aux chai de L'abbaye, where I had deux verres de sancerre and a nice cold salmon plate! On my way back home, I stopped for a palmier (of course!), and flowers and wine (from Nicholas) for my room.

Out again, over the Pont Neuf to the right bank and it was time for a cafe stop. Ain't Paris grand?

On my last trip, I had made it to the beautiful St. Chappelle, but not the Conciergerie. It is a beautiful piece of architecture, an old city building and prison, but somewhat disappointing as a museum. They did have a nice exhibit of photos from India. I'm not sure of the connection, though.

Through the Place Dauphine and on to Le Marais, an area I had promised to explore further. After walking and walking, past the hotel de ville (BTW, the strip of "plage" right here is really neat, with performers and volleyball courts), past the Pompidou center, I decided on the musee d'art et d'histoire de judiasme. Wow! A very worthwhile museum for anyone interested in Jewish history (including some moving WWII exhibits), culture, relics and art.

Thereafter, I window shopped my way to the Place des Vosges, which was filled with Parisiens, young and old. After a stroll in the park, and a visit to the beautiful hotel there, my feet were ready for another glass or 2 of wine, so they took me to Ma Bourgongne, where we enjoyed more Sancerre and views of the park.

At some point, I walked back to my neighborhood, St. Germain, and unfortunately decided on my first night's dinner at Le Procope. It's nice inside, but the food left a lot to be desired. Pate maison and a dry chicken breast, with yet more wine, for only 20E. Never had another bad meal the whole trip.







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Old Aug 25th, 2005, 07:51 PM
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Three weeks from today, my husband and I will be headed back to Europe together for the 2nd time in 2 years. We are meeting our parents in Paris for a week after we have a weekend in London on our own.

The first time I went to Paris, I was fully expecting at least SOME French attitude. LoveItaly -- I must say, I got more "attitude" in the week I was in Italy than I did in Paris from the French...I learned quickly to lower my expectations of Italians, but was nevertheless disappointed at their relative unfriendliness as compared to the Londoners and Parisians I'd met before my arrival.

In Paris, it's as simple as learning to say "Bonjour Madam/Monsieur" as you enter and "Merci!" as you leave...they hear my accent and break out their English quickly. The only time I had a problem -- if you can call it that -- was when I started with "Hello" in English to a subway attendant, who with one scoff made me realize I'd broken the rule of niceties in Paris, and that is to simply say "hello" in French first.

Overall we found the French very welcoming and helpful. I hope on my trip next month to be one of wandering the streets as the OP Iregeo did.

Iregeo -- glad to hear you had a wonderful time. I always see my hometown with new eyes upon return, that's for sure...for worse sometimes, but also for the better at others.

Happy travels,

Jules
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Old Aug 25th, 2005, 07:57 PM
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Iregeo, I notice you went to Ma Bourgogne. That is a great restaurant for peoplewatching as it's right across from Place des Vosges.
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Old Aug 25th, 2005, 07:59 PM
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Wow, I see what you mean by walking 10-12 miles a day. I think I need to rest here for a while.

Any problems with solo eating in restaurants?
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Old Aug 25th, 2005, 08:00 PM
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Hi Jules, I CAN do the greeting and the thank you!!! Think that is the extent of my French vocabulary though, LOL.

I am sorry that you didn't meet a lot of pleasant Italians. That makes me feel bad.

I am not going to Europe this year but I am seriously thinking of "thinking" about going to Paris next year. I have a beautiful friend in the region of Veneto who loves Paris and has not been there for ages. It would be wonderful if she could join me. And, oh, I just thought of something. She does speak French as she was educated by French nuns. I have been wanted to do something special for my friend...maybe that would be a workable plan.

Thanks everyone for all your ecouragement, it is trully appreciated.

Am going to read the other threads here tomorrow. For once I am going to bed early. Take care.
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Old Aug 25th, 2005, 08:12 PM
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Hi Simone.

Careful, don't rest too much or you won't be able to walk as much as you need to in Paris!

As for eating alone, I had no problems at all. I'm sure that some people were looking at me, but I'm used to spending time alone so it didn't trouble me in the least. Most of the time, I saw at least one other "single" in the restaurant I was in.

There was only one time I was given a less desireable table. It was at La Cigale Recamier, 4 rue Recamier, in the 7th. It is a wonderful restaurant which serves awesome souffles. I've been there before, and will go again, even though I think thery're snooty and rude. When I did not like the outdoor table they put me at (in a corner practically in the service area), I asked to be reseated inside. It was a much nicer table and lunch was fabulous!

What are your concerns about eating alone?
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Old Aug 25th, 2005, 08:17 PM
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Actually, I donít think I would feel self-conscious. I ate alone while on business and never felt uncomfortable.

I worry about getting a reservation, a good table or decent service.
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Old Aug 26th, 2005, 01:15 AM
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ooooh, iregeo, I'm almost sorry I opened this thread! Your trip report so far is so lovely, and hit the nail on the head for me enough that it brought tears to my eyes.

siiiiigggggggggghhhhhhh I need to go back!!
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Old Aug 26th, 2005, 06:05 AM
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My DH and I visited Paris and Provence in May. I have been to France many times and do speak French but couldn't believe how much fluency I had lost. I just wanted to be mistaken for a French woman and it didn't happen!!!

I pined away at home for about 1 month after our return everything seemed so lacklustre. It was an effort to do ordinary things. So I bit the bullet.

I'm going back solo in September to take language classes for 1 month in a completely immersion setting and revel in my chance to do whatever I want and see the places I love but missed in May.

I can hardly wait.
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Old Aug 26th, 2005, 06:31 AM
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MelissaHI, I'm touched that you can relate so to the emotion I was feeling during my trip. Being alone, I wasn't at all lonely. I was exhilerated to be in Paris!

jazzyred, you go, girl! I totally understand what you mean. One of my greatest goals for this trip, which failed miserably, was to communicate primarily in french. While studying on the plane ride on my way over, the phrase I practiced the most was "parle plus lentement, s'il vous plait"! Instead, I would always begin in french and fairly quickly end up speaking english. BUT, everyone was so nice and really seemed to appreciate my effort. The notion that the french are unfriendly is nonsense.

Going alone affords amazing freedom and independence. I'm usually a big planner for vacations. On this trip, I'd wake when I did, stretch and decide hmmm, what to do today? I promise, I was never bored!
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Old Aug 26th, 2005, 06:36 AM
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jazzyred, I forgot to add that I, too wanted so badly to be taken as a french woman. I brought only nice clothing and shoes, and really tried to put myself together each morning. I have to laugh, because the only people who mistook me for a chic Parisien woman were a mother and daughter traveling together from Maine! But, for one brief week, I felt like a chic Parisien woman!
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Old Aug 26th, 2005, 10:03 AM
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Boy am I ever relating to your report. I too went to Paris solo and absolutely enjoyed every single moment. It is a very easy city to do solo. I actually got mistaken for French a few times while waiting for a bus in Nice. Locals would come up and ask for directions. A few were a little surprised/embarrassed when they realized their mistake, ha. I can't wait to go back to Paris again. This time it will be with no itinerary, but just strolling the neighborhoods and letting what happens happen.
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Old Aug 26th, 2005, 11:27 AM
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Irego, your post comes at a time when I am having a real hankering to spend a week in Paris alone. I've never really spent time alone on vacation except for 24 hrs. in Paris, and my biggest concern is what I would do in the evenings, since I want to go in early Dec., and the sun would be setting quite early. Usually in Europe the evening meal is the "evening event" for us, but I know I'd eat quickly if I were alone, and the evening would loom long in the hotel room. (I have already checked out to see what would be at Opera Garnier on my "fantasy travel week"!)

Could you write a bit more about how you spent the evenings and where you ate, etc? Merci!
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Old Aug 26th, 2005, 12:12 PM
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Hi barb. I, too, was asked for directions, to which I had to reply "je ne parle pas francais." That phrase came in particularly handy when beggars extended an outstreched hand, which I saw quite often. To me, it was also suprising to see that most people asked did give them money.

No itinerery. Especially if you've been before, that's the way to go. You wake up in the morning, see how you feel, check out the weather, and Paris is yours for the taking. I wish you a beautiful trip!

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Old Aug 26th, 2005, 12:26 PM
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Iregeo,
I am so jealous, especially about the Museum of Jewish History. My mom went there on Christmas Day while my sister and I went to the Pompidou--now I'm thinking we made a mistake. (Mom said she loved it, but somehow managed to go through backwards!)

grandmere, I spent a week alone in So. France in January--eating out was still my evening's activity. No big deal at all. I have to admit I like French food and wine A LOT, so my enjoyment pretty much erased any initial uneasiness.

Thanks for this report, Iregeo.
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Old Aug 26th, 2005, 01:23 PM
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Hi grandmere. My advice? GO!! Paris was fabulous at night, too. True, the sun will go down earlier, but, right around the cocktail hour! Thereafter, you could return to your room for a rest before you begin your evening.

I actually had a long list of things to do in the evening, and I did none of them! My list included a concert at St. Chapelle (I've been before and found it magical), a Seine river cruise to see the city of light by the evening light, the Louvre (open until 9:45 on Wed. nights), the Orsay (open until 9:30 on Thur. nights), the Pompidou Centre (open until 9 each night, I think), a movie, a ballet and an opera.

Well, opera and ballet season has not yet begun, and I never quite made it to the others. I came so close to that evening cruise one night, but I was a bit chilly and decided to return to my room, and it was already nearly 11.

I, too LOVE french food and wine, so I was a very happy camper at night. I did meet some very nice people to chat with at dinner and will share it all with you in my next post. But, I must add, don't discount the beauty of just walking around Paris, even at night. I think that city is even prettier by the lights of night.

More to come, but now, I actually have a job interview. Wish me luck!

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Old Aug 26th, 2005, 01:28 PM
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Hi I,

>..you can see how my faux pas made me so terribly embarrassed!<

Even more wonderful!


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Old Aug 26th, 2005, 01:38 PM
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>I was a bit disappointed at the many August closings that I came across:..<

Many years ago, when Pompidou was president, I read a letter to Le Monde by a gentleman who was outraged at how everyone seemed to be taking August off.

He now had to walk two blocks out of his way to get his evening baguette.

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Old Aug 26th, 2005, 01:51 PM
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Hi Iregeo,

You sound like a woman who makes her own luck so I'm sure your interview went well! Fingers crossed.

I love the gentleman who was looking for variety...and he appears in the "fit to print" report, crikey!

I look forward to your next installment.
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