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Lynne Jan 6th, 2003 08:11 AM

Our Fabulous French Adventure Pt 3 Paris
MONDAY<BR>We woke up early and took a ride over the Alpilles (I love that ride) to Parador looking for a place for breakfast. We found a bakery and a local caf&eacute; for coffee. It was very wind and cool. The mistral had arrived in full force. We were leaving just in time. We drove to Avignon and finally found the Gard, train station. We took the SNCF to Paris. I booked first class and was glad I did. If you have large luggage, make sure you’re on the platform before the train arrives, so you can get on first. The luggage bins fill up quickly. We were on the second floor. The passing scenery included many white cows. Yippy, were are in Paris! Our hotel was on the left bank in St Germaine des Pres. I chose the Artus Hotel (formally Buci Latin), 34 Rue de Buci, because of it’s location and all of the many raves we had read on the boards. One comment was how helpful the staff was, in particular one gentleman named Sanjay. I had already communicated with Sanjay via e-mail to make reservations for us for our first night’s dinner. He was so accommodating. When the taxi arrived, he was there in person to greet us. We have never felt so at home in a hotel anywhere in the world. The lobby was funky, and the rooms was just what I expected, terra cotta colors with a leopard rug on the floor and really cool lights that made the room very warm and romantic. It had air-conditioning as well as two huge windows that opened up to a quite alley street. The room was small, but hey, this is Paris. Michael was happy because there was a TV. He missed watching CNN World. The bathroom was well appointed. The best of the best was the king size bed with a huge feather down duvet and big feather down pillows. I asked Sanjay for two more pillows and he quickly returned with them. Now that’s service. This bed was heaven after our long days of sightseeing. One of the other assets was that there was a large Super-March next door named “Champion” on Rue de Seine. We stocked up on bottled water. The Rue De Buci is picture perfect, with lots of action, great people watching and cafes. We walked to dinner at Chez Maitre Paul, on 12 Rue Monsieur-le-Prince, also recommended by the boards. We ordered off the prix fixed menu. We started with a rich pate of foie gras and sardines with an eggplant spread and salad. We both had the Chicken with cheese and cream sauce. I know it sound very rich but it was so tasty, not heavy at all. Dinner with two cold beers and a bottle of wine came to 86 euros.<BR>

Lynne Jan 6th, 2003 08:12 AM

Paris continued...<BR>TUESDAY<BR>Complementary breakfast at the Artus was just right. We had croissants and rolls with butter and jam, yogurt, juice and big pots of coffee. Today was our first cloudy day and it was cool. Michael had to buy a fleece jacket. We wandered around St Germanine with my DK Eyewitness in hand, then over to L’Isle Le Cite to Notre Dame where we watched a great game of Boule in a quaint little park. We took our picture at the point all distance are measure from. The cathedral was still dark and opposing like I remembered, but still awesome. We walked down the Seine to check out Le Tour D’Argent, but it was closed. We had lunch reservations for the next day. From here we meandered past the Shakespeare &amp; Company bookstore into the Latin Quarter. Paris is so visual. You could spend the day just looking into shop windows and getting lost. We had a great Gyro sandwich for lunch. Afterwards we looked around at the restaurants I had written down from the boards and ones that Sanjay suggested. We found the indoor market and delighted in the smells and sights. We decided on Brasserie Balazar, 49 Rue des Ecoles for dinner that night. I had struggled with if we should go to Le Coupole. I had a fun meal there years ago, but had read that it had become expensive and touristy. So we opted for a true local Brasserie, Balazar. I’m glad we did. We will go to La Coupole next visit to Paris, just for the experience. Sanjay had made us reservations. He took care of our dinner reservations for all five nights. We arrived and were seated in a movie star table on the side, not one of those little tables side by side. The waiter was delightful in his brasserie attire. We shared two salads, one smoked goose over mixed greens and the other hot goat cheese over greens. We shared two entr&eacute;es, one a perfectly cooked ray and the other a Sole Meuniere. We topped off this great meal with profiteroles, caf&eacute; and Calvados. What a fabulous fun meal! Dinner cost 102 euros with 4 larges beers.

Lynne Jan 6th, 2003 08:14 AM

Paris Continued...<BR>WEDNESDAY<BR>Today we have a lunch date with a duck, actually #966,398 to be exact. There are so many great restaurants in Paris to choose from. Since this was our first time together in Paris I thought going to the Grand Daddy of restaurants would be an experience, and that it was. Le Tour d”Argent 15 quai de la Tournelle, holds a commanding view of Notre Dame and the Seine. We didn’t want to do the suit and tie bit so we opted for lunch over dinner. Although just about everyone was in a suit. We had 12:30 reservations so we decided to visit St Chappell. You need to go through a metal detector. There are two lines, one for the Palace of Justice and the other for Ste. Chapell. The line for Ste. Chapell was long. Both lines go through the same way, so get in the shorter line. We tried to buy our three-day museum passes but they did not have any. Sigh, we had to find the nearest metro to buy them. At this point it was too late to visit Ste. Chapell and make it to lunch, so we got our passes at the metro. A man tried to sell me a tiny mouse in a cage. I don’t suppose customs would approve if I brought a mouse home with me. From there we went down to the Architecture Digs under Notre Dame. This was pretty neat. It was time for lunch. We walked past Notre Dame admiring the flying buttresses. Many people don’t bother to walk around the back of the cathedral. The sides and back are just as impressive as the front. At Tour D’Argent we were greeting by the doorman, then another gentleman took our coats and a third checked our reservations and then a forth took us up the elevator. Everyone was so proper with their white gloves. What did I get us into? At the top there was another greeter and the host seated us. We didn’t get a table by the window, because I had only made the reservations a week before we left for France. That’s OK, we got a kick out of watching the show. As our meal unfolded we relaxed. The pomp and circumstance was not our cup of tea, however the food was wonderful and the wait-staff actually lighten up a bit when we joked with them. We ordered the prix fixed menu, I believe 65 euros each (twice that at least for dinner). We were served an appetizer of Quenelles of Pike with a Mornay sauce. The portions were large. Then we had the Duck a l’Orange (#966,398), yummy. Dessert was an extraordinary Apple Neapolitan and after that a plate of petite fours and then, when we thought we were all done, chocolate truffles to die for. Stuffed! The owner came in with an entourage. He then proceeded to greet everyone in the restaurant, shaking hands. The restaurant is schedule to serve the 1,000,000 duck some time in April or May. We told the owner that he should pardon the famous duck, similar to what our President does with the Turkey on Thanksgiving Day. He thought that was a great idea.

Lynne Jan 6th, 2003 08:14 AM

Paris continued...<BR>

Lynne Jan 6th, 2003 08:16 AM

Paris Continued...<BR>After a long lunch we kidded with the wine steward’s assistant how great it would be to tour the wine cellar. On our way out the elevator man did not stop at the lobby but went lower into the basement. A young lady, who was studying to be a sommelier, greeted us. A women sommelier is very rare in France. She escorted us through the maze of over ½ a million wine bottles! This was incredible. We saw bottles of Cognac that were from 1851. Wow! During WW II they bricked over the cellars so the Germans couldn’t find and steal the wine. We left content and stopped at the Deportation Memorial, where I cried. It was very simple and moving. From here we finally saw Ste. Chapell. The stain glass windows were stunning. We walked all around the very large building of the Palace of Justice and finally found the Conceirgies. It was right down from the line for Ste. Chapell. Who knew? This was where the royals were imprisoned during the revolution, including Marie Antoinette. They have restored this grim place into a light an airy building. We walked back to the left back and stopped in the middle ages Musee Cluny. We did a quick march through the museum because we were exhausted. I needed a nap. Since we had such a large lunch Sanjay suggested Bergamote, a small traditional bistro right near our hotel. This was a cute small place with great service. We had a smoked salmon salad and a smoked Jamon and Cantal cheese salad. Then we had penne with basil and finally two stews, one chicken and the other lamb. It was perfect. Sanjay even stopped by on his way home to see if we were happy. Sanjay rules! Dinner was 58 euros. After dinner we walked around Rue de Buci and were enthralled by a man making crepes. He had quite an audience. Of course we needed to have one of his fine crepes. We choose a delicious apple crepe. Fini!<BR>THURSDAY<BR>Only two more days left of our whirlwind vacation. Boy vacation sure is tiring. Today was sunny, then cloudy, then showers and finally sunny. Now I understand all the postings about Paris weather. Be prepared for anything. We walked to the Louvre. It was great having the museum passes as we just walked in a side door and through security with no wait at all. You could spend months in the museum. One of our first impressions was that the Louvre building itself was a piece of art. We got totally lost, but that was OK, because we enjoyed the art and artifacts as we passed by. The museum has multiple wings, once you got to the end you had to go back, preferably on a different level, so be prepared for a lot of walking. We saw Mona, the Winged Victory, Venus de Milo, the absolute beautiful Michael Angelo’s Dying Slave and much more.

Lynne Jan 6th, 2003 08:18 AM

Paris Continued... <BR>We walked out through the Tuileries where school children were playing in the colorful Fall leaves, toward the Place de la Concorde. It started to shower, yuck. I suppose we’ve been lucky, our first rain in 13 days. We were stubborn and didn’t pop into the metro, but walked up the Champs Elysees huddle together under our tiny travel umbrella (bring a good sized one). After spending so much time on the left bank, we really didn’t enjoy the atmosphere of the Champs Elysees, but I suppose the rain didn’t help. We stopped for a quick lunch and the sun started to come out as we approached the magnificent Arc de Triomphe. My husband had knee surgery a few months ago so we were allowed to take the elevator to the top. The museum passes were honored here. What a fabulous view. Being in the center of the star bursts of roads leading out was terrific. The sun was shining bright over the wet city of lights, making everything sparkle. We had a tourist take our picture with the Eiffel Tower poking between our heads. We looked down and tried to imagine Chevy Chase as he drove round and round in European vacation. We decided to walk to the Eiffel Tower. It looked a lot closer than it was and we probably should have hopped on the metro or taken a cab, but it was a nice walk. Nothing can prepare you for the feeling you get as you walk up to and under the Eiffel Tower. Looking up at it is as impressive, if not more, than actually going up. The line was short, but it still took an uncomfortable amount of time to get to the top in the very packed elevators. The sad thing was that there were signs everywhere to watch for pickpockets. We made it to the top, wallet in tact, and enjoyed the fabulous view of Paris. Michael is afraid of heights and took one step out to the very top and claimed he “saw no good reason to be out there.” He heading down the stairs and was happy in the glass-enclosed area. He even found the horse race track, a favorite past time of ours. We were so pleased that we didn’t start here earlier in the day and go up in the rain. The afternoon turned out to be beautiful. I wanted to go to Les Invalides and visit Napoleon but we were pooped. We took a cab ride back (very inexpensive) to our hotel for hot baths and a quick nap. For dinner per our request, Sanjay had booked us at L’Epi Dupin 11 Rue Dupin, a teeny tiny upscale bistro. The prix fix was 29 euros. Be prepared to sit practically on top of your neighbors and very, almost too fast, service. The food was heavenly. I can’t remember our appetizers but we had beef sliced with mushrooms, goat cheese with endives and caramelized sweet onions, pork with trumpets noir el mort (death mushrooms). For dessert we had a big poached pear with a biscuit and some kind of chocolate dessert.

Lynne Jan 6th, 2003 08:19 AM

Paris Continued...<BR>FRIDAY<BR>Today was our last full day in Paris. How did it go so quickly? We saw ¼ of what we had planned to see. Well, I guess we will have to come back. We slept late, who cares. We’re on vacation. We enjoyed our breakfast at the Artus Hotel and then took the metro to the REC and the REC line C to Versailles. When you buy your metro ticket ask for tickets to Versailles and it will cover both the metro and the train both ways. This is very easy and took about 45 minutes or so. Versailles is only a short walk from the metro. It is truly impressive as you approach. We used our museum passes again. The self-guide tour was fine for us. The rooms were not too impressive, except for the Hall of Mirrors. Take a picture at the end looking back. It came out better than the one when you first walk in, plus you get all of the smiling tourist’s faces instead of the back of their heads. I still don’t understand way the beds and thrones were so small. I know they were generally small people, but if you were King wouldn’t you still want a king-sized bed? The gardens were huge. The sun was shining and it was hot. We meandered down to the Grand Canal. Did you know at the beginning it is 200 ft wide and at the very end it is 600 ft wide? This gives it the effect of being an even width the whole way down from the palace. We walked to the two Trianon palaces, Grand and Petite. This is a haul. We wished we had taking the tram in back of the palace. This is an on and off tram that goes to the two palaces, then to the grand canal and then back to the main palace. After the Petite Trianon, we did hop on the tram that took us back to the Grand Canal where we sat as the driver took a 10-minute break and then took us back to Versailles. I couldn’t walk another step. We were very hungry and had a surprise lunch across from the train station. We had two Croquet Provencal, a grilled ham and cheese sandwich with a fried egg on it. Oh my cholesterol! We also, because we were starving, split a Parisian Hot Dog. I know after all of our gourmet meals this sounds silly, but it was great, on crusty French bread. People are right who post that eating bread will never be the same after eating it in France. We were spoiled. We headed back to St Germaine des Pres where we bought a box of chocolates for the staff at Artus. They were all so helpful and friendly. We took a well deserved nap. What shall we do when we get back to the real world? Curl up at work and take a late afternoon nap?

Lynne Jan 6th, 2003 08:20 AM

Paris End...<BR> Tonight’s dinner was a wonderful way to end our grand adventure. We ate at La Rotisserie D’un Face 2 Rue Christine. They had a prix fix with supplemental pricing for certain items. We started with a huge portion of fois gras and then frog’s legs to die for. Michael had a leg of rabbit and I had a juicy veal chop with morels, and mashed potatoes. We had a scary but yummy cheese plate and a walnut caramel ice cream cake and a chocolate pudding cake. The boards were right again. The desserts were scrumptious! We had a lovely white wine and had two glasses of Beaujolais and the total was 135 euros. I said to Michael, “it didn’t seem like we were in Paris for five nights.” He proclaimed “no, it seems like five years!” I think we were ready to go home. This is the true sign of a successful vacation. <BR>SATURDAY<BR>I ate my last roll heaped with real French butter. Diet City here we come! Actually, we didn’t gain a pound. We both lost a few, probably from all of the walking and climbing we did. We said good-bye to our dear friend, Sanjay. We took a taxi to the airport, 53 euros. The driver drove like a crazy man. I couldn’t wait to get out. We bought sandwiches and a nice stinky Camembert and crusty rolls for the flight. We tossed our remaining euros in the World Wild Life Panda charity bin. Au Revoir France we loved every minute. We were disappointed that our American Airline flight back was older and didn’t have the little individual TV’s to play with. Oh well, let’s surprise our fellow travelers and open our aromatic Camembert and enjoy one last taste of France.

Eye Spy Jan 6th, 2003 08:29 AM

Lynne, thanks for sharing your trip. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I would have loved to try a glass of the cognac from 1851! Incredible!

Yawn Jan 6th, 2003 08:57 AM

Ho hum. What makes you think we'd be interested in every little thing you did? But, forgot to report your bathroom stops!

uhoh Jan 6th, 2003 09:17 AM

Terrific report! We'll be back in Paris in May for the third time since 1998. It is such a wonderful city.

petty correction Jan 6th, 2003 09:58 AM

Loved reading your post, especially your description of all the meals...YUM!! However, didn't that scene in National Lampoon's European vacation take place in London? I thought Clark kept pointing out &quot;Big Ben, kids, Parliament&quot; again and again. Too funny!!

great Jan 6th, 2003 10:30 AM

Hi Lynne:<BR><BR>Thanks for the wonderful and detailed report. I love it when people post reports like yours! This is a board about travel after all.<BR><BR>As for you yawn, go ahead and go to sleep. You're probably a much more interesting person when you're unconcious, anyway!<BR><BR>

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