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Paris around Thanksgiving 2013 - brief report

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Jan 14th, 2014, 10:28 PM
  #1
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Paris around Thanksgiving 2013 - brief report

Since Paris has been so well covered on the forums, I'll be brief.

We had a week long trip to Paris around Thanksgiving 2013. We are a couple plus six year old boy. We stayed in the Marais (4th Arrondissement). We found it to be very convenient and centrally located. The neighborhood was active and hip. We missed out on the nightlife due to our young child and fatigue from long days of touring. Nevertheless it was a good base of operations.

We saw the usual sights and museums and climbed pretty much anything you can climb. The only height we missed was the sky scraper in Montparnasse. The fee seemed excessive, and we had seen the view from a couple of other vantage points.

The amount of history, museums, sights, etc. in Paris is just staggering. So, of course, we didn't cover it all. I'ld like to go back and go more in depth. But I think that would be after touring some other areas in France.

The highlight of the trip was renting bicycles in the garden at Versailles. This allowed us to get out to the smaller palace and circumnavigate the lake. There was still a lot of Fall color. It was tremendous. The rental was in the garden itself, and we came across it a bit by accident. I had looked into bike rentals on-line, but only found day tours. I'm not sure if this is a well kept secret, but I highly recommend it. Otherwise the 2,000 acres are just a bit much for walking.

The weather was cold for us, coming from California. Fortunately we had no rain. We saw a glimpse of blue sky once in a week. But we dressed for it and it was fine. Somehow the gray suits Paris.

Crowds were pretty well under control, given the season.

I highly recommend the museum pass. It allows you to jump to the head of the line which is huge at some of the more popular places like the Orangerie or D'Orsay.

Food-wise, we had breakfast in, picking up croissants or other pastries. Lunches we generally had at cafes. Dinners we split between cafes or eating at the apartment. We came to enjoy our dinners in after long days out touring and getting bored with cafe fare. Somehow cold cuts, cheese and pasta were just excellent several nights in a row. Our food choices were partly driven by having a young, picky eater and also just convenience and spontaneity.

One minor negative about the trip: I was surprised that the espresso was generally not so great. I had found the similar quality issues in Rome in 2012. I mentioned it at the Peet's coffee I frequent and they thought it was due to the quality of beans and roast choices.

In closing, if you have not already been to Paris, you must go. We had a very nice time. A week was a good amount. We did not feel as though we had over-stayed. And, as mentioned above, there was so much more to see that we did not get to.
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Jan 15th, 2014, 03:31 AM
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Coffee is mentioned every which way in trip reports but one thing to remember is that coffee is never "bad" no matter what country you are in -- it is simply made to suit local tastes.
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Jan 15th, 2014, 05:17 AM
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I don't really agree with Keraouc about the coffee. I've lived in three different countries, each with a different "taste" for coffee. Yet there was considerable variation in quality in those countries. I like the coffee in all of them, but they're definitely different.

In Italy, there are bars with excellent coffee, and bars where the coffee has an odd chemical taste. The cappuccino may be made with good fresh milk or with the cheapest brand of shelf milk.

In the US, there are some bars with excellent American coffee, and some with monumentally awful coffee that's been sitting on an electric plate for too long. Good espresso or cappuccino are so rare that I've lost my willingness to try ordering them, especially given their excessively high prices.

The Netherlands had the most consistent coffee quality when I lived there over twenty years ago; I hope that hasn't changed. Even on trains, or from the coffee machine at the office, I always got a nice little freshly and individually drip-filtered cup of coffee. The only variability was in the beans. The roast was a bit darker than an American roast, but not as dark as the French.
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Jan 15th, 2014, 10:08 AM
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can never have too much of Paris..
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Jan 15th, 2014, 10:12 AM
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Crowds were pretty well under control, given the season.

Not sure what this means.
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Jan 17th, 2014, 08:59 AM
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Thank you for your report.
Would you recommend the apartment you rented? Could you share more information about it?
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Jan 17th, 2014, 01:35 PM
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Here is the apartment and service through which we rented:

http://www.clickappart.com/apartment.../details/id/80

The service was good. We liked the apartment overall. Not surprisingly it's an old building that, I guess, has been divided into apartments. So there was a substantial, structural beam in the middle of the small kitchen. A bit odd coming from the suburbs, but not a problem as to functionality. Also we had to climb about three flights of stairs which may be a concern for some.

With respect to crowds mentioned above, it was definitely the off season and generally things were not crowded like one hears about during the Summer.

Regarding coffee, yes, I suppose it may have been brewed to local taste. My direct experience was with espresso. So I didn't run into an old, burnt pot sitting on a burner. I've seen somewhere that Italians cultivate bitterness as an acceptable or expected flavor. Or perhaps they are dealing with inferior beans and over-roast to compensate. I guess I need to go back and do a more thorough survey!
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Jan 18th, 2014, 10:26 PM
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thank you for sharing piles of paper. I also disagree with kerouac on coffee. I like to think i'm a seasoned coffee drinker who can appreciate good and bad coffee in any country. Roast, bean quality, water quality, temperature, freshness all have a part to play. There's no way you can tell me that an Italian who stops at an American gas station for some Folger's instant coffee is WRONG for thinking he's drinking warm dirt water. all subjective
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Jan 19th, 2014, 01:30 AM
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Over the years of our many trips to Paris we have stayed on Rue Ste Croix de la Bretonnerie twice; once in a hotel and once in an apartment rented through rentparis. We love the marais and that street in particular is well situated for walking and not far from the metro.
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Jan 24th, 2014, 05:35 PM
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Thanks for the idea about cycling at Versailles. We are going to Paris in June and that sounds absolutely wonderful. I've been to Versailles twice but that's something I've never done. I've only seen the main palace.
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Jan 24th, 2014, 05:45 PM
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Your apartment looked nice. I am a coffee drinker and it has to be strong but not burnt tasting. starbucks taste burnt to me but Seattles best doesn't. I have had the best coffee in Germany which I would not have expected.
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