Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Paris-Immersion School in the Dordogne-Languedoc-Aix & Lessons Learned

Paris-Immersion School in the Dordogne-Languedoc-Aix & Lessons Learned

Aug 3rd, 2014, 03:58 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 180
Merci for reading & your comments

La_Tour_de_ Cause-almost there,

annhig & TDudette-haha-what is that quote again…”it’s the journey not the destination”. I am certainly reminded of this in the retelling,

LC Bonti-I seriously love your comment!

Kerouac-you’re so right-and when I remember this it hits me right in my soul & makes my face contort trying to understand the incomprehensible.

Paris1953-haha, yes, Sunday no day of rest indeed- I have been in the yard trying to tame the jungle.

Finally I get that shower and a nice bed.

The next morning I feel like I can do anything, like fly the wrong direction to San Francisco.

J has made it to Paris; we are still in the United States- further away from Paris then yesterday-sitting in the San Francisco airport on a 4 hour layover waiting for our direct flight to begin.

These last couple days S & I have been getting to know each other. I find out S is originally from England, a world traveler,easy going and easy to be with, which is a very good characteristic to have under the circumstances of the past few days.

Finally the counter opens and we are first in line to inquire about seats.

We find out this is a overbooked flight and sorry, but those economy plus seats you paid for months ago, with the extra leg room, yeah…they’re not available on this flight, in fact for the 11 hour flight you get to have a middle seat.

Not even the $35 San Francisco Crab omelet and fresh OJ makes me feel good after that news.

If there is a lesson here….I don’t get it.

On board, I meet my two seat mates, both smallish women, well groomed and nice (whoever is in charge-thanks for the break).

One woman, P, is excited for her first trip to Paris. I spend part of the flight going over her plans and giving her tips. Her enthusiasm is contagious.

I invite her to join us in a taxi from the airport instead of taking the RER, she happily agrees.

Finally after not much sleep we have landed at CDG-yeah…we made it.

Ahhhhhh, not so fast.

Next stop baggage claim.

In my 7 trips to Paris I have always carried on my luggage, but since J&S were checking their bags I thought might as well too, as I would have to wait anyway for their bags.

Yep, you guessed it; we wait and wait and wait.

Then give up-our bags are not coming.
FabulousFrance is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2014, 08:37 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,605
Sometimes if it's not one thing, it's another. I admire your attitude. Cool report.
Treesa is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2014, 11:08 PM
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 1,201
I remember our first trip to France in 1996. There was a rare direct flight from Vancouver to Paris and I uttered the following words of reassurance to my DH: It's a direct flight. What could happen to our luggage? Well evidently, the bags never did make it out of the YVR terminal. It took 3 days for our stuff to catch up to us!

I feel your pain. Waiting to hear how this little hiccup was resolved!
2010 is offline  
Aug 4th, 2014, 07:53 AM
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 2,849
Well, of course.

At least you are in Paris!
LCBoniti is offline  
Aug 4th, 2014, 08:00 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 180

2010-lost luggage on a direct flight-dang-never thought of that.

After putting to paper the description of what the luggage
looks like that holds all our worldly goods for the next 3 weeks and how to contact us to get to us our precious possessions that are in that non- descript, except for the pretty id tag, black luggage we are ready to leave the airport.

I shrug my shoulders and give a little smile to P who by now I’m sure has her doubts of why she hooked up with us and our bad travel juju, and say ok, let’s get this party started- let’s go find an ATM and taxi.

I am never sure exactly where the ATM machines are, but trust we will find one in the main hall. We find one after rejecting one that appeared to be a money exchange type and not one from a real bank.

Then we are approached by a guy who asked us if we needed a taxi, and of course we do, but then I get suspicious when we start to follow him and we are headed to a parking garage and not curbside. I start to make sounds of protest and he tells me, no it’s ok, there are other people in the van and it’s this way. Now I know this is not right and say, no merci monsieur and while he is still trying to convince me, head outside with S & P following me in complete trust that I know what I am doing.

Turns out I do, because there they are, the real taxis lined up curbside.

We approach the city and the order is to first drop P off in the 7th arrondissement.

Once I see the Arc de Triomphe I am no longer tired and weary. The troubles of the last few days disappear and I am back in the City of light-where I feel light, excited and energized.

If you don’t get it, you don’t get it…but I do.

“To breath the air of Paris preserves the soul” Victor Hugo

After our goodbyes- have a good time, we are now headed up the familiar streets to our apartment in the 6th on Blvd. St Germain.

We rented this apartment from Vacations in Paris


While it lacked charm it more than made up for this by way of location.

It was only up one flight of stairs, was very quiet at night-across the street there is a Starbucks and the Odeon metro and it’s walking distance to so much.

It is now around 2 and we have missed lunch with J and her friend, a French author whose book we read in our class.

Instead of 3 whole days in Paris we now have 1 ½ days, so no time to linger.

We freshen up and are pretty quickly out the door in search of something to eat.

I know a nice boulangerie nearby on the corner of rue Guisard that I frequented a lot on a previous trip so we head there for a quiche, and a fabulous pastry-mine a citron tarte, S had a flan of sorts that she said was delish.

It is an absolutely gorgeous spring day in Paris.

Not wanting to be inside we head to Luxembourg Gardens and do the full loop.

There is an outdoor exhibit with a huge map painted on the ground of significatant WWI sites and important generals and battles explained on placards around the map.

S, a history buff, loves this.

I am loving being in the park.

S wants to buy a few things until her luggage arrives so I take her the Monopirx on Rue de Rennes and we part ways.

I have never walked up Rue de Rennes, so what better time than now.

Nothing too exciting to report, the usual stores, Gap, Zara, a large Elam-where I buy a pair of PJs - I had packed a change of clothes in my carry-on tote bag but forgot a pair of PJs (small lesson, always pack pj’s too in your tote bag).

I walk up to the Montparnasse station where there is some sort of protest rally, cross the street, and do the other side.

Oh wait, I have been on this street before, here is that great kitchen gadget store that has goods spilling out onto the street and a few doors down the store where I bought those cute little desert plates that have pictures of pastries on them, and here is the little jewelry store on the corner-Saoya en Provence which has sparkly jewelry that I usually can’t resist, but today I do.

I walk back towards the apartment, just browsing and loving being in Paris.

Since my time is so limited in Paris I decide to go by City Pharma now to buy my favorite lotions and potions (26 rue du Four). It is near closing time and very crowded, but I know what I want, so as quick as one can be in that store, I get my things and go to the line.

Next there is the San Francisco Book Co on rue de Monsieur le Prince that I always miss, but by the time I get there it is closed.

Back at the apartment I find out we have been invited to J’s friend home in the 7th arrondissement for dinner-but I am fading fast and the thought of getting there and staying awake thru what is sure to be a late night is more than I am up for.

S agrees and declines the generous offer too, and we head literally around the corner to La Jacobine on Cour du Commerce Saint-André des Arts where I had a large salad and probably the best artichoke quiche I have ever had.

Before we go into the restaurant we passed Un Dimanche à Paris, and really, I cannot pass that up-have to go in and get a few sweet things.

We get a second wind at dinner and walk to Notre Dame; it is beautiful with the lights shining on it. In front of the church there is a group of in line skaters showing off their youthful agility skating fast and fancy, zipping in and out of cones.

We cross the street and pop into the bookstore Shakespeare & Co, where a book reading had just ended.

We head home eating my salted-butter macarons from Un Dimanche à Paris that I am now officially in love with.

Ahhhhh Paris.
FabulousFrance is offline  
Aug 4th, 2014, 08:35 AM
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 354
"If you don’t get it, you don’t get it…but I do."

I couldn't agree more!! It's as if there is more oxygen in the air there...

Soooo glad you are back to reporting!
paris1953 is offline  
Aug 4th, 2014, 08:40 AM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 22,279
Sighing for Paris (and Italy and Madrid and London and...)
TDudette is offline  
Aug 4th, 2014, 08:48 AM
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 2,849
I get it.
LCBoniti is offline  
Aug 4th, 2014, 10:05 AM
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 1,632
I am loving this charming and yet informative post. And as for your attitude.....chapeaux ��.

My appeteit for visiting Paris - never dormant - is all a twitter now, thanks to your wonderful descriptions and reactions.

MarnieWDC is offline  
Aug 4th, 2014, 12:56 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 3,228
more... more.... enjoying it!
surfmom is offline  
Aug 4th, 2014, 01:19 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 52,523
hurray, you've arrived. i knew you would eventually but shame about the luggage.

hoping it turns up soon...
annhig is offline  
Aug 8th, 2014, 11:50 AM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 412
Please come back and tell us more, FabulousFrance!
kansas is offline  
Aug 8th, 2014, 11:53 AM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 412
Oops. Just remembered you are from Hawaii! You may have weather-related issues on your mind. I hope all is well.
kansas is offline  
Aug 15th, 2014, 02:00 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 180
yes kansas, a little hurricane named Iselle interrupted my life for a week, but thankfully no damage, just the inconvenience of no electricity for 3 days and no internet for 8 days.

For those of you still interested-here's more of my latest adventure in France-

My last day in Paris and my first real day in Paris are the same day.

I have missed the special Impressionist painting exhibit at the Marmotten, the evening boat ride on the seine and the much anticipated lunch with the French author.

Things researched and planned have no place today.

Lesson for today, when you have no time for plans- go with what you feel.

J left the apartment early to spend the day with another of her Parisian friends.

I bop across Blvd St Germain to Starbucks & bring back to the apt my tall-non-fat-white-chocolate-mocha-no whip to enjoy with my citron & vanilla macarons from Un Dimanche à Paris.
A real amuse bouche moment-and start thinking- what to do with my day?

For even when I don’t have a plan, I still need a plan.

S has not been to Paris for some 30 years and wants to take the hop on bus to see the major sites from the comfort of a bus ride.

We agree to meet for lunch then head to Montmartre for the Paris Walks tour later in the afternoon.

I discovered these walking tours on my last trip and absolutely love them. They are inexpensive & last about 2 hours with lots of historical, interesting & fun details about a particular neighborhood.


I head out and walk the short distance along the Seine to Notre Dame-what a glorious day, the sun is shining & I am in Paris!

I step into Notre Dame to light a candle of thanks & gratitude.

I sit down and bask in the glory of Notre Dame-I have always been able to shut out the shuffle of humanity circulating around me in this church.

Leaving the cathedral I cross to Isle St Louis.

No shops are open yet which leaves the streets un-crowded and perfect for one of my favorite Parisian pastimes-lèche vitrine-which translates to licking windows-which I think is just the most perfect phrase for window shopping in Paris.

After I have licked all the windows on the street, the shops are still not open, except one-Berthillions.

Now some real licking can take place- Fraise des Bois ice cream for me-no matter that it is only 10:30 in the morning and I have already had 2 macarons-I am in Paris!

I cross over to the Marais at Village St Paul, an area that I have completely missed before. It has been on my list, but there is never enough time in Paris –so I’m glad I finally get to see it. Well sort of-the shopkeepers are just about to open their doors and the stores look like fun browsing stores, but once again, next time, I think as I keep moving.

I am headed to two stores in particular, Jacques Genin for his caramels and Cakes Bertrand for their perfume-they have a scent that reminds me of my youth, it comes in a sweet bottle that I love -it has a decal of the Eiffel Tower with a pink bow-and the size and price are right.

I follow my Plan de Paris map book-love this little blue book- it has detailed streets broken down by arrondissement and small enough to keep in my purse-I got it a long time ago at WH Smith bookstore, but I think they sell them at a lot of places in Paris, maybe even the tabac kiosks.

I am almost at Cakes Bertrand when a look at the time, tells me I am out of time if I am going to meet S at the entrance to the Louvre.

In a split second I hail a taxi and he stops- what,is my luck turning?

When I get out of the cab, I think, Oh No, this was not a good idea to meet here.

People are everywhere, sitting, standing, walking-how will I ever find S.
But there she is, sitting on the concrete planter next to the pyramid, just watching all the people.

I am amazed-yes, my luck seems to have turned.

We walk up rue du Bac to one of my favorite cafes, Café Le Flores on rue Grenelle.
Unlike the similar sounding, Café de Flore on Blvd St Germain, here you will rarely see a tourist.
Instead it is the local crowd.
The food is not spectacular but always good, with daily specials around 15 euros.

I discovered this place when I stayed in an apartment a few doors down and try to always come back each trip for at least one meal.

Once I saw the waiter shooing people away from sitting in the prime corner spot next to the window. Turns out he was saving the small table for a regular.

I have seen her here many times, I imagine she lives in the neighborhood; she is always by herself, always impeccably coiffed, not a red hair out of place. This time I was at the table right next to hers and I am close enough to see that her face is much older than her appearance and that she has tried too hard to make them match.

Lunch finished, we hop on the rue de Bac metro for the fast journey to Montmartre and get off at Abbesses, the meeting place for the walking tour.

Our guide is a young American woman who has a love for artists and theater which comes thru in her excitement of the telling of this neighborhood and the artist, musicians and characters who lived here.

We follow her up and down the back streets of Montmartre, passing the small tucked away vineyard that I have wanted to find, but never took the time, with the tour ending in front of Sacre Coeur.

We did not bring any water- big mistake- so the first thing we do is go into the souvenir shop at the top of the stairs and buy some. We pay to use the toilets too-perfect- water & bathroom break we are ready for what comes next.

United Airlines was supposed to call us to let us know what time our bags will be delivered but we have not heard anything. S is getting worried and tired. I don’t want to waste anymore of my time on United, figuring it is now their problem to get us our luggage. S decides to go back to the apt in case United shows up and I will go to the Cakes Bertrand store in the 9th arrondissement to get my perfume and keep going.

Lesson learned from last trip- its okay to split up when you want to do different things than the person you are traveling with.

We pull out the little blue book again, find our respective metro lines and stand in line to buy our tickets at the booth next to the funicular.

The young woman behind the glass is having a lively conversation on her phone, I hold up my fingers to show how many tickets I want and put the money in the tray. She takes the money as she continues talking on her phone and we wait for her to get off her phone to give us our tickets. Instead she wants more money. We explain to her we already paid, but she is insisting we pay her again. S and I both try to tell her in French, we have paid, until I realize I do not have enough brain cells to convince her and really we are just talking a few euros each, so we pay her again.

Back on the metro it’s a short distance to my stop -Notre-Dame de Loretta, and an even shorter walk to Cakes Bertrand.

I just love this boutique. I pick up my perfume and a journal and could have bought more but I stop myself from buying another of their beautiful bags.


I hop back on the Metro changing lines to Place Madeleine to do more window licking.

Passing Ladurée I do more than lick the windows-I go inside and buy more macarons.

I am really enjoying how this -if I have only one day in Paris, where do I choose to go, what do I choose to do kind of day- is turning out.

Next store on Place Madeleine is Mariage Frères-that wonderful tea salon/boutique with that vintage feel of stepping back in time.


This is my ritual here-I smell all the black canisters of loose tea that are on display & choose the scent which appeals to me right then-a sort of tea aromatherapy.

I am so relaxed that when the cashier hands me my change instead of it finding its way into my change purse, it falls to the floor, where a French man stoops to help me pick it up.

-He is trés chic,

-Me not so much.

Next I head over to Brentano’s on rue Opéra where besides wonderful books; they have a nice card and gift selection.

By now I am feeling quite hungry. I head to the Japanese restaurant I discovered on my last trip, Akita, which not too far away at 40 rue des Petits Champs.

The restaurant is empty at this early hour with only one other couple there.

While eating I look at my metro app on my i phone to figure out the best way to get back to the apt.

I call S and she reports our luggage has arrived and she is resting. J is still out with her friend.

Once outside I decide to abandon my plan to go back to the apt and instead decide to keep walking. I head over to Ave de la Paix to see the windows at Repetto’s.

Next destination is WH Smith bookstore on rue de Rivolli.

The late afternoon is lovely and it feels so good to be walking outside that in a split second I abandon that plan too and cross rue de Rivolli.

My distance to magic is just across the street in the Tuileries gardens.

Sublime is the word that comes to mind.

The gardens are planted in huge beds of flowers-all blues and purples.

The late afternoon light is spectacular, and all I can do, all I need to do, is sit down in a green chair, open my Ladurée bag, eat a macaron and enjoy Paris.
FabulousFrance is offline  
Aug 15th, 2014, 03:01 AM
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 6,629
Great report!
Cathinjoetown is offline  
Aug 15th, 2014, 04:56 AM
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 6,138

Aaaah, Paris! I am so enjoying walking the streets of my favorite city with you.
After all your difficulties getting there---Tuileries, late afternoon light, sublime! Drink it all in and move on.
TPAYT is offline  
Aug 15th, 2014, 06:39 AM
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 1,201
I have made a note of Paris Walks for next month. Also plan to do some serious 'window licking' myself while in Paris! ;-)
2010 is offline  
Aug 15th, 2014, 10:35 AM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 412
I am so glad to see you back here, FF. You write a terrific story!
kansas is offline  
Aug 15th, 2014, 11:54 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,766
Terrific report! I love your style of reporting, and I'm greatly looking forward to more.
Sue4 is offline  
Aug 15th, 2014, 12:13 PM
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 1,845
Sublime indeed. I'm really loving your style!

And I have also learned a lesson - I decided just yesterday NOT to take a carry on, just check my bag - bad decision, carry on now for most of my stuff, checked bag for the rest! Thanks for making me listen to that little voice in my head.

Can't wait for more!
sugarmaple is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 11:51 PM.