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Paris in the (cold) springtime/trip report

Paris in the (cold) springtime/trip report

Old May 14th, 2005, 02:37 PM
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Paris in the (cold) springtime/trip report

This was our first time in Paris and we are ready to go back. Rule number 1… spend the money for a private car to pick you up from the airport. It was worth every penny to see our name on a sign in this jet lagged foreign land.

Rule #2… bring lots of layers of clothing, a compactable yet large umbrella, and great walking shoes. If you are active folk like us, get a few pedometers just to see how much ground you’ll actually cover. We estimate at least five miles (on foot) each day.

Here are the highlights…

Day 1:
We arrived at the Hotel Verneuil at 9am. Luckily our room was ready and we napped till 12. I know that you are not supposed to sleep, but we were both like zombies and sleep was going to happen whether we liked it or not.

Lunch at Café Flore: Omlettes and café – this hit the spot, but we wish that we could speak French. Our waiter had a bit of a ‘tude’, but such is life. We explored Saint Germain Des Pres in the rain. We end the afternoon at San Francisco Book Company with a nutella crepe in our hands.

Rule #3 – Eat crepes as often as possible (they are delicious and also provide the extra fuel to keep you going).

Dinner:
La Petite Cour – This was a lovely and quite large French restaurant, more than a bistro. We sat for dinner at 8:30, which we were so to learn, was the early bird time. The normal dining time for Parisians gets busy after 9:30. This was our first experience with smoke enhanced dining (no non-smoking sections in Paris).

Day 2

Breakfast at Pauls Bakery on Rue de Seine. This place turned out to be our breakfast place of choice. We dined along side other American tourists and French locals.

We crossed the river, headed over to the Louvre. We carefully mapped out our plans for the Louvre over a cup of coffee in the museum café. We spent about 3 hours taking in all of the highlights of the Denon wing. Yes, we saw the Mona Lisa.

We leave the museum and head over to the Tuilleries Gardens, and relax on lounger-style iron chairs around the fountain. A brief nap and we were ready for more action.

We headed off to the Ile de la Cite (larger of the two islands) where we walked to Saint Chappelle. The entrance line was too long, so we decided to get lunch instead of seeing the church. (don’t worry, we did make plans to go back).

Lunch: A traditional baguette with ham and cheese was enjoyed while we sat on some steps that overlooked the Seine.

Back to rule #3 (time for another crepe – nutella of course. One is sufficient to share.

Head to Notre Dame, walked around inside then waited on line for an hour to walk up to the top of the tower. It was worth the wait. A beautiful view, close-ups of the gargoyles, tight stairway that kept spinning upward and upward.

Dinner:
Bistro de Universite – on rue de Universite- Small, friendly, wonderful. One of our favorites.

More to come! Thanks for reading!

~Brenda
from northern NJ
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Old May 14th, 2005, 02:57 PM
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Hi brenda, I have never visited Paris but since being on Fodors I read with glee trip reports about the City of Lights.

You not only write an informative and good reading report IMHO you two are great travellers also. It sounds like you really know how to enjoy Paris and take the time to just soak in the atmosphere as well as visit all the places that interest you. That is the best way to enjoy a place.

I look forward to the rest of your report. Do post it on this thread so it is easy to find. Best wishes.
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Old May 14th, 2005, 04:25 PM
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Brenda,
Great trip report. We have booked our trip to France for next March. I have had a wish to see the gargolyes on top of Notre Dame but haven't made the climb. I think my knees are aging fast than the rest of me so it will be 10 long months of stairmaster to get them ready for the 380(?) steps up. All I want to know is-will it be worth it?
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Old May 14th, 2005, 04:52 PM
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Really enjoying your report. We are planning our trip for next March. How did you like the Hotel Verneuil? It is currently on my short list. Did you have a deluxe room or the Standard?

Looking forward to the next installment.
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Old May 14th, 2005, 05:23 PM
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Brenda... I'm enjoying your report.

But the Cafe Flore is rather well known. I can't imagine the wait staff would not have a "tude."

ESPECIALLY if you don't know ANY French. It's important to at least try to learn some French.
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Old May 14th, 2005, 05:51 PM
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That was a great trip report brenda_s. I liked La Petite Coeur as well. Next door is Aux Charpentiers which I did not get to try. Glad you liked the Verneuil. For jgg reserve a deluxe double room because the std. double is very tiny although the bathroom is a good size.
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Old May 15th, 2005, 07:16 AM
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Thank you Francophile. After I posted that I saw your recommendation on another post for room #402 . We will be travelling with our kids so I am thinking Deluxe room for us and standard room for them. Thanks for the detailed info.
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Old May 15th, 2005, 07:34 AM
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This is not a good trip report to read in the morning!
I now long for a croissant from Pauls bakery!
Thank you brenda, for bringing it all back to me
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Old May 15th, 2005, 07:53 AM
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Hello

AGM: YES, YES, YES, climbing the stairs up Notre Dame is soooo worth it. It was one of my favorite things to do/see in Paris!

jgg: We had a standard room at The Verneuil. We loved it! It was super clean, super quiet and decorated in a beautiful French style. Also...greatest location!!! Yes, it was small but who cares, we hardly spent any time in our room. If we had a bigger budget we would have gone with the deluxe, but overall I was not put off by the size. Listening to everyones comments on the hotel I thought the room was going to be much smaller.

Danna: We ALWAYS tried our French first (not that we can speak much) and most waiters would hear the American accent and try to speak to us in English, or just slow down in French, not so at Cafe Flore...but maybe our waiter was having a bad day!! You are right you do have to make an effort with French and we did!!!

Will post out next installment later, thanks for reading!

Brenda
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Old May 15th, 2005, 07:55 AM
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Scarlett,

Yes...croissants and cafe creme at Pauls...I just asked my husband if we could fly back for breakfast at Paul's...ahhhhhhhh Paris!!!

Brenda
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Old May 15th, 2005, 08:07 AM
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Enjoying your trip report. I also agree having someone standing with my name on a sign after getting off the plane was wonderful. It was expensive but worth every penny for me too. Love to read these trip reports - it is like reliving my trip all over again. As an avid shopper, did you buy anything that will make me drool in my morning coffee?
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Old May 15th, 2005, 08:40 AM
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There is nothing at all wrong with sleeping a bit after arriving jet lagged in Europe. Everyone is different. I have traveled to Europe numerous times and ALWAYS take a nap. What would the sense be in keeping going in a complete fog? After a short nap, I'm good till normal bed time and can enjoy the rest of the day. And any jet lag is gone for the remainder of the trip.
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Old May 15th, 2005, 09:19 AM
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Brenda--

What fun to read your report and boost the excitement for our trip next October! What a long time to wait, but planning and waiting are (almost) half the fun!

Looking forward to the rest of your report.

Byrd


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Old May 15th, 2005, 10:32 AM
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On our last trip in October, we did a few of the walks in the "Paris Walks" book (cannot remember author as my daughter, who is in Paris now, has my book) and they had the mileage listed with each walk. I know we were covering 8-10 miles per day and didn't feel like it was too much at all.
A pedometer would be interesting, however.
I'm leaving with a friend tomorrow and meeting my daughters in Paris....can't wait to be back!! As much as I love to be in Paris with my husband, these "girl" trips are always great fun!
Thanks for taking the time to post your report.
We stayed at Hotel Verneiul last trip and really enjoyed it. We're trying Hotel des Saints-Peres this time....hope it's as nice.
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Old May 15th, 2005, 10:51 AM
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What a great trip report so far. I am so longing to be back in Paris, can't wait for our trip in September!!! We are a fan of Paul's as well.....I just shared your post with my husband and son...we are all longing for the pastries now!! Please keep writting, it is keeping my pouting at bay. : )
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Old May 15th, 2005, 01:12 PM
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Thanks Brenda. I will be heading to the Y this week to sign up for their gym. Now I guess I should find that thread on 50 something fashionistas in Paris. If I am going to be able to climb 380 steps the side benefit should (I hope) be a better figure. I should be rewarded for that, don't you think?
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Old May 15th, 2005, 02:40 PM
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PART TWO:

Day 3:

Have I mentioned this rule (#4 I think it is): a good umbrella is a necessity!

We start our morning at Paul's again. I just love their omlette fromage with croissant...yum yum.
We head to D'Orsay Museum and wait in long line for about an hour....it is raining on and off, but my hubbie keeps me warm and our MIGHTY umbrella keeps us dry!
We enter museum and
rule #6: when entering museum (especially after standing on LONG line) IMMEDIATLY head to the cafe with your 'museum map' so you can refuel with a cup of cafe while planning your tour.

That is what we do, we enjoy cafe in the beautiful cafe of D'Orsay and enjoy the big clock....

D'Orsay is wonderful, it is small enough so you don't get overwhelmed. Again I am amazed at the building, so grand, so beautiful!!!

We left D'orsay to do a boat ride but it was soo crowded they were not taking on any more passengers. The rain has stopped and I can take off one of my many layers of clothing...for now. We grab a ham and cheese on a bagette and eat it on the bank of Seine...ahhhhh

We cross Seine and head to ANGELINA'S for hot chocolate and Mont Blanc. TOOOOO MUCH SWEEETTTTSSSS..... The hot chocolate is melted chocolate (thick) with fresh whipped cream...we ordered two. The Mont Blanc is just decadent. Our order arrives and we realized we can never make a dent in this enormous sugar fantasy. So we slowly eat, drink and people watch...we got a table by the window. It was fun.

Head over to shop at La Samaritane. I get overwhelmed. I do love to shop however...I think there were like 5 floors of shopping. Way to much for me to handle, so we make our way up to the 9th floor and head to the rooftop. It is FINALLY sunny, warm and what a great spot to be at this particular moment in the day. A great place to stop for a cuddle, smooch and 10 minutes or so of peaceful bliss in the sun on the roof looking at this magnificant city.

We head back to the hotel and quickly change and head to St. Chappelle for a concert, however it is sold out.
Taxi to Eiffel Tower. WOW tourist central, fast food stands all over the place...YUCK. Who wants pizza when I can have crepes? We wait on line for 40 minutes and take elevator to second level. My husband wanted to go to top but that required waiting on another line for another 30-40 minutes. It was cold, we were hungry and the view from the second level was amazing...so we skip the top.

Rule #6: If you visit Paris during high-season expect to wait on lines for 30-60 minutes. Budget this time into your planning.

Diner at 'Le Temps Perdu' on Rue de Seine. This restaurant served pretty large portions, so large we don't have room for dessert (but I guess we don't need dess's earlier in the day!!!) I actaully am not a fan of the larger portions, but LOVE the fact that this city serves appropriately sized portions.

More to come.....
Brenda
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Old May 15th, 2005, 11:47 PM
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jgg, you are welcome. However, the standard double at the Verneuil is about 9 or 10 sq. m. For myself it was way too small. The double bed took up most of the room. There was a courtyard view window across from the foot of the bed; it was approximately a little over two feet away. There was a chair and a small desk in the corner next to the window. There was room to walk around the bed only. After two nights I felt pretty confined and I didn't spend alot of time in the room.
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Old May 16th, 2005, 04:02 AM
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Thanks for the lovely report, Brenda. We enjoyed our stay at the Verneuil 2 years ago. It's a great location and has such charm!

 
Old May 16th, 2005, 05:06 PM
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I'll finish it up...

Day 4: Breakfast at the hotel. Hotel Verneuil has a cool "cave" basement where they serve a simple breakfast. It was great!!
We head to Rue Cler for the street market. What fun!!! Reminds us of home (NYC)! We stroll for an hour or so and stop for...yes you guessed it a crepes and cafe! Walk around some more and head over to 'Invalides'.

It was raining and we wanted to get out of the cold...we probably should have gone to Museum Rodin instead. We are not huge history buffs so although the Invalides were interesting it really was not our cup of tea; HOWEVER if you are a history buff it should be a MUST on your list!!!

Take the metro to 'Marais' and let the fun begin. What a GREAT neighborhood. By now we are starving and hubbie wants to stop for lunch, but we have not yet arrived into Marais and WE MUST HAVE A FALAFEL. I have read about how great they are.
WE HAVE THE BEST FALAFEL OF OUR LIVES! yum yum yum yum. We shop, we walk, we sit, we get yummy baked goods at a great bakery. We stop for cafe. We take a break at Place Des Vosges.
I buy some accesories at 'Marc Labat'...a great handbag and necklace.

Here comes one of my favorites....
St. Chappelle...7pm...have I mentioned it is now sunny and warm?
A concert in the church; the sun keeps changing, and so do the windows. It was magical and took my breath away!!!! Great accoustics.

Dinner: Le Relais de l'Isle on Saint-Louis.
We make reservations in person before concert, the hostess takes 5 euro to 'hold' our table. This is a tiny (24 table) restaurant..GREAT food, jazz pianist and friendly service.

FUN day!!!! We walk back to hotel along the Seine...ahhhhhh!


Day 5:
Breakfast: Paul's (again!)

Metro to Porte de la Clignancourt for flea markets. This was fun, sort of like shopping in Chinatown in NYC. Cheap sunglasses, bags, lets make a deal vendors. We only stay for 45 minutes then head to Sacre Coer.
Very crowded, but beatiful...lots of stairs to get to the church. Also lots of street performers and men selling bracelets made out of string!

Metro back to St Germain. We buy bagette, cheese, salami and head to 'Luxembourg Gardens'. We eat lunch by a small fountain and take in the scenery.
We head over to the big fountain and the scent of flowers overwhelms you. We sit for a long time, just taking it all in.

By now it is 5pm and this really is the best time of the day. It is finally somewhat warm, sunny and EVERYONE is out. We stop at a cafe for drinks. More people watching.
Dinner: 'Au 35' on Rue jacob. We both had FABULOUS chicken dishes. I am still thinking about both entrees.

Final Day:
Cafe Bonaprte for breakfast. Walk across Seine and through Tuileries to Champs Elysees. Very pretty, but not what I had expected. McDonalds, Starbucks...am I in NYC?

Head to L'Arc de Triomphe and see the HUGE French flag flying, it was Victory Day the day before!!!

Walk back toward Louvre and head to 'WH Smith' an English bookstore to browse!
Back across river to left bank in search of cafe on quiet side street...the right bank can be very loud (drivers buzzing by)! Great lunch of salad and ham & cheese toasters...finally the sun is coming out..sort of...but I am still cold!
In search of Berthillon (the original is closed today). We find it at a cafe close to the Luxembourg Gardens, so we get it to go and back to the comfie chairs in gardens!

On our way back to find a great street
Rue Andre des Artist. Fun, busy, cute shops. I stop at:
"Des Filles a la Vanille" and buy the greatest, very French blazer. I wanted to get myself something special, but I wanted to stay below 150 euro! YAH...I found it!!!! The saleswoman was very helpful and very friendly! I am not used to be fitted into soemthing; when I shop for my tee shirts at the Gap, I usually don't have anyone fitting me!!!!!

Dinner: Allard. Expensive, classic French food...very creamy, heavy. Great dessert...Paris Brest; flaky crusty pastry with praline creme inside....sort of...hard to explain but DELICIOUS!

We have breakfast the next day at Paul's. Our shuttle is supposed to pick us up at 10:30am (flight leaves 1:50pm). Shuttle bus is 45 minutes late...AND they still have to drop off two customers off at their hotel. We wind up driving around city for 45 minutes in traffic. We are both STRESSED and don't think we will make our flight. Luckily we arrive on time with very little time to spare. My husband wishes we spent the extra $$$ for a cab! I agree!!!

All and all a WONDERFUL , FABULOUS, AWESOME trip! We cannot wait to go back, but first have so many other places we want to see (eventually)!

Thanks for reading...I love this site, it was instrumental in helping me plan this trip!

-Brenda
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