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yellowrose477 Mar 25th, 2009 06:50 PM

Paris in the early spring
This was a trip for just my DH and I. Our 25th anniversary was in December and this was our celebratory trip. We arrived at the Minneapolis airport at approx. 11:00 a.m. for our trip to Detroit. Because we were flying on frequent flyer miles, NWA does not like to make it too comfortable, so we had some long layovers. We took off in clear, blue skies and landed at Detroit and had a 4 hour layover. Of course we did not leave Detroit on time. We finally left at 8:30 p.m. I took my xanax and decided to forgo supper and try to get some rest. The flight was very quiet. There were no babies crying and I didn't even hear any children. We were placed right by the toilet, but on Air France they have a nice curtain they put up next to the toilet and it did help to block out the noise. I believe that I did doze off and on, but don't understand the people that can just nod off. I never get good rest on a plane. We landed in Paris at approx. 9:45 a.m. We had a mix up with our shuttle that we had pre-booked. They had a typo and had come to pick us up a week earlier! So we just flagged down a taxi and it only cost 40 Euro. It was well worth it. We knew that our apartment was not going to be quite ready for us, but we were able to leave our luggage there. Our cab driver told us that we were in a "very good spot" and I remembered all of the help that I had received on this web site and know that we would probably not have ended up in such a great location without all of the help I received. We found the apartment easily and used the code that had been supplied to us. We rented through parisbestlodge and the instructions were very clear. We climbed up the three flights of little winding steps and left our luggage. We decided to take a short walk through the neighborhood. We realized we were in a quiet location and there were art galleries all around. At this point we did not yet realize how close we were to all of the action. We returned to the apartment and took a good look around. It was small, but cute and very clean. We realized that it had everything that we were going to need and were very happy with our choice. We then talked to Thierry on the phone and made arrangements to meet him in 2 hours and took a nap! Finally met Thierry which was great since he had been so helpful prior to our trip on emails. He had left a bottle of wine, orange juice, coffee, marmalade, and bread waiting for us. The apatrment had a computer with free internet access, television with cable and several English speaking channels, washing/dryer, coffee maker, hair dryer, curling iron, iron and ironing mat and extra heaters. Thierry explained how to run everything in the apartment and gave us several suggestions about things to do and places to go. He made us feel like we had our own personal guide in Paris. He said if we had any problems day or night to feel free to call him and he would be there to help us. After he left at 3:15 we decided to walk to Notre Dame since we were very close. It was overcast and cool and windy. Went by a lot of street vendors on the street by the Seine. It was wonderful to finally see Notre Dame and there was some kind of a concert going on in the front area of the cathedral. It actually sounded like a high school band. Notre Dame was beautiful and we were able to go inside without waiting more than 5 minutes. This was just the beginning of seeing amazing stained glass windows. After we left Notre Dame we stopped at a little souvenir shop and bought a scarf for the wind - now I look very Parisian! It really helped block the wind. We had a late lunch at Cafe Quasimido on the ile de le Cite close to Notre Dame. I had a ham and cheese omelet with hot tea and DH had expresso and a tureky sandwich. The bill was only 17 Euros. Our waiter asked where we were from and we told him Wisconsin. He said "I lived in Eau Claire as an exchange student for a year." We told him that we were 1 hour from Eau Claire and when we told him our little home town name, he stated that he had been to the University in our town! He was less than a mile from our home. What a small world. We walked along the Seine and back to our apartment for a bathroom break. We went back out to find the wind had died down and it was much more comfortable. We found the FranPrix grocery store less than a block from our aparment and bought milk, bananas, apples, butter, yogurt, water. Then we went to rue Mazarine and found the pastry shop recommended by guenmai. DH will go out in the morning for fresh croissants. Stopped in LeBuci for wine and dessert. I had creme brulee and DH had tarte dux pomme (apple tart) Bill was 22 Euros. We then went back to the apartment for an early night.

yellowrose477 Mar 25th, 2009 07:13 PM

Sunday - March 15 - Slept fairly well but got up rather late. Wasn't ready to go out the door till 11:00! DH had gone and got fresh croissants and pastries. My goodness, those croissants were the best I have ever tasted. guenmai said that croissants were meant to be eaten in the morning and I now believe that this is the actual truth! We had coffee and tea with the croissants and pastries and headed out the door. It was a beautiful morning, we didn't even need jackets. We walked to St. Sulpice which was just a block or so away from the apartment. Walked inside and heard the organ playing and as I looked to my right I saw "Jacob Wrestling with the Angel" by Delacroix. I didn't even know it was there, but had studied it in an art class that I had taken. How exciting to see it in person and hear the organ at the same time. Waited by the little door to go up to see the organ, but it did not open and the mass started, so we left. Got on bus 63 and headed to the Trocadero. Got our first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower! Another goal in my left was met. We got some wonderful pictures. DH realized that Hitler had photos taken in that same spot that we were standing. I was surprised to see all of the boys selling little souvenirs, but I bought some of the little Eiffel Tower keychains to take back to work for momentos. It was fun bargaining with the sellers. From the Eiffel Tower we headed toward the arc de Triomphe. My DH was so happy to see where the Tour de France takes place. Got our photo shots around the arc and headed down the Champs Elysee. Saw some interesting street musicians and street dancers. Found out that it was hard finding a place to eat in that area due to the crowds. We went into a McDonalds for some water and a bathroom break. As we reached Tuileries Gardens we saw some flowers in bloom. We heard the music from the puppet theater what was in the movie Charade (I think). Bought a Dove ice cream bar as I was hungry!We started walking toward the Place Concorde. We saw the granite obelisk standing in the center of this place. This is the area that Marie Antionette and William the 16th got guillotined. There was a beautiful fountain here as well. We headed down the rue de Rivoli as DH wanted to see the Joan of Arc statue. We were having such lovely weather and a brilliant blue sky! About this time I was starting to drop with fatigue and hunger, so we did stop to eat, finally. We had cheese crepes and they were really good. A little farther on the rue we found Joan of Arc. Against the blue sky, she was beautiful.

abranz Mar 25th, 2009 08:01 PM

you are truly amazing.
i can't believe you have your trip report started already.
your day and half sounds wonderful.
can't wait to read more.
i will probably follow a lot in your footsteps next week.

JulieVikmanis Mar 26th, 2009 01:43 AM

Hi, great start on your report. I note from your profile that you're well traveled but you seem to be maintaining that wonderful gee whiz quality of a neophyte. Maybe it's that Wisconsin thing. I'm originally from Eau Claire (now live in Ft. Lauderdale after spending years in the Twin cities) From what you say in your conversation with the waiter, I'm guessing you are either River Falls or Menomonie, most likely the former. We met with AGM_CapeCod (and others) for a Fodors GTG while we were in Paris last week. Abby's husband (of AGM) taught at the University in River Falls. Small world, isn't it?

I'm enjoying your trip report, but may I ask that you insert frequent paragraphs. It makes reports so much easier to read--and it's a frequent criticism here, so it's not just me. Thanks. Keep it coming.

yellowrose477 Mar 26th, 2009 04:03 AM

abranz - I wrote in my journal every night to try and keep things straight in my head. I actually carried around a little notebook to jot notes down on throughout the day. My mother always likes to read the journal as soon as we get home!

I will work on using paragraphs - I can see how it would make reading easier.

I have been fortunate to travel many places - but every time I go someplace new - I feel that excitement of a first trip!

adrienne Mar 26th, 2009 04:58 AM

Hi Patti - Your apartment looks cute. I think I remember from your other thread that you were happy with it. Welcome back - it sounds like your Paris week was perfect. Looking forward to reading the rest of your report.

lilaki Mar 26th, 2009 08:40 AM

fantastic! can't wait to hear all about your trip!

Canada_V Mar 26th, 2009 12:51 PM

Looking forward to reading the next installment :-)

yellowrose477 Mar 26th, 2009 05:19 PM

After admiring Joan of Arc, DH and I continued our walk to the Louvre. (I will admit, I loved The DaVinci Code). The first time I saw the pyramid, I got goosebumps! I remember from the book that the police captain called it "an abomination" and I could see how it doesn't quite fit with the Louvre, but I loved it! I could not believe how huge the Louvre is. Just thinking about all of the wonderful things that were within those walls filled me with awe. There were people laying all over the grass enjoying the wonderful day. We took some photos of the pyramids and the fountain and limped back to our apartment for a rest.

DH must be in better physical condition than I am because he is not hurting at all! My hips, feet and even my toes all ache. This is the time that I wish our apartment had a bathtub that I could soak in.

After we rested for a while we went back out to see the Eiffel Tower at night. This time we took the subway (Thank you!) which cut down on the walking. This was my first trip on an underground transit system.

The Eiffel Tower was wonderful at night. At first we were going to ride up to the top and we got into the line, but the length of the line, combined with my fear of heights, combined with the fact we had not yet eaten dinner, we decided to forgo going up into the tower. As we started to walk away, I turned around to take another look and the whole entire tower was twinkling! I did not know that they had a light show. I loved it!! I took a photo on my cell phone and sent it home to my children (like they were going to be able to see the wonders I was seeing).

We took the subway back to Notre Dame to see it illuminated at night. The nighttime gives monuments a whole new life. A whole new splendor that you don't see in the daytime.

We finally decided to eat our dinner. We ate at Le Depart. It was located very close to Notre Dame (Quai San Michel). DH had samon au basellie with green beans and potatoes - 13.80 Euros. I had beef burgandy with potatoes for 12.30 euros. We also had bread to go along with the meal. I had water and DH had a glass of wine. This turned out to be my best meal of the whole trip. After this wonderful meal we walked back to the apartment and turned in for the night.

yellowrose477 Mar 26th, 2009 05:56 PM

Monday - March 16th. Got up at 9:30. DH went out for apricot pastries and we had O.J. and tea for breakfast. Started a load of laundry - it is so great having a washing machine and dryer in the apartment - and left. It was another sunny and pleasant day. Each day I see more spring flowers and blossoms and the little leaves getting bigger.

We walked to the Louvre. We were able to walk right up to the ticket counter without any wait. Of course I wanted to see the Mona Lisa first. There was a small crowd there, but I was able to go right to the front by the rope. I was totally amazed that we were allowed to take photos of her. Another dream of mine had come true. We took photos of the Venus de Milo and even a back view. DH was thrilled to see the Code of Hammurabi. Since he was a history major and had studied ancient histories, he kept mumbling things like, this is huge, this is amazing. He was totally in awe of what he was seeing. We wandered around for about an hour and ate lunch at the Starbucks in the Louvre. We are more interested in the impressionists and headed out to the d'Orsay. When we got there it was closed. I had made of chart of when the museums were open and closed and we had not even looked on this morning to check. While we were there, a huge parade of costumed horse riders came by. There was trumpets playing a tune as they marched by. I'm not sure what it was all about, but they appeared to be wearing some type of period costume. They had gold helmets, red tassels and black tails on their hats that looked like horse tails.

We decided to go and see Bon March Department Store. Took the subway and found the store without any problems. It was a lovely store, but I wasn't really in a shopping mood, so we went and took a look at the Grand Epicerio store next door. What a nice variety of food items, but we did not buy a thing.

We then found the Poilane bakery and ate fresh apple turnovers - the best I ever tasted. I can't put my finger on it - but the pastries in Paris are not greasy like in the US. They are light and flaky and don't leave the nasty after taste that the greasy bakery items from the U.S. do.

We jumped back on the subway and went to see St. Chapelle. (I had a pair of scissors in my purse and had to leave them at the door, but I did get them back.) The church was very colorful on the main floor. I thought that it had an almost circus coloring to it. My feet were hurting again and DH said we should go upstairs. I really did not want to climb another flight of steps, but I decided to tough it out. There was a little, narrow flight of circular steps. I had no idea what was at the top. When I got to the top and stepped into the upper sanctuary,the glorious windows absolutely took my breath away. The sun was shining brightly through them and because they are so large and around the whole room - the effect was dazzling. We sat down for a while and just took it all in. I thought about not wanting to make the climb and realized what I would have missed.

We then walked back to Notre Dame to check out the rear view. We then found the Monoprix. It was rush hour and the lines were very long, but we were happy to have located it. We headed back toward our apartment and stopped at FranPrix to get food for supper. Stopped at the vegetable market for some fresh veggies. We had little steaks and veggies for our supper. I folded laundry while DH did the dishes. Kind of like at home. Had an early night.

Gundy Mar 26th, 2009 06:25 PM

I am really enjoying your report. Can't wait for the rest.

cathies Mar 27th, 2009 03:20 AM

Oh, aren't those apple tarts from Poilane fantastic!! Their pain au chocolat are pretty special too.

Loving your report, Cathie

Leely2 Mar 27th, 2009 10:35 AM

Great report! And thanks for the double-return between paragraphs--it's much easier on the eyes.

yellowrose477 Mar 27th, 2009 04:37 PM

Tuesday - March 16 - Woke up to fresh croissants and bananas. Another bright and clear morning with those wonderful blue skies. We headed right out to the d'Orsey. I see more flowers blooming every day. We waited in line for about 45 minutes, so wasn't too bad. I wanted to see Whistler's Mother and was able to get a nice photo with her. She was larger than I had imagined. There were Monet's and Sisley's and Cezanne's, VanGogh's, wow! We spent a few hours there wandering through the galleries and soaking it all in.

When we left we ate lunch at Le Quai - a boat on the River Seine. (More stairs - today I really hate stairs as my calf muscles are screaming for me to stop.) I ate a small potato salad with chicken livers and DH had some kind of a crab salad. I had hot tea and he had espresso - $32.80. We walked across the river and found the Orangerie closed today. We took the subway to the Luxembourg Gardens. I found this to be a peaceful oasis in the middle of a big city. How lovely to sit there are relax. The grass was so green (we had left brown grass at home), the daffodils and forsythia were blooming and there were blossoms on some of the trees. I found it very odd that there are all of these metal chairs for people to sit on and there was not a soul on the grass. There were a lot of babies in carriages, old people and college students. We saw a lot of policeman around the park - I think they are there to shoot you if you get on the grass! We enjoyed sitting and watching some old men play a game - maybe bocce ball? I'm not certain. There was a coat rack in between the courts and they had their jackets hanging there. So interesting to me. We wandered around looking at all of the lovely statuary in the park and saw the Luxembourg palace and the pool nearby. There was one area that a ton of students were laying and sitting on this little patch of grass and I saw a sign that said you could get on the grass there. It amazed me that people obeyed the rules about the grass - I don't know why that struck me as amazing, but I can't see that happening around here. I also can't see the metal chairs staying in the park - they would disappear!

From the park we walked to a McDonalds for a bathroom break. I got stuck in there. I could not get out. I had to wait till some man came in to the men's side and left before I could get out. That was rather embarrassing. We walked by the Pantheon and then walked to the Sorbonne. Once again there were police officers everyplace. I kept thinking that some kind of a riot was going to break out. Is this just normal police presence?

We walked by the Cluny Museum and then went to St. Severin on rue St. Jacque. I guess we were in the Latin Quarter at that time, but I didn't know it till later. This church had more pretty stained glass windows. Walked to St. Julien le pauvre. It was old! I did some reading on it and it is over 700 years old!! Also took a photo of a tree in its yard that was planted in 1602. This church is very close to Notre Dame.

I don't completely have my bearings yet. In the best of times I am directionally challenged, so it is wonderful that DH has an excellent sense of direction. We wound through an ancient looking neighborhood (to the south and west of Notre Dame) taking a new route back towards our apartment. I must confess that I popped in to a few of the touristy gift shops and bought some post cards and key chains. I have not yet stooped to buying the "I love Paris" t shirt! We stopped at FranPrix for groceries and headed back to the apartment for our evening meal.

After we ate our little supper we went to MonoPrix. It is still very comfortable outside. Even later in the evening their are people everyplace. We stopped and had an ice cream (or gelato) at Amorinos - 3 Euros each for a small cone. I got vanilla with chocolate chips and a chocolate outer layer. DH got chocolate and creme. Mine was heavenly and DH really enjoyed his as well. We sat in front of the shop and ate the cones and absorbed Paris. After our treat we walked back to the apartment, up the 3 flights up steps. I had stopped at a pharmacy earlier in the day and bought some Kamol, which is similar to Ben Gay. I rubbed in on my poor shins and calves and went to sleep.

ChicagoDallasGirl Mar 27th, 2009 06:18 PM

Hi there, really enjoying your report. I've tried to journal nightly while traveling but so far have not been able to keep it up. Perhaps our little excursion in May will be different as I'm really enjoying all the details you're sharing. Keep it coming!

TPAYT Mar 27th, 2009 07:24 PM

Enjoying your report, as I love Paris. But here's my question-----Why were you stuck in the restroom at MacDonald's?

yellowrose477 Mar 27th, 2009 07:39 PM

You had to buy something to get a code to go into the bathroom. So no problem getting in. I don't remember exactly, but there was some kind of a code thing you had to use on the inside and it was in French. I couldn't figure it out. I pushed and pulled and poked. The mens and womens were both in the same coded area, so when a man walked out of his side, he punched in the code and I slipped out with him. My poor DH was just coming down the steps to check on me, wondering what was taking so long.

cathies Mar 27th, 2009 11:38 PM

Last year we stayed in an apartment on Blvd St Michel probably just near where you would have exited the gardens to go to McDonalds. There was a temporary concert venue set up in the gardens that week and each night we could hear lovely classical music performances (Tales of Hoffmann). We didn't bother with tv, just opened the windows and listened. We also had a lovely view over the gardens and finished each days exploring with a wander through the garden. The French are amazing the way they sit on the chairs and not on the grass. We loved watching the children play with boats on the water. It is a gorgeous park, I think it leaves the Tuilleries for dead. :)

tod Mar 28th, 2009 04:36 AM

Hi Yellowrose - Thanks for posting more details on your trip to Paris!
I want you to get out your map of Paris and look for the Champs Elysees. You will see that when you walked down towards the Place de La Concorde (where the Egyptian Obelisque is) and before you got to there, the gardens you entered after the main shopping area of the Champs were not the Jardin des Tuileries, but the gardens of the Champs-Elysees. I wrote about them in some detail in my trip report from last year. The little puppet theatre where you heard the music coming from is called 'Vrai Guignolet' and has been running since 1818. (It's quite charming - I went in and photgraphed it as there was nobody there.)
When you walked down Rue de Rivoli the Tuileries Gardens were elevated next to you behind the hedge.
Am I right or just misread your post?

Looking forward to the next instalment!

adrienne Mar 28th, 2009 05:57 AM

tod - do you have a link to your Paris trip report or the title. I scrolled through your posts but didn't see it (perhaps it's too early for me!). Thanks! The Champs-Elysses gardens are on my list for my next Paris trip and would love to read your description.

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