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Paris Is for Pleasure: Eight Days of Solo Dining, Wandering and Decadence

Paris Is for Pleasure: Eight Days of Solo Dining, Wandering and Decadence

Old Jun 13th, 2009, 04:32 AM
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Schnauzer, the apartment was quiet. The large Bastille market is held twice a week a few blocks away. There is a convenience store around the corner. Other stores a bit farther.

Please, nobody take it till I've signed the lease for November!
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Old Jun 13th, 2009, 09:23 AM
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Thanks for this inspiring report...looking forward to planning a similar trip.
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Old Jun 13th, 2009, 05:46 PM
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In terms of Fodorite Get-Togethers (aka GTGs), try a search here first. I'd look for Paris+Fall+GTG and/other similar terms. There might be something out there already. If nothing comes up, start a thread with a header--something like "Paris September or October GTG?"

Best of luck and have a wonderful trip. I know you will!
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Old Jun 20th, 2009, 11:40 AM
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Hi Leely, I just saw this trip report and am really enjoying it. Sounds like you had a fantastic time. I'd love to read about the rest of your trip if you have a chance to finish it!

(Oh, and I'm glad to hear that your experience with Paris Best Lodge went as well as anticipated!)
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Old Jun 20th, 2009, 03:05 PM
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<b>The Northern Part of the Third and Other Sightseeing</b>
Last full day. I’m sure many of you know what that’s like. The regrets, the sense of time running out, sand through the hourglass, Marlena from Days of Our Lives, etc.

As with most of my other days, I didn’t have any plan. I was meeting some Fodorites for dinner at 8:30. That was the day’s structure. After the usual morning dawdle, I took off for my third and final visit to Jacques Genin. I wandered in the direction of the Arts et Metiers museum afterward. It was a Saturday and I happened upon a flea market in this charming neighborhood, the northern part of the 3rd. I assume this is adjacent to the <b>Carreau du Temple market</b>? But I was being such a lazy sightseer I never looked at my guidebook. I just looked at what people were selling. Nothing I wanted would fit in my suitcase.


I really enjoyed this area and decided I would stay here and also in the 11th by Republique in the future. Oh, and the part of the 10th I strolled through by the metro station.

I sat down in the little park at <b>Square du Temple</b> and rested in the afternoon sun for a while. Ducklings, children, some Germans picknicking on the bench next to me. I did know a bit about the square, how it had been the site of the Templars, then a prison housing some of the Royal family during the Revolution, now a park.


There is a dedication to the 600 Jewish children of the 3rd deported in WWII, particularly sobering and heartbreaking on a sunny weekend day when the park was filled with young families and their children.


I passed the Arts et Metiers museum but decided the day was far too beautiful to spend indoors. Eventually made my way up Boulevard Saint-Martin, finally arriving at the <b>Strasbourg Saint-Denis</b> metro station.


I made the big commitment to leave these relaxing environs--people were all sitting outside the cafes, having beer and wine and snacks, very tempting--and head up to <b>Montmartre</b> because in four trips to Paris I had never been up there.

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Old Jun 20th, 2009, 04:11 PM
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<b>Montmarte: Get Me Outta Here! Plus Chips, Guac and Margaritas</b>

After wandering around lost departing the <b>Chateau Rouge</b> station—untouristy, semi-immigrant neighborhood, I suppose?--I eventually made my way to <b>Sacre Couer. </b> What a zoo!

Sure, it’s cute. Sure, it’s historical. But on a Saturday afternoon in late May, Montmartre is a freaking nightmare. And I’m someone who is normally unfazed by other ultra-touristy, ultra-crowded spots; they don’t bother me, people are there to see what I’m there to see, etc.

In fact, once I got past and behind the church, things were less congested. Still, I wanted out—this was my last afternoon in Paris and I did not want to spend it up there any more than I would have wanted to wait in line for the Tour Eiffel. Tired, hot, and by now very hungry, I thought the easiest thing to do would be to hop into a cab. Argh, long line for taxis.

So off I went again, walking walking walking, down finally to <b>Barbes-Rochechouart</b> and getting in the first train going my way. I know it sounds as if I ate a lot on this trip, but other than my big-ticket meals, I ate like a bird. Drank like a fish, of course, but ate like a bird. So sometimes I got insanely hungry. And crabby. This may have been the case in Montmartre.

Got off the metro at <b>Odeon,</b> walked right by some place that didn’t look too crowded where I could sit and have a glass of wine and hopefully a snack.

Turns out this was a Tex-Mex or California-Mex or Indy? place called <b>Indiana</b> so I had chips, guacamole and a margarita. Guac not bad, chips and marg…umm, I’m from California, this is not what I’m used to. But anyway, the waitress was sweet, I sat in the shade on the little side-street <i>not</i> Boulevard Saint-Germain, and had a good time.

Indiana Cafe
130, boulevard Saint-Germain, 6th

Up and at ‘em. Through some parks and gardens. My goal was the Cluny, which I love. I was bound and determined to get more value outta the g-d museum pass. I thought I might have time to pop in and see the tapestries. People kept stopping me and asking me for directions. I get lost everywhere I go so I'm not sure why.

<i><b>Sidenote: How to Avoid Scams in Paris</b></i>
On one occasion earlier in the week, I went up to someone, a young woman, to ask her directions or where I could find something belt store?). As I approached her, she shrank away. When I asked her whatever it was I was looking for, I could tell she thought I was one of these Parisian scammers you’re always reading about. Like I was going to drop a ring or tie a bracelet around her wrist or fling a baby at her or whatever.

By the way, this young lady was French, I believe, although not a Parisian. Anyway, she did answer me but was very dubious and kept tight hold of her bag during our interaction.

Maybe looking like the criminal element is the best insurance against ripoffs?

<i>Some pics from this afternoon</i>


Chips and guacamole

Giant tennis shoes and a dress!

Voltaire strikes my pose
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Old Jun 20th, 2009, 05:05 PM
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<<Last full day. I’m sure many of you know what that’s like. The regrets, the sense of time running out, sand through the hourglass,...>>

You're lucky that this only strikes you on the last day-- in Paris, that panic begins for me when the week is half over.
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Old Jun 20th, 2009, 07:38 PM
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Hi Leely, I am still enjoying the report. I too get the mad last minute feeling, it's horrible. Shame about Montmartre because apart from the SC and the busy square where all the artists hang out Montmartre is actually very nice.

I would like to stay in the Lamark/Caulincourt area next time which is a bit north of Montmartre, very "normal" Paris, but lots going on and great eateries and produce shops. Sure it takes a bit longer to get to places but it just had that really "good feel" for me.

I wish I had taken more shots of people as a friend came to watch my slide show yesterday, (poor girl) and she loved all the photos but commented there weren't many, if any, of the french people and what they were dressed in, etc.

I loved that little park you took the photos of, bitter sweet emotions must have been running through you.

I too had a couple of wary people when I went up to them to ask for something. I didn't think I looked that shifty!!

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Old Jun 22nd, 2009, 07:59 PM
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Lovely, lovely trip report and a really good reminder of the pleasures of traveling alone.
Thanks very much for posting it.
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Old Jun 22nd, 2009, 08:07 PM
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Sacre Coeur does look like a zoo! There's even a human statue. Ugh.

From the waist down, Voltair looks like Courtney Love circa 1993.
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Old Jun 22nd, 2009, 08:32 PM
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jacue gemin's mango caramels, are a favorite of mine and two friends who went to his new shop this March. One of the friends would buy his caramals (hi Abby )out of his appartment before he had his shop. His chocolates are getting all the puplicity these days
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Old Jun 23rd, 2009, 08:50 PM
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Excellent trip report. Thank you. I'm so jealous of your dining experiences. Even the chips and guac look delicious.
It's time to invest in a better camera, though. Great shots but the exposure and focus isn't catching it.
Do you journal every day while you're traveling?
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Old Jun 23rd, 2009, 09:18 PM
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You think it's the camera and not the photographer? Someone recently told me "That's a good little camera; have you thought about having it cleaned?"

I had bought it for the zoom for safari <i>several</i> years ago but the past few years it is (or I am) taking pics that are increasingly washed- and fuzzed-out.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2009, 10:03 PM
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<b>The Last Gasp and the Last Supper</b>
I got to the Cluny just as they were closing so no Museum-Pass using there.

I took off to the <b>Pantheon.</b> I had never been inside before, although I had walked by on numerous occasions. It was as grand as I had imagined and I was overcome (as usual) seeing the tombs of and plaques for the historical figures I had only read about, especially Toussaint L'Ouverture. I hadn’t expected to see anything about him there.

So…my brain was percolating with all the history. If you have similar inclinations, heading down to the crypt will be right up your alley. In any case, I think many visitors will find <i>something</i> of interest there.


Place du Panthéon, 5th
<i>8&euro; -- free with Museum Pass </i>

My taste for history wasn’t fully sated so after they closed the Pantheon, I bopped into <b> Église St-Etienne-du-Mont</b> just across the way. Again, a first for me. Part Gothic, part ??, this church houses a number of surprises, perhaps the most stunning of which is the gallery connecting the older and the newer.

Having first been introduced to the wondrous ways of Clovis in an English-language book aimed at 4th (okay, 3rd) graders a couple of years ago in the Dordogne, I am always delighted to see and read more about him; St.-Etienne-du-Mont. The church was built on the site of the abbey Clovis founded; “his” tower, the Tower of Clovis, still stands. There’s also a shrine (and some relics?) to St. Genevieve, the patron saint of Paris. Pascal and Racine are/were stuffed somewhere, there are incredible staircases, the last remaining rood screen in a Paris church, some impressive stained glass…and more.

1 place Ste-Geneviève, 5th

After a quick run by <b>Arenes du Lutece</b> to watch kids practicing soccer moves, I rushed home to get ready for dinner with Forodrites elsiejune, jenblase and their respective husbands.

<b>Le Gaigne</b>
Our group had planned on dinner at Chez L’Ami Jean. After a bit of back-and-forth, we agreed that a packed, hurried dinner in an insanely popular restaurant wouldn’t work for our party of five virtual strangers. So we cancelled our reservation and made one for Le Gaigne in the 4th.

I do still want to go to l’Ami Jean…next time.

As elsiejune and jenblase told me they don’t write trip reports, I am free to make any old thing up. They are horrible people!

No, no, no, we had a delightful time, laughed a lot and enjoyed the food. The bistrot is very small and calm. There are probably twenty seats max and one server. Except for elsiejune, we all chose the menu with accompanying wines. Luckily it's for both May and June, so I can crib from the website.

Le Petit Pois
Velouté glacé, tartare de maquereau, chips de Chorizo – yes, yes,mackeral and chilled pea soup with chorizo chips. Impossible for me not to like this.

La Girolle
Risotto d'orge perlé, parmesan craquant – the mushroom was too big for me but the barley risotto and parm cracker. Really good.

La Raie française
Farcie aux câpres et à la moutarde à l'ancienne, pomme-de-terre fondante Skate was perfectly cooked, very tender and moist with some crunch. Potatoes, yep, delicious.

Le Boeuf
Onglet à l'échalote, légumes au romarin, os à moelle
I thought this was terrific and managed to eat all the marrow even though I always claim it’s “too rich” for me. The olives and tomatoes had the best tangy/faintly sweet flavor which complemented the beef perfectly.
<i>The beef was too rare for jenblase but the rest of us didn’t mind the blood and when I tried to help her out she stabbed my hand with her fork.</i>

La Framboise et la Rhubarbe en tartelette meringuée
The tart was good as well but I have to admit I was pretty full by then. Although I think I did finish it.

Menu with wine pairing, 54€.
39&euro; sans vin.

Delicious, fairly sophisticated food in an intimate, quiet environment that doesn’t feel fancy. Great value.

Le Gaigne
12 rue Pecquay, 4th
Tél :

<i>This place accepts email reservations.</i>

<i><b>Sidenote: GTG Skinny</b></i>
I drove poor EJ a little crazy because I kept confusing Connecticut with New Jersey in my ludicrous efforts to find conversational common ground. Finally she patted me on the head and said, “Uh huh, yeah, Hartford <i>is</i> in New Jersey. I know, traffic <i>is</i> terrible getting out of the airport.” She's a very tolerant and gracious Fodorite as is jenblase. Their husbands were both jokers too. I do hope they all enjoyed the rest of their trips; it certainly sounded like they would.

And the next day I went home.

<b>Au Revoir from the Spoiled Solo-traveler</b>
Thanks for bearing with me and for the many kind comments. I hope there’s something of use here to someone.

Obviously I don’t live this way in my real life; I usually don’t live this way on vacation either. But every once in a while it’s good to treat oneself. It’s especially nice to do so when going solo. Whatever you can swing, whether it’s tasty candy or a pretty new dress or a BIG bottle of wine or a special performance, do it for yourself.

So…I’ll see you all on the forum. And who knows, maybe one day our paths will cross dining in an elegant restaurant, sunning on a park bench, audioguiding in a museum or finding gold rings on the sidewalk by the Branly. If so, I promise to buy you a margarita.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2009, 10:55 PM
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<<every once in a while it’s good to treat oneself>>

Thanks for taking us through Paris with you! You have inspired me to start planning a dream trip which has been put off for too long. It will be half solo, half with good companions; one old favorite destination, and one long-awaited new one. (Just hoping the vacation request gets signed!)
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Old Jun 24th, 2009, 12:39 AM
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When is your next solo to Paris? Surely you must be planning the next one!!!!!

I am already working mine out - mentally.

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Old Jun 24th, 2009, 03:41 AM
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Thank you so much for your trip report. Sounds like you had a wonderful time, as you should! You are so right to treat yourself, life is way too short not to do the things you want to do.

You started your report the day after we got back from Paris and it has helped me overcome my PPD (post paris depression).

Your meal at Le Gaigne sounds delicious, it was closed for part of the time we were in Paris and then we just never got to it...........oh well, another reason to go back!! 54 euros for 5 courses with wine pairings sounds like a steal.

Thanks again........Jo
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Old Jun 24th, 2009, 05:15 AM
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Fabulous report and I so agree with you about treating oneself every once in a while. I'm planning a trip next May to Paris with my mom and we have already splurged on our accommodations (a Paris Perfect aparment)...can't wait to see what I else I come up with!
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Old Jun 24th, 2009, 05:22 AM
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Leely, thank you for a witty and elegant trip report. I liked the way you linked to your photos as you went along. (I'd do that in the future if I could ever get my pictures ready in time. I still haven't put last November's photos onto PBase yet.)

I have no idea who Morrisey is. I really must get out more.

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Old Jun 24th, 2009, 07:29 AM
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I haven't thought about the next trip yet, but I'm open to suggestions. I'd like to "treat" my sister and her family to a trip but I don't really have the $ right this sec...

Here are some<b> Proust walks</b> from the New York Society Library that I didn't have the time to take in case anyone is interested:


cigaechanta, I think it was the passionfruit-mango caramels that were so dear. Oh, who am I kidding it was all dear. Those were the ones I bought for the friend who stayed in my flat and took care of my dog while I was away.

Apres, please don't insult Voltaire. What has he ever done to earn a comparison to Courtney?

Schnauzer, I am also relieved to know that people mistook you for a criminal as I've met you in person and you're <i>fairly upstanding</i> in appearance.

Anselm, you must be gearing up for another visit I would think. Maybe Morrissey in November.

Jo, I read your report on slowtrav--we must have walked by each other several times.

LCI, you'll have a terrific time. Aren't you going to Italy again too?
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