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PARIS IS PARIS - Beatchick's Paris April 2003 Trip Report

PARIS IS PARIS - Beatchick's Paris April 2003 Trip Report

May 12th, 2003, 03:24 PM
  #21  
 
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If the trip report doesn't come soon, I might have to toast you by finishing une bouteille de vin rouge, which will make for a long day tomorrow.
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May 12th, 2003, 03:33 PM
  #22  
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Wondrous, Historic Bastille
Made it to the Bastille Metro, got out at the St. Antoine exit & came upon the huge, glorious Colonne de Juillet!! Took 2 pictures of it & 1 of the corner facade that I saw upon exiting the Metro at Rue St. Antoine. Wandered my way down to the Place des Vosges (took a pic of the archway & one of the Hotel Place des Vosges - very cute). Meandered around the Place, saw a young, chic maman trying to get her child to slide down a 2-foot 30-degree angle slide and watched a little 3- or 4-year old expertly kicking around a soccer ball. Caught a glimpse of the restaurant, Ma Bourgogne, and then headed to my hotel (Grande Hotel Jeanne d'Arc - 3 r. Jarente, 5 minutes from Place de Vosges), where I met the very nice Stefan.
Stefan handed me a printed out list of reservations he had made for me (thanks, Stefan!), then I went up to see the room (it was ready!). Wrote in my journal for a while and then took a blessed shower. Nice!
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May 12th, 2003, 03:36 PM
  #23  
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My Blue? Room
Loved my room, though it's QUITE small but I really didn't care 'cause I thought it charming with its beamed ceiling, French windows, blue/green orientalish carpet and coral bedspread and wallpaper, little desk, quaint light fixtures, and my 5th floor (really 6th floor) ROOFTOP view!
My brain must've been fried 'cause I couldn't figure out how to turn the T.V. on. : (
Musée Marmottan Monet - Académie des Beaux Arts
Wiled away 2 lovely hours at the Marmottan, an hour longer than I'd expected. Because of it, I was unable to go to the Maison de Balzac (the home of the famous French writer, Honoré de Balzac); maybe I'll go later, like next year. Needed a date for the ballet that night so I asked the very cool docent if he might join me. He said no, he must work the next day. He was very interesting - we discussed Monet, Manet, Morisot, Pisarro, Caillebotte, the many periods of Monet and his influences on different styles of painting due to his changing styles throughout his life. The earlier works are more pastel and very much typical of the Impressionist style, while the later works border on the Expressionist with his many bold, garish colors that look almost Jackson Pollackesque when viewed up close & then "blend" into a recognizable scene when viewed much further away. We talked about Monet losing his eyesight later on in life & how that affected his choice of colors. The docent/guide initially thought I was a typical American that liked Monet for his "pretty, interior decorative" art but then he became pleasantly surprised that I knew a little bit about the subject and about art in general. I even divulged that I sometimes paint - in watercolor but in a heavy gouache way.
It was an enjoyable conversation, hence the invitation, and then also the disappointment at the negative reply. Pooh - now I must sell the ticket and whoever buys it shall sit next to me during the performance.

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May 12th, 2003, 03:44 PM
  #24  
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Le Ballet
The ballet was faboo!
On the way in to the performance, I was hit up by 2 people looking for tickets. The young girl just looked at the ticket, saw the price and walked away. Then as I was passing through the door, a lovely Italian woman stopped me, inquired about the price, and gave me 20 euro for it. Later during the 1st intermission, she gave me her card and from it discovered her name is Eleonora Rossi and she is a pianiste. I'm thinking she plays there as well but I'm not sure. She spoke no English, no French; I spoke no Italian & have lost almost all my Spanish. I tried to tell her it was my very 1st time ever at the ballet & that I was happy it was in Paris but she couldn't even understand my attempts at saying 1st (premiere? primo?).
The featured ballet was the "Ecole de Danse", one of the most prestigious schools of dance in the world, so I feel very lucky to have seen them. I've most likely watched some of the future ballet stars of the world at their beginning. Cool.
Had a coup de champagne - la di da. It was wonderful drinking champagne at the ballet! And bought a program - very nice way to capture the memory of my first time at the ballet.
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May 12th, 2003, 03:49 PM
  #25  
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Shakespeare & Co.
Afterwards, I ventured to Shakespeare & Co. near the Boul' Mich (okay, Blvd Saint-Michel). I visit this bookstore every year, but for the first time I actually ventured past the front room. The rest of the building was totally cool, set up like some of the wonderful dreams I've had about musty, quiet, peaceful, old houses, filled with nooks & crannies, high ceilings, floor to ceiling bookshelves and going up you encounter these really steep, narrow, cramped stairs covered in an old Oriental rug. I met this guy at the top and we both just started bobbing our heads in agreement - this place was COOOL! I love it. I promise you I dream about places like this and they are the happiest, most peaceful dreams. SIGH!
Adrian, the English gent from the previous two years, wasn't there this time. Instead there was Collin, a very energetic, precise, intellectual young dude, who seemed to know where every book was. I met the "Captain," too (don't know his real name). Didn't see George, the proprietor. Did see the Sylvia Beach Library but couldn't figure out which room it was of the two adjoining rooms to which the sign referred.
Let them know downstairs I was on the quest to find the book written by James Joyce's assistant, explicating Joyc''s "Ulysses," a definitive reference in understanding that book. (Side note: Sylvia Beach made the brave choice to publish it from Paris during the '20s when Joyce couldn't locate a publisher anywhere, thus we have Sylvia to thank for one of the finest works of 20th century English Literature). But, alas, the quest was stunted as none of us could remember the name of the assistant. Samuel Becket's (he of "Waiting for Godot" fame) was thrown out there as he had been Joyce's secretary but I knew it couldn't be him as I'm sure I'd remember if a famous playwright had written it.
Walked home along the northern street of Notre Dame, crossed the bridge over to Ile St-Louis, then halfway down the rue St-Louis-en-l'ile to reach my little hotel in the Marais by midnight. Passed many couples and young groups of people on my way. Wonderful thing about this area is that I feel completely safe & comfortable as a single woman walking through it late at night. What immense freedom.
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May 12th, 2003, 05:08 PM
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Beatchick, I am so loving your report! My only "problem" is that we are leaving for Paris tomorrow and are going to have to read the rest of your adventures post facto. It's obvious you are a traveller after my own heart! Welcome back!
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May 12th, 2003, 07:06 PM
  #27  
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SUNDAY - APRIL 13TH
On my way to Notre Dame to climb the towers (and to check out the gargoyles at top, each with distinct personalities) I meandered along the way and passing behind the church of St-Protais-St-Gervais on rue des Barres I discovered the restaurant, Chez Julian, which I wanted to see on this trip (it just looks so cute and charming from the outside). I took many pictures only to discover shortly that I'd been out of film for quite some time, so I re-loaded & took more photos. Proceeded to Notre Dame and, on my way, passed by Le Vieux Bistro, the restaurant that I had reservations for at noon. I popped in to re-confirm and was surprised when they said everything would be okay, that they needn't check the reservations book. Hmmm. Reached Cathydrale Notre Dame de Paris by 10:30 and stood in line for the towers. While standing in line, we were able to watch the Palm Sunday procession enter through the large front portal of Notre Dame, all along the choir was singing. It was such a beautiful sight and yet another serendipitous experience. I had looked forward to the happenings on Easter Sunday but hadn't even considered that something special would happen on Palm Sunday.
The two girls in front of me were from Ukraine. They told me it was a boring place to live, but of course I was fascinated because I'd never met anyone from Ukraine before (Czechoslovakia, yes, Bosnia, yes, Russia, yes, Lithuania, yes, but no Ukrainians prior to this meeting). When we went thru the line the attendant stopped them & told them to pay; one replied that they thought children were free. She allowed them through. I was duly impressed. "Where are these girls' parents?" I think.
Took lots of pictures of the gargoyles; the sun was out in its bright glory to ensure excellent photo ops. Climbed the wooden steps, with the wooden hand railing smoothed by many centuries of hands running along it, to see the great Quasimodo bell. Took a picture of the guard/attendant. He seemed shyly pleased; then he took a picture of me. Didn't really feel like going up the rest of the towers to the top so went down & bought some t-shirts from the vendor planted in the midst of the Place de Parvis; the vendor dude told me the best way to learn French is to grab a Frenchman!! I then headed off to Le Vieux Bistro - arriving promptly at noon. : )
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May 12th, 2003, 07:14 PM
  #28  
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LE VIEUX BISTRO
Made friends with the maytre d', who, after taking my order, allowed me to take a photo of him.

Dinner (I'm from the South so the mid-day meal is dinner) was FABULOUS!! C'est bonne! C'est magnifique! I started off with the Escargot de Bourgogne (14E), Asperge Blanche au Vinaigrette (16E), Boeuf Bourguignon (19E), Tarte Tatin Flambye au Calvados et sa Cryme Fraiche (9E) accompanied by a 26E bottle of 2001 Fournier Sancerre (rouge). Each dish was sooo wonderful, I'd go back to eat each by itself; altogether the meal was sublime!! Thanks to JOdy who recommended this resto to me and who also recommended I drink as much Sancerre wine in Paris as possible. Excellent suggestion as I drank Sancerre everywhere I could find it from the rouge to the rosy to the blanc. I could be completely wrong but it reminds me distinctly of Merlot.

I'd never had escargots before, but they're delicious. I'd recommend to anyone who's never tried it to have his or her 1st experience of it at this restaurant. They're almost like mussels but with a definite earthy taste following the initial warm, buttery, almost nutty, chewy first taste. Very good! The earthy taste kinda threw me for a second and the image floated through my head of the little creatures crawling along a forest floor, but then I reminded myself that I like earthy things and I'd come to enjoy myself. So I gave myself over to the taste, sopped up the garlic butter juices with my bread (wonderful bread - crispy outside, fluffy inside - not too chewy), and finished it off with swirlings of Sancerre in my mouth. Mmmmm.
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May 12th, 2003, 07:20 PM
  #29  
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In the back room where I was seated was an American couple across the room, an older French gentleman in one corner (very gallant - we caught each other's eye, smiled, and did the raising of the wine glass acknowledgment), a French woman and an American man in a middle table in front of me (he spoke to her throughout the meal in French), a Parisian family in the other corner with whom I carried on a lovely, illuminating conversation (more later), and French businessman to my right (who inspired me to try the white asparagus after I saw his) and a fantastic French woman seated to my left named Suzanne.

Next I tried the white asparagus in a lovely vinaigrette cream sauce - très fantastique! Mon Dieu, it was good. Wonderfully tender with a very green taste; I fell in love with the vinaigrette.

THEN, the Boeuf bourguignon - excellente. Only my 2nd time eating this. I had the 1st real one on my Air France flight last year. I expected mushrooms but there were none (thank goodness, as I don't really care for them), but baby pearl onions (very tender - not overpowering) and the crispy, chewy bacon bits in a very rich meaty sauce with large tender chunks of beef. Divine!

I finished up with the Tarte Tatin - just wonderful, as my Nanny would say, with lots of crème fraiche. The family across the way asked me if we had it in America and I said no. I'd only read about it and wanted to try it. This is an apple pie cooked upside down then flipped over onto the plate, with Calvados (like an apple brandy) poured over it, then flambéed. Philippe cautioned me to move my scarf (I think I got the tying-of-the-scarf thing down) so it wouldn't burn and Suzanne helped me with the waiting time on the flambéing, she informed just when to put out the flames. Then I dolloped as much crème fraiche as I desired to cool down the hot dessert. It was great.
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May 12th, 2003, 07:27 PM
  #30  
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After some of the patrons drifted out, the family turned to me to have conversation. They had a cute little feisty boy with them and the mother was trying to keep him calmed down and quiet when his little voice would pipe up - but he was extremely well behaved. His grandfather would tease him, pretending to take the little boy's fist to gently poke his own face (this boy loved his grandfather and would just LAUGH) while the grandmother would cluck-cluck, rub his cheek with her hand and coo, non, non. I caught her eye and we laughed together as the boy was sooo cute. She later explained that he was the last of the grandchildren and that she was responsible for spoiling him. I didn't think him spoiled, though, just truly loved. They were all very proud of him (he was 4 maybe?) and they showed off his English to me. He jumped down to the middle of the floor and recited his numbers in English up to 8. I clapped - he was great! He told me "hello," "good-bye." Magnifique.

THEN his father asked me about Bush. The bomb dropped, I paused, and then I shook my head, no Bush, I said. I did not vote for him. I voted for Ralph Nader, I said, "Do you know him?" The man shook his head and said he'd heard of him but didn't know him. I said, he's a consumer advocate, but he still wasn't sure. Maybe I should've written the phrase down or pronounced it more à la française. He asked me if I thought Bush stole the election and I replied yes. (But to be fair, and I love Kennedy, I think Joe Kennedy sewed up that election and that Mayor Daly gave him Chicago). I am not a believer of the ends justifying the means. I said Bush was an idiot (c'mon - how do you flunk business classes at Harvard? That's a "gimme" University) and they laughed. He then said something surprising, that the French were afraid to go to the U.S. & I was shocked, but this is how our media works on us.

When they left, Suzanne & I carried on a conversation, she in her limited English, and I in my equally limited French. We talked about Paris, I showed her my itinerary, wrote down that I'm 1/8 French (at least) and she issued approval over certain restaurants (shook her head at Bofinger, I shook my head and inquired "no?" and then she said, "no, no, no, okay" ? I wasn't sure if she'd eaten there and didn't like it maybe due to it's lax service or if she hadn't eaten there). I tried to peel the label from my wine bottle but Suzanne & Philippe decided I should just take the wine bottle.

Needless to say, I had a wonderful time, spent almost 3 hours there. I will definitely go back!!
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May 12th, 2003, 07:37 PM
  #31  
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TEA AT THE RITZ
It was time for me to go to the Ritz for my Afternoon Tea but I was stuffed; I had reservations, though, and went anyway. I walked past Notre Dame, turned right and saw a whole SLEW of roller bladers. Now, I've seen the Saturday night roller bladers so wasn't sure if this was the same. I asked some English ladies and they said they didn't know. We saw some people pushing kids in prams in that crowd and we decided we probably would never do that - might put the children in danger. Then one of the ladies laughed and said she wouldn't put herself in danger by rollerblading. Moved on up the rue de Rivoli, saw a cool Josephine Baker poster at the bookinistes that I made a mental note on to pick up later for a friend, took the Metro to Pyramides stop, and meandered my way to Place Vendôme.

I paused in the Place to re-apply lipstick, wiped the "glow" from my brow, and straightened myself up, walked up to the doorman, asked for directions to the Bar Vendôme (straight thru and almost immediately to the left - the beautiful Espadon restaurant is just after - the garden outside connects both). They were having a special promotion for Indian tea (felt out depth for that - just opted for the regular Afternoon Tea - 32.10E) that they touted as soon as one walked in. I produced my printed-out e-mail confirmation and they gave me a choice of indoor or outdoor dining. I opted for le Jardin (thanks, Mimi!).

I chose the chocolat chaud. I asked the waiter for pronunciation as I was pronouncing it "shode." He explained that "shode" is feminine and that since chocolate is masculine it is pronounced, "show." I joked that this must be why women like chocolate so much! I spoke a few French phrases to him and he inquired if perhaps Madame would prefer he spoke in French? I replied with a resounding no, no, non. And it did resound, too; echoed right off the walls of the garden (just kidding).
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May 12th, 2003, 07:45 PM
  #32  
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The teacakes included were the marron glacé macaroon (divine), tiny chocolate éclair (good), strawberry tartlet (w/ crème fraiche - delectable), chocolate tartlet, apple tartlet, and piece of dark chocolate. The sandwiches were turkey/very fresh, ripe tomato/delicate mustard (good), cucumber/egg/mustard (my favorite) & smoked salmon w/lightly spread cream cheese. I don't normally care for smoked salmon as it tastes too undercooked for me but this was very good.

I was already so full so didn't eat much and felt a little (HELLO - the Ritz!) intimidated, so I started writing and pasting stuff in my journal. Presently, the maître d' walked over and I thought uh-oh, I'm busted. Shouldn't concentrate on my journal, should have head up contemplatively stirring my chocolat and admiring the gardens. But he was there to see if everything was okay. Maybe I looked uncomfortable, maybe it was because I hadn't eaten or drunk much but he was very attentive and very nice and put me completely at ease.

These guys are professional, I tell ya. They are extremely tactful and whatever you say is just the right thing to say. They never, ever disagree with you or chide you, it's not "Madame shouldn't put cream in her Earl Grey as it muddies the flavor"/it's more like "Madame should try the tea with cream but perhaps she might try it without first to see how she likes it." I was enchanted. They are neither obsequious nor sycophantic but know EXACTLY the right thing to say. If you ever had reservations about going, just dash them, as they will make you feel extremely welcome & comfortable!!!

The maître d' introduced himself as Henri. Henri is from Lebanon, he's worked at the Ritz for 20 years, has brothers & sisters throughout the U.S. and he loves America, particularly California, specifically to drive from Santa Barbara to San Francisco. He summers in the South of France & winters by skiing and I was totally charmed by him.
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May 12th, 2003, 07:48 PM
  #33  
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The chocolat was sitting unfinished so he asked if I liked it. I said "yes, but could I have some water as I'm extremely thirsty?" He brought back a beautiful, round globe vase-looking container filled with ice water. I told him I thought it was beautiful & we discussed how it mimicked ancient Greek vases. I asked if I could have it and then assured him I was joking, but asked if it was okay to take the paper Ritz doilies. Sure, he said, I'll get you some more. I said no, no, that's okay, I just want this one, but he sped off. He came back shortly with not just Ritz doilies but Ritz matches AND a Ritz porcelain ashtray (on the bottom it says "Ritz Paris - Porcelaine - Yves Deshoulieres - France"). I was just completely flabbergasted. Wow! I told him I had nothing to give him, that I felt bad. He said, "Just give me your beautiful smile." I told him he could have that all day long. I beamed at him trying not to look goofy. He left and then he came back with a Ritz bag in that lovely Ritz blue (a royal blue), 2 glass Ritz swizzle sticks, and a Ritz pen! Now, I was speechless. I asked him if they might stop me at the revolving door for having all this Ritz contraband. He replied, "no, no, no - just tell them HENRI gave it to you and that will be that." Cool.

I took a picture of Henri beside the très belles sphinxes and left.

I had planned to walk from Place de la Concorde to the Alexandre III pont but couldn't imagine doing so with all this heavy stuff (I also had my wine bottle from Le Vieux Paris) so I went back to my hotel for a nap & slept 'til after midnite!

Decided that if the rest of the trip sucks it wouldn't matter as I'd had a most glorious 2 days. Paris had welcomed me!!

Bonne chance!
Bonne journee!
Bon voyage!
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May 13th, 2003, 02:55 PM
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This is such enjoyable reading!
Certainly makes me feel like going back to Paris .
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May 13th, 2003, 06:33 PM
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Beatchick! Love your perusings. A propos the Josephine Baker poster: is it the one with strategically placed swans? I bought one when I was in Paris a couple of months ago.

More, more....
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May 13th, 2003, 06:49 PM
  #36  
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Thanks, Everyone!

Actually, Treese, it's the painted ad from the '20s of Josephine in the famous banana skirt & high heels (and nothing else!)
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May 13th, 2003, 07:00 PM
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What a great report! And you're making my mouth water. Thank goodness only 10 more days till we leave for Paris!
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May 14th, 2003, 04:57 AM
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this is a fantastic tour report. thorougly enjoyed it. makes me want to go back to Paris!
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May 14th, 2003, 05:29 AM
  #39  
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Hi Beatchick,

Thanx for a lovely report. Keep 'em coming.
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May 18th, 2003, 02:35 PM
  #40  
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Thank you! I'm glad you like it - hope the rest of it lives up to the expectations. : )

Here we go!
MONDAY - APRIL 14TH
One of the things that I really like about my hotel is that it's 5 minutes from the Metro station St. Paul on the #1 line, so it's very convenient to everything. I'd find my way back to the hotel by walking along rue St-Antoine to the huge St. Louis-St. Paul church, just past it on the left would be rue Caron which would take me right through the middle of Place St-Catherine (a beautiful little square with restaurants lining it and tons of people hanging out - prime location for people watching) then around the corner to the Grand Hotel Jeanne d'Arc.
Montmartre & Amélie
This morning I bought my Carte Musée (5-day)(45 Euro) at the Metro St. Paul and hopped on the Metro to the Concorde stop & then north to the Jules Joffrin station where I caught the Montmartrobus. (http://www.ratp.fr/ParisVisite/Eng/P...tmartrobus.htm) I rode the complete circuit of the Montmartrobus route twice & stopped off at rue Lamarck. Looked for the crêpe vendor (I'd decided during planning that crepes would make a FINE breakfast food) that was supposed to be across from the funicular but couldn't locate. Rode the funicular up to Sacré Coeur, made my way past Sacré Coeur, walked around for a bit, people-watched, imagined some scenes in Amélie, then walked to the bottom of the Utrillo stairs (to the right of Sacré Coeur as you face it) to Ete Pente Douce, a small restaurant, for a lunch of salade niçoise (my God, it was a HUGE salad - very good), their hefty/dense homemade brown bread, cheese platter & glass of the house wine for 16E. Really cheap. Whiled away a lovely 2 hours chatting with 2 English women, Poppy & Sue, who have been best friends for 7 years.
My only bad experience so far this trip was when I boarded the Montmartrobus. While I was flipping thru my journal and looking at my itinerary I heard yelling outside my window. I turned to look & saw a man yelling at me in French & shaking his fist at me, backing up, shaking his fist and THEN he spat at my window (good thing the window was there)! I was bemused by the whole bizarre experience but felt a little sad as he seemed to be a mentally ill street person.
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