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janisj Jan 9th, 2014 02:42 PM

Paris, London, 49ers and Fodors GTG
I am <i>two</i> trip reports behind so I'll try to catch up here. (Have to write another one about Yosemite over Christmas)

This trip revolved around the 49er/Jaguar game at Wembley Stadium. I fit in three days in Paris, then took the Eurostar back to London for the game/, a Fodors GTG and shopping/theatre

<B>Oct 22/23 SMF > LHR, Eurostar to Paris, late night Vedette du Pont Neuf </B>

I flew SMF/DFW/LHR. The AA flight to DFW was TOTALLY full and they were begging for volunteers. Made the 1:25 connection at DFW with time to spare and the BA flight was barely 1/3 full. I haven't been on such an empty plane in years. I was in coach but had window/middle/aisle all to myself(!) Heaven. After take off many passengers moved to other seats so everyone had tons of space. Interestingly - one very large man stuck in the middle of the center section never moved a muscle on the entire flight. The guy in front of him reclined all the way back and this poor man was squished . . . but he stayed planted there all the way to LHR.

Normally I'd fly directly on to Paris from LHR but earlier in the Fall I learned an old friend in London was moving back to the States that week. If we planned carefully there would be time to meet for lunch and then I'd take the Eurostar to Paris.

So that's what we did. I cleared immigration really quickly, re-filled my Oyster and was on the tube less than 40 minutes after docking at the gate - traveling carry on only speeded thing up. Meat Gwen at Searcy's upstairs at St Pancras and had a nice visit catching up on 5 years of news.

My Eurostar seat faced backwards and only had a partial window - but didn't matter to me one whit since I was zonked out cold before we were in the Kent countryside.

Arrived at Gare du Nord a little after 6PM and I decide to take a cab instead of hassling on the metro. There was quite a queue for taxis but it moved pretty fast. Now . . . I am totally used to crazy cab rides/drivers. Heck, I used to race sports cars so wild rides don't phase me. Well -- THIS cab ride sure did. Mr Toad's Wild Ride at DL doesn't hold a candle - a crazy man w/ a death wish :) But he got me there in one piece.

I stayed at the Hotel Paris Rivoli on the Rue de Rivoli in the Marais - got a very good rate on The room was small-ish but larger than many Paris hotel rooms and was more than adequate. Large bathroom with a deep tub/shower over. The staff was very friendly and helpful and spoke great English.

After checking in and freshening up I went out about 7:30 for a long/head clearing/jet lag defeating walk. Just wandered and got totally turned around but scoped out all sorts of interesting shops I'd try to visit another day. Eventually made it to the Hotel DeVille and across the river. It was such a nice night - decided to catch a Vedette river cruise. Walking back around 10:30 - I still hadn't had dinner and was getting just a tad loopy so stopped at a nearby sidewalk creperie . . . so my fist gourmet meal in Paris was a chicken/tomato/onion crepe and a split of white wine courtesy of BA, sitting on my bed.

Next <B>Oct 24. Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Orangerie, shopping

Nikki Jan 9th, 2014 02:50 PM

Signing on for the ride.

Patty Jan 9th, 2014 03:14 PM

Looking forward to more and will be very interested in:

<i>Have to write another one about Yosemite over Christmas</i>

I've tried and failed to go to Yosemite in winter 4 times. I think I have a Yosemite curse.

irishface Jan 9th, 2014 04:31 PM

Looking forward to more. Janis, you are always so good at sharing info on this forum that it makes me glad that you are getting another chance to travel!

Paquintravel Jan 9th, 2014 05:09 PM

Looking forward to your report. :)

janisj Jan 9th, 2014 05:42 PM

Thanks - most of this is from memory and a few notes in my mini iPad so I may miss some of the details . . .

<B>Oct 24. Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Orangerie, shopping</B>

Slept very well and didn't feel the effects of jet lag much at all. It was a glorious morning -- cool, crisp and a few fluffy clouds. A day to be outside. So after a continental breakfast (included in my room special) I headed out to Pere Lachaise Cemetery. I didn't realize there are no guides/maps available in the cemetery - later discovered a tabac near the metro station sells them but by then it was too late. So anyone going to the cemetery be sure to stop in the shops as you come up out of the Metro station and get a guide there. There may be a iPhone app - not sure about that. The place is ENORMOUS and very confusing - one really does need a guide. So what was I to do??? At the entrance there is a signboard w/ a list of many notables' graves listed by number, and then another sign board w/ a map and the applicable numbers. So -- I took a close up photo of each of the boards w/ my iPad. The resolution of both photos was really good even enlarged to the max so I had a 'guide' in a fashion. I'd check the list and then flip to the next photo of the map. This jerry rigged set up worked great and I even ended up helping some others find graves.

Some of the ones I remember seeing include Ocsar Wilde, Simone Signoret & Yves Montand, Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf, Chopin, Balzac, Georges Seurat . . . and there were quite a few others. They've finally put up plexiglass sheets around Oscar Wilde's monument to stop everyone planting bright red lip prints on it- But it was still had more tokens/flowers/lip prints than any other grave I saw. Jim Morrison's is sort of tucked in behind some other memorials and fenced off w/ tacky metal railing so you can't very close to it -- but people still did.

After about 2.5 hours there I was done w/ dead people ;) and decided to rejoin the living. Took the metro back to Hotel DeVille and walked towards the louvre stopping in several department stores and window shopping along the way. Considered eating in the Carrousel du Louvre and then pop into the Louvre for a bit . . . but as I neared it I thought why be stuck in an underground shopping center on such a beautiful day. So I continued walking through the Tuileries and ate in one of the open air cafes in the gardens. Had a sort of Caprese Salad and white wine.

It was late afternoon and I while I hadn't booked the Orangerie I figured it would be worth a shot. Well, the line was very long and it looked iffy whether I'd get in. But they put a barrier about 50 people behind me in the queue and said anyone behind that would not get in but the rest of us would. As I entered the building there was almost exactly 1 hour til closing time. Normally that wouldn't have been long enough - but the major exhibition was Frida Kahlo and I am not a Frida fan (seems everywhere I go there is either a Frida, a Diego, or a Frida AND Diego show >) ) so I ended up w/ a full hour w/ the monumental Waterlillies. I've seen lots of Monet's waterlilies other times in other galleries - but the ones in the Orangerie are breathtaking.

Made my way back down the rue Du Rivoli and ate dinner about 7:30 at La Tartine just up the road from the hotel. It was REALLY good. Had a sole dish (can't now totally remember how it was prepared but know it was very good and I would have eaten there again if I hadn't run out of days)

Next: <B>Notre Dame, Ste Chapelle, - Fabulous lunch with a billion dollar view

TexasAggie Jan 9th, 2014 05:49 PM

Always enjoy your reports so much!

ruedebuci Jan 9th, 2014 07:12 PM

Great start! IF there is one thing I don't like about Paris it is the cab drivers. Lots of scary folks.

Nikki Jan 10th, 2014 03:03 AM

Glad you enjoyed La Tartine, it was the one place I went back to several times on my last visit.

TPAYT Jan 10th, 2014 03:45 AM

Lunch with a billion dollar view? Bring it on!
Enjoying your report.

annhig Jan 10th, 2014 04:35 AM


kovsie Jan 10th, 2014 05:58 AM

Thanks for posting this. I am avidly following!

Cathinjoetown Jan 10th, 2014 06:04 AM

Signing on.

2010 Jan 10th, 2014 06:39 AM

Even with a map, locating specific markers in Pere Lachaise Cemetery is like one big treasure hunt. You did well, Janis!

I look forward to more!

TDudette Jan 10th, 2014 06:54 AM

Can't imagine why that man stayed put on the flight. Great idea to take a photo of the maps!

Very enjoyable, more soon please|!

annhig Jan 10th, 2014 08:36 AM

Great start - more, please jj.

latedaytraveler Jan 10th, 2014 09:58 AM

Hi Janisj,

I will be following your TR to London and Paris with interest. Great idea to connect with your friend at St. Pancras Station. “Next time” I expect to check out one of the eateries there after visiting the nearby British Library. Read about the renovations to the station and elegant hotel in recent years.

On to Paris. Did you have any time to view the Walter-Guillaume Collection (Picasso, Matisee, Modigliani) on the lower level of the Orangerie?

Enjoyed your trek through Pere Lachaise in good weather. Will stay aboard…

janisj Jan 10th, 2014 10:19 AM

<B>Notre Dame, Ste Chapelle, - Fabulous lunch with a billion dollar view</B>

Today wasn't a day of discovery or new places but mostly going to places I've been several to many times before. I have a friend who had a mild stroke (and he's younger than me - yikes!) and I told him I'd light a candle at Notre Dame for him. So that sort dictated where the day would at least start. Had another nice breakfast at the Hotel and then went walking (I bought a carnet at St Pancras and walked so much I barely half of it in 3 days - ended up giving 3 or 4 metro tickets to the hotel desk when I checked out). First I wandered around Ile St. Louis window shopped, and had tea/pastry somewhere - but honestly can't remember where on the island. Then across the Bridge to ile de la Cite. There was quite a queue to get into Notre Dame (there was a big sort of bleachers/platforms/stages out front for entertainers - apparently being the tail end of the cathedral's year long 850 year commemoration)

While I waited in line was entertained by a large group of break dancers - they had an enthusiastic audience in the stands but weren't really that good. Got in to the Cathedral and while it was crowded - not unbearably so. Been several times so I spent less than an jour inside but did light a candle for my friend.

Then I walked over to Ste Chapelle. I don't know how many times I've been there between daytime visits and even concerts but it is someplace I will NEVER tire of. One of the most beautiful building interiors anywhere. Folks are always advising to go on a sunny day so the windows are brighter, but honestly on a cloudy day they are just as nice. More subtle maybe, but really beautiful. Today was overcast and occasionally drippy but the windows were wonderful. I don't think I've ever been there on a REALLY dark day and that probably does make a difference.

I think every time I've been at Ste Chapelle I'll overhear someone saying something like "Is that all? This wasn't worth the wait in line?" . . . while standing in the ground floor chapel and not realizing they have to go up the spiral stairs. I always try to help and show them where the doorway is - can you imagine visiting this breathtaking place . . . and leaving in confusion never having seen the windows?? (and that is only the English speakers I'm aware of - I'm sure it isn't just 'dim' Americans or Aussies who are confused) :(

Been to the Eiffel Tower many times but it has been years since I was on the Trocadero side of the river and I wanted to take some photos from there so I took the metro over. This was the wettest part of the day not really raining but misty enough that I was glad to have my umbrella and walking shoes since the marble pavement around the Trocadero gets really REALLY slippery - but that didn't deter all the young girls/women I saw in mini skirts and really REALLY high heels tromping around . . I would have broken my neck for sure!

Early on I had decided to have one really posh meal while in Paris and considered considered many of the special/michelin star places . . . But then figured, do I really want to do the big/posh/momentous meal as a solo? Probably overkill. So then I changed tack and decided a good meal but w/ a MAJOR view so more for an experience than just a foodie dream.

I've been up the Montparnasse Tower a couple of times and had a casual lunch there years ago before it was redone as Ciel De Paris - and that is where I decided to go. Decent if not spectacular food but with an unsurpassed view. Problem was - I tried to book weeks before my trip and the on-line booking was really 'twitchy' and I could never get it to work. I had sort of given up and decided to just go to some nice restaurant 'on the fly'. But when I checked in to the hotel - and we were chatting about what I planned to do during my stay this came up and the desk clerk (who I think was the manager) picked up the phone and called the restaurant and booked a 2:30 lunch for me two days later. :D

So that is how I ended up at the top of the world - or at least the top of Paris. They gave me a window table which I hoped for but being a single it is often the small table near the servers station for me :) (and the place was pretty full even at that odd hour). I had a Lobster soup w/ sea urchin starter, duck two ways (breast and confit) with sweet cabbage and cranberries, one glass of wine, some sparkling water and tea after -- €75. The food was very good - not spectacular. The service was very good - almost spectacular. And the view was extremely good, TOTALLY spectacular! Maybe a €60 meal w/ a priceless view.

Took the metro back to St Michel and wandered around the 5th for an hour or two, then back across the river and back to the hotel by maybe 7:30. Was not the least bit hungry and ended up w/ just snacks and another BA wine for a late night 'supper'.

Next:<B> Eurostar to London, Harrods (yes, I <i>know</i> ;) One Man, Two Guvnors

janisj Jan 10th, 2014 10:24 AM

Jeeze - need to preview (I don't have Word currently on my laptop so I'm composing and writing at the same time)

That is >> . . . I spent less than an hour . . .<<

and >>I don't know how many times I've been there between daytime visits and evening concerts . . .<<

There are probably more - but I'm off for an appointment so you'll have to fend for yourselves :)

jamikins Jan 10th, 2014 11:13 AM

Great report so far!!

Ooh we may have to try that place next time we are in Paris!!

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