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Paris on 1 week’s notice: a great Mom-Daughter trip !

Paris on 1 week’s notice: a great Mom-Daughter trip !

Sep 23rd, 2012, 10:20 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 291
Paris on 1 week’s notice: a great Mom-Daughter trip !

It's a bit long, so I'll try to break up into 2 posts...
These are some belated notes on a brief trip that we put together on the spur of the moment this past June. Having made the trip together less than a year before, going again so soon seemed like the most remote of possibilities. But for several weeks, DD and I had jokingly commented “it’s a sign!“ every time we heard or saw a Paris reference---in stores, on TV, in songs…wherever. Talk soon took a “well, why not ?!“ tone and we were off and running. Plans fell into place, and before we even had time to look forward to it, we were in the air. Departure date was literally 6 days after booking our flights.

This was my 6th Paris trip, DD’s second. The timing was based partly on the fact that she was expecting her first baby in early September…looking ahead, it figured to be awhile before we would have this opportunity again. So, even though we had just been in Paris in August 2011, we ascribe to the notion that Paris is always a good idea. (Note: aforementioned grand-daughter arrived on time, healthy and gorgeous. She’ll be forever regaled with the story of her first “visit” to Paris.)

It’s not been my habit to write a TR, so rather than a more traditional report (I dread the thought of mine being compared to all the clever, well-written reports that others submit) I thought I would post a few bullets of things that particularly surprised, delighted and/or stupefied us.

FLIGHTS: Travel was on Air France 777. We chose Premium Voyageur going over, economy heading back. I can honestly say that I was more comfortable in the economy seat. For some reason, I found the PV capsule thing too rigid, in spite of its adjustment/faux-recline (slide) capability. Being in that smallish PV cabin, though, with only 3 rows front to back, was nice. As for the return flight, the key to comfort in economy on the AF 777, I believe, is choosing a row higher than 49. Row 50 is where the aisle widens, and the 10 seats across config ends. We both had aisle seats, and it was one of the more comfy trans-Atlantic flights I’ve had. Loved being able to watch so many excellent French films on these 2 flights.

A/P TRANSFER INTO PARIS: Pick-up at CDG was by Shuttle-Inter. Horrible traffic into Paris, the kind of traffic where one is grateful to be in a prix-fixe situation. This was almost a 90 minute ride.

LODGING: No one was more surprised than I that we had been able to score a great apartment on just a few days’ notice. I’m not sure whether the property is being advertised yet; we were the first to stay there after a complete reno. Location on rue de Richelieu (2ème) was quiet and convenient. Close to Métro and bus lines. We rented from Pascal Bourdier at ParisNiceHome (aka your-paris), after Thierry (Paris Best Lodge) forwarded my last-minute email inquiry to Pascal. While those 2 gentlemen may be rivals in a sense, their spirit of cooperation helped our crazy last-minute scheme take shape.

I’ve mentioned on another forum that this was my 4th Paris apartment rental, and by far my favorite. (Previous rentals were through French Home Rentals, vrbo, and Paris Perfect. This was a first-floor walk-up over a quiet courtyard. Everything from the layout to the furnishings suited us to a T. Particularly impressive were the storage options, abundance of mirrors (2 are full-length) and of electrical outlets. Washer/dryer worked fine, and there is a dishwasher which we did not use. I’ll eventually be posting a review on Pascal’s site under the apartment name “Richelieu,” with further details.
Above and beyond all the positives about the apartment itself was the opportunity to work with Pascal. He went out of his way to get things completed in time for our visit, and made himself available 24/7 in case we had any issues. We had no issues with this terrific apartment. Hot water was plentiful, pressure good. Every kitchen item we needed was present and new. Wifi was speedy and reliable. Now, 3 months later, we still talk about how lucky we were to score Pascal’s terrific apartment.

GETTING AROUND: Having “discovered” Paris buses on my 2010 trip with my husband, I continue to be a fan. With DD’s being in her last trimester of pregnancy, we paid careful attention to her energy level, BP, and any foot/ankle swelling. We did plenty of walking, lots of bus-riding, took the métro when it made sense to do so, likewise with taxis. This was an 8-night trip and we went through 3 carnets, I believe, plus leftover tickets from our trip last August. Where taxi rides were concerned, most all began from taxi ranks, with a couple of exceptions where we were able to “legally” hail them. (note re: checking DD’s blood pressure--we became a fixture at a pharmacie near our apartment, where the pharmacien was only too happy to do the BP check every day.)

SEEING SIGHTS: This trip was all about just being in Paris. It was about strolling and, while feeling “at home,” still experiencing that delightful surprise awaiting us around every corner. It was about the familiar and the unexpected. While we had a few places in mind to try to see (Déportation Mémorial, Père Lachaise, Sainte-Chapelle) there was no pressure to do anything in particular on any given day--we simply let each day unfold as it would. There were several sleep-in days, and no small amount of café-sitting. We enjoyed exploring our apartment neighborhood; often found ourselves simply strolling in Montorgeuil, the Marais, near the Seine, and over to the Left Bank. I feel blessed to have had more than one chance to be in Paris, in order to enjoy the city at leisure, with no stress about meeting schedules or crossing items off a list.
lifes2short is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2012, 10:22 AM
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Posts: 291

FOOD: One reason I so enjoy traveling with DD is that she and I are not foodies, a shared trait that feeds into our relaxed travel style. No reservations to make or adhere to, no arranging ahead of time to be in a specific arrondissement at mealtime, etc. This philosophy worked especially well for us on this trip because it was so last-minute. And while I have enjoyed dining at some lovely, well-reviewed restos over the years, this trip was more about grazing, street food, basic poulet/ or steak frites, crêpes, pasta, even sandwiches on the street or from Monop.

That said, there were a few places we tried that are worth recommending for other non-foodies, or for those who feel hungry while exploring certain neighborhoods. Two of the 4 choices are located in high tourist-traffic areas, so they could come in handy one day !

Le Pain de la Bourse, 33 Rue Vivienne, 75002. Wonderful soups, salads, Panini. Try the tartine forestière.

Beaudevin - Carrousel du Louvre. Should you happen to find yourself trapped in this food court by a sudden downpour, I recommend this option for a fresh veggie plate.

La Terrase RIM, 38, Rue Saint Severin, 75005. Sure, most paris veterans would have us believe the Quartier Latin is no place for a meal. Generally speaking, I agree. But we liked this spot so much last year that we went back again on this trip. It’s a very good late-night option. My recommendation: linguine alle vongole.

Le Grand Colbert - go ahead, mock if you will, but this colorful, inviting place was absolutely spot-on for a chilly, rainy Sunday lunch while wandering the 2ème. Perche for me, poulet for DD. She was most impressed by the traditional hot chocolate service. It was one of our favorite experiences, made more special since we chanced upon it while wandering our neighborhood.

GENERAL OBSERVATIONS: We were pleased to see fewer clipboard girls than last year, and not one ring or bracelet scam in progress. A young man tried to pull the “read my laminated page of nonsense” trick on us, dashing over to us in a pizza place and flinging his page down onto our table…likely attempting to grab one of our iPhones which were firmly in our respective grips. DD threw the page back at him with a sharp “va-t’en!” and he was out of there.

We still love Maison Larnicol for chocolate and macarons, though we did branch out a bit this year due to staying on the Right Bank. I was still enjoying my chocolate “souvenirs” from June in late August !

Apart from the sites mentioned earlier, the only new experience for us this trip was la Tour Montparnasse. I agree with all the posters who recommend it, not only as a less-crowded alternative to ascending the ET, but also as a great way to actually include the Eiffel in one’s photos.

Speaking of photos, some of this year’s best were taken at Père Lachaise. Took a couple of iPhone videos, too, to capture that wonderful mélange of silence and birdsong. Had not appreciated on previous visits what a marvelously atmospheric place it is.

As always, churches were popular spots for us to visit, reflect, recharge. Maybe even moreso this trip, due to the frequent need to rest swollen ankles. Last year’s favorites were St-Sulpice and Ste-Clotilde. New this year for us were St-Eustache and St Paul-St Louis.

One feature of our time in Paris that could hardly have been better was the weather. Apart from one rainy, raw Sunday, we had mostly mild days and cool nights. It was great to have so much daylight to work with, too---until it came to seeing the illuminations. Staying out and about till 2300 or so was challenging for DD in her condition !

DEPARTURE: SHUTTLE-INTER WAS A NO-SHOW !! I chronicled our departure woes on another forum, where posters just love sinking their fangs into another shuttle thread. Because we were denied boarding at CDG (missed the cutoff by two minutes, after standing in the kiosk line for five), this could have been a trip-ruining scenario for us. But we were in such a stress-free, relaxed zone that the extra night (Pullman CDG) hardly fazed us. The only thing that WAS ruined was our relationship with Shuttle-Inter, whose employees showed a remarkable affinity for lying and a complete lack of customer service skills. Let me just note that SI failed to show for the return to CDG (despite email reconfirmation the day before), and never alerted us that the driver would not be coming. They later claimed that they did not have my phone number, when this info is required on the online booking form, and was displayed in every single email exchange between us. No apology has been forthcoming from SI, just stonewalling with the same old lie about the phone number.

TRIP INSURANCE IS A GOOD THING: We’ve always taken out trip insurance for international trips, especially where upfront payments and/or non-refundable flights were involved. I assembled our claim immediately on returning home, documenting over 1,000 euro in unforeseen expenses. Our claim was settled in less than 3 weeks, bolstered by Shuttle-Inter’s refusal to cooperate with the insurance company. My documentation was robust enough, and SI’s lack of professionalism blatant enough that it was a clearcut case for quick resolution.

RECAP: I hope anyone who has a last-minute chance for a Paris adventure will not hesitate to go for it. The only things missing were the weeks or months of anticipation that some travelers are able to incorporate, but for us this was a good thing. So often we read posts by folks who have whipped themselves into such a frenzy with planning, over-thinking and second-guessing that they seem quite unable to make a decision, or, worse, unable to relax and enjoy the trip. So, while this style of travel may not be for everyone, here’s my unsolicited advice: the next time your little voice inside starts to whisper “It’s a sign !” ---pay attention and go for it !
lifes2short is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2012, 10:24 AM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 21,407
Paris without a specific schedule or agenda is indeed one of the best ways to appreciate the city.
kerouac is online now  
Sep 23rd, 2012, 10:41 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 17,094
Sounds like a great trip! I have traveled to Paris with my mom and my DD, and a few times with just DD. There is something special about those types of trips

We too just eat on the fly and don't seek out places. So far it has always worked well for us and we have found some great little spots.

That is too bad about the shuttle. We had the same experience with them a couple years ago. They were a noshow for our departure. Very frustrating, and their lack of care makes it worse, IMO. I too am a firm believer in trip insurance, so nice to hear that it worked out well for you
mms is offline  
Sep 24th, 2012, 03:49 AM
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 4,166
So glad your trip was wonderful. Sorry about the shuttle...I have never used them as there are enough people on this forum who have complained about no shows from that company. Sounds like you made the best of it!

I would love to go to Paris at the last minute!
denisea is offline  
Sep 24th, 2012, 05:59 AM
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 437
Your "recap" thoughts about over thinking and working ones self into a frenzy really hit home for me - Thanks for those words. I stress over clothes/shoes/fitting it into carryon size luggage/lost luggage/being unable to find replacement clothes that fit...see the frenzy!

I thought my Pére Lachaise photos from October 2010 were our best too -- i still find myself returning to them often. Gorgeous fall color.

Please airfare watchdog - hit me with a winter Paris airfare special! As much as I am trying to branch out, Paris keeps calling me back.
davispeets is offline  
Sep 24th, 2012, 01:01 PM
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What a delightful read!
ParisAmsterdam is offline  
Sep 25th, 2012, 04:01 AM
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Yes, there a some unusually well-written trip reports - and non trip reports - around at the moment.
farrermog is offline  
Sep 25th, 2012, 05:20 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,657
What a great idea. I'd love to do a trip like that with my DD, but I've afraid my hub would not want to stay at home, and then we'd feel like we should also take DS, and suddenly the whole last minute, no plans scheme would just fall apart.
uhoh_busted is offline  

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