Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

PARIS RENDEVOUS July-August 2010. My Trip Report.

PARIS RENDEVOUS July-August 2010. My Trip Report.

Old Sep 6th, 2010, 07:58 AM
  #1  
tod
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 3,654
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
PARIS RENDEVOUS July-August 2010. My Trip Report.

Magical Paris beckons me again and I fly to her side in sweet surrender once more...............So, this is a story of another wonderful Rendevous in Paris!

Having embarked on my 12th visit, I am at last discovering there is a world of difference between the Paris of tourism and Parisian's Paris. It's the latter to which I am so attracted. Upon each subsequent visit I Try to combine still backwaters, uncluttered nooks and crannies where the crowds shy away, with a hint of the crazy tourist routes where rushing from one must-see spot to another is the order of the day.

Thursday, 22nd July, 2010
We arrive in Munich having flown with a Star Alliance A340 - 600, a really remarkable aircraft. We slept well under the duck-down duvet provided and arrived refreshed and ready for the ICE & TGV to Paris. A long journey but very relaxing.
The TGV pulls into Gare de L'Est around 4pm and we walk down rue d' Alsace a little way before cutting through to rue de Faubourg St Denis via a charming little street called Passage Delanos. One of the buildings has a wall entirely covered in plants. Another has beautiful brickwork and designs similar to the Hector Guimand buildings in Auteuil.
Turning the corner we find our bus stop in front of Gare de Nord. It may be 4.30pm but the sun is as hot as hell and there is no shade. Thank goodness the 43 bus taking us to Pont de Neuilly arrives before I melt like a blob of butter. It's an exciting ride across town and I try to absorb all the passing scenery like a sponge. It's hard not to get too excited when I pass recognisable restaurants and shops like Monoprix!
Pont Neuilly bus stop is so close to our hotel, the Ibis Esplanade La Defense, that despite the heat we walk the last few metres. The gardens and fountains are really beautiful and I would love to sit on a bench and take it all in but carry on walking instead.

When we go across the bridge which cuts across the tip of the Ile du Pont we notice several strips of sand put aside for the Boulle players. Unfortunately we don't get a chance to go down the steps and walk around the tip of the island gardens as we are lugging our cases , but next trip I'd love to walk down there.
Checking in to the Ibis we find out they have not given us a Seine facing room. Disappointed I ask the receptionist if it's possible to move as this is our 3rd visit to this hotel.
She scans her computer and finds us a beautiful newly renovated room on the 14th Floor - Room 1414 which has a view of the Eiffel Tower (if you squeeze up against the window). Not just the top or halway down - the whole Eiffel tower right down to it's four spread out feet. I am so delighted we will be here for the next 4 nights!

No time to waste. Shower and changed we feel brand new and rush off to get the metro to the Champs Elysees so that we can purchase our cellphone SIMcards and call home.
We have used this SFR several times before - it's located right across from Laduree.
The whole process takes quite some time as they are very busy. I sit on a bench nearby and watch the passing parade. People pushing their dogs in a baby stroller -What?!! Now I've seen everything!
There are also dozens of very beautiful women dressed in brightly coloured headscarves. The rest of their dress in modern from tight trousers with little overkirts to beautiful shoes. Two women pass me wearing black burka's - only their eyes showing. I guess the fact that this is not allowed in France any longer will still take time for it to come into full effect. Lots of girls seem to be wearing white blouses or trousers or both. Must be the colour this summer. Or should I say 'No colour'?

At last DH emerges and we walk down to see whats been happening with the preperations for the Tour de France on Sunday. Lots of barriers are in place and a few marquees with seating. It's getting quite late - nearly 8.30pm so we head back up the Champs again. I want to have something to eat at Chez Quan at number 66. Unfortunately its all closed up for the day and there are no places in the building that are still serving food. We walk past Leon de Bruxelles but the queue is too long. Passing Fouquet's we notice most of the customers look middle eastern and are wearing headscarves along with many tables of just gentlemen.
I remember seeing a Chinese restaurant down the side of a building near our hotel,
so we get the metro back at George V.

The Chinese place is also closed and an old man tells us to go to La Defense where there are numerous eateries. No way. I'm really tired now so we decide to try the hotel restaurant, L'Estaminet. I order a salad and a veal dish and DH goes for a burger. Both very acceptable but not a gourmet meal. Not gourmet prices either which is nice.


Friday 23rd July.
Our plans for today are to head off to the Bacillica St Denis. Being Friday it's market day and would make the visit all the more pleasureable! It's a glorious sunny day and we stop for a coffee and croissant at the little kiosk inside the Esplanade la Defense metro. We take our line 1 to Metro Champs Elysees Clemenceau and change to line 13. Suddenly DH looks up at the map on the metro carriage and notices we are heading for Les Courtilles ! The line divides after La Fourche and we were on the wrong train. Getting off at Gabriel Peri we double back and get off at La Fourche and get the correct one this time!

Immediately exiting the station the morning market crowds envelope us as we make our way from stall to stall. The market is in the town square and the merchants are packed tightly together calling out their produce.
I find some beautiful tea-towels and buy twelve for 10euros. Then we come across a stall with only childrens shoes. I can't resist buying 2 pairs for my grandson at 6 Euros each.
Pleased with our purchases we walk up to the Basillica but not before stopping for a beer at the cafe` opposite the front doors.
It's blazing hot and we are so relieved to enter to cool church. With listening guides in hand we wander around for nearly two hours. The sun has shifted and is throwing wonderful patterns of coloured light from the Rose windows onto the marble tombs of Clovis and his family. What luck!

Around 2pm we leave and head back to the Restaurant Khedive in front of the church. But first we watch the children having fun on the carrousel.
Lunch goes on until 3pm so we are still in time. I order a Leffe beer - my favourite.
The Cote de Veaux Normandy @ 12euros looks appealing and DH orders a cheese burger for 8 euros. Looking at the prices on their menu I notice a plain omlette is 5 euros and with the kitchen sink thrown in, (cheese, ham & a salad) only 6.50. The weather has changed dramatically and the wind is blowing the umbrellas over.
As our meal comes it starts to pour with rain. We are shifted back under cover and with the blinds down all around we enjoy our lunch very much. The music in the background is 'Age of Aquarius' then, Procal Harem with "A Whiter Shade of Pale' , followed by 'Wild Thing' - Takes me back to our discoteque days! Mosque has just come out and the men are running into the restaurant to escape the downpour. Some chance it and take off running across the square.
By the time we are done eating the rain has stopped so we walk back to the metro.
We notice the square where the market was is a total shambles but the cleaning crew are there and I bet in less than an hour it will be back to normal.
Photos: http://tinyurl.com/2fqdmbl

When we get back to the Champs we take the metro back to the hotel and freshen up for the evening. I rush over to my little vineyard to see how the grapes are doing. Still quite small and all appear to be a white grape variety. (It's planted above the metro station).
It is so beautiful outside we decide walk up to the Grande Arche. These tall buildings all around us are absolutely amazing structures of glass. The new one going up behind our hotel has a dizzying spiral of steel shooting skywards! The crane is bolted into the building except for the very last bit which is clearly leaning outwards!!

We enter the shopping centre Elysees La Defense and it's buzzing! Every shop is having a sale.
Eventually we arrive at the Dome food Court and are entertained by a chap playing lovely classical tunes on a grand piano. We settle on our dinner at an Italian restaurant called Pizza Il Natural.
We order a Leffe & Stella Artois , Lasagne @ 11 euros and Tagliatelli Cabonara @ 15euros with side salads. Other restaurants surrounding us are Paradis de Fruit, a Soup & Juice Bar, McD's, Starbucks and a Chinese/Thai place serving wraps etc. On the next floor up are the cinemas.

Once more out on Le Parvis in front of the Grande Arche we experience the most awesome sunset! It's just 10pm.
The buildings are reflecting other buildings bathed in a golden light. We walk slowly back through the beautiful gardens amongst the office towers. When we arrive at the Agam we see rows of seating. This must be for the fountain show. The steel artwork seems to marry in with the modern buildings but on their own I can't say I'm a fan.
By the time we get near the Ibis Hotel it's really late and Lady Eiffel is sparkling like a beatiful diamond! She looks so much better from far when she sparkles. Thats just my opinion. I see millions of lights all the way to the Arc de Triomphe as the traffic flows up and down the Champs Elysees.

Time to get to bed - Tomorrow it's the Tour de France!

Photos:
http://tinyurl.com/3ypesy6
tod is offline  
Old Sep 6th, 2010, 08:12 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 9,705
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Great start! We also ate at the restaurant across from St Denis, excellent onion soup!
avalon is offline  
Old Sep 6th, 2010, 08:14 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 386
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Yea!!! Thank you, dear friend, for getting your much awaited trip report started! I'm loving it already and looking forward to vicariously joining you on the rest of the trip! P.S. Hope you're feeling better.
ginainmi42 is offline  
Old Sep 6th, 2010, 08:34 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 3,357
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi tod..

Glad you arrived without problems and are off to a good start...

Joan
gracejoan3 is offline  
Old Sep 6th, 2010, 08:43 AM
  #5  
tod
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 3,654
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks Avalon & ginainmi42 - Yes, I am starting to feel a little better but this chest infection still persists.
Lot more red wine needed me thinks!!
tod is offline  
Old Sep 6th, 2010, 08:44 AM
  #6  
tod
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 3,654
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hello Jaon - we must have been posting at the same time! I will try and put some more forward tomorrow.
tod is offline  
Old Sep 6th, 2010, 08:49 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,167
Likes: 0
Received 11 Likes on 4 Posts
Nice report and pictures! Looking forward to the rest.
Nikki is offline  
Old Sep 6th, 2010, 09:13 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 23,227
Likes: 0
Received 6 Likes on 1 Post
I have been anxiously awaiting your trip report, tod, and spent days looking out of my 'fashion' window to see if you were downstairs.

Just for the record, there is no burqa law in France. It has not even been presented to the National Assembly yet, and when that happens, it will take another 6 months. Just another example of poor international reporting.
kerouac is offline  
Old Sep 6th, 2010, 09:21 AM
  #9  
tod
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 3,654
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi Kerouac! Despite all good intentions I never quite made it to you doorstep this trip. The furtherest I got was to metro La Chapelle after completing the part of your walk I never got to last year! I can't tell you how delighted I was to be in the area between Gare de Nord and Chapelle as I discovered something I have been wanting for over 2 years! Yes, its a vegetable!
Will carry on tomorrow, if I can stop coughing. I remember you had this not so long ago.....
tod is offline  
Old Sep 6th, 2010, 09:27 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 23,227
Likes: 0
Received 6 Likes on 1 Post
If you have any photos, I know a place where you can display them.
kerouac is offline  
Old Sep 6th, 2010, 10:13 AM
  #11  
tod
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 3,654
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I have posted 2 sets of photos along with the start of my report. I am not the photographer - Only the Director! My DH takes his photos and then he comes along to be directed to the shots I want! I hope you approve of the sunset ones at La Defense.
tod is offline  
Old Sep 6th, 2010, 11:46 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,766
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
You're off to a great start, Tod! I'm looking forward to the rest. Enjoyed your pictures, too.
I think St. Denis Basilica is fascinating - so full of history. I did one of the "Paris Walks" there, which was fabulous. I think they have since discontinued that walk.

I'm looking forward to hearing how you liked your apt. I think you were planning to stay in one that I thought looks quite interesting. Anyway, keep this coming!
Sue4 is offline  
Old Sep 7th, 2010, 08:59 AM
  #13  
tod
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 3,654
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Saturday 24th July.

Marche` aux Puces de la Porte de Vanves:
Along with the Latin Quarter, flea markets (marche`s aux puces) are what everyone had heard about. The biggest and best known is the Marche` de St Ouen (vast and confusing), but there are others like the Marche` de Montreuil and the one we chose to visit, Marche` de Vanves held on weekends in the avenue Marc Sangnier. I had read it was by a long way the best, being neither to expensive or too rubbishy. It's a good place for period household fittings, door locks, brassware and the like, but with a wide variety of other stalls to pick over.
If you go on a Sunday there is an adjacent market in Blvd Brune where you can buy whatever you fancy for a picnic lunch.

We set off from the Hotel Ibis Esplanade La Defense where we have a bargain room at 44 euros a day (internet special), and thought we might catch a coffee and croissant down in the metro but being a weekend they obviously don't open so we took the metro as far as Champs Elysees Clemenceau and changed once again to line 13 but heading in the opposite direction to that of yesterday and Basillica St Denis.
Today we get off at Porte de Vanves for the fleamarket.

By the time we arrive - late morning, we are ravenous and head straight to the first Cafe we see, namely Au Marechal Brune. Sitting outside on this lovely sunny day we enjoy a baguette lathered in butter and jam @l.50 each, together with a cafe` creme and a cup of tea @ 3.50each. Total breakfast bill 10euros. The crispy baguette is particularly good and we find the little bakery it came from as we walk up to the market.

The tables are groaning with every kind of old collectable, books, records, toys, old rusty keys etc., are laid in rows under a long avenue of shady trees. This makes browsing much more pleasureable as it is getting hotter as midday approaches.

After an hour or so, and having found nothing that took our fancy, we head back and take the tramway to Parc Montsouris.
The park is a charming landscaped garden with gently sloping lawns, a lake and many pathways for the enthusiastic jogger!
Near the exit to Blvd Jourdan stands a curious stone stela with a hole at the top. It was used by astronomers at the Paris Observatory to set one of their instruments called a quarter-circle. An inscription has been partly oblitorated probably during the French Revolution but the date 1806 is still visible.
There are wedding couples being photgraphed, famillies lying on the grass having a picnic and the atmosphere is really peaceful.

We eventually leave and board the Tramway once more and get off at Porte de Choisy and head up into Chinatown for a late lunch. La Lune is quite busy and had no tables outside so we opted for the place next door called Fung Shun. I ordered the beef Legume @ 6.50, DH ordered beef Onion for 6.50, Rice nature 1.50 , with wine and beer the bill totalled 20.70euros.

Now we have a bit of a dogs leg by metro to get to our next destination which is The Frog & British Library at metro Bibliotheque F.Mitterrand. First up to Place de Italie then Bercy, eventually arriving at the Pub to watch the time trials for the Tour de France.
The place is practically deserted but a few couples and groups are sitting around. We have a choice of tables and settle on one with a clear view of the screen.
This place is known for its micro-brewery and different brewed beers so we choose the ones with the most unusual names! I have a Parislytic and DH goes for a FNB Blonde.
We get chatting to an American couple who had cycled to the pub and were very serious about the times the riders were doing, writing down and comparing the seconds inbetween each rider.
When it's all over we head back to Porte Maillot. This is our dinner venue tonight.
I found Restaurant Sebillon, 20 Avenue Charles de Gaulle, Neuilly. Metroorte Maillot, on the internet and was interested in their special lamb dish. According to the website they put around 15 or so legs of lamb on to roast before each sitting.
We are seated well into the restaurant in a sort of 4 table alcove. The interior is elegant with crisply starched white table clothes and and at least 4 glasses lined up at an angle for your wine & water. Whirling trolleys of lamb served with their special little white beans take to the floor as customers pour in. You are at liberty to have as many helpings as you like. The headwaiter serving our table confides that one man came back 16 times! I choose a glass of Brouilly and DH has a Heineken. Somehow the chilled red wine slides down too fast and I need another top up!
We are stuffed after 2 servings each and leave room for their
renowned giant eclair which we share.
The unending lamb dish is 24euros each and the total bill 75.90 is presented in a beautiful envelope with the restaurants logo on the front.
There are numerous other dishes on the menu so if beans are not your choice vegetable, you could go with something else. The lamb is absolutely incredible! Succulent and tender.
The service was fantastic and there was always a waiter hovering nearby. The only strange thing I found was the fact they removed your used cutlery and put it on the table when removing your plate. A new plate is presented and the lamb carved again from the trolley nearby. I have never ever eaten another course with the same knife and fork! I found that a bit strange.
Restaurant:http://tinyurl.com/384tadb

We take the metro home - same line 1 direct to the hotel.
After a lovely shower I sit on the dressing table my face pressed against the glass window. I watch the Eiffel Tower until she sparkles. What a wonderful end to a perfect day in Paris!

Photos:http://tinyurl.com/2ekzk22
tod is offline  
Old Sep 7th, 2010, 09:24 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 23,227
Likes: 0
Received 6 Likes on 1 Post
Tod, I don't want to slight the other posters here, but you write the best trip reports, because you see Paris much more the way I do (and not just because you try to go to my places ). I am so tired of reading about a lunch at the Café de Flore in Saint Germain, a trip to Ladurée, or breakfast at the Paul industrial fast food factory. You do the fringes of Paris that the others don't do, and that's fantastic.

However, I never recommend the Porte de Vanves flea market to anybody. If you are right next to it, it is worth a visit, but as far as I'm concerned, it is all small time professionals selling their knicknacks of questionable interest. The bums' market at Le Kremlin Bicêtre (Porte d'Italie) is more interesting.
kerouac is offline  
Old Sep 7th, 2010, 09:37 AM
  #15  
tod
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 3,654
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks Kerouac, I take everything to heart and am always open to suggestions and comments - good & advisable! Please correct any names I get wrong.....like Burqa! Ha ha!
If you have enjoyed my Paris tale so far you are in for a lot more strange stuff.........well strange to most I guess!
I have made note of your flea market suggestion and hope others do too. Vanves was the first one I have ever been to in my Paris life, so I have no comaprisons except whats already written in guide books. Thanks again for your encouragement.
tod is offline  
Old Sep 7th, 2010, 09:49 AM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 34,494
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I find this report very interesting, also, for the different venues. I also do not like Porte de Vanves flea market and thought it was a waste of time.

As for the cutlery, they do that a lot in the US, I've noticed (put your dirty implements back on the table), at least in places I go. I don't dine in expensive ones, but stil, this is disgusting to me, absolutely disgusting. I think I noticed one or two places doing this to me in France on my last trip, also, much to my dismay. Maybe they always did, I don't know, I just don't understand how any eating establishment thinks that is remotely acceptable, put dirty implements down on the tablecloth which you have had in your mouth and eaten with.
Christina is offline  
Old Sep 7th, 2010, 10:28 AM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 23,227
Likes: 0
Received 6 Likes on 1 Post
It is completely normal in most French restaurants to leave the cutlery that you have been using on the table. I find this totally ecological and absolutely cannot imagine how anybody can consider the implements they have been using to be "dirty".

What do you find dirty about it?
kerouac is offline  
Old Sep 7th, 2010, 11:04 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 11,212
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi tod - enjoying your report and anxiously awaiting the rest!
adrienne is offline  
Old Sep 7th, 2010, 12:56 PM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 4,109
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Glad to see that you "are on the road again" and thanks for sharing a new set of adventures. You have some lovely pictures up!
irishface is offline  
Old Sep 7th, 2010, 01:22 PM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 27,802
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Super so far, Tod. DH and I also enjoyed St. Denis and it's interesting to read about new places. But I will never tire of the enthusiasm of new visitors-that's what brings us back over and over, eh?

"...put dirty implements down on the tablecloth which you have had in your mouth and eaten with." So much better than someone else's mouth! LOL. We had an 8 course Easter dinner in Italy and everyone just put their bread on the tablecloth. Diff strokes for diff folks.
TDudette is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information