Paris - Things We Did The Third Time

Jul 1st, 2007, 11:35 AM
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Paris - Things We Did The Third Time

For my DH and I, any trip planned less than 6 months in advance is "spontaneous" for us. We usually plan long in advance and have it all scoped out months before we leave. But - for the second year in a row, in the middle of the Chicago winter, we both got this longing to return to Paris. In February of this year, I mentioned to my husband, "I have this really strong Paris thing going on..." He said, "Me too ..." There were a few minutes of the following statements:

"We really should go somewhere new ...'
"We really should save money ..."
"I just started a new job ..."
"I guess it wouldnt hurt to check the airfares ..."

An that is how it started....

This was our third trip to Paris. We had visited many of the usual sites so I researched some of the things we might do the third time around. I also had this desire to stay in apartment rather than a hotel which ended up being one of the best parts of the trip. Here are the highlights:

Paris Address Apartment Rental.

I can't say enough about how much we enjoyed staying in an apartment. We have stayed in very nice hotels in the 6th before but I wanted a place to stretch out when DH took a nap - and wanted a feeling like we had our own place in Paris if only for a week.

Parisaddress was wonderful to deal with. They have a great website, parisaddress.com, and they were very professional. Everything went as they said it would in their policies. We stayed at 75 Rue de Seine in the 6th. It is at the corner of Rue de Seine and Rue de Buci, across the street from the Champion grocery store and Pauls' Boulangerie. I know that will be familiar to many of you.

After taking a cab from CDG, we called the agency and let them know we had arrived on time. They met us at the apartment and gave us the grand tour. It is on the 6th floor with a great rooftop terrace with an expansive view of Paris. The place was spotless with a small kitchnette, washer, and the most comfortable bed in the world. We just loved staying here - having a fridge was nice and it was fun to have a couch and another room to stretch out and read or relax. I highly recommend this agency.

I am going to post this and then continue so it doesnt get too long.

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Jul 1st, 2007, 12:28 PM
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Highlights of Our Trip;
Rather than do the day by day blow by blow, I am going to write about the places we visited, ate, and other highlights in probably - no specific order.

Weather - of course, I must mention that it rained almost continuously while we were there - and was in the 40s and 50s. It just rained all day and it was the exception when it wasnt raining. Having been there the same time last year, we had better weather last time. But there is something romantic about the cold and the rain... we kind of got used to it and drank a lot of wine to keep warm...

Bois de Bologne in the rain

We took the metro to Bois de Bologne because my husband wanted to see the 'golf' course and buy something there as a souvenier He did this at golf courses in Italy and Provence so this was next. We learned that there is no such thing as a golf course - just a driving range. And they don't really have a store that sells stuff that you can't get back home - so no souvenirs - but, it was fun to see anyways. It is located at the same area as the Hippodrome at the southeast end of the park. We watched people on the driving range for a while and then decided to just stroll for a while till we got tired. On a nicer day, I would like to return and see more of the park - it would take an entire day to do so as it is huge.

It stopped raining for a while so we headed through the 16th district toward Trocodero - just looking at the neighborhood and where people lived. It was very pretty and peaceful and mostly a downhill walk. Many beautiful apartment buildings, neighborhood stores, schools, parks and the like. Much less touristy and more day to day life.

Canal St Martin Boat Tour - in the rain

We loved this tour - lots of very interesting history shared by the tour guide and despite the rain - we saw parts of Paris that we otherwise might not have seen.

There are several options for Canal St. Martin tours. The ones that I read about where Paris Canal and Canauxrama. I initially tried to make reservations before we left at Paris Canal. They have a departure near the D'Orsay which was closer to our apartment. I was, however, unable to make the reservations on the website and when I called their number, I was unable to understand the recording.

We ended up using Canauxrama at canauxrama.com. They have tours that leave from the basin at the Bastille OR from Parc Villette. We took the tour on a Sunday and the tours were only leaving from Parc Villette. This worked fine for us because either way, we would need to take the metro one way or the other. Ending up "closer to home" near the Bastille metro worked just fine for us.

We took the metro near Parc Villette. I had made reservations in advance - which were necessary even in March on a rainy day. Our tour was completely full. There was a large group of French people who were all taking the tour together - and then my husband and I who were the only non Europeans on the tour.

The tour guide gave the tour in French and then repeated it in English. This was great as I got to practice listening to French first - so that I could find out that I almost always misinterpreted what he was saying.

The tour takes you down the Canal from Parc Villette toward the Bastille and takes about 2.5 hours. The focus of the tour is the past history of this Northeast area of Paris - the canal dates back to 1802 and was built by Napolean. The canal itself is interesting as you pass through several locks - along the way you pass Hotel Nord, the Amelie bridge, and other historic sites with lots of great historical anecdotes thrown in by the tour guide. Highly recommend this tour if you are into history at all.

Les Puces de Saint-Ouen (Flea Markets) at Clignancourt

We went on a Monday by taking the metro one way and the bus to return. The bus was a blast as it took us through many neighborhoods and we got to see more of Paris than on the metro of course.

The flea markets were fun - not something I would do on my first trip -but a fun way to spend the day.

There are quite a few high end antique stores selling furniture, lighting, and "real" antiques - meaning very expensive things. There are equally as many shops selling other items - not so expensive. The thing I liked the most was one shop that had all these old french victorian post cards - just boxes and boxes of them. These were all actual postcards that had been written on and sent from years ago - so if you can read some french - it is really fun to sort through. There were also some great antique book and manuscript shops if you like that sort of thing.

I also liked a few of the shops that had old linens and baby clothes and handkerchiefs - all vintage style things. There are also some vintage jewelry shops as well -some junkie, some selling the real stuff. You could poke around all day. The area does not have much more to offer than the flea market - so stick to the grounds around the shops.

On to the next post...
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Jul 1st, 2007, 12:42 PM
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Looking forward for more.
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Jul 1st, 2007, 12:46 PM
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me, too.

i may be daft, but can you please say again the dates you were there? merci...

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Jul 1st, 2007, 12:50 PM
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Wine Tasting - and a hailstorm in Paris

I lied when I said it rained the whole time in Paris. It also hailed one afternoon - huge big chunks of icy hail covering the streets and making everyone scramble for cover. It was actually ok - as by now I was used to be cold and wet - and it was an excuse to drop into a bar and have a cocktail before our wine tasting adventure. We were in the 15th headed for some guys house to go to this wine tasting - and I was sort of nervous. So, the hail was a good excuse to have a few drinks before we went to the tasting where we would have a few more...

We ducked into this real dive of a bar with enough cigarette smoke to choke a horse. There were old Hollywood posters on the walls and guys at the bar drinking and smoking and dropping their cigarette butts on the floor. It was great. The drinks were cheap - I got Grand Marnier for like 3E - and the scene inside was worth inhaling the smoke for a few minutes. Besides, it was that or the hail...

THE WINE TASTING: COME TO PARIS

This was a blast. I subscribe to the Bonjourparis website and read about this tour on that site. We do not pretend to be major wine experts but we do like French wines. The article on the website made this sound fun and not too intimidating. It turned out to be well worth the trek through the hail and one of the highlights of our trip.

Once you sign up and pay for your reservation, they send you an address in the 15th which is the loft of the resident wine expert/connoisseur, Olivier. They give you a code to buzz yourself into his place and you just sort of show up with a bunch of other people and get started. It was a little awkward at first but turned out just fine. Olivier is a charming, English speaking, funny, and makes the whole thing a lot of fun.

Depending on which tour you choose, you can taste 5 to 7 wines - we chose the 7 wine tour and it was well worth it. Its great for beginners and it really gives you a fun overview of all the regions of France and makes you want to drink French wine all day every day. I highly recommend this too and this would be fun even on your first time to Paris.

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Jul 1st, 2007, 01:04 PM
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In response to a question, we were there from March 16th to March 26th of 2007.

Promenade Plantee/Bercy Village

The Promenade Plantée is a 4.5 km-long elevated park in the 12th. It was constructed on an abandoned 19th-century railway viaduct. There is a park on top of the old viaduct and art galleries built into the arches below.

I think - but I am not sure - that this was where Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke walked in one scene in the movie Before Sunset. Does anyone know if that is right? and if not - does anyone know where it really was?

This was interesting but definitely a "third time in Paris" thing to do rather than a first time. We walked quite a bit this day. We started at the top of the Viaduct in the 12th and followed the paved path to the end. We then dropped back down to the street and walked for quite a while to Bercy Village for a later lunch.

It actually was not raining at this point - but later it did hail as above - but we actually had some sun on our faces for about an hour so it was a nice change. The walk was fun because we went through what I will call "real neighborhoods" with few tourists and lots of just normal Parisians going to work, school etc. Very diverse neighborhood as well.

Bercy Village was just OK - I would say that you could miss this and not have really lost out on much. The little village area is small and the stores were very much "chain" stores rather than boutiques. There are quite a few restaurants where you can eat outside. Also a large movie theatre nearby. I would say that this is probably a nice place to stop if you live or work in the area - glad I saw it but it is not a must see IMO.

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Jul 1st, 2007, 01:20 PM
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A very nice read... can't wait for more. Thanks!
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Jul 1st, 2007, 01:22 PM
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Restaurants; Sorry but I will not remember everything I ate but will give you my general impression of each place.

FISH LA BOISSONNERIE
69, rue du Seine, Paris 6.

Love this restaurant - it is right around the corner from "our' apartment so we could just fall in the door quite easily.

Our first nite in Paris, we were tired and jet lagged. We ate at Cafe Mazarin and then stopped into FISH for a drink. We sat at the bar and chatted with the bartender. This was during the weekend of the Six Nations Tournament which is a Rugby tournament. (my husband had to tell me that.) France and Scotland were playing one of the matches on the weekend for the final and there were lots of Scots in Paris. We sat at the bar and had a grand time chatting with two men from Scotland. One was very very very drunk and very funny. His friend was only a little drunk and very apologetic and very nice. They invited us or mentioned to us that the next night they would be at the bar called The Highlander and we could stop by. We did see them the next night in the streets and they were even drunker - I cant imagine how the Highlander might have been having decided not to go as we are just too old...

Anyways, we made reservations for dinner for the following night at FISH and it was delicious. They have quite a bit of seafood but also duck and lamb. We both loved our meals - I think we had duck and salmon - and they also have a lot of great regional wines which they feature daily. We had a great red from the Languedoc region and it was heavenly.

La Taverne Du Segent Recruteur, Ile St Louis

Ugh. I read a recommendation about this place and made a reservation for Sunday night. I can not recommend this place at all. It was very much tourist focused and probably a good place for younger travellers who need to fill up on hearty food and cheap wine.

The service was very friendly but the food was pretty formulaic. Its sort of a family style place where they bring a huge soup toureen, a big weird salad basket that sort of worried me, and all you can drink wine.

Then you get to pick your entree = which were pretty boring. The only thing we really liked was the soup but the salad sort of bothered me. Its a huge basket of veggies, cheese and sausage that they pass around and you help yourself. I think they recycle the basket so not so sure about how many people may have touched the veggies or cut off a piece of that same sausage as you - don't really want to know. This just wasnt our sort of place - but it filled us up on a cold Sunday night.

Next, Chez Denise...
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Jul 1st, 2007, 01:34 PM
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I'm enjoying your report. Thanks!
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Jul 1st, 2007, 01:42 PM
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Thank you for telling about your trip.

Rain? Hail? Who cares, when you're in Paris!

Byrd
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Jul 1st, 2007, 01:56 PM
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Chez Denise (formally known as La Tour de Montlhery)5, rue des Prouvaires

I read about Chez Denise on this website and Chowhound. It sounded like an adventure so I called them before we left and made reservations for a Thursday night. I practiced my limited French over the phone and hoped for the best.

Our reservations were for 8 PM and we walked (in the rain of course) from the apartment, over the river, to the restaurant. This is located north of Rue de Rivoli, close to the Louvre/Les Halles area.

This was truly an experience - between the food, the ambience, the other diners - we still talk about this evening to this day. I was slightly nervous the entire time we were there but that made it even more adventurous.

The restaurant is not very big. Its a long rectangle with the dining room behind the old wooden bar area. There are two rows of tables which are pushed up against the wall in two main rows. You either sit up against the wall or you sit in the chair on the aisle. The tables are quite close together so you sit very close to your neighboring diners. Not a place for the claustrophobic - seriously.

We were greeted by Denise herself - evidently she and her husband started the restaurant years ago to serve the regular people of Paris. Her husband, sadly, has passed away and she runs the place on her own now. She gives you a hearty greeting and seats you herself. The restaurant is also open till 5 am = so good for late dinners.

When we arrived, the dining room was about half full. Withing the hour, it was completely full. It holds about 40 diners evidently. The menu is written on chalkboards and features whatever the daily specials are. The wait staff are very friendly and speak fairly good English.

We sat next to a family which appeared to be an older couple with their grown adult children. I was pretty much rubbing elbows with the "mother" of the family. After we were seated, another 4 adults sat down to our left. They were two couples - in their 50s and very well dressed. The gentlemen directly next to us greeted us politely in French. After a few minutes of hearing us speak in English, he asked us if we were from the states and we had a friendly conversation with him as he had lived in the US for a while.

He was about 60 or so and was accompanied by his date who was not happy when he spoke to us. I was anxious to speak to him because I wanted to practice a bit of French and since he spoke English fluently, I knew I could fall back to english when I flubbed my french.

His date - blond, 50s, well heeled, smoking a mile a minute - mostly ignored us and spoke to her friends. Our conversation was pretty basic - where are you from, what have you done, where have you eaten etc. While I am not at all fluent in French, I very clearly understood her to say to him. "You are speaking to the Americans for too long.." She was in a huff about it. He told her that he wanted to practice his English as it had been a while but she was huffy... so we stopped talking for while.

The food was what I will describe as hearty French food. Tripe, kidneys, lamb, and the like. We ended up with two different fish dishes. I had planned on ordering lamb but the people next to me ordered it and I just could not summon the courage to order it myself.

The leg of lamb was literally a leg of lamb - hoof and all. It was being served very rare to this particular diner and it was so rare, it was what I would describe as almost uncooked. I am fairly adventurous but I not so much this evening.

Most of the diners arounds us were sharing a huge plate of kidneys served family style to the tables. I watched as they were delivered to family on our right and my friend on the left who wasnt supposed to talk to me. He saw me watching and did have a chance to say, "Americans don't eat these do they - but they are very good." But then he got the evil eye from the girlfriend and that was it...

We had a great bottle of white wine from the Loire valley - I wish I could remember the name.

The portions here are huge. I was not able to finish my dinner and we ended up passing on desert. Do not ask me why "French Women Dont Get Fat" because the family next to me was chowing down huge portions of their meal and they they all ordered dessert. The woman in the family had the hugest piece of cake I have ever seen and ate the whole thing. She was probably a size 6 - go figure.

This place is also open for lunch. I have to say it was a true adventure for us - I would highly recommend.

Bistro Breteuil

Another recommendation from this site. We had a wonderful dinner here - it was a little bit different than I imagined.

Its a very pretty bistro/brasserie - lots of red velvet and brass. Quite a large dining area and there is a nice outdoor cafe that must be lovely in the summer. When it isn't raining...

We went here on a Monday and it was full. This is another place where I called from home in advance and made reservations in my lousy French. Something must have connected because we were on the list with no problem.

The service here is very efficient - very fast. Not super friendly but I noticed that they treated everyone essentially the same. From what we could see, everyone in the main dining room was French. It is evidently very popular in the neighborhood - the prices are actually pretty reasonable for this type of place.

We ordered the duck and the lamb and they both were wonderful. I dont remember the details but we both loved our meals. I think the cheque came to be about 80 euros with wine.

We walked all the way back from this place in the 7th to our apartment in the 6th - having had the dessert as well.
chicagolori is offline  
Jul 1st, 2007, 02:10 PM
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Restaurant POLIDOR
41, rue Monsieur Le Prince, 75006 Paris

We ate here last year and loved it. We tried to have lunch here this time at around 2 pm and it was packed to the gills so we never got a chance to go back.

I love this place - it has a long history dating back to the 1800 and its a good place to go for basic well priced French food. I wish we had made a point to return but the time just slipped away.

So, i can tell you about last year since I never bothered to do a trip report in 2006. If you have read about this place, you will know that this is where the local diners used to bring in their own cutlery and tableware. They would store it in a cupboard in the back of the restaurant for each time they returned. I love that story about this place.

We showed up last year around 7:30 for dinner without a reservation. There was hardly anyone there at that time but of course, it filled up immediately. There were two women working there that were memorable. The hostess was very friendly but appeared to be very high strung. She reminded me of the movie "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown". It seemed like the busier the place got the more revved up she got.

Our waitress, on the other hand, was as cool as a cucumber. She was also very beautiful - probably in her 40's. Blond, that perfect skin that the French women have, really movie star beautiful. When I asked her, in French, if she spoke English, she said no. She was polite to us at best at first but we were pretty much on our own with the menu. Luckily- its an easy place to order as they have duck/canard, chicken/poulet, and beef/boeuf. Over the course of the dinner, as I attempted to speak to her in French to order the meal or ask questions, she began to speak a few words of English. So - it was just like you hear - if you try to be polite and respect the culture and language of others even a bit - you get lots of goodness in return.

This is a great neighborhood place. We ordered Beef Stew and Duck and they were both outstanding, delicious, hearty and great frend comfort food. We had dessert and wine - for like 60 euros. Oh, I miss this place very much....
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Jul 1st, 2007, 02:17 PM
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Other places we ate:

We also ate at one of those Moroccan restaurants (couscous)and it was delicious and cheap. This is a good place if you want to fill up and not spend too much money. I wish they had places like this in Chicago. Heaping plates of couscous with a huge soup tureen of meat, chicken, veggies and broth. It was great...

Italian

We stopped at a basic pizza place near our apartment and had surprisingly good spaghetti. We talked for a long time to a nice couple from England who were retired and just visiting for the weekend. I am so envious that people can hop off to Paris just for the weekend....

Last year, we also went down to the area around St Sulpice that has a ton of restaurants. I think its Rue Guisarde. We ate at a place called Positano - really good Italian food in a very lively place - shoulder to shoulder with other diners.

Le Christine

I am cheating again - we went to Le Christine last year, not this year but since I was too lazy to write about it, I will mention it now because it is worth a visit.

Le Christine is on Rue Christine right off of Rue Dauphine. It is a tiny, utterly romantic, quintessential little restaurant that we loved. Little candles on the table, wonderful service (polite, english speaking) and great food. I would highly recommend this cute little place. I think it was 100 - 120 euros with everything.

chicagolori is offline  
Jul 1st, 2007, 02:29 PM
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I love this report! Paris in the rain (and hail) would be better to me than no Paris. Thank you for the restaurant details. More please
gomiki is online now  
Jul 1st, 2007, 02:37 PM
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Thanks for sharing, C.

Glad you enjoyed your visit, rain and all.

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Jul 1st, 2007, 02:40 PM
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Other Things We Did - Jewelry Shopping

I am not a shopper and neither is DH but there are times when even we break down...

Harem

My most favorite Jewelry store is called HAREM - right behind Cafe Odeon on the passage of Rue rue St-André-des-Arts. They specialize in Jaqueline Singh jewelry, and although I am not one to spend much time at all shopping while on vacation, I make an exception for this place. I bought a necklace with marcasite and pink mother of pearl that is gorgeous and a pair of earrings as well. I want to go back right now...

Saoya 103 rue de Rennes

Stumbled on this place as we trudged in the rain one day. This is just a precious little boutique that specialized in jewelry made in Provence. The sample pieces are displayed in these beautiful wooden cupboards and the sales lady opens each little jewelry drawer for you to show you the different colors.

They also put your items in these tiny little bags that look like a purse. They close them with a tiny little butterfly clasp with a ribbon attached just because this is Paris and everything is so perfect....

As an aside - I felt like a total schlump at this place. The two women in the boutique were perfectly dressed and coiffed. Perfect makedup, all dressed up with silk blouses and heels and dress pants. Don't french women ever get caught in the rain? Despite my long raincoat and hood and scarf, I looked and felt like a drowned rat compared to them. I had also decided to go make- up less this day and that only added to my sense of utter inferiority. Alas - i bought a bracelet and all was well.


chicagolori is offline  
Jul 1st, 2007, 02:50 PM
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More...

We also:

Attended a free chamber music concert at the Bastille Opera at 1pm on a Thursday. They have free concerts here and if you get there a bit early, they serve wine. It was fun as there were lots of locals and my husband is a classical musician afficionado and pianist.

Visited the Museum of Moyen Age and took pictures of the "heads' of the Kings - where I was promply scolded for taking pictures inside and felt terrible because I always respect those no camera rules.

Walked down Rue Moufftard in the pouring rain after having lots of wine at a cafe at the top of the street.

Rode the Metro religiously and never saw or encountered a pickpocket or got lost.

Had vin chaud at a great cafe in the Marais, read the movie reviews in the French paper in French and actually understood a little of it.

Had Gelato at Amorino at 11:00 PM

Visited Musee D'Orsay - very nice but having been here and the Louvre, my favorite is still the Rodin Museum.
chicagolori is offline  
Jul 1st, 2007, 09:51 PM
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Chicagolori,

I checked out the website for Paris Address, and they had some nice apartments - but are they an agency or do apartment owners list their own apartments on the site like VRBO?

Also, did you need to put down a deposit before you arrived? Did the rest of the payment need to be in cash?

Anna1013 is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2007, 05:09 AM
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Hi Anna - As far as I know , they are an agency - I did not deal with the owner - it was the agency staff.

I did have to put down a down payment and then I paid the remainder with a credit card when I got there.

Lori
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Jul 2nd, 2007, 01:53 PM
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I liked your report. I think we most have sat next to that same couple as you from Chez Denise on one of our visits. I also like your observations of shopping in Paris.
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