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Paris Trip Report: 11/27/08 – 12/4/08

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Dec 9th, 2008, 07:07 AM
  #1
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Paris Trip Report: 11/27/08 – 12/4/08

For starters, here’s some background information:

Travelers: Myself, my wife, my 4 year-old daughter and my mother-in-law.

Flights: Flew round trip from Orlando to Paris on Northwest with stops in Detroit coming and going. Flight between Detroit and Paris was operated by Air France under a code share agreement. Tickets for me, my wife and my child were approximately $564 per ticket (all taxes and fees included). These tickets were purchased in February 2008 from the website Lessno.com.

Accommodations: Rented apartment # 189 from VacationInParis.com. This was a 2 bedroom apartment in the 7th arr. (address is 53 Avenue de la Bourdonnais). This was a great location, about a 2 minute walk from the base of the Eiffel Tower. Neighborhood was great and there were many places close by for food. Apartment was very nice and suited our needs wonderfully. I would definitely recommend VacationInParis.

Now for the actual report:

Day 1: It’s Thanksgiving morning and I’m exhausted because I did not sleep well the previous night (pre-trip anxiety). Taxi was supposed to come and pick us up at 10:30am. Everyone starts to get up and get going so I go out to get donuts and coffee. I return and we eat, but just as we are finishing, my daughter tells us that her finger hurts. This is the same finger she accidently bit 2 weeks ago while she was away with Grandma. We look at it now and the tip of her finger appears green (not a good sign as it did not look like this the day before). It’s about 8:00am and my wife and I are feeling some anxiety about her traveling like this. I turn on the computer and start looking up phone numbers for Urgent Care centers and Pediatric after-hours clinics but none are open as it’s Thanksgiving Day. At about 8:30am, we decide to take her to the nearest Emergency Room. We get there and it does not seem too crowded but there are a 2 people in front of us. After reaching the desk, I explain my story and they try to rush us through as we have a flight to catch. Finally get out of the hospital at about 9:30am and have to go get antibiotics (she had an infection deep in her finger). I get home about 10:00am, still needing to shower, dress and do some last minute packing. While we were out I had called the taxi company twice (once to change the pick-up time to 11:00am and a second time to confirm the change). I figured I had plenty of time to get everything done except the taxi guy showed up at 10:28am as I was still getting dressed. After some rushing around, we are out the door and headed for the airport. The airport was not too crowded today and by 11:45am we were sitting at the gate for our 1:24pm flight to Detroit. Both flights were uneventful. We had a 2:45 layover in Detroit before our 6:50pm flight to Paris. My daughter even managed to sleep a little bit on the overnight flight.

Day 2: Arrival in Paris

Our flight landed on time (about 8:25am) but we parked remotely and had to walk outside to a bus for a ride to the terminal. Went through immigration without issues but a little disappointed as they did not stamp my daughters passport. All bags arrived without issue and we breezed through customs. We had made a reservation with Shuttle-Inter (thanks Gracejoan3) over the internet and their representative was waiting outside with our name on a board (normally my wife and I would have ridden the train into town but we were a little leery about doing this with our bags and our 4 year-old). Soon enough, our bags were loaded into the mini-van and we were headed into Paris (cost of the trip for the 4 of us was 65 Euros). The driver dropped us off at the apartment at about 10:10am and we were headed into the building when we ran into the cleaning person. Seems that the persons who rented the apartment before us were still in the apartment because they overslept (checkout time was supposed to be 9:30am). We had brought our bags up and listened to excuses from the other family before heading out (the cleaning person told us we could return at about 1:00pm). Dog tired we headed out and walked to The Ecole Militaire metro station to buy out tickets for the week. We then headed back up the street, stopped at a patisserie and picked up 4 croissants and a baguette before heading over to the Champs de Mars Park to sit for a little while. By now my wife was getting antsy (about 11:45am) so we decided to walk down Rue Saint Dominique where we stopped into a Starbuck’s. We left there at about 12:40 and headed back to the apartment which was thankfully cleaned and unoccupied. My wife took a quick shower while I played with the TV (guy thing) and we left at about 2:15pm to walk to the metro station as we had reservations for the 3:00pm fashion show at Galeries Lafayette. My daughter had wanted to see the show (wife and I had seen it on a previous trip) but about halfway through she fell asleep. Show ended at about 3:30pm and we walked across the street to Lafayette Gourmet to purchase some food for a dinner in the apartment. I purchased the most divine sandwich, a baguette filled with foie gras. After this it was back to the metro for the ride home. Got home, everyone ate and we are all in bed by 6:30pm….

More to come but I have to do some work now.
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Dec 9th, 2008, 07:55 AM
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Good start. Looking forward to Day 3. As always, there can never be too much detail!
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Dec 9th, 2008, 08:31 AM
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Wow, I'm so impressed you made it to the emergency room AND back home in time to catch your flight! I am looking forward to hearing about the rest of your trip.
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Dec 9th, 2008, 09:13 AM
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Nice start! I am looking forward to more as I am staying in an apartment just a few minutes away this spring.
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Dec 9th, 2008, 09:22 AM
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I'm also impressed! By the way, we never plan anything specific for the day of arrival because we've fallen asleep 1) at the theater in London and 2) on a boat ride on Lake Lucerne.
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Dec 9th, 2008, 10:32 AM
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Not to be rude, but if you don't use paragraphs I won't read your trip report. It is just too difficult to read.

Thin
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Dec 9th, 2008, 11:41 AM
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clemson Can't wait to read more. However you write it I'm reading it.
I'd love to take my 3 year old GB to Paris.
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Dec 9th, 2008, 11:42 AM
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Thin, just curious, I see paragraphs although I agree that the descriptions of Day 1 and Day 2 activities are a little long. Is that what you're referring to? I actually thought this was pretty well laid out.
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Dec 9th, 2008, 04:48 PM
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Ok...here's some more and I'll try to make it a little easier to read.

Day 3:

This morning we all woke up at about 9:30am. We all felt much better after sleeping for 15 hours.

We were planning on going to the 11:00am puppet show (The 3 Little Pigs) at the Jardin de Luxumbourg but this was not meant to be.

We finally got out of the apartment at about 10:30am (the pitfall of traveling with 3 women) and walked to the metro station, but Grandma's ticket didn't work (this would happen 3 more times during the trip as her purse appeared to be demagnetizing the tickets). After waiting in line to get her ticket issue resolved, we finally got on a train at about 10:45am.

We rode the metro to the Edgar Quinet stop and walked around the oper air market that they hold on the weekend. My daughter was amazed to see freshly killed rabbits hanging above her head. There was a Monoprix nearby so we stopped in and purchased a new scarf, gloves and hat for my daughter. After a little bit of walking it was time for lunch.

We all decided that crepes sounded good so we decided to go to Le Petit Josselin (my wife and I had been there on a previous trip). We all ordered crepes and had a carafe of tap water. The final bill for the 4 of us was about 35 Euros and we were all stuffed.

From here, we decided to walk to the Jardin de Luxumbourg while stopping in various shops along the way. We reached the park at about 1:30pm and the skies started to clear a bit. After walking in the park for a about 15 minutes, we decided that we would let our daughter play in the playground. So much different from home where you don't have to pay to enter a playground. I think I paid about 3 Euros for my daughter and I to enter.

She had a great time. Her favorite ride was a sort of swing that is elevated and attached above and follows a pre-determined path. She must have gone on this about 20 times. We have never seen anything like this in Florida but it would be great to have one. While riding this we met a nice family of American expats who were currently residing in London.

At about 2:50pm, we left the playground and walked over to the puppet show building to buy tickets for the 3:15pm showing of "Pinnochio". It was all in French but my English speaking daughter still enjoyed the show.

Now back to the metro so we could go back to the apartment to freshen up. This was the night we promised we would take our daughter to the Eiffel Tower. After a short rest we headed out for dinner at about 7:00pm. Everyone wanted something close so we ended up at the Cafe Le Dome at the intersection of Ave De La Bourdonnais and Rue Saint Dominique. Food was okay (I had the steak tartare...always wanted to try it) but nothing special. At the end of the meal the waiter informed us that they did not take American credit cards so it was a good thing that we had plenty of Euros on hand. Now off to the Eiffel Tower.

No lines to be seen this particular Saturday night. We went to all three levels and thoroughly enjoyed the view. After returning to terra firma we took our daughter across the street to ride the carousel. Now it was about 10:30pm so we walked back to the apartment and called it a night.

More to follow shortly...
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Dec 9th, 2008, 08:07 PM
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Much better! Thank you, guv.

Thingorjus
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Dec 9th, 2008, 08:50 PM
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Love your paragraphs, love your trip report.
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Dec 11th, 2008, 06:12 AM
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Sorry for the delay…here’s day 4:

Day 4: Woke up around 8 this morning and went around the corner to Rue Saint Dominique for croissants and pain au chocolat. My mother-in-law wanted to go to a flea market today, but changed her mind because it was raining.

Instead, we left the apartment and ended up at the Musee’ de la Poupee (Museum of Baby Dolls) located near the Rambuteau metro stop. My daughter really enjoyed seeing all of the old baby dolls. After this we took a short stroll through the Anne Frank garden.

Now it’s about 11:00am so we just start walking. We walk around the Pompidou Center which seems to fascinate my daughter, but there was a huge line so we decided to keep walking. All the while, I was searching for an internet café to make a return reservation with Shuttle-Inter (phone numbers I had did not work) and to find out the score of the previous days football game between Clemson and the University of South Carolina (thankfully Clemson won 31-14).

We decided to walk towards the heart of the Marais and I found on internet café at 46 rue de Sicile. Stopped in, did what I needed to do and moved on. We then walked on the rue de Rosiers, stopping in various shops before settling on lunch at Chez Marianne. Has about a 15 minute wait but the food was excellent (40 Euros for the 4 of us). Lunch now being over we decided to do a little more shopping and then proceeded to walk down the rue de Rivoli towards the Bastille (again stopping in various shops).

After reaching the Bastille, my daughter eyed another carrousel, so daddy reached into his pocket for a 2 Euro coin and let her ride it. Now it was raining pretty good, so we ducked into the metro station and round the metro all the way back to the Ecole Militaire station.

Time for a break, so my daughter took a quick nap in the apartment while I made a few phone calls. Tonight we decided to have a small dinner at the little Asian/Chinese restaurant around the corner on rue Saint Dominique. Dinner was okay, but not as bad as I thought it would be. Following dinner, we walked down Ave. de la Bourdonnais to the entrance of Bateaux Parisien. This was one of the things that my daughter had to do while in Paris (go for a boat ride on the Seine).

We made it in time for the 7:00pm cruise but I was not impressed by the whole package. It was misty out so it was hard to see anything out of the windows above your head and the running commentary was a little corny. At least we had discount tickets for the ride, but my daughter enjoyed herself.

When we got back to port it was about 8:00pm, and I asked everyone if they were up for staying out a little longer. We walked to the Pont de Alma RER stop and rode the RER C to the St. Michel station.

After emerging from the station we gazed at Notre Dame in the night sky. We walked over to the cathedral, which was eerily quiet, looked at the Christmas tree and then briefly entered the cathedral.

It was now about 9:00pm, so we decided to call it a night. Hopped back on the RER C to Pont de Alma and then walked back to the apartment, thoroughly tired from our long day.

More to come soon…
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Dec 11th, 2008, 07:24 AM
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Clemson, great report! I thought your first layout was just fine, but whatever, just keep the story coming. Thanks!
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Dec 11th, 2008, 07:51 AM
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nice read. btw, can you tell me how your currency exchange worked? what credit card/atm/bank did u use and how did that rate compare to the official rate?

As of today, 1 euro = $1.32.
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Dec 11th, 2008, 08:13 AM
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In reading this report I get the sense that it was not a rushed visit, but rather a loosely planned, "whatever the day presents us" trip. Nice way to go...

Interested in the details of the credit card refusal..
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Dec 11th, 2008, 08:20 AM
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Webazoid,

Before leaving Florida, I obtained 100 Euros for $132 from the currency exchange booth located in the local mall.

While in Paris, I obtained cash using various ATM machines. We bank with Wachovia and had no issues. No fees assessed when withdrawing money, got an exchange rate in the $1.26 - $1.27 range.

For most purchases I used by BOA credit card again getting about the same exchange rate. Did pay the 3% fee when using my card, but all totalled I paid about $30 in fees (not cheap but not a lot when compared to the total cost of the trip).
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Dec 11th, 2008, 08:24 AM
  #17
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Michel Paris,

Trip was rather leisurely, especially when traveling with a 4 year-old.

As for the credit card refusal, I did't think to ask before sitting down if they took American credit cards (I have never had an issue anywhere else in Paris). As we were preparing to leave, the waiter mentioned that they did not accept American credit cards, only French based cards.

Wasn't too much of an issue as we just paid in cash and then walked down the street to an ATM machine to withdraw some additional funds.
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Dec 11th, 2008, 10:10 AM
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clemson I did run into a few problems trying to use my Am. Ex. too.
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Dec 24th, 2008, 04:57 PM
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Sorry for the long delay (work has been hell since I've been back), but here's Day 5:

Woke up this morning not sure exactly what we would do, but we decided pretty early that we would start with the Louvre.

Having already purchased tickets a couple of days earlier from the Virgin Megastore on the Champs Elysee we walked down to the Metro station and rode to the Louvre metro stop. After we arrived, we walked around a bit and then went upstairs to have a quick breakfast at what looked like a mall "food court".

Breakfast having been eaten it was then time to enter the museum (about 9:30am) from the entrance that is underground (thankfully no lines). We hit the highlights (Mona and winged thing with no head) and then just meandered about. We did have on somewhat scary moment as a foreign speaking woman wearing a babushka tried to grab and pull my 4 year-old. We sternly said no but the whole incident seemed to startle my daughter. It was probably something innocent, but you never know.

Left the museum at about 11:45am and did a little shopping (my wife found a replacement wedding ring that she liked...can't wear the original Platinum one because she had developed an allergy to Platinum).

Back onto the metro for a couple of stops, getting off at Chatelet. Walked a couple of blocks, crossed the Seine and ended up at Notre Dame.

Walked inside, looked around and sat some while my mother-in-law explored a little deeper.

It had finally stopped misting outside but my wife was not feeling well (seemed to have caught a cold). We walked down Blvd. St. Michel and then turned right, heading towards Les Deux Magots (I know...kinda touristy but we have a nice painting of the cafe hanging in our living room so we wanted to see the real thing). On the way we stopped at a local pharmacie for some cold medicine.

At Les Deux Magot we sat outside in a glass enclosed room with our English speaking folks. We each had a sandwich and carafe D'eau, with the total bill coming to 35 Euros. The atomsphere was cool and we saw all sorts of people walk by, but I was a little suprised that the waiter brought me the check before we even asked for it (first and only time in Paris).

No it was off to St. Sulpice to see the church before heading back to the apartment (it was about 4:00pm and all the girls were tired).

After getting back to the apartment I went upstairs for a bit but then went back out with my mother-in-law to get some provisions for her dinner with my daughter (the wife and I were going out for dinner by ourselves). We went and got some bread/pastry, dried suasage from the butcher and some cheese from the fromagerie. While walking to get the cheese from the Cantin fronagerie on the Rue de Champs de Mars, low and behold we passed an internet cafe (I had been fretting about not being able to find one and then about going all the way across town to use one, but there was one right around the corner...oh well).

Went back to the apartment for a pre dinner glass of wine and chilled out for a bit before dinner.

Dinner was at 8:00pm at Le Petit Troquet which was just around the corner from the apartment. We each had an apetizer, main course and dessert and we also split a 1/2 bottle of Bordeaux. Total bill was 77 Euros. Food was good but we didn't have coffee because we were going to walk down to the Starbuck on Rue Saint Dominique, but when we got ther it was closed (who ever heard of a Starbucks closing at 8pm.)

No coffee in hand, it was now back to the apartment for a well earned rest.

More to come soon...hopefully not 14 days from now.
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Dec 24th, 2008, 05:20 PM
  #20
 
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Sounds like fun...How were the temperatures while you were there?

I love the ease your trip seemed to have. Do what feels right, stop when you want to stop, relax and enjoy. Well done.
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