Paris Trip Report


Jul 1st, 2007, 04:24 PM
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Paris Trip Report

This forum was one of my major resources in planning our first trip to Paris so I thought I would share our experience.

I always start with airline and hotel reservations. After much forum reading I decided on staying in the 6th and booked a room at Relais Christine. Approximately 330 days prior to the trip I got on the United website to book the trip with miles. I had to move the trip back a day but was successful in booking with miles.

As the months went on with more reading here and on Trip Advisor I was feeling unsettled about staying at Relais Christine due to many reports of inconsistent rooms and unfriendly staff. So I booked a new reservation at Hotel d"Aubusson and canceled Relais Christine. No regrets!!

Bought a couple Paris maps and guide books. I adore having a map before a trip because I study it so much that when I get to the city I have excellent bearings and feel very comfortable while walking around.

I decided to have dinners planned out before we got there as I did not want to find ourselves debating on where to eat every evening. We are not foodies but do enjoy a nice meal. So with the help of the hotel concierge, this forum and other internet resources I choose restaurants for almost every night and had the concierge make the necessary reservations.

What was nice about choosing the restaurants beforehand was that we found ourselves eating in different areas instead of only the immediate neighborhood, which gave us the opportunity to see more of Paris.

I learned that finding good food in Paris is not difficult be it a cafe, bistro, brasserie or restaurant. We were happy in any and all that we came across. Next time I will reserve just a few special dinners and be spontaneous for others.

I planned many activities for our week but took the advice of many on this forum and did not fill our days with too much. I scheduled 2 activities a day thinking that would be a nice pace and it was, being that it was our first visit and we had a lot to see, but at times we did feel a bit over scheduled.

I will post his now and be back with details on activities and restaurants...

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Jul 1st, 2007, 05:02 PM
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Looking forward to the details!
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Jul 2nd, 2007, 07:14 AM
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We arrived in Paris a bit late due to weather in Chicago, but the bright side to being late on an overnight flight is you may sleep a bit more and it means fewer hours of trying to stay awake on your first day.

We had booked the romance package with Hotel d'Aubusson which included pickup from the airport. Our bags were the first coming down the carousel and the driver was there waiting. In the car was a welcome letter from the hotel and 2 bottles of water. The letter also highlighted some points of interest on our drive. Honestly I was too tired to really comprehend it but it was a nice touch.

Our drive started at about 11:30am and took almost an hour and a half. Traffic was bad almost the whole way but particularly so, in town, by the Louvre.

We arrived at the hotel and were able to check in. We were presented with a Hermes leather folder containing the other features of the romance package, which had changed a bit since I had made the reservation. It included 2 tickets to the Louvre, 2 tickets for a Vedettes river boat cruise, 2 church concert tickets and a voucher for a champagne lunch for 2 at the hotel. The hotel is located on rue Dauphine, a few blocks off of the Seine on a street with a lot of small shops, restaurants and a few other hotels. The lobby was very nice, next to it is Cafe Laurent, there is an outdoor area with tables covered by a very large umbrella, a large sitting room with a fireplace and a breakfast room. There are 2 computers for guest use and wifi is also available.

Our room was on the second floor overlooking the courtyard/large umbrella. I was a little concerned about the lack of light but actually it turned out to be a great location as it was very quiet. The room was quite large with large closets, a safe, flat screen tv, mini bar, beamed ceilings and a very large bathroom. There was a large bouquet of roses on the table that were beautiful all week.

The bathroom had Hermes toiletries, a hairdryer, large windows and a tub with a showerhead that could be handheld or fixed to the wall.

After settling in we wandered out in search of something to eat and I thought it would be a nice to spend the day walking in the area and perhaps Luxembourg gardens.
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Jul 2nd, 2007, 07:38 AM
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Glad you liked the D'Aubusson. We were there in April and loved it.
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Jul 2nd, 2007, 07:50 AM
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Good start! Waiting for the next chapter,
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Jul 2nd, 2007, 07:57 AM
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My first trip to Paris I stayed around the corner from there...
St. Andre des Arts. Pretty different experience from the one you had!
I know I'll enjoy the D'Aubusson.
So? You enjoyed your trip?
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Jul 2nd, 2007, 07:59 AM
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Walked through the area and noted convenient ATM and grocery store very close by. Decided to have a bite to eat at Deux Magots, even though most say it is not known for it's food... Well the food was just so so but we had a great table, the weather was good and the people watching...priceless...Parisians, Americans, Germans, Italians, the avenue was teeming with people, doesn't anybody work?!

Next to us was an American TV celebrity, we couldn't remember his name at the moment but we recognized him and others were asking for his autograph. He was there with his cute little dog. We later discovered it was Richard Belzer from Law and Order SVU and as an aside, he sued Hulk Hogan years ago when Hogan injured him on his talk show (showing him a wrestling move) and with the settlement he bought his home in France.

Anyway, after Duex magots we wandered to Jardin du Luxembourg. Lovely and large park. Men playing chess, people sitting and sunning, artists painting, again we ask, doesn't anybody work?! Seriously, it was lovely and a great way to get fresh air after our long trip.

Headed back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. Had dinner at Atelier Maitre Albert, a Guy Savoy restaurant. The restaurant is somewhat contemporary in decor. The food was very good though I think I would have enjoyed it more later in the trip. My fatigue was starting to get the better of me and I wasn't truly appreciating the flavors. We both had salad with chicken liver, very rich, I had marinated cod a la rotissoire and my husband had steak. With wine and water, totaled about 90 euros.

Back at the hotel ready for bed but alas our room was being tended so we went down to the cafe and had Kirs out on the covered patio. It started to rain and it was really quite nice to be under the covering, outside, sipping a Kir and being in Paris.

Back in our room, our bed had been turned down and slippers had been delivered for our use. A large white linen was laid out on the floor each side of the bed and tomorrows weather report with candied orange slices was on our pillows. Wow!!
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Jul 2nd, 2007, 08:06 AM
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Oh we so enjoyed our trip. We now are trying to decide when to go back. Planning this trip, being our first trip and not sure if we would go back, (because we have a lot of this world yet to see), we went all out. Now that I know we will be going back and probably more than once, my planning will be a lot different.

I will be back with day 2...
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Jul 2nd, 2007, 09:03 AM
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Day 2: Fortunately I was smart enough not to schedule anything too early on our first full day. Did not set an alarm, woke at 8:00 and we felt GOOD!!

The romance package included breakfast so down we went. The buffet was excellent. Scrambled eggs, ham or bacon or sausage, tomatoes, spinach, juices, yogurt, lots of fruit, cereals, cold cuts and cheeses and 5-6 kinds of bread. The coffee was terrific and they steamed the milk a bit. I am really getting spoiled here.

Our first planned activity was a 3 hour bike tour of Paris with Fat Tire Bike Tours. I like starting a trip with a general overview tour of some sort and this sounded like fun. We were to meet at the Eiffel Tower so we decided to walk. It was a beautiful morning.

The walk was wonderful and uneventful except at one point there were these 3 people in front of us and one by one they turned off until there was just this young man walking ahead of us. Suddenly he bends down as if he is picking something up and turns to us and shows us a gold wedding band. He is not speaking English but basically asks us if it is ours and makes a big show over this lost ring. He wants us to take it and I am truly I know that ring was not on the ground because I watched him as he bent over and I have no idea what this scam could possibly be. My husband says "keep walking, don't say anything" so we keep going. He follows us for a while but we eventually shake him. I still don't understand what possible scam he had in mind.

We get to the tower for the bike tour, take a few pics and wait for the group to gather. Suddenly the area gets cordoned off by the police because there is an unattended stroller. Our group has to move across the street as the police investigate the stroller. It eventually turns out to be nothing.

Back to the bike tour...turns out it is a record setting day for tour reservations and the company is looking for people to take later tours. This is my kind of luck...I booked this a couple months ahead of time and viola, the most popular day in the history of the company. Turns out a group of 48 had reserved the night before. Ah well, c'est la vie...

Due to the large group it does take quite a while to get underway. We are the oldest people in the group (45 and 46) and the group is comprised of Americans and Australians. We finally get underway and we start riding around the streets and sidewalks of Paris. I am sure the citizens of Paris HATE these bike tours...but it was great fun!!

We stopped at many sights and while the young man leading the tour was not the best tour guide we thoroughly enjoyed the ride. So, if you are looking for an informative tour this may not be your best bet. One highlight however was stopping for lunch in the Jardin des Tuileries. After lunch, quick ride around the Louvre and then back to the bike company office. All in all, a great morning.

Walked back to the hotel. Okay time to learn the metro...Long walk but still much to see and absorb.

After a brief rest, got ready for dinner. On way walked through Place Dauphine, very quaint and noted that it would be a nice place to have dinner. Stopped for a drink at Cafe Deux Palais across from Sainte Chapelle, another great people watching spot. Witnessed a car accident and a prisoner being walked /transferred from one spot to another.

Had dinner at Le Vieux Bistro next to Notre dame. We sat outside. The food was very good and the servers were extremely pleasant. My husband loves escargot and placed his first order here. They were delicious. We ordered Le Vieux Bistro Beef Stew for 2. It came in a large cast iron casserole and it was also delicious. Nothing fancy, just plain good food. We shared a creme brulee, of course wine and I think it came to about
80 euros, not cheap but IMHO worth it,

We started walking back along the river and decided to try to make the 10:00 river cruise since the night was so beautiful. Having the tickets from the hotel enabled us to skip the ticket line so we proceeded to get in line to board.

It was quite crowded probably due to the good weather and once again I have probably chosen the most popular day and time in which to take a night cruise. At any rate, the cruise was very nice we saw the Eiffel Tower twinkle, the tour guide was pretty good and the lights of Paris were amazing. The boat traffic was unbelievable. There were so many boats on the river, both public and chartered, that we started to think that many of the boats were hosting private parties probably related to the air show. It looked like a nice way to have a party.

I couldn't believe the lights on the boats and how they lit up the buildings along the river. I thought it was a bit much and unnecessary.

Okay back to the hotel. In our room was a bottle of Champagne on ice. Since it was getting late we decided to save it for a later date.

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Jul 2nd, 2007, 03:15 PM
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There's been quite a few reports of the ring con in Paris lately... basically, the perp 'finds' a 'gold' ring but religion forbids wearing jewelry so maybe you, the 'pigeon' would like to 'buy' it from him..? of course, it isn't 'gold' at all.
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Jul 2nd, 2007, 03:42 PM
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There's a variation of the ring scam. The one you experienced sounds a bit amateurish - being in a group was a bit of a dead giveaway and good on your husband being alert.

The one I experienced was a young, fresh-faced college girl who was much much more professional at it, being all pleasant cheerful, and insist you take it for good luck... and leave you on your way. Then a short m inute later, she'll return and ask if you could spare some money for a sandwich.
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Jul 2nd, 2007, 04:07 PM
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Hmmm, interesting scam...

Day 3: Today I have planned 2 guided tours and the first is at 9:00am. What was I thinking!! We awake to an alarm. Live and learn...

We head to Notre Dame to meet our guide Larissa from Paris Muse. This company specializes in small tours with the guides being art history majors and such. We were in Rome last year and found that having a guide was the best way for us to learn about what we were seeing and also extremely efficient.

Larissa was great. There was much to learn about Notre Dame and we both found it fascinating. We found this to be a good time to visit Notre Dame as the crowds had not yet formed. After touring Notre Dame we headed over for the second part of the tour at the Cluny Museum. Cluny is becoming a bit more popular and rightfully so. It is an interesting building (once a Roman bath) housing early art... stained glass, altar pieces, stone work and tapestries. I am not an art buff by any means but this trip and the guided tours we took gave me a glimpse into the evolution and importance of art.

I would highly recommend Muse for guided tours but they are quite expensive.

Quick stop for jambon and fromage sandwiches to take and we were off to have a picnic along the Seine.

Our next stop was the Louvre and another guided tour with Paris Muse. This time with Gaby. We entered the Louvre at about 2:30 and again found this to be a good time as many of the rooms were not as crowded as usual (or so the guide said). Of course the Louvre was fantastic the rooms themselves are art. One visit was not enough and it is definitely on our to do list for our next visit.

On the way back to the hotel we crossed the Seine via the pedestrian bridge. It was packed full of people eating, drinking, playing music etc... we think in preparation for the solstice celebration. As we were crossing, these 3 guys playing guitars with amps on their backs were crossing in the opposite direction and the sounds they were making were like nothing I have ever heard. Screeching is the best word for it and it was extremely loud. As they would walk by you they would turn so that their amp would knock you off your feet. Unreal!!

Back at the hotel we found a box of macaroons in our room along with restaurant confirmations for our stay. Interestingly though there was not a confirmation for our dinner that evening at Le Petit Troquet. We called the concierge and they thought there may have been a mix up with that reservation. They were going to call the restaurant and get back to us.

Well at 6:15 they call and say that yes indeed we had a reservation for 7:00. So we kick it into high gear. Fortunately, I had mapped out everything at home. I made copies of portions of our Streetwise map then marked restaurants, museums etc, on each. I had also made mental notes on a metro routes. So I had a good idea on how to get there on the metro.

So off we went. Unfortunately I had forgotten the name of the metro station we needed, though I knew the line and approximately where it was. So we head down St Germaine and the first station we come to isn't right so we turn around and start walking in the opposite direction. And we keep walking and walking and I know we have gone too far. Finally we come upon the Odeon station and it is the right line but not the station I was thinking we would use but it would suffice.

Once on the train we realize it was the Mabillion station we needed but we had not seen it. Ah well, we will find it when we return.

Dinner at le Petit Troquet was very nice. The food was good and the owners were quite friendly. I had a pork stew and my husband had duck with cranberry sauce. We had dessert but for the life of me I cannot remember what we had. Once again dinner with wine and water came to about 80-90 euros.

After dinner we walked through the Champ du Mars where there was much activity, again for the solstice celebration. We made our way back via the metro and found that our area had been overtaken by hordes of people. There were people and musicians everywhere. We stopped a few times along the way to take it all in. They certainly take their solstice seriously...

Well it was then off to bed because we had yet another early wake up.

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Jul 2nd, 2007, 05:04 PM
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While it was indeed the summer solstice, the reason you ran into music everywhere was that it was the beginning of the Fête de la Musique, an annual nationwide music festival.

Glad you enjoyed yourselves!
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