Paris Trip Report fun-fun/metro so-so

Old Oct 23rd, 2006, 12:56 PM
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Paris Trip Report fun-fun/metro so-so

I wanted to let you all know I've just gotten back from my "first" trip to Paris, a solo adventure.

I don't want to dwell on my negative feelings about the metro right now. However, I will say unequivocally I would NOT recommend anyone take the "easy" bus+metro nor the RER+metro transport to/from airport unless young & traveling very light. Not only was this physically arduous but the French who seemed so delighted with me at all other times became downright hostile when I was travelling with suitcase in tow.

Signage was awful so finding the right connections was time-consuming and really requires you find an official to ask for instructions.

Now that I have that off my chest, first day was a Sunday and after the three hr ordeal of Charles de Gaulle to hotel, scooted over to Musee d'Orsay and cannot recommend this museum more whole-heartedly. The room of Toulouse Lautrec took my breath away and hair stood on end! Couple this with the fabulous grouping of four Georges Seurat, countless other treasures, fantastic sculptures. Wow!

Then to leave that building, turn toward the Seine and view the Louvre for the first time! Knew I did not have time for this so meandered through the Jardin Touilleries and gawked at a-l-l the sculptures. To think you could have your lunch here on a weekly basis is a very tempting idea.

Wondered around the side streets over near rue Rivoli and found La Versailleries for another day (shops mostly closed on Sunday).

Headed toward the Champs Elysee to make the long trek up the avenue to the George V where I had scheduled a combo facial/massage for 6 and picked me up a crepe along the way. Spotted the Hotel Crillon among the monuments at the Place de la Concorde. It looked quite "secure" with all the guards. Isn't the U.S. Embassy next door or something?

Facial/Massage was a really great thing to do. I fell quickly asleep, dreamt odd thoughts, and woke feeling great. Purchased some lotion that I used throughout the rest of the trip to "improve circulation" and cure heavy-legs from much walking. It really really worked.

There is an enclosed/locked courtyard at this hotel with the most enormous purple orchids suspended in air. The light was gone so I didn't get pictures but needless to say, I was already very impressed with Paris.

Walked down George V figuring to end up at Place d'Alma and pay homage to the Princess.

Next Paris surprise: at Place d'Alma was a great view of the Eiffel Tower which crackled and sparkled while I had dinner at a corner cafe.

Perfect first day.

Will post more later.

Thank you everyone who helped me plan my trip and chat about all things French!
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Old Oct 23rd, 2006, 01:32 PM
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MDL, I had the exact same reaction to the metro. Used it my first two trips because I hadn't learned about the Roissy bus yet, and thought "this is nothing like the London tube!" This time, thanks to Fodor's insight, I had a hotel close to Opera and happily used the Roissy coming and going. Thanks for your trip report!
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Old Oct 24th, 2006, 07:16 AM
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I would ride the Paris metro (sans luggage) any day, but would never again do the airport/bus/RER/metro/walk up stairs with luggage because the escalator is broken/walk to hotelpulling luggage on cobblestones thing again. We also had a hard time finding the train, etc. Seems like you were just supposed to know where it was. In the future, shuttles or taxis!
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Old Oct 24th, 2006, 07:31 AM
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Taxi's definetly the way to go!!

I also found that inevitably all of my metro tix would stop working if I didn't use immediately so I was constantly trekking up and back from turnstile to ticket office. With luggage in tow, I eventually let loose with a torrent of angry French which surely was amusing if it wasn't for the sweat popping off my red face. Shew, that was awful!

Other than that, I found the metro pretty helpful. One night, some young rappers brought their boom box on board and entertained us with some very suggestive, very french hip hop. What a memory!

And incredible other little snippets of music in the Metro: the quintet of excellent male vocalists on stringed instruments singing their hearts out, jazz clarinetists, classical guitarists.

I often felt in the larger stations I thought would be great for transfers were so huge that I might have done better to walk on the street and see the sights, but did plenty of that anyway!

Day two to come shortly.
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Old Oct 24th, 2006, 07:36 AM
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I would never recommend the RER+metro as a good way to get from the airport unless (maybe) you're a teenager with nothing more than a backpack.

We travel very light (one 22" each) and I still wouldn't do it again. Who needs it after a transatlantic flight??? I figure if you can afford a trip to Paris, you can probably afford to arrive in a somewhat efficient, not-exhausting, not-annoying manner.

That said, the first time we went to Paris we took the train and had our one and only argument about that! Ha. When we came above ground it wad POURING and we arrived at our hotel looking like drenched rats...

Glad you had a good trip.
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Old Oct 24th, 2006, 07:38 AM
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I'd choose the transportation that "fits" the hotel location best. If your hotel is 2 blocks from RER-B, and your plan arrives at T-2, then it isn't so arduous...
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Old Oct 24th, 2006, 07:56 AM
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"That said, the first time we went to Paris we took the train and had our one and only argument about that! Ha. When we came above ground it wad POURING and we arrived at our hotel looking like drenched rats..."

You were probably thinking what I was thinking while carrying my luggage and a child's luggage up the broken escalator: "I deserve this for being too cheap to take a taxi."
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Old Oct 24th, 2006, 08:05 AM
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Hi M,

Your experience reminds me of the first time I took my Lady Wife to Paris.

We were somewhat younger then, and followed the advice in "Europe on 10$ a Day", to wit - Bus to RER to Metro to St. Sulpice.

The bus arrived at the RER station 1 min before the train. Other than that the bus stop was about 8 levels abouve the train, it was OK.

We managed to get on the RER, after throwing our suitcases down the stairs ond onto the train, only because of a good-hearted soul who signaled the driver to slow down.

We managed to both get on the Metro - ditto.

At the exit, we had a great deal of difficluty getting the suitcase over the turnstiles and through the doors.

Needless to say, we took a cab back to CDG.

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Old Oct 24th, 2006, 08:28 AM
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I definitely wouldn't fool with the RER if I had children in tow. With only 1 bag each (just adults), it's fine, but not if I needed to shepherd little ones.
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Old Oct 24th, 2006, 08:54 AM
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I agree. Just returned from Paris last night and the RER was difficult and uncomfortable both ways.
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Old Oct 24th, 2006, 09:11 AM
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One thing I will say for the RER: Right before the train left CDG, a raggedy man who looked a bit like Santa Clause boarded the train and entertained us with American songs. The look on my kids' faces was almost worth the trouble of riding the train!
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Old Oct 26th, 2006, 07:57 PM
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Started out Day two with my petit dejeuner at Deux Maggots which was in the hotel neighborhood. Of course, I started reading Hemingway's "Moveable Feast" on the flight over and really enjoyed reading it here and there throughout my trip.

Anyway, back to breakfast, my first of many cafe au lait and they were very very good, service great, loved the ambiance and my scrambled eggs were served in a bowl swimming in melted fromage.

Yum Yum. I was ready to start the day.

Someone very famous was sitting next to me, I have no idea who. Everyone fawned over him and lots of air-kissing going on. Many of the other diners stared at him. I have no idea who it was.

Anyway, it was fun. (Expensive though.)

Window shopped Boul. St. Germain to Boul St. Michel. Picked up some lavender R&G soap. To my sensibilities, all the other soaps were way too strong although I later picked up the lovely orange and cinnamon.

I explored the cute cute little side streets off to the left and right. Wished I was hungry as all these little cafe's were very tempting. Even came across and exotic looking place with 3ft tall water pipes on the tables! Yowza.

Never did find the scarf store referred to on the board earlier but I did find some really pretty scarves in this area for 19E and other knick-knacks.

Came upon Place St. Michel with the magnificent fountain and sculptures of St. Michel vs. the dragon and of course commemorating the lives lost aplenty during WWI.

Turned around to head toward Seine and once again had the breath knocked out of me as I realized Notre Dame was right there!

Okay, I decided I was going to have to force-feed more food so I could sit at that little cafe on the corner of Boul St. Michel and the quai.

Here's a little factoid: You know, you just can't read a book during a meal when you've got Notre Dame in front of you!

Spent quite a while inside and was even moved to write in the Book of Life. So many decades ago, my French teacher raved about this and that and it all came flooding back to me as I looked up at those magnificent windows. Said a silent prayer for Mme. Robbins.

Checked in at Opera Bastille to see if there was any way I could get in to that evening's Lucia di Lammermoor but not to be.

Spent the afternoon in the Louvre. I spent so much time in the Northern Europe area I fairly had to run to find the Mona Lisa and Venus di Milo but really did absorb quite a bit. How about that room of the enormous floor to ceiling paintings by Rubens for the Medicis?

Napoleon's apartment was hard to believe. So gorgeous! I wish I was surrounded by so much beauty when I woke up every morning. Would you become blind to it from familiarity?

Rushed back to hotel to freshen up and then metro'd to L'Eglise Saint Ephrem for a superb concert of Chopin music (anniversary of his death that week). Very small ancient church, entranced by the talent of both the composer and pianist, lit by candelabra. mmmmm

Finished up with a very late dinner at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon which was also in the neighborhood of my hotel (Lenox St. Germain).

I was a little disappointed seeing how it was nearly 10pm on a Monday that I was seated at a side bar and not the main bar that affords great view of the kitchen prep. But I had some decent company that was also seated at the side bar.

Chose the menu decouverte @ 110E.

Started out with an amuse bouche of Sardine on toast.

For a yankee with an eccentric uncle who loves sardine out of a can, this was very "amuse." And very very good.

#2 La Tomate-gaspacho was a wow
#3 Le Homard-raw carpaccio of lobster was a surprise but was sliced so thin and so nicely spiced I really enjoyed it. Think there was fennel involved.
#4 Les Palourdes-clam on sea salt was tasty but it was difficult to avoid all the salt which was overpowering.

<more wine s'il vous plait?>
<I believe I finished up my 1st glass of wine about this time, a really unusual but tasty white: VDP Chateau des Sarrins 2004-10E>

#5 L'Oeuf: this was very very good, served in a martini glass, carefully layered frothy cream on top, small pieces of mushroom underneath, mostly cooked egg at bottom and under the egg a gel of parsley.
#6 Le Saumon: okay I'd had a little too much raw by this point and only ate half the salmon, which alarmed the staff.

<glass of red wine arrived and it was good too, but the white was much better: Languedoc Grande des Oliviers 2004. Both choices were made for me by the sommelier>

#7 Le Ris de Veau: very tasty and tender serving of lamb

#8 La Fraise: desert #1 I have no recollection of but is described on the menu I looted as "aux sucs de citron vert et son sorvet au basilic.

#9 La Menthe: this is the reason I can't remember #8. Oh, this was one of the best things I tasted all week and I will remember the rest of my life. Like a hot chocolate pudding/brownie/sauce that had cooked at the edges but still liquid in the middle served in a hot bowl with a scoop of mint ice cream in the middle.

Paris, je vous souviendrai toujours comme ca!
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Old Oct 26th, 2006, 08:16 PM
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I just wanted to note I made several edits to my last post that did not appear.

To clarify, I did not read Moveable Feast while sitting in Deux Maggots. (Could you imagine?)

And the Place St. Michel commemmorates the resistance fighters of WWII not WWI.

There's more, but I did want to point these out!!!
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Old Oct 26th, 2006, 10:37 PM
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My husband and I took the Rer for the first time from CDG in Sept. We found it quite relaxing and entertaining with the accordian player that came walking through performing and not too many folks mid day.

That being said, we were just day-tripping to Paris and didn't have any luggage to lug around. We chose to take a taxi back to CDG because of our late night return, also a first (we usually use shuttle service).
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Old Oct 26th, 2006, 10:41 PM
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OOOps--using husband's laptop and hit wrong button! Anyway, have to agree with all those who rave about taking the taxi route; it was fast (but sanely so) and less expensive than I'd heard because of no traffic--40 euros.

Thanks MommaD for the fun report.
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Old Oct 27th, 2006, 01:58 AM
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Ris de Veau is organ meat of VEAL(CALF) not lamb. And being organ meat it deserves a bit more reverence than just another piece of meat. :.)
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Old Oct 27th, 2006, 02:21 AM
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"...that little cafe on the corner of Boul St. Michel and the quai."

Isn't that a great little place?

So glad you enjoyed yourself. Sounds like you did a lot of what I did: grinning and wondering if I'd wake up if I pinched myself.

Welcome home,
sal
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Old Oct 31st, 2006, 01:41 PM
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Oh, yeah-you got it! Lots of grinning and pinching. Stay tuned, I have two more days to journal, one of which nearly ended in the Jardin Tuilleries with a very nice looking (smooth-talking) French man who definetly wanted to pinch me!

Oh, my the lamb was "organ" meat. How odd! It really had a meat like consistency. Anyone know which organ I ate?
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Old Oct 31st, 2006, 02:10 PM
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You ate sweetbreads, i.e. the thymus.
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