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Heavens Jul 25th, 2006 08:42 AM

Paris trip report, long overdue, from Heavens...
 
So sorry it took me so long to write this. When we got home from our wonderful trip, I had to finish up my program at work, then two computers crashed that I was working on at home. So, now with summer full steam ahead, thought this would be a good time to report to you all about our fabulous trip to Paris, the city of lights, the most amazing city in the world, IMO.

Arrived Paris from Dublin on April 28, at about 2 pm. Met up with a driver that our TA arranged go get us with our hotel, and took the car to our hotel, the St. Germain Des Pres on Bonapart in the 6th, right by the old church, the Cafe de Flore and Duex Magots, two blocks from the Seine. Perfect location.

Our ride into the city, well, I was not prepared for the enormity of the city. Huge!... and huge buildings, everywhere, and so opulent, so grand. I was overwhelmed. And then when we went through the Place de la Concorde, WOW, the traffic, the gold! Incredible...

After we checked in we hooked up with our friends who had arrived the day before. They greeted us with a sampler box of macarons from Laduree' about a block down the street. We got somewhat situated in our room ( small, but cute and quaint and we managed to have our luggage all fit in. Our room was on the street, we had AC, it was enough for us, plus we had free wifi for the laptop we decided to bring to communicate with our kids who were at home on their own for two weeks) and decided to head out to explore the town. We found the staff at our hotel very helpful...

I had to sit in a cafe so I could pinch myself and say "ah, I am really in Paris", so we went to Cafe Bonapart one block away. As we ordered our wine and got a small bowl of little spiced olives, a very cute French man shows up across the street playing an accordian and smiling and winking. He could see the look on my face... It was perfect and about 60 degrees, lovely. We sipped and watched people coming to and fro, many with their dogs in tow. Perfect.

We went to the restuarant one block from our hotel in the other direction, Le Pre' aux Clercs. We wanted something quick and easy. Not fancy but what we wanted, with a good menu, duck, salmon, frites, red wine, nice waiter. Very good and reasonable.

We walked down to the Seine. WOW, so close. There were the bookinistas just like I had read about. And there were the bridges. We went on to the Pont Neuf, the foot bridge, and took some pictures of the four of us and just enjoyed the party on the bridge, young people mostly with their dogs, wine, sandwiches, all having a jolly time.

We somehow figure out the metro (not my dept) and found our way to the Eiffel Tower just as it is getting dark. Seemed like it stayed daylight for such a long time in Paris. Maybe nine pm? We saw the light show. We had to hang around a little longer than we wanted so our friends could go up. Not me, I have acrophobia. It got cold, there were so many groups there, crowded, and many, many hockers. We had to walk around for a while to find our metro station and on the way our friends ran into a couple they knew from home. Small world!!!

Finally we head home and stopped by Brasserie Lipp for a nightcap. This was one of the few times we encountered a snooty waiter, but he turned out to be alright and the place was full of beautiful people, so worth the trouble. This ends our first day. I am now in love.

More coming soon. Hope this is not too detailed or descriptive...

tcreath Jul 25th, 2006 08:51 AM

Heavens, its great to read your trip report! I remember way back when you were trying to decide to go to Paris, and then reading your occassional posts as you started planning your trip. It sounds like you had a lovely time, and your trip report makes me long for Paris. Anxiously awaiting the rest!

Tracy

bardo1 Jul 25th, 2006 08:53 AM

Heavens,

Thanks so much for posting this. You can never be too detailed or descriptive, IMO.

<i>...greeted us with a sampler box of macarons from Laduree'</i>

What a wonderful way to say &quot;Welcome to Paris&quot; - nice friends.

Looking forward to more...

Heavens Jul 25th, 2006 10:30 AM

DAY 2

We slept in since we were out late the night before, hanging out at the Brasserie Lipp. Forgot to mention, this was across the street from the Cafe de Flore, on Rue St Germain, so close to the hotel as was the Metro station, as was the grocery store, can't remember the name of it now. This is why you should write your trip report ASAP...oh well. You guys know.

Our waiter was snooty bc our friend didn't understand his quick French questions to her, and he just went &quot;AH&quot; and turned on his heel and walked away. She was a little embarassed but got over it, we ordered and he warmed up. So...that was about the only time we encountered the attitude about not speaking French, which was good for us, bc we all don't speak it. We (DH and I) did learn some before we left, which went a very long way. I highly recommend to learn a few words, the basics, before you go. &quot;The check please&quot; was very helpful, and some of the menu items, to be familiar with those. They will warm up to your efforts. And as Fodorites instructed, I did not go into one shop without saying &quot;Bonjour&quot;, giving a smile, and then left with a &quot;Merci'&quot;. It was fun bc people always responded to it, also with a smile and a bonjour. So personable...

We slept in until ten. Grabbed my favorite breakfast down the street, pain aux raisin, and a tea. The bread over there is to die for. And it is everywhere. I want to move to Paris just for the bread. So, off to the Louvre and to see the big three, and more. I know that I have to see Mona, if nothing else.

We get into the building and decide to buy a two day museum pass. This was a good move on our part, will tell you why later. We figured since we have five full days in Paris, let's blow out the museums the first two days. This cost 30E each.

We didn't have much of a line at the Louvre yet. We split up to see what we wanted to see. We jammed through pretty much to get as much in as we could. We bought the headphones for
5E (I strongly recommend the headphones to get the descriptions of the works) and studied the map. The place is humongous. We had three hours and pretty much covered what we wanted to see and more. We just sort of bumped into many things, and at the end saw Napolean III's apartments, and that was worthwhile to find.

After the Louvre, we walked out to the Jardin des Tuileries and took some pictures of the scenery, statues and fountains and continued walking to the Arch. I wore a pedometer each day (I recommend this, you will be amazed by how much you walk) so we had a contest to see who could get the closest to guessing the distance from the Louvre to the Arch. I won! It is about three miles.

This is a cool walk bc you see the gardens and all of the tulips (this is April, mind you), people out strolling, the Champs Elysees and all the shop windows, and then the Arch. We stopped for a crepe, and OMG, this is one of the best things I have ever tasted.

We got to the Arch and the closer you get to it the more beautiful it is. We arrived as they were having the ceremony of the Tomb of the unknown soldier at 6:30. Many decorated war heroes there taking part in the event. This one very old gentleman had on about fifty medals.

We walked back down the Champs and stopped by our first ATM. We both were successful pulling out money, which was a relief. We hailed a cab and went back to the hotel. We wanted to go to the Ritz for a drink, but our cab driver didn't understand where we wanted to go, so we just went back to the 6th, he understood that. So, OK, saved us about 100E.

We stopped at the Cafe Duex Magots for a drink and wound up eating again at the Le Pre Aux Clercs bc our friends wanted to try the duck. It was very relaxing and easy, tasty and reasonable. This is now Friday night, and we get to bed early so we can go to Notre Dame the next morning.

Day 3

DH and I got up early and walked around the neighborhood to explore. We loved doing this, getting up and out for a walk before the crowds.

We bought some bakery goods for breakfast then meet up with our friends to head out along the river and walk up to Ile de la Cite'. The line to St. Chapelle was long, but moved quickly. This is a most amazing chapel and a must see for its stained glass windows and accoustics.

We went on to Notre Dame. Again, the line was long but it moved very fast. We did use our museum pass here. You have to see the inside and the design of the church and the little side chapels, the statues, the enourmousness of the church, the grandness of it all. I stopped and sat in a pew for a while and said some prayers. It is a very holy place, awesome is a good word.

We strolled across the bridge to Ile St Louis and walked down the little streets, wandered into a few of the shops. We stopped into a cheese shop and bought a small wedge which lasted us for a few days. The produce shops had some beautiful fruits and vegetables. Very quaint, very old. I wish we could have spent more time here to explore.

We walked back to Notre Dame and bought a Croque Monsieur to go for lunch and ate it on the bridge. Then we walked to the Batobus and hopped on the water taxi and saw the sites from the boat. Very nice ride on the Seine, took about an hour with all of the stops. Got off at Musee D' Orsay for some more museum time.

The line at the museum was so long. About 500 people and this is about 4 pm on a Sat., it was to close in an hour. We almost gave up, but I decided to walk to the other side of the mueum front and there was a little man with a velet rope. THAT was for museum passes, so we just walked right in! That right there made the passes worth the 30E.

We toured the amazing building, an old railway station, but get a map so you can find what you want to see. Or just get lost in it. We found this cool place on one end of the museum, behind a clock, where you can look down and see the entire inside of the structure. That was very cool. Then we stopped at the beautiful cafe for a glass of wine (my husband and I did this quite a bit, for a break) and loved the decor of the restaurant, with the green Victorian looking wicker chairs and ornate murals.

We again took the batobus back to the 6th. Hold on to your tickets bc they are good until you get back to the place where you started.

We ate that night at Vesuvios, some friends had recommended this place. It was our most so so meal. It was good, but very crowded, not so special.

On the way back to hotel we bumped into Rue De Buci. Hello. Where have you been? This is like cafe row, with lots of little delis, cafes, brasseries, and the street is mostly pedistrian, and was packed on a Saturday night. We had fun picking out some desserts and treats for our room and just strolling around with the people. And we discovered Paul's restaurant, for another time...

Went back to hotel to pack up. We were to leave Sunday morning for Bayeux by train and our Battlebus Dday tour on Monday. I could not sleep worrying about missing our early train. DH didn't want to hire a car, which was very expensive, but wanted us to get there one our own. I was so worried that the metro would not run that early, or that frequently. Not to worry. We got there with much time to spare, without a hitch. Our hotel let us store most of our luggage there, so we could pack light, which is a good idea when hopping the trains.

We had trouble punching our tickets to get on the train. Ours were paper (got from TA) and everyone else's seemed to be card stock. A very nice French lady saw our delimma and helped us out with punching our tickets, which took about twenty attempts for each ticket, the line backing up behind us. She was very kind and patient with us and we found this many times, that the French were very helpful to us when they saw how much we needed their help. It really touched us. We are all alike, you know.

We got on the train. Wrong seats, of course. Figured out how to read the tickets, found our seats, and had a very pleasant ride to Bayeax. The countryside was beautiful. Just breathtaking. We were really glad to get away from the city for a few days.

Whew. Trying to get through this report. Will continue about Normandy later. Got to take a break. But this is fun, bc I am reliving the best trip I have ever taken in my life and am loving it.

If you have any questions so far, please feel free to ask. Until later...






TRSW Jul 25th, 2006 10:56 AM

Heavens,

What a great report and IMO the details are great. I am going to Paris for the first time in October and your report is whetting my appetite. I look forward to the rest.

Tom

PalQ Jul 25th, 2006 11:37 AM

ttt

Sulan Jul 25th, 2006 01:27 PM

Great trip report. Thanks for sharing.

Heavens Jul 25th, 2006 01:39 PM

Bayeux - what can I say. LOVED it too. What a lovely, quaint, historic town.

We got into the town on Sunday afternoon about 11:30. We walked with our bags to the B and B where we had reservations, about six blocks, not far. We were early to the Lecornu
B &amp; B (suggested here by a Fodorite) and Calvadoes shop, couldn't get our rooms until 5 pm. So, we dropped off our bags and head out to find lunch.

We were so hungry. We strolled around the town and went into their cathedral, which was like a smaller version of Notre Dame in Paris. Very quaint old church.

Most of the shops were closed bc it was Sunday. And the next day almost everything was closed bc it was May 1, or May Day. So, this was not to be a shopping trip. But we did find a few things open later in the afternoon on Sunday.

We found a little pizza restaurant called Le Florentin' and it was good. Nice service. We wandered the town some more and booked our dinners for the trip, one for that night and another for Monday night. Glad we did, bc there weren't a lot of options open.

After we took care of the important stuff (where to eat) we went to the Bayeux tapestry museum. We rented the little recorder that you would hold up to your ear and listen to the whole story of the tapestry as you walk along and look at it. The story is about William the Conquerer. It is very impressive. We didn't find anything to buy in the gift shop.

We waited outside in the front courtyard for our friends to finish up and watched a mother bird feed her babies in a large bush behind us. She must have come by to feed them about five times. The birdies would get so loud when she fed them, and then off she would go to get more. It kept us very entertained.

We went back to our B and B and they had put our bags in our rooms. Beautiful rooms, lovely decor. Our room was pretty big, truly like staying as a guest in someone's home. Our room was on the second floor and our friends on the third. Both rooms had a double bed and a twin. All of this for 65E, and included a wonderful French breakfast in the morning.

Dinner that night was just down the street at L'Assiette Normande on 3 Rue Des Chanoines, very close to the cathedral. Normandy grows a lot of apples, and you see many apples products on their menus. Their food is devine. We had a fabulous dinner here. And the apple tartin' is wonderful. We also had the Normandy apertif before dinner, 1/2 chilled Calvadoes with 1/2 chilled cider. Yumm. We were in heaven.

We walked back to our B &amp; B and had a wonderful nights sleep. It was pretty cold there, about 50 in the day, maybe 40 (F) at night. Very chilly, but brisk. BUT, the next day, as we go to the center of town to find our van for the tour, it was drizzling, and continued to drizzle throughout the day. We piled on all the warm things we could, but out there on the beaches, it got pretty dang cold, with that wind whipping through. Mind you, it is May 1, just about a month before Dday, so it did help for us to realize how the elements made that day even more difficult.

The tour was amazing. I cannot explain it. You just have to do it. So many stories of individuals and their acts of heroism, not to be heroes, but to survive. Story after story. We did the American highlights tour and there was only seven of us on the bus. We went at a liesurely pace with time for questions and discussion. It was one of the most amazing things we have ever done. My husband had been studying this for a long time, but nothing prepares you for actually being there. If you have any desire to learn more about this piece of history, I strongly urge you to do one of these tours. They are so knowlegable and thorough in their research. The tour made it so meaningful.

For some reason I did not write down the name of the restaurant where we ate the second night. It was the best meal of the trip, so, figures. I will run across it and add it later. A true French restaurant run by two French women and a cook/chef in the kitchen. It was supurb. A long, leisurely meal. The dessert was another apple tart topped with homemade cinnamon ice cream. It was awesome. Will get the name later. We loved it.

Left the next morning after breakfast. Back on the train and back to Paris. We were ready to get back and see more.

We told our lovely friends that we would go our own way once we returned to Paris again. They wanted to do certain things, and we had our own list. This trip was for our 25th anniversary, and there we were in Paris, a city for couples... So, the day we got back, DH and I took off on our agenda. We planned to meet up with our friends on our last night in Paris for dinner. So, the next part will be what we did for our last two days in Paris.






LCBoniti Jul 25th, 2006 03:41 PM

What a lovely trip! This is so enjoyable, it is almost like being there.

And I agree that doing a trip report like this helps you re-live the experience.

Looking forward to more . . .
Linda

Marko Jul 25th, 2006 04:07 PM

A nice read, have noted a few tips for my file as well!

Heavens Jul 25th, 2006 04:31 PM

Thanks you guys. Had to take a break, posting so much was giving me a headache.

The actual name of the B and B is Logis Les Remparts on 4 Rue Bourbesneur. Loved it.

Go to this website for more help on Bayeux...

http://www.bayeux-tourism.com/eng/he...bergement.html

I got a ton of info from this site.

Still can't find the name of the restaurant, but looking. Might have thrown my paper away, Ooops.




Heavens Jul 25th, 2006 07:49 PM

Back in Paris

OK, gonna finish this up for ya'll. We got back to our hotel and it felt like we came home. So nice to be back. The hotel staff upgraded our room, since we were the ones that booked the two rooms, and we went up two floors higher and bigger. Much nicer room, bigger, with a foyer, and a big bathroom. We loved it and it was so nice of them to do this.

DH and I dropped our bags in the room and walked over to Rue de Buci where I had read there was a street market but there wasn't. We both stroll around to pick our lunch place. I pick a sandwich from a little shop that is on a short baguette, with sliced pork tenderlion, sliced boiled potatoes, pepper, a little butter and that was it. It was so simple but so good. DH got a pizza from a cart. He loved it. We stood outside of Paul's and ate our sandwiches and watched the guys inside make the dough for the bread.

We walked around the Sorbonne area, but it is very busy and not much to see. So we hop on the Metro and head to Bon Marche Food halls. Quite interesting. The food is incredible to look at but very expensive. And no samples, dang it. We start walking around the area and stop in some cafes here and there, take pictures, watch the doggies.

We planned to walk to Jardin Du Luxembourg, but decide that it is too far, so we walk towards our hotel and run into Saint Sulpice along the way. We stop and go in here. Beautiful church and beautiful fountain out front. They were having a mass while we were in there.

We walk back to Rue de Buci since this seems to be where the action is and find a little brasserie (Atlas) for our dinner. Some street performers came by and sang and performed while we ate our duck and pate. Quite fun. Beautiful evening.

At 2 am I got up and snuck in the bathroom with our cell phone. Our phone server had loaned us an international phone before we left and we only used it about five times. Just wanted to talk to the kids and see if they were still alive. Between the cell phone and laptop, we were able to keep in touch enough. They both came in handy for communication. We really didn't see that many internet cafes on our trip, and if we had to find one, it might have been a bit out of our way.

Last Day

Wednesday, May 3rd was our last day. NO! We were kind of ready to go home, but not really. So much left to see. Our friends decided to take the Metro to see Versallaies and we decide to take it easy and stay in the neighborhood. We were kind of done with the running around, catching trains, sticking our noses in maps. Wanted to just chill our last day.

We sleep in a bit and then went to Cafe de Flore where my husband had the most amazing ham and cheese omelette I have ever tasted. The service was ok, the waiter was not friendly at all. But that was OK. We met some Americans who told us they were there for a friend's wedding and were having a wonderful time.

We wander around and check out some of the shops in the neighborhood, buy some postcards. We go to Rue de Buci once again and pick out our favorite sandwich (I got a chicken sandwich at Pauls and husband got a hot dog, a pretty amazing hot dog, it's the bread...) and hiked over to Jardin Du Luxembourg for our picnic. It was beautiful there. Tulips everywhere.

It was a perfect day, maybe up to 80. People were out everywhere in the park. It was a huge, gorgeous park with lots to see in the way of statues, little buildings, old men playing chess, children sailing boats in the pond, flowers, birds and bees. It is the perfect picture of a European public park... We wandered, took pictures, sat a while, wandered some more. It is a lovely, peaceful place.

We stopped in a cafe across from the park for another glass of wine and to sit and people watch. Then we slowly strolled back, stopping for ice cream, crepes, and other goodies along the way. We stopped in a few more shops, bookstores, just taking our time. It was nice. Just no where to go, no hurry to get anywhere. We should do this more often. We stumbled upon a little place called Andre des Arts, but don't stop, Dh wants to get back to the hotel for a rest. Then we found Pericope, which I think is supposed to be the first restaurant in Paris, down a cute little narrow, cobblestone street.

We walked down by the river looking for the bookinistas to buy a few things to take home. They were the only ones with reasonable prices.

We met our friends for dinner and wound up eating in some Italian place that lured us in (three courses for 11E, hard to beat). It was OK, lots of tourists in there. The meal was nice and it was relaxing to spend our last night together. Everyone was happy with their meal and we enjoyed the conversation with the other toursits.

So, we walked back to the hotel, made some last few phone calls back home, packed, wrote a few more postcards and got ready to say our goodbyes. BOO.

A car picked us up at 8 am the next morning and we got on the plane. AA. We were on the same flight together as far as DFW as our friends. The flight was very nice, not full and very low key. Nice crew, and the food wasn't so bad either. Our friend got to lay down in the middle seats, her back was hurting from running around so much the last few days. We were glad we had taken it easy. We WILL be back some day to see the rest of Paris, God willing.

I love Paris. It is the most amazing, beautiful, incredible place. Not enough adjectives. You almost have to invent new adjectives to describe this most grand of all cities in all the world, IMO. And I have seen many. All I can do is think about when I will be able to go back, to enjoy the history, the grandeur, the food, the people, the charm and the culture.

I was not in any way dissappointed in our trip. We spent so much time planning and learning what we needed to know. So much of that process is because of Foders. To tell you the truth, I don't think we would have been brave enough to even try Paris if it wasn't for all of the encouragement and knowledge of the wonderful people here. Thank you, thank you, thank you. So much of the success of our trip and why we loved our trip was due to wonderful advice from all of you.

So......all those questions I asked paid off. The trip went without a hitch, no problems, no time wasted trying to figure out where and what. It all just flowed along. We loved it and will always have Paris...Au revior and merci' to my friends at Fodors...

lovemyhorses Jul 25th, 2006 08:57 PM

Sounds like a lovely trip, with the perfect balance of &quot;must do&quot; things, and down time to amble the streets of Paris, just absorbing the beauty and the feel of the city...and sampling those pastries, of course! I very much enjoyed reading your report.

Belinda

tcreath Jul 26th, 2006 05:11 AM

Heavens, I loved your trip report. It really does sound like you had a fantastic time. Ahhh Paris...it truly is a beautiful city!

We too left with quite a lenghthy list of places to visit when we go back. Hopefully that will be very soon!

Tracy

cls2paris Jul 26th, 2006 06:10 AM

Thanks for the trip report, Heavens! I was hoping you would write one. I'm glad it had a mix of low-key and active, that's the best kind of vacation IMHO!

Heavens Jul 28th, 2006 06:45 AM

I am so happy! I found the name of the restaurant that where we ate the second night in Bayeux. It really was our favorite meal on the trip and a place that I highly recommend if you are so fortunate to visit such a charming small town as Bayeux. It is called La Rapiere and you can visit their website at www.larapiere.net if you want to check out their menu. But I think it is all in French. They serve specialties of Normandy at the restaurant and that is probably why we loved it so much. Wonderful food. Bon apetit!

MarchMadness Aug 17th, 2006 02:39 PM

ttt

LoveItaly Aug 17th, 2006 03:05 PM

Oh Heavens, I just saw and consequently read your beautiful trip report thanks to March Madness topping it. I don't know why I hadn't seen it before.

I so enjoyed it, your descriptions of Paris and your trip are a joy!! I like to travel as you do..see the sights but also take time to just enjoy where I am. And stopping from time to time for a glass of wine always works for me!!

Thanks March Madness for topping this and thank you Heavens for sharing your trip to Paris. May you have another one as you obviously fell in love with Paris! Best regards.

jody Aug 17th, 2006 03:20 PM

Seems like you were in my territory! Le Pre aux Clercs is one of my favorites...they are just so pleasant and the food is good. One evening my husband was sick and I stopped in for a very early dinner...too soon for service...but he waiter went into the kitchen and prepared me an omelette and a sald because the chef wasn;t in yet!

Where did you stay?


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