Paris Trip Report - Long post

Old Jan 22nd, 2005, 01:36 PM
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Paris Trip Report - Long post

Our family of 4 were in Paris just prior to Xmas. We want to thank all the great help Fodorites provided in planning this trip. We stayed at the Hotel Clement in the 6th Arre. which has been discussed on this site. Hotel room was small, elevator was tiny, typical French small hotel. The reception was lovely. The location was excellent, within walking distance of 3 metro stops, one block off Blvd. St. Germain, just across from Marche St. Germain. Steps away from Rue de Seine and Rue Buci and within walking distance of Louvre and Musee d'Orsay. We were gone all the time so small room did not bother us. We found an absolutely fabulous artisanal bakery, Sarl LeDoux, a stone's throw away and had croissants, little tarts or quiche for breakfast every morning. They were very friendly and on our last day, the day after Xmas, we requested a picnic lunch to take on the Eurostar to London. They didn't have their sandwiches made, but told us to come back in 30 minutes. They gave us a big box. When we unwrapped the box on the train, inside were not just the sandwiches, but little canapes, cookies, etc. left over from Xmas at no extra cost. I must say that we had absolutely no trouble with American/French issues. I speak fluent French, although no one else in my family does. I insisted everyone try a few words, s'il vous plait, pardonne, etc. We considered it a high compliment that French people asked us what part of Quebec we lived in. We spent 8 days in Paris and while we had hoped to get to Versailles, it was freezing cold and we skipped it. We had to go to Monoprix (the Target of Paris) and buy one of the kids a down coat. While food was not uppermost on our list, the food was excellent.

On the Blvd. St. Germain, there were many stalls with Xmas arts and crafts as well as vendors selling crepes, hot chestnuts and churros (my kids thought this was pretty funny, as this was NOT Mexico). In the March there was a Brioche Doree, where we bought snacks. We at twice at Le Relais Entrecote, which has gotten a lot of press on this site. My 6'2" XXL DH loved the steak and frites and could have eaten there every night. He especially appreciated second helpings. As everyone who has been to Paris knows, the tables are on tope of each other, and we are friendly, so we spoke with lots of people. We ordered tap water every where and while we got a few strange looks, it was a lot cheaper than $7 Cokes. Our teenagers were dying for ice and wondered what do the French do in summer? DH and I went out on our own a couple of nights and we had some great meals at Chez Fernand, a few minutes walk from our hotel and at Le P'tit Troquet, near the Eiffel Tower. We stopped at a cafe on the Blvd. St. Germain one late afternoon for 2 ice creams (not even sundaes) and ordered without looking at a menu. Boy, were we shocked when the bill was the equivalent of $20. I argued with the waiter in French, but the ice cream was Berthillon, and the price was on the menu.

We had some family dinners at Leon de Bruxelles (hopefully, it was just a bad night for them, but it was AWFUL), Cafe Vesuvio, which has also gotten press here. We chuckled at Cafe Vesuvio as to the true nature of their business. We were there on a Sunday night and observed many men coming in with briefcases and leaving with none. We spent Xmas eve at a Cafe Flo chain, Balthazar. We had a VERY difficult time finding a decent place to go Xmas eve. Much more difficult than Xmas day.

The first 2 days we were there we bought tickets on L'Opentour, they were about $25/each for both days. There has been discussion on this site. We found it a value and worthwhile. We stayed on the bus and did all four routes in 1 and 1/2 days. It was very cold and we appreciated staying on the bus, listening to the descriptions, and then went back to see the sites that interested us. The entire 8 days we were in Paris, we only met one other American couple, young kids on their honeymoon.

I spent a year planning our trip and all the time invested in reading this site, choosing restaurants, hotels, etc. were really worth it. We had our youngest daughter with us when we arrived in Paris. I knew that a taxi should be about $50 for the three of us. We were approached by a driver as we exited the baggage claim who wanted $100 to take us to our hotel. My husband was so tired (screaming babies all night on our flight), he wanted to accept, but I said no. Sure enough, we went to the public taxi stand, found a nice man with a taxi station wagon and it was a hair under $50. I also knew that to pick up my older daughter, my husband could use the RER and save the round trip fare.

The one mistake, my husband did have the quintessential Paris Metro experience. I had bought both of us waist packs to tuck into pants. DH was pickpocketed on the Metro. He didn't listen and left a credit card in his wallet. Luckily, his passport and other docments were still in the waist pack.

We went to Le Cirque du Soleil on ice on Xmas Day and had an interesting cultural experience. We got a taxi out past Bercy to the location and had a heck of a time getting back. We learned that ushers, at least at the ice show, expect to be tipped when they show you to your seat; and that you need coins to use the bathroom, something my kids thought was very discriminatory. We visited the Jewish Museum in the Marais on another day, which had more history about North African and Middle Eastern Jewry than French Jewry.

All in all, a terrific trip. We had worried that going in December would not allow us to see as much as we desired. It was cold but that didn't cramp our trip. For the kids, this was their first time, and it whetted their appetite to go back when the weather is warmer and the gardens are in bloom. We still managed a picnic lunch at the Rodin museum.
aliska is offline  
Old Jan 22nd, 2005, 02:01 PM
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Lovely report, aliska.

Thanks for sharing.

ira is online now  
Old Jan 22nd, 2005, 02:11 PM
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Thanks for reporting, aliska.

It sounds like you had a great trip!

Where is that bakery? It sounds like a good one.
marcy_ is offline  
Old Jan 22nd, 2005, 02:20 PM
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>Where is that bakery?<

Enter the name at

ira is online now  
Old Jan 22nd, 2005, 02:30 PM
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Excellent, detailed report, aliska. I'm just curious about one detail - is "pardonne" a québécois or Canadian thing?

And what WAS going on with the men leaving Vesuvio without their briefcases?
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Old Jan 22nd, 2005, 03:04 PM
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I don't get the briefcase observation either--
Leather goods repair shop in the back? -

I've seen a Vesuvio in more than one location, yes?I know there's one across from the St Germain church, but it seems to me I saw another one somewhere, last week. Anyway, how was the food?
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Old Jan 22nd, 2005, 03:05 PM
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Looks like you all experienced alot of things while in Paris, from great food, not too great food, being pickpocketed, and the wonderful winter atmosphere. Thanks for sharing your report.
francophile03 is offline  
Old Jan 22nd, 2005, 03:08 PM
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Sarl LeDoux
12 rue Mabillon, per pagesjaune, just south of Rue du Four
elaine is offline  
Old Jan 22nd, 2005, 04:36 PM
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Is it actually called Sarl Le Doux? Isn't Sarl just the designation that it's incorporated? Like my plumber's business name and my electrician's business name have Sarl in front of them.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2005, 04:52 PM
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Thanks for a lovely report, Aliska. I'd love to spend Xmas in Paris! I've heard other good reports about the Clement, which is certainly reasonably priced for a great location.
Sue4 is offline  
Old Jan 22nd, 2005, 08:28 PM
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There are three Pizza Vesuvio cafes:
-Champs Elysee
-rue Quentin Bauchart
-St Germain

It is not uncommon to pay for use of toilets in Europe.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2005, 08:34 PM
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I assumed (incorrectly perhaps) that the men coming in with briefcases and leaving without them were either carrying drugs, or cash (gambling or payoffs on the side?). Maybe I have spent to much time in Naples? LOL.
LoveItaly is offline  
Old Jan 22nd, 2005, 08:40 PM
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Aliska! A pique-nique in the Jardin du Musée Rodin with the kids - excellente!! I'm so happy to read of your family having a lovely time in Paris during Christmas. I hope to do the same with my small brood someday.

I agree, L'Open Tour is an excellent value and you do get to see a great deal - especially nice if the party is not familiar with Paris as it provides a wonderful overview of the city.

I'll have to keep the whereabouts of Sarl LeDoux in the back of my mind for the next trip. And isn't the 6th just a lovely area to stay in?

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Old Jan 23rd, 2005, 01:17 PM
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The bakery is actually called Fabien LeDoux. I guess the adress listed is correct. All I know is that I would give anything to import a bakery like that lock, stock and barrel to Ohio. We had brunch this morning and truly mourned having to make do with a grocery store coffee cake instead of yummy pan au chocolat or croissants. The food at Cafe Vesuvio was OK, I had a pasta dish which I didn't like, but DH and daughter LOVED their pizza. We also had terrific brick oven pizza at a small cafe 2 doors down from the Hotel Clement, across from the Marche St.Germain. If only I could remember the name, it was something like Golfe di Napoli, much better than Vesuvio.

I also wanted to issue a warning about a cafe near the Odeon metro stop on Rue St. Germain, Le Relais Odeon. The 4 of us had lunch there on Xmas day. When it came time to pay the bill, I gave the waiter my VISA. He said my VISA didn't work, my DH then gave him his VISA. Well, long story short, when we looked at our VISA charges online after we got back to the states, there are 2 charges for lunch that day! The unauthorized charge is for $150+, which is almost 3 times what we actually paid for lunch. We are disputing this with our VISA provider. Luckily, I am anal about keeping receipts. Not only do I have the signed receipt, but I also have the detailed print out of what we ate and the time stamp. Hopefully this will get resolved. As everywhere, one needs to take the best precautions and speak up.

The local newspaper interviewed me regarding an article on how the French stay so thin. Here is the e-mail link if anyone is interested.
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Old Jan 25th, 2005, 07:34 AM
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Aliska, you live in Ohio? I do, too! I live in Cincinnati!

We JUST got a Trader Joe's about a month ago and I pick up pain au chocolat from there occasionally, and it does help, but it's not the same as Paris.

I will read that article.
Beatchick is offline  
Old Jan 25th, 2005, 07:48 AM
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Aliska, welcome home, sorry DH was pickpocketed. Hope he called the card company. Sounds like it was a wonderful family, happy trip.
cigalechanta is online now  
Old Mar 17th, 2005, 06:03 AM
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Did you ever get the extra charges on your VISA bill from the Relais Odeon resolved?
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Old Mar 17th, 2005, 06:55 AM
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Laidback, thanks for asking. VISA investigated us first. We sent them the copy of both the receipt and the print out of details of all our 4 meals. They did remove the charge. According to VISA, the restaurant has the opportunity to respond and we are waiting to hear their response. VISA said it is possible that charge could return if they determine the restaurant was right. If this happens, I will cancel my account with them. So, long story short, it hasn't been fully resolved.
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Old Mar 17th, 2005, 07:13 AM
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Thanks! I very much enjoyed your trip report. We always stay in that area, but I had never heard of the boulangerie you went to regularly. We will definitely have to check it out. Our favorite in that area is Gerard Mulot.

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