Paris Trip Report: Mom & Me

Apr 5th, 2004, 02:27 AM
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Paris Trip Report: Mom & Me

I just spent one week (3/27/04 - 4/3/04) in Paris with my mother, and wanted to share my experience. I hope that I can help others as much as you all have helped me.
This trip was a surprise birthday gift to my mom. This was her first time ever to Europe, and my second time to Paris. She's a 50-something meat-eater from St. Louis, and I'm a 30-something vegetarian from San Francisco.
I paid for air and hotel for both of us, and mom took care of her meals and incidentals. However, there were times when we took turns paying for taxis and meals. It all worked out fine. I booked our flights last November with AA. We met in Chicago on 3/26, and flew to CDG together overnight. The cost of both tickets was about $1180 roundtrip. In December, I reserved a twin room at the Hotel Muguet (7th arr.) for 105E/night. With air and hotel reserved, I researched more details and gathered pertinent info in a file folder, which I took with me. Our trip went as follows:

Day 1: We arrived at CDG at 8:30am, grabbed our luggage, and called Airport Connection to pick us up. I had reserved online with them for roundtrip service for 2 people for 66E total. They picked us up and took us to our hotel. We arrived at 10:30am, which was too early for check-in. So we stored our bags and walked to Rue Cler to eat. We ate at Cafe PTT (nothing special, just grub), then walked to the Eiffel Tower. We took some pictures, then hopped on Le Car Rouge (22E/pp) for a 2.5 hour tour of Paris. Then we returned to the hotel to check in and rest. Our room was very small, but clean, cozy, safe, and well-located. We could hear our neighbors a bit. Later, we ate dinner at La Varangue. Good food and service. It was a great first day.

Day 2: We ate breakfast at Cafe de Grenelle (7th arr.), then walked to Ecole Militare metro station to get to Notre Dame for 11:30am mass. We each bought a carnet of tickets for 10E/pp. We just made it in time. After mass, we walked around the church, took pictures, then headed back to our hotel to relax. We changed clothes, then took a taxi to the Ritz(1st arr.) for afternoon tea. We ordered "Tea Royale" for 52E/pp and savored our tea, mini sandwiches, scones, pastries, and champagne for 2+ hours. The staff was nice, especially Jean-Pierre. We took a taxi back to our hotel, and crashed for the night. It was a very special day - especially for mom.

Day 3: Today, I went to Rue Cler and bought fresh strawberries and croissants for our in-room breakfast. This worked out very well, and we did it for the remainder of our stay. Afterwards, we took the metro to the Opera, and shopped at Galleries Lafayette and Au Printemps. Both were huge and overwhelming. We didn't buy anything, but we took photos on the Au Printemps terrace and ate lunch in the G.L. foodhall. Next, we took the metro to St. Germain de Pres and window shopped there, which was fun. We bought some Mariage Freres tea while we were there. Reminds me of sipping the Marco Polo blend at the Ritz. We returned to our hotel, then walked to Le Croque Au Sel for a light dinner and dessert. Charming place, nice staff. Then, we walked to the Eiffel Tower and rode to the 2nd level for great night views and pictures. We paid 7E/pp. Afterwards, we walked back to our hotel to get some sleep.

Day 4: Today, we went on a Loire Valley mini bus tour that I booked through Paris Trips at 165E/pp. There were 7 people plus our guide, Lionel. We stopped at a cafeteria on the way for breakfast (not included in the price), then proceeded to Amboise, Chenonceau, and Chambord. We had a decent lunch with wine, which was included in the price, near Chenonceau. We took lots of pictures, and had fun bonding with our group. Lionel was great, and the tour was definitely worth it. It was nice to get out of the city for a day and see the castles. Lionel dropped us off at our hotel at about 8pm. We changed clothes, then went to L'Atlas Morrocan (5th arr.) restaurant for dinner. Great food, service, staff, and ambiance. Mom had bbq'd lamb and I had vegetable tagine. Yummy!

Day 5: Today we had our usual in-room breakfast. Then we walked to the metro station, bought 3-day museum passes at 36E/pp, then headed to the Louvre. We walked right in - no lines. Lots of students though. We did the Rick Steves walk-through for a couple of hours, then bought stuff at the gift shop. Mom loved it. Next, we walked to Angelina's (1st arr.)for lunch and chocolat chaud. OMG, we bought 4 bags of the mix. Great lunch stop too. Afterwards, we hailed a taxi for my mom to return to the hotel, and I stayed out and shopped. I bought a purse and perfume. I was eager to explore on my own, and mom needed to rest, so it worked out well. Later that evening, we went to dinner with my Parisian friend at Ristorante da Alfredo Positano (6th arr.), which was a nice change from French fare. We closed the place, took photos, said our goodbyes, and headed back to the hotel to retire.

Day 6: After breakfast, we took the RER train to Versailles. We walked right in, and toured the palace a la Rick Steves. Then we paid 3E/pp to tour the gardens. We spent a couple of hours here. Mom didn't have the stamina to walk extensively, so we just did the main palace and the gardens. Fountains were on and flowers were in bloom. Beautiful! Afterwards, we walked into town and had a nice lunch at J.C. Gaulupeau Versailles tea house, which we enjoyed. Then we walked to the train station and took the RER back to Paris. Mom went to the hotel to rest, and I stayed out and explored some more. I strolled the Champs Elysees, window shopped in the Marais and Opera areas. I indulged in macaroons from Laduree (1st arr.) on the Champs Elysees. The best - melted in my mouth - and I tried macaroons at other patisseries! I met my mom, and we went to dinner at Le Grenier de Notre Dame (5th arr.) for a vegetarian meal. I eat vegan at home in SF, so this was a welcome dietary change for me since I had "splurged" on pastries and hot chocolate thus far. I checked my e-mail when we got back to the hotel, which was convenient. 2E for 30min right in the Muguet lobby.

Day 7: After our strawberries and croissants, we took the metro to visit the Musee D'Orsay. We bypassed a looong line outside, and walked right in with our passes. We spent 2 hours walking around using Rick Steves' book, took some photos, visited the gift shop, then left for lunch. We crossed the bridge and returned to Angelina's for lunch and chocolat chaud. We loved it. Afterwards, we went to Catherine Perfumerie (1st arr.) so that my mom could buy herself a fragrance. Great prices, friendly, helpful staff. Once we selected a unique fragrance for her, we visited the Maroquinerie Saint- Honore (1st arr.) where I bought a handbag for myself.
Great selection of styles and colors and prices. Then on to Au Printemps where we bought soaps and bath salts for ourselves and our friends. Next, we caught a cab near the Place de la Concorde and rushed to Sacre Coeur so that my mom could see the cathedral and take in the views before dark. Breathtaking! She just about fell over after all of the running around with our shopping bags. But she was glad that we went. No regrets. We cabbed back to our hotel, rested a bit, then returned to L'Atlas Moroccan restaurant for our "last supper." After dinner, we went to Bateaux Mouches at Pont de L'Alma for a Seine River cruise, and to take one last look at the city that captured our hearts and that we called home for a week. It was a chilly night, and there were lots of students aboard the boat, but we enjoyed it. Then we walked back to the hotel, packed our bags, and went to bed.

Day 8: I took my last stroll down Rue Cler for strawberries and croissants. We ate our last breakfast in our room, then gathered our things and said goodbye. We checked out of Hotel Muguet, and waited in the lobby for the Airport Connection shuttle. Our hotel charges totaled 769E, including room, phone use, and internet charges for 7 nights. The shuttle came right on time at 11:50am, made 2 stops, and got us to CDG with plenty of time for our 3:40pm flight. We were sad to leave. We love Paris. However, I missed my husband and my mom and I had a full week. It was time to go home. We flew from CDG to Chicago, said our goodbyes, then parted ways to go home. (Sigh)...

Pros: Good weather (mid 30's - high 50's, clear, sunny, w/o rain); nice hotel; convenient location; no waiting in line at major sites; great food and variety of cuisines; reserved air, hotel, Airport Connection shuttle, Ritz tea, and Loire Valley Castles day trip in advance; bought 3-day museum passes; use of metro system & carnet; got taxis when we needed them; planned itinerary; no theft, injuries, or illness; declining the hotel breakfast and getting food from Rue Cler (5E for both of us, instead of 8E/pp); reviewed my French beforehand with tapes/cds from library; used mom's Rick Steve's guidebook and phrasebook; Streetwise Paris map was very helpful too.

Cons: Hubby missed out and I missed hubby; heard our neighbors from adjacent rooms; didn't get to more veg restaurants; didn't bring earplugs (mom snores); lots of students on Easter break visiting the sites; day 7 was a bit packed; we were up or out late most nights, and had a couple of early mornings, which affected our energy levels somewhat; one of the ladies at the Muguet insisted that we had the hotel breakfast twice, and I was almost charged for it, but I pleaded my case in French, worked it out, and received an apology for the mistake. I was ticked, and almost let it ruin my week, but I regained my composure. It probably would have helped for me to reconfirm upon check-in that we were not having any breakfast at the hotel.

Thanks for reading. I really hope that this information helps someone else in planning their trip to Paris, whether it's their first time or a return visit. I really appreciate all of the tips and information that you've given me, and I look forward to sharing more in the future. Bon Voyage!
Wifeybug is offline  
Apr 5th, 2004, 03:36 AM
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A great trip report. I ve in Paris many times but I get some new ideais with your report.
How the lunch at Angelina
Thanks
libanio is offline  
Apr 5th, 2004, 03:40 AM
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What a fabulous gift and what an excellent choice as a destination to introduce your mother to Europe!
Flyboy is offline  
Apr 5th, 2004, 04:02 AM
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A great trip report. Paris is a place I've never been to, so your info is most useful. Glad you had a good time.
Nomadic1 is offline  
Apr 5th, 2004, 04:10 AM
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Thank you for a wonderful report It is maming me "homesick" to hear of you wanderings. Your planning was superb!
sfowler is offline  
Apr 5th, 2004, 05:08 AM
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What a wonderful trip and what great memories you'll both have of this special time. I liked your pros and cons, and saw that you mentioned something a lot of people take for granted on a trip - no illness or injury; good for you for realizing what is important! You had a nicely planned itinerary and I could tell that you had done a lot of research to make it all happen. Thanks for sharing your trip, I appreciate it!
grantop is offline  
Apr 5th, 2004, 05:31 AM
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ira
 
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Hi wifey,

Terrific birthday present. Lovely trip. Great trip report.

Do you have addresses for your restaurants in the 5th and 6th?
ira is offline  
Apr 5th, 2004, 05:54 AM
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What an upbeat experience. Thanks for the great read! Just a few questions...

What type of menu was the Croque au Sel?

Since my husband loves high tea...you didn't mention the price or quality of experience of your 2nd tea. In comparison, which one had the best price/quality ratio? Which one would you return to, or would you prefer to try a different establishment next time?
klondike is offline  
Apr 5th, 2004, 06:00 AM
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ira
 
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Hi klondike,

Just so you won't be disappointed if you ask for a "high tea", this is a workingman's cold dinner.

"Afternoon tea" or "cream tea" is the one with the sandwiches, scones, pastries, etc.
ira is offline  
Apr 5th, 2004, 06:36 AM
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What a wonderful, memory-filled trip. Thanks for sharing.
CafeBatavia is offline  
Apr 5th, 2004, 06:45 AM
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Thanks, Ira for the clarification.

The truth is, my husband REALLY just wants to each scones, clotted cream, jam and lots of tea, no matter when we go. The rest is rather incidental to him, but he happily indulges in the working man's pasties or the fancy sandwiches, as long as he gets to the scones eventually!
klondike is offline  
Apr 5th, 2004, 03:47 PM
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Thanks for the encouraging feedback everyone!

The addresses for the restaurants in the 5th & 6th are as follows:

L'Atlas Restaurant (Moroccan)
12, Bd. Saint-Germain
75005 PARIS
Tel: 01 46 33 86 98

Ristorante Da Alfredo Positano (Italian)
9, Rue Guisarde
75006 PARIS
Tel: 01 43 26 90 52

Le Grenier de Notre Dame (Vegetarian)
18, Rue de la Bucherie
75005 PARIS
Tel: 01 43 29 98 29

La Croque au Sel (French)
131 Rue Saint-Dominique
75007 PARIS
Tel: 01 47 05 23 53

I didn't mention afternoon tea at Angelina's or at J.C. Gaulupeau Versailles because we did not have afternoon tea at either of these tea houses. We just ate lunch. Of course, we indulged in Angelina's famous chocolat chaud both times.

Our only afternoon tea was at the Ritz. This was something that my mom really wanted to do in Paris. So, I made it happen. We enjoyed the experience of getting dressed up and being girly and indulgent for a day. If I have afternoon tea in Paris again, I will try it at another location, like the Crillon or Plaza Athenee, for variety/comparison sake. From what I understand, tea at the Ritz is a very classic, traditional experience. Hope this helps.
Wifeybug is offline  
Apr 6th, 2004, 02:35 PM
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Someone has posted a query about the Hotel Muguet, but so far no responses. Perhaps you could share your information?
Underhill is offline  
Apr 6th, 2004, 03:30 PM
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ira
 
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Thanks for the addresses, wifey
ira is offline  
Apr 6th, 2004, 04:33 PM
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What time is the afternoon tea at the Ritz? Sounds wonderful...
RonZ is offline  
Apr 6th, 2004, 04:59 PM
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Wifeybug: I just returned from Paris myself (3/11/04) and loved it! I laughed at your description of your mother and you (I too, would be the meat eater). I stayed around the corner from La Varangue, at the Hotel Kensington on Ave de la Bourdonnais. I did not like La Varangue in that Rick Steves has really publicized the place and all Americans were there the night I was there. They insisted on speaking loudly and in English. I cringed at my table. The food was good, but I took that off my list as a place to eat at because when I am in France, I want to eat where the French eat! The Rue Cler area was crawling with Americans too, I was glad that I did not stay in that area, albeit charming. I know the markets you are speaking of on Rue Cler (the large corner one was nearly a supermarche) and they certainly do add a neighborhood feeling to the street. Overall, sounds like a wonderfully planned trip for your mom, what a nice surprise! Glad you enjoyed yourselves.
Huitres is offline  
Apr 6th, 2004, 05:53 PM
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RonZ:
Afternoon tea at the Ritz-Vendome is from 4pm - 6pm. I made reservations online, and they confirmed within 2 days via e-mail. It was a neat experience. I wouldn't have pursued it if it weren't for my mom. Go figure...
Wifeybug is offline  
Apr 6th, 2004, 05:56 PM
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a tear came to my eyes - I need to start planning the next trip - great inspiration
seafox is offline  
Apr 6th, 2004, 06:39 PM
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Great trip report! Thanks for sharing!
easytraveler is offline  
May 28th, 2004, 03:28 PM
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ttt
Wifeybug is offline  

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