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Seeing a different side of PARIS - Trip Report

Seeing a different side of PARIS - Trip Report

Jun 16th, 2009, 09:06 PM
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Wow, you shame me. I cannot believe how much you and your husband do in a day. What energy!

The most recent link to your photos doesn't work for me...
Leely2 is offline  
Jun 16th, 2009, 09:35 PM
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todd, thanks for a wonderful report, photos.
and views of a very differeny Paris
cigalechanta is offline  
Jun 17th, 2009, 05:28 AM
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Thank you for your lovely photos.

I hated Place Contrascarpe. I thought it was depressing and poor. I wandered down the Rue Mouffetard and was horrified by some of the odd characters I encountered. Many obviously have never seen the inside of a shower stall for months or heard of Aqua di Parma.

I honestly don't know why Fodorites recommend walking down Rue Mouffetard. It is grim.

Cries_Van_Notebook is offline  
Jun 17th, 2009, 07:01 AM
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Sorry, tod, I was being a ding-a-ling. The link to your photos works fine.
Leely2 is offline  
Jun 17th, 2009, 08:59 AM
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Oh Thin, Isn't it good we're all different!
I've seen place Contrascarpe in the raw light of day - empty and deserted. When we passed through it after our GTG it was a Saturday night and ALIVE! I loved seeing the young people out having a good time. Here in our poor old filthy city they are all inside dark dingy nightclubs.
Give me Place Contrascarpe anyday!

Leely2 - Good girl!
I have a huge amount all loaded for the next episode/saga??!

Flygirl - great! it was me.
tod is offline  
Jun 17th, 2009, 12:32 PM
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Hi Tod!

I just found this thread. Glad you enjoyed the GTG on the 23rd. I did too! Thanks again for the Mandela stamp. My grandmother would be envious of me!

monicapileggi is offline  
Jun 17th, 2009, 03:04 PM
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Hi Tod!

I am really enjoying your wonderful report. I feel like such a slacker with regard to trip reports, especially since it seems like half the folks from the GTG have done reports, including Schnauzer, Leely2, and Monica and Paule from our other GTG. It was lovely meeting you at the GTG and my daughter and I loved the stamp! Thank you again for such a thoughtful gift.

LouisaH is online now  
Jun 17th, 2009, 03:08 PM
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I shouldn't say this here, but I will mention that at Anyport, it is wonderful just to give a little snippet of a detail of a trip -- just enough to inspire a little commentary.
kerouac is online now  
Jun 18th, 2009, 07:40 AM
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I'll do that.
tod is offline  
Jun 18th, 2009, 08:36 AM
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We never unpack the entire contents of our cases so it doesn't take that long to throw it all back in!
This time we were given a room on the 6th floor of the Ibis - last time was 3rd floor. I gaze out at the Monday morning rush hour traffic. The metro is packed - people look like ants walking into the tall office blocks.

We walk to the metro and stop for 15min or so to have a croissant & coffee at the little kiosk.
When the metro train comes it's nearly empty on it's trip back. We are on Line 1 which takes us directly to Hotel de Ville. We only have to drag our cases across Pont d' Arcole and the wall of Hotel Dieu De Cite` is alongside - our new home right inside a working hospital! The entrance is off Place du Parvis Notre Dame, so we have to walk around the corner.

Going up to the hospital reception desk we are directed to walk down the long corridor and take the lift B2. I ignore that and take lift B1. 6th Floor but where the hell are we? Wheres the receptionist? I leave Peter there and go through some door opposite and find a lady sitting in an office. She kindly leads me to a lift and says I must start over. I go down and (this is the part where I LOVE my cellphone)and ring Peter to come down, forgetting he has to lug two cases, his camera bag & my vanity case. We meet in the corridor again and go to Lift B2.
Entering through two enormous doors we find ourselves in a sort of holding area for gurney's. A beautiful staircase leads upwards and the two lifts are opposite.

The reception area of the Hotel Hospitel Dieu is small but has a little table and four chairs. Off to the oneside is a kitchenette and a large fridge where guests are welcome to leave wine or a small portion of food.
We are received with a warm smile and shown how to get in and out after 10pm & how to operate the sliding skylight in our room.
We are pleased with the cleanliness factor - spotless as a hospital room should be. After all this is where patients families get a special deal if they want to be near them.
I like the twin beds as they give far more room than a standard double or queen which is too small when one is used to a kingsizebed at home.
Nice FlatronTV, but apart from the skylight, no view at all.
Peter stood on the bed to take a shot of Notre Dame Cathedral through the open skylight.

We headed off right away not unpacking a thing - the sun was out and I was itching to explore the two islands!
As we get out the lift a patient with an intravenous needle sticking out of his arm is being pushed through the door by theatre staff. A scene of green gowns and masks - and one which we will get quite used to in the next three days.
Luckily I'm not the squeemish type.

Will continue tomorrow..............
tod is offline  
Jun 19th, 2009, 05:18 AM
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In Leonard Pitt's book "Walks through Lost Paris" he starts his chapter on Ile de la Cite` thus:
'If dirt could speak, the rush of voices coming from the earth you are standing on would tell enough stories to send you into a state of vertigo. For it was on this tiny island more than two thousand years ago that the city of Paris was born"

Passing out through the main entrance of the hospital. This looks directly at the wide open space of Place du Parvis Notre Dame, crawling with the likes of us admiring the cathedral in all it's Gothic glory. Today the Grand Old Dame of churches is washed in brilliant sunlight.
Yes, it is one of the oldest standing vestiges of medieval Paris, however most of what you see today is the work of Viollet-le-Duc dating from the 19th century only.
To really get to grips with 'how it all began' those thousands of years ago, head straight for the Crypte Archeologique just down a few steps underneath that wide expanse of concrete and stone. We have been there on two occasions and also seen the interior of Notre Dame at least three times so I am now only interested in seeing old historic buildings made famous by one person or another, strange little streets, and some off-beat quirky stuff that I've read about.

Ever since seeing a photo and reading about 'Tombstones to keep your feet dry' in the book Unexplored Paris, I have had to do this.
Turning from rue d'Arcole into rue Chanoinesse I begin the search on the sidewalk for long flagstones with traces of Gothic script, and which in fact, are tombstones from some religious establishment on Ile de la Cite. They were used for drainage keeping generations of Parisians feet dry.
Down the street and up again - nothing! I think they must have been covered up with new tar or concrete. Why oh why didn't I lug the book with me so I can see the picture!
Frustrated after three tries I give up.
Just as well. They are not in rue Chanoinesse - they are in fact in a small narrow courtyard common to several buildings but closed to view by heavy wooden doors, no.26 next to the restaurant Le Vieux Paris at no.24! This cul-de-sac used to lead through to rue des Ursins a very long time ago. Darn! Have to go back now - what a same! (Says me, secretly pleased!).

From here on we stroll down rue des Chantres, a silent narrow alley, but not before looking at no.10 opposite with it's picturesque shutters and green vegetation and the elegant 17th century mansion with beautiful wrought-iron decoration.
This was where Abelard and Eloise met.

Where rue des Chantres curves around and meets with rue des Ursins, it is particularly enchanting. There are steps leading up to Quai Aux Fleurs, a little garden with a water feature depecting two spouting lions heads pleases the eye.
Our walk along the Quai leads us to Pont St Louis and think it's a good time to stop and have a spot of early lunch at Brasserie Ile St Louis. Trying to find a table in the shade was nigh impossible but we managed to squeeze into two chairs arranged cheek-by-jowl in the French terrasse manner.
I have the onion tart with a cold beer. Peter says he doesn't feel too well and just has a coke and nibbles at the bread. Since Ireland he has been blowing his nose quite a bit and I think a bad cold has set in.

We decide to take it really slow and just stroll the island for the rest of the afternoon.
We see all the strange and wonderfully decorated balconies, doorways, drainpipes and desireable hidden courtyards where, if you have the bucks, can live in sublime comfort.
Returning to Pont Ile St Louis we hear music of a South American style with panflutes and guitars. Wanting to sit and listen awhile out of the sun we take a table at the corner restaurant on rue du Cloitre Notre Dame & Quai Aux Fleurs. It looks straight at the back of the cathedral and gardens. I think it was called the Esmeralda.
Before I take a seat I ask the waiter to direct me to the toilets so I can freshen up and that I'm gasping for a cold Leffe. As I sit down the beer is placed in front of me - what service!
Next to us is a man smoking an enormous cigar. With him a clean-cut young man having a beer. He hears our accents and starts a conversation. They are Americans and as we chat we find out the younger chap is his son and having a break from a stint in Iraq.
The son's cellphone rings and I hear him say "Yes Sir, we're at Naartray Day-m Sir" - (his Commanding Officer or some such high official, just informing him of some important happening). We say goodbye to dad & son who were such nice people and carry on walking.

A slow stroll through Place Lepine where all the flowers and plants are, as well as metro Cite`, takes us via Place Dauphine and down the steps to Square du Vert Galant.
Here on the tip of Ile de la Cite has always stood a large willow tree. Some years back now after stormy weather it became unsafe and started to collapse, so they cut the old tree down.
I was devastated when I found only a stump!. On each visit to Paris I used to have a photo taken next to my willow.
Next time I arrived to find a new little sapling taking hold in the exact same spot. Last year it was looking good and this time it was positively huge! Must be all that Seine water the roots are sucking up.

Peter says his ear is painful and he feels really bad.
Going back through Place Dauphine we see if we can have a 6.30 dinner at one of the restaurants but the chefs are all outside having dinner and we are told to come back later in a 'get lost, stop bothering us' manner.
We walk to Brasserie Les Deux Palais kind of opposite La Chapelle.
We are seated at a nice table outside on their terrace (not the sidewalk) and I order the roast chicken. Peter just wants a bowl of French onion soup. Before our dinner arrives we are told to get up and move to another table near the side entrance. The waiter slaps a white paper tablecloth down and re-seats us. Why? we ask. 'Because you are not having the full menu'. This is where I feel we got ripped off. Outside the blackboard is advertising the Poulet Roti with a starter of soup and a dessert for 13.50euros. I didn't want all that but got charged 11.50 just for the chicken. A can of coke was 6.50 whereas my glass of wine was 4.50. Why is coke so expensive?! The bill came to 28.50euros and we headed home.
By now the pain was excruciating and Peter said he felt as if there was a soccer match going on inside his head.
I gave hime three strong pain tablets and a double dose of anti-biotics. He went to sleep but I was very worried.
We were in a hospital and I was in a good mind to go downstairs and admit him.
Anyway, thankfully during the night he felt his pillow soaking wet but no pain. A large boil or something had burst. We felt bad when we had to show the cleaning lady how messed with blood and muck the pillows were. She was so sweet and later when we came back that night she had changed everything and laid a clean white towel over his pillow.

I was in two minds what to do about the ear. The anti-biotics were very strong and the pain had gone.
Leaving Peter in bed I walked to Ile St Louis to the pharmacy and told the pharmacist what had happened. She tried to phone an ENT specialist but there was no reply. I took the number with me to try later if need be.

Feeling much better but not great, Peter decided he could keep on taking in the sights as long as we didn't rush.
Great! We walked over to BHV to have breakfast in their cafeteria before having a good look at what they have on offer.
What a place! I think it was GraceJoan who talked about the ceramic house numbers. Well I found them down in the basement and bought some for my son's house as well.
Totally overwhelmed we went from floor to floor - never seen anything quite like this.

Dragging ourselves away we headed to rue Poncelet. It was raining and windy and very unpleasant. There wasn't much going on but it is a very nice market street. (Not open on a Monday).
Walking down Rue Laugier for what seemed ages we eventually came to L'Entredgeu, 83 rue Laugier, 17eme.
This was to become the best French food of the whole trip.
I can only describe the dishes because I could not bring myself to photograph the food in this tiny restaurant filled with locals. Doing that would have broken the spell! I would have felt like the tourist I am! Sorry.

Going for the two courses we started with hot asparagus soup.
Two deep white bowls were set down in front of us with crispy bacon at the bottom covered with a few shavings of parmesan of suchlike cheese. The waiter then arrived with a jug of pale green liquid - the soup. He pored it onto the bacon until our bowls were brimming. It was devine! Gorgeous just gorgeous.
Next the mains. I had the duck breast and Peter the lamb.
Wow - just incredible. I ordered half a bottle of red Sancerre.


Where to next?
tod is offline  
Jun 19th, 2009, 06:15 AM
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Still following your trip with interest. I feel bad for your husband; getting sick in Paris is no fun, but to be staying in a hospital must intensify the feeling. Hope he was able to enjoy the rest of the trip.
Nikki is online now  
Jun 19th, 2009, 08:25 AM
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Thanks Nikki. There I was hobbling along after my fall and now this!

I highly recommend L'Entredgeu as a dining destination. All the staff looked family, customers were greeted with kisses on the cheek and it had a really nice atmosphere. Very small so I would think booking would be essential for dinner but we took a chance on lunch and were lucky having called in at around 12.30.
The total bill was steep at 72.00euros. Worth every penny.

Leaving the restaurant the weather was really miserable and we made plans for a picnic supper in our hotel room for that evening. I suggested we go and find that award winning Patissiere out in the 18th - only next door seeing we were in the 17th!
From metro Porte de Champerret we go to change lines at Saint-Lazare and see it is possible to get line 14 to the Olympiades. Plans soon change and we headed there first.
What a superb underground station. Modern and reminiscent of Singapore. Lets hope all stations look like this with the new upgrade.
According to The Connection newspaper (June issue), Paris is to get a 35bn euro transport network upgrade. I quote:
"Paris will stretch to the port of Le Havre thanks to a new ten-year engineering project to revitalise the capital beginning in 2012. The project will include a new TGV line and canal link, while 140km of new metro tunnels will be built around the capital".
At the moment some metro stations are looking pretty grim - don't know if anyone else found that.

Kerouac featured this destination in Paris just before we left and I had it on my list of new oplaces to go.
Unfortuately when we got out of the metro the rain and wind was something else!
Not faint of heart we were swept along, even the umbrella turning inside out. The Olympiade Village was deserted and rightly so. We got to a large supermarket inside - don't ask which village - I was trying to get out of the rain! We looked around and thought maybe we would get take-away dinner here but the bakery on the corner of one of the buildings didn't have much to offer that looked fresh.

Back into the metro we eventually got out at Marx Dormoy and the weather had improved slightly. I turned and glanced over to your apartment Kerouac and waved 'Hello Kerouac!'
Around the corner into our old street, rue Torcy we notice the scaffolding is still up on Hotel Torcy. Going past a little Tabac I notice maps in the window. Dashing in I am pleased to at last get my hands on a 'Le Petit Parisien- 3 plans par arrondissement'.
I have forgotten the name & address of the patisserie we are looking for and ask the store owner if he knows where the 'prize-winning' bakery is. Dosn't know. As we continue walking an elderly gentleman catches up with us and says he knows and also tells us the baker sent president Sarkosy some of his baguettes and now sends to the palace on a regular basis. How true that is I don't know. He directs us a few yards further along into rue des Roses and there it is!
Right on the corner this attractive little bakery called L'Angelus, is doing a roaring trade even though it's late in the afternoon.
As I wait to be served, young school children are rushing in, kissing the baker and at the same time sticking their hands into the glass display counter and grabbing a baguette filled with all kinds of nice things. Gosh, there are so many they can't all be his kids - must be friends as well?!
I choose a baguette with a filling and three different pastries and we head for home.
It's only 5pm when we settle in for the night but we've done a lot today and are pretty tired. I've carted a bottle of Chablis with me all the way from Ireland because it cost so darn much, and it will be perfect with our picnic supper in front of the TV.

These photos are in no particular order as they were photgraphed over three days.


I will carry on after loading more photos.................
tod is offline  
Jun 19th, 2009, 08:56 AM
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Tod, I'm so glad I found your report, you have a very evocative writing style. It's easy to imagine you in my favorite city.

I'm also glad Ron and I had the opportunity to met you and Peter at the GTG on the 23rd. I'm sorry to hear Peter was ill but hope he was healthy for the rest of your trip. On that Tuesday of the heavy rains in Paris Ron fell going down the steps at a metro station. I guess there were too many things on his mind so he forgot to "mind his step"!!

Thank you again for the Nelson Mandela stamp set. It was such a thoughtful gift for all of us at the GTG.

I'm looking forward to reading more about your time in Paris. You are giving me some good ideas for our next visit. Deborah
DeborahAnn is offline  
Jun 19th, 2009, 09:52 AM
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Traveling along with you. Liked the slide show very much!
cigalechanta is offline  
Jun 19th, 2009, 10:16 AM
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The weather can really screw up certain experiences -- and give you more reasons to return!
kerouac is online now  
Jun 19th, 2009, 11:08 AM
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(Meanwhile I am aghast that the scaffolding is still on the Hôtel de Torcy. That's like 3 years now. My only guess is that the contractor went bankrupt.)
kerouac is online now  
Jun 20th, 2009, 12:24 PM
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Tod, strange coincidence, I just went to the ENT yesterday--ear infection. Very painful, poor Peter, but I suppose staying in a hospital was reassuring.

Great pics!
Leely2 is offline  
Jun 21st, 2009, 04:53 PM
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what is the GTG?
frenchwow is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2009, 12:15 AM
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Hi tod, this made my day. Again I will say how much I admire your energy and zest for life. You and Peter just go for it, however small or big. Moving all about, trying to see and experience so many things. Then, you come back and share them with all of us.

The photos are great. Glad you were prepared for the medical stuff. I always bring my bag of what ifs..

I look forward to the rest of the story.
ggnga is offline  

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